Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Pumpkin Pye Boutique Hit 1000 Sales on Etsy! Hooray!

I'm pretty excited to say that my shop hit 1000 sales on Nov. 17th! It might seem like "no big deal" for some people, however for me, it's pretty huge! Ill reminisce back to June 2008, so you all have an idea as to how Pumpkin Pye Boutique came about and some of the hardships I went through. A bit of a personal story, but here it goes.

June 11, 2008... I was scheduled to have my csection for the birth of my daughter, Ava Sky, on June 12th at 7am. I was a nervous ninny that night before especially and decided to distract myself from the scary thoughts of a surgery and dabbled onto etsy. "What's etsy?" I thought. I searched and searched for such cool things! Everything from photography to paintings, to felted items and polymer clay. I stopped at the polymer clay and thought, "oh, I have polymer clay!" I created a login id right away. After the etsy id was created at a record speed, I popped my laptop down and waddled toward the kitchen cabinets (where i store my art supplies) and dug my freezer bag sized bag out of old polymer clay that I've stored (or hoarded) away for oh about 16 years. It was still usable. HOLY MOLY! I used to make charms with my best friend (and neighbor) when I was about 9 or 10 years old. Immediately this bag brought back so many memories of my clay days with Teresa! I started sculpting away at 10pm at night in my rocking chair. I made some silly little things and that was that. Next morning came rather quickly. After only about 4-5 hours of sleep, Ava Sky was born at 8:20am on June 12, 2008.

Flash forward- August 2008. Time has passed and Ava was now a few months old. I was preparing to go back to my job the following week and was all nervous to go back after my maternity leave. I wanted to go back, after all, I figured it would make me feel whole again and not just a mother. The people I worked with were awesome and I truly loved my job. Well, that Friday, I called up my job and found out that they could no longer have me work for them due to the economy being so rough- especially taking a toll on the art/music industry of sales. I was very upset, but I understood that maybe this would be best for Ava and I.

PANIC MODE- Yep, panic mode set in just a few hours later after that phone call. Questions popped up in my head.. "how am I going to afford everything?".. "my baby is colic and needs expensive formula.. and how am I supposed to pay for this?" "What am I going to do?" "Where can I work now?" and so on. I never thought that my answer would have been "my etsy shop". Sure, at first, I got the unemployment benefits. Knowing that this would eventually run out, I needed to work fast. I had to put everything into my polymer clay and get inventory built up to open up shop.

October 2008- I started Pumpkin Pye Boutique out with $20 bucks. Yep, just $20. I didn't have much to spend. I bought new clay at michael's arts and crafts at 50% off and bought some silver necklace chains. I started to construct little peanut butter and jelly friendship necklaces. This was an easy one, since I craved pbj during my pregnancy which was still very familiar. I took pictures of my completed charms and posted them onto etsy and I opened up 2 shops at once. I was desperate and in panic mode. I waited for my first sale. I posted on forums and promoted on myspace. A few weeks into this.. I got my FIRST SALE! Oh my goodness! I was SO happy! I thought, wow, someone likes my stuff! I didn't really think my charms would sell. I knew they were cute, but did anyone else think they were cute too?? Apparently so! I got maybe one sale every other week. All in between, I started listing more items. I discovered etsy chat as well and chatted it up and played those silly 5 min featured seller games just to get noticed. Bonanzle started doing pretty good! I was up to 6 sales for the month! My money went straight to supplies of course. So now my crafty habit paid for itself! Perfect!

Flash Forward October 2009- October 2009, I was having quite a bit of sales come through. I would say it snuck up on me and I wasn't ready for it. At this time I had 4 shops open! Etsy, Bonanzle, Artfire and Ecrater. What a "go-getter"! Etsy was ranking the best in sales by far. I had about 45-60 sales for October. Not bad at all!

November 2009- Unemployment ran out by then after all of those extensions I got too. I would say that the sales I got on etsy totally smacked me upside the head. My emails are forwarded to my phone and all day long, "ding ding"... "Etsy Transaction"... 3 hours later.. "ding ding" Etsy Transaction".. 10 minutes later, "ding ding" .. "Etsy Transaction". I was super stoked but didn't realize how hard this would be when you get 10 sales each day! This was CRAZY! Sticky notes were everywhere, my organization sucked for someone who is SO organized and OCD. Custom order requests too were flying in.

