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Archive for December, 2011

I'm done and now to help others

December 16th, 2011 at 09:13 am

When my kids were little we splurged more on Christmas gifts to fill their dreams and create some magic. And of course, giving bicycles and rocking horses was more expensive anyway! But as time has passed, we have gotten more practical and spent less. Or so I assume.

The smart advice is to make a gift budget and stick to it. I like to think I've done so for years, but not written formally, e.g. in my head. Today is the last day I need to buy gifts and this year curiousity got the better of me so I decided to add up the total costs of gifts.

Included: What I spent on husband, kids, my parents, his parents. And the few incidentals: a couple of the kids' friends, my office gift exchange, a coach, and a bus driver.

Not Included: What my husband spent on me, his office mates, what my kids will spend on their dad

NOTE: I didn't send any gifts this year to my adult siblings and their kids. Everyone is too grown up now. I've already made some small cash donations and gifts to charity also not shown.

11.00 Books
45.00 Pet Mouse
15.00 Lamp
25.00 Wood kits
11.00 Dry erase board
15.00 Umbrella
130.00 Panniers
45.00 Gourmet Foods
15.00 Purse
10.00 Subway Gift Card
7.00 Friend #1
12.00 Friend #2
6.00 Scarf/Gloves
20.00 Scarf
40.00 Boxed Wine Set
14.00 Gloves
100.00 video games
------
547.00 TOTAL

So for a family of four, how does that sound? Probably lower than the US average? Generous compared to so many that are without this year? News yesterday reported half of the US population is 2.0 times poverty level or lower right now Frown

Thanks for reading. No matter what you are able to do this year, help others. That will enrich your holiday I guarantee. And I promise to do the same.

Wrap Up!

December 13th, 2011 at 09:16 am

Wow! Pretty Cheap Jewelry had great sales last weekend at the figure skate show! It's a highly entertaining production, puts everyone's Christmas spirit in overdrive. It was the final live selling event for the year and the handbeaded gloves were a hit! Kids and adults designs both sold, and requests for boy's styles were requested. (Hmmm, a challenge!)

Sequin Hearts and Pearls


Fancy sequin hearts around the wrist of dark dark navy lightweight knit adult size gloves. Backs studded with faux pearl and crystal. Original and handmade. See HERE for more details and to order.

A number of nicer, modestly priced, jewelry pieces also sold to shoppers with great taste. A couple of knotted pearl bracelets, and a sterling wire weave pendant (sort of like the one in 14K gold filled wire below) went home with new owners.

14K GF Weave Agate Pendant



Beach stone from Northern California, polished to a gloss, is displayed within 14K gold filled wire wrap. Hung on sheer cocoa ribbon. Contact me for a quote.

My analysis? Success partly due to interesting goods, and partly due to Pretty Cheap Jewelry becoming more known to the visitors (it's my 4th year selling at the show).

A well deserved rest coming soon after a good number of new things are added to Pretty Cheap Jewelry the next few days, and last minute rock bottom specials to my email list.

Get on the email list (sign up left sidebar) to see what I mean!

Bye and thanks for taking a few minutes to read.
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Why my Sales Increased and How to Keep it Going

December 8th, 2011 at 10:49 am

Midway this year I evaluated the progress and future goals of Pretty Cheap Jewelry. Sales have always been modestly successful, an admirable achievement in the very competitive jewelry market I admit. The ledger is in the black, and has not been in the red for the 6 years of my small business. That is a result of balancing expenses with income, as well as a great deal of hours on-line promoting and nurturing customers, not to mention hard work in vending as many in-person shows as could possibly fit around my day job and family obligations. Whew.

But my future goals were to have enough increase in sales to show a bit more profit. Enough to let me feel less pressure about obtaining higher end supplies and perhaps design more upscaled refined styles.

The good news? Sales this fall have been up. Just yesterday two things were bought on my Etsy page HERE including this pair of amethyst earrings:



The bad news is it's hard to dissect why sales are up.

How does a retailer reach goals to increase sales? Normally the strategies are pretty easy:

1. Increase the number of things for sale.
Over the past years I produced a variety of non-jewelry work, ie handmade books, dried flower cards, embroidered cards and picture frames. In fact I have a line of Winter 2011 beaded gloves right now (see below). The sidelines were fun, but I want to streamline and reduce the variety of things I make in interest of focus and concentrating on more complex jewelry.

