Monday, September 6, 2010

Life is Tough, Nuns are Tougher

I've long been a fan of kitsch.  Religious kitsch has its own special place in my heart since I grew up Catholic and my favorite aunt was a nun.

I found the perfect bracelet from Sister Mary Martha's Etsy shop Heaven Help Us.  You know, I'm pretty sure that Sister Mary Martha isn't really a nun.  I doubt that the Catholic church condones their nuns running a side business.  If they did, I'm sure we'd have far more common sights like nuns on the corner selling Holy Water Lemonade for 5 cents. I would buy that but the pope might frown.  But with a personal motto of "Life is tough.  Nuns are tougher." I don't think I can pass up the lure of the Jobs and Income Set of saints medallions bracelet. 

Sister Mary Martha specifically grouped these saints together for their beneficial effect on for finding a job and keeping a stable income.  Perhaps an unlikely grouping.  You wouldn't see these folks gathering after work for happy hour.  What would they talk about?  There's Pope John Paul II, who had the longest run in history for as a Pope (the stability factor;) St. Expeditus, the patron saint of things that need to get here in a hurry;  the Infant of Prague, the patron of financial stabilty; St. Martin de Caballero, who according to Sister Mary Martha "would give you the shirt off his back; and finally, St. Francis of Assisi, who made a close friend of Lady Poverty, just in case you need little help dealing with the fact that it's hard to make ends meet."

Perhaps an unlikely grouping.  You wouldn't see these folks gathering after work for happy hour.  What would they talk about?  But for a prayer bracelet, heck it just might work.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Member Story- Erin MacMahon

Here is Erin MacMahon's story:
My Etsy shop,, is a jewelry store with necklaces and earrings designed and created by me! I never intended to sell jewelry; I only started making my own when I realized how grossly overpriced most costume jewelry actually is – gemstone beads, plate metal chain and findings do not often add up to $200 – and that it wouldn't be too hard to replicate some of the designs I liked. My first attempt, about 6 months ago, came out pretty decently (or so I thought at the time – I recently found it and re-made it more professionally :). So I started making necklaces to give as gifts for birthdays, Mother's Day, etc – something personal and unique for my friends and relatives. Later, I made a Twilight-inspired necklace for myself, and then tried (unsuccessfully) to sell copies of it on eBay.

I am a business student now, but I'd always been in the interior design field. For years, I was in the sales department at different furniture stores and loved the design aspect, but hated being a salesperson – it really does change your personality over time, and not in the best way. Earlier this year, I finally had enough; I could not continue in sales any longer. I started looking for another job, but guess what? Employer see “salesperson” on your resume and want to give you yet another sales job – and believe me, they are all the same. So … the truth? I quit my job.

I know it's a crazy thing to do in this economy, but I had a plan. I gave one month notice and began to set up a home-based business: interior design, home staging for resale, personal chef, and housekeeping are just a few of the services I planned to offer. Fast forward two months, and I had gotten nowhere. Zero calls, emails, and clients. My savings were gone and, to be honest, it was a miracle they'd lasted me that long.

That was when I stumbled onto Etsy, looking for a unique gift, and realized what an amazing concept the site has: an open community for artisans, sellers of vintage items, and suppliers, with minimal operating costs. After some thought, I decided to just go for it!

That was about 2 months ago, and I've already learned a lot since then. I've redone my photographs (multiple times), tweaked the listings a million times, added more items, re-listed items (haven't seen any benefit there), remade all my graphics, tried out Showcase (not worth it, in my opinion), and fell in love with the Treasury feature. I have a Facebook page, thoughtfully created for me by my best friend, through which I post interesting little tidbits to draw people to my Etsy shop, and I'm trying out Facebook ads right now (inexpensive, but not yet sure whether it's worth it). The one thing I have found to be effective at gaining exposure has not been any type of paid advertising, or really any kind of advertising at all: it's the Treasury feature on Etsy. I started to put together lovely collections, just for my own entertainment; a seller found her item in one of my treasuries; she made her own treasury and featured me in it; that treasury made the front page; my item gained 600 views in one day.

That's my best advice for any seller: promote other people's work. Sounds counter-intuitive, but it absolutely works; the more you help other sellers, the more they will help you. I haven't seen as dramatic results from any other experiment I've tried. Still, I have yet to make my first sale – any advice anyone has there is welcome! - but I'm not as worried anymore; I know I'm slowly gaining more exposure in the huge marketplace of Etsy, and the sales will come for me as they have for other people. Teams, like this one, are another great opportunity from Etsy – I've joined several and am trying to stay active in all of them. I hope to eventually be able to pay my bills from Etsy profits, then take metalworking classes to improve my skills, and some day have a gorgeous inventory of unique items and a devoted fan base. For now, I'm still learning – I'm definitely no expert yet, but I'm having fun with it on a daily basis, and hoping that the money will follow!

