Monday, December 3, 2012

10 Things I learned from Craft Fairs this year.

Having just finished a weekend at a craft fair where I sold so much on Friday evening that I was up at 4:30am Saturday to create more, I thought I'd share what I gleaned:

1.  You won't get your hourly worth at a craft fair.  People just aren't going to pay you what you're worth!  Adding $20 to an item to give you your hourly wage puts it out of reach for these buyers. 

2.  I'm willing to trade if you have what I want!  Since my cash in tied up in my inventory, this is a great way for me to get Christmas gifts or a little something for myself!

3.  For my niche product, it's as much as raising awareness that my product exists as it is about sales. I gave away lots of business cards from the wedding bouquets that I displayed. 

4.  I don't get upset if you walk away.  Granted, I'm here to make money.  But I want to sell to people who really want my product!  It brings me joy to see someone excited about my button bracelets or to see the smile on little girl's face when she picks out a button bouquet for her teacher.

5.  I have no idea what will sell!  Friday evening my under $10 button bouquets flew out of my shop.  Saturday, not one moved!

6.  Price points are important. Have items that people can quickly buy for under $10 and under $20.   

7.  I want to sell my products.  Inventory sitting on my shelves is bringing me nada.  So if I change the price point on an item from $22 to $20 and it sells, I'm ahead of the game!  Sticking to my price point just to prove that my products are worth it and I am worth it doesn't bring me in the dough!  I don't need to prove anything to anyone.  I know what I'm worth!  What I need to do sometimes is generate cash! 

8.  Be willing to branch out. Wedding button and brooch bouquets are my full time business.  They won't sell at craft fairs.   I create smaller button arrangements, button jewelry, button hair adornments.  Quick little items that people can pick up.  And I display my wedding bouquets which get people interested and get me noticed. 

9.  Decide where your time is best spent and what your goal is.  My goal is two-fold for craft fairs - to generate quick cash and to raise awareness of my button bouquets. It may  not be worth your time and energy to sit for hours at a craft fair if it doesn't line up with your goals.

10.  Have fun!  Craft fairs are great ways to meet new friends and associates.  We support each other and bump into each other again and again.  This creates an impression in their minds and maybe they'll remember me when the subject of bridal bouquets comes up!

Oh!  And I pray - a lot.  I ask God to bring me the people who want to buy my bouquets.   I pray for the best possible outcome.  And I let the rest go.  It's out of my hands.

Angela
Angela's Artistic Designs
http://www.etsy.com/shop/AngelasArtistic




Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Growing up Italian or Not Fitting in.

I'm Italian.  And from the city.  Philadelphia, that is.  I grew up in an Italian neighborhood.  If you're from New York, you understand.

When I meet someone from Brooklyn or someone brought up in an Italian household, it's understood.  How we grew up, our experiences, how we operate in the world.  No explanations needed.

When you grow up in the city, you have an edge.  You learn to be a little tough.  It helps with survival.

When you grow up Italian, you learn to talk over each other and listen to three different conversations at the same time.  I wouldn't say it's a gentle culture.  Passionate, loving, but not necessarily gentle.   Kind, giving, ferociously protective of our families.  Lots of wonderful qualities, not the least of which is good food and fabulous family gatherings.  But not placid, not meek.

Move to Maryland suburbs.  The land of vanilla people.  I don't mean to insult anyone. It's really more about me and my journey to fit into Maryland culture. This is a very educated area, a melting pot of cultures.  And I have found, as a whole, it is more cultivated that the city.

So I tried changing my speech patterns, removing the long "a" sounds.  I've tried rephrasing sentences in a more pleasing way, more tactful, more benign.  In the beginning I WANTED to leave behind my gritty city-ness.  I was determined to throw out my edge and become cultivated!

In the end, I've assimilated some of this.  I still have to think about being tactful, still have to swallow my first reaction and wait for a calmer version.  Because I'm really a bottom line person.  I like to tell it like it is.  It saves time.  My friends think this is hysterical.  They wait for it.  A few of them want to be more like me.  Just put it out there.  And I want to be more like them, gentle, genteel.  

When I turned 50, became independent (i.e., divorced) and let my hair go natural (i.e.grey), I found myself just wanting to be me.  It has become so much work to try to fit in.  To try to be something that goes completely against my grain.  To explain myself to people who don't understand me.  More than that, because they don't understand my background, they judge me.  I am expected to behave a certain way in this culture.  And I feel gauche.

That's why I love hanging around with my Italian friends.  And when I go back to Philly, I slip back into my beginnings.  I'm remarried now and my husband is on a learning curve.  He asks me why I'm yelling at him.  I tell him, "I'm not yelling.  I'm Italian!"

I've come home, to me.

Angela DiCicco
Angela's Artistic Designs   
 https://www.etsy.com/listing/104692724/red-rose-button-bouquet-non-floral

Monday, November 5, 2012

"Working" through grief - 7 tips

Recently a dear friend of mine passed away.  It has thrown me for a loop because it was unexpected and she was so young.  So how to I process the grief?

Many people throw themselves into their work. This only helps to keep the grief at bay.  It does not help to feel the grief and move through it.  I found that I could focus on my orders because it required no emotion. But I didn't have the energy to do some of the other aspects of my business right away.  I was careful to do the work I had to but leave space for my grief.

