Who doesn’t love a GIVEAWAY?

Last night The All Handmade By ME Team reached a special milestone… only four and a half months since the birth of The All Handmade By ME Team, we have reached… drumroll please… 1500 Facebook Fans!!

1500 Fans Image

As this milestone grew closer, I started talking with a couple of the team leaders about how excited we were. We decided that we wanted to do something special to celebrate. That was when Stephanie had the idea to host a giveaway for the team. Several of the team leaders have hosted our own giveaways in the past and it seemed like a good idea. The difference here was that The All Handmade By ME Team itself does not have a specific product for us to giveaway. So we settled on a gift card and a few of us got together and pulled our own meager savings to purchase an Etsy gift card to give away to the winner of the contest.

Even though we are all short on cash, we thought that this giveaway would be an invaluable asset for the team. Giveaways boost traffic to a page in a way that little else does. They create an influx of new fans and stir up interest in the goings on of the page hosting the giveaway. So we decided it was worth it to us.

I really hope that you will all participate in this giveaway. As you all know, the All Handmade By ME Team is very near and dear to my heart. It is my baby and I want it to grow up and succeed. I want all of my team members to succeed. I want handmade to not only survive, but thrive!

Here’s how it works:

Go to the All Handmade By ME Facebook Page. If you are not already a fan, click LIKE. Liking our page is required in order to enter our contest. Then click on the blue GIVEAWAY tab beneath our cover photo. Then simply follow the instructions on how to enter. There are many different ways to enter and you will be able to enter daily for the duration of the giveaway. You can also CLICK HERE to go directly to our giveaway!

Why you should enter:

First and foremost, if you win, you will get a $25 Etsy gift card to spend on wonderful handmade treasures! But why else should you enter? Because this giveaway will promote this wonderful team. Entering will show us that you support handmade, that you want us to succeed and that you want to help us spread the word. Every entry will help boost our internet reach and spread our message further. Every time you like, comment, or share something from our Facebook page, more people learn about our team.

To sum it all up:

Enter now and enter often! Support handmade!

ENTER HERE: 1500 Fans Giveaway! 

A whole year already?!

Even as I sit down to write this post, I cannot believe what I am writing. SMARTdesigns is one-year-old today. Wow.

1st Anniversary

I’ve thought a lot about what I would write about in this anniversary edition of my blog. Should I talk about the journey that I have traveled? Should I talk about the people who have gotten me to where I am today? Should I update you on the progress I have made? In the end, I decided to focus on the future.

If you would like to read more about the journey SMARTdesigns has had this past year, read my Year in Review blog post. 

Year Number 1:

Before moving on to Year Number 2, I thought I would write a little summary of what I have accomplished with SMARTdesigns since this day last year. Just a little preface to talking about the future if you will. The English Major side of me refuses to jump right in without at least a short introduction to set the stage

As I write this, my Facebook Page has nearly 600 fans. 581 to be exact. I have met some absolutely incredible people through Facebook and Etsy who I have come to call friends. I have close to 200 Twitter followers, nearly 400 Etsy admirers, and… drumroll please… I have sold over 125 pieces of my artwork.

I have included these numbers, not for a display of vanity, but rather as a way of trying to quantify what I can only refer to with sheer bewilderment as success. And for all of this I have but one thing to say: Thank you.

Moving Forward:

I have already accomplished so much. At least ten times what I believed I was capable of accomplishing, not in one year, but in several. So now what? Where do I go from here? How do I top myself?

My biggest goal for SMARTdesigns is to start becoming more successful with the artwork I have for sale. I have had a lot of success with my custom designs for businesses, but to be completely honest, I’ve been a little discouraged by the low number of sales I have made for my artwork. Please don’t misunderstand! I absolutely love doing custom work! I enjoy the challenge that each piece brings and I love working closely with my customers to create something special just for them. That said, my real passion is in the pieces I make just for me, just because I feel inspired to do so. Pieces like A Life for All Seasons. In the coming year, I would like to create more artwork and try to market these pieces to the right audience.

I have recently started working on a whole new line of artwork for children. I wrote a couple days ago about my new line of Fairy Tale Artwork and have since started creating artwork with trains. I am anxious to continue making pieces like these for a couple reasons. First, they’re a lot of fun. I really truly enjoy making them. And second, there’s just something special about creating things that will brighten a child’s bedroom. These pieces combine two of my greatest loves: graphic design and children.

To see the complete line of artwork for girls, click here! To see what I have created for boys, click here! 

