I want to feature YOU on the C&T Facebook page! Here’s how to be part of it…

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{image source}

It’s really important to me that Create & Thrive is about something larger than just me and what I can teach you… what I can share with you.

I want this place to be for, and about, YOU.

I want C&T to be a community of people with a common goal – to take the path less travelled and live a life that allows us to make a living doing work we love.

I want to help you and your business grow.

I want to put you centre stage.

I want to help you get your name out there!

So… I’ve come up with a bit of a fun way to do just that ūüôā

I want to feature you + your work on the C&T Facebook Page Cover!

Here’s how we’re gonna do it.

  1. Choose a photo to share with us. It needs to feature your product, your workspace, and/or you. Any of the 3 is fine, though obviously if it’s a photo of you, it’s good if you’ve got your product in there too! (Please don’t submit any photos with kids in them unless they’re models in product shots and and you have EXPRESS PERMISSION to share their photo, or¬†they’re your own kids. Ideally, I want photos of the maker – that’s YOU!)

  2. Edit it to the correct facebook cover size – 851px wide by 315px high. You can do this easily online using PicMonkey.

  3. Email the photo to me (jessica AT epherielldesigns.com is the best email to use). In your email, include your name, the name of your business, a link to your website/shop, and a short blurb about what you do (no more than one paragraph). This info will go up with your photo.

  4. Keep an eye out on the C&T Facebook Page for your image to be featured! The timeframe of image rotations will depend on how many submissions I get.

Please make sure you pick an AWESOME photo. If you send me a photo that I don’t think is up to scratch, I’ll email you back and let you know.

Here’s an example of one of my photos that I’ve got up there at the moment.

Jess Working

Now, this is from a professional photo shoot, so I don’t expect yours to be quite as awesomely lit (I know I couldn’t get a photo that good on my own!) but it needs to be bright, beautiful, crisp, and have good contrast.

I plan on making this an ongoing thing if you guys are keen!

Also, please don’t hesitate to send in a few different images – I’ll either choose my favourite, or hold on to them and feature them spread out over time.

If you like this idea, please let me know in the comments below, and share it with your peeps – I’d love to feature as many people as possible!

 

In Brisbane? Come to one of my crafty biz workshops or talks in May – first one this Thursday!

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{me talking it up at a BrisStyle Creative Info Session}

If you live in or near Brisbane, and you’d like to learn with me in-person, you’ve got oodles of opportunities coming up in May!

Some are free sessions, some are Master Classes with a small cost, and all of them will be jam-packed with info to help you grow your creative business. All these sessions are hosted by BrisStyle Рthe most excellent craft collective in the world, in my humble opinion.

ALL of them require you to book, and the Master Classes have very limited numbers – so if you see something that you know you need, make sure to book a spot pronto…

Here’s what you’ve got to choose from:

May 2nd – Social Media Master Class

What:¬†This four-hour intensive session will focus solely on¬†Social Media for promoting your small business. It’s for people who already know the basics, but need to get a cohesive marketing plan together. This instructional session will give you hands-on tips you can apply instantly to take your networking to the next level.

  • Learn how to effectively and efficiently use social media as tools to build trust and relationships with your customers.
  • Learn which tools to use to streamline your social media use, as well as create an integrated plan that uses use instagram/twitter/facebook/pinterest and your blog to build your customer base.

If you’ve been floundering on social media, not quite sure how to harness it to steadily grow your business, this session will help you get focussed and make social media work for you.

Where: Chermside Library, 6:30pm.

Cost: $80 – 4 Hours. Small intensive session with very limited numbers. Bring a tablet or laptop!

Booking Info

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May 18th – Social Media Unearthed – Blogging, Facebook, twitter, Pinterest.

What: Get the beginner info on blogging, Facebook, twitter, Pinterest and all the latest social media tools to get the word out about your small business.

Where: Kenmore Library, 10am.

Cost: Free – 2 Hours

Booking Info

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May 24th – Social Media Snapshot – Facebook + Pinterest

What: I’ll¬†share my top tips for using Facebook and Pinterest to market your¬†craft business. What should you be sharing? How can you build your¬†audience? Learn how to spend time, not money, building your¬†business in this session.

Where: Brisbane Square Library, 6pm.

