Tuesday, 29 April 2008

Philosophy of Failure

Not hitting your targets is hard. Especially when you have been having a successful run at things. I haven't hit my April sales target, and in fact have missed it by a significant stretch. This might be my second-best month on Etsy, but it has been my most disappointing in terms of expectations.
Missing your goals is tough. It doesn't matter where you miss them, be it a fitness goal, a sales goal, a maths score, it is always disappointing. And of course, it is inevitable as well. At some point, we all fail. And if we don't fail, we don't really get tested as a person - we don't really understand the joys of our success if we haven't tasted defeat. And yet. And yet missing your goals also draws in self-doubt, the whispers of failure, the nagging thoughts of just jacking it all in. So, how can we turn missing our goals into something positive?
Well, it gives us a chance to reassess ourselves. This is a crucial part of any learning exercise. Let's go through my thoughts on my failure this month, and see what sort of action list I draw up for May.
  • Are my products right? Well, I've been shifting my products slightly, and maybe I have gone too far away from the crochet products in preference of the easier to make felt badges. My word badges usually sell pretty quickly, quicker than the pretty embroidered badges. ACTION: work on creating at least four crochet pieces this month to list. List more word badges.
  • Have I promoted as much? I haven't been posting as much in the forums, since I was worried that I was going to lose my job from my far too frequent etsy surfing. I'm not going to go back to that though! I did spend some time in chat rooms, and that vastly increased my hearts and views, but did nothing for my sales (short term). I also haven't been posting as much to flickr. My blog posts have been fairly consistent. ACTION: spend at least two hours a week posting photos to flickr, taking part in groups, commenting etc. Try to upload at least 2 new photos twice a week. Also, do at least one myspace promotion this month.
  • Have I been listing/relisting as often? Yes. I've been listing/relisting almost every day. I am loathe to get into things more than that, as my products are not such high cost that it is worth spending a large amount of relisting fees. I have a reasonable number of new products to list that I can continue to list something new every day for the next couple of weeks. ACTION: continue with listing trends.
  • Have I been advertising enough? I've had one round of project wonderful advertising. That is probably not enough, to be honest. ACTION: undertake at least 2 campaigns of PW advertising through May.
There's also the question of outside factors, and whether I set myself realistic targets in the first place.
I believe, that whether you are doing well or not, that it is important every so often to stop and reassess - what am I doing, how am I doing it, and is it working?
Let's see if my proposed actions have a positive impact on Moose and Bear over the next month.

Monday, 28 April 2008

Back to Reality

Another month, another craft fair. This time it was organised by Edinburgh Craft Fairs, who had done a large amount of promotion and had signs plastered all over Morningside. It was quite cool seeing pictures of my wee beasties blown up to being a foot tall! The craft fair itself was fun enough - I got talking to some really lovely people and sold the odd thing here and there (octopuses continue to be my most popular item), but not enough to dine out on my takings (we dined out anyway at the lovely iglu anyway!). For most people there, craft fairs were their main source of selling their business, and they approached it as an average basis - some are good, some are bad, and it's hard to tell which it's going to be from the start, since there are so many factors to consider - the venue, the weather, the time of year, credit crunches, etc. Christmas is always good, though. But whilst I was there, I realised that I just don't really love doing them - I hate the sitting around, the constant waiting and hoping that someone's going to buy, the fretting about whether my stall is good enough, looks attractive, is set up in a good place, whether other people round me are selling more and all that. That is all a part of retail which I just don't relate to enough. So I've decided that I'm not signing up for anymore fairs at all, apart from the Christmas one. I've tried something, and I didn't enjoy it. I think that that is okay.

Craft fairs do kick my productivity up a notch or five, and so I now have heaps to list on etsy (and a few things have also been deleted thanks to a couple of sales). I'm taking a break from the sewing and the hooking for a few days to let myself get back into it and get excited, but I've got a good amount of stuff to tide me over listing-wise in the meantime.

It's nearly the end of April, and unfortunately, I didn't hit my sales targets which were either hitting the big 5-0 on my store, or selling 15 items this month, if I hit the first one. Well, I didn't. I have sold nine so far, and am stuck on 46 sales. I'm really willing people to click on the buy button on etsy, but it just doesn't seem to be working! I'm sure I can tempt some people in with these new listings, fingers crossed!