Others fill their schedules up with busyness, avoiding the necessity of facing their feelings.  Becoming a social butterfly or quickly remarrying may feel good at the time, but the grief remains underlying it all and will come back to be dealt with.

Still others isolate, keeping to themselves and avoiding facing the outside world.

For me, living life normally helps.  When my father passed away several years ago, I was amazed that the world continued to spin.  At the grocery store, people were acting as if nothing had changed.  My world had changed forever, but to the outside world, everything remained the same.

I realize now that doing normal things, watering the plants, taking care of the children, showering helps to bring some equilibrium back.  When your world is rocked, the ground underneath your feet shakes.  Doing everyday activities, including noticing the weather, the sun, the dust on your tables, creates a normal environment helping to balance the emotions.

When my father died it was April.  I was teaching preschool and everyday we would be outside.  I looked around and saw the trees budding, the green grass growing, the flowers blooming.  Children were playing and it reminded me that life goes on.  It just does.  With or without us, it goes on.

So 7 tips for dealing with grief:

1.  Do the next right thing.  Have a cup of tea.  Call a friend.  Water the plants. 

2.  Take time to grieve.  Find the balance between avoiding and feeling the pain. Whether it's death or divorce, it calls for grieving.  One friend grieving when her husband left her allowed herself to cry in the shower and then moved on through her day. 

3.  Feel free to talk about your loved one.  When my friend died, we gathered around and laughed and shared stories.  We were people who had only one connection-  our mutual friend.  But we stood together in our grief over losing our friend.

4.  Take time to get back into life without rushing ahead.  The husband of my friend invited several of us for brunch at a place they frequented.  It helped to visit this place and have conversation around the table that may or may not be about the loved one.  

5.  Take a walk in the park.  Visit nature.  Notice that the evolution of life continues.  It is a cycle.  Death is a part of the life cycle. 

6.  Take care of you - eat, sleep, exercise.  You're in pain and you need caring for.  Be gentle with yourself.

7.  Know that there is no time table for grief.  No right or wrong way to grieve.  The important thing is to feel the grief and move through it.  And expect that at unexpected times, memories will surface, sometimes as acutely as if it were a fresh pain.

If you have a way of dealing with grief that has worked for you, please feel free to share it. 

Here's to you, my friend.  I cannot believe you are gone and I will miss you forever.





Angela

Sunday, October 14, 2012

"30 Ways to Promote Your Blog" reposted from Launch, Grow, Joy

Who knew there were so many opportunities to promote your blog?  I am still a novice!  Many people out there are making money on their blogs and have hundreds of followers!  Would you like to be one of them?

It takes work to maintain a blog.  What I have learned is that success is in the consistency and in the promotion.  This is not a post and run venture.  Posting blogs several times a week is ideal.  Promoting them is key.

The title grabbed me and I read this post earnestly wanting to know how to increase my readership.  I am especially interested in the information on syndication.  I didn't even know that existed!

Learning, learning, learning, each day!  Blogging is not my full-time business.  My button bouquet business is.  I blog to connect with other artisans and share my experiences.  Occasionally, I borrow ideas from someone who knows more than I do.

So enjoy this post on "30 Ways to promote your blog" by Launch, Grow, Joy!
 
http://launchgrowjoy.com/30-ways-to-promote-your-blog-posts

Enjoy!  And share with us the ways you promote your blog!

Angela
Angela's Artistic Designs
http://www.etsy.com/shop/angel9

Thursday, September 27, 2012

"I can make that!" Thoughts when the public says this about your product!

Crafters and artisans hear this all the time.  You're at a craft fair and you overhear someone looking at your beautiful product saying, "I can make that!"

Sure you can!  But will you?? Will you take the time to find 300 buttons in the size and color that you need to re-create one of my beautiful bouquets?  And put in the hours spent creating it?

 As artisans, we want to produce a fine product and the meticulous work that goes into each product is mostly unknown to the browsers who make comments like the one above.   Should we post a sign?  Let it slide?  Is this a problem for you and how do you handle it?

As a demonstration, I was curious about how many tiny steps go into one of my products so I tracked the steps to creating my cork place card holders.  While documenting the steps, I realized there are many things that customers don't even think about - like sticky glue strings!

I just finished an order for 35 simple but rustic elegance cork place card holders.

1. First, find at least 105 usable corks.

2.  From that collection, combine the corks in sets of 3 of approximately the same height and width keeping in mind the styles and designs that create an artistic combination.

3.  Glue 3 corks together, choosing one as the front cork and leaving a space for the place card to slide into.  This is an important step because if the place cards have nowhere to sit, they are useless!

4.  Figure out the length of twine needed.

5.  Cut 35 pieces of jute twine.

6.  Wrap, bow tie and knot this twine around the corks.

7.  Glue the knot to the center cork to keep it from slipping off.

8.  From a selection of tiny shells, choose 3 for each place card holder that are visually appealing with each other.

9.  Carefully glue each shell to the top of one of the corks, being mindful to put just enough so that the shell stays, but not so much that the glue spills over. 

10.  When the glue dries, look over each cork place card holder removing any strings of glue that were left.  I did this at least 3 times!  I also removed any excess glue that I found so the corks didn't look sloppy.