Answer 1: Sales of the gloves made a big difference! HOWEVER! I think gloves are a temporary fashion hit and will fade away in a year or so. Sales were modest in my other non-jewelry categories. I think I will continue with the types of things that sold better and that I enjoy to make, such as the gloves and flower cards and drop the types of things that got less attention, such as the books and embroidered cards.

Hand Beaded Sparkling Heart Gloves


A modern take on an antique look. I've taken brand new knit gloves and sewn an original design of sequin hearts, pearl and crystals to make a sophisticated style. See more details HERE

2. Increase the price of each thing.
I definitely wait much longer between a sale when prices are higher and see more attention and sales when prices are decreased. It's a tough call. After figuring the cost for materials and commissions fees I try to allow compensation for my time and design skill in the price. If an item languishes too long, I reduce the price and see if that makes a difference.

Answer 2: Lately I ask myself if an item were to sell will I have a positive or negative feeling. For example, if the price is too low, "Do I regret selling at this price?" or if it is too high "Do I want to keep this piece around another year, another two years, etc.?" No better answer unfortunately right now.

3. Increase the places the items are available.
Right now Pretty Cheap Jewelry is sold on-line and in 2 shops, as well as a number of live events over any given year (average once a month). Having jewelry in shops is the ideal but the hardest technique. It is a big investment to get a store to sell your things, you must be professional in marketing and providing your goods. A good alternative is to sell at live events, which is dependent on your personal time but is more flexible.

Answer 3: I have an idea to try next year which will increase the my number of live events without greatly impacting my free time or family time. Being a member of my local art association, I can have a 'demo' table on the weekends whenever I choose. People usually are interested in jewelry making and I will have a table of things for sale. Two Sundays a month are probably do'able for 2012 and I'll try it out.

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Lady Gaga Shades

December 6th, 2011 at 09:53 am

Yes Virginia, there IS a Santa Clause! I wear glasses and until late last year, didn't wear a pair of sunglasses regularly. Oh, I've tried those prescription ones, but am too put off by having to carry an extra pair and switch them often (not to mention they are expensive). I once tried the kind that are made with your prescription pair and magnetically stick together, but I lost them within a month cause they are light and small.

For some reason I finally slipped a fashion pair right over my prescription pair from a street vendor in Las Vegas when on a weekend getaway with my husband. OH! They worked fine! They were inexpensive, and I never looked back! (see below, in the photo op in the M&M store, I call them my Lady Gaga look)


You can't even see my regular glasses underneath!

Last Friday I stopped at a new thrift store to make a donation: one mouse cage, pair of men's leather boots, and a toy rake. Their hardback books were buy 3 for $3 and I took a long time trying to find that many for a family I know who might need some help giving gifts to their boys.

And...slipped my sunglasses in my sweatshirt pocket instead of safely in my purse as I searched for books.

Ah, guess what. The sunglasses didn't make it home.

I called Sat and Sun to see if they found them. No answer all day. I stopped back in after work Monday and WHEW! They were on the rack for sale!!!

Doesn't take much money to make a difference in everyday life!!

And that could be said for these little beauties. Not much $$ to make a difference to someone this holiday. Perhaps you know a girl who would love?

Amethyst Gold Spray Earrings $12


Rich look of stone with a glass tassel below. Amethyst is the March birthstone. A great value for original design. See more detail HERE

Red Anniversary Band


Say 'I love you' with 5 sparkling swarovski crystals lined up on a gold weave adjustable ring. It's spending hangover proof at only $12. See more detail HERE

Special Order : Not as Easy as You Think!

December 5th, 2011 at 11:37 am

As a consumer and money conscious reader, you probably think special orders are heaven sent for a retailer. What could be easier than income for work not yet made?

HOLD ON THERE! Certainly if the request is a simply duplicated idea, the seller will have it easy. But special orders are made usually because the request is NOT easily replicated. Why else would it be necessary to make a special request?!