Wednesday, 23 April 2008

Update on the To Do List

Firstly, check out this amazing banner that was put together for me by cultivatedmindart. How fantastic is it?! I adore the lo-fi, diy, doodle approach she's taken. It's just perfect for moose and bear. I gave her such a random brief, and I'm so impressed with what she did with my really rubbish directions! I was actually a little bit nervous when she asked what I wanted - I didn't want to be too directional or prescriptive, because I'm pretty open-minded and trust graphic arts people to be able to produce something fantastic that I didn't even know I wanted. I did say I didn't like orange or purple, so she has nicely avoided those! If anyone else is looking for a banner, I would definitely recommend her.
Soooooo, my crafting to-do list. It now looks like this:
  • make legs and finish a blue octopus - the legs are done, the octo is not finished!
  • make six more sugar cookies - I've done a tiny bit of three
  • make six matryoska dolls - I've not even started
  • make 4 felt ninjas - not started
  • make 3 crochet ninjas - not started
  • make 3 keyrings - not started
Should I be freaking out? Well, yes, probably. But I have been really rubbish at focusing my efforts this week, instead getting addicted to jezebel.com. Rookie mistake. Tonight my boyfriend is out for the entire evening at basketball, so that will give me a huge amount of time to just sit down and focus my sewing efforts. I am determined to get the cookies done and at least 3 more matryoska dolls. I know I can do it, I really do! I just gotta have faith! (and large quantities of diet coke! and my favourite sewing soundtrack).

Monday, 21 April 2008

to do to do!

My moleskine is no closer to turning up, so I'm going to have to struggle on without it. I'm really gutted, as it was only about a quarter on the way through, and I had so many fantabulous ideas in it. Grrr.
It had my this week crafting to do list for a start. I have been just about the least productive laydee ever this weekend, and really have to knuckle down this week and do some serious work. So, what does my to-do list look like?
I have to:
  • make legs and finish a blue octopus
  • make six more sugar cookies
  • make six matryoska dolls
  • make 4 felt ninjas
  • make 3 crochet ninjas
  • make 3 keyrings
ha ha - not much then!!! I can finish the octopus tonight, and the cookies tomorrow night. The matryoska dolls will take wednesday, and the crochet ninjas thursday. I'll outsouce most of the felt ninjas to my boyfriend (does that still count as me?). The keyrings I can do Friday night. See, I reckon that list is totally do-able.
Or maybe I just am a complete optimist!

Sunday, 20 April 2008

Last Full Day of Crafting Before Fair

Today is my last full day of crafting before next Saturday's craft fair in Morningside. Given that the last one I attended, I didn't sell heaps, I am not as stressed this time about having heaps and heaps of product (although it is a completely different market, so maybe I should be! Still, that doesn't mean that I'm outside enjoying the crisp (okay, chilly!) April sun. Instead, I'm inside finishing up a whole load of octopi (I love making bodies, hate making legs!), and then making a heap of crochet and felt ninjas. I've also been experimenting with play food - I really wish I had had time to make more of it. Play food is soo cool, and I really think that the Morningside yummy mummies would have got quite into it. Shame. What is more of shame is that I seem to have lost my fantasticly useful and important moleskine which basically kept track of everything that I had done and needed to do. Without it, I am lost. I am loathe to start a new one in case it turns up. It basically was where I put every idea about monsters, ninjas, blog posts, badges to make, and marketing plans. See, totally totally lost without it!

After last month's fantastic success on Etsy, this month has actually been really quiet. No sales in over a week! Still, that just gives me a chance to experiment with some different stuff, relax a little from the manic making, and focus on next week. I won't be listing anything this week (maybe a bunch of renewing to make sure I'm still showing up in s
earch results), and next week I'm sure I'll be back with renewed vigour. These two badges are my latest listings. This is the last fair I have in my calendar for the moment, and I'm not sure how I'll progress with them at the moment. Instead, I might start looking more at consignment opportunities at local places.

Following on from my last post about once you get in one treasury, you start to get in more? Well, here is my little yellow ninja in yet another treasury (it has been in at least two so far). Thanks to kankalinhats for that.

Thursday, 17 April 2008

sucess begets sucess

success as we all know, breeds success. I happen to think that this is particularly true when it comes to being featured in a treasury. Recently, I've noticed that the lovely lupin's work has been on a front page a number of times recently. Abi has also been featured twice recently as well. And I notice that I've gone from being in the odd treasury, to being in a few more again, like this lovely pink one curated by boffin. And from this I've come to the conclusion that once you have gained some exposure for your work, like promoting your little bum off and eventually being featured in a treasury, people notice you a bit more, add you a few more times to their favourites, and then, when they come to make a treasury, come back to you. And so the circle continues, and is heightened even more by hitting the front page. I would like to say at this point that there is no way you are going to get a front page if you don't have amazing amazing work. I am certainly not saying that people who are on the front page do not deserve to be there. But I have a gut feeling that once you get there, the heightened level of exposure that it brings increases your chances of ending up there again.
What do you think? Do you think that hitting the front page is more likely to happen once you've done it once, or do you think that it all is down to the fabulousness of your stuff, the long slog of promoting your stuff, and a teensy bit of luck

Tuesday, 15 April 2008

a game of tag!

