Friday, December 30, 2011

Packaging my Etsy Shop Jewelry

In recent weeks I've read a lot of Etsy shop posts asking about "how do you package?" Of course everyone has their own styles and ideas. Some go way detailed and others more utilitarian - I try to find a balance. Of course with any shipment my first objective is to make sure my jewelry arrives safe and sound. I also don't want to add costly overhead, or waste, to the process. But I think a little girly-pretty stuff can sneak in there easily enough! I've always used the Kraft bubble mailers for actual shipping, and Kraft paper boxes for my items which I find very sturdy and perfect for gifting. I made up my own little earring/necklace cards to put the actual items on, wrapped in a little tissue inside each box. Until a few months ago, I then tied a simple strand of ribbon around the box and voila.
A few months ago, I enlisted WinchesterLambourne to create a new banner for my shop (which she did beautifully!). From that, I got the idea to print my banner onto label sheets (since I buy those for mailing labels anyway), to add a little extra something to my boxes. I can print about 30 banners onto one label, and the labels I buy in bulk so this expense is probably only another penny per item, but I really like the way it adds to the overall box.
I've been looking around for small, inexpensive note cards to include with orders, but haven't had much luck (especially with the inexpensive part). So I printed my own! Using light card stock, and cutting/printing myself, these little cards were very easy to make. I tuck in a little note about caring for jewelry, and thank my customers simply inside.
A couple of customers have commented they liked my packaging this holiday season, so I figured I'd share it here as well. I buy my boxes, mailers and labels in bulk and from the best sources I can find to minimize costs. The extra touches are a few pennies per package but so effective.
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Tuesday, December 27, 2011

New garden friends

The birdfeeder I wrote about in the Fall is attracting more than just feathered friends. A stray tabby and her kitten have taken up residence. They love to hang out all day around the gazebo but have yet to catch any birds (ideally they won't). I've been putting out breakfast and dinner for them, and fresh water. It's been about a month but they still regard me very cautiously. The kitten has graduated from completely bolting from my yard but still very skittish. I've made them a little bed for when it gets colder but they prefer to sleep under the Bouganvillea mainly.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

In hopes of attracting more birds to my garden, I recently purchased up a small birdfeeder, picking one that nicely matches my orchid arbor, to hang in the middle. I've focused on Cardinal bird food (mainly sunflower seeds), but it proves equally attractive to Blue Jays, Crows...and of course squirrels. The latter of which are no longer afraid of me, and allow me to approach within 10 feet before they scurry off. The cardinals have visited a few times but they are not fond of the camera - finally got a good shot of one today (still had to max out my zoom):
Yesterday morning, I found Mr. and Mrs. in the garden:
Here's my most frequent visitor:

Monday, October 3, 2011

October & some Orchids

This past weekend the weather was just perfect here in South Florida: the humidity eased, the temperature dropped just enough, and the breeze picked up ever so slightly.

Some of my more hardy orchids are noticing the change in season. Why the Phals are more strict about their show dates and won't tempt me for a few more months, some of my more reliable multi-bloomers are out.

This Brassavola Nodosa has lovely white waxy flowers - fragrant only at night. He has outgrown his basket several times over the years and been separated into now about 3 plants (maybe 4...I think my mother has one from me now).

The little blue Ascocenda has such pretty blooms:

This dendrobium is quite hardy - I have him on a lower shelf and it looks like some critter has taken a few bites from a leaf, but he's such a bright bloomer.

Hopefully more plants will follow suit in the coming months!

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Anticipation...New finds ready for new creations for my shop

The spoils of my gem show spree, I've already got several ideas for these lovelies...

The strand at the front already inspired these...more to come!

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Starting to feel the Fall

In South Florida, it will still hit 90 for a few hours of the day, and be humid enough to frizz anyone's hair, but the edge has come off the past few days. Just a touch, enough to hint that the reprieve is on the way soon.

Here's a sampling of some items on Etsy matching that mood of the start of the seasonal change:

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

On Time Management and Organization - some help from MooreMagnets

I've mentioned I joined the Aspiring Artisan's Guild this past spring - a great group of like-minded Etsy shop owners looking to improve and grow our small businesses. It's a nice team - lots of helpful people, events, motivation, and a great sense of camaraderie (yes I had to look that up to spell but it was the best word).

One of my teammates is April of MooreMagnets. (She also has a supply shop, LessMagnets, and that name makes me smile).

April has been on Etsy far longer than me - her avatar is one that most anyone familiar with the Etsy finds or front pages would recognize - her iconic magnetic pens help define her and her brand.

