Fur Baby Quilt

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Last week, Kim published these adorable photographs of her baby boy sitting on my January quilt, so I thought it was high time for me to show off her creation in its new home. Introducing the fur babies on top of Kim’s quilt. It’s definitely getting a lot of love and it fits right into with the color of our bed. I love it, and Yanni and Oddy do too.

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Follow along with our #quiltAmonth as we each make 12 quilts in 2015.
Kim’s Instagram
Katie’s Instagram

Quilting: My First Quilt

QUILT A MONTH: January 2015

As an adult, a busy adult, it’s so rare for me to find time to experiment, get lost in a process, and truly challenge myself to learn a new creative skill. In January, I read a quilt tutorial over on A Quilt is Nice, and thought it looked possible. I’ve never quilted, and I actually never thought I could sew well enough to make a whole quilt, but when I read that article what I can only describe as creative fever run through my head.

I immediately thought of my good friend Kim. Kim had moved away from NYC last October, and I missed her thoughtful creativity. The characteristics of quilting, not to mention quilting itself, is something that I relate to Kim and her shop, Tiny Hearts. Quilting is mindfulness, deliberate and meaningful creation with the imprint of the human spirit. I sent her a quick email asking for a quilt exchange. She agreed, and then she suggested something even more exciting – a year of quilts. And so that’s what we’ll do. Here is my first one, which I happily made with Kim in mind and sent her way.

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I received Kim’s quilt last week, and it is so absolutely wonderful. She hand-stitched it and used fabric from her stash and from a project we both worked on at Etsy, so it means a great deal to me. Check out her progress on a #quiltAmonth over on her blog, Simple. Warm. Cozy. I’ll be posting my progress on here and on instagram!

 

 

Tapping into Holiday Trends

I’ve been painfully unaware of trends my whole life. From movies to music, I’ve always had a black hole when it comes to pop culture. Perhaps the lack of cable TV in my childhood encouraged a blissful ignorance of the popular. Nickelodeon, MTV, plain old commercials were absent from my youth. In my 4th grade year, New Kids on the Block skyrocketed, but to this day, I still can’t name one of their songs. According to Andrew, I can’t be cool. I’m innately uncool. So day three’s tip of tapping into the trends is the first tip to slow me down. I’m only on day three! I can’t stop now. Well, see for yourself. Here’s today’s tip:

Day Three: Check the trend forecast.Think about how you can maximize relevant trends with your product offerings, tagging and photo merchandising using the Trend Watch series on the Seller Handbook. Even if your product isn’t explicitly trendy, incorporating au courant packaging or photo props in your product listings can be a good way to tap into trends.

After searching around on google for a while and not finding anything useful, I decided to look at that last Trend Watch on Etsy. Poppytalk wrote one in June, but the trendy trends aren’t really my products. They are: weaving, cacti and bright textiles, shibori and indigo, and marble patterns. Nope, none of these fit my items.

I decided to make that last sentence of the day three tip my guiding light, and took a quick look around the apartment to see if I had any of these things to use for photo props. I certainly have a lot of cacti, and Andrew had some indigo dyed shirts. With that, I’m planning some a photo shoot for next week incorporating trendy props and some of the new items I’m working on for my holiday SMART goal.

 

Branding Spiff up

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An old oak kitchen table, one from the basement of my childhood best friend’s house, sits at the end of my living room. At this table, I punch out dog buttons, glue magnets, and design my animal shrinky dinks. I’ve been in Brooklyn for 7 years. Three years ago that childhood friend moved away and passed me this treasure and token of childhood summers spent puffy painting t-shirts and drawing ocean scenes. Three years ago was also when I started planing my shop, so this table, became the creative hub for GoodAfternoonan.

As a small business, it’s important to tell your unique story, and for me this table and what it represents is part of GoodAfternoonan’s brand story. My items are made in small batches by me at an old kitchen table. They are personally handmade in Brooklyn. My branding should convey a sense of Brooklyn cottage industry. Until now, I’d not put that sentiment into my packaging, so was really excited when I saw the next tip for the 12 Ways to get a Jumpstart on the Holidays.

Day Two: Brighten your branding. Amplify your impact during the holidays and beyond with recognizable branded elements on your packaging and products. For instance, ordering a custom stamp and business cards can make a world of difference when it comes to increasing your shop’s reach offline. Read Branded Packaging Basics for more advice on setting yourself up for a season of success.

I actually got pretty inspired by this. I’ve been wanting to make my shop more branded for a long time. Designing packaging for my items means another creative project, so it’s just plain fun. Plus, I ran out of my old business cards a few months back and have been putting off re-ordering because I wanted a new look. So here goes with tip number two: I’ve developed a new suite of branded packaging based on the recommendations from Branded Packaging Basics.

First I realized that my branded packaging should showcase key GoodAfternoonan characteristics, mainly that GoodAfternoonan items are:

  1. Great gift ideas for pet owners
  2. Handmade by lil’ old me
  3. in Brooklyn, NY

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1. Hangtags

One of the 5 new items that I’m developing for my SMART goal will look so cute with a little hangtag. I printed these up by making a design for mini MOO cards. So many of my customers order items as gifts. This way if my item is a gift, the receiver will know where to find me.

2. New Business Cards

Just that. These are pretty basic and simply in line with my other new branded items. Look how cute cranky Odessa cat is as my new shop logo ie mascot.