11.  I slipped a place card into each cork holder to make sure that I had left a space to slide them into.  I found 2 that had accidentally turned upside down so I was glad I checked!

12.  I counted and counted and counted again to make sure I had exactly 35 and wasn't forgetting any or missing any.

13.  Find a box that perfectly fits 35 corks.

14.  Pack them up, one by one, including pretty tissue paper and a lovely note.

15. Weigh the box and print postage.

16.  Wrap and tape the box and label.

17.  Deliver to the Post Office.

17 steps and so many hours to create these simple rustic cork place card holders.

So the next time someone says, "I can make that!"  Say, "Of course you can!  But will you?"


Angela
Angela's Artistic Designs








Thursday, September 13, 2012

Angela's Artistic Designs: 10 Tips When you feel discouraged with your business

Angela's Artistic Designs: 10 Tips When you feel discouraged with your business

10 Tips When you feel discouraged with your business

Feeling discouraged about your business?  From what I've read and heard, it's normal.  Businesses go through flush times and lean times. And if you're not where you want to be financially, there can be an added element of fear, despondency, a sense of wanting to give up.

So what do you do about feeling discouraged?  Here are a few tips I've gleaned: 

 1.  Make a list of accomplishments since opening your business.  What have you done successfully so far? Opened your shop, created some beautiful products, marketed it, did a craft fair.  List them all.   Feel good about this.  It's more than many people accomplish.


 2.  Do you have tangible evidence of what you've been able to do, financially, with what you've earned so far?  I've been able to pay my personal bills from business earnings.  I'm proud of that!

 3.  If they've sold once, they can sell again!  Look over your sold items.  Relish in them!  Enjoy the feeling of having successfully sold your artistic treasures. 

 4. Keep moving.  Put one foot in front of the other.  Do the next right thing. Crawl out of bed, put away the Oreos and lose yourself in your work!

 5.  Focus on a time when you had multiple sales.  Recently on vacation, I sold 5 items!  If it happened once, it can happen again.

 6.  Lots can happen in a day, overnight, in a month!  Keep sight of that fact because none of us knows what's around the corner. Tomorrow could be your best day yet!

 7.  Review where you started and where you are.  I've learned so much about marketing, made some wonderful contacts, made many brides happy, had my bouquets published in several magazines. Do I need to have a daily reminder of my wonderfulness?  If so, I have a bigger problem than being discouraged!

 8. Your business is a marathon, not a sprint.  It takes pacing and it is a process.  You can't get to the end without the middle!  And in the middle is a lot of work. 

 9.  Turn it over--to your spiritual power, guide, angels or God.  When we feel powerless, it helps to have a higher power to turn to.  Let go of what we can't control and let the universe take care of the rest.

10.  Believe.  In yourself, in your dreams, in your potential.

Angela
Angela's Artistic Designs
http://www.etsy.com/shop/angel9

Related articles:
http://whoislena.com/feeling-discouraged-lately-why-your-trials-arent-really-trials-but-rather-triumphs-of-hope/

http://briankim.net/blog/2006/09/when-you-feel-down-about-going-for-your-dreams-read-this/

Thursday, August 30, 2012

8 Tips for Happy Customers Part I

Know how to keep your customers happy?  While there are many things you can do, here are "Best tips for happy customers" picks by Becca Souder, customer service extraordinaire!  These work especially well in a brick and mortar shop but most can be adapted to online shops as well. 

1. SMILE! Keep your attitude light and upbeat. This will make the customer feel the same way.  *For online shops, this means keeping responses to emails positive and upbeat.

2. Kill them with kindness. Even with the rudest and unruly customers try to be as nice as you can. (This will cover you and piss them off at the same time!)

3. Be as helpful as you can. If someone has a question and you don't know the answer, do what you can to find an answer.  Customers appreciate you going out of your way to help them.

4. (For serving jobs) Stay attentive. People like to know that you are around if they need something. Don't smother them, but make eye contact every once in a while. *For online businesses, be available for questions and respond quickly.

5. Try to make a connection with your customers. This is the best way to get repeat business no matter what type of business you're in.

6.  If you do have repeat customers, make note of that and try to remember their regular beverage, food item, interest or style (depending on what type of business)

7. Always thank your customer for coming in and wish them a great day or evening. *Etsians are great for adding thank you notes & goodies in their orders. 

8. Customer service can sometimes be equivalent to acting. Even if you are having an awful day or have an awful customer, you're getting paid to help them. So keep it together and be the solution, not the problem.

9.  * NEVER gripe in front of the customers.  It just makes you look unprofessional. 

Please be reminded that you cannot make everyone happy. Some people are just rude, but try to keep a smile on your face and diffuse any messy situations instead of adding fuel to the fire.

Be the type of person you want to be helped by :)

Thanks to Becca Souder for her tips.  Becca has @ 10 years in the customer service realm and manages to keep a smile on her face even when it almost kills her!

Becca on her wedding day.
*These are Angela's additional notes

Friday, August 17, 2012

5 Secrets to Being a Good Manager

Being a manager comes naturally to some; for others it's a learned experience. Perhaps you've gotten to the stage in your home-based business where you need to hire help; these tips are a great place to start being a manager others will want to work for!

