Welcome back ladies and gentleman (or ladies and my dad and Colby since I’m pretty sure they’re the only “gentlemen” who read this blog), for another exciting rendition of the Inspired Design Challenge. Hootie hoo let’s get this
party challenge started! This week’s inspiration store….wait for it…Anthropologie! Man do I love Anthro! I have to admit that until last summer, I was an Anthro virgin. But then on a trip to Boston, I dragged Colby into a store and shopped around for a few minutes. I would have stayed longer but the store was about fifteen minutes shy of closing time. You can read all about our Boston adventure here. There may also have been a first-timer-in-West-Elm situation as well. But enough chit chat, let’s get to the goods with the Anthro project reveal:
And of course the inspiration was the ranunculus swirl Anthropologie shade. Do you guys remember this image? From back here?
And how I was going to wrap a lamp shade like the rosette shade? I bought the lamps, the shades, the fabric but barely got started. So when the Inspired Design Challenge rolled around it kicked my butt into high-rosette-making gear and I finally tackled the project. Which is totally time consuming….just an FYI for anyone out there wishing to recreate this. It took me three beers and four Red Sox games to finish just one shade!
So here’s the how-I-did it, first up the supplies:
I made two lamp shades so I picked up a pair of el-cheap-o shades from Target (I think they were about $10 each) and a couple yards of yellow outdoor fabric for about $10 total thanks to a sale and a coupon. Other supplies included a hot glue gun and a fabric cutting system. Trust me, the fabric rolling cutter thingie (can you tell I’m not a sewer?!) saved my sanity for this project!
The first step was to cover the shade completely in the yellow fabric. This provides a nice base so if your rosettes don’t 100% cover the shade, no white will poke through. I first traced the lampshade by rolling it along the fabric and tracing the edges with a fabric pencil. Then I just cut it out leaving about 1/8″ to a 1/4″ excess that will later be used to wrap the fabric around the edge of the shade.
And then it was hot glue time. I started with one edge and hot glued all along the straight edge. Once that dried, I rolled the fabric around the shade and hot glued the other seam, folding it over first to make a nice, crisp edge. You don’t really want jagged fabric-ness and fraying to be the seam you show so folding over the fabric prevents this.
To finish around the edges, I ran a bit of glue just under the inside of the rolled up part of the shade, folded over the fabric, and kind of tucked it into the rolled seam/glue. I worked in about 4″ increments all around the shade so I had time to tuck before the glue dried.
And voila…a fabric covered shade!
Now came the fun part, the rosette part. To make the rosette I used about 1/4″ strips of the leftover yellow outdoor fabric in various lengths. This is the reason why I used outdoor fabric, was for the rosettes. The fabric is somewhat stiffer so it helps hold the floral-ie shape better. So using my rotary cutter, I cut a ridiculous mound of rosette strips.
And then just started making away. I started the process by rolling about an inch of the fabric into a little bead, hot glueing that bead together so it would stay, then glueing it to the shade. Then using that bead as the center point, just wrapped it around in a rosette fashion tucking each layer of the flower behind the first.
Until I had a rosette that looked something like this:
Honestly, that was probably my worst one. I got a little bit better the more I made them. So I just kept wrapping rosettes, gluing them directly to shade as I wrapped, and varying their sizes so they weren’t all exactly the same until I had this:
I chose yellow fabric to kind of go with the “8-10-12″ wedding table number art hanging beside Colby’s nightstand in our master bedroom. Speaking of…shameless plug…it’s almost our anniversary…eeeeeeek! I can’t believe it’s been a year already! Man it went by fast!
So here’s the full bedroom shot. Excuse the poor photography. It was one of those oh-em-gee my flight for Haven leaves like now and I still haven’t packed and I’m taking pictures of this room anyway because I need to even if it’s bad light kind of situation. I’ll take better pics eventually…maybe after I finish shade numero dose.
Speaking of, in an effort to keep it real, this is what my nightstand/shade looks like:
Forehead…desk. I kind of ran out of time. I couldn’t believe how time consuming hot gluing all those rosettes was going to be like. But I’m totally going to blame Haven and our Etsy shop Roostic and not that I may have gotten sucked into HGTV star along with a Duck Dynasty marathon. Those shows just makes me happy, happy, happy. Hopefully I’ll finish the shade soon. Actually, it may have been a good thing that I haven’t yet finished both shades because at the Haven Conference (a DIY blogging conference that I JUST got back from) I learned that I’m basically a styling/staging/home accessorizing nightmare and I want to make a conscious effort to glam up and style some our spaces better, starting with our nightstands. I sense that our digital alarm clocks, especially my hot pink rubber one (seriously?!) will be getting the boot.
