Monday, May 31, 2010

7 is the magic number?

My seventh pair of earrings is up on etsy!
Finger's crossed so that it brings me luck.
I wouldn't really mind making a sale, just as a boost of my confidence, showing that somebody out there likes what I do. But all in its time, the trick is to stay calm and do your job regardless of anything.
I called the pair on the picture A Moment of Sadness, and wondered for quite a while whether I should stick with it. After few years of brainwashing in a conventional office, I remembered all those 'no negatives' rules out of marketing schools and I guess they reached deeper inside my head then I ever thought. But then again - I recalled all those moments when I read marketing products (fantastic, brilliant, perfect, ideal, blah blah blah) and thought - GET REAL!
I'm not even trying to say that calling a product good is an outright lie, what I was missing all the time is exactly what I had been told to leave out - a little bit of negative. Life itself is a mixture of positive and negative (sometimes it's even difficult to distinguish between the two!) and if something lacks one of the aspects so definitely, it feels fake. I don't know how about you, reader, but if I sense that someone is trying to hide something from me, I'm instantly on my guard. Obviously, I'm much less likely to buy off someone I'm cautious of.
Authenticity is becoming more and more important to me, because it's one of the very few things I have discovered that is able to make real magic happen. And I wanted to somehow share the story behind my earrings number seven. I was really sad when stitching them. I thought my world is falling apart, I was lost and confused. And it gave me some consolation, when picking colours and design for the earrings I went for dark, sombre shades in line with my mood. If felt like accepting the moment I'm in, going right ahead with it so that I can live through it and move on. Plus, even such a dark time allowed me to create something beautiful, something I could touch, and feel proud of, especially that it takes some courage to admit publicly that you're sad in today's popculture-infused world. And I DID say that, even in product description on my shop - see for yourself.
Well, the moment of sadness passed, the earrings stayed, and I hope like hell they will soon find a happy new owner.

Friday, May 28, 2010

Shopping, shopping... Photoshopping!

I'm proud to announce that today I have created my first banner - see above.
Starting an online business has so far proved to be a fantastic excuse to take up new things. This time it happened to be photoshopping.
Each etsy shop comes with a space for a banner, and I was toying with the idea of getting one. After all it's a shame not to use a resource that's there anyway. But how to get one? Obviously I did not have anything ready, and until today the only program I used to create any graphics was Word - and you probably know how basic is that. I could buy one, but then, my principle is falling back on buying only as a very last resort.
I let the idea to grow in my head for a while, than started browsing the net - not really convinced anything might come out of it. I knew of Adobe Photoshop - but a free trial I downloaded did not want to run properly, and buying a full version for $600.00 was just as unlikely for me as a trip to the Moon, so again - alternatives, please. I asked Google the Wonderful what other graphic programs are out there, and after few missed shots I found something perfect - Phoenix.
Not only it has most (or maybe all? Who knows) features I associated with photoshop, but also offered on their blog a ready-to-use template for creating banners for etsy. Fate or what?
I never expected I would catch the bug so quickly - playing around with pictures proved to be so much fun! It took some effort - me, being a complete beginner, for whom even the most basic tutorials seem to be written in some foreign language - but in the end I think I've learned at least few tricks. Enough to do a banner that makes me quite happy and very proud of myself! Somehow, overcoming an obstacle with one's own resources brings twice as much joy as simply having someone do it for you.
There's so much potential there as well. I only started playing and still know next to nothing, but ideas on how to use this photoshop further are already flowing into my head. How about a newsletter, funky and colourful, so that it attracts attention straight away? Or maybe my very own business cards? Leaflets?
Yupee, the world is my shrimp, as Terry Pratchett would say.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Internet inspiration - double edged sword

I'm right after a good session of digging through the net to find some ideas.
And how do I feel? Like if somebody had attached a thousand leeches to my elbow to suck suck suck all the fresh blood = fresh ideas = any traces of well-being left in me.

