Relating My Choice of Information Community

My class this term is entitled “Information Communities” and I will be blogging here about a specific information community several times over the next few months.  Those of my readers who are not pursuing an MLIS are probably wondering what an information community is exactly, so I will try to explain.  An information community is essentially a community built around information and the use of information.

Okay, I know that doesn’t make things crystal clear, but stop rolling your eyes at me and let me finish.  Think about some of the communities you are a part of.  How did those communities form?  What brought them together?  For many, it was likely a common interest and wanting to share information about it.  The Cape Radio community, for example, formed around the common interests of City of Heroes and music, sharing information about the game, the characters we created, the deejays’ show times and locations, bands and artists, songs, and various musical genres.  With the closing of City of Heroes, we’ve shifted some of the topics, now sharing information about efforts to reopen it or create a similar one, new games we are playing, and other common interests we may have.  While the community has evolved due to the friendships we have developed, it was the initial interest in more information that caused us to join in the first place.

The Cape Radio community is not, however, the one I will be using for my class.  Because this is also a business blog, and because I am interested in how creative solopreneurs can use information science in their businesses, I would like to focus on an information community that caters to handmade artists.  Thus, the one I have chosen is Etsy Sellers.

I officially opened Rewondered’s shop on Etsy in January of 2012, so I have been a member of this information community for nearly three years.  The majority of Etsy Sellers are women, run their business from their home without any help, and don’t wish to grow their business beyond what they can handle on their own (Etsy, 2013).  Etsy, and the Internet in general, have allowed crafters and artisans new networking opportunities and the ability to market and distribute their products on a global scale, enabling a kind of “pro-am creative entrepreneurialism” (Luckman, 2011).

Let’s look at how Etsy Sellers stack up as an information community according to the five key characteristics described by Fisher and Durrance (2003).

1. Information communities exploit the information sharing qualities of technology and yield multiplier effects for stakeholders.

Using an online marketplace such as Etsy to sell products takes advantage of the collective efforts to promote the site.  Information is shared through the Etsy Blog, Seller Handbook, and Forums.  Etsy Sellers can also join Teams, some of which even meet offline.  Many sellers have their own blogs (like this one) and there are several blogs dedicated to sharing information about selling on Etsy (a couple of my favorites are Handmadeology and Marketing Creativity).  Social media, such as Facebook and Twitter, is also extensively used by many Etsy Sellers.

2. Information communities emphasize collaboration among diverse groups that provide information and may share joint responsibility and resources.

Etsy Sellers come from all over the world and have a wide variety of backgrounds.  They demonstrate a multitude of talents and varying skill levels.  Each contributes to the responsibility of promoting the site and shares in the available resources.  Etsy, itself, is collaborating with other groups to protect net neutrality, provide Craft Entrepreneurship education, and propose policies and programs the government can use to promote micro-businesses such as those of Etsy Sellers.

3. Information communities anticipate and often form around people’s needs to access and use information in ways that people perceive as helpful.

This is particularly true of Etsy Sellers who have created their own blog where they share their own expertise or compile information for other information sources.  Etsy Teams and some Facebook Groups have also formed around specific information needs, and many Etsy Sellers use social media to share relevant articles they have found.  The use of Pinterest is another great example.

4. Information communities remove barriers to information about acquiring needed services and participating in civic life.

Etsy Sellers are a global community, and as such they help each other overcome geographical barriers.  Becoming an Etsy Seller has few barriers, and information is easily accessible to walk a new seller through the process of setting up a shop.  Etsy has also become a trusted marketplace, overcoming trust barriers.  We can even overcome some economic barriers, by offering new sellers a link that will allow them to get 40 free listings to get started.  Note: if you use that link to open a new Etsy shop, I will also receive 40 free listings… so I highly encourage you to open your own shop! :)

5. Information communities foster social connectedness within the larger community.

For Etsy Sellers, I would say this is done largely through social media and blogging, as well as the Teams and Forums on Etsy.  By sharing information about our products and businesses, we are connecting with potential customers, encouraging others to pursue their own dreams, and making new friends.  We learn from, teach, and support each other and those around us.

An in-person meet-up of an Etsy Team

An in-person meet-up of an Etsy Team

Pictured, left to right:

 

As I mentioned in my last post, I am also working on plans to write books and/or reports for creative solopreneurs, and the research I will be doing into the information needs of this community will help me to choose topics and determine how best to present the information.  I will also be interviewing other Etsy Sellers for future blog posts and assignments, so if you would like to volunteer to be one of my victims guinea pigs interviewees, please comment below or send an email to rewondered@gmail.com and let me know!

