Sunday, November 23, 2014

Treasury Thanks

Each week, I devote my Sunday blog post to saying THANK YOU to the curators of Etsy treasuries who have featured items from my shops, Pasque Flower Creations and Aunt Pheba's Vintage, over the past week. 

This week, we prepare to celebrate Thanskgiving in the USA, and also brace ourselves for the official start of the holiday shopping season, with Black Friday, Small Business Saturday, and Cyber Monday. I want to remind my Pasque Flower Creations customers of a 20% off coupon, good through Cyber Monday - simply enter the Coupon Code CYBER20 at checkout.

Commercialism aside for the moment, I want you to know that this Thanksgiving, as I count my blessings, I will be giving thanks for the little community that follows this blog and which supports my little Etsy shops in a spirit of cooperation rather than competition.  Many of you have become my cyber friends, and I am very grateful for that. 

Now -- let us feast on some eye candy as I feature some wonderful items from talented Etsians. Please visit their shops, and Like, Share or Pin, if you can spare a minute or two.

Margaret of Splendid Little Stars featured my gray chevron oven mitt in her treasury, Chilly.  Winter has arrived in the Midwest, and it has been very, very chilly.  This pretty rose red silk scrunchie, however, is a very pretty warm color!

Lisa Lavender of TheBumbleBeadCompany featured my gray and yellow uptown oven mitt in her budget-friendly treasury, TEMPT Team Holiday Gifts 20 and Under.  This fashion forward leopard print necklace could be the perfect gift for someone on your list -- or the perfect statement necklace to wear to a holiday party.

Jessica and Bryan King of FeathandKee featured my aqua chevron oven mitt in their refreshingly tranquil treasury, I've Got My Eye on You!  I love this rainy day fund jar from FeathandKee.  (Jerry and I saved for a rainy day -- but got hit with a series of medical monsoons followed by the recession.)

Tony Margerum of ToniTiger415 featured my black and white chevron oven mitt in the treasury,
Sixteen to Love Team Page Feature.  I love this colorful ACEO print of a girl in the rain -- now on sale for only $2.55 in Toni's shop. 

Megha Silvano of TheArtBug featured my gray chevron oven mitt in her treasury, Cheer.  I couldn't resist this bright motivational print, Go For It, in Husker colors. 

Lana Moes of LanasArt featured my personalized baby bib in her treasury, Thank You List.  If you haven't visited LanasArt recently, trust me, it is a must browse destination shop!  This lovely French market art print is one of the beautiful works of art you will find in Lana's shop.

Cassie of CassieVision featured my dark blue pioneer sunbonnet in her treasury, Winter Darkness.  These lava rock beaded bobby pinks would be a wonderful stocking stuffer. 

Bonnie Sernesky of BonniesSewCrazy featured my aqua roses on brown oven mitt in her treasury, Christmas Gifts.  I'll close on a festive note with this pretty handmade apron -- perfect for holiday baking with little helpers.

Wishing everyone a very Happy Thanksgiving, and lots of sales from Black Friday through the holiday season.


Monday, November 17, 2014

It Is What It Is

It's Shameless Commerce Tuesday, but instead of promoting my Etsy wares,  today I'm going to reflect on my Etsy slump.

My sales have been way off pace compared to last year ever since February.  I know I am not completely alone, but the stats don't lie.

If I knew how to turn it around, I would.  Seriously.  But I don't know how to turn it around. 

So --- it is what it is.


I don't know, really.  I started the year with optimism, coming off an unexpectedly busy holiday season with a huge spike in sales from November 2013 through January 2014.  I expected to hit 1000 sales this year, because  I naively expected to see the same steady growth in 2014 that I'd experienced the prior two years. 
Maybe I rode the chevron wave of popularity, and now it has ebbed.  And I haven't tapped into the next big thing.
Maybe the cheap factory-made goods that have taken over a bigger share of the Etsy marketplace make my handmade products appear to be overpriced. 
Maybe I've wasted so much time trying to promote via social media, that I sapped the energy I need to keep creating new things that people might want to buy.
Maybe my titles and tags and product descriptions aren't good enough.
My photos suck.  But they are no worse than the photos that produced increased sales last year and the year before that.
Maybe people can't find my stuff with the new Etsy search -- however that works.
I miss the old Etsy --- but the reality is, it's gone for good.


