Happy Christmas in July! Or should we say, Merry Christmas in July? Either way, we hope you’re enjoying the festivities all over Etsy and have found some fantastic deals on our blog post full of participating team member shops. Come next month, it’ll be time for Back to School! So let’s see what else is in store for this month’s newsletter, shall we?
Don't forget—the EtsyMom team is participating in Etsy's 4th annual Christmas in July Sale July 14th through the 24th.
Sales can sometimes slow down during the summer months, so join in on the fun and increase your chances of being found and making some money, honey! A full list of participating shops can be found on our blog: http://etsymom.blogspot.com/2011/07/etsymom-christmas-in-july-sale_14.html
ETSYMOM CURATOR AWARD
CONGRATULATIONS TO OUR WINNERS!
Anna of Shop Anna Virginia - making 8 treasuries
First Runner Up
Amanda of Kindred Scents - making 5 treasuries
Second Runner Up
Maria of Classy & Chic with 3 treasuries.
We had 12 participants and 28 treasuries were made.
Congratulations ladies, and thanks for playing!
The Christmas in July EMCA challenge thread is posted!
by Jenny from loulou tutu
The Art of Customer Service
I am one of those people who must see, touch, smell, and taste everything that I buy. I want to know everything about it before I lay down my hard-earned money. However, online buying has made my style of shopping a thing of the past, and it still makes me nervous every time I push that "Add to Cart" button. What happens if I don’t like it? What happens if the photo wasn’t the same color? There are just
too many what ifs, but this is where great customer service steps up.
Providing great customer service gives the buyer confidence that they won’t be left high and dry. It gives a little piece of mind to help cover those "what ifs." Now, customer service does not mean free returns or refunds on custom items, but rather develops a relationship between the buyer and the shop. Below are some suggestions on how to offer outstanding customer service.
1. Make Contact! Contact every buyer who makes a purchase in the shop. Confirm the order, provide a production timeline, and give an approximate shipping date. This allows you to establish a working relationship with the buyer.
2. Provide shipping information. For every order, provide the tracking information into Paypal. Paypal will then alert the buyer with the shipping information. Everyone likes to know that their package is on the way.
3. Follow up. A few days after you know the package has arrived, send a convo to follow up and confirm the order has arrived and has met the buyer's expectations. Then, encourage the buyer to report feedback regarding their order.
4. Establish store policies. Clearly defined store policies will help to keep things running smoothly. Discuss your policies regarding returns, custom orders, and shipping. Think about the questions you would ask as a customer, and then make sure your policies answer those.
Great customer service helps your buyers feel confident purchasing from you and ensures their happiness and satisfaction. Hopefully they will then return as a repeat customer or recommend you to their friends!
Reusable Sandwich Bags
By Lindsay Conner of Craft Buds
Get ready for a delightful summer picnic in the park with these reusable sandwich bags! Made from oilcloth, these bags are easy and fun to whip up in a variety of fun, summery prints.
Finding your oilcloth
Oilcloth is also called woven PUL fabric (polyurethane laminated fabric). Though it looks like a thick vinyl, you’ll notice that the back side of oilcloth fabric is woven rather than having the smooth feel of the front.
My local quilt shop sells large bolts of oilcloth for around $9 per yard, and I’ve also purchased it from Oilcloth Addict on Etsy. Fabric designers have really jumped on board with the oilcloth trend, so you’ll find laminated fabrics from Anna Maria Horner (including the new LouLouThi collection) as well as designer prints by Amy Butler, Jennifer Paganelli, and others, though the prices are higher. If you shop online for project materials, just make sure you don’t order flannel-backed fabric, which is harder to clean.
For this tutorial, you can make 6 sandwich bags from a half-yard of oilcloth, making your cost as low as .75 cents per bag. Just think of how much money you could save on plastic baggies over time! Once sewn, these durable snack bags are easy to rinse out in the sink and air dry.
Oilcloth Sandwich Bags Tutorial
Finished size: 6.5″ x 7″ folded
* 1/2 yard of oilcloth (makes 6 bags) or a fat quarter (makes 3 bags)
* Velcro, .75″ wide
* White or coordinating thread
* Glue stick
* Ruler and scissors or rotary cutter
* Sewing machine with zig-zag and blanket stitches
1. Each bag is made from a cut of oilcloth that is 16.25 inches x 7 inches. Using your rotary cutter and ruler, measure and cut your six pieces as shown in the diagram. The scraps can be saved for decoration or a 5-inch wide snack bag.