 

 

Works Cited

Etsy (2013). Redefining Entrepreneurship: Etsy Sellers’ Economic Impact. Retrieved from http://blog.etsy.com/news/files/2013/11/Etsy_Redefining-Entrepreneurship_November-2013.pdf

Fisher, K., & Durrance, J. (2003). Information communities. In K. Christensen, & D. Levinson (Eds.), Encyclopedia of community: From the village to the virtual world. (pp. 658-661). Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE Publications, Inc. Retrieved from http://libaccess.sjlibrary.org/login?url=http://knowledge.sagepub.com/view/community/n248.xml

Luckman, S. (2013). The Aura of the Analogue in a Digital Age Women’s Crafts, Creative Markets and Home-Based Labour After Etsy. Cultural Studies Review, 19(1), 249-270.

 

Reintroductions: Blowing the Dust Off

*cough-cough-cough*

Wow, it’s been nearly a year since I last used this blog.  Those who’ve read my posts in the past will recognize my “I’ve been busy” mantra and the “health issues” excuse.  To say it’s been an interesting year might be a slight understatement, and I apologize in advance that this might be a rather long post, as there’s quite a lot I’d like to catch up on.  I’m also currently fighting off an anxiety attack, so I’m hoping that getting some of my thoughts down on virtual paper will help ease the demons in my head.

You’re probably wondering why I’m jumping back into blogging again, and how long I’ll stick with it this time.  The short answer is because it’s a class requirement, so I’ll be posting at least biweekly for the next four months or so.  I am starting a Master of Library and Information Science degree through San Jose State University and will be tagging these posts with MLIS so those who only want to see what I’m doing for my classes can click on the MLIS tag in the cloud on the right, bookmark this link: http://rewondered.wordpress.com/tag/mlis or follow this RSS feed: http://rewondered.wordpress.com/tag/mlis/feed/.  Of course, I also hope to use this blog more often for my business and other topics I am interested in, but more on that later.

Let’s start off with the reintroduction, as there will be those who are required to read this for our class who know nothing about me, and perhaps some of my old readers are getting a new notification from this blog but don’t remember why they subscribed to it.  My name is Heather, but I also go by Wondie.  Wondie is a nickname I received from a character I created in City of Heroes named One Hit Wonder.  I began using this character as my DJ persona for The Cape Radio in 2004 and the name was shortened by my listeners to Wondie.  My business name, Rewondered, is also based off of the One Hit Wonder name, so I tend to use Wondie as my business persona as well.  You may call me either Heather or Wondie, I will answer to both.

Wondie

 

Through Rewondered, I design and create jewelry and accessories using found objects and leftover supplies, “rewondering” them into new wearable art.  I sell my designs on Etsy and at local events or craft fairs, mainly in New Hampshire.  I will be at Antrim’s Home and Harvest Festival on September 13th and Hillsborough’s Schnitzelfest on September 27th.  I have also been a merchant at several SCA events, and plan to return to Birka for the third year in January.

Part of my set up at Birka in 2014

Part of my set up at Birka in 2014

 

So what’s been going on this past year?  My last post was in October, which isn’t too surprising considering October through January are my busiest months of the year.  January through March I was working on my last regular classes for my Bachelor’s degree, one that was an accelerated version and one that I had designed myself and was probably a little bit more ambitious than it should have been.  April through June I was working on my Capstone with another likely-too-ambitious project.  There was a great deal of stress, but I survived, got my Bachelor’s degree, and was accepted into the MLIS program, which started this week.

School wasn’t the only thing going on, either.  I’ve continued to have some health issues, but I am doing much better than I did in 2013.  The big news on the health front is in March, I finally got my diagnosis of ADHD.  I’ve been reading books and articles to learn more about the disorder and how to best cope with it, and realizing just how much it has impacted my entire life.  I’ve tried so hard, but I’ve never lived up to my potential, I have always had some serious time-management issues, and I can’t stop chasing new ideas long enough to finish the old ones.  I’m working on it, but it’s a slow process.  I want to make sure that the changes I’m making are going to stick, that the ideas I’m trying are going to work for me.  In the past I’ve always jumped into a big project to get reorganized and ended up completely overwhelmed, so I abandon it before I can get any use out of it.  This time I’m taking it slow, using suggestions specifically for people with ADHD, and really examining all sides of my “great organization idea” before committing to it.  I’m not giving myself any specific deadline it needs to be done by, so I don’t rush it and make it all fall apart, but I’m trying to get at least a little bit done on it each day.  So far, so good.  I’d share before and after pics, but I’m really just too embarrassed about the before state.  Instead, I’ll share some pics when I’m done, and a bit about my process to get there.  I’ll also share some of my experiences and suggestions for running a business and/or being a graduate student with ADHD, as I figure out what is working and what is not, now and in the future.  Those posts will be tagged ADHD, so look for that in the tag cloud on the right, bookmark this link: http://rewondered.wordpress.com/tag/adhd, or follow this RSS feed: http://rewondered.wordpress.com/tag/adhd/feed/.

