Tuesday, April 28, 2015

"Do You Work?"

I cringe when I'm asked that question.
"Yes, I'm an artist." I reply.
Awkward silence.....
"Well what do you do?"  
What follows is usually my elevator pitch--
" I sell my art on a variety of items and surfaces. Mainly at
Art and Craft Fairs and Gift Shops. I also sell on ETSY and 
other on-line venues"
"Oh....I see....that's nice. But do you work?"
I find it impossible to convey the amount of time and effort that goes into our way of making a living to most people who ask. On the surface it appears to be such an easy way to earn a dollar. To us in the craft fair trenches, those of us who get up at 4 am to travel 2-3 hours to set-up our booth and be ready for a 9 am opening, we are the ones who truly know how hard this work is. We try to gently pack all of our handcrafted items at the end of the day, when we are dog tired from standing and selling all day. We say silent prayers that nothing breaks on the trip home. You all know....it's not easy. There is also the shipping and packaging that comes with an on-line sale. Those items don't wrap and pack themselves.

I love it though.
I have met some delightful people on-line, I wish that I could spend some face to face time with them.

I love my fellow vendors. I have learned more from talking to them than I have learned from any book that I purchased.

I love the people that come into my booth even the ones who don't purchase, sometimes I love them more... the ones with the lovely words but who cannot afford to buy.
The little ones who are intrigued by my items and want to touch, but gently tap the top of the head of one of my birds.

I love the excitement of planning and packing and traveling.

I could do without rain though.
And heat.
But worst of all....wind.

Sue DiGilio - DiGilio Designs

Friday, April 17, 2015

Congratulations To Etsy!!

Etsy reached a huge milestone yesterday by going public and began trading in the NASDAQ market (ETSY).

As Etsy sellers, many of us here in the Hudson Valley are able to sell nationally and globally and Etsy has provided the outlet for that.  We are excited to see what the future has in store for Etsy and it's community!

Etsy took over Times Square yesterday to #sellerbrate the occasion and set up a Pop-Up Market just outside of the NASDAQ building.   Sellers were brought in from around the world (!!) to showcase the diversity of makers that make up the Etsy Marketplace.

They could not have asked for better weather and there was a ton of media present for the event.  It was very exciting to witness even if I was just a spectator.  

Monday, April 13, 2015

Mother's Day Gift Guide With Hudson Valley Etsy

Mother's Day is fast approaching, don't believe us? It's just about a month away (May 10th in case you needed a reminder).  Don't get caught out there at the last minute looking for nice gift for Mom or the Mom-figure in your life.  We put together a Mother's Day Gift Guide showcasing items all made in the Hudson Valley.  Click the image to take a closer look!

Thursday, April 9, 2015

In My Studio: Hudson Valley Etsy's NEW Instagram Account

The Hudson Valley Etsy now on Instagram

Hudson Valley Etsy has recently started our own Instagram account. If you are a newbie to the whole Instagram revolution as I am, I hope this blog post will introduce the basics, inspire you to start your own account and encourage you to follow all the team currently on Instagram.
To start with Instagram is an online photo and video sharing network. It is a wonderful and fun way for small craft businesses to post pictures of their products, life, studios and inspiration in a quick and easy way. Photos can be manipulated within the app to give them some extra ummph so don't worry if your photo taking skills are questionable- in Instagram you can turn them into works of art within seconds.

Getting Started
  1. To get started you will need an iPhone, iPad, iPod touch or an Android handset. Go to the app store and download the free app to your device.
  2. Choose a recognizable username, if you are starting the account for your small craft business in the interest of continuity choose a name consistent with your business name and Etsy shop name so that people can find you easily.
  3. Update your profile with a short and snappy introduction to your business and include your website address or your Etsy shop address, this is so when potential customers see a photo of a product you post they can click this link to then purchase it from you.
  4. Profile Page for the Hudson Valley Etsy 
  5. Add a profile photo; a personal photo of you or a logo for your shop.
  6. Link to your Facebook page or Twitter feed to enable you to post to both mediums with just one click
  7. Start posting!
'Following' means the posts that you will see in your home page (the house icon at the bottom of the screen). In order to follow someone you can use the search feature (the magnifying glass icon) and type in businesses you admire, shops you like, fellow makers and friends to click and follow them.