And evolution means



My "fittest" teammates are surviving and thriving despite the Etsy changes -- the hideous and hard-to-navigate front page, all the changes in formats, and "relevancy" searches.  So I can't lay all the blame on Etsy changes.  I am truly happy to see them succeed, and I wish them continued good fortune.
I've tried to adapt.  I've promoted.  I've spammed my friends and teammates with Facebook posts, Tweets,  and Pins.   I've Liked and Shared and Pinned and Tweeted until I'm blue in the face.
I've tried to be a good Team player.  I've made treasuries. I've commented. I've chatted.  I've made some great cyber friends, and I'm grateful for that.   But the Stats don't lie.  I get very few views or likes from teams, blogs or treasuries, and very, very, very few sales. 
I've listened to dozens of hours of webinars and I've read Etsy Success posts. I've tried to learn more about SEO (search engine optimization), branding, marketing, photography, finding your "ideal customer" and your "target market."  I've tried to diversify my product line.
But the crowd gets bigger and bigger -- and my little shop is getting lost in that crowd.

This old gray dinosaur is not able to effectively compete in the "new Etsy" environment. 


I'll limp through this holiday season and then I'll regroup --- possibly revamping my shop by creating product lines with items made only from fabric and scraps I have on hand.  I'd consider having a going out of business sale - -but who would know?  Maybe I'll just close up shop and donate the inventory to charity -- or maybe not. 
Maybe I'll just sew, and stop chasing after sales.
I don't know.  I haven't figured that out yet.   Maybe I need to take a sabbatical -- to clear my head, sharpen my focus, and muster up the courage to forge ahead---or not.





Sunday, November 16, 2014

Treasury Thanks

Each week I devote my Sunday post to thanking the curators of Etsy treasuries who have featured items from my shops, Aunt Pheba's Vintage and Pasque Flower Creations, during the past week.
I've selected one item from each of the curators' shops for you to enjoy. And, to all those curators:


It's not too early to start doing a little Christmas shopping (beat the rush!) -- or just enjoy browsing, and Like, Pin, Favorite or Share if you see something you really like in this fun mix.
Mike Kraus of MikeKrausArt featured my prairie pioneer sunbonnet in his tresaury, 16 Things I Like About Fall.  As many of you know, I REALLY like Mike's art work.  This week I'm featuring a wonderful opportunity to share his art -- a set of four artist trading cards, 2.5" x 3.5": 

This item has SOLD, but it gives you a wonderful sampling of Mike's work.  Most of these miniatures are still available in larger formats.

Kay of Flamingo Palms featured my snowflakes on red oven mitt in her treasury, Under the Mistletoe.  Kay's shop has dozens of incredible black and white art photos available for download. This opera house in black and white  is one of my favorites.

Valerie of NandysNook featured my pastel bubbles and butterflies toddler drawstring backpack in her treasury, Even in Fall, Butterflies Need Love, Too,  Valerie's shop specializes in handmade mug cozies, but she has recently added crocheted hats to her shop.  I love purples, so this pretty little hat immediately caught my eye.

Lisa Lavender of TheBumbleBeadCompany featured my red and green chevron oven mitt in her treasury, TEMPT Team's Holiday Gifts Under $25.  This Christmas package red and green bracelet would be fun to wear while celebrating the holidays -- and I love the photo.

Elvira England of ElviraEnglandDesigns featured my gray chevron oven mitt in her treasury, Quiet Times.  Elvira designs unique one-of-a-kind dyed eggs.  This snow owl egg seemed seasonally appropriate.

Laurie Reiser of RainForestTropicals featured my azalea oven mitt in her treasury, Orange You Crazy About Sixteen to Love?  Laurie's shop is a mix of fabulous tie dyes and tropical plants.  This hyacinth rhinestone bling tie-dye shirt is one of my faves.

Mimi of MadeOnlyByMimi featured my organic cotton jungle print baby bib in her treasury, Monday Morning Treasures.  This African wood bangle bracelet is one of the great budget-friendly jewelry items you will find in Mimi's shop.

Matthew of GingerSnapPress featured my pastel poppies oven mitt in his treasury, Monday Finds.  Matthew's shop is full of whimsical printed paper and fabric items -- and incredibly fun place to browse.  He has lots of affordable stocking stuffers to delight young and old -- and even some special items for redheads.  Today I chose to feature this Wish List notebook. 

LadyBugCove featured my red and green chevron baby bib in her treasury, TEMPT Team Gifts for Children and Babies.  This crochet diaper cover and hat set is SO adorable!

