Monday, August 25, 2014

How to Build an Etsy Shop

I was looking around Etsy this morning and saw a couple of new shops that needed help. With that in mind I started writing. I have a few shops….PatternHaus is my newest but the others, GoofingOffSewing, MissEileen (vintage), and MetalWoodsnWater have over 2500 sales. Not huge but I learned a little bit to share with others.
Congratulations on your decision to work for yourself. Remember though, it is work. You just became a business owner.

You need good ones. All angles. If you knit, consider a model. Maybe on a baby, maybe on a doll. Do you paint? Show how it could be displayed. Think how the buyer would use the item and try to get a picture of it. Use all 5 slots for the pics.
Pictures are always a work in progress for me.

Listing titles
Baby stuff tells little about your items except it is for babies. Check out what other sellers (the most successful one) call their items to get ideas. As a seller, you need something that will attract my attention. Remember, you have a lot of competition.

Describe the item…ex: "Handmade baby sweater, leggings, and matching hat made of soft, cashmere yarn." Remember to add the size, the fabulous pattern or stitch you used and if it was crocheted or knitted. Describe the color…lemon yellow, cocoa brown, mint green…whatever. Remember the buyer is using your description and not their hands to decide it he or she wants to purchase your item.

Use the variations for more than sizes. If you offer a sweater set in different colors show the colors in your listing. Take pictures of the yarn to give people a choice.

Make more than one listing.
The more listings available, the better the chance of selling. Don't use one listing for everything in your shop if the items are different. For Example: Separate hats from the sweaters. Show one in a few close ups, maybe use one a model, and then the one with all the different colors….then use the color variations. Price the hats separately from the sweater sets. They deserve their own space. So does blankets. Consider booties as a separate listing. A successful painter uses one listing for prints, one for magnets, and another for pendants….all of the same painting, all with different price points.

You don't ship for free.  Weigh your items and decide if they need special handling or not. Think about the use of Flat Rate Envelopes from USPS. Shipping in the US should be $5.70 using USPS Priority Flat Rate Padded envelopes and insurance is included. USPS will send them to you free of charge. How about First Class Shipping? You can ship up to 16 ounces using First Class and it takes 2-4 days….and the pricing is reasonable.  If your items are pre made give a turn around time that you can keep up with, maybe 1-3 or 3-5 days. Stop at the store and get some gift wrap tissue (white is the least expensive) to wrap your items and zip lock bags to put them in if they are small. Think about using special packaging as you grow. Buy adhesive labels so you can write your shop name on them and label the bag. Maybe stickers? There are places that will make them to fit your business.
Get your shipping things ready before you have a sale.

Label your work
If you sew, knit, or crochet, consider having labels made to sew into your work. There are folks who will make them for you. I'm not sure how much they cost but it will give your items a professional look. Make labels on your computer or order some.

Custom Work
If you make something custom, give the customer an idea of how long it will take. Take pictures of the work in progress and keep in touch with them. Work with the customer so they will remember you and the wonderful work you did for them. They will appreciate the updates.

There's probably a lot more I haven't touched on but this is a start.
Have patience and good luck.

Friday, August 22, 2014

Don't Forget Your Sunscreen

"Our goal is go home" my patient's wife said. "I'm a nurse. I can handle the care." End of life care in their case.  I often wondered how I would act if confronted with the problem she confronted. She joked a little. Laughed a little. Hugged her hubby a lot.

For him it started with a trip to the hospital for horrible back pain. Cancer wrapped itself around his spinal cord, crushing it and causing paralysis. He'd been battling melanoma and the cancer became metastatic attacking organs until breathing became difficult. Ugh.
I introduced myself and gave hime the call light.
"See this little symbol? Looks like me? Push this for your wonderful nurse, me." Later, when I checked his alertness level I asked him "And who am I?" "My wonderful nurse" he said and we laughed.

We are a nation of sun worshippers. Folks bake in little ovens..tanning salons as they are get that beautiful bronze color. They even pay for the privilege. How often did I bake in the sun getting burnt thinking I looked good (I was young and I am older, sometimes stupid, er, not so smart)? No sunscreen. I used baby oil!!??!!

I don't advocate staying indoors and avoiding the sun. I advocate using your brain...and sunscreen. Reduce your risk.
Live long and prosper.....(my Spock-love is showing).