My husband has also been having some health issues, and has spent most of the summer fighting off almost-daily migraines.  The good news is there doesn’t appear to be anything we need to be particularly concerned about (i.e. it’s not a tumor!) but the bad news is no one is really sure why he’s having them so often.  The other bit of “good” news is his average pain lately has been a 5 or 6, rather than a 7 or 8, and the incidents of being actively mauled by a bear are decreasing in frequency (special thanks to Hyperbole and a Half for the pain scale reference).  We’ve been taking one day at a time, and I’ve been doing most of the driving whenever we’ve had to go anywhere.  This week has been better, and on Monday we celebrated our two year anniversary by going to see Guardians of the Galaxyfitting since we met because of superheroes (he’s also a DJ for The Cape Radio, but we are both on hiatus at the moment).  I admit that I have never read any of the comics, but I enjoyed the movie and would love to pick them up.

One of my favorite pictures of me and my husband, even though his eyes are closed.  His shirt says "Super Genius" and mine says "All this and nerdy too" - it's like we were made for each other or something. :)

One of my favorite pictures of me and my husband, even though his eyes are closed. He’s wearing a shirt that says “Super Genius” and mine says “All this and nerdy too” – it’s like we were made for each other or something. :)

 

Speaking of The Cape Radio, I am leaving in the morning to attend CapeCon.  This started out as a meet and greet for DJs and listeners of the station and other players of City of Heroes, first held in Chicago in 2008.  I went every year through 2011, which was the first year my husband was able to go, and thus the first time we met in person.  We were married a little over a year later.  We were unable to go back in 2012 or 2013, and with his current health issues, he doesn’t want to risk getting a migraine on a plane or spending the entire weekend holed up in a blanket fort in a hotel room, so I am going by myself.  This is part of where my anxiety issues are rearing their ugly heads.  I don’t like the process of traveling by plane (the flying itself is fine, but I don’t do well in large crowds and I don’t like strangers touching me, just to name a couple of my anxiety triggers) and knowing my husband will not be there to hold my hand and remind me that everything is okay is a bit unsettling.  CapeCon is being held in a different place this year, San Antonio, so even though I’ve been there several times in the past, this still has an element of the unfamiliar.  Luckily, several of my close friends will be there, and I have been promised drinks, so I am sure once I get past this initial anxiety, I’ll have a good time.  I am glad I will only be gone for three days, though.

FeedingBaron

Me and another of The Cape Radio’s DJs at the first CapeCon/Meet & Greet

 

So what’s next for me, Rewondered, and this blog?  There’s quite a bit of reorganization in the works, everything from my studio to my website, but this process may take a couple of years.  It will also take a few years for me to get my MLIS.  I chose to pursue this particular Master’s degree because I’ve always had a fascination with books and libraries.  My first “real” job was actually working in a library.  One of the projects I was helping with was converting the card catalog to a computer system.  Which probably gives you a hint about my age!  I’m fascinated by the way technology has increased access to information exponentially.  I’m also seeing some ways that creative solopreneurs can incorporate information science into their businesses to help them operate more efficiently, so this will likely be a major focus of my future studies.  I would really like to use what I’ve learned and will learn in future classes to help other one-person creative business owners like myself, particularly Etsy Sellers and those with ADHD.

After completing my Capstone, I began plans to write a book, possibly even a series of books or reports, specifically geared toward those who want to keep their business small enough that they can handle it on their own, but successful enough that they can make a real living.  I’ve been getting several nudges from the universe that I need to start writing and sharing my knowledge, so the first step will be getting this blog going again.

And I’m going to be continuing to figure out how my brain really works, and how to make it work for me.

HeathersBrain

 

Rewondered’s 10/10/10 Rewards Club

I’ve been giving a lot of thought to a rewards/loyalty club and ways to give back to my customers.  I decided to offer everyone 10% of their purchases from my Etsy shop in October back as a Rewondered Gift Certificate, but I have another idea that takes this a step further.

Introducing Rewondered’s 10/10/10 Rewards Club:

The club is limited to 50 members.  You’ll pay $50 up front, but you’ll get a $50 Rewondered gift certificate, so it really doesn’t cost you anything.  You’ll also get a special individualized coupon code that gets you 10% off anything you purchase from me, so that $50 gift certificate will go a bit further (about $55 worth of products).  PLUS, you’ll get 10% of your purchases (after discount) back as another gift certificate (for example, after spending the $50 gift certificate, you’ll get another $5 one).  Share your unique coupon code with others so they can get 10% off their purchase, and YOU will get 10% of whatever they buy back on your gift certificate.  Gift certificates will be issued by the 10th of every month for the previous month’s total purchases.  Oh, and did I mention this is a LIFETIME membership?  And my gift certificates never expire, so you have plenty of time to spend your first $50.

Is that an awesome deal or what?  Remember, this is limited to only 50 members, so click HERE to order today!  You’ll go to a PayPal payment link, but if you don’t have PayPal, click that option and you can pay with a credit card instead.

