Monday, March 29, 2010

Angels Among Us

Mother's Day is 6 weeks away. I know. I know. Passover is tonight. Easter is next Sunday. But in this retail world we have to look ahead (don't tell anyone I'm designing Christmas items, ok?)

If you follow my blog you know that I'm pretty fond of my Mom. She is kind and generous and smart; humble and hard-working and talented. I credit much of any creative spirit I have to my Mom. It's in the genes. My aunts were very creative; so was Grandma and my sister is practically Martha Stewart.

Over the years my Mom has acquired a collection of angels in various forms - given by many who think of her in that respect. So it was obvious to me that when I created this first angel (and there will be more) her name needed to be Esther - my Mom's name.

So think about the angels you know - or someone who needs an angel. And over the next few weeks my shop and I will help you out! The angels will be about. :)

Sunday, March 28, 2010

New Kids on the Block

The Wee Ones have been multiplying over the weekend! I knew bunnies are expected to do that; just don't know how that cat snuck in...

The countdown is on to Easter - if you don't have your basket full yet, get busy! :) Stop by and pick up a bunny or two. Or five. *wink*

Happy Sunday!

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Easter is A Week and A Day Away!

Easter is only a week and a day away - can you believe it?! So the countdown is on to fill those Easter Baskets! The trio here are on their way to New Mexico to do just that! Peaches, Harvey and Whiskers will be winging their way south on Monday.

I'm featured in a Showcase in the Toy category today and I've got many more lovable critters in my shop - both big and small (or "Wee Ones" as I call them) - in all price ranges! I'll be working in my studio all day, so new ones will be popping into the shop all day long. Be sure to stop by my shop often today to see what's new!

(Did you know Mother's Day is only 6 weeks away?! Stay tuned to my blog and my shop as items for Mom are added! Here is a sneak peek of what is to come! :)

Happy Weekend, everyone!

Friday, March 26, 2010

What I Do at 4 AM

As I'm inching my way more and more into original designs (with an emphasis on using repurposed and remnant fabric) - I find it challenging, but fun. I'm always delighted - and somewhat surprised - when I see a finished product that I know has gone from sketchpad to tracing paper to fabric to something someone wants to cuddle. :)

Rewarding, too. So keep an eye on my shop for new and original designs! Happy weekend everyone!

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

New (Recycled) Ideas ~ New Challenges ~ New Rewards

January and February offered up a few quiet weeks - a good time to clean and organize my studio and fabric closet. In the blur that was November and December, fabric piles grew in corners; boxes were stacked wherever they fell; ribbons normally organized by color were strewn everywhere; patterns were misplaced.

And then there was the matter of the fabric remnants. You know - those pieces of leftover fabric that were too large to toss (I might need that someday!), but too small to really do much with. I was raised by a wonderful, but frugal Mother who taught me to recycle from an early age. Although it wasn't called "recycling" back then; it was more like "don't be wasteful."

So as I looked at all these perfectly good remnants I knew I couldn't throw them out - they don't decompose in a landfill and besides - I paid good money for that fabric! :) So I found 4 large clear storage boxes and organized my remnants by size and color and stacked them in my fabric closet. And wonder of wonders ~~ I am actually using my remnants! I have patterns for smaller animals; but better than that, always mindful to use remnants has spurred me on to creating some original designs. Granted, this is really new territory for me; but I'm finding it not only challenging, but very rewarding. I'm not a sketch artist by any means, but I'm finding I can draw some basic outlines and create some fun little guys. And I keep in mind that they don't have to be perfect (a new concept for me!) -- that a little quirkiness just adds to their personalities.

So stop by ~ and see what's new. Original critters are popping - or should I say hopping - into the shop more each day!

Sunday, March 21, 2010

All Bunnies All the Time. :)

I am the first to admit that the business side of what I do plays a distant second to the creative aspect. Much like my Mom would rather be sewing or baking as opposed to cleaning the house; I would much rather be sewing or sketching a new design than running numbers.