So now that I’m done my monologue ala Tina Fey Saturday Night Live style, it’s time to bring in the big guns and my fellow Inspired Design Challenge hosts.
And of course their lovely inspiration:
- Lindsay from Life Of Splendor
- Kristin from Bliss At Home (Kristin’s project will be up on Wednesday)
- Sara from Embrace My Space
- Jennifer from Brave New Home
So go check out their amazing projects, show them some love, and tell them I said hi! Next up on the Inspired Design Challenge, our last week of project goodness, World Market. You can get a sneak peak of my project on my Inspired Design Challenge Pinterest board.
Pssst…So I’ve mentioned this about a gazillion times, but how about one more time for the cheap seats in the back. This past weekend I had the opportunity to attend the Haven Conference in Atlanta, Georgia which was amazing! It was a conference geared toward DIY and design bloggers. I got to meet some blogging superstars, learn a few things, hob nob with some vendors/sponsors, but most importantly, make some new blog friends. In fact, I got to real life meet Kristin from Bliss At Home along with Lindsay from Life of Splendor. But I’ll share more details about the conference later this week.
I’m starting a new little blog series, Etsy Success Tips. Seriously creative name for a series, huh?! I bet you fell out of your chair from amazement on that one! We have have had CRAZY Roostic Etsy shop success so far (you guys can stop buying from us anytime now…kidding) so I thought I would share my journey in a little blog series. I’ll probably share an Etsy Success Tips post about once a month based on a lesson I learned or gleam a little nugget of knowledge into how we’ve sold 200 products in just three months. We started out of the gate strong in mid-May and haven’t looked back. So here we go with the top 10 lessons I learned in my first months to hopefully help any of you guys out who are just getting started or are thinking about starting up your own shop.
1. Success Doesn’t Happen Overnight…But You Still Better Get Prepared
I read all the tips, all the articles about setting up your shop for the first time. Everyone said, “Don’t expect immediate sales”. In fact, many articles touted that it could take up to two months just to sell one item. So I opened my shop, listed one product (our classic iPad stand), and figured the rest of the “process” I could figure out later. And by process I meant how to ship, how to log my sales, account for everything, and keep production supplies in stock. I had a stock of 4 items all ready to go and thought I would be all set…for weeks. So I made the shop live and two days later…bam…7 orders in one day. Uh-oh. Then it was scramble time to increase my stocking level and figure out how to package everything. In retrospect, I probably should have at least figured out my shipping processes.
2. Pack It Up Pack It In
Can we talk boxes for a second? After taking an obligatory moment to pause and reflect on the awesomeness that is “House of Pain” (jump around…jump up jump up and get down). Boxes and packaging are soooooo important. This could totally be an Etsy Success Tips post on its own. We have odd shaped products. And we started by buying the $1.75 big boxes at Walmart and cutting them down which was a time suck. Then we discovered ULINE. Oh ULINE you are an Etsy shop owner’s dream! If you can think of a box dimension, you can find it on ULINE and for CHEAP! I buy boxes now 100 at a time for about $1.25 each. Although be warned, they ship via USPS 3-day which isn’t cheap. My cost per box after factoring in shipping is back up to the $1.75 rate, but I save in time from cutting down boxes and packing materials since bubble and packing paper is not cheap. It’s important with shipping materials to look at the big picture. So the box is cheaper but WAY too big, you end up spending twice as much in packing materials in the end, meaning the smaller and more expensive boxes were the cheaper route in the end. Which leads me to…
3. Pad Those Boxes Like A Pre-Teen Girls Pads Her…You Know Where I’m Going
Although packing material costs adds up (we pack our stands in layers of bubble wrap and packing paper), it’s ALWAYS cheaper to invest in a little extra paper than it is to have to send another product to someone because something broke. In the 200 stands we’ve shipped, we have had two break. Both times we took those broken items and learned from them, adjusting how we pack the boxes to hopefully prevent it from happening again.
