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Archive for August, 2013

Got Ideas How to Wow and Attract a Crowd?

August 26th, 2013 at 07:07 pm

Pretend you have a new small business downtown in a middle class town. It fills a niche, carrying only goods made locally. It's a tiny shop, tucked in a side street location. So far word of mouth is getting you decent foot traffic.

But you want to raise the store's profile and let the residents know about you. What can you think of to make a splash?

The answer must:
1. Be low cost
2. Tie into the local goods branding
3. Be DIFFERENT to set you apart from the usual retailer.

Any marketing wanna bes out there? I realize this is what advertising firms are paid to do, but I think the SA'ers have the low cost point of view that is important here.

Things that are too *been there, done that*
1. Give aways. Customers are soooooo used to getting something for free. Gettng as much as they can for free. Ugh. There is no way this small business is going to make an impression giving away stuff they have that represents them.

2. Food or Wine tasting. Not as common as #1 but still too typical. And a bit expensive to stage anyway.

3. Demos. Book signings. Boring. Unless you are demonstrating magic tricks or have the world's biggest dog or something.

4. Print Ads. Yes, this has been a necessary part of a traditional marketing plan, but truthfully the world is turning digital and you want to go where the people are (on their phones for example).

Something completely different
A couple ideas I had, how would you improve? How would you react, or what would you do different?

1. Hold a photo worthy event. I heard a news report recently that people have their cell phone near them 95% of the day now (and use them in EVERY situation like in the bedroom and the bathroom). What they are doing ALOT is taking pictures and putting on social media. I suggest having a local icon - celebrity? giant avocado? something catchy that represents their local theme - come to the shop and let people take a picture with it. This location has no celebrity readily available, hmph. What to do?

2. Give some sort of reward for FB likes or social media check in. The owner can easily track if the person has 'liked' the shop page or checked in on Twitter or Instagram or similar. What to give as a reward?

In fact, this is not a fictional situation! I am thrilled that my goods are sold through a small wonderful new shop Very-Ventura.

I would love to help them succeed and ask for your ideas!

little bit of mother sadness, snap me outta this!!

August 20th, 2013 at 05:17 pm

My favorite reply whenever I heard other mothers sigh and say 'they grow up so fast' was: "You don't remember!! The constant interruption? Not being able to finish a complete thought for years? Your memory is so selective!"

Having gas in the car, milk and water in the house some weeks when my kids were grade school age was a minor miracle!

Getting them to eat healthy, sleep enough, stay off the TV, and read books was a full time job.

Yada yada yada...whatever.

Today my two go back to school. My oldest is a sophomore at a magnet school which means there is no bus in our neighborhood for it. Last year I drove him, being a freshman it just helped in the transition. The last couple months last year he rode his bike back and forth (about 5 mi one way). A couple of his friends in our neighborhood were doing the same and he joined up with them.

This year, then, my oldest decided to ride his bike to school every day. It is a step toward independence. No longer does he wait on someone else to do what he needs to do.

My pain? Y'know how sometimes important moments happen in those unplanned times? Such as in the car driving to school. Especially with a rather clammed up teen boy. That opportunity is no longer a daily occurrence.

Maybe I would see what girls say 'hi' to him when I dropped him at school (you better believe he wouldn't tell me on his own!). Maybe I would just ask in the car, 'Are you ready for this or that exam?' and some other thing in his life would surface.

Frown yah whatever. Life goes on!!

Gotta leave you with a smile ok? Etsy pays for google product ads, they pick privately out of the million things on the Etsy site. My things seem to get regularly picked, just for a day here and there. This one has a google product ad today, must be under 'funny get well cards'.

Funny Get Well Cowboy Baby Card

Hope all you moms with school kids out there keep the chin up!

Rich Man In my Dreams was Warren Buffet

August 19th, 2013 at 03:03 pm

A few nights ago there was a rich man in my dreams! Sit back and have a laugh at the story...

I was at a conference for small business owners. It was a typical fancy hotel banquet room. Only about 100 people were there, we were all invited because we were supposed to be bright entrepreneurial stars.

Each person was allowed to ask one question. My turn and I was asking some dumb boring question like: What are the best ways to increase your market. And he was starting to answer the same boring principles we already knew.