December 2009. - Sales doubled November sales with a total of 75 orders. Still working hard as ever, I felt so successful. I built this from the ground up. Bruno, my husband, was shocked. I bought everyone Christmas presents this year! It felt good. Real good.

Flash Forward for the last time- November 2010.
My etsy shop now at this point has been up and running for just over 2 years... and 1008 sales. All I can think about this is how lucky I am. Maybe it's not luck, who knows. I just know that I busted my ass building this up to what it is today so I can be at home and raise my daughter and not have to leave the house to work. I know other moms do this, but this just wasn't me. I loved my job I had before etsy, but I'm glad it happened this way. I always knew that when one door closed another door opened and it did just that. Currently at 80+ sales on November 18th, and the month is not yet over. Seems like it's going to double November 2009 sales. I'm pretty excited and am very thankful for my friends and fans who have helped me build up my shop to what it is today. I hope that I will be doing this for as long as I can. When I was little, people used to ask me, "what do you want to be when you grow up?" and I always replied, "an artist." As I got older and was asked this same question in high school, I replied, "I professional colorer." haha! So, I guess this is really what I became.. a mother and a polymer clay artist. To wrap this up, you really can do anything if you put your mind to it, just don't let anything stop you. As Woody in Toy Story says, "Reach for the stars!"

Monday, November 8, 2010

What goes into "handmade" crafts?

Have you ever found yourself wandering around on etsy searching just about anything and everything? Maybe a cute cuff, coffee cozy,handpainted necklace, clay earrings, or a piece of wheel thrown pottery? You might even glance at the price of the item and think, "that's a bit expensive for a coffee cozy". But, is it really? I for one, like to bargain shop. I live on a budget like most people, but you can't really look at a handmade item at being too costly when you are comparing it to Target/Walmart prices.

As an artist of handmade polymer clay jewelry, I want to explain what actually goes into "handmade". It's alot of love, patience and time. Time for me, is really of the essence when my two year old is at my feet. Here are the steps that I go through to create my best selling peanut butter and jelly friendship necklaces. I mold out the inside of each bread... roll out a thin brown log, flatten it, smooth it and place it around each bread. Then, I cut the end with a clay tool, smooth it out and make sure the end is smoothed out and mended so you can not see where the end has been cut. And yes, there is an easier way of doing this. If i made a cane, which would be like a loaf of bread, and then slice each slice, could possibly cut my time down significantly and also it would change the appearance tremendously. However, I do not cut corners like this and I hope that shows. Each hook is carefully placed in and then a tiny piece of clay is placed in that loop and smoothed over with a very tiny tool. Again, everything is smoothed out so no blemishes appear around the edging. Do I have to do it this way? No, but I choose to for durability. Each topping of choice is sculpted out and pressed onto the clay and centered. Now, for the face, it is not painted on. Each pupil is rolled out with just the right amount of clay and very carefully placed on, making sure the eyes are placed apart with a right distance and that each shape is as round as it can be. Then, the cute little smiley is rolled out in my hand and placed on with a needle, or sometimes my fingers. Once the construction is complete, it doesn't stop there. They are baked for 15 minutes at 275 degrees, pulled out to cool and then each little imperfection on the toast are scratched out and sanded out with a needle and a special tool that i scrape into the clay. Sometimes little dark pieces of clay get into the lighter clay and need to be removed. This too is time consuming and may cause blindness!! After each little imperfection is taken out and removed from the clay, it is then glazed by painting on a layer of glaze for each side, one side at a time. This too takes about 20 minutes including drying time in between glazing each side. While waiting for the final coat to dry, i begin cutting and measuring each necklace chain for each charm made. After it is dry, the charm is attached by a jump ring onto a silver chain. Now, imagine doing this on a daily basis, and having lots and lots of orders and only yourself to create them! It's alot of love into these!

This is just an example of my handmade creations. There's lots of other crafts that also take alot of time that are tedious and have high attention to detail. I hope after reading this, some of you might realize how time consuming and how much love really goes into each and every piece that I ship out. If I'm not happy with the piece, it doesn't get shipped- it's that simple. So, next time you think about purchasing an item at walmart that appears to be handmade for $5 you might just want to head out onto etsy an support a real handmade artist that works hard and shows pride in their artwork. Support handmade artists :)

Thursday, November 4, 2010

On a personal note..

This is just something that I thought is necessary to share in support of my cousin and his wife who really need some help.