I've been tagged!!! Leah at Moxie Photo and Design has tagged me. Unless I follow the rules, she's threatening to put her finger in the peanut butter jar. To be honest, that's not much of a threat to me, since my boyfriend shoves his finger in there all the time, but I'll still behave myself and play by the rules!

They are:

1. link to the person that tagged you.

2. post the {very important} rules on your blog.
3. list 6 very unimportant, random nothings about yourself {should be an easy one}

So, 6 random nothings about me then....

1. I love lighthouses
2. Despite working in IT and having an online shop, I have watched about 3 youtube videos in my life.
3. I have an extremely broad back - my dad refers to it as my builders back.
4. Rice is my least favourite form of carbohydrate. Noodles or potatoes are my favourite.
5. My favourite show ever is the west wing. My second favourite is the OC.
6. I keep buying high heels that I don't wear.

okay, so now that I've done my part, I've got to tag some other people. So I'm going to tag Abi and NikonGirlsPhotoshop.

Oh, and that cute little badge up at the top is my latest badge that I just listed.

Ooooh Paris!

I have absolutely nothing crafty to blog about whatsoever. I deliberately didn't even take any of my crafty stuff to Paris, so have made absolutely nothing in the last few days. Nothing!
But aren't those macaroons just about the most gorgeous thing you ever saw? And they taste even better than they look! I got them from the ancient tea house, Laduree, which has branches all over Paris. I went on Saturday afternoon, and the tiny tearoom shop was crammed with Parisians who were buying them to serve as after dinner treats. The lemon one was most memorable to me - it resembled a lemon sorbet, without being cold, the way it sort of disappeared in your mouth - incredible and fabulous. I have a box of them sitting at home waiting for me, and I'm actually drooling thinking about them! I think that the pictures are so beautiful as well that I want to do something with them, but I'm not sure what that is yet...
Paris was absolutely wonderful, although the Euro exchange rate was rather painful. My legs ache from walking miles all over the city, which was fantastic. There are two things that I love when I'm in a city - walking everywhere, and sitting having coffee (preferably after walking everywhere!). My favourite place to spend some time is the Jardins du Luxembourg, which are the most gorgeous city park. A highlight of the trip was having 16 very french waiters sing happy birthday to my dad at La Coupole - I think it certainly took him by surprise! For once, I didn't do much shopping (pesky Euros!) although I did get a heap of notebooks (the new moleskines). There is nothing like a French papeterie to make me open my wallet! I'm actually back on the Euros tonight as I'm off to Dublin for work tomorrow, and back late tomorrow evening. So I'll have gone an entire week of no crafting - shock horror!!! Thinking about it now has started giving me the heebie jeebies! Actually, I'm supposed to go to dinner on Thursday night, but I think I'll have to give it a miss.

Thursday, 10 April 2008

Milestones, Holidays, and Asking for Trouble

I'm super excited because this time tomorrow I'll be in Paris! Yeh!!!

Okay, Parisian celebrations over. I'm also getting pretty excited about my shop because yesterday I hit a small milestone - 300 hearts. However, I'm coming up to a bigger one - 50 sales!!! Whoever buys my 50th product will get a nice little surprise in with their purchase as well. That would just be the best surprise ever, to come back from my long weekend to see that, but I think it's more likely to be in the next couple of weeks.

I've been meaning to blog about another Etsy seller for a while. asking for trouble is based in Glasgow, and I first saw her stuff at the Glasgow Craft Mafia market about a month ago. Her inspiration comes from Japan, and her stuff is made so beautifully that I totally fell in love with it when I saw it. I particularly love this pink brooch - isn't is so classy? This notebook is also gorgeous.

Asking for Trouble can also be found at askingfortrouble.org

Wednesday, 9 April 2008

moving along in no particular direction

Things have been very busy around here, and I've hardly had a chance to sew anything, never mind write about sewing things! Real life, such as work and family has been getting in the way of Moose and Bear, but that's fine with me - much fun as it would be to have my life dictated by the corner of the room where all my felt gets heaped, I think that eventually I would become a social recluse who would be incapable of having sensible conversations and might forget to eat. Well, being reasonable, forgetting to eat is not likely to be a problem. So letting friends, family, food, a bit too much alcohol take over from sewing isn't such a bad thing, and I'm not going to let myself get worked up by it.

That doesn't mean I've been doing nothing. I've been making heaps of embroidered felt badges, like this one I've featured here. They go really well until I try and sew the badge on the back, and then no matter what, it seems to end up cock-eyed. I've had to unpick about five to get them to a stage that I'm happy about! I've got lots more designs for these rather pretty badges to work on, and I think I'll also make some magnets and keyrings for them as well over the next few weeks.