But she is mostly known for her magnet boards, like this lovely pink pastel one:

On her blog, twitter, and within our team forums, April is a great advocate of time management, which is so important for any small business, and also fits well with her brand: Boards, Magnets and Message Centers, all tie together with her central theme of orgnaziation, all born from a need to find a better way to help her children display things safely and (presumably) attractively.

Her blog is really well organized, and has taken full advantage of a lot of the widgets and tools to really tie it all together that I hope to "borrow" from!

Please visit April's Moore Magnets Blog to follow her Time Management series, I hope you will enjoy her frank and focused style as well as her tips! You will also find links there to her FB/Twitter, and website as well.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Revisiting the park

Earlier this summer I visited the nature trail at the south county park - a real nice escape from the normally congested South Florida environment:

I went back this past weekend just to walk around and see if I might find anything new. I'll start with a nice butterfly picture (another Daggerwing I think), but I do warn you now the other critters are an acquired taste - a little beyond the backyard.

This elegant crane is one of a few that hang out around the lake:

Had a little stare down with this grasshopper - he was huge - probably 3" long. Just look though at the beautiful colors on him:

Ok this guy...made me jump back a little...I think this is an anole lizard. Pretty big (definitely over a foot including that tail) and very aware of me while I captured these pics...Ok so I had the zoom on but still...The scaliness around his mouth has him looking so prehistoric to me:

I'll make another trip back later in the fall and see what else pops up then!

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Fall Themes - Creating for the Season

Every month Etsy publishes a guide for the coming trends and themes, for shop owners to be prepare their items, pictures, titles, tags, and treasuries to be more fitting with the Front Page and Finds themes that the admin team will be looking to promote.

With my jewelry, that usually means making sure my gems are tagged for the appropriate birthstone (For September, Sapphires will be featured more often). Heading into fall, I picked up a few new leafy pieces to incorporate into my items.

First, I found a nice sterling silver leaf charm, and added gems of Garnet, Beer Quartz, and Citrine in a fall color combo:

Next, these fun little earrings feature carved orange moonstone leaves. I paired them with a small "pumpkin orange" carnelian stone:

I've had these little silver butterfly charms for a while now but wasn't "feeling" a design to make them work. I decided to put lots of smaller stones - again with the fall colors of garnet and citrine - and hung them from bali flower-accented earwires. So, both a nod to the departing summer and a welcome to Autumn in one design:

Here in South Florida we don't get much of an Autumn, and it will feel like summer for the next month or two, but it's still fun to let myself be inspired by the thoughts of a changing season.

Sunday, July 31, 2011

My 2nd feature on the Etsy Front Page - 7/30, 5am!

Courtesy of this lovely Treasury from one of my fellow AAG Team shops, MilkandHoneyHandbags, I woke up to a notification of my 2nd time on the Etsy Front Page! Ok so it was 5am on a Saturday, not exactly the busiest time of day, but still brought more than a day's worth of traffic in to see my shop in that hour! Quite a thrill.

(in case you weren't sure, those are my garnet earrings in the middle)

You can visit the actual T Over Here...

Friday, July 29, 2011

Adding to my shop - starting with August Peridot

First, I promise I really have added a several new necklaces and bracelets lately! I'm getting more "balanced" with my inventory, and on track to hit my goal of 200 items by the start of the holiday shopping season - just made it to 160 today with some of these new additions!

Since Peridot is August's birthstone, I added the gem all over these mini chandelier forms that just arrived this week (and yes I'll be thinking of other gem combos for more of these):

You know by now I love garnet. I linked together a teardrop and circle of silver for a simple modern design....

And I liked it so much I made it with Iolite too!

Finally, these mini silver teardrop quads are so pretty and elegant I just added a citrine and voila. Of course I'm considering doing something with these pieces and some garnet too.....hmmmmmmmmmmm

Sunday, July 24, 2011

My Mango Tree thinks it's Fall already...

The fruit have all fallen now and my Mango is quickly preparing to do it all over again, first by shedding leaves all over the patio and yard. Since we don't exactly get "Fall Foliage" here in South Florida, at least it's nice to see these colors...

A couple of neighbors stopped by to harvest many of the mangoes during their peak, but many, as usual, became treats for squirrels and blue jays. My back yard smelled like a tropical cocktail for a solid month no matter how often I went around gathering the fallen fruits! Often the critters got well done with their bounty leaving only a central husk from the mango...most of these I left in the grass.

While raking up the leaves, I found that many of these discarded husks are now sprouting forth baby trees. So I gathered up about 8 and potted them to coax them along for a while and maybe find new homes. I was interested in the way the husk splits open to give birth to the new trees...mother nature repeating her own design but adapting it with a different color ;)

Sunday, July 17, 2011

A trip to the park

Last weekend I went to check out the South County Regional Park looking for running trails, but found - even better - a nature center with a boardwalk and natural preserve area.

