Sunday, November 29, 2009

Kristin Kiewitz - Local Jewelry Artist from BC

I was reading one of the blogs I follow and noticed one of those Google Ads offering unique handmade jewelry.  What caught my eye is that her domain name ended with a .ca  rather then a .com.  So I do what I usually don't do, clicked on the ad.  It lead me to Kristin Kiewitz, a local artist who lives in Coquitlam, BC.

My favourite piece is this sterling silver light bracelet with 3 wooden beads.  It's simple, but it's a converation piece.  I wouldn't have thought to combine wood with silver.
Going through this website, I'm very glad I found her.  Not only she makes her own line of jewelry, she also carries lines from other artists and various pieces not only from Canada but also Greece, Thailand, Italy, Denmark, Turkey and Poland. 

Friday, November 27, 2009

Asian Gift Designs - Washi Creations

I've been playing with the idea of making decorative clothespins featuring washi or yuzen paper for my etsy shop.  I wanted to see what's out there so I can try and make something unique.    I stumbled  upon Kimono and Kokeshi Doll magnetic clothes pins. These really caught my eye because they are so cute!  So, I had to search around the shop.

Asian Gift Designs carries products ranging from framed art to soap gift sets.  Just looking out her samples catalogue, most of her products are handmade if not all of them.  I think my favourite items are her kimono people that is available as framed art as well as unique photo albums

About the Artist - Dyanna Louie

A fellow Canadian originally from Toronto, Canada who currently resides in the San Franciso Bay Area.  Her focus are home decor accents and gifts handcrafted with Japanese washi paper and decoupage.  She started with her idea to decoupage some of her papers onto all the switchplates in her home after making a birthday card.  She loved them so much, she realized that other people would enjoy them as well. 

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Featured Shops - Brag About It & Punky Jane

I've been looking around for something that commerates my children that I can carry with me always.  A reminder for me to do the best for them.  My weakness is unique sterling jewelry because they are always conversation starters.  You should see what I have in my jewelry box :).  I've been browsing on Etsy and found a couple of wonderful sellers.  Money's a little tight to be spoiling myself so close to the holidays.  If no one gets my hint, I'll be definately thinking about these shops in January!

Brag About It
Most of the artist's work are brag pieces.  I like how everything is clean and simple with just one thing about it that makes the items 'pop' with an embellishment item like a Swarvoski crystal, a charm, or even a cute picture stamped right on the pendent.  I like this pendant, who wouldn't want to brag about their children?

Punky Jane

Punky Jane specializes in handcrafted jewellery.  One of the most amazing items is her Mark Your Calendar series.   She offers to mark the day with an oval or a heart.  I read her website and she also could mark the day with a Swarvorski crystal.  For no extra charge, she offers to have a name stamped on the back.

Her prices are a little higher, but it's reasonable considering each one is handcut and stamped.   I'm thinking I would like something like this in a bracelet design.  

Monday, November 23, 2009

Featured Shops: Smeeta & Tiny Warbler

I was reviewing a website for an upcoming craftshow I was thinking of attending.  The first 30 will get a swag bag, but I doubt I'll be one of them, I got a party to go to the night before :)

I traditionally avoided craft shows, the last one I attended had dated products like crocheted clothing or cheap beadwork or poorly made paintings.  However, ever since I joined Etsy Canada, there are so many Canadian artists out there that make crafts that are unique.  It's so refreshing.  And alot of these artists sell at these shows. 

When I shop, I usually go for the unique jewellery or cool conversation pieces.  Now that I have children, I also gravitate on things I'd want to spoil them with.  (aren't I'm terrible?)  With that in mind, two vendors caught my eye just by the picture they used for the Go Craft website


Reading her blog, Rita seems to be a creative free spirit and it shows in her products.  It also shows in her articles, alot of her entries makes me smile. 

Her colourful owl broaches stood out, they are definate conversation starters.   Then I saw her ninjas.  Now I'm so torn which one I like better :).  

Kate Keeler handstitches soft dolls.  These are so adorable that I want them all.  Alas, in a family with young children, these gems are not meant for rough play.  This won't stop me from visiting her booth if I do go.  My favourite is the elephant.  She has lots of other animals.  She has various vendors in brick and mortor shops in BC, Alberta and the United States.  She has her vendors them listed on her blog if you cannot make it to her booth.