When I interrupted and said, "What I REALLY want to do is give my potential customers some incentive like... WIN A LUNCH DATE WITH WARREN BUFFET! Would you be willing to do that?"

Whereupon he brightened up and answered, "EXACTLY! See this person has used this opportunity of being at this conference to get the next opportunity. This is the essence of entrepreneurialship!"

I think he said yes, but next in my dream I was with him one-on-one and asking him to sign a paper (for doing the lunch I think), but he was OLD and was kind of falling asleep with the pen in his hand. I felt sorry for him! And walked down the hall toward his hotel room with him for a minute.

Then I woke up!

HA! LOVE IT!

So now you know the secret to a successful small business Big Grin

Say goodbye to summer vacation, school starts tomorrow.

The good: I ride the bus to work, and save gobs of money on gas.

The bad: Less free time to take care of my jewelry business, housework, and exercise.

Here's where we went the last weekend of summer vacation 2013:

Morning Light at Trail Pass - Eastern Sierras



Horseshoe Meadow



Backpacked in about 1.5 miles, much shorter than the planned 5 miles because I was so out of shape! I also felt altitude sickness at about 10,000 feet. Still the trip was salvaged by camping at this pass, and it was my 13 yo daughters first back pack anyway which she enjoyed.

Lull before the Fall Fundraiser Flood

August 13th, 2013 at 04:01 pm

Fall means...back to school, cool temperatures, dry leaves, and FUNDRAISERS. I hoped to have extra cash on hand to meet some of those needs, but haven't saved yet. Here's to hoping for some small income from sales of Pretty Cheap Jewelry!

To spend?
- Middle school magazine sales
- Girl Scout nut sales
- High school track team coupon book

To receive? July earnings to deposit, (Aug earnings not tallied):
- $10 check from the art gallery shops
- $15 check from one museum shop
- $5.50 paypal from online jewelry lesson sales

All the income goes to my small business checking account which can be used for these small fundraiser expenses.

*********************
ANNOUNCING
*********************
Pretty Cheap Jewelry to be carried by a new shop!
Local goods only at Very-Ventura, now in downtown Ventura. The owners have my funny collage cards and have asked for jewelry. Yay! Grand opening this Saturday 8/17/2013.

Very Ventura to carry a selection of sea glass and wire wrap jewelry handmade by Pretty Cheap Jewelry.

Crystal Trimmed Drop Hoop Earrings - Lilac


Perfectly classic, pear shaped drops on posts. Hand wired swarovski crystals (lilac). Price $24

Thanks for reading!

As promised, a RAK

August 12th, 2013 at 03:22 pm

Last week I promised to do a Random Act of Kindness; a concept I like for making a small positive contribution in the world. So on Saturday I had to go to an ice skate shop far from my home to get my daughter's blades permanently mounted (the shop does a temporary mount which you use for a couple weeks to check the alignment. If all is good, they then add screws for the permanent mount). While I waited, I walked to a donut shop on the corner for a cup of coffee. It was busy! A couple minutes after me in line was a grouchy dad and two daughters (about ages 12 and 8). The dad was scolding his older one about being on the phone too long for some reason or another. I did not like the tone of his voice, and her face was very solemn. It was sad to see negative parenting.

I wanted to tell the dad to cherish these kids, to make him at least give instruction in a more positive way. Obviously I could not butt in verbally, so I decided to just pay for a donut secretly in advance for each of them.

I paid and left. A few storefronts down was a laundromat and I slipped inside waiting a couple minutes to see if the dad and girls came out. But I did not wait long and didn't see them.

I wasn't crazy about feeding these folks donuts (they were not exactly fitness types to start with), but the time and place was right for me doing something positive.

I just hope that my act at least jogged his direction for the day and made him think, 'If something bright happened to me by surprise, maybe I will do something bright myself'.

Coming soon: Pretty Cheap Jewelry Personality Cards and Sea Glass jewelry will be in a brand new store!

Natural White Sea Glass Earrings


Simple and modern. Two nice sized sea glass pieces are securely bound with silver wire. Free form and hand made. A great value for original design. See them
HERE

Thanks for reading!

Nice Ampersand

August 7th, 2013 at 02:21 pm

A step along the way working toward getting it just right. The objectives: easy to make two that match, have appeal to a wide market, not too time consuming (eg can be done in one or two sittings), raw materials not expensive. These fit the objectives, except for a bit off on the first goal (I see the imperfections probably more than you do).