Cost: Free – 1 1/2 Hours

Booking Info

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May 30th – Building a Website & Blog Master Class

What: This four hour intensive session will focus solely on building a website or blog for your small business.

In this hands-on session, I’ll¬†take you through the basic steps of setting up a blog/website as you follow along instantly on your own laptops or iPads etc. This is a session not to be missed – you’ll walk away with all the knowledge you need to run a basic blog/website (including shopping cart!).

We will be using WordPress as the base software for the class – you can choose to use the free version (WordPress.com), OR buy hosting and a domain and set up on your own piece of internet real estate. I’ll also teach you how to set up a shop on your site (using software that is free to start with at a basic level).

Where: Chermside Library, 6:30pm.

Cost: $80 Р4 Hours.  Small intensive session with very limited numbers. Bring a tablet or laptop!

Booking Info

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It’s going to be a big month – I hope to see you at one of the sessions. Make sure to introduce yourself and let me know you’re a C&T reader!

The Annual Birthday Sale! All C&T Guides 1/2 Price + More…

Create Thrive Birthday Sale

Hey there, guess what? It’s my birthday!!

I am the ripe old age of 32 today ūüôā

And you know what that means, right?

Yep, it’s time for my annual birthday sale – which means rather large discounts for you.

Why do I do this?

Well, I like celebrating my birthday by giving you something (a discount), and by doing that, you give me something (money and the satisfaction of making another sale. I never cease to get happy feelings whenever someone buys something I’ve made!).¬†Give-give = win-win!

Here’s what’s happening this year:

Create & Thrive Guides – 50% off

Both guides currently available here on Create & Thrive –¬†Etsy Success Stories¬†&¬†How to Run a Rockin’ Mailing List¬†– are half-price from Friday-Sunday only.

If you’ve got a crafty business, and need help to make it grow, both of these guides are for you.

No coupon code required, they are already altered to be half-price – $10 instead of $20 for¬†How to Run a Rockin’ Mailing List, and $8.50 instead of $17 for¬†Etsy Success Stories.

Epheriell Jewellery – 25% off store-wide

This is the ONLY store-wide sale I have all year that’s open to everyone¬†(I sometimes have sales only open to my¬†Silver Service¬†subscribers, but never with such a large discount store-wide).

So, if you’ve had your eye on something, this is the best chance you’ll get till this time next year to make it yours!

Shop on Epheriell.com and enter the code HAPPYBIRTHDAY2013 in the coupon code box on checkout to get your 25% discount.

{Yes, this sale is on in the¬†Etsy¬†shop, too, but stuff costs a few more dollars there due to the exchange rate, so you’re better off shopping at Epheriell.com!}

Buy as much as you like, as many times as you like.

Epheriell Earring-of-the-Month-Club

Normal discounts – including the one above – do not apply to Earring-of-the-Month Club membership, as per normal.

HOWEVER – if you buy a¬†12 month subscription¬†during this birthday sale period, I will give you 15% off the total subscription price!¬†{That’s over $50 off}

Please purchase this through the store separately from any other items, and use the code CLUBSUB2013 to get this special.

Sale runs from midnight Thursday till Sunday night, the 28th of April, midnight, AEST.

There are no extensions, no exceptions, no retroactive discounts on this sale!

______________

Now, it’s time for me to chill out with a good book, but I’ll be keeping an eye on my email throughout today and the rest of the weekend if you have any questions!

I’m looking forward to my special birthday breakfast of homemade waffles, hash browns, bacon and eggs! Mmm… followed by dinner out with friends at a cider bar and¬†restaurant tonight.

Hopefully it will be the best birthday ever!

How to Create a Cohesive Handmade Product Range

Plushka's toys

Most handmade designers, including myself, open a shop with no particular collection or product range. We are just happy to create and get an unforgettable feeling of excitement when something is sold.

When I started, there was no felt toys range even in my wildest dreams! ¬†I made a few pincushions, a few hair ties, headbands and some brooches…. I look back at what I used to make and I can honestly say it wasn’t anything special.

It was well made, but you could buy all that in other shops too…

However, I did have something that helped my shop identity to emerge later on – I was and still am passionate about promoting and preserving the old-fashioned crafts: cross-stitch, crochet, and hand-sewing.