Secrets to being a good manager and getting the best from your staff:

1. The attitude that you come in with will set the mood and tone for your whole staff. Keep it positive, even if there is something personal going on. Your staff doesn't need to see you sweat.

2. Be clear, direct and concise. Let your staff know exactly you need from them. Don't assume they will know what you are thinking.  If someone has a question, don't scare them off making them feel like they should already know the answer. It is better for someone to ask (what you may think is a stupid question) than to do it wrong, causing you more stress and them to feel bad.

3. Work alongside your staff. You're more likely to get the most from your staff if you show them that you aren't afraid to get your hands dirty. It's also the best way to be around your employee's and let them know that you aren't neglecting them.

4. Don't be afraid of your staff. If someone is doing something wrong or doing something that is against the rules or policy, it is extremely important that you let that staff member know (in private) specifically what it is they are doing that needs correcting.  Then, gently but firmly, tell that what the consequences will be if it happens again. This will either motivate them to get it together or push them to quit (which wouldn't be a big loss if they are breaking rules).

5. Most importantly, try to be the manager that you would want to work with. I doubt anyone would chose to work for a cranky, angry, negative or lazy manager. So be the person that you would work for! 

By Becca Souder

Note:  Thanks to Becca Souder for supplying this information to Angela's Artistic Designs. blog. 



Becca has many years of experience in customer service and managing a staff.  



Tuesday, August 7, 2012

NEED ONE blog with less than 200 followers for Leibster Award update-

 I am honored to have recently been awarded the Liebster Award!  Thank you to Priscilla Wiggins of  Kiki Closet on Etsy.  Here is the link to her blog: http://kikisadventuresincreating.blogspot.com/
Now here's where I need your help!  Do you have a blog with less than 200 followers? First follow my blog.  Then email me your blog link at angelasartisticdesigns@gmail.com.  I will check out your blogs and let you know if you are chosen for the Liebster Award!


'Liebster' means 'favorite' or 'dearest' in German. This award, which originated in Germany, recognizes up and coming bloggers with less than 200 followers. 
http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-8_Dz0MbqUlk/TqsZ0JNfXOI/AAAAAAAAAcI/6ioZ0hubQDo/s1600/4940974.png
Choosing 5 blogs is no easy challenge with all of the great blogs out there!  But I am up to the task, therefore, I hereby accept the Liebster Award!   
 
In accepting the award, the recipient agrees to: 

Thank the person that gave the award and link back to their blog.

Copy and paste the award to your blog
Reveal the 5 blogs you have chosen to award and let them know by commenting on their blog.

Hope they pay it forward by accepting and awarding it to bloggers they would like to honor.

Here are 4of my picks.  Please stop by and visit and support them!  I just need ONE more!  Who will it be???

A terrific resource for parents who want to thoughtfully raise their children:
http://beingaconsciousparent.wordpress.com/

  http://unifyhandmade.blogspot.com/   " I’m Nicole—a shop owner, blogger, crafter, and lover of all things artistic"
http://artsandcraftsado.blogspot.com/ "The purpose of this blog is to share ideas, review products, highlight photographers, artists, crafters and to provide do-it-yourself instructions for a variety of crafts. Also, look out for featured Etsy shops and new products!"
 http://www.allcraftblogs.blogspot.com/

Thank you and I look forward to hearing from you.

Angela
Angela's Artistic Designs




Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Liebster Award -Do you have less than 200 followers?

I am honored to have recently been awarded the Liebster Award!  Thank you to Priscilla Wiggins of  Kiki Closet on Etsy.  Here is the link to her blog: http://kikisadventuresincreating.blogspot.com/

'Liebster' means 'favorite' or 'dearest' in German. This award, which originated in Germany, recognizes up and coming bloggers with less than 200 followers. 
http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-8_Dz0MbqUlk/TqsZ0JNfXOI/AAAAAAAAAcI/6ioZ0hubQDo/s1600/4940974.png
Choosing 5 blogs is no easy challenge with all of the great blogs out there!  But I am up to the task, therefore, I hereby accept the Liebster Award!  


 Now here's where I need your help!  Do you have a blog with less than 200 followers? First follow my blog.  Then email me your blog link at angelasartisticdesigns@gmail.com.  I will review your blogs and let you know if you are chosen for the Liebster Award!
 

In accepting the award, the recipient agrees to: 

Thank the person that gave the award and link back to their blog.

Copy and paste the award to your blog
Reveal the 5 blogs you have chosen to award and let them know by commenting on their blog.

Hope they pay it forward by accepting and awarding it to bloggers they would like to honor.

The first blog that I will begin with is:

 A terrific resource for parents who want to thoughtfully raise their children:
http://beingaconsciousparent.wordpress.com/

Thank you and I look forward to hearing from you.

Angela
Angela's Artistic Designs



 





Monday, July 23, 2012

To be Shabby Chic or not!

I discovered this website and fell in love with the shabby chic pillows and sachets!  They are adorable!  I also love the motto, "Celebrating the Romance of Cottage Style."  Just makes me want to run out and dive into a shabby chic cottage.

Where did the term "Shabby Chic" come from?  Did you know it wasn't even a term until the 1980's? It has its roots in Great Britain where lovely old country homes were filled with elegant but worn chintz sofas, floral wallpaper and faded curtains.  Shabby chic has all of the romance of the Victorian Age paired with sophisticated elegance.  Today's shabby chic includes vintage or vintage looking items.  Distressed furniture  and pillows made with pastels in creamy white, pink or green. Trims are very popular and add to the elegance and richness of the shabby chic room.

