Posted in Bloggity Blog

Crooked Smile Creations for Lyfe

If you’ve been in and around the handmade world for long enough, and ventured to learn some of the behind the scenes details, you will hear LOTS of ideas being thrown around.  Some are good(ish) and others, not so muchoffice-620817_1920.  As I wrote in a previous post, you have to do what is best for your own business, life, and mind.  One of the areas that seems to be a big deal, is branding.  Branding is how your business is known, from the name of your shop, all the way to the colors, packaging, and ‘feel’ of your business, and that’s before your product is even considered.

You’ll understand what I mean if you consider how you feel walking into a Starbucks, or Home Depot.  If you feel fresh, young, hip and popular when you walk into a Starbucks, then you have been influenced by their branding.  If you were to go back in time and ask someone in the 1960’s to pay $4.00 for a cup of coffee at Starbucks, they would have laughed at you, and asked, “What’s a Starbucks?”  The business and brand have been meticulously developed and marketed for their targeted customer.

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When I began this little handmade journey, the first challenge I had was the business name.  Naming a business is like naming your child.  So many questions and considerations pop into your mind.  The idea came to me late at night, as most of my ideas tend to do.  I wanted it to reflect me, and I knew that the name, Crooked Smile Creations, was it.

grin-303704_1280For whatever reason, my smile, and I suppose my whole face is a bit lopsided.  Some have been so gracious as to point it out to me it in my life and I was always self-conscious of it in my younger years.  Now, I’m a bit older, a tad wiser, and considerably more apathetic to people’s opinions of me.  In short, it doesn’t bother me.

So, what better name could there be?  The very thing that induced such horror in me is now going before me to broadcast the products I’ve designed and made with my own two hands (and make a little money if possible).  It’s perfect, and I think it’s just grand.

Why explain this now?  Well, it’s a New(ish) Year, and I am doing some branding changes.  Oh, I’m not changing the name.  Oh Heck No.  I’m simply redesigning my signage.

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My crooked smile is as much a part of me as my own breath, and will be for all my days.

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Posted in Bloggity Blog

Rabbit Hole, 2017 Edition

So, remember me?  I’m like a long lost friend you run into on the street every few years, and wonder where she’s been.  Well, I’m always here, but I’m not great at blogging.  I really wish I were, but I’m pretty undisciplined when it comes to writing down my thoughts.

Anyway, here we are at 2017.  Some people reflect on the previous year and plan, schedule and set goals to outdo or undo what was done in the previous year.  That’s not me.  I’m not really into the past, but I do understand the need for reflection.  I really don’t schedule or set goals for each month or have a list of what I want to do in these 12 months.  Truth be told, I don’t know what to eat for lunch from day to day.

I’m pretty ok with it considering in my leisurely schedule of soft pursuits, I came up with the design of my popular keychain wallets.  Let’s call that a non-scheduled win.

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I did set some soft goals over the past year.  For instance, I have wanted for a long time to use leather in my bags and have dabbled a bit over the past year to do that.  I started incorporating suede into my wristlets and came up with this little bag which was quite popular over the Christmas shopping season.

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Sueeeede!

I even bought a stronger sewing machine.  This beast.

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It sews leather ‘ok’ but not great.  I have to keep trying to get it to work for me, using walking feet, teflon presser feet, stronger thread, etc.  When it comes down to it, it simply doesn’t do what I want.  So, I have looked for a walking foot machine off and on only to see the scary priced tags that make it prohibitive.

Well, fast forward to current day and feast your eyes on this lil gizmo.

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Holy Hannah!  It’s a walking foot semi-industrial sewing machine.  It’s the first walking foot machine I have bought.  It is a little scary.  I may lose a finger.  Or my eyesight.  There’s no lights on this bad boy.  Apparently lights are for sissies.

So.  Here we are.  2017.  A whole new twelve months worth of possibilities.  Let’s see where we end up, shall we?

Posted in Bloggity Blog

Summer Time

 

Ah, summer time.  The time when Floridians enjoy their air conditioning the most.  Not my favorite season any more.  If you live north of the heat drenched south, I’m sure you’re enjoying your long sunny days and mild evenings with lightening bugs (or fireflies, depending on where you live).  I’m enjoying the daily thunderstorms and mosquitos.

This is the time of year I lock myself in my sewing room and dream of winter.  (I’m not kidding)  So, the fruit of my labor is more bags!  I have finally gotten a few bags back in stock that had sold out, like this khaki and blue suede wristlet.

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I’ve also expanded on this design a bit and made it in a different color palette.

