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Archive for November, 2010

Hoarding Nuts for the Winter

November 22nd, 2010 at 12:42 pm

Almost time to cook! Our little nuclear family has a pretty big turkey in the icebox, homemade cranberry sauce to try for the first time, and a pumpkin from a farm for baking.

My husband, who used to take our toddlers to the grocery to give me a motherhood break, and who still comes back from the store with a bit much for our pantry, remarked yesterday, "Notice the plunging temperatures? I am just a mammal, gathering and storing nuts for the winter. It's instinct!" and "Don't you see how much food is in the stores? They don't know where to put it, stacking it up high here and there."

OH! hmmm, I see...

Another sign of the season just came to my webstore Pretty Cheap Jewelry. Instant savings! yes, Etsy gave us sellers the ability to hand out coupons.

Here's your instant savings: type in
SWEETTWEET
at check out to get 10% off any order (no minimum).

That really makes things rock bottom in price for things such as:

Oyster Necklace - Gold


Big mussel shell from the sandy California beach made into a rare treasure. Freshwater pearl permanently set in the center and hung on 18" g.p. chain
Order here


Oyster Necklace - Copper


For the guys, mussel shell from the sandy California beach with a copper freshwater pearl permanently set in the center and hung on 18" pure copper chain
Order here


Ask me for free gift wrap too!

School Score: 7th grade = Hurray, 5th grade = Argh

November 18th, 2010 at 08:00 am

The middle school we attend is big (1000+ kids or so for grades 6 through 9) and scores a solid 'B' in state rankings year after year. In other words, it is a pretty average school with a large and diverse student body.

But I am extremely pleased with it. Just one of the many recent lessons in 7th grade social studies was a study of Africa - the physical continent, political countries (the kids memorized the 40 countries), ancient history and current status. They are assigned to make a mini 'National Geographic' report on a country of their choice (pictures, articles, cover etc.)

A couple of the days was spent learning, watching and discussing the Lost Boys of Sudan. Remember this? Practically a whole generation of kids were orphaned as a result of civil war. Here is the teacher's guide on their official website Lost Boys. As a mother, I am overwhelmed by problems like this and am nearly paralyzed with inaction.

But my son came home with a huge positive attitude about the issue. He learned the kids initially were desperate, but it wasn't long before there was structure in place to take care of things. Not only was international aid present, but the kids themselves were able to make routines and better their situations.

A reminder to me that youth instinctively is positive in outlook. The video my son's class watched showed the kids dancing and singing on Christmas, as well as some of the experiences of those who immigrated to the West.

The teacher of this class has made a fantastic impression on my son. He is funny, but relays serious learning. He relates to their age (boys still an arm's length from girls, girls in stratified cliques). Right now social studies is his favorite subject!

Score: Middle School , a resounding BIG POINT
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To Mr. Fitz, 7th grade Social Studies teach


Available on my website here
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The 5th grade in my daughter's school has decided the community service project for the holidays is a toy drive. OK, it was the parent organization that decided, not the school.

The catch is they want only items of $10 value or more for donations. New, of course, nothing second hand. Frown I am very unhappy. The statement from the organizers emphasized they want the kids to understand what it means to donate. PLEASE. Plenty of understanding about charity can be made with out a $10 price tag. My kids and I heartily donate every year to Toys for Tots, local charity and volunteer plenty.

Without further ranting, and though I am tempted to write the contact person a piece of my mind, I have an idea!!

I am going to beat this thing at their own game. Simply go to Michaels with a 40 or 50% off coupon in hand and get a GREAT gift which will cost me $5 out of pocket.

Score: Grade School , a resounding BIG DISAPPOINTMENT

Fire that Marketing Person!

November 15th, 2010 at 09:15 am

A tale of marketing gone awry...

Some years ago I learned to bind books by hand, a low tech discipline that appeals to my environmental ethic which also keeps a bit of the past alive.

After making fairly nice journals for awhile, with semi-hard cloth covered front and backs, I switched gears and produced a dozen fun 'recycled box' books.

Example - Wheaties Journal


Example - Wheat Thins Journal


The covers catch attention, folks know the brands of course. I posted some pictures around the internet, and some of my posts appeared on Twitter.