Ampersand Earrings


Lots of detail in the wire weave make these earrings small beauties. Made with silver colored copper core wire with an added drop of serpentine and crystal. Ball posts.

I didn't intend to make an ampersand shape, that is just what they looked like when finished.

Lousy exposure, this is from my phone camera with a little adjusting on the PC.

Price range ~ $30 - $40

My 3 best tips to save at Starbucks plus a bonus

August 6th, 2013 at 02:49 pm

First of all it's still a treat for me to go to Starbucks. During the regular school year I start work at 9am except for 2 Fridays a month. All the regular days it's too late to have a coffee for me, but those 2 days I'm the first one in at 7am I treat myself to a little walk break around 9 or 10 for a starbucks coffee. Also in the summer my work schedule is erratic and I'm at work at 7am several days a week; thus practically a weekly trip to the coffeehouse!

I used to order a plain drip brew and add half & half. It's probably the cheapest thing on the menu. Just last year one of the baristas gave me a very good tip (but this is still not my best tip):

1. Order a short size. It's not even on the menu, but there is a short size for most every drink. I personally can't drink a big cup especially since this usually is my 2nd (and final) of the day. Getting a short knocks off at least 25 cents from the price (tall 12 oz ~ $1.50 short 8 oz ~ $1.25)

Whittle down the price a little more:

2. Bring your own mug. Keep one in your car, on your desk, or maybe in your purse. Automatically gives you 10 cents off. Just wash it daily.

What do you like about their drinks? The roast flavor? The whip cream concoctions? My draw is the steamed milk, and once I tried a latte many years ago I was sold. But at $3.50 or more I hardly ever indulged.

Enter a different occasion at an independent coffeehouse (yes, I support them too!), where I've been known to get a 'cafe au lait': 1/2 coffee + 1/2 steamed milk. Helps increase my calcium intake and satisfies my love of coffee and steamed milk.

When I went to order this at Starbucks, again it wasn't even on the menu. So I asked for one and here is where the barista tipped me off:

3. Order a 'Misto'. This is the Starbucks name for a cafe au lait. It is inexpensive, nice and frothy and plenty of coffee inside. A short (see Tip No. 1 above) with my own mug runs me a mere $1.75

Here is the official Starbucks description of their Misto.

Bonus Tips: I ask for non-fat milk in a short Misto and that makes the calorie count super LOW, the nutrition isn't too bad for a coffee drink!

calories = 35
fat = 0
protein = 4 g
calcium = 15%

So go out and save! Use your registered Starbucks card to get stars and free coffee in the future.

I'll leave you with a smiling cat Smile

You are the Best


Funny smart and the only one like it; a card to give to your spouse, coach or friend. Did a neighbor help watch your house, babysit your pet or water your plants when you were away this summer? Say 'Thanks' with this smiling cat.

Available HERE from Pretty Cheap Jewelry.

Thanks for checking in!

Butterscotch Chips meet more Zucchini Recipes

August 5th, 2013 at 03:20 pm

School lunch box time is coming in only 2 weeks and I am starting to plan what to stock in the pantry. I need to be able to make lunches fast with an emphasis on healthy, whole grain, and protein. Fun and what the kids want are important too.

One thing that fits the criteria is trail mix. I make it from scratch using:

-walnuts, whole organic bags from our local Humane Society (donation for $3 a bag and I crack them open)

-peanuts

-raisins

-dried fruit from the farmer market

-chocolate chips* (this ensures the trail mix is gobbled up)

-other things that are low cost, healthy and add variety such as mini-shredded wheat cereal or small pretzels

*This past week on the clearance rack at the big supermarket I found bags of Hershey Butterscotch chips for $1.29 ea. I took 3!

The first bag of butterscotch chips was reserved for a batch of oatmeal cookies. I have a good chocolate chip oatmeal cookie recipe and just substituted the butterscotch chips.

The second bag is reserved for trail mix. The third bag is just a luxury!!

While I was making the cookies I saw in my cookie book
once again in there some very useful zucchini recipies! I must remember to try zucchini cookies in the next 10 days.

