Monday, April 14, 2014

DC Cherry Blossoms and the MLK Memorial

On Saturday we decided to brave the crowds and take in the beautiful cherry blossoms that were blooming along Tidal Basin in DC. We had not been down that way for the blooms in a couple of years, and since the weekend had brought with it such beautiful weather, it seemed like a fun enough way to spend a leisurely afternoon.

The blooms were beautiful as they are each year, and walking amongst these old trees makes you feel as though you're in a winter wonderland of petals instead of snow. It's hard not to sigh a few times here and there as you take in the beauty.

At the end of our walk around Tidal Basin we paused for a bit to take in the Martin Luther King, Jr Memorial. We had not had a chance to visit the relatively new memorial since it was installed.

While reading some of his most famous quotes, that had been engraved on the memorial, I thought of how powerful his words are still today. So many of the quotes deal with us understanding each other and placing the importance of all of humanity above anything else. And here we were, amongst the beautiful cherry blossoms with thousands of others from all over the world, and at that moment none of the strife, or conflict, or inequality that exists in the world mattered. We were all there together just to take in beauty-- and there was nothing complicated about that.

Friday, April 11, 2014

Oregon Ridge Park

Yesterday morning, The Beast died. The Beast, also known as my printer, was four years old and had finally decided that it had fulfilled its duty after printing thousands of cards and stationery sets in that time period. This left me at a standstill yesterday until my new printer would arrive. The weather was gorgeous, and so I decided that it only made sense that I spent my new found extra time outdoors.

I decided to make a quick 20 minute drive just north of Baltimore to Oregon Ridge Park. We first went to Oregon Ridge for the Hot August Blues Festival a few years back, and subsequently found out that there are plenty of trails to hike there as well. It's a nice place to head to in the Baltimore area if you want some decent hiking without having to drive about an hour away.

Oregon Ridge was full of sunshine, but at first felt disappointingly dead to me. The brown colors and crunchy leaves under my feet made me feel as if it were November. And then slowly, but surely, I began to find peeks of green amidst the brown. Spring may have arrived later than it usually does, but it certainly was making itself visible in a small way.

What I had hoped would be an hour hike, turned into a two hour, 3.68 mile hike throughout the park. My hike was followed by a stop at the coffee shop for an iced coffee and some reading. While my day began with a stressful event, it ended with time off that I realized had been greatly needed. And this morning, I have felt newly energized and recharged.

Has your spring finally arrived? Have you had some time off to spend outdoors lately?

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Richmond Weekend Wrap-Up

We spent this past weekend in Richmond, Virginia as I was participating in the Richmond Craft Mafia's Spring Bada-Bing. You may remember from back in December, that we were in Richmond for a day for their Handmade Holiday. We had previously never been to Richmond before our one day in and out in December, so this time we decided to stay for an overnight and do a little exploring on Sunday before heading back to Baltimore.

The show itself on Saturday was held at the Hardywood Park Craft Brewery, which meant that we were able to enjoy the fabulous smells and tastes of their craft brews. My booth was set up directly next to one of the many large fermenters. Oak barrels line the walls, and two bars were open for customers and vendors alike to enjoy in a few libations. The show went exceedingly well (I feel a lot of love from Richmond in the last several months!) and the general atmosphere was something that left me feeling incredibly happy to be doing what I do.
I was also able to briefly meet Karl of Blackbird Tees. He and his girlfriend Jody create the best screen printed tees and and other such textiles. I have to admit, I truly look up to them in terms of the way they carry their handmade business as a lifestyle, so it was awesome to finally meet! Not to mention, I was able to snag one of their Share the Road tees for Andrew, the semi-avid cyclist, who may now have about one of their shirts in one form or another for every day of the week.

