Saturday, May 29, 2010

Saturday Shop: The Taffy Box

*** What is the name of your shop

The Taffy Box
. I use to work in a school where I would bring my handcrafted jewelry items bagged and ready to sell to fellow teachers. I carried them around in an actual old cardboard taffy box from a beach vacation in north Carolina. They would often say "When are you going to bring in The Taffy Box again?" That is how I named my shop.

You can also find her here:
Twitter: Facebook:

*** What do you create?

Hand stamped and personalized jewelry and accessories for the whole family from Grandparents, Mommy, Dad, kids, even pets!

*** What are your favorite materials to work with?

Sterling Silver, Copper, Gold filled

*** What are you working on now?

I am making a lot of cuff links & money clips these days for wedding party gifts as well as graduation gifts such as tie-tacs and necklaces for teens.

*** How long ago did you open up shop?

2007, but I really threw my heart and soul into it last year when I was fighting cancer. It is what kept me sane and focused on something I find enjoyable. In turn, I was able to really grow the business beyond my wildest dreams and quit my teaching job!

***Do you have another job aside from your shop?

I am a part time counselor with Network Of Strength's breast cancer hotline on an IP phone from my home, as well as a patient rep. for a chemotherapy drug company.

*** How to you advertise? Any tips in this area?

I do several giveaways per year at mommy blog type sites as well as advertising buttons on blogs of friends. I give my business card to everyone I see or talk about my business with. You never know when they might end up needing a gift for someone, and remembering me! I have brochures printed up and use those at craft fairs and shows along with photographs of my work.

*** What 2 things have you learned since starting to sell your items?

You can make most of the people happy most of the time but you can't make all of the people happy all of the time. For that occasional unhappy person, I try to not take it personally, and to learn from the experience. Then I move on. I do not dwell in the negative. I have also learned that it takes time to grow a business. I chose not to go into debt to grow my business but rather to let the business pay for itself and grow as I could afford to.

*** Show off your craft/work space

You don't want to see my craft work space! You would be shocked how messy it is. I am one of those people who can find anything I am looking for in my own mess. It consists of a small utility room in my basement, a table and several organizing drawer units and a covered pool table. I have yet to master the organizing part! My goal is to someday list and sell all of my stashed beads and supplies I will never end up using.

*** Do you have any method for pricing you would like to share?

I see what other items are selling for on line and try to be in the "range". Maybe a bit lower to stay competitive but I have also found that raising prices sometimes makes the buyers believe they are more valuable and they are willing to pay the higher price! Online sales work that way, since the buyer can't physically touch and feel the item, so subconsciously they base their idea of how valuable it is on the price. It's a combination of eyeing the competition plus my own cost and profit ratio too.

***Do you have any plans for your shop in the coming year/season?

I recently started using more gold fill and combination of metals such as mixing silver and copper, and I also bought a texturizing mallet which I would like to use to create some pieces that have more depth and contrast to them.

***Any funny crafty mishap stories?

Well, the mishaps happen from time to time, like a misspelled name and I always manage to catch it before shipping the item, but some of the funnier things that have happened are when in one day there seems to be a hot ticket selling item. I just can't hardly list them fast enough like the day when over 13 people ordered collar stays and they were 13 different customers from 13 different addresses - "Where are they finding me?" I would ask myself! That happened once with guitar picks too. I have no idea how it happens.

***Tell us one random thing about yourself that is not craft related.

I had four children born in less that 5 years. Oh yeah, and they were all c-sections. They are now ages 16 - 21

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Blogfire for Dads

Blogfire carnival time!!!! Stuff for Dad. I decided to browse around for things that would suit either my Dad or my hubby. And if they see this, I won't tell them which is for which :)

Firebird Grill, handcut from recycled steel by John T Unger

Leather cover for pocket size spiral notepad by The Hermits Garden

Buy Me Love Money Clip by Rachael Sudlow Jewelry

Woody iPhone Case, Leather in Antique Brown by Moxie & Oliver

Set of 4 Poison Skully Mugs by JMN Pottery...
and these are even on sale right now!