A year or so went by and I started to have some kind of product range. I developed more sewing skills during that year of experimenting, and got a bit more confident thanks to people buying from me and complimenting on the quality and uniqueness of my creations.

I felt encouraged to explore the possibilities of new endeavours and go with every idea that came to my head. However, a few years later I faced the fact that I have a few product lines forming but they are all over the place!

The problem is (trust me, this is a problem) that I can make all sort of stuff if I put my mind to it.

To be brutally honest, my shop ended up looking like a handmade and pretty “all-sorts shop” – I made everything but nothing in particular.

I came to the conclusion that I need to ask myself – what do I want my business to specialise in? What I want my business name to be associated with?

I imagined customers saying “You know Plushka? She makes cute plush toys and her cross-stitched items are lovely! I can always find a unique gifts there” (talking myself up here ūüėČ ).

What would you like your customers to say when they talk about your shop?

Definitely not the following –¬†“Not really sure what that shop offers but I found this beautiful skirt there, I guess clothes but she also has wall art, bibs and cushions…”

So, what do you do if you have 15-40 items in your shop but no particular range/collection?

1. Highlight 1-3 best items that you think sum up your shop, you as a designer, and what your brand is all about.

Like I said before, for me it was – felt owl (my first toy), cross-stitched items, and crochet. I took 3 areas that I wanted to specialise in.

It can be one or two, but it needs to be something you are good at and you want your shop to be THE place to buy those products.

2. Identify  1-2 main materials you work with. For example, Plushka works mainly with felt and linen. Felt as a primary material, linen secondary.

It’s all about being memorable! When I hear sterling silver, I think about Epheriell straight away! What if you clicked on Jess‚Äôs shop and saw fabric necklaces – you’d get a little confused, wouldn’t you?

3. Make sure the items you’ve chosen are profitable as they will be your breadwinners, they have to be profitable in terms of labour efforts and price.

Do you think you will be able to make them over and over again?

4. Fill the gaps! Analyze which items can start a range.

Pick one core item, let’s say skirt and start thinking in a line:

Skirt Рtop Рhair tie: these 3 items can be worn together, almost all the same materials can be used so they won’t look out of place.

It’s a collection that complements each other in colours, material, it’s wearable when combined together.

Another example: necklace – earrings – bracelet – ring – all in a complementary style.

Yes, you can offer all sorts of stuff but they key is – all items within one range need to compliment each other.

the lot

There are 3 types of handmade items (sorry, no professional terminology here):

*Main creations that define your brand and shape your business. According to the price range and saleability, they are divided into 3 categories:

  • best sellers (usually small and cheaper items)
  • middle range ($20-$50)
  • large more time consuming, hence more expensive items (packages, special orders or just labour intensive creations).

*Seasonal items РEaster and Christmas that are not available whole year round. They need to be revised and a few items added every year.

* Limited editions – These are the items you experimented with or creations from some rare fabric/paper you got hold of. They might turn into the main creations, depending on the demand, but most often they come and go. As a creative person, sometime you just want to make it regardless in a small quantity (like a few quilts, hats or posters) they are not something you do as a main line but you felt like making it in a small quantity (e.g. Plushka’s applied tops).

After you have your core range, the foundation of your shop identified, you can build on it.

Limited editions, one-offs and whatever you feel like can be offered but within the range.

After all, that what makes handmade shops unique and always fresh is the OOAK items that customers can get their hands on.

Start taking your range seriously and your customers will see you as a professional business with the designer/owner who knows what she wants and can offer (even if you don’t really).

It’s the brand that you are building that matters. That is what people will remember you for!¬†

Success Stories ~ Love Mae

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Emily and Peta of Love Mae

Almost immediately after I teamed up with Jess for her *bespoke* magazine, I discovered Love Mae and fell head over heels for their work.¬† This Aussie duo creates the most beautiful fabric wall stickers, wallpaper, and now dinnerware.¬† I don’t know anyone who wouldn’t want a little piece of their work in their home.¬† When I reached out to them, I never in my wildest dreams imagined Emily and Peta would actually let me interview them!¬† So get ready for a truly amazing interview with the team behind Love Mae.

Can you take us on the journey of your creative career path so far?