Another goal I have is to move the majority of my sales off of Etsy. While I love Etsy and owe them a great percentage of my success, I hope that one day I will outgrow them and their fees. I am already working with my talented cousin to improve this website and set up my own little e-commerce shop here so that future customers will be able to purchase artwork directly from me.

With that in mind, I have absolutely no intention of leaving the All Handmade By ME Team! I plan to continue on Etsy in my capacity as Team Captain for many years to come. I have applied and been accepted into Etsy’s Team Fellowship program where I will be working with the Etsy Admin to test new features available for the promotion of teams. I’m very excited about the program and can’t wait to tell you all what I’m working on for our team! It’s not ready yet, so no spoilers here, but I promise it’ll be worth the wait!

On the subject of the All Handmade By ME Team, another big goal I have is to really get this team out there in the general public! I want people to know who we are and what we stand for so that our handmade items can hope to stand a chance against the cheaper mass produced competition. But, with that said, this isn’t a goal that I can accomplish alone. I need your help. I need you to tell your friends and family about the benefits of buying handmade. I need you to share the All Handmade By ME Team on social media and help us advertise. I need you to talk about, post about, tweet about and blog about our team. You have all been wonderful so far so we just need to make sure we don’t lose momentum!

While my goals for the future are not monetary, I would be lying if I did not include this last one. My overall goal for the future is to one day be able to support myself on my artwork. I know that many (most actually) would say that this is a naive dream, one without the eye of reason, but I don’t care. When I look at everything I have accomplished in just one short year, I am optimistic for the future.

And here’s how I know that this is possible: One year ago, my father told me I was insane. He told me the same thing eleven months ago, and ten, and probably as recently as four months ago. But, in the past couple months, my father, the business man he is, told me that I have accomplished more than he ever imagined. He admitted to me that he was wrong. So dad, I say this to you now and I will say it again on the day I buy my first house with the money I have made as a graphic artist: I told you I could do it.

And now, I turn to the future. I am excited for the road ahead and I can’t wait to travel it with you. Here’s to Year Number 2!

Support LIVING Artists

I have seen an image circulating through Facebook that proclaims:

“Support living artists, the dead ones don’t need it.”

I found this statement really resonated with me but I couldn’t put my finger on what exactly it was about it that stuck in my mind. Maybe it’s the dry humor or maybe it’s the obvious nature of the statement, but I found that I kept coming back to it.

1507797_10151900873285875_636986059_n


I apologize for the lack of attribution, but I have seen this image from so many of my fellow artists that I wasn’t quite sure where it originated.

I have been thinking a lot about ways to help my fellow artists and All Handmade By ME Team members (and of course myself) get the message out there to the general public that there is a value to be gained from supporting artists and handmade sellers. What feels so obvious to the artistic community is often lost on the rest of the world. The sad truth is that we live in a world of commercialism and greed where the bottom line is often the only line people care to focus on.

I am as guilty as anyone when it comes to this cultural mindset. I’ll admit it… I’m cheap! Or rather, I have to be extremely money conscious to survive. I’m working several part time jobs just to make ends meet and I still don’t have a place of my own. I am the very definition of a starving artist. And I’m sure many of you are starving artists too.

So what can I do? What can any of us do?

I like to think that I do my part to help the handmade community through ways other than financially. I might not buy everything handmade, but I try to advertise for my friends and teammates so that hopefully others might. It doesn’t put money directly in their pockets, but it helps it find its way there over time.

SMARTdesigns is finally starting to get the kind of traffic that I believe will help me really begin to be successful as a graphic artist. You may ask, to what do I credit this change of events? I truly believe that I owe my growing customer base to the All Handmade By ME Team. When I spend time supporting their businesses, advertising their sales, sharing their items, I find that my items get shared much more frequently than when I focus only on my own business. I cannot stress enough how important I believe it is for artists to support each other.

And of course, when I can afford it, I buy from Etsians nine times out of ten.

Another thing I like to keep in mind is how to help the sellers I buy from avoid fees wherever possible. Did you know that you can wire money through PayPal with only a couple clicks? And yes, PayPal takes a small transaction fee, but it is nothing compared to the fees that Etsy takes out of every sale.

So when I can, I try to buy directly through the person selling the item I want. I don’t save any money by doing so, but it cuts out fees for that person and helps them collect what they really deserve. Just something to keep in mind when you’re shopping in the future!

If you are ever interested in purchasing something from me directly, just contact me! I always appreciate the chance to avoid Etsy fees!