Why am I asking for $50 up front?  First of all, since I’m limiting the membership (I have to, I can only have so many coupon codes on Etsy and these need to be individualized so I can track the purchases made using each code separately) asking for an up front payment lets me know my members are serious about using the program.  Second, with the holiday season approaching, I need an influx of cash to purchase supplies, so by collecting money up front for the memberships/gift certificates, I’ll be able to invest some funds into the business now instead of waiting for sales.

I’ll be putting up a LOT more products in the coming months, so you’ll have your gift certificate ready to spend when I post something you just have to have, plus you’ll get 10% off!  So what are you waiting for?  Join the club now!

Rewondered Costume Contest

Enter to win a $100 gift certificate for Rewondered!

Halloween is my favorite holiday, and what better way to celebrate than with a costume contest?  But of course, I can’t do just any old costume contest, this is a Rewondered costume contest.  Therefore, your costume must be “rewondered” in some way.

The simplest way is to feature a Rewondered product in your costume, such as one of my Tu-Tu Tulle Skirts.  While the deadline to ensure delivery by Halloween is past, if I have the colors in stock or can easily get them locally, instead of ordering from my supplier on the other side of the country, it’s still possible to get one done and shipped in time.  Email me at rewondered@gmail.com with the colors you’re thinking of and I’ll let you know what I can do.  Of course, you can also use any of my jewelry or hair accessories or any other products, too.

Option two is to “rewonder” your costume itself.  Perhaps you’re modifying used clothing, or putting household parts to a new use (like dryer hose for your robot arms).  Look around and let your imagination run wild!  I’m sure you can find lots of things that you can change or use in a different way to create a truly unique costume.

Option three is to “rewonder” the character you’re portraying.  This includes gender-bending and steampunkifying an already known character.  It could also mean creating a costume that is more in the spirit of the character than an exact replica of what the character normally wears.  One example off the top of my head is a blue tu-tu, red corset, gold cuff bracelets, and a gold tiara – in the style of Wonder Woman but obviously not an exact replica of her costume.

So how do you enter?  Simple, just send at least one photo of the completed costume along with a paragraph explaining how you “rewondered” it to rewondered@gmail.com and use “Rewondered Costume Contest Entry” as the subject line.  You can send up to ten pictures, including any documenting how you made the costume.  I’ll be featuring the entries here on my blog throughout the month, as well as some of my own creations I’m working on.

You may enter up to ten costumes, one costume per email, please.  While purchase is not necessary, you will receive a bonus entry for each Rewondered product incorporated into your costume.  I will take entries through November 10th and draw one entry at random to win the $100 gift certificate, announcing the winner here on my blog on November 17th.  I will email the gift certificate to the winner after posting the announcement, giving you plenty of time to use it for your Christmas shopping, or to get an early start on next year’s Halloween costume (and contest)!

Because this is the first year of the contest, and I’m getting a bit of a late start on it, entries do not have to have been made this year.  Entries do have to be made by the person entering the contest, but not necessarily worn by that person (for example, the costume could be worn by your child or a friend).  Please give a good explanation of how you made the costume in your entry, and remember that it will be posted here on my blog.  I do reserve the right to correct any grammar or spelling issues. ;)

Your costume does not need to be 100% handmade, but it should show off your creativity and ingenuity.  Feel free to provide links to any items used that you purchased and/or sell yourself.

Have fun!  I can’t wait to see what you come up with! :D

Just a Little Rant on the War on Poverty

I posted this over on my personal Facebook status, but decided to share it here on my blog to reach a wider audience.  It’s a bit ranty, with my disjointed early-morning thought process, but it speaks from my heart.

Found this in some comments (I know, never read the comments) so I don’t know this person, but this is what people outside the US are really thinking:

“As an outsider looking in (I’m from the UK) it seems as though you have a bunch of right-wing nutters who have utter contempt for democracy (unless the vote goes their way). These nutters want to impose some sort of fundamentalist, neo-medieval, Christian society on people wherein the rich will become the new nobility and the rest will become the serfs and peasants living off any crumbs the rich care to throw at them.” – Martin Leach

And he’s absolutely right. And we the people have developed an attitude of “I’ve got mine, fuck anyone else” so the war on poverty has become a war on poor people. We’ve bought in to the stories about people that are “living off the system” which are either not true or are isolated incidents, and bitch and moan that we don’t want our hard-earned money going to these lazy people who refuse to work.

Look at your friends list. How many of your friends are unemployed? How many times do you see them post about putting in applications, getting interviews, and still struggling to find a job? I see it all the time, from dozens of people. They are not refusing to work. Companies are refusing to hire them.

Think they should just get a McJob? Some of them have tried. They have no experience working fast food or retail, so they either don’t get hired, or they get so few hours it’s not making any dent in their bills, or they’re only hired for the holiday season and are back looking for work in January.

I, myself, looked for a job in my field, where I have 15+ years of experience, for almost THREE YEARS, putting in more than 500 applications (I lost count) and getting a grand total of five interviews. In all that time I got one seasonal job paying $9 an hour, the lowest wage I’d had in about 20 years. I finally gave up, and am putting all my efforts into running my own business, where I don’t even want to calculate my hourly wage because I know it’s only pennies.

