Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Many small business owners struggle when it comes to pricing their items - how do you know if you are charging enough for your product? How much do you pay yourself? What about wholesale pricing? I've collected some helpful articles to guide you through the process of pricing your handmade goods:

The Art of Pricing via the Etsy blog
Determining Your Overhead via Handmade Marketing
Preparing for Wholesaling via the Etsy blog

l'heure bleue (just before the snow) - Treasured Finds

You can see more beautiful finds here.
Thank you to Veronica Vartic for these Treasured Finds!

Sunday, December 11, 2011

How We Celebrate the Season

Merry Christmas, everyone! Well, almost... As we get ever closer to that giant, overly-commercialized, chilly, and sometimes kitsch holiday known as Christmas, we'd like to give you a closer look at how we makers of the Aspiring Artisan's Guild celebrate. 

Jingle Bell Holiday Cheer Necklace in Red and Green
Sarah of MyOliviaJewelry's family has a tradition of having to guess what each present is before they can open it. This was started by her great-grandma when the family couldn't afford many gifts. Guessing takes a good long while so it would draw out the present opening and make it more fun. This tradition has encouraged some creative gifts. Her grandfather once wrapped up a big rock from his backyard that her uncle used to sit on and read books as a kid!

Hand Painted Moleskine "le penguin" Cahier / Notebook and Gold Snowflake and Crystal Earrings
Laura of LeAnimale and Rachel of ExhaustedCreativity both have the Christmas tradition of opening a present from under the tree a night early Christmas Eve in anticipation of the day itself!

6 Crimson Red Holiday Bows
Rachel of cornflowerbluestudio takes an active approach. Since she and her husband live far from any family and don't celebrate Christmas themselves, they usually go on a hike that day. When they lived in Arizona they would spend a few days around Christmas at the Grand Canyon hiking the South Rim and now that they're in Alabama they go to a nearby state park on Christmas Eve and enjoy the crisp air.

Reusable 25-day countdown to Christmas Advent Calendar
When April of MooreMagnets was young she, her dad, and brother used to take a long drive home looking at all of the luminaries that were put out on Christmas eve. "It was a big thing that the town used to do, and one of the most beautiful things to see. As we got older my brother and I continued our long drive home, and even as teenagers when we didn't like each other it was something that we always did. We made a lot of memories on those drives, and I think we both are disappointed that fewer and fewer people put the luminaries out on Christmas eve," says April.

Wire Wrapped Garnet Necklace
Our wonderful AeridesDesigns moved to the U.S from england in the 80's, but her mother keeps Christmas very English. Christmas Crackers are becoming more common in the US, but the British way is to pop open the crackers with the person next to you at dinner and then wear the paper hat on your head throughout your meal. "We do that still, including my husband and my brother in law (who are both American, and both grumble at the idea, but play along)," she says.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

What Does Sustainability Mean to You?

A while back  I was thinking about how when people build houses now, they don't often build them with the mentality of passing them down generation after generation the way they used to. Homes often aren't built with quality enough materials to be able to truly stand the test of time. I wonder if it isn't a byproduct of being the age of throw-out-and-upgrade. People don't, in general, buy with the intent of items lasting through generations anymore (although it seems this has been changing more and more in the last few years). This leads me back to the currently fashionable word "sustainability."

To me, it means creating something lasting--in whatever form that may be. In the context of handmade businesses, this may mean creating an heirloom quality piece, making something that will stand the test of time and not become a yearly re-buy for the customer, and creating lasting relationships with your customers who come to value your work even more through knowing who you are and how it came into being.

 On the Aspiring Artisans Guild, we are all micro business owners. In order to thrive in this economic climate, we've had to look at ways to make our business models sustainable in the long run. Partnering with Artisans Gallery Team in a project titled "People and Planet First" I would like to open up discussion here: What does "sustainability" in the context of a handmade business mean to you?

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Business Tip of the Week :: Opportunity or Time Waster?

One thing any small business owner knows is that there is never enough time! We have so many ideas, projects, lists, requests and demands... so how do you know which activities are valuable to your business and which ones are time wasters? Well, I just ran across this great video full of helpful info on how to make the distinction. It only takes a few minutes to watch and the strategies may save you from wasting time in the future!

gift guide: best friend under 75 - Treasured Finds

You can find more gift ideas here.
Thank you to oh dear watson for these Treasured Finds!

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Time Management - Manage Your Time, Don't Let Your Time Manage You

Happy December 1st! I've Just finished up my 4th November on Etsy and we are smack dab in the middle of holiday shopping season! I hope that you are all doing well, making sales, and getting your own holiday shopping done if you need to do any!

I can actually say that this November has been the least stressful November of all of the November's I've had on Etsy. I credit most of that to managing my time, being prepared, and setting realistic deadlines. I also made the conscious decision not to do a lot of extra craft shows and markets this year too, which has made a world of difference!

Last year and the year before, I vowed that I would start putting our Christmas tree up on November 1st, but thankfully I managed to get all of the decorations up on Thanksgiving weekend and we enjoyed a couple days off for friends and family.

So, what is my secret? I've been managing my time, and not letting time manage me. You may ask exactly what that means ... Basically, I know how much I can get done in a day and when I am pushing my expectations of myself. So, I have been scheduling projects each day and allowing lots of extra time to communicate with customers. Customer questions and requests seem to be a lot higher this time of year, so I have learned that I need at least double the amount of time each day to communicate.

I've also been careful not to over promise. So, when I tell customers how long custom orders are taking, I am sure to account for a bit of cushion to ensure that packages go out on time. Purchasing tracking on packages also seems to be more important than ever right now, so that customers can see exactly where their items are in transit.

By managing my time well, I have been able to have my most successful month on Etsy, and still fill the house with the smells and activities that come along with the season and my family.

So go forth, and manage your time!