Thursday, September 6, 2012

Pickle Lover's Tutorial

So this morning a quick and painless tutorial for all of you pickle lovers! In case you haven't heard I am pregnant with our first little one. With pregnancy comes pickles, at least in our house. Not sure if it's really a craving, because I love pickles always, I think it's just an excuse to make Robert let me buy the fancy pickles.
 With all these pickle jars AND an unorganized studio I decided to repurpose the jars for a good cause. This is project is pretty self explanatory, quick and fun! So eat all your pickles and get started.

use chalkboard paint so you can easily change what's stored in your jar
lay out your lids and spray paint

paint two layers of chalkboard paint, making sure to let them dry in between 

label the top of your jars with chalk and organize away

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Color Inspiration {Orange and Turquoise}

Right now, I'm loving this fresh, bright color combination.  In its honor, I've curated a little gallery for you of gorgeous oranges and turquoises - sometimes separate, sometimes together, always lovely.

Against a bright white backdrop in a cozy breakfast nook

On a gorgeous Meg Callahan quilt

Straight from nature via a Jonathan Fuller sea glass sculpture

On a sweet screen-printed leaf-themed cushion cover.

As an accent on this necklace from The Tiny Shop's last pop-up

Sorry about that last one - I know it's sold out, but we've got some exciting news about The Tiny Shop and a lot of other amazingly talented artisans that we'll share with you next week.  

As for today, be inspired!

Friday, August 31, 2012

Let the people know

As an artist I think one of the best things you can do is, let people know what you are working on. Keep everyone updated via twitter, facebook, instagram and your blog, it's a great way to keep people in the loop and inspire other artists. This also creates a buzz about your work, as you post the progress people will look forward to seeing the final product. Especially if you are selling your product, as you share the progression people have the opportunity to think about whether they want to purchase it or not, who could they buy it for? what room do they need to hang that print in?

I used to struggle with this idea, because I didn't want to come off proud and showy, like "look at me". With time and through wisdom from other I see that God is who I am sharing. The gifts he's given me is the progress I show. It is up to me to be an example of humbleness and stewardship of my talents and if I do it will translate in my sharing.

Here's what I've shared this week

One of the biggest wins in sharing your work and progress with others is the opportunity to inspire others. For me one of my number one goals as an artist is to inspire others to use their creative gifts to worship God. I always want to inspire, I love the chance to talk with an artist about where they are and where they want to be, to cultivate the dream is my dream. Here's an email I got last night through my website.

Reading this warmed made me smile big because it reminded me of how I was six years ago. I loved art and I loved God and I wanted to know how to do both of those things for the rest of my life. At that time someone spoke truth into me that changed the entire course of my career and ministry. I can't wait to respond to this sweet girl. The truth is, what I get to do IS a dream, not without its ups and downs but still the only dream I would choose for me, and that is why I share. 

So share!

Monday, August 27, 2012

Taking the First Steps

Last week I shared some tips to starting your own handmade shop online -- some practical, logistical tips and tricks to getting started.

And aren't those practical steps easy to follow? Just check them off, one, two, three.

But so often, what stands in our way of dreaming big and making that dream a reality is something far less practical and tangible.

It rests inside of us, in our hearts, deep down.


Fear of failure, of embarrassment.

Fear that you or your dreams aren't good enough.

Do have those fears? Well go get them. Dig deep down, pull them out...


We know you can! And we want to help!

What stands in the way of opening a shop? Tangible and intangible...I want to know!

Faith put a call out for questions last week -- we really do want to know what questions you have to provide direction to what we share here on Sashes. 

Ask away -- we're listening!

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Shoe math

I LOVED Laura's post about starting your own Etsy shop. Wise advice! I thought I'd share a little of my recent experiences with my shop, too. I make custom silhouette portraits as a creative outlet, and a nice way to contribute to our family's finances. My grandma likes to say I draw, 'sideways pictures of peoples faces..' heehee. 

Last week I received my first call from a retail buyer. She was in Manhattan. I pictured her wearing a top-knot with a cool scarf ( like April), and some very expensive heels. I actually got nervous talking with her, and my toddler was yelling for 'MORE PICKLE' in the background, which didn't help affirm my professionalism. 

This buyer wanted to sell my portraits. She told me they were exquisite, and she hadn't seen a fresh modern take on silhouettes quite like mine. I was flattered, and I started feeling quite important. I was already thinking of how excited my husband would be to see this 'big fish' that I netted. Also, I thought I might be able to buy some of the expensive shoes that I imagined this buyer wearing. (I like to calculate my shop earnings in shoes.)

Then, she asked to place an order. A $20,000 order. 


First, my mathematically rusty brain gears calculated that this order meant a lot of shoes! Then, I started thinking practically. If one portrait took about an hour to create, then $20,000 worth of portraits would be roughly 667 hours, or 55 straight days of 12 hour workdays. 