Well, seems the Wheat Thins people are on Twitter and saw my post. They emailed me directly and offered to send a free box of Wheat Thins as 'Thanks'.

Hmmm, ok, I judged the offer safe and without spam. And about a week later I received a box of them in the mail.

My take No. 1: Why did they market to me, a long time convert already?

My take No. 2: The postage for sending the free box was $9.95! omgosh, that's crazy.

Ah well, the biz graduates need to figure this one out.

Down the Stretch with Zenyatta

November 8th, 2010 at 10:46 am

Two craft shows down, and around the first turn we go! This weekend was the kick off of end-of-the-year sales and things are on target.

I am projecting, hoping, and working for doing an average of $100 (net) per show. This is not a "goal" because I don't know how to make folks buy stuff outside of:

1. Offer a good selection of jewelry and accessories in a price range of $1-$40. OK, I can do this. Earlier in the year, I planned what type of things to make and was careful not to overdo it on high end expensive work. In fact, I came up with nice, easy-to-give jewelry in little attractive collage boxes like this for example:


Fancy chevron necklace in pearl and lilac, packed in a pressed flower collage box.

2. Tweak displays to maximize quantity of goods yet look uncluttered and branded. OK, this is not as easy as it seems. Typically I get one, two or three tables in an empty 8 or 12 foot space. Really folks, the transformation from an empty bare space with a folding table or two, to a boutique display is more than you would believe! Every year I make adjustments though and things get better.

This year I have hit upon a great idea hanging black foam boards (with binder clips onto standing tabletop racks. The foam boards are covered with cloth and earring cards are pinned on the boards. I can fit 6 to 8 items per board.

I also am using more little tri-fold 'tents' for earrings. Folks just pick up the whole thing and take it.

3. Lowered some prices and improved some quality. Most of these shows take a smaller percent of the sale price than a standard shop. For example, the art association gallery shop keeps 30% of any sale. These weekend boutiques are more on the order of 15-20%. Therefore, I reduced prices on many things.

Also more of the work is in pure metals, ie sterling and 14K gold filled. It is tough to lower the price, but since I bought the supplies before the price of metal went up alot, I will pass the savings onto the customer. I'll recoup some profit but beware of the prices in 2011 if I have to buy new wire unless metals go down!

For example, many sterling / copper scroll heart and sterling rosette earrings were priced fairly at $15 each, and were walking to the cashier on little tri-fold tent displays:



4. The competition or not factor. I already am careful to participate in shows which are not overcrowded with other jewelry. I can't control this factor in any other way. Due to luck this year, one big jewelry booth was absent at my first show. I'm sure this factor certainly boosted my sales. At the second show I knew what other jewelry would be present, so I brought alot of other crafts including a wide variety of cards and journals. In fact, I did make sales in those areas this weekend.

Any other tips welcome!

Got Double the Space!

November 2nd, 2010 at 01:34 pm

What does November mean to you? Gobble up pies and mashed potatoes? Cozy sweaters and boots? Here in Pretty Cheap Jewelry Land it is the month of weekend arts/craft boutiques. Over the years, I have picked and chosen the biggest bang for the buck shows and am busy setting up/taking down and staffing my tables.

Two shows start the season this weekend; a three day event with the best reputation in town. The Cadillac of Christmas boutiques, this show has a waiting list and a loyal following. I get 1 (ONE) six foot table (half of the regular size, but also half of the fee). That's not much. But I have a rack with 6 boards to display lots of small jewelry, and a nice compact wire tree to hang Bauble Bulbs (jewelry in a glass ornament). I bring my better inventory like these:

Curl Candy Color Earrings

14K GF curls accented with pastel colored zircon stone

The second show of the weekend is at the neighboring small town, a very very charming community. The art society holds a weekend shop in the historic railroad depot, sweet! It is a different crowd, perhaps a bit more simple than sophisticated. I usually get one big table and bring more casual wares, including cards and young fashions like this:

Needlework Card

Pretty beaded needlework card makes a big impression

Today I was offered a second table at this show! WOOT! I would love to spread out and will bring some new 'Recycled Box Books' like this:

Wheaties - Journal of Champs

Slim journal features 20 blank vellum pages and a cereal box cover!

Wish me many sales!