3. Label Stickers

At craft fairs in the past, I always disappointed myself with my bland packaging – plain Kraft bags. What a missed opportunity. Now that I’m preparing in August instead of right before the holiday craft fair rush, I took the time to design a multipurpose label. This will be great for not only branding my shopping bags for fairs, but for sealing boxes and tissue paper.

I think I’m set for a while now with branded packaging material for my sales. Am I missing anything? I had so much fun with this, I could go a little overboard designing more.

Getting Ready for Holiday Sales

You know those days when your thoughts are interrupted multiple times by the sound of a sale happening in your Etsy shop? I mean those times when your phone buzzes on and off throughout the day and then the Etsy app’s “ca-ching” wakes you in the middle of the night?  No?

Me neither. Or at least I didn’t until the holidays came around last year.

Last October, I hadn’t even had many more than 2 sales a month let alone 2 in a day, so when November rolled around, I didn’t expect anything to change. I was very sure that the holiday season would be as it had been my first year on Etsy. Boy was I surprised when I had two straight weeks of the days I am describing up above. Needless to say at that point, I was not as prepared as I could have been, so I spent my whole holiday season playing catch up. You may even remember my burnout confession.

I’m determined that I won’t repeat that this year, so I am practicing what I preach and getting my shop up to snuff as much as I can this summer. One of my coworkers recently wrote an article on the Etsy Seller Handbook, 12 Ways to Get a Jumpstart on the Holidays. I’m going to try to do all 12. I invite you to follow along and do the same for your own business.

Day One: Establish your expectations for the season. Set a SMART goal — that’s Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time-Bound — based on your aspirations for growth in the coming months using this worksheet. Whether you’re hoping to increase sales, develop new products or grow your social media following in advance of the holidays, it’s important to know how to measure your success when the dust (and glitter) settles. – Seller Handbook

Following the worksheets advice, I quickly typed out the following goal, “This season my goal is to sell as much in revenue this November and December as I did last November and December, but through non-custom items.”

Now let’s work to make that goal even more specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time-bound.

Specific: I must have enough variety of ready-made items at the right price to make as much money as I’ve made in the past through custom orders. Currently, I do not have enough ready-made items, so this means I have to develop more products. I need to create a holiday line at various price points.

Measurable: I must have the new products – let’s say five – made, photographed and listed before November in order to start selling at that point. I’ll have reached this goal if I can do at least this much by mid-October.

Attainable: I honestly don’t know if my original goal of making the same revenue is attainable with non-custom items. I want my goal for the season to be smart, since I want to sustain working towards it. I am now realizing that I must pare that first goal back to make it attainable. Instead of revenue being what I want to attain, a more diverse and full shop of ready-made items will be my main goal.

Relevant: This goal will be relevant to my shop well beyond the holiday season since I want to prepare to wholesale my items.

Time-bound: I’m setting my new date at October 15th.

Given this exercise, here is my new SMART goal for the holiday season:

This season, my goal is to make, photograph and list at least 5 new ready-made items (with a quantity of 10 each) by October 15th.

Time to get to work!

 

 

Newlyweds

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A little over a week ago, Andrew and I walked out near the mouth of the Saco river in Maine, said our vows to each other, and became husband and wife. I’m very happy and proud to say that the ceremony, our personally written vows, and the intimate celebration with immediate family took center stage. We only got engaged a little under 4 months ago, and we wanted to keep our planning inexpensive and stress-free. I wanted to feel excited not stressed about the upcoming wedding. I did not want to worry about controlling it too much. I didn’t want it to be it too precious.

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It was carefree. It was small and it was perfectly us. The sun was bright, but the breeze was blowing in the salt air and it was in the 70s. Andrew wore a casual outfit that he had bought earlier in the day, and I wore fresh flowers in my hair from Biddeford’s local florist. After the ceremony, our backyard photo session was even crashed by a neighborhood dog – very fitting.

wedding portland

I’ll write another post about the wedding and how we made it so stress free and intimate in a bit, but I wanted to put up some photographs cause they turned out so lovely. (They were taken by my parents’ best friend who also took the photographs at my parents’ wedding over 40 years ago). After the wedding we headed up to Acadia National Park for a dirty dancing-esque camp honeymoon in a tiny cottage. I snapped a few pics of those too, so I’ll post some soon.

Personalized Wedding Favor for DIY Wedding

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In a little less than two months, I will be getting married in front of a small group of roughly ten people. Our wedding will only be witnessed by our close family and a few select family friends on the beach in Maine where I spent every childhood summer vacation. This beach represents the most intimate happiness and that is how I imagine the upcoming wedding. We will spend a lazy morning getting dressed, walk out onto the beach during the evening light and say vows that we have written. Our photographer is a family friend and the same one that took my parents’ wedding photographs. Our officiant is my mom’s best friend (and photographer’s wife), our ring bearer is my nephew, and our flower girls are my nieces. I spent around $120 on a vintage wedding dress. After the vows, we’ll all head out to a special dinner in Portland.

wedding bangles

Our wedding will be tiny and inexpensive, but that doesn’t mean it won’t be extremely special. To bring a bit of the care to the wedding, I’ve bought my nieces some bangles from Theresa Rose Designs that will match my “something blue.” I wanted to wrap these little gifts in something equally special, so I spent this morning making some cute hand illustrated personalized paper sleeves for their gift boxes.

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