Shabby French Themed Hanging Pillow-pillow,black,white,roses,pink,shabby,cottage,petite,french,ruffes,handmade,gift,someplaceinthyme,ribbon,netting,chic,paper,pearls,
Shabby French Themed Hanging Pillow by "Someplace in Tyme

It's fun to decorate in shabby chic style because you can get real bargains at flea markets, thrift stores and garage sales.  A little sanding and painting and someone's trash becomes your treasure!  Add delicate glass knobs to your dresser to add a touch of period elegance.

Shabby chic can also be a romantic theme for a wedding.  Soft, sweet, elegant.   Use floral patterned plates and put lacy sachets at each place setting.  Drape candles in the center of the table with faux pearl necklaces on round lace place mats.  Add vintage books to complete the look.



If you've refinished furniture or a room in shabby chic, we'd love to see it.  Share the photos on the comments below!

Teacup Pincushion Blooming With Pink Roses-teacup,saucer,pincushion,roses,cottage,vintage,gold,someplaceinthyme,pink,pearls,pins,ribbons,paper,silk,charm,silver,shabby,chic,gift,handmade
Teacup Pincushion by Someplace in Tyme
And check out "Someplace in Tyme" for more shabby chic loveliness:  http://someplaceinthyme.com/category_1/Cottage-Pillows.htm


Angela Di Cicco
Pink Silk Flower Button Bouquet by Angela's Artistic Designs
Angela's Artistic Designs
http://www.etsy.com/shop/angel9

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

FEAR - 6 steps to help you move past it.

F.E.A.R - False evidence appearing real. Does fear stop you from reaching your goals, dreams, desires?

Feel the fear and do it anyway.  That is has been my motto as an adult.  That's how I raised my children. One day I heard my son say, "I hate bridges."" I didn't know that.  He had just crossed a huge bridge and I asked him why he did it if he was afraid of them.  He replied, "That's what you taught me, Mom."

I grew up in an atmosphere of fear.  Nothing overt, just subtle holding back, not willing to try, wanting but being too afraid to go for it.  It shaped me.  I decided I wouldn't let fear stop me from doing what I wanted.

The desire to move ahead with your intended goal or dream must be greater than the fear that blocks you.  It's that simple.  Whichever is greater, desire or fear, will win.

Realize that part of being a risk-taker is living with  fear.  It doesn't even have to be a BIG goal or risk.  Little things like driving to new places can be very scary to some of us!

  1. Learn to be comfortable with that state of being. Get comfortable with fear. Tell yourself it's OK to be afraid.  It's OK. It's not the big bad bear and it won't swallow you! 
  2. You can address some of your fear by examining it's source. Is it fear of success, of failure, of rejection, of criticism?  What, exactly, are you afraid of?  
  3. Ask yourself, on a scale of 1-10, how badly you want to do the thing you fear.  Then ask yourself, on a scale of 1-10, how much fear you're feeling.  Which is greater?
  4. Sit in the fear.  Feel it.  Make friends with it.  Seriously.   
  5. Many of our fears are from childhood.  So parent your inner child.  Talk to him/her.  Tell your inner child that you understand that they are afraid but you will protect them.  It'soften the little child that's afraid, not the grown-up.  
  6. Ask yourself, "What's the worse thing that can happen if I do this thing I fear?" I'll get lost?  Can I handle that?  If you can handle the worst thing, you can handle your fear.
  7. Take one tiny baby step in the direction of your fear. There!  You're moving in the right direction.
 Fear has enticing, lulling, positive sides to it - it can keep you safe, keep the status quo, you never have to face failure or be embarrassed because you screwed up.  But you're also never feel the rewards - "I did it"  "I overcame!"

So, the next time you think, "I'm afraid of bridges!" Cross them anyway.  "I'm afraid of new places!  Go anyway.  "I'm afraid of switching jobs."  Do it anyway.

Feel the fear and do it anyway!

Angela Di Cicco
Angela's Artistic Designs
 http://www.etsy.com/shop/angel9

Thursday, July 12, 2012

How do you define success? Here's 6 ways.

My daughter recently asked me, "Do you see yourself as successful?"

In my home-based business creating button bouquets, I've sold them in 8 countries and all across the U.S. & Canada.  Am I successful?

I've raised three beautiful children who are independent thinkers and productive members of society.  Am I successful?

Ultimately, the question comes down to, "What does being successful mean to me?"

Success can be defined differently on a variety of planes - emotional, financial, personal, spiritual, career, academic.

Emotional:  Am I emotionally healthy?  Am I in an emotionally healthy relationship? Do I work through my emotions in a positive way?  Am I willing to look at my inner myself  and modify my behavior when it is warranted?  Take responsibility for my actions and not blame someone else?

Personal:  Am I happy?  Am I doing what I want to be doing?  Am I contributing to the world in a positive way?  If I have children, how am I raising them?  Have a done it thoughtfully? 

Spiritual:  Do I give back to society or am I just taking?  Am I available for friends and family when they need me?  Do I reach out to the elderly or a sick friend?  Do I share my wealth, whether its money, talent or gifts?