I am surviving, because I have people who care about me and who have taken and are taking care of me. Many people aren’t so lucky. And instead of helping those people, we look at them with contempt, calling them lazy and cutting any programs that will help them because we don’t want them to have our hard-earned money. We say churches and charities will take care of them, but we don’t donate to them, so where do we think they’re going to get the money to do so? Do we all need to be visited by three ghosts in order to realize our lives would be richer by helping others?

At the very least, we can stop bashing the poor. Stop whining that we don’t want to support the lazy bastards, because those programs aren’t in place to do that. Yes, some people take advantage of the system, but there are thousands more who desperately need it. Leave it to the people who administer these programs to find the ones who are abusing it, it’s not our job. Stop buying in to the stories you hear and realize that they either aren’t true or are isolated incidents that do not speak for every person on the program. The vast majority are children and the elderly. This is who you are hurting with your hatred.

And wake up and realize that whether you like it or not, you are part of the 99%. You are NOT one of the richest 1% and therefore will become one of the serfs and peasants mentioned in the quote above if we don’t get our heads out of our asses. Get out and vote. Research the candidates and support the ones you think will make the most impact, or do the least harm (as the choice often is, unfortunately). Apathy is what is really ruining our country. If we can’t even be bothered to do a bit of reading up on our candidates and haul our butts to the polls every election, the who are really the lazy bastards?

Choices and Challenges

Wow, October already?  I kind of feel like I blinked and September was gone.

I was much busier in September than I had originally planned to be.  I ended up vending at an event every weekend, and two of those events were in my top three sales events for this year.  Awesome!  But it’s a lot of work to set up every weekend, and as amazing as my husband is, dragging him out of the house early every Saturday isn’t quite fair to him.  So the first choice my title is referencing is that I have decided to take October off from live events.  This should give me some time to concentrate on organizing the studio and getting new things up online in my Etsy shop (finally!)

This leads me to choice #2: deciding what order to put things up in my shop.  I sort my jewelry into various themes for my displays at live events, but I’m redoing what I’ll be taking to indoor shows this winter, so I decided I’d just start with one theme and list everything in that display, then move on to the next.  I asked people to complete a poll for me, choosing their top three themes.  Looks like I’ll be starting with Toys, Games, Fantasy & Geekery.  There are a lot of ties for the other themes, so if you haven’t taken it yet, you can still do so here.  When I get done with the first theme, I’ll see what has the second most votes.

I’ve already decided to limit the events I’ll do this holiday season, and I’ll be getting my applications out over the next week or so.  Right now, it looks like I’ll be doing only one, maybe two shows each month in November, December, and January.  My next choice involves what exactly I’m going to take to indoor events.  I got my outdoor setup pretty well figured out by the end of the season (you can check out the pics of a couple of events on my Flickr) but indoors is a whole different ballgame.  For one, I’ve been used to having a 10×10 foot space, while the indoor events I’m planning offer 6×8 or 8×8 foot spaces.  I also won’t have my tent frame to hang stuff from, so I need to find new ways to display some of my items.  So I’ll be limiting my products to some specific categories, and pointing people to go online and check out my Etsy shop.

Now, I have some choices to make for my Etsy shop, too.  I’ve been renewing items after they expire, mostly because I haven’t been able to list new things.  I’ve been thinking about no longer renewing items and instead posting them in my online store, which totally needs some attention and products.  I noticed that a bunch of my Christmas-themed items end on December 14th, and it seems rather silly to me to renew those for another four months that close to Christmas, so as of December 15th, I will no longer be renewing expired listings on Etsy.

So that’s a look into the future, but what about October?  I’ve got a few things planned…

If you’ve been following me on Facebook or Twitter, you’ve probably seen my Item of the Day posts.  For October, rather than just picking a random item to be featured, I’ve decided to go with a theme… or rather, three themes, so you’ll be getting three items each day.

  • Pink Item of the Day – By now, everyone is pretty well aware that October is National Breast Cancer Awareness Month.  What you might not be aware of is that my own family, like so many others, has been touched by this disease.  We lost my Aunt Linda in 2002.  Her children started Play for the Cure Oregon in her honor.  This month, I will be showcasing one pink item every day, and I will donate 10% of sales from any item with pink in it to the Linda L. Vladyka Breast Wellness Foundation.
  • Rainbow Item of the Day – You also might not be aware that October is LBGT History Month, too.  I’ve been pretty vocal in my support of LGBT rights and marriage equality, and I look forward to every National Coming Out Day (October 11) as I tear up watching all the love and support for myself and so many of my friends.  So I’ll be showcasing one rainbow item every day, and I will donate 10% of sales from any rainbow item to the It Gets Better Project.
  • Halloween Item of the Day – My favorite holiday is Halloween, and it being the last day of October, it’s perfect (in my not so humble opinion) to celebrate it all month!  My Halloween Item of the Day will feature items that can be used for costumes as well as all the “scary” icons of Halloween: bats, spiders, skulls, and a little bit of Cthulhu thrown in.  I can’t think of any Halloween themed charities, but that leads me to another choice I recently made…

I have decided that any time my monthly product sales reaches $500, I will donate 10% to charity or an IndieGoGo campaign I feel deserves it.  And speaking of IndieGoGo campaigns, a friend of mine is doing one right now that only has a few days left, so if you could help him out, I’d greatly appreciate it!  They’re a long ways from their goal, and I’ve already donated all I could (though if I get a TON of sales in the next couple days, maybe I can do more).