So what then is the point of the quote I mentioned at the beginning of this post? Well to me, it means that we need to be conscious of the fact that “starving artist” is a stereotype for a reason… it’s all too often very true. Why should these talented people struggle to make ends meet? I really don’t know the answer to that. All I do know is that I want to do my part to change things so that one day they won’t have to struggle.

_________________________________________________________________________

Unrelated Announcement:

There is still time to enter my 500 Fans Thank You Giveaway! I hadn’t planned to host another giveaway right on the tail of the last one, but I reached 500 Facebook fans much faster than I anticipated!

You can enter daily for the next three days… CLICK HERE!

The prize is $10 off any* item currently in stock in my Etsy shop!

*excluding custom banners and business logos because of the amount of time required to create custom designs.

HIJACKED! (Friday Favorites #12)

Hello all, this is Nichole Archer from the Lilac Lobster. I’ve commandeered Stacey’s blog today as part of her birthday present from me. Everyone deserves to at least have their birthday off. So, without further ado: my Friday favorite: SMARTdesigns by Stacey.

Sorry, there’s some ado..

You all know about some of the amazing things Stacey has accomplished in the past year, she’s posted some details here and most of you know her from Etsy or Facebook. She’s come to know many fellow Etsians as friends, and it warms my heart to know that she’s found such great people that share her interests and passions. But some of you may not know how truly incredible Stacey is. She’s my best friend (so I’m a bit biased, sue me). We’ve had some great times. We bonded over Friends and Lisa Frank (and basically anything from the 90s) and cheered on the Tigers. When my husband and I eloped, she insisted that I have a bouquet, gave me a fondue party, supplied my something borrowed, and was next to me every step of the way. It hasn’t been all rainbows and glitter, though. Over the course of our friendship, we’ve both had our hearts broken, we’ve lost friends that we thought would be around forever, I’ve become a boring and responsible army wife, and now there’s 700 miles between us and we’ve spent way too much time apart. But in spite of all that, all the things that have ended other friendships, we’ve become closer. We’ve taught each other that nothing can replace true friends and that loving yourself and following your dreams is what’s important in life.

P1080587_2
So, who is Stacey to me? Apart from my best friend, my lobster, and the cheese to my wine? She’s a leader, an inspiration, and a motivator. A creative soul that is passionate about what she believes in.

You can see it in her shop. It’s absolutely full of unique digital art that you won’t find anywhere else. She finds inspiration in everything and hearing how excited she is about her next piece always makes me smile. One of my favorite pieces, A Life For All Seasons, was her first piece. It’s the first time she considered herself an artist and it was so nice to see she finally had some of the confidence that I had in her all along.

A Life for All Seasons

A Life for All Seasons — I have this piece proudly hanging in my dining room!

One of Stacey’s favorite pieces is Live, Laugh, Love: “It’s purple and it looks like glitter, you know me.”

Live Laugh Love

Live Laugh Love

You can see it in her custom work. My husband and I eloped, we haven’t had a wedding yet, but we will. A superhero themed wedding. Because we’re awesome, that’s why. And Stacey has done so much to make our graphics special and unique  and exactly what we wanted, because she’s awesome, too. She transformed my drawings and ideas into beautiful pieces that still fit my and my husband’s personalities, and she had some incredible ideas of her own!

“I had the most fun working on your wedding because it was for my best friend and I had someone to work really closely with. And now I’m becoming quite knowledgable about comic books.” I’m really proud of her for that last bit, too.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

You can see it in her efforts with the All Handmade By Me Team, which she founded  only a few short months ago (October 2, to be exact) and now has over 1,500 members. A team specially created with both the buyer and seller in mind. It’s a community of marvelously creative minds making one of a kind handmade artwork and forming lasting friendships.

Jill Brandt of Aksel Arts had this to say: “After the creation of the All Handmade by Me team, I got to know Stacey on a personal level and I can say that she is a wonderful and talented artist and I am so grateful that I get to call her a friend.” There’s not another team like it.

“My goal for the team is that we get people not on Etsy to know about it. I want the rest of the world to know about our team. At that point, the sky’s the limit.” For more information, visit the team page.

You can see it in my shop. Okay, maybe YOU can’t see it, but I sure can. She convinced me to open a shop on Etsy, made all the digital art for my shop and my Facebook page, and she’s always giving me tips and ideas and pointers. She also made my mascot, Lobby the Lobster. “I’m rather partial to Lobby. He’s one of my proudest creations and he gave me the confidence to try new things with SMARTdesigns.” To see all the incredible work Stacey has done for my page, visit my Facbook page and my Etsy shop (a bit of shameless self-promotion is ok, right?).