4. Accidents Happen
With those two items that broke, I don’t necessarily blame myself entirely. On one of them, the customer sent me the photo of the box and it looked like it got mauled by a bear…hmmm…how to pack boxes to protect my products from bear maulings? Sometimes accidents happen. And here’s the big lesson learned here…it’s not, I repeat, NOT the end of the world when one breaks. On my first broken item it was an overnight shipment (not cheap) for a gift and the customer NEEDED it. I sent them another one immediately, ponied up the dough to get it there in time, kept my customer happy but then I wanted to quit Etsy. It was a hot mess of tears and “I can’t do this”. Then I smartened up. Actually, Colby the door/window salesman that deals with broken goods every…single…day…talked me off the ledge.
5. Just Say No To Drugs…I Mean…Custom Orders You Can’t Handle
With the success we have came custom orders, which I decided to offer. I thought maybe someone would want a different stain or finish. And I don’t regret signing up for custom orders one bit! Some of my latest best sellers were originally custom order requests. However, if you do offer custom orders on Etsy, know your limitations. I’ve had numerous requests of engraving our products. One of our competitors engraves her stuff. But I turn down every single engraving offer even though it means turning down business. I know my limitations. Engraving is something I’ve never done and I’m not about to learn on a product I’m selling to someone. Maybe someday I’ll learn, but for now, it’s not something I’m comfortable doing.
6. Listen Up America
Like I alluded to, custom order requests can turn into popular stocking items. We had several requests early on to make white/distressed white iPad stands. So we finally painted a few, fulfilled our custom order requests, and now cannot keep the white stands in stock. They fly out of our shop faster than we can make them. But the white stands aren’t necessarily something I would have thought of making on my own since it’s not necessarily my style, I like the stained wood versions better myself. But there’s a market for them and listening to my customer wants, regardless of my tastes, has made my shop enticing to a whole other product group (rustic style vs cottage style).
7. I Just Need Some Space Right Now
Dedicating some space to creating products and packaging products is imperative. Seriously…it will save your marriage. When we first started out with the shop, I had taken over every single space in our house. My desk was covered with receipts/order info, the kitchen table was littered with stands being stained and polyed, and the dining room had been taken over by packaging efforts. We needed some space. At the time we were working on converting an empty bedroom into a guest bedroom, but then decided to convert the space into an Etsy office. While we still construct all our stands in the basement workshop, they’re all finished and packed upstairs in the office. I still have alot of work to get the room functional and organized, but what’s really helped us out is having dedicated zones…one zone for packing and one zone for finishing. Ahhh…space!
8. Organizing And…Organizing And
Smokin’ the reefer! Sorry…couldn’t help the Super Troopers reference. I’m a hot organizing mess at the time but I’m trying. That’s half the battle right?! But when it comes to tax season 2014, I’m gonna be ready! I put together a little binder where I print out each order and log them chronologically, then write on each receipt how much I was charged in Etsy/credit card fees, and how much each order cost to ship. I also photocopy every business receipt (shipping and supplies) and log those as well. Then I add every expense and every piece of revenue into a spreadsheet. This has really helped me learn where we’re making money (on the stands) and where we’re losing money (on shipping…ack). Now that I know I lose money in shipping/packaging, I’m working on ways to reduce my costs. I also keep Etsy Weather Reports in this binder along with my monthly sales reports and my sales forecasting printouts (nerd alert, nerd alert…our Excel modeling class in my MBA program was my all-time favorite and I just HAD to apply my schooling to my small business).
9. The Three “P”s of Etsy: Product, Price, and Photography
One of the things that I learned (okay…more like had BEAT into me) during my undergraduate program and masters program in business, was the “4 P’s of Marking” which includes product, price, promotion and place. While I totally agree that those things are important and apply to an Etsy shop, I believe that the “Three P’s Of Etsy Marketing” is more like product, price, and PHOTOGRAPHY! The product is obviously the most important piece. People want a good quality product and one that aesthetically pleases them. Price is also important as Etsy is a competitive marketplace. Although, I’m a firm believer in differentiation and product positioning but that’s another post for another day. But the kicker for Etsy is photography! Customers can’t see it, feel it, stroke it, sniff it (sniff it?! really?! wood sniffers!) so you better make darn sure you have a fantabulous description and an equally fantabulous picture. It’s like the old saying…describe it like you can’t see it and picture it like you can’t describe it.
