In handmade small businesses, especially where the products you sell tend to be one-of-a-kind (OOAK), every item you make is a risk. The design and the product itself is made with a few things in mind. For me, at least, I try to think of the customer. What would someone want to buy? I don’t necessarily love Hello Kitty, but she has a huge following. And if it was up to me, everything would most likely be purple, and sparkly, and glow in the dark. Okay, so most things are sparkly and glow-in-the-dark, and there is a lot of purple currently in my etsy store. Though, if you ask me about it, I’ll say it was stocking up for the Lavender Festival, which is partly true. Because the other thing a handmade small business where you make OOAK items allows for are your own personal preferences. If you only ever think of the customer, you can sometimes hit a rut in creativity. And sometimes for your sake, and the customers', it helps to go with what you love. If for no other reason than the passion shows in your finished products as well as your presentation of them.
Problems can sometimes arise when taking these risks, though. You can wind up with the same items sitting on the shelf month after month. It happens to the best of handmade small business entrepreneurs. You thought someone would absolutely fall in love with this product. People walk into your booth gushing about how cute and wonderful it is. It gets view after view and like after like on the vast majority of your social media, but for the life of you, you can’t get anyone to take the next step and buy the darn thing.
There are a few solutions to this. A lot of events require or ask vendors to donate an item to a raffle. If I find an item hasn’t moved in a year, I’ll consider putting it in the raffle, just to get it moving. Another solution my business in particular allows for is to spruce up the items and change it. For instance, I made four different colored fairy houses for a special line that I called Colorful Cul-de-sac. It was a fun challenge for myself to create fairy houses with only one particular color, and there are many people who, like me, are obsessed with their favorite. I figured I’d use common favorite colors; blue, green, purple, and pink. People loved them. They’d gush about them. I even came close to a sale or two. But alas, there they sat. Social media held similar results.
Eventually, the purple one sold. The blue went to a raffle. Someone wanted a fairy house to match the St. Patrick’s Day fairy door they bought. I spruced up the green colorful cul-de-sac fairy house with green shimmery swirls. The customer loved it! Now, a year later, the pink fairy house sits. My next event, the Seal Beach Wag n’ Walk, is this Saturday. And I’ve decided to spruce up this fairy house in a similar way to see if it’ll grab someone’s attention. It's another risk, but it's worth it if I can get it sold. Fingers crossed!
Originally posted on Acorn Tops tumble: On Fairy Wings and Acorn Hats
It’s funny the things you remember. Chocolate Chip Cookies, for one. When Seeds of Inspiration makes those Chocolate Chip Cookie Mug Huggers, one whiff of it sends me right back to being six years old and hugging my Pop-Pop, the original cookie monster.
Maybe it’s my business, using his carving tools almost every day, and making miniatures like he did, that has him constantly on my mind. I’ve been thinking about him a lot. So, when I needed inspiration for another fairy house, I remembered Seeds of Inspiration’s Plaid Neck Wraps at our April Showers event for “Men in Showers.” And how the first thought that came to mind was that would’ve been something I bought for him, because he always wore plaid shirts.
He also had a vegetable garden. And there is one story we love to tell. He planted these pepper seeds and when they grew he thought it was a banana pepper. It’s the first pepper of the season and he takes this big bite out of it and starts to scream. It’s the only time my mother heard him shout an expletive! It turns out it was a hot pepper.
So, this was made for my Pop-Pop. And I’d like to think he would have tucked it under his pepper plants.
Originally posted on: On Fairy Wings and Acorn Hats
One of the reasons I love what I do is the freedom to create what inspires me and to incorporate what I love. This allows me to geek out as part of my work. Tardis Fairy House anyone?
The other benefit is creating what I love and being able to use what I love to make a difference. Items inspired by the fantastic book, The Fault In Our Stars by John Green, are sold to help This Star Won’t Go Out. This foundation helps children with cancer and their families. Other small, handmade businesses like Seeds of Inspiration gives 10% of their proceeds to a new charity each quarter. This quarter all proceeds go to Paws for A Cause. In the past, they made special scented apples for Reading is Fundamental. Jessie’s Custom Greetings has been working with Packages for Patriots, giving 10% of their proceeds, as well as buying one of her handmade cards to send to troops. Cholie’s Hart makes special crocheted caps for San Pedro’s Relay for Life.
When the proceeds do not go to an organization, foundation, or charity, I also can make a difference through various forms of “protest art” like my Beehive Fairy House that reads “SAVE THE BEES.” If I do not give money, I can spread awareness.
Sometimes the difference I can make with my art is not just in giving money or spreading awareness,but in the smiles my products can create. Two adults see a Where The Wild Things Are Inspired Fairy House, smile, and start reminiscing about childhood memories or a child gets excited about seeing a Thomas The Tank Engine Door or a Fairy Door of their favorite superhero. Sometimes the biggest difference I think I make, is in the creation of smiles or making someone’s day. I might not have a lot to give, but at least I can give that.
Originally posted on: On Fairy Wings and Acorn Hats
To anybody else it is just a broken fence post. It is just a broken tea cup. It is just an earring without its pair or an extra terracotta pot. We throw away these items; toss them aside because we believe they have lost their value, all the while failing to see the true magic and beauty behind them.
When we were children we could make anything what we needed it to be. Boxes were houses or ships. Backyards became kitchens. Markers became light sabers. Swings became a rocket and dragons. We did not just see items for what they were originally designed. Make-believe and playing pretend gave us a magic that many have lost when leaving childhood.
My mother is one of a rare few who can still find the magic and use of items normally tossed aside. Her handmade business, Seeds of Inspiration, makes cat toys using recycled denim from old jeans. Recently on etsy, I came across a bird feeder made out of glass salsa bottle. Trash for Teaching re-imagines items cast away in bulk and doomed to landfills and uses them to help in teaching within schools and communities.
The trick is to return to that child-like outlook of the world, where anything can be anything else. Put away our adult eyes for just a while and embrace the magic and gift of seeing more to everyday items then their assigned purpose or value. You’ll be amazed at what you can find. The possibilities are endless.
On Fairy Wings and Acorn Hats
The magic behind it all!