Stacey started all this because she loves it (and because a little birdy told her it was a brilliant idea; she’s seen my ‘I told ya so’ dance). She loves her customers, she loves her art, and she loves all the new friends she’s made along the way. She motivates me to create something new every day and is an inspiration to me, and I’m sure to everyone on the All Handmade By Me team.

Visit SMARTdesigns on Etsy, Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest!

POW! In The Making

Today I completed a new piece of artwork for my line of comic book inspired pieces. While I was creating this piece, I decided to take screenshots of my process, something I like to do so that I can go back and look at how a piece evolved. Today however, I decided to share that evolution with all of you.

Below is a slideshow of images that show each step in the creation process. I hope that you will enjoy seeing it!

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

This piece is available for purchase on Etsy, or you can go directly through me and pay with PayPal.

112

I also offer many other comic book themed prints, pictured below!

BOOM!

ZAP!

SPLAT!

KAPOW!

ZOINKS!

BAM pic

WHOOSH

Which comic book piece is your favorite? I think I like ZOINKS! the best, but I’m partial to all things purple… Is something missing? Do you have an idea for my next piece? Let me know!

Optimism as a Business Strategy: Friday Favorites #11

Today’s Friday Favorite is a shop owner that I have come to call one of my friends. She is also one of the hardest working, most optimistic people I have ever met. This week, I am featuring Nadia’s Knits!

Picture 91

“I got started knitting when I lived overseas with my grandma and aunt. I always watched them in intrigue at how much patience and focus it took. At the age of 12 they decided to teach me the craft and I learned quickly. When I returned to the states, I focused on my education and later on my career in Social Services. Many years later a friend of mine was telling me about Etsy and she motivated me to open a shop. I started with only one item which I just sold for the holidays. Ideally what I would love to do is to continue to focus on what I enjoy, making one of a kind knits that people love. Granted I may never become a millionaire doing what I love but I am eternally optimistic.” –Nadia

Nadia’s optimism is contagious. I have known her for several months now through the All Handmade By ME Team. She runs our team Facebook Page and is constantly coming up with new and exciting ways to keep people engaged with the team. It hasn’t been easy. Since I founded the team back in October, there have been a lot of ups and downs. There have been a lot of issues that come up and problems that we have had to tackle. But through it all, Nadia stayed optimistic and driven towards promoting our cause.

When I look at Nadia’s work, I too am optimistic for her future. She is incredibly talented! And I say that knowing nothing whatsoever about knitting. But I do know what I like and I love Nadia’s scarves!

il_570xN.533290664_7p4y


Look at the detail work!

I love the detail in her work. The careful time and dedication that clearly goes into each row. It’s stunning.

“My favorite part of the knitting process is the casting on the first row. When I look at the knitting needle, I see the potential of what it could become.” –Nadia

I know exactly what Nadia means! When I’m working on a new piece, it’s so exciting to think about what the end result will look like. I love watching my artwork come together and evolve before my eyes!

Nadia’s Favorite?

I asked Nadia what piece in her shop was her favorite and she told me that they are all her favorites. I can certainly relate to that! But she said that if she had to choose just one, it would be this scarf:

il_570xN.493326387_g2i2

This scarf is one of my favorites as well! I love the bright warm colors! And I love that this scarf would look beautiful with almost any outfit!

A Passion for Handmade:

As I mentioned earlier, Nadia is a team leader in the All Handmade By ME Team. But it is her total passion for handmade and handmade sellers that really compelled me to feature her this week.

1527918_239940732847457_2018149164_n

This image is only the most recent that Nadia has made to help promote the team. Every time I turn around she is working to add something special to our team’s Facebook Page to help spread the word about buying handmade.

“I love my banner with the Handmade Badge. I know I have told many members that the Handmade By Me Team is the first team that I have taken an active part in. I think it’s because it speaks to my belief of the importance of handmade creativity and originality.” –Nadia

 All Scarves at Nadia's Knits will be 10% off!

“The All Handmade By ME Team means Handmade Creativity and Originality. This is so forgotten nowadays. Handmade artisans and craftspeople are struggling to MAKE IT doing what they love and that to me is heartbreaking. The team motivates people like me to continue on doing what we love no matter what. It’s a wonderful group of leaders and members looking to spread the word about HANDMADE!” –Nadia

And I couldn’t agree more!

Want to Know More?

Want to learn more about Nadia and Nadia’s Knits? Be sure to check out the following links! Like Nadia said, it is important for us to support handmade sellers and help them live their dream. Let’s send a little love in Nadia’s direction and thank her for all the behind the scenes work she has done for handmade sellers across the world!

