Monday, September 28, 2009

New Virtual Lab!!

Howdy all!  Just wanted to let you know that Etsy has asked me to host another Virtual Lab, "Bigger Than a Breadbox: Photography for Medium to Large Objects" on Wednesday, September 30th, at 8pm EST, as part of their "Prep Your Shop for the Holiday Rush" series.  Yay!

To participate, make sure you have an Etsy ID (which is quick and easy to register for!), click on this link, click on the Classroom on the left-hand side of the screen, and then click on any empty square (seat) once inside.

Now, I will be the first one to admit that this is probably totally biased on my part, but I am really loving these Virtual Labs (and I don't mean just the ones I'm hosting)...they're a great forum for brainstorming, new ideas, new leads, and new links!  If you have a chance to check one out, definitely go for it but be warned: they fill up FAST.  And once they're filled up, you have to hope someone leaves the chat to leave a space for you to skip into.  The more popular labs fill up 10-15 minutes before the scheduled start time.

ETA: The notes for the Virtual Lab can be found here!!!

Friday, September 25, 2009

Soundtrack for a Business

So I've had several people lately ask me what kind of music I listen to while I'm working.  In no particular order, the most common things you'll find me cranking up while making bags are:

1. Anything by Muse.  Perfect for settling into an energetic afternoon of fabric-chopping.
2. Anything by Nine Inch Nails, but especially the Broken album.  I'm a NIN fan from back in the day, and now I find I still love Trent Reznor because he gets my procrastinating butt in gear.  Or when I'm in a hurry and need a more, um, upbeat tempo to work to, "Wish" is especially good for this.  Ask me sometime about how I was introduced to NIN, it's a funny story (now).
3. The Bubblegum Oldies channel on Pandora.  A nice happy all-day groove.  A great day is when "Palisades Park" comes up in the rotation.
4. The Michael Jackson channel on AOL radio.  Being able to sing along (badly) to almost every song is a definite plus.
5. Anything that falls under the category "Classic Rock."  My hands-down favorite genre.
6. Classical music, especially Tchaikovsky and Mozart.  Very good talk-me-down-off-the-ledge-I've-got-a-huge-wholesale-order-to-finish-today music. 

So what do YOU listen to while you're working, crafting, or chilling?

Monday, September 21, 2009

Quit Your Day Job!

Yay!  Julip Bags has been featured as the Quit Your Day Job story of the week on Etsy!  Check it out for (funky) pictures of me, read about my love affair with my Crackberry, and other solid business advice!

I'll be hosting a live video chat in Etsy's Virtual Labs on Wednesday at 5pm EST (US), please stop by to see me and say hi!!!

Monday, September 14, 2009

Ideas Ideas, and then SPLAT!

I'm late to the party and unlike my cohorts, I can't think of any cool theme song to begin my first post that is outside the realms of the Wiggles or Sesame Street...although I do always comment on their choice of knit attire. I don't think of myself as much of a designer just someone who is always perusing the gazillions of patterns on Raverly only to realize what I want or imagine hasn't been made out comes the post-its and my stick figure un-Project Runwayesque sketches of ideas. I'm not someone who considers myself an awesome knitter that knows every little way to decrease, increase, shape, size etc but I like math (a lot) and like to find different ways to construct something (or should I say EASY ways that don't involve a lot of fiddling). I find the knits that I crave or am drawn to are simple, nothing fancy. Often I have ideas that I am still trying to technically work out - now, how do I make THAT happen????

When I began my first pattern, I had a zillion ideas and that is not an exaggeration. The hardest part was to actually focus and stay the course with ONE idea. I considered myself lucky to develop two patterns based on my first two ideas and they worked. And I like them.

Them came the Vulcan vest(s). The idea seemed perfect - a tube of sorts with cool large color blocks and then a chest and arms of color blocks going in the opposite direction. I was so smug, I cranked out two and they looked cool. Then I put them on my boys for a model shot and they looked like Star Trekkies and not in a good insult to them. I tried to talk myself into liking them because I know people have different tastes and sometimes I see what people are drawn to on Raverly and can only declare WTF???? You really want to make THAT or you DID make that???? But I just couldn't talk myself into selling it or even making it a free pattern OR even forcing my kids to wear them because for Crap's sake, they will wear a girdle thong with a monkey tail and look at me like I AM the strange one for telling them it isn't appropriate for preschool. So I hit a wall. I haven't stick figured sketched or even allowed myself any ideas because what the hell kind of knitter is gonna knit a kid something that will make them (and in turn me) a laughing stock. But I'm starting to come out of it. You just never know what magic can happen when you create could flop terribly or it could be the next Cobblestone/Clapotis rage????

Im just little ole me trying to not make my kids look like Vulcans on roids and hoping some other people may like my stuff. But when you have an audience, they can judge and that perceived judgement can back your vulcanized ass right into a corner. But I have my handy post-its back on my bedstand next to my wine coaster and look forward to something inspiring. How do these famous knit designers do it, cranking out stuff left and right? I would LURVE to see the oddities of what these people have created in their lifetimes because I am sure my Vulcan pattern is not the only one to hit this galaxy, right, RIGHT?

My cohorts must have sewn some shizzle bags, right?

