Saturday, January 31, 2009

A Dilemma! Help!


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I'm in a bit of a dilemma. I have had my Etsy shop for jewelry since Nov 2007. I've been selling jewelry since 2003. Everyone who knows my business knows that jessicacjewelry.etsy.com will take you to my jewelry shop.

However, jewelry is not my only craft, and since I've been pregnant, it's been one of the last ones I have even thought about working on. I knit, crochet, draw, paint, cross-stitch, sew, quilt, etc.

I have been pondering the idea of selling all the things I have been making because my house is more than covered with all of it, but I am not sure if placing them in a store that has an address of jessicacJEWELRY would be appropriate. But at the same time, the hassle of running two shops will become too much once I have a newborn to contend with.

Any ideas? Should I open the second shop and put all my non-jewelry there? (which would entail a separate blog, separate promotions, etc) Or should I just stick it all in my main shop with very detailed sections?

Any comments would be much appreciated. Thank you. :o)

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

2009 Plans


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The new year started off with a bang. Time flew so fast that I really never had the time to sit down and plan out what I wanted to achieve before 2010 arrived. This weekend, as I sat curled up on the sofa under a nice warm blanket with my puppy and kitten, I had a few moments to really think it through. Ideas are still coming to fruition, but I have a basic concept of what I want to achieve.

1) I want to fully set up my Etsy, Artfire, and 1000 Markets venues and make them look more professional to create a better business image.

2) Completely set up my jewelry studio and streamline my processes to better organize myself and save more time.

3) Achieve enough sales in a month to cover the rent and the internet/phone bill. ( A lot more promotional work will have to be done, but I believe that this can be achieved.)

4) Make my business better-known and more popular so I can achieve Step 3.

5) Expand beyond jewelry - introduce more armor and "Ren Fest" pieces.

These are just the broad ideas, and they are achievable in a year's time. It may get a little tougher once the Lil' Lady gets here, but they are still doable. I'm still working on "fleshing out" the ideas and I am welcome to any ideas or suggestions on how to achieve these if anyone wants to comment. I'm working mostly on all steps except Step 2 right now because we just decided yesterday that we will be staying in the house we are currently living in until we find something better. Step 2 can now move forward (at a steady pace. It's getting hard to do much of anything with a 7.5 month pregnancy, but I can still do some.)

More will be forthcoming shortly. I should have some new photos to post here soon too. It's supposed to be sunny this weekend, so my pictures might actually come out looking good for a change. :o)

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Hog-Killing: A Forgotten Way of Life


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Today's topic is a little off-topic from my normal jewelry-related posts, but this one is very important to me. I think I come from a dying breed of people: subsistence farmers. My dad's parents have never held a "day job," ever. How would they have had the time? My granddad, back before his 85th birthday, was up and out of the house before sunrise every morning except Sundays. He'd feed his livestock, tend his fields, do a little weeding in his garden, clean and "grade" produce for selling, canning, freezing, and more. My granny, bless the woman, still gets up and cooks three meals a day, every day. She turned 90 in May.

Which brings me to today's topic: hog killing. We've done it every year since I was born, and many years before then. A lot of readers may be going "wait a minute, meat has to be USDA approved and meet FDA standards." Well, yes, but only if you are selling it. We don't sell it. This meat is split up among the family until we kill hogs the next year. It's just been amazing to me over the last couple of weeks that when people asked me what I was doing on Martin Luther King Day, I would respond "killing hogs." It's not out of disrespect, as I was lectured by one woman. It's just a day that EVERYONE has off from work. I think they used to do it just after New Years Day back when most businesses gave you more time off at the Christmas and New Year holidays, but since many businesses give the bare minimum of days off, they moved it to Martin Luther King Day so everyone only has to take the second day off from work. It's a two-day process: there's a lot of meat.

Unfortunately, I was unable to participate and help this year. I'm in my seventh month of pregnancy and my doctor was like "I don't think so." He told me to stay off my feet and not to handle any of the uncooked meat. I told my dad this, and he told me to stay home because he knew that if I showed up, I was going to either be on my feet all day, helping out in the kitchen with the meals and preparing for the meat-packing on the second day, or I would be outside and someone would hand me a slab of ribs or a ham to take to the smokehouse. I stayed home. My husband went because they need young muscles to help. I think they killed eight hogs this year.

Today is Day Two. Husband was supposed to go, but we have just enough snow on the ground and roads that driving an hour to the farm would be hazardous, and if I had any complications at home, it would take him over an hour to get back. Daddy told him to stay here. Enough people usually show up on the second day that they can get everything done, and since North Carolina shuts down when it snows, they may have a third day to finish up on.

I just hate that I am missing it this year. It's amazing to watch the men chop up the meat and grind it down into sausage as they add in the herbs and spices, smelling the skins and cracklins cooking in the cast-iron pots on open fires, watching my dad on the sausage press as he fills the casings with meat to make stuffed sausage. The humor of watching my uncle cut pork chops, ribs, fresh ham and more on the meat cutter. (There is usually a lot of cussing involved, but he likes doing it.)

I'm just praying that my granddad (now 92) has sense enough to stay inside where it's warm and trust that my dad and uncle, who have been doing this since they were wee things, know what they are doing.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Putting my Eggs in Another Basket


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Just a quick entry today. I've been selling on Etsy since November 2007, and I've participated in a few local craft shows. We've been working on getting the store name out there, but it seems to have it's slow and busy days. Just recently, everyone on Etsy has been tossing around the idea of joining Artfire as well. There have been a lot of pros and cons hashed about, and even a few heated arguments, but I made my decision based on what I saw; not on what others told me to see.

I decided to open an Artfire shop and give it a go for a year or so to see how it fairs. I'm still working on setting it up, but it will be available soon at http://jessicacjewelry.artfire.com.

** UPDATE ** I am still editing my Etsy profile, biography, and shipping information. It will be updated on the site soon. Maybe tomorrow if my morning sickness settles down at all. It's been a fairly unproductive weekend. :o(

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Bringing on the New Brand


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Well, I've been fiddling with my graphics for two straight days now. Coloring in individual pixels, saving after each one, undoing and redoing, and deleting and starting over so many times that my husband was getting frustrated just watching me. But, without much more ado, they are here!

My new shop avatar is the top one. I think it's simple and sleek, but I could be missing the broad idea of it all. It's bold, and definitely eye-catching, but will it bring people to my shop? That's what I'm not sure about. I'm going to give it a test run and see how it does.

My new shop banner is the bottom one. I worked on that one so long that I was getting frustrated myself. I like it a lot now, but the background rings still don't "feel" right to me. Could just be me being a picky artist, so I'm going to let it run for a little while with the avatar and see how it goes. Feel free to leave a comment here or you can leave it on the critique thread in the Etsy forums that I started this morning: http://www.etsy.com/forums_thread.php?thread_id=5996550 . I would really appreciate any feedback and input.

I also decided to drop the "jewelry" off my store name for the simple fact that some of the things I make just aren't... well....jewelry. In the near future, I may be listing belts, vests, wallet chains, and more and those really just aren't jewelry. I like the "Jessica C" better anyway. Makes it my brand, my store.

Just a quick note though to bring everyone up-to-date on my movement to bring in this new concept. I'm going to work on my Biography, Shop Profiles, and the other little paragraphs over the next couple of days and hopefully have them up this weekend. We are expecting ice and snow before Saturday, so I might have more time if my dayjob gets closed due to unsafe driving conditions. It shall get updated though. :o)