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Member Story- Jrosenberry1- New Leaf Designworks

I work with Polymer Clay, making figurines and jewelry. It's a lot of fun and it's very fulfilling. :D

Working with Polymer Clay was begun as a whim ... I wanted to make miniature ornaments for an Advent "Christmas Tree Calendar" - we needed 25 small ornaments which would be added daily. The beginning ornaments were pretty lame (!) but my son joined in and he loved it. My husband and I will always treasure his little ornaments.

There was some leftover clay, so a couple of months later I decided to make a little "garden gnome" for my dad. He loves garden gnomes. Everyone liked the little guy ... I made more and more till we had a veritable army of gnomes!

I've been crafting - in one form or another - for most of my life. But I've only been working with polymer clay for about a year and a half. Every day is a learning experience and daily I see new techniques, tools and items to experiment with.

Formerly, I worked at a history non-profit and lost my job when the position was moved over 3 hours away, to Washington, DC. It was a huge loss, but now I'm glad to be out of there. I'm healthier and happier now. So sometimes a terrible event is really a blessing in disguise. (Even if you don't feel "blessed" at the time.) Out of a desire to "make ends meet" I've learned to produce a large number of objects, to market myself, to use contacts, and to explore options out there. It keeps me on my toes - looking for new ideas all the time, things that "the public" will like ... while I also do "art pieces" or "personal pieces" which are not for sale.

My advice is to "never give up". In the words of Winston Churchill:

...Never give in, never give in,
never, never, never, never-in nothing,
great or small, large or petty - never give
in except to convictions of honour and good
sense. Never yield to force; never yield to
the apparently overwhelming might of the

My web site (always under construction) is

All the best ....

Monday, April 26, 2010

Member Story - Charming Prints

Charmingprints makes some amazing quilts!  She's taken a break from quilting just long enough to share her story!

Charmingprints Story:

I have always loved making and creating things, and doing artistic crafts. I fell away from it though while I was in military college and the Navy. When I finished my term, I began to work for a Fortune 50 company in retail distribution, while beginning my family. I met a great lady when my daughter was young and we began to spend time together during the day (I was working nights). She showed me how to quilt, make jam and raise chickens. I have since lost touch with her, but I will never forget the skills she taught me and the friendship we shared. Over the years I made quilts for family members and friends, to bring peace of mind from the empty career I was trying to build.

I've lived in many states between that company and the next one I worked for (same scenario, different corporation). By November 2009, I was managing a 1.4 million square foot distribution center full of import products, to be distributed to the 301 stores my building serviced. My annual P&L was $328 million and I had up to 180 staff. But I was also a single mother with 2 daughters, and an 83 mile commute each way. I was bordering on miserable trying to balace work, life and that horrendous commute.

My boss allowed me to work from home part of the time, which was helpful. Until November 12th, 2009 when he fired me for attendance (not showing up for work). I was shocked, but not. Relieved but scared. I was overjoyed but terrified at the prospect that I had to make a decision about what to do next.

I can't even stomach the thought of going back to an office job, commuting or wearing a suit. Fortunately, I still have some time and savings to pursue this dream. The dream of raising my girls, not letting a daycare's minimum wage workers do it for me. The dream of supporting myself and my family, without having to support something I don't believe in and feel spiritually stripped at the end of every day.

I had to put my fear in my back pocket and sit on it. I had to overcome my anxiety about what tomorrow might hold and embrace the excitement of that prospect. I didn't want to show my girls that I would not be so easily defeated; that I planned well and could and would thrive from this blessing in disguise. So here we are.
 Visit her shop today!  Charmingprints

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Member Story - Sewinmachine

Here's a wonderful Etsy shop that sells unique and very functional ipod covers! 

Thanks to Sewinmachine's Jennifer Waldron for sharing her story:

Art is the first thing I remember being good at doing. I have always loved art and crafts. In the past I have drawn, painted, made pottery, 3d glass paintings, and photography. I have also taught myself how to knit, crochet, and sew.

I currently sew handmade iPod and cell phone cases out of eco-fi felt, which is made from 100% post consumer recycled plastic bottles. Cases are hand sewn and bring a smile to your face with their happy animal designs.

I have been working since I was 15 years old. Even throughout college I kept at least 2 steady part time jobs. I graduated in 2007 and planted myself my dream job as a first grade teacher in Monterey County. Teaching isn’t as easy as you would think, but I loved my job, especially the kids. In Feb. 2009, I found out that due to budget cuts I would not be rehired for the following school year. I became very depressed and didn’t know what my next step in life would be. I moved to Northern California to live with my boyfriend while he finishes up college, he will be graduating in May.
While shopping for our new apartment at Ikea, I came across an awesome orange and black bird fabric that I just couldn’t live without. I decided I wanted to make it into a purse and taught myself how to sew. The purse idea slowly evolved into ipod cases and then Sewinmachin was born! I love my new job!! My boyfriend is a full time student, so Sewinmachine along with my unemployment check (which expires in May) supports us right now!

Loosing my job was very hard for me. I felt like all of my life long dreams were crushed and that I would never be able to pick myself back up, but I have… in a way that I never though possible. If you are in a similar position, you can turn your life around too, just do what you love and keep with your craft!

Visit her shop today! Sewinmachine