Etsy

Facebook

Twitter

Pinterest

Instagram

Glitteriffic!! Friday Favorites #10

I have been waiting for weeks to feature this week’s Favorite! I had to wait because the item being featured was a Christmas gift and I didn’t want to spoil the surprise! But, now that Christmas is over, I am happy to feature Rara’s Jewels!

Picture 88

Rachel’s shop is filled with adorable resin artwork. The fun colors and use of glitter makes some people think that her shop is just for children, but Rachel says that is a common misconception. In fact, Rachel sells mostly to “teens and college aged girls who are interested in alternative fashions, such as lolita, fairy kei, and pastel goth.” I had never heard of these alternative fashion movements, but there was something about Rachel’s jewelry that drew me in.

My Purchase from Rara’s Jewels:

As I mentioned in my last Friday Favorites Feature, my best friend Nichole and I live several states apart. I was looking for something I could send to her for Christmas that would keep us close. Then I remembered Rachel’s shop!

IMAG3101_1_1I purchased two of these rings, one for Nichole, and one for myself. Nichole and I are both children at heart and we’re a little “weird” by most standards, so these rings were perfect for us! We might not be part of the alternative fashions that Rachel had in mind, but we both love her rings!

After I made my purchase, I did the one thing that Etsy sellers hate–I realized that I didn’t think things through before placing my order. I was so excited about the rings and the fact that Rachel had promised to add extra glitter to them, that I completely forgot about Nichole’s metal sensitivity!

il_570xN.516230340_ffi2


The rings pictured on Rachel’s Etsy shop have metal bands.

Even though this was entirely my screw up, Rachel could not have been more accommodating! I contacted her and asked if there was any possible way to order a band that would not make my best friend break out in hives. Rachel assured me that she would find something that would work.

That very day, Rachel contacted me to tell me that she had found an answer! She found bands sold by another Etsy seller that were metal but were covered with a thick enamel that would prevent the metal from making direct contact with the skin.

IMAG3102_1_1


The enamel band is perfect!

“Jewelry has always been a problem for me since I’m allergic to metal, but Stacey found someone who went above and beyond and specially made a ring that is super cute and wonderfully made for me! I’ve worn it every single day since I got it!” –Nichole

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: The reason to buy from handmade sellers rather than big box stores is simple: Handmade sellers truly care.

Did Rachel have to accommodate me when I started asking for alterations and special treatment? No, of course not! I had already ordered my rings and it was my mistake. But she did. And that’s what sets Rachel and sellers like her apart from the rest.

Rachel, the Artist with the Glitter:

Rachel is a college student who loves crafts! She is even younger than I am and she has had her Etsy shop for years already!

“My parents have always been crafty and I would make things with them. My mom found out about paper beads and I started making them with her. I quickly got addicted to making them and making bracelets and necklaces with them. After a while I started looking at other crafting mediums and found out about polymer clay. I was never really that great with polymer clay, but it was fun to work with. There were all sorts of tutorials on how to make cute food jewelry and it got me interested in making other cutesy jewelry. My first year on Etsy was my experiment year. I sold polymer clay jewelry, kandi bracelets, hair bows, and such.” –Rachel

Now Rachel focuses mostly on epoxsy resin. If you take a look at her shop, you’ll see that she uses lots of different colors and accents in her pieces. The glitter she uses is actually what drew me to her shop. I, admittedly, have an unhealthy obsession with glitter.

“It’s now been a little over a year that I have been working mostly with resin. I enjoy it because it is a pretty versatile medium. I can color it almost anyway I want and add various mix ins like glitter, spangles, sprinkles, small candies, and such.” –Rachel

Rachel is also a Team Leader of the All Handmade By ME Team.

“I joined the team because I believe in supporting handmade. Buying handmade has a completely different feeling than buying from a big box store. When I buy handmade I know I am getting something that the creator put their heart into.” –Rachel

The Best Part?

“I think it is when I see and hear people’s happy reactions about the items they ordered. I know it probably sounds corny, but it feels rewarding. I love hearing the sweet and kind things my fans say.” –Rachel

I’m glad I’m not the only one who is a bit cheesy when it comes to customer satisfaction! I know that my face absolutely glows whenever I get a positive review and I know that people are happy with their purchases! I hope Rachel knows how happy she made my friend Nichole and me!

Not Just Jewelry!

Rara’s Jewels sells more than just resin jewelry! Here’s a look at something else Rachel makes, cell phone cases!

il_570xN.543131241_ltcd


This is Rachel’s favorite item in her shop now.

