Friday, February 24, 2012

an unlikely start of a handmade business

for some time i have been thinking about actually starting a series of conversations about being an artist and seller in the handmade marketplace.  i hope to cover a range of topics with the express intent of being helpful to others on the same path.  i hope you will join me in these Handmade Conversations.

to start this off, i am going to share with you the unlikely beginning to my own handmade business:

i started my own journey from "creative" to independent business owner in 2007.

at that point, i had given several handmade gifts that garnered the response "you should definitely sell this!"  to which i replied with the standard eye-roll and yeah right attitude.

then, in 2007, a woman i went to church with approached me about making baby items for her soon to be opening baby and children's boutique.  that was my start.  i had never really seen myself selling the things that i liked to create.  i was already busy being a stay at home, homeschooling mother of 2 active young boys, and they were my absolute first priority.  but this opportunity felt "safe" and risk-free and i decided to try it (mostly because she was sooo persistent) and my husband and i figured that if it didn't work out, no harm done!

and actually, it didn't work out.  ha!  it turned out that she and i had very different ideas about how we would be working together, and i let that "business opportunity" fizzle right out!


before i had a chance to write off the handmade business endeavor, i found myself asked to sell handmade baby items at 2 other local baby boutiques.  you see, i was pregnant with baby #3 and was popping in these other two shops to do some shopping of my own.  in each case, the shop owner complimented something i was using that i had made and then the conversation about selling my handmade items at their shops started.

over the next couple of years, my list of baby items grew extensively due to these two shops being so encouraging and asking me to make items that they wanted to carry, but perhaps didn't like what was available on the market.  they had so much faith in my ability!  i would then go home and start brainstorming and drafting patterns for these items.

because selling my items wasn't really my idea in the first place, i never beat the bushes.  i didn't knock on the doors of businesses or make phone calls, print business cards or have a web presence, advertise or research or even make a business plan.  instead, i strove to keep it small, intimate, and manageable.

the evolution of my business has been gradual, organic.  i opened my etsy shops.  the baby shops both closed within a year of each other.  my own baby girl is growing up.  another store would call me.  mommas are coming to me for other things that they want for themselves. the items that i enjoy making are changing.  then another brick and mortar shop calls me and i take it into consideration.  and so on...

you see, for me, being an indie designer and business owner is wonderful and scratches that creative itch that i constantly have.  and to be honest, i would love to devote more time and energy into this area and really grow my business instead of trying to reign it in and keep it small.


i constantly put my business and those creative drives in their place!  God has given me non-negotiable priorities to attend to first.  a relationship with Him, my marriage, caring for and homeschooling 3 awesome kids, running a household.  these come first!  at the end of my life i want to have put the first thing first.  i refuse to rob my family of time, love, attention, and energy to pour it into a business.  i will not trade the years that i have with my children at home for my own career advancement.  there will be time enough when they have gone to pursue my creative passions in earnest and see how far it will go.  for now, i am extremely humbled by the small successes in my business and count myself blessed to have the opportunity to exercise the creativity that God has given me.  i think that all of these experiences and skill building that i am gaining while my children are small are preparing me for something big when the time comes.

this is how i started, and this is my own personal view of my business and how it fits into my life.  what about you?  i'd love to hear how you got started and where you are headed!

Thursday, February 23, 2012

giveaway winners

so my dears, i didn't forget about the fabric giveaway (as some of you may suspect) i was just experiencing a great amount of technologically impaired frustration with blogger.

eh-hem.  we worked it out;)

alright!  without further explanation, i would love to finally give something away!

Congratulations to Kristen!
you have picked up a $20 gift certificate to my online fabric shop!

Congratulations to Stephanie C.!
you have won a huge box of studio fabric scraps!

girls, i will email you with the details!

enjoy! and go get your craft on!

Monday, February 20, 2012

attack of the chicken! (a true tale)

my oldest son was asked if he would please look after my parents chickens while they are out of town for a couple of days.

he was thrilled. {manly responsibility!  looking after living things!  looking after a set of keys!}  pure awesome:)

my dad picked him  up a couple of days ago to show him the ropes, where everything was kept, how things were to be done, etc.

no sweat!  we ourselves had 2 pet chickens up until one died of natural causes...then the other one died of unnatural causes.

(baby girl playing with dum-dum and cluck-cluck last year)

anyway, today we drive on over to my parents house (about 25 mins away) and park in the driveway.
my son looks at me with huge eyes and says "i forgot the keys"

pft!  what? how could you be so irresponsible? (yes, i have a tendancy to react immediately)

ok. heart check on mom.

put the van in reverse and head back home with all three kids in the van.

get home. grab keys, grab book (for son to read during all the driving), go through drive-thru (it is now lunch time) head back to care for chickens.

Now, my dad had stressed  to my son that this batch of chickens were easily scared and he had to be very careful to walk slowly, make soft clucking sounds, etc. to keep them from hopping over the fence.

after a quick lunch, he heads out to do the job.  15 minutes later he comes in the back door stunned and almost in tears.

apparently, one chicken wasn't buying into his "nice guy" stalked him and didn't let him out of it's sight.  then, without warning, it jumped up on his head freaked out!  clawed, scratched, and somehow injured his neck.

if it had been me...that chicken would have been in the pot for dinner (i say this as if i confidently know how to kill, clean, and pluck a bird, which in fact, i do not)

he stayed calm, didn't freak and left the coup.

my mom called later to inquire as to how he made out.  i relayed the dramatic story...she felt awful!  but do you know what made me laugh the most?  she asked who the culprit was. as if i can tell one from the other!

my son, also, did not get a good look at the guilty chicken.  no matter.  he is not going back. ever.

turns out that if you are 9 and get attacked by a chicken, you kind of lose your liking for them as pets/egg layers.  can't blame him.

i think we'll have chicken for dinner tonight:)

*btw, have you entered my fabric giveaway?  there's just one day left...enter now!