Do you know it from your own experience, perhaps?

There's so much stuff out there, so many projects, so many people. Some are outright there to trick you and to make you buy/believe in bullshit. Because of their plentitude I'm on my guard against EVERYONE now - tires the hell out of me.
Some are just cheap and kitsch and ugly and don't have anything gracious on them.
Some seem to be so great that I instantaneously feel that I'll never be able to do something worth second look.
God, the Earth is so CROWDED!!!

Leaving everyone to their own, what is a person supposed to do if they want to exist somewhere there, if they want to offer a product, but not enter the newly-emerging online rat race?

I guess I will need to cut down on the amount of time spent looking for 'inspiration' online.

It only makes me feel unworthy and tiny - after all, there's so many people doing fabulous things, selling it in a fantastic way and being oh-so-cool. Where am I compared to that?

Then I have another thought - what if I close my eyes completely to what those Other People do? What if I focus on doing my own thing, what if I let my dreams, my perceptions, my emotions inspire me instead of looking for inspiration from someone else? Whatever happens to my creations - the time and joy in creating them is mine. Nobody is able to take it away from me. I am here and now, I have two hands, all the time in the world and million ideas in my head and the rest can go hang.

Easier said than done, but I guess that's the right direction to go.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Devil in detail...

Have a quick look at the pictures of the same pair of earrings two posts down and tell me what you think.

I bet I know what you think - hell lot of a difference, and the devil is in the detail...

I thought long and hard on how to make my pics more attractive.
The effect you can see above. Worked?

The white background is actually a shirt I wear very rarely - nightmare of washing snow-whites! - but I love the texture of fabric. Very old fashioned it feels to me, but in good sense. Makes me think of all the delicate, innocent things in the world (or am I stretching it too far?).
Anyway - works great as a background for pics.
White seems to work better - any photographer could probably tell me why, I can just conclude based on my own trials and errors.

Next thing - I got some feedback, and from two different people as well, that the golden-headed pins are a nice touch. So, let's get wild and add some more! There's only one extra at the picture attached, but on other... Let's say I was quite generous:)

And finally - flower power:) Leaf picked straight from the public lawn in front of my apartment, when coming back from shopping for groceries. No such a big hassle! And the effect - stunning!

Actually, I had this weird thought: my earrings are not needed in the picture at all. Nature itself is so perfect, so beautiful, that any additions are only unnecessary clutter.

What an un-marketing thought:) But hey - let's just say it's my act of appreciation of the Earth with its bounty.

4 items up on the shop website now, all with better pics. If you want to have a look, feel invited to check them out here.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Summer days

Summer has arrived in Ireland and for few days sunshine invites me to do all but work.

I was even brave enough to take a dip in the ocean (admittedly, with some help). Freezing so badly it hurt, but the body felt so fresh.

This IS an issue when doing a home-based business, how to overcome one's laziness and do the actual work.
My remedy - set your goals realistically and try to find a solution that allows you to both do your work and as in my case, enjoy the sunshine.

Anyway, it doesn't feel much like work, or, to be precise, it's work without the nasty bits usually attached to a job - like a boss, customer service sweetness when you actually don't give a damn about either the product or the customer, and many more.
The difference is - I am my own boss and don't need to follow any rules. If I want to get up in the middle of the night, cook myself a two course dinner and then do a serious session of online marketing - tah-dah - I CAN.
And I genuinely care about both my product and my customers. I sell things that I make myself, that are very precious to me, full of my energy and attention - this makes a whole lot of a difference.

But, the clock is ticking and my hours of sunshine are passing bit by bit.
Enough work for today, time to spoil myself with the summer.
Might even be brave enough for another swim, this time longer than five seconds?

Saturday, May 22, 2010

First one up!!

I feel a bit like on a first day of school - all excited and a bit unsure of myself.
See, the thing is that I'm still all personal about what I do, and I soooo badly want it to be right.