Want to Know More?

Be sure to check out Rachel’s Etsy Shop to see what else she has for sale! You can also find out more about Rara’s Jewels here:

Facebook

Tumblr

Blog

Website

Instagram

Be sure to check it out! And comment below to let me know what you think! I’m anxious to hear what your favorite item is!

Looking Back: 2013

With 2013 coming to a close I thought it was appropriate to take some time and look back on the milestones and accomplishments of the year.

Without a doubt, 2013 has been the hardest year of my life thus far. I got my heart broken, I graduated college, and I left a life and people I loved when I moved back to St. Louis after five years in Columbia. And that was just the first half of 2013.

There’s no denying it; 2013 was the hardest year of my life. BUT, it has also been the most rewarding year of my nearly 24 years of existence. In the past eleven months (that’s right, eleven, not twelve) I have accomplished more than I ever dreamed I could. I decided it was high time to ignore my modest inclinations and do a little bragging. So here it goes!

The Beginning:

On February 6, 2013 I launched SMARTdesigns on Facebook. At this point, I hadn’t fully decided what I wanted SMARTdesigns to become, but I knew that I enjoyed graphic design and I really wanted to see what I could make of myself as a designer. I did a few projects for friends and did a lot of experimentation with different programs and techniques.

Logo 400x400 Purple

Things didn’t take off overnight, but the fan page on Facebook started to grow. On February 9, I already had Facebook fans on three continents and by February 15, SMARTdesigns had 60 fans.

In March I started working on artwork for Nichole’s Superhero Themed Wedding. This is when I really think the wheels started churning in my mind. I had so much fun with the artwork for the wedding that I was determined to find a way to make money as a designer.

 Superhero Wedding Save The Date


Superhero Wedding Save The Date

On April 17, 2013, I finished my first big art piece, “A Life For All Seasons.” This is when I realized for the first time that I might actually be a real artist. Up until this point, I had never considered selling artwork. I had thought maybe I was talented enough to sell business logos and fliers, but it wasn’t until people started to call me an artist that I thought I could do more.

A Life for All Seasons (10x24)


A Life for All Seasons — my first art piece

Also in April I received my very first publication as a creative writer! My poem “The Beautiful Octopus” was published in EPIC Literary Magazine.

In May I continued working on new artwork when I wasn’t busy finishing my Creative Writing Thesis and graduating from college. On May 5, 2013 SMARTdesigns reached the 100 fan milestone on Facebook!

 Graduation


Graduation

On May 18, 2013, I graduated from the University of Missouri, Magna Cum Laude with University and Departmental Honors.

And Then I joined Etsy:

On August 27, 2013, I joined Etsy. To be completely honest, I had absolutely no clue what I was doing. Luckily for me, I met some really wonderful Etsians who helped me get my shop off the ground. In September I continued to make new artwork, but my shop still hadn’t really taken off. I was starting to get a little discouraged when October rolled around and I still had not made my first Etsy sale, but little did I know things were about to get crazy…

The All Handmade By ME Team:

On October 2, 2013, I founded the All Handmade By ME Team. I won’t go into a lot of detail on the origin of the team because I have already blogged about it several times. (If you want to read more about everything exciting that happened in October and early November, click here!)

Things really took off from there! Before I knew it, I was the captain of an amazing team of over 1,000 members, my shop had over 50 sales, and for the first time in my life, people really cared and listened to what I had to say. Me! A 23 year old Etsy newbie!

And Now…

Since my last UPDATE blog entry, a lot of exciting things have happened. My shop has over 100 sales (115 to be exact) and I have received 74 FIVE STAR Reviews for my customer service and the products and services I offer. My Etsy shop has 342 Admirers. SMARTdesigns has 432 Facebook Fans and 175 Twitter Followers. The All Handmade By ME Team has 1,560 active members and is growing every day.

Okay, those are the numbers, but what does it all really mean? It means that I did it. When I opened my Etsy shop in August, I did so to try to prove something to my family and friends. And, I have since realized, to prove something to myself. I needed to see that I could make my own success, not in some office cubicle or in a classroom, but in my own way. That I could be successful without getting a “real job.”

Now, am I making enough money to support myself? No. Not even close. But when I look at everything I have accomplished in the last few months, I am hopeful and optimistic that someday soon, maybe I will be able to do so. Maybe.

In terms of money, no, I really haven’t “succeeded” yet. But I look at everything that has happened and I feel successful. For the first time in my life, I have a real sense of pride. I am proud of my contribution to the handmade community. I am proud of the small chunk of change I have earned for my artwork. I am proud to say that in 2013, I have made a difference. For myself and, I believe, for my peers.

