Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Ride the Changing Tide on Etsy

It feels like I am riding a changing tide. At the end of my first year on Etsy, I'm pondering how to survive the economic crisis and still grow my Etsy site.  There's so much I would do with my site, if I had more capital to invest.  I would make a lot more jewelry, advertise more and certainly expand my options.  I have made a vow not to create debt while starting this small business, and that has kept my business small.  I have made ten sales this year, though I have made more sales off line at trunk shows and craft fairs.  Ten sales feels too small.

I enjoy making jewelry, but I've other work to do, too.  I would enjoy hearing from those of you with Etsy businesses how you find time to grow your business and do whatever other jobs you have.  I will share some of the things that have been storming my brain and look forward to your ideas, too.

Claire's Ideas for Growing Business

  1. Make simpler, quicker jewelry, which can be sold for less.  
  2. Repeat designs instead of making "one-of-a-kind."
  3. Find a less expensive source and recycle materials.
  4. Diversify what I make to include non-jewelry items (there's a glut of jewelry on Etsy).
  5. Find a good, active Street Team on Etsy.  I love the team I have, but I maybe need another.
  6. Advertise myself more off-line.
  7. Focus on preparing for a few big craft shows and fairs and participate big time.
  8. Guard my spare time with a passion so I don't get burned-out.
  9. Passionately uphold my schedule, with an eye for boundary busters. (They don't know who they are, poor things, but they suck up a lot of my energy for my work.  Only I can create my boundaries - and only I can enforce them.)
  10. And I will be aware of the fact I am learning and not compare myself to other artists. 

I will honor that I am doing the best I can, even in those times when I need to do better.

So tell me all of you out there in Etsy Land - any advice for growing my business, without going into debt or spending too much? How do you guard your time for other things?  What has served you well?  What hasn't?

Thursday, December 17, 2009

To Wonder at Beauty, Stand Guard over Truth


As the year spins to an end, I hope all is well at your house.  I  offer these words attributed to Rudolf Steiner, philosopher and mystic of the early 20th century (revised for inclusivity):

To wonder at beauty,

stand guard over truth,

look up to the noble,

decide for the good,

leads all on their journeys

to goals for our lives.

These words work well to say to oneself at the beginning of a walk, especially a labyrinth walk, if you do such things. Even if you don't, life can be a labyrinth, the twists and turns confusing. I love the expression that all those who wander are not lost. I would like to add wonder to my wandering, especially when I feel lost, and find the beauty in the place I am.  

May you find wonder, beauty, truth, nobility and good to lead your goals for 2010.  

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

The Special Gift: Have You Found What You're Looking For?

Something New: Red Tiger Eye, Garnet, Jasper &Copper

I love giving gifts.  I don't always have much to spend, but how I love figuring out a way within my means to bring a look of pleasure to someone, along with the sense that they are appreciated and understood by me.  At the end of this blog post, I will share some of my free or low-cost ideas for gifts.  If you can afford very reasonably priced jewelry items, I recommend you visit my Etsy site to do some carefree gift-shopping. I will even gift wrap for you and postage within the USA is free this season.

I hope that my ready-made designs will please some, but I am always open to collaborating to create something that speaks to the heart.  That is why I call my store the Heart Space, because I put my own heart and soul into these items.  It is a way of sending my joy outward - via color, precious metals, beautiful beads and natural stones.

If you have an idea for a gift that you might like my help realizing, please don't hesitate to contact me.  We might be able to collaborate.  You can contact me via email at, where you can leave a message, even attach a photo of something you might like.  I'm fully aware, gauging by sales this year that this might be a tight season financially for me and many others.

Here are a few ideas for free or extremely low cost gifts and community-building that I especially enjoy.

10 Hearfelt Gift Ideas
  1. The gift of time. Start with a hand-written invitation on a pretty card (You can find many nice cards on Etsy, by the way)  Invite a friend for a lunch you cook yourself.  Sit deep and catch up on each other's lives.  
  2. Copy out a favorite poem on nice paper - choose one that reminds you of someone special.  Copy it in your best handwriting or on your computer with a nice font. With a glue stick glue on a relevant picture from a magazine or old greeting card.  Toll  Tie it with a pretty ribbon. 
  3. Even BETTER - if you can write a poem or paragraph of your own - with a memory of a special time with that friend or loved-on.  You can decorate it to the extent of your ability - and time.
  4. Give nature lovers something you have found in their favorite places - the beach (a shell?), the mountains or forest (a river stone or pretty pine cone).  You could combine this gift with a poem above, or quote from Nature writers such as Thoreau or William Stafford.
  5. A loaf of bread, a dozen cookies, a jar of spaghetti sauce, anything home-cooked to anyone living alone or anyone terribly busy is always welcome.
  6. Time again - invite someone to accompany you for a special walk. Bring a picnic?  If it's cold you could eat it in the car.
  7. Sachets: Buy bulk lavender at the Health Food store.  Sew tablespoons into little pockets and fill in the rest with cotton stuffing.  Tie with pretty ribbons. Include in gift baskets with bars of nice soap, or your homemade jam - or the sea shells or poems. (See above)
  8. Shop local and help small businesses succeed - these are your friends and neighbors.  A few pennies saved here and there can't make up for the community you lose (not to mention the gas to drive around) when big stores take over and the little guys close down.
  9. Even on Etsy, there's a shop local feature where you can find people in your city and state from whom you can buy gifts.  Heart Space is located in Portland, Oregon.
  10. Always shop in a good mood.  Take a walk in the fresh air first and you will be in a good mood.  Believe it or not, statistics show that when you are happy you make much wiser choices overall.
I hope these suggestions are useful to you.  Here's to a Happy Holiday to each and every one!