Friday, September 11, 2009

International Shipping - Just Do It!

Anyone who reads the Etsy forums knows that there are certain topics that come up, um, often.  Non-paying buyers, feedback concerns, and SHIPPING seem to be three of the biggest, and international shipping is definitely one of the most hotly-dissected topics.

All three of the Bosses on this blog have online businesses, which naturally means that our items are viewable by potential customers living outside of the United States.  I personally get a thrill out of sending my bags to countries I've never visited, knowing that there are knitters out there with Julip Bags jaunting around the UK, Sweden, Brazil, South Africa, and other faraway lands.  (And if you are, please please pretty please upload a pic of your jaunting over on my Rav group!)

So perhaps I'm biased, but when people ask me "Should I offer international shipping?" my answer is ABSOLUTELY YES!!!  Even if your stuff is really heavy or really valuable (which will potentially increase the shipping costs) there ARE people outside of the US that will buy your lovely handcrafts and willingly pay the shipping costs, if only you give them the option.  This will be a long one, so check it out after the jump!

Monday, September 7, 2009

Take 5

Ok, you guys are probably sitting here thinking... 3 of you blogging, 5 days with no blog - what gives?? Haha! Being the owner of your very own baby business is very hard work, often requires you to work 24/7 in one form or another, but sometimes one must take a break!

I think that Amby and Kristi (I hope I spelled that right... if not, I'll edit later.. Sorry babe!) would agree - if we aren't sewing up a new bag idea, trying to update the shop with new goodies for you guys, or test knitting / drawing that new fabulous pattern idea we're thinking of marketing - working on excellent customer service (because that is what sets us apart) or packaging up orders. It is very fun! Very exciting! and Very tiring all in the same. I'm not complaining, just breakin' it down for ya!

My husband and I often have this conversation - he mows the yard, I sew. I believe in some ways he still views sewing as a 'hobby' and I am getting to do something I enjoy where he feels he's having to do a 'chore.' But it's hard work and the proof is in the puddin'! Every package shipped from my second bedroom / make shift studio space for now has my name on it, and I would not ever purposely give myself a bad name!

Tomorrow is Tuesday - day after a long holiday weekend! So I hope you find us refreshed, funny as ever, and bloggin' a lot!

Have a great week everyone!

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

From the Beginning

Taking the cue from Annie's totally excellent first post, I'll use music as my introduction...when I think of starting something new, I think of "From the Beginning" by Emerson, Lake & Palmer.  So where to begin with my two fabulous co-authors?

Kristi, Designer Extraordinaire of RedDogKnits has been my partner in crime for a looooooong time...she and I co-hosted two Michigan Knitterpalooza events and continue to be Sister Secret Squirrels (code language for co-conspirators) when it comes to giving the finger to The Man and declaring independence from corporate overlords.  Her twin sons love me, her husband tolerates me, and she and I generally leave a swath of mayhem in our paths whenever we get together.  Most recent hijinks: me getting saucy when I was totally dissed and dismissed as the maker of Julip Bags at a Michigan LYS.  That or the the whole "Hey I KNOW that guy!" Mexican restaurant debauchery. 

Annie, Mistress-in-Chief of RoseKnits, is truly my favorite long-distance-relationship...despite being (supposed) competitors in the world of knitting bags on Etsy, we are friends, confidants, and support each other unconditionally!  I share with her things that would normally make me explode in either mirth or fury since I can't post them anywhere publicly for the good of my business, and we mutually speak the language that is Amy Butler, Timtex, and wholesaling.  Most recent hijinks: (cannot be posted on a public blog for reasons I mentioned before).

Me: Amby, owner and chief grunt of Julip Bags, wife of JP and mama of Russells, I quit my day job back in mid-June to do JB full-time.  My first "real" post will be about the things no one ever tells you about doing this crazy life full-time, as your primary source of income, and all the hilarity that ensues.  I will also post about such lighthearted topics as Intellectual Property attorneys.  It's all a barrel of monkeys from here, folks!


Let's Get it Started!!

Inevitably, every time I think about starting something new the song Let's Get It Started by the Black Eyed Peas pops into my head. I used to love the Jazzercise routine to that song... Have any of you ever been to Jazzercise?? Ok, I digress.

I wanted to start by telling you all how I met Ms. Amby - the coolest gal EVER and owner of the even cooler Julip Bags!. I had just started RoseKnits and I e-mailed Amby to see if she would carry some of my bags in her shop (naive shop owner, yes I am). She gracefully said, "no" and I offered to send her a bag! She was kind enough to accept and even prepare a review on her blog!!! Very kind of a fellow, established bag maker.

I've met other bag makers who would not dare publish anything about another bag maker for fear of losing customers (I guess). I don't really understand this school of thought because I certainly own more than one bag, what about you? There's plenty to go around, I'm sure! So, that was lesson number one from Ms. Amby!

I think I bothered her again shortly there after for tips on how to become a full-time bag lady... She, again, kindly obliged and took the time to write to me a real tips and tools e-mail! This chick was impressive! And kind!

Today, we find ourselves chatting back and forth about business and life... It's fun, and I'm definitely glad I met her. Ok, enough mush mush... Maybe next time my blog will be about a bag. Or not. We'll have to wait and see.