So I had a delightful surprise the other day when I took some time to check my Etsy stats. March has been my biggest selling month (by volume) on Etsy since I began this venture almost a year ago. November and December were very busy months for me, but a lot of those sales were local and word-of-mouth. So to see that Etsy sales have now out-numbered any other method of sales makes me extremely happy - and gives me hope that perhaps I'm beginning to find a niche in that vast expanse of talented artisans.

Easter and Spring-time have brought many orders for bunnies - all shapes and all sizes. And I've had so much fun making them! The other day I had a special request for a group of sextuplets - the white rabbits I've come to refer to as "The Bunnettes" ~ you know, like the Rockettes. :)

That was the first thing that came to mind when I lined them up. They looked like a chorus line to me!

I'm really cautious about any choking hazards for little ones, but knowing that this line up is going to adults - a group of girlfriends (how cute is that?) -- I added a little something in the end. *wink*

A huge thank you to each and every one of you for your support! It means the world to me ~ and my friends!

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Busy Days!

Easter and Spring-time has proven to be a very busy time here! (And that's a very good thing!) These guys left me yesterday ~

Seamus is off to Michigan; The White Rabbit and Miki the bunny to various points in California. Today two bunnies will be off to Iowa, one here in my home state of Colorado and a little qwacky duck will be on his way to Kansas.

Several of my recent sales have been smaller animals, priced more reasonably; which reinforces my philosophy of making shopping affordable for everyone! And that makes me happy.

Happy Tuesday to you ~ if you're in the market for a bunny, a lamb or a duck (or just about anything else!) stop by and say hi!

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Making Shopping Affordable for Everyone

Tip for the Day (and no, I won't have one every day - I just happened to have two in a row this weekend) :)

Offer a variety of price options in your shop.

That thought occurred to me recently when I was doing an inventory of things in my shop, preparing for the Easter holiday. I realized that a lot of what I was offering at the time were larger animals and a bit on the pricey side ($29.99). That can be expensive for a lot of people. I mean, face it. In today's economy buying a stuffed animal , whether it be for your child, yourself or a gift, is kind of luxury. It's not considered a necessity. And with a lot of people barely hanging on, I started to re-think what I offer.

Easter was a perfect time to re-introduce my line of "Wee Ones" ~ small, 7" animals (a lot of them bunnies right now) that I can make from remnants of fabric and charge a reasonable price for. My Mom always taught me to make the most of the fabric I have, right down to the smallest scrap. And priced reasonably (they are all between $7.99-$9.99), they have turned out to be big sellers! It's a win-win!!! Most of them are bunnies now (Easter), but I will be adding more animals (some of my original designs finally!) in the next couple of weeks. In fact, I've been brainstorming with some very creative minds and have some exciting concepts to develop soon!

But my tip for today is remember to keep a variety of items in your shop. Everyone has different sized pocketbooks and it's important to remember that everyone likes and deserves to have something special ~ even if it is a little something. You can find a sampling of my "Wee Ones" here ~ and many, many more will be popping in over the next few weeks.

{Pictured here - Koji (which means small child), The White Rabbit (think "Alice in Wonderland") and Samantha Rose. Koji and Samantha Rose are designed to be safe for babies - the faces are all hand-embroidered and present no choking hazards; The White Rabbit is recommended for ages 3 + Up because of the black plastic eyes.}

Friday, March 12, 2010

Marketing - An Old School Alternative

So here's my tip for the day:

Remember that not everyone has a computer. And even if they have one, they may not log on to Etsy every day.

I forget that sometimes because my world would not exist without technology. But it is important to remember. So about four times a year I design a brochure with pictures of my most recent little guys, their prices, and some fun facts and updates on my business. I mail them to past customers, friends and family.

And it is surprising how it pays off. These little guys are on their way to Hawaii, purchased by a previous customer I've not heard from in six months. Another little Irish puppy is on his way across the street to my neighbor, a delightful woman in her 80's who wouldn't know how to turn on a computer if one bit her. After studying my brochure, my sweet mom-in-law will check into my little workshop (literally - she comes over) to see and touch what is new and orders from there.

The brochures take time to design, print and are a little more costly to mail; so alternately I send a simple postcard every now and then to the same group of people. It's just a gentle reminder that Freckles (me) and Friends (my little critters) are still around and we just want to say "hi!"