This is what your bag will look like unfolded, along with measurements.
2. Take your oilcloth rectangle, and place it in front of you with the pattern facing down. Fold up the bottom 6.5″ and crease with your fingers. (When folded, the bag is 9.5″ tall, including the opened flap, which is 3″.) Now, fold down the top flap like an envelope, and crease.
3. Cut a 3-inch strip of velcro, and separate the fuzzy and scratchy sides. Lightly apply glue stick to adhere each velcro strip in place.
* Attach the rough velcro .5″ down from what is now the top of the flap (attach to WRONG side of oilcloth).
* Attach the fuzzy velcro strip 1.75″ from top of opened pocket (RIGHT side of oilcloth) with glue stick. (Refer to diagrams above for velcro placement.)
4. Open up the folded flap and straight stitch both velcro strips on with your sewing machine, turning at the corners and sewing all the way around. Since the velcro may slip, hold with your fingers and tackle the patterned side of the oilcloth first.
5. To add a monogram, simply create a large letter in a Word document, choose your font, and print. (For the “S” and “J,” I used Arial Black, size 320, and applied an outline to the font to waste less ink.) Place your printout on top of oilcloth and cut through both layers using sharp scissors. Use a craft knife if you have a letter with small circles.
6. Apply monogram to outside of bag with a glue stick (use sparingly). Zig-zag stitch the letter applique to what will become the outside of your bag, to either the front or the back. The applique will slide out of place on the patterned side, so stitch this piece first and hold it in place while sewing. I added long strips of oilcloth as accents.
7. Refold the sandwich bag using the creases from earlier (top flap remains open for now), and hold in place with a paper clip on the fold.
8. With the monogram and velcro now attached, it’s time to turn your oilcloth into a sandwich pouch. Set your sewing machine to a wide blanket stitch and test out on a scrap piece of fabric or paper. (If you need a guide, aim for stitches that are about 1/4″ long and 3/8″ apart. I used my sewing machine’s widest stitch.)
Begin to blanket stitch the bag together, starting where the wrong sides meet on the right side. You’ll want to stitch so close to the edge that your stitches actually fall off the side of the bag and wrap around the raw edges. If your stitches catch on the oilcloth, adjust your needle position a bit to the right. Continue the blanket stitch around all four sides of the bag, including the opened flap. (For the flap, you’ll be sewing through a single layer of oilcloth, so this is merely decorative).
Note: If you are planning to spend all day in the sun with your picnic fare, keep your sandwich bags in the shade to avoid emitting any non-safe chemicals into your food. As a general rule of thumb: if you wouldn’t want to heat it up in a microwave, don’t let it bake in the sun. This sandwich sized bag fits pretty large slices of bread, though you can make reusable snack bags that are slightly smaller or larger, depending on your needs.
Is oilcloth food-safe? There is a lot of discussion about oilcloth and food, and you can find more resources and a lengthy discussion on the topic at CraftStylish and Mothering. One alternative is to cover regular fabric in layers of natural beeswax. Another idea is to line fabric with thick, resealable Ziploc bags.
If you’ve enjoyed this sandwich pouch tutorial, why not whip up some bags as gifts? They are great for lunches at school, work, or a summertime picnic at the park.
(Lindsay Conner is an editor, writer, and crafter based in Indianapolis. She and Mary Jaracz of Bugglebee are the authors behind Craft Buds, a blog where crafters and other handmade artists can find tutorials, blogging tips, and fresh ideas to help promote and run their handmade businesses. She also maintains her own personal blog, Lindsay Sews where she showcases her many crafting and sewing creations.)
This months featured seller is Pam and Katie from Boy Girl Boy Girl Designs.
Tell us about yourself.
We are a mother (Pam) and daughter (Katie) team that live in a small town in Western
Pennsylvania. We both have degrees in education. I recently retired to spend more time on our business. My daughter has two children and is still teaching. We are self-taught artists and for many years painted whimsical designs on chairs and other wood objects. Our work was in several galleries and we did quite well.