In the case of jewelry (or accessory or clothing design, for example), I found these steps to be very important in taking special orders:

1. LISTEN WITH YOUR FEELINGS. Listen to what the customer describes, not only the item desired, but WHY they are requesting the item. Different feelings are imparted to an order if it is for a simple birthday gift versus if it is for a milestone event. More interaction with the customer might be worthwhile for the emotional orders!

2. FINAL PRICE AND DEPOSIT. I am elated when I get a special order!! So happy that I want to rush out and just MAKE IT! But I have learned it is stressful and anxious for a seller to take an order, purchase the supplies, and produce the items just to have the customer back out or make changes to the request in progress. SO name your price to the customer for the order and take a deposit before starting.

Which brings up the next important step:

2. Pictures tell a thousand words! After making notes and agreeing on an order, send photos to the customer with the ideas portrayed in photos. Not the finished work, but the materials shown including alternatives and colors.

THEN:

3. Send more pictures. Send pictures of the work in progress, especially at points where the customer can make minor changes without a cost to the seller. These progress photos also give the customer confidence that the order will be done on time and according to the agreement. Not to mention giving the seller confidence that all is approved!!

Below is an example of an order I received over the weekend. The customer saw a pair of earrings in a salon where I have a case, and wanted a second pair but somewhat different. The first pair are gold and square shape (chandelier style) with a garnet dot in the upper loop.

She wants the second pair in silver (chandelier style) with a garnet dot in the upper loop. But there are no square silver chandelier frames anymore. I suggested rain shaped silver chandeliers with 5 loops below (not sterling) or 3 loops below (sterling). She is not certain what she wants on the lower loops, nor even if she wants a 5 loop frame or a 3 loop frame.

So I sent her photos like these...


Silver frame with white (clear) glass drops.


Silver frame with black glass drops.


Silver frame with suggested crystal colors for the loops.

This is not a terribly expensive order and I happen to have the supplies on hand. In fact, I am suggesting these designs specifically because I already have the materials and therefore I will pass the savings to her and keep the price VERY AFFORDABLE!

Of course that's why I am The Frugal Artisan!

Thanks for reading and Have a Good Monday!

Impressive yet Inexpensive

December 2nd, 2011 at 07:36 am

That's what aptly describes my work! Why didn't I think of that?! It is the title of an Etsy treasury that includes one of my rings. A treasury is a grouping of 16 items from Etsy that a person shows off. The person can pick any items, usually there is a theme (such as color, type of thing, occasion, anything [and people get very clever]).

Here it is, click on the link below to see it bigger (I'm bottom row left):



BIGGER VIEW HERE

Treasuries are wildly popular and fun to make. Here's one I made a few days ago...

Catch me if you can, said the Gingerbread Man

Soooo, that title is my new motto for awhile!!

Saving the Earth, One Lava Lamp at a Time

December 1st, 2011 at 08:58 am

I have been determined not bring another lava lamp into this world! For some unexplainable reason (at least unexplainable to me), they are popular with the school kids the past couple years. I've seen them in Kohl's Dept store, Target and who knows where they'll pop up next.

Instead of buying new, I 'ran' to my nearest ebay. A lava lamp seems to me to be the quintessential ebay item. Old, way ugly, out of style, brings back not the best memories (likely due to altered states of consciousness when they were first around), etc.

Surprise that the prices of even used lava lamps were above $10! DRAT

There was one for auction at $0.99 but of course with $12.50 shipping. Ridiculous ; see right through that scam. Well, I threw in my 99 cents worth cause it meets my criteria of NOT BUYING NEW and the price was still a bit below any others. And low and behold -- NO ONE ELSE WANTED IT. Hee hee. Not surprised. May I gloat that at least half of that price is really shipping anyway.

So I don't really mind winning and my kid will be tickled.

In other news? Since (cyber) Monday, a definite uptick in visitors to Pretty Cheap Jewelry looking at inexpensive, nice quality jewelry. These especially have been noticed:

Buy One Get One Free Adjustable Copper and Crystal Rings



Classic style, lots of bling! Choose from five colors (shown t to b: honey, tangerine, teal). Perfect for showing a bit of love and under $10. See all HERE

Dolphin Moon Earrings



For the mammal and nature lover! Another great offer, buy 2 get 1 free. Choose from 5 colors (shown: mint). Easy to give at $5.99 / pair. See all HERE