Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Well, it's that time of year again...the time of year when I make a promise to myself to update my blog more often.

This time I might actually stick to it. I have a whole list of new crafts that I'm excited to make and share, and I also have some new and helpful crafting hints that any crafter can easily implement into their works of art.

So what's new this week?


I've dabbled in almost every craft imaginable but what has stuck with me the most has been working with polymer clay. I LOVE the colors! So this week's project is working on combining some mirrors and clay together.

I'll be sure to keep you all updated on the results...promise:)

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Crafting...Why Bother?

Most people think I'm nuts for making a living out of crafting. Admittedly, it isn't the most lucrative career path I could have chosen for myself, but after 13 years of building my business I just refuse to give it up. I constantly fail and I always struggle. There's never enough time in the day to finish my work and there is always a new project to finish. It's frustrating, and at times, just a headache.

So why bother with it, and why do I encourage others to do it? One reason, I LOVE it! I've had many failures but I've also had huge successes, and it's those achievements that keep me inspired. Sometimes it's watching the success of other crafters that keep me going. I hosted a craft show at our civic center last year and I had a crafter stop in to see if there were any spaces available. Unfortunately, I had sold out and was completely full. I was running around like a maniac coordinating the show and checking on everyone, that I basically sent the poor guy away because I just didn't have the time to talk to him.

As he walked out the door one of my volunteers pulled me aside and said he had driven two hours just for a chance to see if there was a way he could display his work. I immediately ran out the door to talk to him. It turns out he had made some beautiful garden decorations. I still didn't have any room for him, but he wanted to bring in his laptop and show customers what he made. I agreed to let him in and gave him a small spot at one of the lunch tables, but because of that, a customer was able to see his work and he made a big sale. Needless to say, he went home a very happy crafter. But before he left to make his long trip home, he had mentioned his wife didn't think he was going to sell anything. My heart went out to him, because I knew what it felt like to not have support for your passion. So while it was good to know that he made the big sale, but it was even better knowing that he did it with little support and had the odds stacked against him.

It's stories like this that make what I do completely worth it. I know what it takes to put your heart and soul into something, to take the time and money and invest it into something you can only hope will bring you success. It's tough, but it's also the most rewarding experience I've ever had; and to be a part of someone's success story, makes what I do even better.

Help make a crafters day successful and stop by a craft fair, shop online or visit a local store. You never know what you're going to find and you have no idea how special that sale might be to its creator.

Here's some links to get you started...


Friday, September 16, 2011

September Updates

September is here and that means the Fall season is ready to make its mark on the year. All of our crafters have been busy making new crafts and updating their display spaces. We have new crafters and fun events scheduled for the Fall so read on to view our newest updates.

Tent Sale Saturday, September 17th
Get up to 50% off fall decor including candles, dishes, wall hangings, quilted table cloths and runners, jewelry and candles.

Spring Craft Show Scheduled for May 5th, 2012
We are currently looking for crafters to join us at our Spring Craft Show at the Round Lake Beach Cultural and Civic Center on May 5th. Spaces start at just $25.00. If you would like an application please contact us at raeanne@handmadespecialties.com or call 847-546-0632.

Fall Products Now Listed Online!
Skeleton Halloween Countdown Polymer Clay Halloween Witch
Use the coupon code FALL for free shipping on our Fall items.

New Crafts in Store
Be sure to stop in and see our quilted and crochet baby blankets, new soy candles, vintage tin signs and embroidered cloths. If you are looking for special orders, get them in soon before the busy Christmas season begins.

Show List
October 1st: Fox Lake OktoberFest
November 19th: Wildwood Presbyterian Church
November 26th/27th: Lake County Fairgrounds

Fall/Winter Hours
Monday Friday 11am-7pm
Saturday 10am-6pmS
unday Closed

Pumpkin Sales Start October 1st
Get your pumpkins here on October 1st, 8th and 22nd and join us on the 22nd for our Fall Fest, where we will have pumpkin painting, raffles, hot chocolate and fun projects for the whole family. Festivities start at 11am.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Crafting for Profit, pt3: Where are you selling it?