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I’m also happy to say that I am now a part of the Handmade on Amazon sellers.  I am so so excited about this.  Don’t get me wrong, I started on Etsy and still enjoy that platform, but I think Amazon has so much more potential.

So, think of me down here in Florida while you enjoy your summer fun.  I’ll be huddled around my sewing machines while I listen to the hum of my a/c.

 

Posted in Bloggity Blog

Best Little Keychain Wallet

I have a bit of a confession to make.  I can’t get enough fabric.  I’m sure others can relate to this.  Many quilters have a ‘stash’ that feeds their quilting hobby.  Personally, I don’t quilt, but I do share their love of fabric.  I don’t really know why, or when it all started, but long before I even started sewing, I truly enjoyed all things textile.  When I go into a fabric store, or look at online fabric houses, my mind simply races with ideas of what I can make.  Then, my sensible midwest mind kicks in, and I realize that the only way those projects are going to get done, is if I do them, and just when exactly is all that going to happen?

Thanks logical side of my brain, keep me from becoming a hoarder.

fabric-637785_640I believe this mild fabric obsession is the reason I have a wide variety of items in my Etsy shop.  Many creative entrepreneurs have items that they make over and over and over.  I have secretly envied that approach to business.  It makes their manufacturing, listing and optimization much easier, I am finding out.  However, after much thought, I am really getting comfortable with the fact that I just can’t follow that model.  I like change.  Too much.  I like color, texture, variety.  Will my product line ever become a static line of bags and wallets?  I don’t know.  Maybe I’ll evolve into that at some point.  Maybe I never will.

For the time beinIMG_1041g, though, I like variety.  If you look at my shop, you find most of my products are one of a kind items.  Some things, I will make more than one, but the majority are one of a kind items.  One of my favorite product lines is my keychain wallets.

I worked on this design off and on for a few years, until it was perfect.  It is a great wallet for anyone on the go.  Whether you put it in your pocket, or your larger bag, it is the perfect size for simplistic style.

If you frequent sports stadiums or soccer pitches with the kids, you know that you are limited on what you can, or really want, to carry with you.  In the midst of all the fun and festivities, you need to keep your cards, cash and keys close at hand.

IMG_1036These are also the best little wallets for running around the city when you need to keep a minimalist style.  It’s perfect for holding your metro card, your ID, credit cards and keys.  Its slim design keeps them securely in your pocket while you are out and about.

Since each wallet is unique, there is a limited number available in each fabric, once they are gone, that is it.

I have made and shipped these wallets all over the world.  They are popular with college students, city gals, soccer moms, and teachers.

Here are some of the reviews (All faces and names of customers are confidential):

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These wallets are loved by many, which makes me extremely happy, because I love making them.

Everything in my shop is ready to ship right away.  Once you order a wallet, it is on its way to you within 24 hours from when you place your order because I know how it is to stalk the mail carrier anticipating deliveries.

 

 

Since there are limited quantities of each wallet, order the one you love soon.  I would hate for you to see this:

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Posted in Bloggity Blog

Etsy success, or not

Warning, this post is a bit of a rant.

I have been on Etsy since 2010.  I don’t sell a lot, and do not kid myself that I am the next greatest viral thing out there.  I know that is not my reality.  I simply enjoy making and selling handmade items.  Thinking about someone trusting me to have a product that they would purchase is humbling and exciting at the same time.pocketwallet

Anyone who has been around the handmade world that Etsy championed, knows that it is fraught with issues, and has become more complicated over the years.  In spite of that, many sell their items regularly and consistently.  I am not one of those people.  I truly wish I were.

This year, with all the changes that Etsy has put in place, my shop, which was merely the tiniest star in their universe has dimmed significantly.  Views and sales are nonexistent.  Like so many others, I have given so much time and thought to what I could possibly be doing so wrong that the little success I had with my shop went to zero.  When your heart and soul is bound in this little corner of the internet, you want it to be received well and not ignored.  Believe me when I say that failure is exhausting.

I searched the internet over looking for advice, forums, help, insight, anything, that I am sure to be missing.  Surely there is some explanation for my failure that my little brain is incapable of understanding.

What did I find?  Lots.  So much information in fact that I am on information overload.  Some advise to get off Etsy and start your own website.  Others say to send out emails to subscriber lists to get sales.  The vast majority of advisers are telling you what worked for them.  Every single one of them has a story, which is their path to success.  It isn’t necessarily good advice.

What I’ve come to understand is that those who write advice blogs are making their success at writing the blogs and selling their knowledge, not their handmade items.  One advisor talks about making $100k in the first four months of the year.  I’m happy for her, but she didn’t do it selling on Etsy.  She did it selling her advice, knowledge and coaching services.  Her knowledge is great, I’m not denying that, but trying to use it as an example of what can be done in the crafty world isn’t accurate.  I actually find it deceiving.