10. Be Like Nike And Just Do It Already
I went about a month contemplating making the Etsy jump, going back and forth deciding if I was ready. My pics were horrible, I didn’t have enough stock or variety of products, and I just didn’t know what I was doing. Truth be told, I still don’t know what I’m doing, I STILL don’t think I have enough stock or variety of products, but my pics are improving! But seriously, there’s no better time than today to make the leap. You can’t sell something if you don’t list it.
Pssst…So for all you Etsy sellers out there, what lessons did you learn early on? Any gleaming tidbits to share? Or anyone else out there contemplating making the Etsy leap? Dish!
I’m about to let you in on the deep, dark, inner workings of my brain, particularly with my thought process. Women and small children, those who are pregnant or who could become pregnant should use caution before proceeding. Officially consider yourself warned. This evening…we’re talking about curtains with and underlying theme of my indecision. And it all started with these guys.
I went to Target the other day with a shopping list that included “tea, rubber gloves for cleaning, and some Goose cookies”. Somehow I ended up in the curtain aisle after a brief stint perusing the sheets. Dang you Target (she says while shaking fist in air)! It’s like that cartoon on Sarah’s blog post about our Target edition of the Inspired Design Challenge. Isn’t that crazy?! The cartoon was about impulsively buying curtains and I JUST impulsively bought curtains! Target gets me every time. I couldn’t resist the pair of coral curtains, which were $24 a pop and we could use some curtains for the Etsy office, right?!. The poor window was naked…a Will Ferrel “we’re all going streaking” kind of naked.
So home I came with my pair of coral curtains and a basic, $10 curtain rod, ready to put Colby to work on hanging the suckers. Simple project, right?! No such thing! We LOVE hanging curtains on the studs. Especially since Goose has a habit of yanking on the curtains while he’s “protecting” us from evil yard squirrels. But alas, the studs around this wall were completely off center and generally out of whack. One stud was just above the trim and the other was about a foot off.
So we improvised and tried our hand at some super heavy duty, you can swing off this sheet rock screw like a monkey, anchors. This was our first go around using the anchors and so far so good on the ruggedness quotient. To install, it was just a matter of drilling a hole into the sheetrock using a spade bit, inserting the screw with the “wing part” into the wall. And then tightening the whole thing up until the curtain hanging bracket is flush and tight with the wall.
And tah-dah! Coral curtains in the Etsy office!
I love them! Stupidly, ridiculously love the coral curtains in this space….however….of course there had to be a “however”, I already had this fabric kicking around:
I had picked up the fabric for around $20 during a not so recent Jo-Ann’s fabric sale and got just enough fabric to make curtains for this space. Mind you, this was back when we were going to turn this room into a guest bedroom with a daybed in front of the window, complete with tons of white, squishy pillows for lounging. And this fabric was going to be the big pop of color, curtain fabric. But now that we turned the space into a workspace, design plans have changed. But I still wanted to give the curtains a chance, so I quickly snipped the fabric in half to make two panels, and clipped the panels up onto the curtain rod.
Please excuse the fabric pooling on the floor. I still have yet to sew these bad boys.
Hmmm…I kind of like these curtains too. I sense a dilemma brewing. This has the potential to rival the great “which spatula do I buy debate” of 2002. Do I get the spatula with slats? Or the solid spatula? Hmmmm…three hours later (I kid you not) I still couldn’t decide and came home with both spatulas. Both of which I’ve used up until Goose became a part of our lives and decided spatulas ranked right up there with meaty bones on the yumminess scale.
So if I keep the green/yellow curtains in the craft room, what to do with the coral curtains? They were clearly not going back to Target. They’re just too pretty for that and were destined to live in my home. Then I remembered the dining room and the black plaid curtains in there.
I’ve been thinking of replacing them for a brighter pair. Coral is brighter than black. Situation solved.
Swoon! I love those curtains! I swear since replacing the black plaid curtains with the coral curtains, the room feels brighter and more dynamic. It’s like all of a sudden there’s life in the room and the windows no longer just fall flat. The coral really makes the room pop.
So here’s the worst part of this dilemma…I love the coral curtains in BOTH the Etsy office and the dining room. What to do, what to do?! Do I keep the coral curtains in the dining room and the green/yellow curtains upstairs in the office? Or do we put the coral curtains back upstairs and bring back the black plaid curtains? Or maybe go a completely different route in the dining room? Oh decisions how I loathe thee! Save me!