It seems Etsy thinks so too! The other day I received a gift in the mail from the people at Etsy:

581063_656591267725947_1001523492_n

1509703_656591207725953_1872718189_n

This gift from Etsy just further reminded me that the things I do really do matter to people. And I cannot begin to explain how much that realization has meant to me.

Is my life exactly where I wanted it to be on this day last year? Nope. Is it even close to what I expected my life to look like today? Not in the slightest. I hit a lot of bumps and obstacles over the past year and my life veered way off the course I had planned. But when I think about everything I have done and everything that has happened because of it, I could not be more thankful for those obstacles.

Because guess what? I did all of this myself. It turns out, I don’t need a man to make me happy. Okay, so I don’t have anyone to kiss at midnight, but you know what? It turns out, I don’t need one.

Support Handmade Sale Banner 2

I would like to take a moment to thank the people who have helped me this year. First and foremost, thank you Nichole. Without you, I probably never would have thought to pursue this dream in the first place. Thank you to my grandparents who have followed every step of this journey with me. Your excitement keeps me excited! Thank you Jill for helping me with technical stuff and for being a good friend along the way. Thank you to the leaders of the All Handmade By ME Team. Without you, this team would not be where it is today. And last but not least, thank you to the All Handmade By ME Team! You are the most supportive group of people I have ever met!

“Because you’re there for me too…” Friday Favorites #9

Today’s Friday Feature is a shop that is very special to me. This talented artist inspired me (and convinced me) to pursue my graphic design in the first place. Without her, I probably wouldn’t have had the courage to start SMARTdesigns at all. So, it is only natural that once my business became successful, I started bugging her about starting her own shop. A bit of karmic payback if you will.

I am proud to announce that my very best friend, Nichole Archer, has taken the plunge! Her shop, The Lilac Lobster is now open!

LilacLobster


This is a look at Nichole’s Etsy shop! It’s brand new, so her inventory isn’t huge yet, but her list of ideas is several pages long!

How it all started:

Almost a year ago (February, 2013) Nichole came to me about creating fliers for the bar she managed. She knew that I liked to create things on the computer and thought I should go into business for myself. To be honest, I thought she was a little crazy… But then, that’s Nichole for you! Nichole is my biggest supporter and she believes in me more than I believe in myself most days. So she prodded and cajoled and I caved. I created my Facebook page for SMARTdesigns!

I never dreamed that I’d be successful and I never even considered opening a shop on Etsy at this point. But Nichole kept giving me projects. I created two fliers and a new logo for the bar and had no sooner finished that than Nichole had a new project… She decided to have a superhero themed wedding and wanted me to make all the artwork! I’ll definitely have to do an entire blog about this wedding one of these days.

Every time I finished a new piece, and often even before the piece was finished, I would send Nichole pictures. She has been my extra set of eyes since the beginning.

P1080587_2


This is one of my favorite pictures of the two of us! We’re tailgating for a Mizzou Tigers Football Game!

Then what?

This summer, Nichole moved to Texas with her husband. It was difficult at first, having my extra set of eyes so far away. But naturally, Nichole made it work. We started sending elaborate care packages…

FRIENDS


Nichole made two of these, one for herself and one for me! This bracelet is inspired by our favorite TV show, F*R*I*E*N*D*S and came with a letter explaining what each charm represents in our friendship.

When Nichole sent me this charm bracelet, I got to see just how artistic she really is! I had always known she loved crafts, but between work and school, we never had much time to do them before now.

At this point, I had been on Etsy long enough to know that there were people with much less talent than my best friend making a living selling similar creations. I started pleading with her to open a shop. (And not just because I wanted the referral benefits!)

FINALLY:

It took a few months, but I finally wore her down and convinced Nichole to pursue her talents further. She caved!

The next step was to help her come up with a name for her shop. Because of our love for F*R*I*E*N*D*S, Nichole and I have an affinity towards lobsters. There’s a scene in F*R*I*E*N*D*S where Phoebe explains that lobsters mate for life and walk around the tank holding claws and therefore, your true soulmate is your lobster. Nichole and I talk all the time about how she may be married to the man she loves, but I’m her lobster.

So, when we started brainstorming names, I immediately suggested something with lobster in the title. As fate would have it, we both came up with the name “The Lilac Lobster” at the exact same moment. And thus, The Lilac Lobster was born!

Lobby the Lobster:

The obvious next step was to create a lobster to be the mascot for Nichole’s shop. I got to work immediately!