What do you create in your Etsy shop?
We offer hand-dyed and hand-painted children's clothing and shoes. I hand dye all the clothing, and we both do the painting. We each have different styles so there is something for everyone. We use a variety of methods: silk screen, wood blocks, stamping, and hand painting.
How did you get started in your line of business?
Four years ago my daughter was trying to find an Easter outfit for her little girl and couldn't find something she liked. So, she painted a shirt and shoes with cute little bunnies. I was so impressed that we decided to try textile art instead of what we were doing. We decided to go into business together and that's how BoyGirlBoyGirlDesigns came to be.
Tell us a bit about your creative process?
Everything starts with the dyeing of the clothing. I love this part. It's very meditative for me. We see all our items as blank canvases just waiting for our ideas to be transformed into wearable art. My daughter is amazing at coming up with ideas. I keep a journal with me at all times so that I can capture an idea or design on paper at any time. We run designs past each other, sketch them on paper, and then go to it on the clothing.
Where to you get your inspiration?
Inspiration is everywhere if you choose to see it. My studio walls are covered in pictures of designs that I find in magazines, my sketches over the many years of my doing art, etc. It's a great visual and very inspirational. I have lots of design books, textile art books, dyeing books, and DVDs to stimulate my creativity. Our biggest inspiration, though, comes from the children who wear our clothes. When we hear from our customers that the kids don't want to take the shoes or shirts off...well, that keeps us going. We love to make them smile.
What’s your favorite item in your shop at the moment?
Right now I love the Boo Shoes. They always put a smile on my face.
Where do you promote your work?
Most of our sales are local. We do all major craft shows, the local farmer's market, and home parties, and of course we hand out our business card, which has our Etsy shop address on it. It is our only website. Word of mouth is great for us, and we have a lot of repeat customers locally. We also do all the social media sites.
What’s one of the most important lessons you’ve learned since starting your Etsy shop?
You must absolutely believe in yourself and your art. If you don't believe in yourself, why would anyone else? My mantra has always been: "If I can sell one, I can sell two." I know it is hard some days, but when we sold our first item I knew we were on our way. And when the first person told me their little one wouldn't take their shoes off...bingo...double joy!
What advice would you give to someone starting out?
Trust your instincts. In the beginning, I had so many people tell me what I should do. Many thought I should do adult clothing. Big mistake, as my heart wasn't in it. I wasted a lot of money on clothing and it bombed. Stick to what you love and if it doesn't feel right, take a really long look at it before you decide.
Where can you be found online?
You can find us on Squidoo and YouTube.
Also at: Boygirlboygirldesigns@facebook.com
Have you noticed a surge in EtsyMom shops out there? We’ve had the pleasure of adding these awesome shops to our member list from June 17 to July 16. Please stop by their shops, profiles, and personal pages and welcome them to the team!
robertson704 * CutiesTieDyeBoutique * WildGypsyArt * imbogallery * Handmade3D * summitviewnaturals * IdeasBloom * spicy stitchin * OhBabydiapercakes * Baby2BigKid * reuserenewrelove * happythoughtsgifts * SexyStitches * trendytottreasures * christiecreations * ColorfulCreations * sweetsapling * sassafrassaige * hbixler03 * NestOfManyColors * MegaRoos * nicolesbreastfriends * jillianmadsen * CreamPuffCo * burntcreative * allabouty0u * MyPersonalizedStuff * Sokavadesigns * lulaveggie * vreelanddesign * Casualdesignsbyjbs * raestudios * moderntypography * TheEyeCandyBoutique * JillysMomMadeThat * diturpin * fairyshadow * RustBeltGallery * BodycareLuxuries * ScrabbleBabble * lanesframe * IndigoOrchid * cbsorci * KuteKlipboardsByAmy * Kaysu
The site we currently use for our private members area is having some technical difficulties, so we’re not able to pull birthdays at this time. We’re hoping it will be fixed soon! So if your birthday falls between July 17 and August 16, please consider this our warmest birthday wishes on your special day.
Thanks for joining us for another issue of the EtsyMom Team newsletter. Do you have
questions or comments? We can be reached by replying to this post, or via email at
email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org. We look forward to hearing from you! Happy summer!
Missie, Heather, and the Newsletter Committee