Market Collective

December Market Collective posterThis is where I will be, along with a bunch of other very talented folks, this weekend. If you are in the Calgary area, be sure to pop down to Kensington for some wonderful Christmas shopping. Market Collective will take place in the old Ant Hill building (148 10th street NW) this weekend from 10-6pm on Saturday and 11-5pm on Sunday. There is a $3 fee to get in or you can bring a non-perishable food bank donation. I will be sharing the table with Mr. Frank of Two01 Studio, so make sure to check us out. I am super excited to just be surrounded by so many other creative guys and gals for two full days! And although I won’t be attending as a seller the following weekend, Market Collective is also running the weekend of December 18-19th, with a whole new batch of sellers. If you are still needing some Christmas gifts (even for yourself), come out and support local artists and artisans!

Here are a couple of fellow artisans that will be in attendance this weekend, just to get you in the mood:

PeekoApparel
Zatko Creations
Noela
Knittles

She’s making a list, checking it twice…

Crochet scarflette with tag… tryin’ to figure out just what’s been missed. Oh, the joys of list making. I am feeling deep in the thick of it right now. There are only four more days left until my first craft show and I only actually have two evenings left in which to complete, organize, and pack everything up.

All the scarflettes that were “in progress” are now complete. The scarflettes were super simple to tag and I am really satisfied with how they look. I just used scrap bits of yarn left over from making the scarflettes to attach the business card tags. The contrasting scraps play-up the overall colourfulness of the scarflettes, plus it uses up bits that might otherwise be tossed in the garbage or left outside for the birds.

Stamped paper bagsThe shopping bags are all sitting pretty, waiting to be used. The handmade stamp was fun to carve and I think it suits the brown kraft bags. I considered carving my entire logo and name, but opted to just tackle the glasses, which makes for some pretty funky bags. They feel like they have a good mix of mystery and hipster-ness. I’m sure there are folks who feel that the bags should clearly indicate the shop or company they are from and act as some free advertising. Which I get. Personally, though, I am more likely to re-use and keep re-using a bag that doesn’t act like a blatant advertisement. Afterall, the re-usability of the bags is definitely a concern for me. One day I might still switch to a sticker instead of the stamp, but in the meantime, I have an inexpensive stamp to decorate everything with (it only costs me a small blister or two).

Framed craft sale signsLast night I spent some time typing, printing, cutting and framing (they look so nice in frames) signage for the craft table. Besides having the scarflettes individually tagged and priced, I also wanted to ensure I have some price signs to set out in the display. There is nothing more frustrating as a customer than not being able to tell at a quick glance how much an item costs. Yes, I am one of those people who won’t purchase something if I have to ask how much it is. I know I’m not alone on this either. Sure, there is the random thing that just gets missed being tagged, but if the next two or three identical items I pick up still don’t have a price on them, then I am likely to move along. This goes for signage too. If I can’t clearly figure out which price sign goes with what item, it’s a turn-off. Customers are out to shop, not problem-solve your pricing. So I hope that my signs and pricing will be nice and clear.

Craft sale signsBesides some price signs, I also printed out a few photos of the scarflettes being worn by none other than myself. I really need the help of one of my beautiful friends to model these at some point. Thank goodness for the cropping and blemish removal tools! Anyway, trying not to be too self-conscious, I will hang these photos on the wall by the mirror, so folks can see at a glance what the folded, cozy, fuzzies on the table look like on someone. Plus, I will be wearing one. That wooden box on the right will display the coin purses, which I haven’t individually priced, but I figured placing them in a container all together with a clear price sign should work. Tonight, the list checking continues, as I prep the big table cloth, figure out a container to keep the money, and finish sewing the last four coin purses. Wish me luck with the last bits and pieces!

Gonna need some more bookmarks

Stack of new booksThe end of the year is fast approaching which means that it is time to use up any remaining benefits at work. I tend to be one of those people who holds off using up benefit funds until the last quarter of the year because I’m worried that as soon as I use them up, I will come across something that I wish work could pay for (like a class).