Pssst…I just have to mention, I’m about to head to the Haven Conference and am SO ridiculously excited about going! If you’re heading to Haven, let me know so we can meet up!
Welcome back for another exciting edition of the Inspired Design Challenge with this week’s inspiration…….wait for it….West Elm! Oh how I swoon over West Elm! When I walk into that store, which thankfully is very rare since the closest store to us is in Boston which is over 5 hours away, I can’t help but want to come with everything. So coming up with project inspiration from this store was a piece of cake. So let me introduce you to my inspiration, these gorgeous task lamps:
The spray painting part was a cinch…I just taped up the lamps, covering all the chrome like parts:
- Lindsay from Life Of Splendor
- Jennifer from Brave New Home
- Kristin from Bliss At Home
- Sara from Embrace My Space
They never cease to astound. Seriously…did you see Kristin’s birdcage in the Urban Outfitters round? Or Sara’s word art over a mirror? And Jennifer and her adorable word art for her son’s room? Or Lindsay’s bohemian rug slip covered ottoman? They’re all “can’t miss” projects for sure! In fact, I’m now feeling inspired to slip cover our storage ottoman…hmmm.
Pssst…Random side note coming, due to some crazy Etsy shop traffic and associated orders which has us making iPad stands 24-7 (seriously…I don’t sleep), I’m cutting back the blogging to every other day for awhile during catch up time. But once we do catch up we’ll be back to our 5x per week, Sunday through Thursday evening blogging schedule. Just keeping it real with you all. But enough about us…how you doin’?!
Radio silence…officially broken. I know it’s been a couple of days since my last post and for me to keep
my mouth shut fingers off the keyboard for a couple of days is like Rosie O’Donnel staying away from those Twinkies. Do they even make Twinkies anymore? Anyway, I have a reason for the radio silence. A gosh darn good reason. Thursday was my birthday and I turned the dirty thirty….eeeeeek! And apparently you need a day to recover from birthday festivities once you turn 30. I can’t believe I just admitted my (real) age on the blogosphere…I take it back…twenty-faux faux life! So this week I bring you my favorite Etsy finds with a total 30th birthday theme….as one should when one turns 30.
So as I turn 29 for the second time, I bring you a roundup of my favorite cards, cupcakes (mmm…cake) and fun gifts for the 30 year old. Oh…and you all should know, Colby did “get the hint” and got me that piston for my birthday. Who asks for a piston for their birthday?! (points both thumbs proudly at self) THIS GIRL!
- 29th Again Birthday Card from Julie Ann Art
- Birthday Cake Batter Cream Sandwinches from Alexandra Anne Dessert
- Forever 29 Birthday Card from Kiss And Punch
- Teal Cupcake Liners from The Bakers Confections
Seriously…those birthday cards = awesome! Too bad I’m one of the last of my friends to turn 30 otherwise those cards would be coming home to me…stat. I’ll just have to find the turning 40 version for Colby’s 40th birthday.
- Keep Calm It’s My Birthday Tee from Keep Calm Store
- 30 Is Awesome Birthday Card from Row House 14
- 30 Photo Booth Prop from The Manic Moose
- 1983 Coin Ring from Lucky Liberty
That ring is soooo cool and the shop has a variety of them for different birth years. How adorable is it to purchase a ring for your gal made out of a coin from her birth year?!
- Holy Cow Birthday Card from Little Sloth
- What Happened On Your Birthday Digital Download from Queen Of Heart Gifts
- Vanilla Buttercream Birthday Cake Soy Candle from Handmade By Mrs G
- Honey Badger Birthday Card from Fab 10 Design
You know I couldn’t resist a good honey badger reference and this one comes in card form. Honey badger don’t care. For those of you poor, poor, folks not in the honey badger know, go watch this video on YouTube. It will change your life.
- Happiest Birthday Card from Bubby And Bean Art
- Rainbow Sprinkles from Cupcake Social
- As Much Fun As Two Fifteen Year-Olds Birthday Card from Brain Surgeons & Rocket Scientists
- Acorn Cap Candles from Less Candles
Pssst…To catch up on all our Etsy Faves posts, you can check them out here. Happy weekend everyone! What are you guys doing this weekend? I’m spending it recovering as I’m not a young pup anymore….oh and spray painting. Can’t forget about spray painting!