Patricia from Crafty Treet featured my orange jungle animals baby bib in her treasury, Sixteen to Love Shops.  Thanksgiving is just around the corner (and Black Friday and Cyber Monday).  This Happy Thanksgiving card  is just one of the wonderful handmade greeting cards you'll find at CraftyTreet.

Kay from FlamingoPalms featured one of my fabric-covered journals in her treasury, Autumn Crush . . ..  This polar bear downloadable black and white photo reminds us that winter is on its way -- and for many of us, it is already here!

Wanda from saffronfields featured my snowflakes on red oven mitt in her treasury, Black and White and Blush All Over.  I love this rustic brown felt wreath.  If I were hosting Thanksgiving this year, I'd love having a pretty wreath like this to welcome our guests. 

Kay of Flamingo Palms curated a lot of treasuries this week! She featured my black and white chevron oven mitt in her treasury, Heart of the Home.  Here's another glimpse of Kay's incredible black and white photography -- this one is called Angelic Face II.

Mafalda Nobre of Zezling (Portugal) also featured my black and white chevron oven mitt in her treasury, Christmas Gift Guide - Black and White.  This nappy bag zipper monster is one of the adorable zipper pouches in all shapes and sizes you will find in Mafalda's shop.  Great gifts for babies and kiddos.

Matthew from GingerSnapPress featured my gray foxes on aqua baby bib in his treasury, Stay Silly.  It's a shame Etsy no longer has front page treasuries, because Matthew's would certainly be in contention! Seriously.  Please stop by and view his treasury -- whimsical and beautiful at the same time!

You saw one of Matthew's prints on paper earlier -- here is a sampling of his prints on fabric.  I think this 0-3 mos penguin body suit is just TOO, too cute!!  A perfect unisex baby gift, when you're invited to a baby shower but you don't know whether the baby is a boy or a girl.

Amanda Robert-Curry of CoolGiraffe featured my pair of blue man-sized oven mitts in her treasury, Monday Blues.  These oxblood polymer clay earrings are a sampling of some of the truly unique jewelry items you will find at CoolGiraffe.  Beautiful!

Liz of TheLittleEmptyNest featured my chubby chefs on red oven mitt in her treasury, Red and White - 2 - TEMPT Team Items.  If you're looking for some classy holiday party bling, check out these Cherry Royale one of a kind dangle earrings.

Cassie of CassieVision featured my dark blue prairie sunbonnet in her treasury, Rainy Days.  This crescent moon blue mussel necklace is one of the truly unique jewelry items you can find in Cassie's shop.  And what a pretty photograph!

Cottonwood Drive featured my gray and yellow uptown oven mitt in the treasury, Sweet Dreams - Sixteen to Love.  I love the vintage hand carved parrot from this wonderful vintage shop -- it reminds me of Mary Poppins' umbrella handle.

Sherry from treasuresRtimeless featured my winter trees baby bib in her treasury, It All Started With a Beautiful Spider Web.   These vintage cow salt and pepper shakers made me smile. So cute!  My Great Aunt Anna collected salt and pepper shakers.  Her entire dining room was lined with glass china cabinets, and she had notebooks describing each one.  My favorite in her collection was a gingham dog and a calico cat -- perhaps because I loved a poem that began, "The gingham dog and the calico cat side by side on the table sat."

Ruta Dumulakaite featured my sports baby bib in her treasury, Inspiration.  Ruta makes satin accent pillows that are truly works of art.  This one called Floating is one of my favorites. Hauntingly beautiful.

Esther Varga of Celebratink featured my wool plaid foldover clutch in her treasury, The Creative Sixteen.  We'll soon be wrapping gifts -- and these lovely gift tags from Esther's shop would be just the thing to add a personalized note to your gift.

Bianca Wolfart of WhiteLineProducts featured my winter trees on white baby bib in her treasury, Neutrals and Pastels - Which One Is Your Favorite?  This pretty handmade pin cushion would be wonderful gift for a friend or family member who loves to sew -- I'm thinking quilting buddies.  There are several to choose from in Bianca's shop. 

Laurie Reiser of RainForestTropicals featured my crocus oven mitt in her treasury, Here's My List, I've Checked It Twice.   Here's another tie-dye piece from Laurie's shop - a rhinestone bling tank top.

Pamela of Mombie Designs featured my fleur de lis baby bib in her treasury, Toasty Colors and Warm Fun Finds.  Check out this butterfly fringe handmade area rug!  What a fun way to brighten a room.