Mae turns 4 soon, so its been quite the journey. Some days it seems that it was only yesterday that a couple of us met up and fantasized over the idea of working for ourselves creating gorgeous products. Originally we planned on doing wallpaper, cushions, and lampshades, which is why we use so many patterns in our decals. Once we entered the world of Love Mae, inspiration came from everywhere and soon our fantasy was alive. I still can’t believe how much we’ve learnt and where Love Mae has taken us.

What has been the biggest challenge you’ve overcome so far in your business?

The biggest challenge was doing the things that took us out of our comfort zone. Between us all we had loads of skills, but so much we had to learn along the way. Trying to have a professional front when you are not feeling professional is super awkward. We still face challenges every day, but now we know that the quicker we tackle them, the quicker we can move back onto the fun stuff.

What has been the biggest ‘fist-pump’/successful moment for you so far?

Our first trade show! It was mind blowing what we achieved. It was also the moment that we all came on board full time and could proudly say that we worked for ourselves. It was great to stop the juggling and start the joy. We’ve since done trade shows in Sydney, Melbourne, London and New York. I think the travelling is sometimes my favourite part.

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Bamboo Dinner Set – Woodland Creatures

Do you ever have doubts as to your future creative direction? Are there things you yearn to achieve, but haven’t yet found the time for?

Every day! Doubt is such a negative force and can sometimes take extreme measures to shift. Doubt can hinder intentions, so its really important to decipher between doubt and real instinct. There is so much to achieve and so little time so work time is best being productive. There is so many things I yearn to achieve, but I make the time everyday even if it is five minutes to open another part of me. I’m self taught with most things in my life, so study is the next big thing I’ll achieve.

Are there times when your creativity and inspiration seem to disappear? How do you handle that?

Always. Creativity comes and goes. I definitely think it is so closely linked with confidence. When I’m feeling uninspired I take a moment to myself and walk on an empty beach or enjoy a moment on Pinterest. It quite quickly comes back, but you’ve got to be so careful not to be hard on yourself. I love the cliche Rome wasn’t built in a day… but usually substitute Rome with Love Mae.

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Fabric Wall Stickers – Floating Feathers

How do you balance your work with the rest of your life ~ what does a typical day in your life look like?

I’ve got two little girls, 4 and 7, so balance is just as much an artwork as Love Mae. I never wanted to work for myself and lose my time with children so I take this balance challenge on as much as I do anything else. My morning involves getting children ready for school and pre-school.. packing lunches making breakfast. I usually arrive at work around 9.30. A day in the studio is so dramatically varied I never really know what will happen. The only thing I know is the times I need to pick my girls up. I then do the homework thing, play and craft time dinner and baths and books and bed. Most nights I must admit I find my way back to my laptop where the work continues again. I don’t mind this and I make sure I keep the night work interesting. I do remind myself that it will always be there tomorrow if I don’t feel like working. A good thought is … ‘whats the worst than can happen if I don’t get it done’. This usually keeps it real for me.

What has been the best marketing move you’ve ever made for your own business?

In the early days, communicating with good blogs. We really can thank the blogging world for our success… that and our launch pad, Etsy. Bloggers are direct into the homes of our favourite market… New mums! We now have a PR agent and she’s amazing. I must admit I now have a lot of nights off not having to worry about getting our images out there. A PR agency was a great move!

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Wrapping Paper – Stormy Bouquet

What is one piece of advice you’d like to give fellow makers about running a successful creative business?

Keep a balance. You can’t always do just the fun stuff and be successful, especially in the early days. Enjoy being out of your comfort zone. Life is about learning and keeping both sides of the brain alive. Set yourself goals and then break them down to bite size pieces. Keep your ‘to do’ list real and achievable as you are always your biggest critic and if you are not achieving your weekly list you’ll soon talk yourself out of your own success. You can do this!

Where do you see yourself in 5 years time?

I’m a big ‘future goal’ setter! I love a big picture. In 5 years I see myself in a bigger warehouse with dedicated staff all wonderful in their area of expertise. I like to think I’ve created a lovely work place where we have a rule… life and family come first. I’ve got so many ideas and they will probably take 5 years to all come to fruition. But definitely Love Mae will be grandeur with lots of new pretty goodies available. I’m excited.

You can find more of Love Mae’s work in their online shop: Love Mae

On their Facebook page: Love Mae

And on their blog: The Love Mae Blog

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