So hello to you, too. Stop by and visit when you can! :)

Saturday, March 6, 2010

It's All About Chenille...

I have a love/hate relationship with chenille.

I love how soft it is. I love how just about any animal I make with chenille turns out to make me smile a little broader than any other. I love how chenille evokes memories for just about everyone. Memories of snuggling under chenille bedspreads at Grandma's house (or in my case my own house growing up!); or memories of a childhood toy. I love how the soft pastels make me think of the innocence of little babes.

So what's to hate (or strongly dislike) you might ask? Chenille is very messy to work with. It sheds like crazy. When I am making something with chenille I have tiny bits of "lint" everywhere - on the floor, on my work table, on my black pants (I inevitably wear black pants on chenille days), in my hair, up my nose (making me sneeze continually), on my cat (which doesn't seem to bother her) ~~ you get the picture.

But it is a small price to pay for the happiness and smiles a little chenille bunny or lamb brings.

You can see these critters (with more to come - I'm off to the fabric store today!) in my shop freckles & friends

Have a wonderful weekend ~ we are a couple of days closer to Spring! :)

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Sweet as Sugar

Sometimes the things you least expect turn out to be the happiest.

While doing an early Spring Cleaning of my fabric closet I came across pink chenille fabric that I had cut out for a bunny. And for whatever reason, I had only part of the bunny. I looked thru my newly organized (by color) fabrics I discovered I was out of pink chenille, but I did have white. Since my Mom always taught me to be frugal and make the most of whatever I had, I decided to make a multi-colored bunny and see how it would turn out.

The finished product, little Sugar, made me smile. Big. And I haven't stopped smiling yet. :)

You can find Sugar and other Easter critters in my shop freckles & friends Thanks for taking a peek and have a terrific Thursday!

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Get Your Green On!

Time does seem to fly... Did you know St. Patrick's Day is exactly two weeks from today? So it is definitely time to get your green on! :)

Lucky (the Lil' Irish Bear), Seamus O'Shea (the Little Irish Dog) and Colleen O'Connor (the Wee Irish Bunny) are just waiting to join you in your celebrations!

(Seamus actually sold last night and I have another special order in for his twin, but I've relisted him and will be whipping up his clone today!)

Stop by the shop freckles & friends to see the details (and get a sneak peek at Easter - which is coming up quickly, too!)

Happy Wednesday ~ think green. :)

Monday, March 1, 2010

A First. :)

Meet Qwackers. He's a Wee One (7 inches tall).

And my first duck.

And my first original pattern. Now granted, I looked at a duck, but I made my own pattern. In my own way. I added little things to make him look happy and that made me happy. I couldn't stop smiling when he was standing in front of me just looking kind of goofy.

And I'm excited about that because that is the kind of thing my Mom has done her whole life. Not stand in front of me and look goofy (although we have had our share of laughs over her 91 years!). I mean she can look at something and recreate it in her own way.

Could it possibly be that I am getting closer to her level?! There could be no greater compliment or accomplishment in my life. Because she was awesome before awesome existed.

Check out more of what Esther taught me here ~ freckles & friends
Thanks for stopping by!!

The Return of the Wee Ones!

When I started my freckles & friends shop 9 months ago, one of my first series of animals were ones I coined "Wee Ones." For some reason I stopped making them. So yesterday while thinking about what to stock the shop with for Easter (which is just about a month away!), I remembered the Wee Ones. At 7" tall they are perfect for little Easter baskets. So Whiskers, Sunny and Dorothy (Dottie for short) came to life. (Whiskers sold last night but I have re-listed his "clone") :)

Another reason I wanted to re-introduce the Wee Ones is that in this economy, not everyone can spend a lot on non-essentials. So, priced at $7.99 (with only $3.00 for shipping) the Wee Ones offer a reasonable alternative for a little gift - for your child, your friend, your Mom or yourself!

Along those same lines, I have created two new categories in my shop: Under 10 Bucks and Under 20 Bucks. I am going to focus on those categories - I want to make shopping in my shop affordable for everyone!!

So the Wee Ones are my feature today. Stay tuned for more Easter/Spring babies to come! Welcome to March! Have a great week!!