Where you sell your crafts is just as important as what you're making. You have to decide whether you want to sit at a show all day, work on a website or leave your crafts in someone else's hands. They all come with advantages and disadvantages, you just have to decide what works best for you.

Let's start with the craft shows. Craft shows are wonderful places to network. You can find out about other crafts shows in the area and mingle with other artists. This is also a great place to establish a customer base and get feedback on your creations. The drawback is that you have to pack up your stuff, unload it, display it, pack it back up and take it home. It's a lot of work but if you are up to the challenge, try one out. Look for them in in local paper ads, churches, schools,
villages and online.

If you don't have time for a craft show, try selling online. There are easy to use sites, such as Artfire and Etsy where you can upload your pictures, fill out the descriptions and make contact with buyers. Selling online is a time consuming task and your presentation is just as important online as it is at a show, but you don't have to worry about lugging your belongings everywhere.

You may want to also consider selling at stores or consignment shops. Check out the store and ask about their rules and policies. There should be a clear contract and pay period. If there is not, reconsider your options. You don't want to be in a store that cannot clearly tell you when they cut checks. Oce you are in a store that you are comfortable with, keep the space stocked with new and seasonally appropriate items. Getting into a store gives you daily exposure without the need to haul your creations from one location to another.

And for my last bit of advice on where to sell, don't forget to network with friends, family and co-workers, always when it is appropriate, of course. Home parties and business organizations are great places to network and establish clientele.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Smelling Great with Bath and Candle Crafts

While dabbling in various crafts I came across some bath and candle supplies and decided to give it a try. I made pillars, soap bars, body washes, tarts and anything else I could think of creating. It turns out though, I was terrible at it! I wasn't patient enough to wait for the right temperature to pour candles, and my bath stuff was nice, but nothing spectacular. So I give credit to my wonderful bath and candle crafters here at my store. They make high quality products that they have spent their valuable time making and creating so that we all have the chance to smell great and feel good!

If you are in the area July 22nd, we are having a candle and spa party where you can sample our bath products from 7pm-9pm. If you can't make it, be sure to visit them at their websites. Here's a little preview...

Nancy Hertz- Lake House Soy Candles
Nancy Hertz is owner and creator of Lake House Soy Candles. Her bath and candle products are environmentally safe and made from soy. Her candles have a strong scent throw and come in various sizes from 2oz tarts to 20oz jars. I've actually been using the tarts as an air freshener in the car. I just open the lid, set it in the cup holder and let the fragrance fill the car. It's been three weeks since I first put it in there and it's just as strong as the first day I placed it.

Her smelly jellies are another great product. If you're not familiar with it, it's a jelly like substance that mixes with a fragrance. It's not a candle so you don't have to light it, a plus for people like me who don't light candles in the summer or have cats that jump all over tables and counters knocking things to the ground. All you do is put it in a container and smell away! I've been putting it in the bathroom and on a high shelf in the dog's room. When they dry out you just add water and you can even mix the different colors and pour them into layers in glass jars for really pretty effects.

I hardly ever use makeup but I'm addicted to lip gloss and chapstick. I have one in every jacket pocket, purse and room in my house. I always seem to lose them so I figure if I put one everywhere I'll always have one around. Thankfully, Nancy has also started making Diva Lip Balm in addition to everything else she has. It's full of Vitamin E and is made from moisturizing ingredients like shea butter and coconut oil. It's well worth a try for $2 in flavors like Wicked Watermelon, Posh Punch, Mango Tango and Ruby Red Cherry Pucker.

Pam Bigelow- Willow Trail Soap

As I mentioned before, I dabbled in soap making. It turns out, I'm much better at using it than making it! I love the fact that Pam has taken the time to create colorful layers in her soaps. Not only are they pretty, but they have a rich lather when you use them. They leave a light scent behind without drying out your hands. Even her fragrances are unique, like Asian Plum and Blooming Tulips.