And now, Challenges.  I’ve decided to use October to challenge myself.  Since it’s the tenth month and 10 is one of my favorite numbers, I’ve decided to work on “Ten Things” challenges.  Some of these will be accomplished in one day, some will take several.  Some are baby steps and others are more intensive.  My goal is to complete at least ten of them by the end of October.  They’ll be things like “Create Ten New Products” and “List Ten New Items” as well as “Organize Ten Areas” and “Read Ten Marketing Articles.”  I’ll be blogging about these as I get them completed, so that’s another challenge, “Blog About Ten ‘Ten Things’ Challenges.”

But the biggest challenge is going to be “Less Talk, More Action” so I better stop writing and get to doing, yes? :)

Tu-Tu Additions: Some New Takes On an Old Product

A conversation about my Long Tu-Tu Tulle Skirt inspired me to create some new versions, so this is how I spent my Sunday.  We had talked about two changes: 1) making it shorter in the front, and 2) making a more “tattered” look.  My tu-tus are made with strips of tulle, so I took 1/3 of the strips it takes to make a long tu-tu and cut them in half to make the shorter part.  This results in a slightly fuller skirt, as there are more strips attached to the waistband.  Here is an even high-low tu-tu tulle skirt:

High-Low Tu-Tu Tulle Skirt Front View

High-Low Tu-Tu Tulle Skirt Front View

Basically, you have my Regular Tu-Tu Tulle Skirt in the front, and the long one in the back.  Since this uses the same amount of materials that the long one does, I’ll be charging the same amount, so if you want to order one like this before I get a new listing up, just order the Long Tu-Tu Tulle Skirt and include a note in the comments that you want the High-Low version.

Here’s a side view:

High-Low Tu-Tu Tulle Skirt Side View

High-Low Tu-Tu Tulle Skirt Side View

And here’s the back view:

High-Low Tu-Tu Tulle Skirt Back View

High-Low Tu-Tu Tulle Skirt Back View

For the more “tattered” look, I took the shorter strips for the front, and instead of folding them exactly in half before attaching them to the waistband, I folded them haphazardly at some random point, so each piece ended up with two different lengths.  It turned out like this:

High-Low Tattered Tu-Tu Tulle Skirt Front View

High-Low Tattered Tu-Tu Tulle Skirt Front View

Since this one also uses the same amount of materials as the Long Tu-Tu Tulle Skirt, you can order that one and just put a note in the comments section that you want the High-Low Tattered version.  I really love how this color combination turned out.  This is technically a three-color skirt, I just used the same turquoise for two of the colors, so there’s twice as much of it as there is of the mint green.  I think it ended up with a gorgeous water-effect look!

Here is the side view:

High-Low Tattered Tu-Tu Tulle Skirt Side View

High-Low Tattered Tu-Tu Tulle Skirt Side View

And here is the back view:

High-Low Tattered Tu-Tu Tulle Skirt Back View

High-Low Tattered Tu-Tu Tulle Skirt Back View

Then, just because I wanted to see how the skirt would look overall with the tattered effect, I made a Regular Tu-Tu Tulle Skirt and applied the same haphazard technique all the way around.  This is what I ended up with:

Regular Tattered Tu-Tu Tulle Skirt Front View

Regular Tattered Tu-Tu Tulle Skirt Front View

And the side view:

Regular Tattered Tu-Tu Tulle Skirt Side View

Regular Tattered Tu-Tu Tulle Skirt Side View

And the back view:

Regular Tattered Tu-Tu Tulle Skirt Back View

Regular Tattered Tu-Tu Tulle Skirt Back View

This version uses the same amount of materials as the Regular Tu-Tu Tulle Skirt, so if you want to order a tattered version, just order the regular one and put a note in the comments that you’d like the tattered version instead.

Eventually, I’ll get separate listings up for these versions, but I’ll need to get more pictures first.  I just wanted to get these posted so you could see what I came up with!

These would be great for several different Halloween costumes, but please remember that I need 1-2 weeks for processing and it could take another week to get to you in the mail (longer if you live outside the United States) so order early!  And if you do order one, post a pic on my Facebook page so we can all see the full costume. :)

Monday Musings: Time Flies

How the heck did it get to be September already?  This year has just flown by, and all my plans have flown with it.  I keep trying to get a handle on my schedule, and it keeps slipping away from my grasp like a greased pig.  I’ve done fairly well with the “this is the one thing that I must get done today” but that one thing has generally been something time-sensitive like finishing up a paper to turn in before a midnight deadline.