There are lots of Zucchini and backyard produce recipes on the Martha Stewart site here:
Summer Vege and Fruit Recipes from Martha Stewart

including an oatmeal zucchini cookie here (good for the lunchbox)
Oatmeal Zucchini Cookie

Let me leave you with some more funny faces (not available online)...

Pick Your Personality Card

Smiling Blueberries


What says it better than smiling blueberries? 'Celebrate' a birthday, anniversary, or winning the championship. An original card from Pretty Cheap Jewelry.

Get Well Dog


If laughter is the best medicine, this card should make a difference. A funny dog, a chick with a cowboy hat and other silly stuff says it all. An original card from Pretty Cheap Jewelry.

Sultry Rose


Another fun face to say Happy Birthday ~ great smile on a rose with a starfish 'hair barrette' and other sparkly pretties to send. An original card from Pretty Cheap Jewelry.

Teeny Important Add to the Good Will Bank

August 4th, 2013 at 01:50 pm

It's been a looooong month July 4 to Aug 4! Yesterday was the return date for one of my foster kittens. She was quickly outgrowing the room I kept her; a master bed/bath/patio. She climbed every screen and gate I rigged over the patio door opening. I had been sleeping downstairs on the futon for the month, and rearranging everything from the area rugs to the toilet paper locations to keep them safe. At 12 weeks old she was strong as a horse, soft as a cloud, smart as a cougar. So inside I knew that getting her a permanent family was important. The county shelter staff had told me at the outset that kittens got adopted fast, and I brought up the subject again for reassurance at the regular check ups by their vet.

But still I had sadness and worried she would be scared, and have a bad experience.

Guess what? The day I brought her back she was adopted within 6 hours!!! by a mom and grown daughter who wanted to love a baby (cause the daughter had a boyfriend break up recently). YAY!!

THe shelter told me when I went back to pick up my 2nd kitten who had been neutered. I am keeping him one more week because my neighbor is adopting him.

WHAT RELIEF!

It occurs to me that now I have helped 5 cats over the years: 2 when I was single (a coworker had a rescue mother cat that had babies and I took two), a stray that I adopted a few years later, and now these two kittens I've fostered.

Earlier this summer when it was stressful getting these kits settled down I thought 'JEEZ I can hardly handle 2 kittens, is it really worth doing??'

But seems that helping 5 is at least a teeny tiny deposit in the good deed bank. Whew.

Here's some funny faces to leave you with...

Collage Cards - Pick Your Personality

Laughter is the best medicine, so this one should make for great health!

Original and only at Pretty Cheap Jewelry

.............................
Say 'Thanks' like never before, great for coach or friend.

Original and only at Pretty Cheap Jewelry

.............................
Put this in your kid's lunch box, or surprise your spouse just for fun!


Original and only at Pretty Cheap Jewelry

I've said it before, but I mean it this time (again)!

August 2nd, 2013 at 03:16 pm

One time an art friend of mine remarked, "Every artist looks at their work from 3 months ago and says - that is crap!". Ha! that feeling has happened to me too often in the years I have been making jewelry. Then it seems about once a year or so I reach a peak in workmanship and/or design and it occurs to me that I must be at the BEST I'll ever get. How could it get any better?

Well, I have to say it again. I think I've hit the high point in what I can make!! This summer I taught myself a technique I've adored and admired. I'm not expert yet but there just isn't anything beyond this, short of full blown metalsmithing and I don't plan to go that route.

Fancy Wire Weave

The first step is doing the weave itself. Wire weave can be any of many patterns; it can be with 2 or 3 (or more) base wires and it can be done with a different number of wraps on each base wire. It is fairly easy to try different ideas with weaves.

Bending the weaves into amazing shapes is the second step of the process. Again, the ideas are limitless.

Here is a 2 wire fancy earring I designed this week.

Gold Wire Weave Earrings
(top to bottom: front, reverse)




The above are not going to be duplicated because it is too hard to make an exact match in earrings. However, I have plans for a small design change that will allow for making easier matches and therefore additional pairs.

Here are some other wire weave designs just to give you an idea of the wide variety out there:

Lapis Pendant in Sterling and Copper



Hematite and Quartz Spiral Weave



This designer has some other mesmerizing spiral weaves at very affordable prices and can be found at XntricCreations

Come back soon for more pretty things!