Financial:  Am I where I want to be financially?  Am I self-supporting? Financially comfortable?  Do I have financial freedom?  Financial security?


Career:  Do I have the career that I want?  Am I happy doing what I do or just going through the motions?  What career would I have if I could have any that I wanted?


Academic:  Have I finished the degree I wanted?  Have I made steps towards my goal?  Have I defined what direction I want to take to better myself?  What degree would I want and what would I do with it?

While I can unequivocally say that I was a success at parenting, I falter when it comes to believing that I am  a financial success nor have I met my academic goals.

Yet, I've been successful on many levels over the years.  So it's time to acknowledge that, YES!, I am a success.  Even if I'm not where I want to be financially. 

What ruler am I using to measure "success?"  Better question, who's ruler am I using?  Maybe it's time to redefine success for myself.

If you have thoughts on what defines success for you, please feel free to share!

Angela
Angela's Artistic Designs!                                            
http://www.etsy.com/shop/angel9

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Are you ready if your etsy shop gets suspended?

Could this happen to you?   I read with interest this blogpost from Handmadeology written by Lisa.  Lisa's "Energy Shop" was unceremoniously suspended after she responded to a questionnaire given to her by etsy.  They deemed her shop, "wasn't complying with the rules."

This is not the first time I have heard of shops being suspended.  Etsy doesn't seem to give much wiggle room nor is there any one-to-one contact to defend your position or question their decision. 

This article gives great insights on what to do should this happen to you.  Through Lisa's experience, she shares how be prepared.  When a shop shuts down, everything is lost including positive feedback comments, photos and descriptions.  A few suggestions I found valuable are:

1.  Have a backup plan such as a website domain.
2.  Record your positive feedback so you can access it to set up your shop elsewhere.
3.  Keep your photos handy for setting up shop elsewhere.  Picasa or other photo-shop are options.
4.  Market your shop on other independent sites.  My shop is listed on Handmade Artists, Groovepress, Three Sisters Marketplace, Bonanza, Other possible sites to market your shop include Indiemade and http://retailrapp.com/.

The old Boy Scout motto, "Be prepared!" applies here.

View the entire article here:
http://www.handmadeology.com/etsy-shop-suspended-what-you-need-to-know/#comment-33478

Angela
Angela's Artistic Designs 

Sunday, July 8, 2012

What can you do with a Button Bouquet? 25 uses!


What can I do with a Button Bouquet?   I am asked this question all the time!  People usually think button bouquets are just for weddings - but there are lots of ways to use a button bouquet!  Here are 25 ideas:

  1.  Wristlet or Corsage for Proms
  2.   As a gift for someone in the hospital
  3.   Perfect for someone with allergies to flowers.
  4.  For your daughter’s dance recital
  5.  A fun dress-up bouquet for a little girl
  6.   Bring a pink or blue bouquet to a new mom
  7.  Use in a theater production instead of silk flowers
  8.   As a centerpiece in a vase.
  9.  As an accent piece on a mantle. 
  10.  Great for a destination wedding
  11.  Sweet Sixteen
  12.   As Centerpieces for theme parties
  13.  Bring a bouquet to your favorite aunt
  14.  On a visit to an elderly neighbor
  15.   Quincinerra
  16.  Bat Mitzvah 
  17. Centerpieces for holidays like 4th of July or Christmas
  18.  As a Desktop Decoration
  19.  Bridesmaid’s bouquets
  20.   Boutonnieres                                           
  21.  Toss bouquets                                      
  22.  Flower Girl Bouquets                                   
  23.  Your rehearsal bouquet
  24.  For a wedding shower or baby shower
  25.  Of course, as your wedding bouquet
 Do you have any other ideas? 
1                      
        
Angela
Angela's Artistic Designs!

Friday, June 22, 2012

Featured Artist: Garry Smith. Check out his beautiful Woodworking Shop

Garry of Woodworks by Gary creates these amazing and beautiful items from wood.  Garry's love of  woodworking began in his 7th grade woodworking class.  In 8th grade, he was awarded a blue ribbon at the State Fair for his set of walnut salad bowls.

I asked Garry how long it took to make a piece like the shelf below.  Like most  artists, his work is a process and it is not completed in one sitting.  Garry says, "Sometimes I have a piece of wood that inspires me but only part of the vision comes to me; then, as I am working on it, additional ideas come along until the project is felt to be complete."

Garry's offers insights into his own process, " It seems that I need to complete one dimension of the piece before the next step comes to me."

Garry also shared his struggle at pleasing the person or people who hired you, "...given a concept and then being told to make it my own can cause a great deal of stress because I am not trying to please just one person but many."


Here is my favorite - the Ballerina Shelf made from curly maple (leg and shelf sold separately):


Ballerina Shelf














Gary lives and creates his beautiful pieces in Michigan. Here's a photo of his amazing shop:

   I certainly wish my shop looked as beautiful!   Garry's shop has been featured in America’s Best Home Workshops a Better Homes and Gardens publication and in Fine Woodworking’s Tools and Shops 2004/2005 annual Issue. 

 
 If you live in the Upper Peninsula or Northern Michigan, you can view Garry's work in several galleries.