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

overheard in my kitchen today...

my precious 8 year old boy, while making himself a fluffernutter sandwich, says to me

"the bread is almost gone; there's just the ankles left."

i paused a moment, trying to decifer what in the world he meant and then it dawned on me...he meant the heals of the bread {ends}!  stop. it.  sooo funny.

i love my little boy:)

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

2 year anniversary and something for you!

no, i'm not referring to my wedding anniversary...

2 years ago today, (that's right, valentine's day) i officially opened my online fabric shop, FOUND Fabrics for business!  let me tell you, it has been an awesome experience.

i started out with just 10 bolts of fabric:

"filigree" cool colorway

"filigree" warm colorway

now, 2 years later...

i have over 40 different fabrics in stock and have carried a variety of at least twice that!  this is quite an achievement considering that i do not operate on credit at all for my business.  that way, i am never stressed about selling it.  i choose fabrics that, if i never sold any of them, i would be happy sewing with them for my handmade business, FOUND by Marie.  in fact, i regret to admit that i have sometimes been dissappointed a little when a customer buys like more than half a bolt of one of my favorites:)

here are just a few reasons that i love retailing fabric:

hand-picking lovely fabrics from brand new collections

meeting other handmade business owners and supplying them with designer fabrics for a couple of bucks under the msrp. (every little break on fabric counts, especially if you are intending to resell it in a finished item)

the excitement of shipping all over the world!  my children love to ask where each package is going!

i get first dibs on all of the fabrics that i want most:)

being able to donate materials for fundraisers

and many more...

in the last 2 years:

401 sales were made

to God be the glory!

because sometimes, being found on etsy can feel like an impossibility

i have many thoughts on things i would like to share about having an online etsy store, but first things first...

discount time! giveaway time!

to celebrate my 2 fabulous years in business, i will be giving away a $20 gift certificate to my fabric store for you to use on anything you like!  you can enter by:

following this blog, visiting my shop and picking a favorite fabric, favoriting my fabric shop, passing along the word (do you blog, tweet, fb, whatever? mention the giveaway for an extra entry)

make sure to leave me a comment for each entry, and i will draw a random winner in a week!

i will also be drawing a secondary winner who will recieve several pounds of fabric studio scraps!  perfect for small projects:)

lastly, use coupon code TAKETEN at checkout to recieve 10% off your order!

rejoice with me and go get yourself some fabric, girl!

for all of your business and support these last 2 yrs:)

Friday, February 10, 2012

i'm a sponsor

hi there!

did you know that i am an official sponsor of hannah's blog, happy days ?  you should defintely go over and say hi.  you will be encouraged.  really.

i am such a non-tech person by nature.  i prefer the intimacy and connection of face to face or voice to voice.  but, when my friend hannah decided to abandon the eastern shore of maryland in all of it's glory, for the frozen tundra, i had to keep up with her on her blog.  like, for 2 years.  finally, she convinced me to blog (ugh).

it's pretty obvious (to me) that blogging wasn't my idea...but i think i'm starting to make peace with it.  just takes time.

anyway, she did a lovely post highlighting her sponsors for Feb, and you can see me there!


Thursday, February 9, 2012

fabric gossip

so, i am going to give you the run down about what is happening in my fabric world.

yes, i have designated a whole section of my brain to textiles:)

because i am design-y and fancy like that.

i'll start with a little gossip:

did you know that fabric design maven Amy Butler's husband, David Butler has started his own fabric line?  no?  well, now you do!

this was so interesting to me because, as an artist/designer myself, i love to see how my own work compliments the amazing work my husband does.

here are a couple of prints from his line:

very masculine.

and like i said, so interesting to see what spouses create alongside each other.
( i probably should note here that Amy Butler has a new spring line arriving in april...and it is a palette of all neutrals...hmmm)

being a stone's throw from spring in the retail world, new collections are arriving!
check out this one from uber bright fabric designer Jennifer Pagenelli:

lovely, isn't it?

this is but a small sampling of what is going to be available soon...

but alas, i cannot buy all the fabric in the world {yet}.  my business is tiny, and i am forced to choose.

and this is what i fell in love with:

the first fabric collection from scandinavian designer Lotta Jansdotter:

so so nice.  simple. clean. modern. lovely.

and in my opinion, perfect for spring sewing!  watch for them to appear this season in my fabric shop.

Friday, February 3, 2012

thoughts from my study in James

so i'm doing a Beth Moore study of the book of James.

this week i thought i'd share a couple of insights from Beth and some thoughts of my own.

James certainly takes the no-nonsense walk it, don't talk it approach to living.

we can go to church, love the sermon, take notes on it, and get a copy to listen to again.
it won't do us a lick of good if we don't actually apply it. as in, "live it, girl!"

Beth says this:

"We can underline our Bibles till our pens run dry without a drop of it ever touching our lives.  The self-deception slithers in when we mistake appreciation for application or being touched with being changed."


"There is no lie so sly as the one we tell ourselves."

great stuff.

so in comes the self examination.  what lies are we telling ourselves?  could our "lies" be disguised as excuses?

at the risk of being painfully transparent, i'll share one with you...

i have been guilty of believing this thought "the bible says to love your neighbor, brother or sister in Christ, enemy, etc. but it doesn't say i have to like them"


really? have you ever loved someone that you didn't like at all?  actually, that statement is a license to be rude to someone.  one of those excuses for our less than loving attitude/behavior towards someone.  someone that HE loves.

oh, James.  you don't mince words.  you kick my butt.  but that's why i am so fond of you:)