Regretsy - crafts based on thinking outside the box

Surfing the web, I stumbled upon Regretsy, a blog that dedicates itself of showcasing Etsy items that envokes reaction of silly laughter, strange looks and the gag reflex.  

I love poking through the wares specific to my interests.  I rarely randomly browse, though I wish I do, I would have had hours of blogging about specific items myself.  Don't need to though, April Winchell a.k.a Helen Killer, founder of Regretsy, has done that for all of us. 

Each listing is usually paired with a mean or comedic commentary regarding the listing. 

Alot of the items are a little mature for me to post as I want to keep this a friendly blog.  If you are curious, check it out and let me know what you think?  Let me remind you, these things are for sale and there are people who buy them.  If you are just bored of the traditional, take a look at Regretsy's picks. 

Winchell is a well known comedian and started her blog in May 2009 as an unknown to see where it would take her.  Well, 6 months later, she just signed with Random House to write a book based on her Regretsy blog.

Friday, November 20, 2009

How to Add Google Analytics to Your Blogger Blog

For all of you who own blogs, this is a clear and concise tip authored by professional blogger, Andy Wibbels, and to add google analytics to your Blogger blog but you don't need to be an HTML expert to do it.

I was searching everywhere on google and blogger to figure out to do this.  It was so refreshing that this person writes in layman's terms.  He posted instructions on three blog formats:
On a side note, I really enjoy his blog, alot of the articles are quite humourous, definately informative.  I'll start following it and share anything that might help out fellow on-line business colleges.

Million Dollar Craft Ideas by Teens and Tweens

I was watching the show "The View" today.  The panel interviewed two companies started by teen and tweens who simply had an craft idea turned them into million dollar businesses!  These girls were inspiring and lucky have such supportive parents. Alot of parents were have been weary and want to protect their children from the risk and potential disappointment of running a business.
For those who have creative but also business minded children, please encourage them. I personally know the feeling when people doubt your ideas and skills. I had my idea for selling origami and crafts when I was about 14. A pestimistic classmate who looked down on everyone told me, "Cindy, no one's going to buy them." The mistake here was that I believed her! Because of that remark, I shelved the idea for over 15 years.  After stumbling upon online handmade marketplaces such as Etsy, Artfire, eBay, Zibbet etc, I realized that there is a huge market for handmade items including origami.  Initially, I felt I really missed the mark, but then again, you can't live your life in regret.

These are the two business that was featured on the show:

 Snap Caps

The more endearing of the two were the teen and tween owners Maddie and Margo Bradshaw.  Maddie wanted to have unique magnets for her locker.  Her friends liked them so much she made some for them too.  And their business grew from there. 

I got this  picture from their website.  I really love these owls.

It is a bra that you get with some non-toxic markers and you can doodle on it.  The owner, Rachel Segal and her friends started to draw on their new bras and had so much fun doing it.  With her parents support, started marketing this idea.

Not a great fan of the product but you must admire her business sense.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Niche within a Niche - How do I compete on Etsy?

I was poking around in the Etsy community section and saw a twitter update about a cute comic about a first sale.  I like comics, who doesn't?   Just click on the picture on the left twice so you can read it.   I giggled, it's cute and I'm sure there are many etsy sellers out there are nodding in agreement!

I registered for Etsy in 2007 but never got around opening up shop until about 3 months ago.  I was fortunate to receive my first sale within 2 hours of posting.  After that, it was a waiting game.  If it wasn't for the sneak attack, I'm sure I wouldn't have gotten sales for a weeks. 

It's hard to get buyer's attention, like any business you are competing and your listing can get easily get lost in the midst of the hundreds that also get put up every day.  How do I compete? 

I started the shop in the mindset as something to help fund my hobby, not to replace my day job.  This pads a barrier against discouragement.  When I was ready to list, I searched anything that was tagged 'origami' to see what I was up against.  The most common product is the traditional origami crane. It's not hard for anyone to learn to fold the crane, diagrams are on the internet and it's easy to get commericial origami paper.  Unless you need lots of them, why bother buying from Etsy when you can make it yourself?  What they did something to make their product special or unique. Some had beautiful embellisments, were jewellry, converted into ornaments, or use the highend materials like yuzen or washi.