I have listed my first pair of earrings yesterday, and I'm all shaky as to what reaction I'm going to get back.

Whatever the feedback will be, I love what I do. This, at least for me, is the most important bit.

Sooo... Fingers crossed!

Friday, May 21, 2010

On becoming a photographer

First of all, I know absolutely nothing about photography. Zero, nil, completely nada.

And there comes a challenge of taking shots decent enough to publish in the Etsy shop, and even more, shots that are to make people like my product. Oh man...

Well, I have made some progress. I have discovered macro option in my camera, so instead of a coloured blur I'm getting sharp enough pics. Note to self here: don't give up at the first try. After first few blurry images I came to conclusion that my camera (few years old, after all) is simply not up to the task, and I might be forced to buy a new one. Highly unwelcome expenditure. So I got creative - digging through the list of people possibly willing to lend theirs, considering second hand with trading my old junk option, even trying to drag my sister into cooperation and asking for her help. Catch - she lives an island away. Which is some 500 km away, as crow flies...
So much trouble avoided by discovering one small button.
And I'm so happy I decided to look for an option different than just running to a shop.

Anyway, I got my pics. I'm quite happy with them. Sharp, with warmish hue, decently composed. Check it out yourself, the first one is already up in my shop. Later on I'll put some on this blog, most likely.
What I think I'm missing is the inviting bit, something to make the viewer think - hey, I want those. And I strongly believe that it's not a marketing manipulation, that if seen in front of your eye you would think so as well. I'm only concerned that my skill in photography is not sufficient to show my earrings for what they are.
Any suggestions?

I'm learning. Might be the time to borrow a book on the art of picture taking. Might be an opportunity to catch a new bug and learn a new trade, hehe.
Or at least get a new hobby?

I'm happy when I'm able to look at the world in this way. It seems a friend then, not an enemy to fight with. It seems a place of opportunity.

Still a long way to go before I'll be able to call myself a photographer in anything else than a joke.
I enjoy a good joke though, and even more I enjoy meeting with challenges and overcoming them, one way or another.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Stitching frenzy

I'm stitching like insane.

Pleasure it is, most of the time.

I'm sure it's not only me, but I tend to fall into a trance-like state when doing any precise, repetitive things with my hands. Whenever I'm not under too much pressure, this has a sweet, dream-like quality, inspiration flows and it feels good to be alive.
Otherwise I just worry and make up paranoid scenarios for the future, haha.

Back to stitching, though - I'm making a line of square, cross-stitched earrings. Simple but bloody effective. I was always fascinated by a texture of fabric covered with cross stitches, stiff but smooth, and you can feel each stitch under your finger, like tiny grains.. Sooo, here goes the idea for the first line of my creations. Durable edging, some felt for the backing, bright coloured thread, hooks and voila - earrings like no other! I enjoy every stage - from drawing the designs in my little pad (God, I feel like a child in kindergarden, with colour pencils and all, and what a glorious feeling it is!), then needlework, up on my cork board - what a joy for the eye when couple of pairs are put together! - eventually all the finishing touches.
It is time consuming, I have to admit that. But I consider this time well spent. At least I can always have a look at a tangible effect of those hours.

And you know what? I'll let you have a look too. I promise I'll put some pics on this blog, as soon as I get around to taking some decent shots.

Now, that may be a completely different story...

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Kathe archoi kai diskoloi..

The phrase, transcribed from modern Greek (and let please all the Greeks forgive me if I got something wrong - I'm just a beginner) means roughly - all the beginnings are difficult. Yeah, I wanted to say something about starting on a new adventure, and wanted to avoid the usual cliches.

So, the mission is - start a successful online shop and sell handmade - jewellery mostly, but if an idea for something else flows in, I'm not going to fight it for too long.

Easier said than done.

But I hope that the last post on this blog will be: mission accomplished.