More of Garry's beautiful works can be found here: http://www.woodworksbygarry.com/index.htm

Check it out and leave a comment to let me know what you think!

Angela Di Cicco
Angela's Artistic Designs!
http://www.etsy.com/shop/angel9

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Pick 6 - A creative process

Have you ever been blocked creatively?  Can't focus on which direction to take?

Or maybe you're overwhelmed with ideas?  You don't know where to start?  Your mind floods and maybe you even shut down? 

Well, "Pick 6."  This idea is the creative genius of my friend and artist Shirley.  When you're beginning a project, when you're stuck, when you're overwhelmed, just pick 6 different items.  Maybe 6 textures, maybe 6 colors, maybe 6 shades of one color.

If you're working with collage, for example, pick piece of yarn, a piece of shiny paper, a piece of textured paper, a button, a doily to stencil, a sponge.  Work with those items to come up with something wonderful.  This gives your mind a focus.  Gets the creative juices flowing. And who knows?  You might come up with something great!

Or pick 6 shades of one color and work with that.  Or choose 6 different items in 6 different colors.  The possibilities are endless.  It really doesn't matter which medium you're working with.  This idea works!

I love this idea!  Let me know if you try it and how you made out! 

Angela                                                                        This item has lots of texture!
Angela's Artistic Designs!  
 http://www.etsy.com/shop/angel9                                Heart felted pin, button, pink, brooch

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Dye your own buttons!


I wanted to know how to remove dye from buttons and found this tutorial on how to dye them instead!  What I really like is the suggestion to put buttons in a vase with flowers!  What a great idea!


Here's the tutorial to dye your own buttons!  Buy a bunch of white buttons either wholesale or thrift shops and dye them.  Then start your own etsy business!  Perhaps you could take requests.  I need certain colors of buttons all the time!

http://www.ritdye.com/diy-projects/odds-ends/dyed-buttons

Angela
Angela's Artistic Designs                                                     Wedding Toss Bouquet Buttons, Party, Event
http://www.etsy.com/shop/angel9                       

Friday, May 11, 2012

6 of the Best Wedding Tips Ever!

In the past 5 years, I have married off 2 daughters and planned my own wedding. I've learned a few things along the way that I'm willing to share. Read on.....

6 Of the Best Wedding Tips Ever! Planning for the BIG DAY?  .

  1. Avoid the hassle of the big day altogether.  Elope.  Plan a destination wedding and say, “We’re getting married, here’s the time and place if you want to join us!”
People become possessed around weddings!  Brides dig their heels in, parents want to put their two cents in (I’m guilty!), in-laws aren’t sure they want to attend at all.  Seriously, someone took over my daughter’s body during the months preceding her wedding!  Afterwards, she said to me, “I don’t know what I was thinking!  That wedding wasn’t me at all!”  Really?  Mmmmmm. 

  1. Why spend hundreds or even thousands of dollars on a dress that you will wear only once (unless you’re like me – I put my dress on every anniversary until it no longer fit!)  Plenty of sites have dresses you can rent or purchase used! Check out:  http://www.weddingdressmarket.com/designers.php.   Last season’s Alfred Angelo for $500!  I guarantee no one at your wedding will know the difference! 
  1. If you’re going to put the time, money and energy into a really great affair, do yourself a favor and get the BEST DJ possible!  And then save time for the best part of the reception – the dancing!  I’ve been to sit-down dinners that lasted until 10:00pm, followed by the first dance, the toss bouquet, throwing the garter, cutting the cake.  And then what?  An hour of dancing?  Would you prefer several hours of eating or several hours of dancing?  Well, preferably both, but if you have to choose…..
  1. If you wake up the morning of the wedding wondering whether or not you should marry this person – put the brakes on!  Wedding jitters may be normal, but not being sure you’re making the right decision marrying this person – well, go with your gut!  It’s usually right! 
  1. Realize that you cannot go back and have a redo.  (I continually cautioned my daughters on this point.)  Are you SURE you want to have a church wedding when getting married barefoot on the beach is more your style?  Do you REALLY want to have a backyard wedding when you’ve always dreamed of a black tie event?  Oh, and do you really want to not be talking to your mom the morning of the wedding???
  1. Take the day off after the wedding to relax.  Start the honeymoon the following day.  You won’t be sorry.  Weddings are exhausting!  (I’d love a poll on how many people went to bed too tired to consummate their marriage on their wedding night!)  After months of planning and a whirlwind wedding day, you will be WORN OUT!  These events are physically and emotionally draining and besides, the morning after is the MOST FUN!  You get to open your gifts, relive the best parts of the wedding with the family and friends that are still in town and enjoy extending the celebration with brunch.  I was always sorry at my first wedding that I missed the “after party.”  I made sure I stuck around for my second wedding!

 Angela's before!
                                                                Angela's After!
Angela's Artistic Designs

Monday, May 7, 2012

Planning a Wedding?

Wow!  So many blogs about wedding planning and so many great ideas!  And Facebook gives us the luxury of  beautiful photos at the tips of our fingers!

Here are a few of my favorite wedding blogs and Facebook pages:

http://www.thoughtfullysimple.com/

https://www.facebook.com/BrendaOwenOfficiant

https://www.facebook.com/Weddingzilla

Of course, beautiful wedding bouquets at http://www.etsy.com/shop/angel9

What are your favorite wedding blogs?  Let me know!