After a successful day at Hardywood, we stopped at Legend Brewing to enjoy a pint and some outdoor time in the beautiful weather. We noticed in December that Legend has a fabulous patio that overlooks the river and the city, and so we decided to test it out this time around. After a quick pint, we headed downtown to the Capital Ale House for dinner and more brews. The food was delicious and the selection of local beer on tap was the highlight for us. The weekend was definitely a good one for us craft beer lovers!

We stayed overnight at an apartment we had found through AirBnB, and then spent a lazy Sunday morning at Lamplighter, an amazing coffeehouse nearby. If you ever find yourself in Richmond, do yourself a favor and get your morning coffee and breakfast there. You won't regret it!

After fueling up on coffee and food, we spent some time exploring the Historic Fan District, which is filled with beautiful homes and architecture. Lastly, we spent the early afternoon meandering through Carytown, popping into a few boutiques and browsing through records at a local record store before heading back up 95 to Baltimore.

This weekend was incredibly exhausting, but it a good way. And now that Wednesday has arrived, I'm finally feeling reenergized and ready for another adventure. 

Did you do anything fun this past weekend? Do you have any adventures planned for the near future?

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Mother's Day Cards

2014 Mother's Day cards have arrived! I listed them in the shop a while ago, and posted a few here and there on Instagram, but I wanted to make it official. These are some of my favorite cards to date. I picked up some new pens to draw with and they have been absolutely inspiring to work with. It took me a while to come up with the concepts for this line of cards, but once I started drawing, the ideas began flowing.

I love these five cards because the designs are bright and bold, but the concepts in the cards themselves are incredibly easy to relate to-- they're jam packed with plenty of truth, you know?

Don't forget! Mother's Day is May 11th! Which is your favorite of these new cards?

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Renewing Expired Listings on Etsy

A few weeks ago, I posed this question on twitter:

I was in the midst of cleaning up my shop, and realized that a) I had grown emotionally attached to designs that just weren't making it big and b) I was spending a lot of money renewing these items and it didn't seem to make sense to do so anymore.

My questions led to a lot of response from many Etsy sellers in my handmade community-- a very mixed response. Some suggested that I keep renewing until I sold the card. Some said I needed to let go and just let it expire. And others felt that I should keep renewing items simply to have more outlets for customers to enter my shop-- in other words, that I should think of it as advertising.

As I work toward streamlining and making my business stronger, renewing items on Etsy is a legitimate concern. I realized that I had no system in place in terms of keeping track of how many times a card was selling and how many times I was renewing a card with or without sales in between. For me, not having a system to keep track of these things seemed like a possible source of losing income and spending money that didn't need to be spent.

Selling a card for $4 when I had renewed it 5 times, suddenly meant that I had already cut $1 off from the price of the sale. For this reason, it just doesn't seem to make sense to keep renewing cards for sale if they don't sell. Additionally, I don't know that I could justify renewing a card's listing simply from a traffic standpoint when there are other ways that you can advertise that are much more cost effective.

That meant only one thing-- I would have to let go. While there are some cards that I love, they just might not be popular or they may never sell. And it simply doesn't seem to be good business practice to spend money simply because a design is near and dear to my heart. In turn, I've been starting to develop ways of keeping track of these things, and I've set limits for myself. If I've renewed a card a couple times and it just hasn't taken off, or it has never sold, it has to go.

In addition, focusing on the more popular designs has helped me to get a better idea of what sorts of inventory I should take with me to craft fairs. It has also sparked my creativity in terms of building a focus for new designs. I spend more time thinking about which ideas are truly great ideas. I'm less quick to make a card with just any old thing that pops into my head. And to honest, it's been freeing! I see the number of available designs in my shop dwindle, but at the same time, I know that what I am producing is truly something I am proud of and am completely satisfied with sharing with others.

I'm learning. Slowly, but surely, I'm figuring out this whole running a business thing. I still have a lot to soak up, but at least I'm making small steps of progress here and there.

What do you think? How do you decide whether or not to renew expired listings? Do you have a way to keep track of these statistics for your inventory? I'd love to hear your point of view!
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