I've also just shipped off a batch of bunnies down to the art gallery in Newcastle where my bunnies are sold. This is my only bricks and mortar place, and it seems to be working well, although I've not yet received any cash!! I'll give that one a chase in a few weeks. Actually, I also really want to put together a brochure and spend a day going around some likely Edinburgh B&Ms to see if there is any chance of having my work there. I spend lots of time reminding myself that Etsy is not a business plan, and that I should expand my horizons, but then don't do anything about it - I can be such a hypocrite!

I also keep getting invites to craft fairs that I can't go to, which is really annoying. I'm doing one in a few weeks in Morningside (part of Edinburgh), but the Glasgow Craft Mafia have invited me to two I can't make, and another one from someone in another part of Edinburgh. Having only done one, I really want to do a couple more and get to that point where I can make an informed decision as to whether they work for me. Right now, I'm not there yet, and dates and going against me.

I'm also hitting some interesting targets - today I got 300 hearts, and I've also got 44 sales - so close to 50!!! (There will be a prize for my 50th sale you know!)
However, much more exciting than all that is the fact that I'm off to Paris on Thursday for a long weekend. Bring on the fine food and the good wine!

Sunday, 6 April 2008

lazy sunday day

Well, I'd love to say that I had a fantastically productive Sunday creating heaps of new products, but I didn't. I did go see the Ansel Adams exhibition, which was very beautiful and inspiring. Then, somehow I ended up shopping with Ori for trousers, instead of sewing some new badges. I've made a couple tonight - this geek one I actually did 90% of the work on last week at 3am, but found I can't cut straight at that time of night, so gave the final touches a miss until now. I just listed it a few hours ago. I also finished off my custom geek badge, and have done a whole heap of embroidery to sew up over the next few days. That's the thing - I'm fantastic at starting projects and doing the fun stuff - the designing, the making, and absolutely terrible at actually getting things finished off. It's the same no matter what I do - I have 3 whales in various shades waiting to get sewn together, as well as two octopuses, and now about seven badges. I'm just a complete procrastinator.

Saturday, 5 April 2008

How many is too many?

One of the questions that I often ask myself is
how many items should I keep in my store? Is more better, or does that look like I can't sell anything? The best sellers on Etsy often have over 100 items in their store. However, they often have sales in the hundreds as well. I have never managed to get beyond a meagre 25 items until today, when I listed another couple - this little cute elephant and a new felt badge. I think I'm going to get to 30 (I've sold 38), and then go back to relisting rather than constantly adding new things. That doesn't mean I'm not working on new designs and ideas. I've got about 5 brooches that I need to finish off. Tonight will be about eating a lovely salad, watching a proper film (The Lives of Others), and chilling out.

This little badge is a bit change from what the embroidery that I've been doing recently - it's a bit prettier, and a bit more "skilled" looking. I wanted it to look a little more professional, and I've got a few more designs like this up my sleeve. I hope that they fit in with the rest of my shop aesthetic, and don't get lost in all the cheeky nonsense!

Today I had the nice surprise of receving a convo from a past buyer who had come back to my store again and was wanting me to create a "geek" badge for her. I'm so happy! The thought of a repeat buyer is just too cool for school. So naturally I making one up for her quick smart. As I'm sure I mention on a regular basis, my biggest problem right now is getting the right light for taking photos. Every morning this week I've been keeping an eye on the light to see if I can take some cheeky photos before work, but I've really had no joy at all. I'm really hoping that this weekend will be a bit more sunshiney so I can get some photos taken; otherwise my pile of stock is just sitting there waiting to be listed!

You would think that I would have learnt from last time that leaving craft fair preparation to the last minute is a baaad idea. And the nagging voice at the back of my head really and truly does know that. However, work and family stuff has really been taking over me recently, and I've barely had time to craft at all. I've got a to-do list in my moleskine as long as my arm on things I have to make, and definitely not enough time in the world to actually get them all done. I'm starting to feel the pressure! My next craft fair is the last Saturday in April, but next weekend I'm in Paris (oh la la!), so that's completely out. And this afternoon, I'm going shopping with my lovely sister.You see where time is drifting away too.

I just had another lovely discovery - that I'm in a treasury!! Thanks to lostintheforest for putting it together!

Thursday, 3 April 2008

First Sale for April

This is a really quick post, mainly because I've been feeling a bit guilty about neglecting my blog recently. I had my quickest ever sale today - I listed this cute little nerd badge, had a shower, and when I came back, it was gone! A personal record, I have to say. I'm also currently working on a new product - some felt sugar cookies. These are mainly for a craft fair I'm working at in a few weeks. I don't think they'll make it to Etsy. I find that my more "traditional" stuff - crocheted stuffed toys and the like - do better at craft fairs than the kooky nerd badges. Right now I'm preffering the nerd stuff though!!!