Sniff Sniff

That title is me after I read my newest feedback. I love reading my feedback. Not only is it super important biz wise, I feel so much better knowing everything arrived and was well liked.

I just never know how to word the "please leave feedback" part of the sale's thank you. I have received some wonderfully worded requests from things I have bought. And I suppose I could have asked them about using their wording myself. But I really want to come up with something myself. I don't want to sound pushy. I have sent messages on larger orders, if for no other reason than to make sure it arrived okay. But asking out & out to please leave feedback on the order you placed a month ago is just wrong. Although, Amazon send would be kinda nice if Etsy had something similar...only friendly & more craft people oriented.
This order was one I was itching to send a message, but then after a while it seemed like too much time had gone by. So SURPRISE! In my feedback today I found this:

Thus the *sniff sniff*. Just when I was feeling down about anything creative. Perfect timing :) I am so happy to hear that the latest Grr Argh was so well received. Thank you AllNeon and you are super welcome!

Friday, May 21, 2010

Friday Feature: Batty's Bath

This is how they looked when I received them. And bonus - you can "recycle" the containers with her! How cool is that! I was going to take pics after I opened them, but forgot & just used them worth it! Here are some shots from her shop of the scrub & face cream....

This scrub not only looks smells great! My hubby loved the way it smelled on me so much, he had to try some out for himself. The texture is so fab...and was great on his skin. My skin thanked me too. So soft & smooth afterwards. Yum!

The face soap also smells divine. And my face feels super clean after. It even looks clearer now. I have my teenager use it...and he does so without complaint. Always a good sign of a good product LOL :)
The coconut cream face soap was not in the shop when I wrote this...but I am sure she could whip some up for is the whipped soap version:
Don't those look fabulous ?!?! Well, they are...and they are all mine - bwahahaha! Okay, so hubby has been sneaking even more of the scrub & my son likes the coconut face cream. It's still mine. And I know where to find more. You can check out her shop here. And I found a new release of hers at over at Craft Gawker...woots for that! You can keep up with all her bath goodies on her blog.

And now I am off for a nice long shower...finding such great handmade bath & body goodies have made my showers much longer than they used to be :)

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Etsyblogger Carnival: Gardening Plans

This week's carnival is hosted by Sweet Sallys Soaps. The choices were"
1.Tell about your gardening plans for the upcoming growing season.
2. Show me your all time favorite piece of art and why you find it inspiring.

This was a no brainer. Gardening. Why? Because we just had landscapers here this past week tearing out the old & crumbly BBQ thingy in the back, moving around the mooshed together tall grasses & mutant Black Eyed Susans. Okay, so they were not mutant. They were just doing what they do. Growing. Lots!
I wish I had a recent pic of the front. And I swear I have some somewhere. The newest I could find was from 2007. Let me show you the first year after we had all the gunk torn out.
...gunk = gravel, stones, pebbles, 3 or 4 different kinds of bushes and random stones & brick.
The only pic of that catastrophe is not digital.

This is the first year sans gunk.

Then we added a stone border. The! Well, more like found. There were at least 3 areas in the back that were bordered by these. And very very very random areas at that.

And the "now"...everything looks tiny again. The grasses were all moved to the backyard. The Susans were split - some went to the back. The remaining bunches were moved closer to the house. The Sedum stayed put.

And this is close up on the one side to show my favorite part...and a big reason for the Susan move. Along the front I again have space to play. The flowers & grasses just got too large to plant something seasonal along the front like I could those first couple years. So now I can play with color & style every year :)

But the biggest change is out back. Gone is this "lovely" BBQ thingy with it's crumbling brick, falling stones and overgrown Ivy throughout...literally - right through the structure. Although, as a picture, it looks kind of cool. With a 5 year old & a dog playing in the backyard...not so much.