Because Nichole is my extra set of eyes, I took pictures of every step of the process and sent them to her while I worked! This is a slideshow showing how Lobby the Lobster came together:

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

And here is the final product:

Lobby the Lobster


Lobby the Lobster

A Custom Banner to Match:

Next I made a custom banner for Nichole’s Etsy shop. This one is by far, my favorite custom banner yet!

The Lilac Lobster Banner

Fun fact: The font I used for this banner is actually called Lobster.

Alright, enough about me! Let’s take a closer look at my talented best friend!

The Lilac Lobster:

Now that you’ve read the origin story of The Lilac Lobster, you probably want to know more about what Nichole creates! Nichole has multiple talents so her shop is not limited to one specific medium. She sells both polymer clay charms and crochet creations!

I am especially partial to her charms. I am fascinated by the intricate detail work she is able to do with such tiny pieces! And really, could these BE any cuter?

charms 1


Set of 3 charms! Available in her Etsy shop! (Click this image for details and pricing)

This S’mores Set is my favorite item in Nichole’s shop thus far. But, I’ve seen her list of ideas for future charms and I expect that her charms will only get cuter as she progresses!

Nichole’s crochet is absolutely beautiful as well!

 This newborn take home kit isn't listed in her shop right now, but just look at how adorable it is!!


This newborn take home kit isn’t listed in her shop right now, but just look at how adorable it is!!

What’s Next?

As I said earlier, Nichole’s business is very new. In fact, her Etsy shop only opened its doors this week. That said, I am 100% confident that she will flourish and prosper! I have seen her list of ideas and I know that she adds to it constantly. There is no doubt in my mind that Nichole will continue to outdo herself for many years to come.

So what should you do? You should LIKE her Facebook Page The Lilac Lobster to make sure you get all the updates! If you’re on Etsy, you should FAVORITE her Shop LilacLobster so you are always notified of her new listings! Let’s show her a little love and help her get her new business off the ground!

931331_10201085800766543_1235117915_n_2


Good Luck Nichole! I love you!

My Favorite Things! Friday Favorites #8

Today I decided to do my Friday Favorites Feature a bit differently. Instead of featuring just one of my favorite shops, I decided to feature a plethora of my favorite handmade items! I had the idea when I was working on a team treasury yesterday. With my birthday only 6 weeks away, I thought it would be a good idea to start thinking about a handmade birthday wish list!

This is the treasury I made:

My Wish List Treasury


Most of the items in this treasury are from All Handmade By ME Team Shops! To see this treasury on Etsy, just click on this image!

For my treasury, I chose to stick to one specific color scheme. Since purple is without a doubt my favorite color, it seemed like the logical choice! But, with that in mind, there were several items on my wish list that didn’t quite fit this color palette.

Here are some other items on my birthday wish list:

I absolutely love decorating my room. When I was younger, I briefly contemplated a career as an interior designer. Then I saw how much math was required and I quickly changed my mind. Nevertheless, I love interior design! Someday when I have my own home, I would love to plaster my walls with artwork! There are so many talented artists in the All Handmade By ME Team!

Picture 86


I absolutely love this painting! I could see myself decorating an entire room around this painting! I don’t have a home for it yet, but maybe someday!

Picture 85


In the summer of 2012, I spent some time on the Greek island of Thassos. Ever since, I have longed to return! This painting reminds me of the beauty of the Aegean!

I also made an entire treasury about my wanderlust to return to Greece! To see it, click here: I Left My Heart In Greece

Picture 87


This painting is so fun! I could totally picture a pink restroom with a lighted vanity and this painting reflected in the mirror!

Picture 90


These notebooks are so colorful! As a writer, I collect mini notebooks and try to have one with me at all times. I haven’t been writing as much as I should lately, but that’s one of my New Year’s Resolutions

I have decided I better cut myself off here before I spend an entire day cataloguing the hundreds of things I would buy for myself if I could afford to do so. I hope that you will take some time to check out the shops featured here. They are run by remarkably talented artists with many wonderful items that I did not have a chance to feature here.

I really like the format of this blog post. Keep an eye out for more posts about my favorite things! There are many more that I don’t have time to share right now.

On a completely unrelated note…

Remember, SMARTdesigns is having a sale through the end of today! Use the coupon code SUPPORTHANDMADE for 20% off a purchase of $20 or more! Many items have already been marked down and shipping is free!

Sorry for the self promotion! Comment on this post and let me know what you think of the items I featured! I’m anxious to hear what you think!