Pam also makes this fantastic sugar scrub. I love it! Especially since it's summer and I wander around in sandals all the time, so I use it to keep my feet nicely moisturized. It's not as rough on your skin, like salt scrubs, and it comes in a creamy, highly fragrant container. Love Spell and White Tea and Ginger are my favorites. Don't tell my husband I told you but I even made him use it and he liked it! Sssshhhh.....

The Goat Milk and Honey lotion is a great addition to the sugar scrub. After you're done scrubbing away, use the lotion for an additional moisturizer. It's not greasy and lasts all day. Try it in Strawberry Kiwi, Day at the Beach or Lilac. There's even an unscented one for those allergic to fragrances.

Courtney Spino-Our Memories Created
Courtney is our newest crafter here and I'm very excited to have her creations on display. Her Cucumber Melon bath fizzies are very fragrant and she even makes body washes! They come in colorful sqeeze bottles and are available in fragrances like Citrus, Tangerine and Mandarin Bergamont.

In addition to her many bath and body products, she also makes scrapbook frames in any theme and for any occasion.

So there's my preview for our Spa and Candle Party on the 22nd. If you're going to miss all the pampering, be sure to visit the crafters websites for more product information.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Crafting for Profit, Part 2

Today brings us to Part Two in our crafting for profit series- How are you selling it? This covers everything about your product presentation, from color, variety and yes, even your own salesmanship, which is a subject all in its own but we'll touch on it here.
How you are selling your craft is important. Maybe that's an obvious statement but it truly is an important aspect in achieving sales. Your packaging should be an accent to your craft, not the focal point, tags should be clearly marked and products should be displayed so that customers can easily view them.
As for the craft itself, make sure people know what it is and, if possible, offer variety. Whether selling online, at a show or in a store, you have just a few seconds to make an impression on a customer and grab their attention. Some products have clear uses such as t-shirts and earrings but other crafts are more difficult to decipher. If you happen to have a product that needs an explanation, try promoting them through demonstrations or examples.
Variety is also important to meet the needs of your customers. You will never have everything for everyone. No matter how much you make, there will always be someone asking for something you don't have, but that's ok, with some experience you will be able to determine what your most popular products are.
Salesmanship is also a large part of your products. Jewelry, for example, is a common craft item at shows but sometimes the sale has more to do with you than your products. Customers are attracted to positive, friendly and productive sales people, not ones that sit in corners working on puzzle books or playing games on their phones. Be friendly, but don't hover, and helpful but not pushy.
Sometimes we need an outsider to take a look at our product and offer tips for selling it. If you need any help please feel free to contact me at raeanne@handmadespecialties.com and I will offer any help I can give.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Summertime Finds

I've dabbled in many crafts...paper, wood, photography, crochet, candles, soap, you name it, I've tried it, but I finally found my creative home in polymer clay. I've used in in jewelry, accents on signs, figurines and anything else I can get it to stick! It's fun and functional and I love making crafty new projects with it, and now that it's summer(finally), it's time to take on a few new projects. I'm always looking for something different besides jewelry or figurines and I've been inspired by my fellow Polymer Clay Smooshers members. Here's what they've been up to...

Little Jar of Sunshine by Clay it Again

I absolutely love jars and is this one not the perfect symbol for summer? Store something in it or give it as a gift, either way it makes a great summer item.

Sculpted Butterfly and Flowers Switchplate by Kneaded Things

Another wonderfully different polymer clay creation. Switchplates are pretty boring by most standards but Kneaded Things has done a great job making this plate an eye catching piece. Just look at the detail on that butterfly!

Funky Metallic Quilt Block Mosaic Box by Into The Dawn

Just like jars, boxes have endless possibilities and this one is beautiful. You can really appreciate all the time that Into The Dawn has taken to make all those beautiful colors really shine.

Teal, Silver and Brown Polymer Clay Crochet Necklace by Handmade Specialties

Of course I have to add my own little piece! It's one of my many favorites and the crochet necklace just adds to the summer feel.

Don't forget to check out our Smooshers site at http://www.polymerclaysmooshers.blogspot.com/ to visit other fantastic polymer clay artists for gifts and inspiration. They've inspired me and I hope they inspire you too!