Looking back, this year was just so crazy, I really shouldn’t be surprised that I have so much of my benefits remaining. There was no time to apply them to anything career, creative or active related in my life. So I took great (great) pleasure in ordering two-dozen new books! It was such a treat! Thankfully, throughout the year, I had been keeping a little list of books I thought would be interesting, with the notion that I might pick up a few at some point. Well, I was able to get them all and then some! The massive book order fell into two categories “career” and “creative”. I know a lot of people shudder at the thought of reading “career” related books, but one of the nice things about my job is that it is in a very creative industry, so “career” books can be just as fun as “creative” based books. I hope to give you some quick book reviews as I work my way through them all. I’ve already started reading Blogging for Bliss: Crafting Your Own Online Journal by Tara Frey, which has obvious applications right here. Interested in the rest of the book treasure? Here is the BIG list, in no particular order:

Thawing

Frost on front doorFor folks who live in the Calgary area, this post might seem like old news or something you’d rather ignore than admit. As Calgarians we do indeed choose to live in a place that can easily get down to -35 Celsius (without wind chill), which is I believe about -30 Fahrenheit. My American friends and family think that is down right ridiculous and I’ll admit that at below -40 Celsius, I begin to question my decision to leave the house.

This week was our first bit of deep cold and snow hit. Roads were bad and traffic was insane. Thankfully I take public transit to and from work, but even that becomes challenging in bad winter conditions. Not just because you risk frost bite, even if you bundle up, but because our light rail transit runs into problems with track switches freezing, doors freezing, vehicles getting stuck on tracks, and general passenger overload. Le sigh. If you’re lucky, you have a job that allows you to work from home on days like this. If you’re brave and smart, you’re prepared with lots of good quality layers. For me, this last part is a must and my go-to for the best stuff is Mountain Equipment Co-op. I grew up wearing hand-me-downs from M.E.C. and it was great for all our family outdoor adventures which included camping, hiking, and skiing. Not to mention just going out to shovel the sidewalks. When I was in University, I got a part-time job at a local fabric store that specialized in all outdoor related textiles (fleece, water-proof breathables, and lycra to name a few). One of the many amazing skills that I developed while working there was learning to sew with all these fabrics. Sadly, the store has since gone out of business, but I still have several technical fabrics in amongst my craft stash longing to be made into winter survival wear.

For now, the temperature is quickly rising and it looks like we are in for a bit of a break, which means that I can shed a few layers.

Happy Thanksgiving to all the folks south of the border! Wishing you safe travels and mild weather!

To you, from me: packaging made pretty

In preparation for my first upcoming craft show and in planning my future Etsy shop, I have been spending time considering packaging and branding. Part of the branding work has been done for me with the logo design that my hubby came up with. The logo has given me more than just an image to use on packaging, labels, and banners. It has determined a colour scheme and aesthetic to use going forward with my business.

Wanting to stay on track with keeping things simple, I had to force myself to make “Must Have” and “Would Like To Have” lists for approaching packaging and branding. I’ve poked around online to find inspiration and guidance and included a list of helpful links below. For now, I have resolved a couple of “Must Have” items, while keeping in mind how I can gradually reach the “Like To Have” items.

First off, I figured the simplest solution to tagging my items for the craft sale, would be to use the business cards (which I already have), as hang tags. I purchased a package of adhesive labels to stick on the back of the business cards so that I could include content and care information. There are super easy and free online templates to use in conjunction with the adhesive labels, so that layout and printing is a no-brainer. Then I figured I could just hole punch the business card and use a scrap piece of yarn to tie onto each scarflette. Viola! Hang tags!

Materials for branding shopping bagsThe second item could be argued as a “Like To Have”, but in all the back and forth conversations I had with myself, I did indeed “Need” to have bags for the craft sale. There is plenty to be said for people using their own re-usable shopping bags, which I try to do as often as I can remember. However, applying my retail expertise to the situation, I want to ensure a pleasant shopping experience which includes being able to offer a customer a bag. If they have their own, then great! If not, then I want to be able to provide one to them. Since I can’t feasibly purchase or make cloth bags for customers to re-use at this time (it’s on the “Like To Have” list), I made a compromise. I ordered sturdy kraft paper bags with twisted handles. I considered getting black bags to go with my branding colour theme, but found them to be more money than I could justify. As it turns out, the brown kraft paper has provided a solution to branding my bags because now I can simply stamp them with my logo (which would not have shown up on the black). I hope to order stickers very soon, which I can then use on the bags and elsewhere, but that won’t happen in time for the craft show. So now, I guess I have a stamp I need to make. Fun!