Impossible. Ok, if it wasn't possible, then maybe I could just hire someone to help me. To help me my own unique artistic style. Ok, probably also impossible. Oh, and what about my daughter, Selah? Maybe Selah could go to a babysitter while I worked... 

At this point I was running out of intelligible things to say to this fancy New York business lady, so I politely offered that I would e-mail her my response in the next few days. As soon as I hung up, out of my heart bubbled this verse: 

"Lord, you have assigned me my portion and my cup; 

you have made my lot secure.

The boundary lines have fallen for me in pleasant places.." 
-Psalm 16:5

I knew this offer wasn't for me right now. As much as I wanted it to be, and willed it to work, and promised myself I would stay up all night long for days, it just couldn't be. My business model is flawed by the standards of the world. It is absolutely broken. I am the bottleneck that can't be fixed, and I just can't produce more than I can draw during naptime without neglecting my family.  AND THAT IS OK. In fact, Jesus tells me that this is how it's supposed to be, for me.. for this season of my life. 

My boundary lines are in pleasant places, so why is it that I find myself toeing that line? Creeping right up to the edge and wondering if it wouldn't just be a little bit better if I pushed forward a teeny inch or so. 
Entertaining the thought of this offer, I found that my heart was craving worldly success, approval, and yes, also shoes. 

But, a deeper examination of my heart reminded me that this is the life I dreamed of. It's my portion and my cup. I'm a wife, a mom, and a working artist. My lot is secure. My boundary lines are pleasant. I couldn't place them in any better spot. 

Ask Jesus what your portion and cup is for this season of your life. Ask Him where the boundary lines for your shop fall. He makes your lot secure, and His portion is much better than any new pair of shoes. 

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

We're planning for you.

We've got plans.

We are putting together content that we hope will encourage, inspire, and equip you to continue (or start!) using your creative gifts to glorify God and bless your families and the people around you.

We're in the planning stages now for the coming months, and because we want to tailor our content to your needs, we'd love to hear from you.

So comment below, or email us at sashestothemerchants at gmail dot com, and let us know what you want to know.

Here are some ideas to get you thinking:

  • Questions for businesswomen 
  • Marketing how-tos
  • Tips on work-life balance
  • Practical organizational help
Ask away!

Monday, August 20, 2012

So You Want to Start a Shop

If you're anything like me, creativity is in your blood. It courses through you and you have a desire to just get it out there. To share it. To use your hands, make a mess, and step back and take in your handiwork.

For me it's jewelry. I started making jewelry early in college. A friend and I learned together, and we'd spend hours pouring over beads, laying them out, and putting them together in fresh new ways.

I opened my shop the summer of 2010. People open handmade shops for lots of different reasons. For me, my personal jewelry box couldn't handle anymore bits and baubles, but my desire to create was as strong as ever. So I thought I'd share.

So you want to start your own shop? There are a few things to consider to make sure you're starting out on the right foot!

Why do you want to open up shop?
First and foremost I'd encourage you to ask yourself "why." Do you simply want some extra spending money to finance your hobby? Do you want to eventually do this full time? Do you want to share your passion with others?

Or do you see everyone else doing it?

Of course, I'd caution against opening a shop because it's trendy or it seems like every blogger has one these days.

If you genuinely have a desire to work hard promoting your passion, then jump on in.

What will you sell and what makes it unique?
Decide what you'll focus your attention on. Will you make just a few things in a variety of colors? Will you expand your line into lots of different areas? Will you sell made-to-order items or will you have everything ready to ship?

I started out making and selling one thing, and now my items look very different. It's a-ok for your style evolve as your shop does, but thinking about these things will make the process much easier.

Where will you sell?
There are lots of platforms for selling handmade items online. Do your research, get to know what's best for you. Gussy Sews has a great post about Etsy vs Big Cartel and By Aimee & Co features some great posts about this topic in her eCommerce series.

How will you finance your start up?
You'll hear it time and time again -- you have to spend money to make money. It's true, but I would also say to not spend too much. If you're using some of your family's income to help start up shop (like I did) use it wisely. Buy the supplies you need, account for PayPal and shop fees, and maybe set aside a bit for advertising.

Don't go crazy! It's easy to want to buy business cards, custom packaging supplies, lots of new supplies for all kinds of products, to buy an ad spot all over the internet, and do giveaways a plenty. But from my experience, take it slow. Those are wonderful things you can add over the course of your shop as business and sales pick up.

Other things to consider:
Talk to your spouse -- they will play a role in helping to motivate and support you, set up at craft fairs, or even make necklaces (speaking from personal experience)
Open your own shop checking account
Create a budget
Explore online money management programs -- I use
Learn how to price your items
Create a giveaway budget (and don't forget cost of shipping)
Ask a few favorite bloggers to review an item

Did I miss anything? Do you have any tricks to add? Us Sashes girls are here to help if you have questions!