And the "now"...again, kinda tiny now. The Susans were put above and below some boulders that were in the ground along the back fence. Made for fun mowing. Hubby is quite thrilled to have these moved. The grasses will fill up the outer edges. I may change them up or add in some with color as the years pass. It also leaves room to expand down the fence line. Looking forward to that someday too.
Those of you who follow my blog (and thanks for that
btw) know that were are doing lots inside right now too. More than I have yet to mention actually. It is going to be one busy summer. My hope is that when Fall comes around the dust will have settled to leave a home that does not leave me frustrated & stressed just by being there all day. *crossing fingers*

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Kitchen Redo Dance

I am dancing in my seat here. Heck, I've even gotten up to do private of course...don't want to scare anyone. It is always exciting to get something redone in your house. Especially when you dislike what is already there as much as I despise my kitchen. Yes, despise. I didn't always have such a glowering hatred of my kitchen. But it grew and flamed over the years. And with it came seen by all the juck strewn about. It is hard to work up the desire to clean & tidy when you know it will still look yicky.

Looking at the "now" pictures may help illustrate my feelings. Although, I think you really have to experience it firsthand over the course of 8 years to really get it. Then again, hubby doesn't dislike it nearly as much as I do - except for the obvious - like cabinet doors that no longer stay attached. So maybe it is just me. Either way, it won't be here for long.

So help me say goodbye to these cabinets. The bottom is being ripped out to make way for new custom cabinets. The top frame is sturdy as all get out, so those are being refaced with new doors.
And that countertop...see ya sucker!!! Oh how I hate thee. With your impossible to clean grooves and your uneven top. Your atrocious layout and your so-hard-I-can-break-glasses surface.

Goodbye sink with your gooky grout and your stained steel (stainless my rear!). Notice the lovely I-can't-stay-attached cabinet door...

And goodbye to no counter space next to the stove. Who the heck designs a kitchen without a surface next to the range???

Still not sure what will replace under the window. Probably an Ikea desk or something that can cover up most of the computer slash office section of the kitchen. It is our "backup" work area since we got the new laptop. But it still is where the printer & officey stuff lives.

And eventually - ta ta to the floors. Although your replacement won't arrive for a bit longer, I say goodbye now because you will look much better with your new accessories.

Just no comments on the color...that was on purpose...although, it did look better in my head :P

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Blogfire: Of the Season

The Blogfire carnival this week is about the best of the season. I'm in the U.S., so we are heading into warm weather...well, someone forgot to tell Mother Nature, but I am hopeful. I did some browsing around ArtFire and found these lovelies that reflect what I see as my fave parts of the season. Enjoy.

Bicycle Basket Liner by Katie Kouture

Wooden Decorating Block Set - Parsley, Sage, Rosemary & Thyme by Audzipan

Burgundy and White Cotton Print Summer Dress by Ramonalisa

Plain Bio Leather Sandals by Sandali

Tree of Life Bubble Wand by Purple Bus Studio

Friday, May 7, 2010

Etsyblogger Carnival - Mother's Day

This carnival is hosted by Made By Melissa. Our choices were:
1) Mother's Day is May 10 - tell us how you will be spending the holiday - with your mother? As a mother? Or share a special memory about your mother or grandmother
2) What is your favorite material to work with and why? Show pictures of completed projects using this material.
I do not have anything new to show off that I have made with my fave material...which is a toss up between fabric and acrylic paint. So I will go with Mom's Day.

Mom's day for my family was simply a gift & letting mom do what she wanted for the day. Now that I am a mom, I feel bad that it was only 1 day! And did she ever really get to do what she wanted? Not likely. But as a mom I now understand that yes, those handmade gifts when we were kids really did mean a lot & that they totally rocked better than anything store bought.
This year my school made gift (yes, he couldn't wait & gave it to me right away) was a terrarium in a 2 liter pop container. What a cool idea! And bonus for the little guy, he got to play in dirt & it was okay :)Mom's day has changed a bit since I got married. And no, it's not because I am a mom now. It is because hubby's family does a much bigger to-to about these kinds of holidays than mine ever did. My SIL organizes it with her in-laws and her parents, who are friends. The families knew each other long before she & BIL ever got hitched. Every year is a tad different. We have gone out just the girls to tea rooms. I am pretty sure there was a year in there were we just gathered at someone's house. We have done the whole family thing going out to brunch. Which I did not realize was an actual thing and not just what you called your first meal when you wake up super late after staying out to the wee hours of the morning :p LOL!