Angela
http://www.etsy.com/shop/angel9

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Repost: 15 things you should give up to be happy!

 This is such a great post that I had to share it.  It's found on this blog: http://www.purposefairy.com/

Friday, April 13, 2012

Artisans: A trick to overcome fear and doubt

 How do you deal with fear in your business?  How do you push yourself when doubts creep in about you as an artist, an entrepreneur? This was such a useful post and a tool that I've used myself through the years, that I had to share it!  The author succinctly grasped an idea that I have occasionally used, but never consciously.  Now, I will consciously deal with my fear in small opportunities, moments that build up my confidence.  Read on.....

http://www.jonathanfields.com/blog/how-to-pick-up-a-stranger-or-produce-brilliant-work/

 Today’s guest contributor is writer, coach, violinist, filmmaker, law school graduate, and web designer, Emilie Wapnick, who works with multipotentialites to help them build lives and businesses around ALL their interests. She’s the author of Renaissance Business and the troublemaker behind Puttylike.com.
+++
“How do you like your Macbook case?” I asked the attractive stranger at the neighboring table.
“What’s that?” he replied.
“Oh, I like it. It actually saved me the other night, when my roommate spilled his drink all over the place.”
We kept chatting. His name was Stephen and he played the cello.
Contrary to what you might be thinking, I was not trying to pick him up. I wasn’t even all that interested in his computer case.
Starting conversations with strangers is a practice that I’ve adopted to help me overcome fear and doubt in my work.
Yes, you heard me right. This was about productivity.
I learned this trick a while back, when I was in an entrepreneurial competition and had to give a terrifying presentation to some big name CEOs. Like many people, I’d always despised public speaking. But this talk was important.

I decided to prepare by shoring up my confidence beforehand. My logic was that if I was going to be expected to step onto The Stage — a place of supreme uncertainty — then I would practice feeling nervous first, by embracing uncertainty in small ways throughout the day. I dubbed these “mini-risks.”

When it was finally time to deliver my speech that afternoon, I felt far more confident than I would have, had I passively gone about my day, waiting for the big moment to descend on me. It felt as though I had created my day. I’d taken charge, just like I was about to do in that speech…!

I repeated this experiment several times, and continually found that on the days when I took a number of mini-risks, I was far more productive. I was able to focus on my work, and not get as distracted by fear or self-doubt.

Here’s what’s involved, and how the practice works:
Mini-risks can involve making eye contact and smiling at people on the street, asking your waiter a question about their life, or even standing in the center of a room at a party, where people might actually look at you(!) The degree of risk involved varies from person to person. What makes a really shy person nervous may seem like no big deal for someone who’s more extroverted. That person will have to take “bigger” mini-risks.

The key is to take actions that make you a little queasy, but are still doable, and aren’t truly harmful in any physical, or long term sense. Gauge where your current comfort levels are, and push yourself just a bit further than what feels safe. Start small, even if it means simply making eye contact with a stranger on the street.

An easy way to begin implementing this practice is to go about your day, and whenever you notice an opportunity where you could be assertive, take the lead, speak, or move, do it. From spreading out on a couch, to complimenting a friend’s shirt, to illustrating a point by diving into a personal story and opening up emotionally, there are a million tiny moments throughout the day when you have the choice between taking action or remaining passive. Start noticing these moments and begin choosing action.

See each mini-risk that you take as a win, regardless of how other people react. This is important. The practice must be action-based, not results-based. You take the risk, you win. Period.
Most importantly, stack those wins. Congratulate yourself each time you take a small assertive action. See each risk as an accomplishment in and of itself, and then stack each win on top of the next, building up your confidence.

Taking mini-risks reminds you that you indeed have control over your performance and the amount of output you generate in the world. It reestablishes a sense of trust in your own ability. You demonstrate to yourself that you can handle whatever is thrown your way– that while you may not have all the answers now (you may even be a complete beginner), you’ll find a way to make it work.



Angela
Angela's Artistic Designs
http://www.etsy.com/shop/angel9

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

How to handle shop envy (Or stop comparing yourself to other shops!)

I used to look at other shops making button bouquets and see the number of sales they had and be....slightly depressed.

They had more sales - way more sales!  And my bouquets were just as colorful or creative!  Their prices were lower or higher.  I began to wonder about every decision I was making.  Maybe I should increase my prices or decrease my prices or make bigger bouquets or fancier button bouquets.  Were their photos better?  Well, some had professional photos done so yes, their photos were better.

How did they do it?  How did they increase sales and have a waiting list for bouquets? What is the secret of their success?  (Or rather, my perception of their success!)  I even emailed a few of them to ask for tips!

I still don't know the secret to the success of other shops. But I began focusing on myself, my shop and what I could do to increase my sales.

I  learned a few things about marketing my own shop, honing my photos, creating lovely bouquets and getting my name out there.

I learned as much as I could about listing and marketing and photographing my product and I continue to learn everyday.

 And I learned that when I keep the focus on me, I don't have time to fret about anyone else's shop!  And guess what?  My sales this year have been up and I've almost hit 100 sales!  Yay me! 

Angela
Angela's Artistic Designs
http://www.etsy.com/shop/angel9

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