Well, I wasn't going to try to sell cranes as that niche market is saturated.  I was already selling them on my regular website and if an Etsy buyer wanted some, they could contact me.   However, I like the crane. So I did research and found I can make products that use a variation of the crane.  My niche within a niche! 

So I made a few samples and listed them.  The response was great, I only got one Etsy sale one item, but a non-Etsy buyer who's into amature photography saw my envelopes and asked me to make ones that would fit 5 x 7 photos so she can give out as Christmas this year.  That gave me my boost to fund my origami addiction.  :)

Monday, November 16, 2009

Elephant Dung Paper - The Great Elephant Poo Poo Paper Company

I stumbled upon this The Great Elephant Poo Poo Paper Company when I was researching Canadian paper suppliers.  Well, this one does have a US distributer in Texas but hey, you can get it in Toronto.  This company products paper made from elephant dung.  I had the same reactions as some of you, yuck! 

However, when you read into their process, they wash and then boil the dung first.  What they use is the leftover fibre content that passes through the animals after they eaten.  The paper consists of grasses, bamboo and fruit plus the banana and pineapple fibres added in during the process.I like the that their products are environmentally sustainable and part of the proceed go to conservation and wellfare programs for elephants.  No matter what, every animal has to 'go' and might as well use it if you can. 

I think the best product on their website are silhouette journals.  The design and art is clean and simple and I love the soft colours.  I just wish there were more pages, I always carry my journals and they fill out quickly with my ideas. 

If you want to try to craft, the noteboxes consists of paper if you want to fold origami from it. Personally, I wouldn't use it as convienant scraps to jot down notes like post-its. It's more of a conversation piece when you describe the material a handmade project is made from.

If you want to try to craft, the noteboxes consists of paper if you want to fold origami from it. Personally, I wouldn't use it as convienant scraps to jot down notes like post-its. It's more of a conversation piece when you describe the material a handmade project is made from.

If the size is too small for you, you can probably ask for larger sheets, the site said that they have a larger product line in the retail stores or you can contact then and ask.

I would like to get some to test it out with origami. When I get some time, I'll ask for a one or two sheet sample and let you know!

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Sneak Attacked!

About a month ago, my etsy shop was Sneak Attacked.  I was sponsered by Stockannette who has an etsy shop of her own.  I was surprised after being graced with 3 sales.  No, it's not much, but it opened me to an audience who really want to support a craft persons like me!  They even have an 'official' website decided to sponsoring new etsy shops called the Hand Made Movement.  The sneak attack is a method to support crafters with a sense of motivation and encouragement.  A sponser will pick shops who have few sales on Etsy and at an appointed time as many people as possible are encourage to view and purchase from the sponsered shops.

I was even featured on a blog by one of sneak attack participants. I think her name is Sandi but apparently better known as the T-Shirt lady :) She purchased a few of my envelopes that I made on a whim with some spare paper that I had lying around.  I wanted to make her more but I couldn't find the same type of paper.  However, I did get some slightly different designs.  Hopefully she'll like them.

T-Shirt Lady's Blog

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Welcome to West Coast Origami!

My name is Cindy and I run a small online business called West Coast Origami. I originally started my first online store front in 2006.  I laugh sometimes as I never intended to open up shop.  I was on maternity leave and had alot of free time during baby naps.  So, decided to learn to build a website.  My internet connection comes with a little webspace and found a free html editor called kompozer.   Glancing at some origami I was working on and thought, lets make a mock business site selling origami.  The process took a few weeks and I was happy I learned something new.  I never expected to receive emails and purchases that followed a few weeks completing my project!  My entrepreneurial spirit was stirred and start to research ways to promote my new business.

I found Etsy when I was websurfing in 2007.  I was astonished that there is a huge community dedicated to selling one of a kind handmade products. Elas, I didn't have much time with a baby and going back to my job to manage another online storefront, especially when I never intended to have a side business in the first place.  Now in 2009, I'm on leave for a second time, I took the plunge and opened my own Etsy shop.  Etsy is a great learning platform for me, in the forum, there are many sellers that offer advice to better their shops.

Here's my first sale!  This was 2 hours after listing them:

I was so excited!

Monday, November 9, 2009

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