One thing I have realized over the is never your Mothers Day until you are the oldest mother in the family tree. No matter which kind of day - laid back or proper - you do what the matriarch wants. But considering the alternative...I don't mind many years of it not being my day yet.

I love you mom!

Monday, May 3, 2010

Look... It's a Spider... No, It's a…yuck!

Hubby went out to the coffee shop last night to get to the work he brought home. Cody & I were settling in to watch our DVR'd Doctor Who. Out of the corner of my eye I saw something land on the couch one seat over. Thought it was another spider coming to say howdy. But then it buzzed. Loud. It wasn't speedy, but it was not pokey either. It flew & buzzed & bebopped around the lights and behind the couch. It was either clever to stay out of my way or just ping ponging it.

It was a frickin' bumble bee!!! In my house!!! When I wanted to watch the new Doctor! The nerve. So I rolled up a magazine Cody was using to make a duct tape vase & started whacking whenever it got closer. Insect abuse is considered okay in this home, because I am a bug wimp. And yes, there was some squelchy screaming going on as it got close. Never lost sight though...loudest buzz ever!

I finally got the sucker. Went to get a paper bag to throw it away in. I was going with the light bulb disposal method, didn't want bug bits squooshed all over. And guess what. It was not a bumble bee. It was the plumpness of one. And buzzed like one. But no. We had a giant mutant SciFi wasp divided in two on my futon arm. Yuck.
Okay, it was not an actual giant mutant SciFi...sorry, "SyFy"...wasp, but dang that sucker was large. Aren't wasps supposed to be skinny? Isn't there a Biggest Loser camp for stinging insects? I can see a buff Bob bug or Jillian whipping this wasp into shape. Well, not so much anymore I suppose, since it now has 2 parts that need shaping.

Anyway....I took pics. Cody grabbed a penny for size comparison. It does look less large when not flitting all over my family room, but it's no runt either.

Frackin thing was still rustling in the bag an hour later! And it was cut in half! I am now thinking I may make a zombie wasp to commemorate the visit :) That could be fun!

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Flint Spring Market and Changes

Originally uploaded by flint handmade
What a blast! Craft shows are even that much better when you have friends nearby. I left yesterday's shows brimming with ideas. Where to start!?!

I can say one thing...changes are a comin'! I can't guarantee they will be super noticeable to you, but they sure will to me.To start the changes...a sale...of course. Why? Because the first change is nixing most of my bags. I am working on the shop rework now :)

Backpacks shall stay.

Clutches shall stay, but will be split in two.

The current bags are going to be made with skinny strap options. The 2nd part of the split is into a more embellished line. There will be ruffles and bows and flowers and doodads galore...but a slow galore. These bags will be upped when it comes to fabric choices. More along the lines of silk and linen. Sound fun?

Messenger bags
will stay, but possibly as custom order only.

They are pricey, take many hours to complete - especially when you add in the embroidery- and do not move quickly. But I love them!

will be only in the form of market totes. Bye Bye painted...except custom orders.

Market totes will be made in batches.

I have a futon cover (unslept on) that will make about 10 or so. I took a poll at the show on the finish - hemmed -v- bias tape...hemmed lots! Funny thing - the bias tape bag was the 1st to go at the show. Go figure!

, handbags, larger purses

Zip pouches will always be around.

They are too perfect for small and odd shaped fabric remainders. I want to get better about making tiny change sized pouches to go with each bag also.

The next change is an expansion. Monsters and fun creatures will start to take over.

I am going to take my current guys and add on to the family from my sketchbook. They will be named - I will be coordinating with my oldest for this. And each will become a small keychain and small stuffie. Some may get super sized. And in all sorts of colors. I have an idea for their display too...more on that later.

The other expansion is the fabric baskets...which have not made it into the shop just yet. I want to make 3 sizes, not just the one.

There is more, but I have yet to finish the pro/con list for them, so more on that later too. Yes, this part goes back to quilts & such I always talk about but never quite get I hope I will :)
Phew! That's a lot!