My studio is still a disaster, though not quite as bad as it was, so there’s been some progress, just not as much as I’d like.  Last night, I finally fixed the tension on my sewing machine so I can use it again.  Now I just need to clear out the area around it…  I’m hoping that this week without classes will allow me to get some organizing done.

So this year has definitely not gone as planned, and I still feel like I’m digging myself out from the pile caused by being so ill earlier this year.  My health is doing a lot better since I’ve been able to go to the doctor and started taking the new meds.  My next step is an evaluation for Adult ADHD, but I’ve been too distracted (ha!) to get the paperwork done and turned in.  That’s on the list of “one things” for this week.

Last weekend was the one year anniversary of my wedding to my beloved Lorne.  Hard to believe it’s been a whole year, and that it’s only been a year.  It’s difficult to imagine my life without him, and I am eternally grateful for his love and support.  I thank him constantly for putting up with me, and my business as it spills into our bedroom for lack of space in the messy studio.  I could go on forever about how awesome my husband is, but I’ll spare your teeth and pancreas. ;)

It’s been two years since I moved to New Hampshire, and I still love it here.  I keep thinking I should go take some pictures of the scenery and history that surrounds me and blog about it here… but there’s that “time” thing again.  Still, some shots of one of the old cemeteries around here while the leaves are changing would be incredible, so I really should do my best to make that happen.

But now that it’s September, I really need to start thinking about the holidays and gearing up for the season ahead.  I need to figure out exactly which events I’m going to do (I don’t think I’m going to do quite as many as last year, but I’ll probably still do at least three or four).  And I definitely need to get more products up in my Etsy shop.  I also need to figure out what kinds of new products I should concentrate on, so I’ve put together a little survey.  It will probably take you about 5 minutes or so to complete it, so please help me out!  A little direction helps to minimize my distraction. :)

I do have something new for you guys, but I’m going to put that into a different post… stay tuned!

Time Flies comic by Something of That Ilk

Check out http://www.somethingofthatilk.com for more comics!

Tuesday Top Ten: Favorites the First Half of 2013

Been a long time since I did one of these, but I thought with yesterday’s post it might be nice to take a look at what the most favorited items were for the first half of the year. 130 different items received a favorite, with the top ten garnering 6, 7, 8, or 9 total.  I’ll count them down, starting with those that had six favorites.

And don’t forget, you can get 50% off anything in my Etsy shop using the coupon code CELEBRATE through July 4th!

#7-#10 – Six Favorites Each

White Shell Hair Elastics Ponytail Holders - Handmade by Rewondered D202E-00005 - $6.95

White Shell Hair Elastics Ponytail Holders – Handmade by Rewondered D202E-00005 – $6.95

Hockey Stick Simple Charm Necklace - Your Choice of Black Cord or Silver Chain - Handmade by Rewondered D225N-25102 - $7.95

Hockey Stick Simple Charm Necklace – Your Choice of Black Cord or Silver Chain – Handmade by Rewondered D225N-25102 – $7.95

Hockey Stick Simple Charm Earrings - Handmade by Rewondered D225E-25102 - $8.95

Hockey Stick Simple Charm Earrings – Handmade by Rewondered D225E-25102 – $8.95

Hockey Skate Simple Charm Earrings - Handmade by Rewondered D225E-25101 - $8.95

Hockey Skate Simple Charm Earrings – Handmade by Rewondered D225E-25101 – $8.95

#4-#6 – Seven Favorites Each

Steampunk/Vintage Style Turquoise and Copper Necklace - Handmade by Rewondered D225N-00353 - $24.95

Steampunk/Vintage Style Turquoise and Copper Necklace – Handmade by Rewondered D225N-00353 – $24.95

Golden Bumblebee on Gold Chain Simple Charm Necklace - Handmade by Rewondered D225N-00605 - $6.95

Golden Bumblebee on Gold Chain Simple Charm Necklace – Handmade by Rewondered D225N-00605 – $6.95

Hockey Skate Simple Charm Necklace - Your Choice of Black Cord or Silver Chain - Handmade by Rewondered D225N-25101 - $7.95

Hockey Skate Simple Charm Necklace – Your Choice of Black Cord or Silver Chain – Handmade by Rewondered D225N-25101 – $7.95

#3 – Eight Favorites

Golden Tiger Head on Gold Chain Simple Charm Necklace - Handmade by Rewondered D225N-00608 - $6.95

Golden Tiger Head on Gold Chain Simple Charm Necklace – Handmade by Rewondered D225N-00608 – $6.95

#2-#1 – Nine Favorites Each

Gold Shell Hair Pins - Handmade by Rewondered D202P-00002 - $4.95

Gold Shell Hair Pins – Handmade by Rewondered D202P-00002 – $4.95

Long Tu-Tu Tulle Skirt - Custom Made To Fit With Your Choice of Colors - Handmade by Rewondered - $39.95

Long Tu-Tu Tulle Skirt – Custom Made To Fit With Your Choice of Colors – Handmade by Rewondered – $39.95

Looks like Hockey and Seashells are the most popular themes, and I’m not surprised to see my Long Tu-Tu Tulle Skirt at the top of the list, it’s one of my favorites too!