The third item that I have been trying to resolve, is packaging items sold through my Etsy shop. I’ve been under slightly less pressure with this one, since I haven’t even officially opened my shop. Also, this is probably one area that will grow and evolve as my crafty business grows. All I know for certain, is that I don’t want to just cram items into mailers or boxes and send them on their way. I used to work at a shop that also did international mail orders, and one thing that always sticks in my mind is the desire to have orders be like gifts. So the simplest solution that I have devised for now is to fold black tissue paper around items and use a sticker with the company logo to secure it. Hence, needing to order the stickers sooner rather than later. Looking at all the incredibly creative ideas for packaging, leaves me wanting to offer so much more to customers. I take a deep breath and remind myself that I can’t do it all in one swoop. When I am able, I will get there. Wishing you good luck with all your own branding challenges!

Here are some lovely thoughts on and ideas for packaging:

Counting up…

… and counting down. After spending so many evenings and weekends crafting away, I decided it was probably a good idea to take a quick inventory of completed items. Not only that, but I needed to take a conscious moment to celebrate my progress. Maybe that sounds odd, but it’s definitely one thing that I have taken away from all the “career learning” that I’ve participated in over the past year; the importance of building regular opportunities to celebrate your accomplishments. How can you feel really satisfied with what you’ve done, if you don’t allow yourself a moment to look back and take stock? It seems like the simplest way to build up some positivity and keep yourself from getting bogged down by the “should have” thoughts. Look at what you’ve actually done, how far you’ve come!

With that in mind I take stock, not to brag, but to celebrate and be accountable to myself and those who support me in all I do:

    Stack of scarves

  • Started blog and post regularly on it
  • Obtained an official NUANS corporate name report (required for incorporating in Canada)
  • Registered for my first craft show
  • Created an Etsy account
  • Completed 27 scarflettes, 10 more in progress
  • Completed 10 coin purses, 12 more in progress
  • Started taking photos of everything I do and make
  • Ordered and received shopping bags and tissue paper (more on this to come)
  • Ordered a pile of yarn wholesale
  • Purchased all the supplies to make labels for my scarflettes
  • Found a Canadian company to get stickers printed
  • Researched online, read books, talked to other crafters, checked out community craft sales, and spent a great deal of time visualizing (not just daydreaming)
  • Lastly, but not leastly, I prayed and continue to pray that the direction I am going is the one He would have me go

Thank you for reading this blog! You support my endeavours by doing so! Afterall, I don’t craft purely for my own enjoyment, but with the hope that others will enjoy it too.

Perhaps you have a moment to take stock of what you’ve personally accomplished (in what ever you do) or how far you’ve come in a project. You’re welcome to post about it in the comments or share a link to your own blog. It’s always a treat to hear about the progress and success of others!

I’m a sewing “machine”

Fabric design wallI took a break from the crochet craziness and sat myself down in front of the sewing machine for the first time in months. Along with the scarflettes, I’ve been anxious to make some other items to sell at the upcoming craft sale, including small fabric coin purses. Once I had all the fabric cut out, the first couple of hours of sewing were pretty frustrating. I don’t know if you’ve ever experienced that before with a particular craft, where the longer you spend away from it, the more challenging it is to get back into a good swing. Honestly, though, once I pushed through those first couple of hours, it was really liberating. I almost forgot how much I love sewing! For shame! I’ve spent so much of my crafty time this past year on crochet projects, which are lovely, but there’s just been something missing.

This weekend was just so satisfying! I have five coin purses complete, 6 more in progress, and enough fabric cut out to start another five. AND I didn’t have to buy any supplies to make them up, which means I am either super resourceful or my sewing stash is getting a bit too big. Or it maybe my stash is JUST big enough to sustain all my crafty activities now. Ya, that must be it. Always looking to justify having such a stash of fabric and bits and pieces.

Coin purse with buttonsThese coin purses are a design I made up several years ago for a church craft sale I donated to. I have since made some for gifts and folks seems to enjoy them, so I thought it would be worth it to have some available for the craft sale. They are the perfect size to fit credit/debit cards. I have one in my tote bag to hold my lip gloss, mini hand cream, and bandages (Mrs. Always Prepared). I’ve added some small button embellishments to these newest ones and I’m loving that! Anyone who knows me, knows about my love affair with buttons. Previously, I added fabric yo-yos, which worked out well, but I thought I would try something new this time. Without consciously doing it, I’ve also made the coin purses in a such a rainbow of colours! It nicely mirrors the colours of the scarflettes. Feels like things are starting to come together!