I'm half finished with a twined rug -- another attempt to use up my huge pile of fabric scraps!

Valentina Ra of ValrArt featured my black and white chevron oven mitt in her treasury, Christmas Gifts.  This lovely white horse watercolor painting reminds me of Caesar, an old white horse that my daughter-in-law cared for in his later years.  He was so gentle and loved children. 

Calista of Treasure Realm gets a double feature.  She included my aqua chevron oven mitt in her treasury, Blues and Whites.  She also included my abstract pillow cover in her treasury, Remember November.  You'll find some fantastic treasures in Calista's vintage shop -- like this rare German coffee pot set.
And this Murano amber cat figurine would be a wonderful gift for a cat lover.

AmusingRain featured my aqua chevron oven mitt in the treasury, Love November.  Love this repurposed shirt ice cream dress!

Katrina of ThriftyLittleBird featured one of my houndstooth check card wallets in her treasury, All I want Is Gold and Coal.  This teal knot button hair pin would be a wonderful stocking stuffer for a big girl on your gift list.

Anya Stolarenko of AnyaAndFriends featured my glamping oven mitt in her treasury, Good Morning Friends!  This Dreamy Lucy art print reminds me of my granddaughter who loves to daydream.

Elita from MyCapella (Bulgaria) also featured my glamping oven mitt in her treasury, Hot Pink.  (My teammate Edi will like this one!)   Here is a wonderful crochet doll from Elita's shop. Love the embroidered trim!

Florence Cronin of CottageCraft4U featured my snowflakes on red oven mitt in her treasury, Joy to the World.  This handmade crocheted beaded garland would be a festive way to deck the halls.

Marcia of ImagineThatBaby featured my red and white chevron baby bib in her treasury, Happy Holidays My Friends!   I couldn't resist sharing these ADORABLE crochet-trimmed holiday baby socks.

Sherry of treasuresRtimeless featured my owls on blue oven mitt in her treasury, Team Page Featured Round 7 - Sixteen to Love.   These pretty vintage FiestaWare bowls remind me of my friend Sue, who has an impressive collection of FiestaWare.

And last, but most definitely not least, Valerie of Nandy's Nook featured my leaves of gold table runner in her treasury, Golds and Browns.  I love Valerie's mug cozies.  They make perfect stocking stuffers or Secret Santa gifts.   Today (November 16, 2014) is the last day of Valerie's FREE SHIPPING offer, but you can use Coupon Code HAPPYFALL10 to get 10% off your order.  I bought two mug cozies for gifts, and I was absolutely DELIGHTED to learn that I'd won two more in Valerie's Nandy's Nook Facebook giveaway!  I chose Husker red, even though Big Red did not look too impressive as they were getting clobbered by Wisconsin yesterday.  There is no joy in Lincoln.

Thanks, again, to all the curators who featured items from my shops.  I greatly appreciate the exposure, and especially during my current sales slump. 

Wishing you all a wonderful week and moments of joy in the midst of preparations for the holiday rush ahead.


Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Stocking the Cyber Shelves

It's Shameless Commerce Tuesday, and with only one craft fair remaining on the 2014 calendar (December 6), I have focused my attention on adding new items to my Etsy shop, Pasque Flower Creations.  Views and Likes are up, but sales are depressingly slow, so I'm hoping to mix it up a bit and see if that helps. 

One of the holiday trends is PERSONALIZATION.  I have a limited capacity embroidery machine.  I've used it to personalize custom walker bags, and now I will offer personalized baby bibs as well.

I chose Liam for my sample, because it is currently the top baby boy name in the USA. Emma is the top baby girl name. 

I've also added some ready to ship prairie pioneer sunbonnets to the Etsy shop.  My bonnets are made from high quality 100% cotton reproduction fabric (true to designs from the 1850-1890 era).

I've also added several houndstooth card wallets to the Clutches, Wallets and Bags section of my shop.  These would be perfect gift card holders, stocking stuffers, or teacher gifts at only $6.00 plus shipping.  (Less than that if you used Coupon Code CYBER20 at checkout.)

I also have some leopard print clutches and some new oven mitts on the cutting table -- and doll quilts in the planning stage -- more on those in a future post perhaps.

Fall has fallen.  Winter has arrived.  I woke to snow on the ground today and frigid temps, after a night of the north wind howling and rattling windows.  Brrrr!