To say it another way, Cindy Crawford, was the face of a generation and made her career in the modeling world.  She was wildly successful.  If you were to see her now, she would still look amazingly good.  If she were to create a skin care line and sell it to you, you might consider buying it based on how she looks and her success as a model, and you might like the product.  Would you look like her and have her skin?  No.  She has genetics on her side.

Similarly, those selling knowledge of how they succeeded on Etsy, doesn’t lead you to success.

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So, I say to you, Buyer Beware.  I don’t have the knowledge of what is right or wrong when it comes to being an entrepreneurial success in the handmade world.  If I did, I would give it to you, for free.  What I do know, is that catchy blog titles and well worded statements that only lead you to another hyperlink, is not the answer.  If I ever found an honest forthcoming blog or advisor who was truly interested in helping me succeed, and not directing me to click around their sight, I’d be extremely happy.

Posted in Ideas

Designing Fabric

When you start down the path of crafty entrepreneurialism, you never really know what you may have to do to succeed.  I took a business personality test and was told that I am an explorer.  I’m not sure how accurate those things are, or what that means for being an entrepreneur, but that’s ok.  I have indeed always been one to try different challenges, so maybe there is something to it.

business woman at work on computer showing thumbsup sign clipartBeing the sole person in a creative business, you wear many different hats.  Since I opened shop in 2010, I have been involved in a never ending tutorial of online business learning.  I have been pushed to improve my copywriting, photography, business logistics, pricing and procurement, manufacturing, law, taxes, and that’s all before breakfast! (just kidding)

One area that I’ve dipped my toe into recently has been fabric design.  Really, the only ideas I had about fabric was what I wanted for particular projects.  As someone who can get specific about how a project needs to look, I know the frustration of not finding exactly what you want.  So, like so many other things, I thought, “How can I make this?”

That’s when I got familiar with Spoonflower.  After designing some patterns for my own needs, I saw how easy their website is for beginners, and started to dabbled a bit more with graphic design.

Coming from a technical background, using design software didn’t bother me much.  There was, and still is, a learning curve of seeing what the software can do, but with YouTube, you can teach yourself a lot.  The software I chose to use is Inkscape, which is free, and pretty robust.  If you are interested in reading about a few other suggestions, you could try a few of the links in this Spoonflower blog post.

The very first pattern I made for ‘public consumption’ was this umbrella pattern.  I was really into color and wanted to make something fun while I was learning the technical ins and outs of it all.

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I’ve since made a few more patterns.

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dresses

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One of the fun aspects about Spoonflower is their design challenge.  One of their challenges, specified a color palette to use. I believe the colors were, cucumber, mellon and peach.  The RGBA was given in their instructions.  These are the three patterns I submitted.

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I didn’t win the challenge, but I was quite happy to be a part of it, and have a little acknowledgement of my designs.

If you’ve ever thought about designing patterns for fabric, or just want to try your hand at graphic design, I encourage you to do so.  It can be quite fun, and the possibilities are endless.  Plus, you can offer them for sale on Spoonflower.  My shop is here.  If you are unsure about how it all works, I’m happy to share the knowledge I’ve acquired so far.

Happy Designing!

Posted in Tutorials

DIY Handbag Tutorials

Last week, I posted a basic picture tutorial detailing how to make a zippered pouch.  Hopefully many find it easy to follow and can use it as a stepping stone to make your own accessories, if you are new to sewing.  IMG_5034

I have been making bags for several years.  I have made many different styles and shipped them all over the world.  One of my more popular ones is my crossbody bag.  Some refer to the style as a messenger bag, but since mine is on a smaller scale, I use crossbody.

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Over the years, I have used many different fabric combinations to make this bag.  Since I am a fiend for fabrics, I enjoy putting together different combinations.

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I actually have one more bag in this style left in my Etsy shop.  It is the sole survivor of this long line of bags.

Like many who sell handmade items, the challenge of space and inventory on the business side of selling, can make it difficult to keep this line in production, even though I really, really like this bag.

So, instead of stocking inventory of this adorable bag, I have included it in my handbag pattern offerings on my website.  It is written in a similar style to the tutorial that I posted here, but with more graphics to lead you through each step.  You can download it and have fun making your very own bag.

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I know there are so many others who are as into fabrics as I am.  If you make this bag, please share your photos with me.  I’d love to see what you make!  You can find me on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram!

Happy Sewing