So this weekend I went back with my camera. The sign marking the start of the boardwalk warns of the many wildlife you might encounter, including alligators. So I'm glad the path is mostly 8 ft above ground...but I didn't see anything scary (lots of scurrying noises as most critters heard me coming no doubt).

I saw a lot of butterflies along the walk, but most of them did not stop still long enough for a picture, except this one. I thought perhaps he was damaged by the look of his wings, but then with a little research I found this is a Ruddy Daggerwing Butterfly, and his wing design is the normal pattern, and actually the one the trail is named for:

The boardwalk extends along two paths, keeping you safely above ground with some nice views:

At one end is an observatory tower, about 3 stories high, great for a real feel of the space - totally quiet up here except for the birds and trees rustling...

I love the look of these simple bird houses - while it's a bit of a contrast to see these manmade objects amongst the wildlife, at least it's only to extend a helping hand:

During normal weather, this should be a good wetlands area, but we've been having a drought the past few months. I plan to go and check out what it looks like at the end of the summer when the rain has had a good chance to come back.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

It's Christmas In July ~ on Etsy that is!

A few months ago I joined a great team on Etsy with other sellers, focused on building our shops and sharing lessons and tips with one another. Since many sellers are opting in to run "Christmas in July" specials, many of my teammates organized around this as well.

For a complete list of the Aspiring Artisan Guild participants, please click over here:
Aspiring Artisan's Guild CIJ Sale

For a sampling across my team, and a few others mixed in, I put together this treasury as well:

Oh, and of course my own shop special is a coupon code: AERIJULY15 now through July 24th. Hope you find something nice!

Monday, July 4, 2011

Handmadeology Article: My Etsy Story

Handmadeology is a premiere support site for the handmade community, and by extension of course Etsy. They often ask for articles and have a strong presence in the Etsy forums - so I answered a few questions on a thread a few months ago, woke up this morning and found my post featured - yay!

My Etsy Story: Aerides Designs

Here's the full article:

1. Tell us your Etsy story.. how you got started in your craft and how you started selling on Etsy.

My first trip to a bead store with my mother as a child…maybe I was 12? Once I was allowed to have my ears pierced, we went and picked out beads to make our own earrings – and with that I was hooked! I’ve come back to it many times in my life, and last year decided that if I was ever going to work for myself, it would be via my own jewelry business. Research research research…and I found Etsy! Started very small, read a LOT, created a business plan. Redid(do) my pictures frequently. I’m still just starting but I like that it’s all mine to drive to success.

2. What have you learned about business since you launched your Etsy shop?

Once you have a wonderful product, marketing is really more important than anything else – so many wonderful shops list a few amazing items, then weeks later come to the Etsy forums asking why they haven’t sold yet. You can’t “list it and they will come” – not even the seasoned full time sellers. The business aspect, fortunately for me, is as attractive as the creative side.

3. Tell us one piece of advice for new sellers.

See #2…and have patience – if you sell one thing in your first month GREAT! Many don’t…but they do later. Many shops that are successful today will still tell similar stories. You said one, but the other tip is NEVER think your pictures are good enough (or at least, never say “I know my pics aren’t great but why else am I not selling?”) – Mine are always a work in progress. Plan to spend a LOT of time behind the camera.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

New earrings and other pieces in my shop

I mentioned in January my plan to increase my shop inventory to 200 items before October - it's harder than it sounds! I've been floating in the mid 130's for the past few weeks so that's a nice boost over the ~80 items I had when I first declared my goals.

Here are some new favorites I've added lately, starting with my sapphire and iolite bracelet which I just love if I do say so myself!

Some things I list and think "oh now this must just FLY out of my shop" and I'm often wrong, but I know this garnet necklace will find a home one day, and I'm still betting it's soon!

I've got a few earrings based on this simple cascade design - varying lengths of stones dangling from chains for an elegant effect, here shown in green amethyst:

Of course sometimes I go back to pieces that haven't sold and rework them. These HUGE citrine teardrops were revised with a little more of a wrap than I originally had, they are very bold but such lovely large stones.

And finally I picked up a strand of these adorable Trillion cut crystal quartz - these are like perfect pyramids of diamond - they sparkle so much from the detailed surface faceting and needed little extra dressing up from me!

And of course I've been reworking my pictures (again I know!). I picked up this garden trug at Pottery Barn a year or two back and it's a lovely weathered gray wood. It also has overlapping surfaces which help add dimension when I want to show something draped (like in the citrine earrings above), and I love the way the rustic neutral tone sets up the shining sparkle of silver and stones, so I might just stick with this as my main backdrop for a little while!