I think these Top Ten lists are kind of fun, but without new items being added, they’ve been a bit repetitive.  So for now, I am thinking I’ll just do one at the beginning of each month, covering the previous month’s most favorited items.  But I’d still like to post a Weekly Top Ten list, so I’m going to look into other themes.  Feel free to share your ideas in the comments, or email me at rewondered@gmail.com.  And tune in next week to see what I’ve come up with!

Monday Musings: HALF!

It’s been way too long since I posted anything here, and for that, I apologize.  Those that follow my personal Facebook know that this first half of 2013 has not been very kind to me.  My husband and I have both spent at least half of the time sick.  His car has needed some work, each time blowing all the money we had hoped to spend on other things.  I’ve been struggling with school and feeling overwhelmed as I try desperately to get caught up.  My studio is a complete disaster area and has absolutely no workable space.  I haven’t created anything new in months.

All the plans I had to post more products and introduce new product lines have fallen at the wayside.  Weekly themed posts for this blog have not been written.  I haven’t even been able to squeeze in the time to post my daily gratitude lists, even though most days it seemed like my list consisted of 1. We’re still alive. 2. We still have each other. 3. We still have our friends.

Even that last one was besmirched a couple weeks ago when I heard that my friend, Tre Chipman, had died.  I’m planning on a memorial post here but it’s been difficult to write.  Soon™.

But it’s not all doom and gloom.  I have health insurance now, and drugs that, maybe for the first time in my life, allow me to BREATHE.  It’s kind of amazing to not constantly feel like one of those alien face-huggers is getting friendly with my nose.  I have a CT scan scheduled for next week where they’re going to see if anything else is going on in my sinuses and what they can do to fix them.  Isn’t modern science wonderful?

Speaking of modern science, my husband got sick soon after my friend’s death, which led me to no end of worry.  Especially when the doctor sent us to the ER because she didn’t know what was wrong with him!  They threw around scary words and did a CT scan where he frightened us all by having a bad reaction to the contrast they used.  But thanks to the miracles of modern science and drugs, they had him back to normal (well as normal for him + being sick is anyway) and figured out the problem, which they never would have guessed without those scans: pneumonia.  Who the hell gets pneumonia in June?  My husband, Mr. Special Pants, that’s who!  :P

So we’re both finishing up our antibiotics, him for the pneumonia and me for the CT scan they want to make sure doesn’t show any infections, just chronic problems.  We’re both feeling better and on the road to recovery, and hoping that we’ve met our quota for the year and don’t have to get sick anymore.

I’m done with Spring Term and classes for Summer Term don’t start for another week.  My grades aren’t the best, but they’re not the worst either.  I’m still on track to graduate at the end of next Summer.  Just one more year!  Then I’ll be entering the MLIS program at San Jose State.

I’ve been pretty worried about my business, since I haven’t been able to add new things or implement any of my plans, but things have been going okay.  I’ve done three live events so far this year, and put in my application for one this month.  I’ve been getting a few orders here and there from my Etsy shop.  I’ve been selling my duplicate and unneeded sewing patterns on eBay.  The money has been trickling in while the business has basically been on autopilot.  I’m taking that as a good sign.

But what’s really a good sign is if you compare the numbers from my first six months of business last year, to these six months, just one year later.  I’ve been keeping track of my Etsy numbers, so this data is only from Etsy, but as that’s my primary selling outlet, I think it’s a good litmus test for the entire business.  My total amount of views is up 177%, while my total amount of favorites is up 125%.  Nice, but look at this one: my total amount of sales is up 518%!  Holy cow!  What’s even more interesting though is that I’ve already made more than I did in all of 2012 not including December, which had about 60% of my total sales for the year.  In fact, I’d hit that point before May was over.  So if that’s how my business runs on autopilot, just imagine what will happen when I get the chance to really take the wheel again!

I think this calls for a celebration!  And since I still can’t drink because of the antibiotics, I’ll just have to do it by offering a discount in my Etsy shop.  If you’ve been eying something there for a while, now’s your chance to snap it up at HALF OFF!  Just use the coupon code CELEBRATE when you check out.  I’ll be running this special through Independence Day, as this business is a celebration of my own independence.

This week I’m tying up some loose ends and working on getting my studio back in order.  Then I can really jump into the business again.  I really need to start making things again, it’s been way too long since I let my creativity out of the box.

I’m getting there, slowly but surely.   If there’s one thing people know about me, it’s that I don’t give up easily.  Okay, okay. they call it “stubborn” but really, it’s the same thing!

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