A great start is to follow Hudson Valley Etsy @hudsonvalleyetsy
and members of the team who are on Instagram currently:
Elena Rosenburg is  @elena_knitsandbits
Pulp Sushi is @pulpsushi
The Pudgy Rabbit is @thepudgyrabbit
Quarter Life Luck is @quarterlifeluck
So Handmade is @sohandmade1
Hudson Naturals is @4crispycorncakes
Melissa Anna Designs is @madcat03
Cynla is @cynlastudio
Twisted Thread and Hook is @twistedtah
Beyond the Picket Fence is @beyondthepicketfence
Lollypups is @lollypupspetwear
Hesters Studio is @hesterkeith79
Charms of Faith is @Jackie_charmsoffaith
Karmabee is @karmabeekaren
'Followers' are fellow Instagram users who wish to follow you. Sometimes it can be slow to start getting followers but the more posts you put up the more exposure you will get and people will start to follow you. Make sure to tell people on Facebook, Twitter etc that you are now on Instagram and your username. Like and comment on lots of posts as this will get you more followers.
When you post a photo one way for people to find you and your products is to add hashtags to the bottom of your comments. When people are searching for a particular thing they can search for a product that way or search for a team. For example members of Hudson Valley Etsy have been asked to add these hashtags to their posts:

Hashtags to add to your photos
If you post a photo of a product you made for example a card you can add many different hashtags such as these below to get your product found:

Good luck and Good making

Sarah Omura

Monday, April 6, 2015

Etsy Visits Karmabee - Kingston, NY

I recently had a visit from Etsy as part of their seller studio tours. Etsy staff visit sellers because, as they explain in a recent blog post, "...nothing beats visiting a seller in person to witness her creative process in action and the challenges she faces on a daily basis." It was lots of fun! The five Etsy staff who came to Karmabee from both the Hudson and Brooklyn offices had great questions about my business, and I got a chance to ask questions and make suggestions about all things Etsy.

Etsy Visits Karmabee in Kingston, NY
Etsy visits Karmabee in Kingston, NY
First I gave them a tour of my store, which sells both my own Karmabee products and items by local artists and makers, including quite a few members of the Hudson Valley Etsy Team (many of whom have been with me since I opened in 2011!). We discussed my experience running a brick & mortar store and what a typical day is like.

I then showed them around my studio area, which I've reorganized many times since I opened, with its separate work stations and table surfaces that allow me to work on many different projects at the same time, as the multitasker in me loves to do. Unfortunately it's the the office portion of my studio that gets the most use, and they acknowledged that most sellers spend at least 50% of their time running their business rather than creating. They had lots of great questions about my systems, such as how I manage my inventory (my weakest area!), handle shipping, and manage social media.

They were very patient with my various questions (and a couple of complaints) about the technical side of Etsy. For example, I mentioned the problem of not being able to adjust shipping rates for different quantities in the same listing (e.g., 1 notecard vs a pack of 10: either this has to be two separate listings, or buyer has to pay crazy shipping for the single item). They are aware this is an issue, and explained that this feature was originally intended for color/size variations of the same item, and thus wasn't set up to handle different shipping weights, which makes sense. I also begged for more bulk editing options, especially for tags, titles and descriptions (as Craftopolis and Betsi offer), and they said they're on it! Yay!

After many more questions and ample time satisfying my dog Annie's need for belly rubs, they perused the store and made some purchases, which I really appreciated. I used my Etsy payment swiper for the first time, and learned that it's a great way to have in-person sales adjust online inventory and to gather customer reviews.

As both Etsy and the controversy surrounding Etsy's definition of handmade continues to grow, I am happy to know that the company dedicates time and effort to hearing from sellers. We all hope Etsy finds a way to support handmade sellers in a marketplace free of cheap mass-produced competition.

Karen - Karmabee

Thursday, April 2, 2015

Spring Cleaning: Feng Shui that Stuff!!!!

During the winter months, my goals each and every year are the same.
Clean up after the mess that gets created, especially in my studio, during the last quarter of the year.
I also like to use this time for creating new art and planning the coming year schedule, just like the rest of you are probably doing.
This year I am going deep...this is a picture of my fabric stash area in the midst of a clean-up. There is progress if you take a look at the shelves in the cabinet. Lots of fabric got donated or listed on EBAY.
After reading this article:
my next step is to go back again and really re-evaluate items.
I am a collector of junk: papers, fabrics, buttons, nature bits and shiny things.....beads, wood, wire.
Always with a idea simmering on the back burner of my mind. But some of theses ideas have been simmering
for too long. Time to focus on my strengths and not on "some day".

According to Tamara Star, who wrote the above article and other articles that link from it, by cleaning out the excess we invite in creativity and prosperity. She recommends going through each room in your home and filling a bag to either donate or throw away. 
Ask three questions:

Do I love it?
Do I use it?
Does it work?

Gearing these three questions to my art and craft will be a challenge. However I hope that by doing so I will open up room for new ideas and creative adventures.

Sue DiGilio