Post by Eileen Patterson

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Some Serious Recycling Going On: The Broken Chair

It broke....finally. It's been working on it for a while but I have a hard time letting go. No, not a relationship, a chair I found at an auction about 18 years ago..$2 bucks a piece at the end of the auction. Good deal.
 My home is a mish mash of hand-me-downs and recycled what-nots and my kitchen is no exception (except the appliance...bought them new). Matching? They're all made of wood...brown stain...matches.
A supporting rung of the chair broke a few months ago so I made sure no one sat in it and used it to set groceries on...I guess the grocery bags DO hold a few more pounds of stuff than plastic bags (shopping is my weight training work out. I am all about fitness). I noticed it was leaning somewhat precipitiously, one of those what-the-heck-is-wrong-with-that moments. Falling apart..beyond repair, at least for me.
Now to let go of the scraps of wood. I keep having those "what can I make with this" moments that keep what is left of the chair from the dump.
Trying to think of something.
Letting go is so hard.
Oh, I did save the seat....there's another chair frame around here somewhere that needs one.
Some serious recycling goes on here.

Post by Eileen Patterson

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

The Non-Compliant Patient

I don't write too much about my nursing life. It's too personal...sometimes. I have these feelings about nursing....lots of's my job. I do what I think is the right thing to do and it treats me on the table, a roof over my head. It is what it is.
Last night my patient said "I bet you've seen a lot." Yup, good and bad, miracles and not-so-good. Some of what I see are non-compliant patients...those who fly straight into the face of the medical community and against medical advice (and sometimes common sense) to do what they want. It is frustrating to care for someone who doesn't want much done but doesn't want to leave the hospital, doesn't want to change their code status (they usually are full code but don't want anything done...sort of like hitting your hand with a hammer and not letting anyone take the hammer away), and doesn't want to....the list goes on and on.
We had a patient recently who not just fit the picture but posed for it, too. "NO, I don't want a PICC. NO, I don't want a foley." He was gruff and messy...and had crude language, too. Just the thing to make the hairs on the back of your neck to stand up.
I stopped in one day just to say hello. I told him I wasn't his nurse, wasn't there to stick him or do anything, just there to say hi and see how he was doing. He looked at me like I was crazy then relaxed and started talking. He told me how sick he was, how he was "easing on out." I asked why he changed his code status back to full code...full court press we sometimes call it....and he shrugged. It was then I realized this rough and tough guy was scared of dying. He told me he'd been all over, saw a lot and did a lot. "You know what you would like?" he asked. "Fishing in Montana. Watching the sun come up there and eating fresh fish." For that brief moment he left the hospital..I could see it on his face..then he asked why he felt so bad. I told him what I thought was happening and suggested he got back to bed to rest...which he did.
Not so mean, not so big and bad, not so gruff...just sick and scared. He had lived life on his terms and now it was coming to an end....out of his control.
I stopped in to see him before he transferred out of the unit. He took my hand and told me I was a good friend. I almost cried....almost.
I wonder how often we are non-compliant patients. I know I've been one. I'm good while I am sick but then there's other times.....My doctors would shake their heads when I'd tell them the things I did in spite of being told not to.
Today I'll be a good patient, take my pills, exercise, not eat too much. Not sure about tomorrow, though.
Post by Eileen Patterson

Thursday, August 7, 2014

DIY Map Decor

Map Fabric Panel

While packing and shipping my beautiful map fabric (sold in the GoofingOff shop..sorry, but a girl's got to blow her own horn sometimes) I started thinking about the things that could be made with map fabric. Sure, a person can hem the panel, sew loops on it, and hang it for …you guessed it… a map. Great idea if you are planning to teach far away since it folds up nice and doesn't tear like paper does. Still….there should be more so I looked what other crafty folks are up to and came up with these ideas.

DIY Map Artwork
Here's an idea from Martha Stewart (or the folks who work with her). These maps are paper but why not use fabric and frame it? 

Map Decorator Pillow
Catherine Holcomb from Mapology, makes these wonderful map pillows. The fabric lends itself well to throw pillows or pillow cases. 
Map bunting
Amy Mahon, from Chezlele, not only makes map pillows but map bunting, too. 

Map picnic blanket
The Domestic Goddess (hail) made this picnic blanket using the map fabric,  a vinyl tablecloth, and scraps. Check out her tutorial to learn how she did it. 

I'm sure there's a lot of other things to do with the fabric…curtains, shower curtains, tote bag (I love totes…can't stand to use plastic bags). Maybe not a shirt, though…depends how you place the countries…."Er, excuse me, you have Beijing placed over your"…..
Post by Eileen Patterson….GoofingOff