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Last Call For Summer!

Summer is drawing to a close…. This is your last chance to grab The Summer Biz Sessions and the Summer School package! Here is what you’ll be getting:

Summer Biz Sessions
This summer, we talked to some very savvy women (and one man), covering a lot of interesting topics! If you missed ’em, don’t worry – we recorded them!

You’ll be hearing from Jennifer Perkins, Jenny Hart, Casie Metcalf, Laura Allen, Claudine Hellmuth, Danny Orendorf (of Renegade Craft) , and myself on topics such as getting a book deal, giving good blog, participating in a large craft, pitching yourself, setting up workshops, balancing your business with your family, creating a sense of community around your business, and more!

Normally priced at $14.95, we’re offering them at 50% off. Click Here To Grab Them Now For Only $7.48

Summer School Package
Are you ready to learn something new? The Summer School Package includes 6 workbooks and audios, covering topics such as:

  • Low Cost Advertising
  • Creating Your Own Affiliate Program
  • Starting Your Own Podcast
  • Defining Your Target Market
  • Connecting With Your Audience
  • Social Networking

Normally priced at $65, Click Here To Grab Them Now For Only $30

OR – Click Here To Grab BOTH The Summer Biz Sessions & Summer School Courses & Audios For Only $35

Detroit Urban Craft Fair – Apply Now!

If you live in Michigan or the surrounding area, you may be familiar with the Detroit Urban Craft Fair. Held annually each November, this is arguably one of the largest craft fairs in the area.

This year’s event will be held on November 21 at The Majestic Theater in Detroit.  (of course it’s in Detroit, right?)

Applications are now open and will be accepted through September 11, 2009. If you would like to apply, click here.

Friday Finds

This week’s edition of Friday Finds is all about books. I don’t know about you, but I love, love, love books. I am the type of person who can spend hours in a bookstore or library. Here are a few you may want to buy, or borrow, today!

Sublime Stitching: Hundreds of Hip Embroidery Patterns and How To by Jenny Hart: Jenny is well-known in the craft world, and there’s a reason for it. Well, there’s a few reasons. She’s talented, business-savvy, and has a great style! If you think embroidery is for old ladies, think again. Jenny’s designs are totally cool. Your friends will love to get some holiday gifts embroidered with these designs. So get crackin’!

The Naughty Secretary Club: The Working Girl’s Guide to Handmade Jewelry by Jennifer Perkins: Again, this woman is well known in the craft world (hey.. she has had a couple TV shows…). If you’re the kind of person who likes cute, unique jewelry, this book is for you. If you want to wear diamonds and look like you’re a soap opera star, don’t buy it.

Collage Discovery Workshop – Beyond the Unexpected: New Techniques Using Color, Personal Imagery and Creative Surfaces by Claudine Hellmuth: Claudine has a great style – it’s whimsical and really, really cute! Learn how to use your photographs to make some adorable art.

Sharing Your Story: Recording Life’s Details with Mini Books by Ali Edwards: If you’re a scrapbooker, you may be familiar with the author’s monthly column in Creating Keepsakes Magazine. She is a self-described “life artist” – and I must say, I love that term! It doesn’t matter what your art or craft is, you will find inspiration with this woman’s creations. I gaurantee it!

Martha Stewart’s Cookies: The Very Best Treats to Bake and to Share by Martha Stewart: If you’re going to be doing a lot of reading (or crafting), you will need snacks. I suggest cookies. They’re easy to eat, they’re tasty, and, in my opinion, they’re fun to make!

10 Crafty Questions With Katie Hellmuth (Katie-James)

10 Crafty Questions With Katie Hellmuth of Katie-James

1. What kind of art or crafts do you make? I make things from fabric and pixels. Wow, if I could ever physically combine the two that would be cool! Hmmm…For now I suppose I’ll stick with glitter as the pixel part. But I make accessories that are useful and pretty. I call it fengtual – the merging of function and beauty. This includes cat toys made of good fabric they already destroy such as velvet and sequence.

2. When did you get started – and when did you realize this could be a business? It all ignited after I took a fashion design course at FIT (Fashion Institute of Technology) here in New York. I was a closet drawer, and sketching out outfits inspired by non-clothing, like lipstick bottles, was really fun for me. Pattern making, however, is not part of my brain, so it became too expensive to think I could launch a clothing line. I’ve always liked making things that work, so I started designing accessories. To make the patterns, I worked with a friend’s sister-in-law who was a seamstress/designer at the time for a store in Brooklyn, and is now a rock star on Etsy.

3. Where do you get inspiration for your projects? From my needs, and the needs of others. I wish I could think more abstractly, but I’m purpose driven, so I get to unleash in creativity with unusual fabric and color combinations, and uses for something very simple that no one thought of before.

4. What do you like best about selling through more traditional venues (craft fairs)? I get to see the personal reaction to my items. It helps me realize if I’ve got a winner or (sadly!) a dud. For my dog treat pouch, an accessory I designed at the request of a dog trainer, I had always thought it would make a nice pocket-purse to just drop in credit cards and a phone and go to the grocery store. So when someone bought it as a binoculars case for her bird watching, and then another woman bought it to hang from her baby stroller for her own little items, that confirmed for me that it could have dual purposes.

5. Now, what do you like best about selling online? I love selling online. I love the freedom it has. I love the challenge of trying to reach people. I love the little email I get when something sells. i love packaging the order! I loved designing my site, and I love the ability to expand on my site whenever I want to. It helps that I designed it myself, so I have a little more freedom there, but… :)

6. How do you price your work? Well, I look at the price of the materials and labor, first and formost. Currently, a woman in Alabama makes my accessories for me because she’s better at it than I am – plain and simple. But, if I made them myself, I’d still factor my rate in there to pay myself for the time it took to make it. I use high quality fabric that is closeout, meaning, there is no more left of it, and sometimes it is designer fabric. Then I look at the beauty factor, and if it’s unique enough to have higher price. I imagine what I would pay for it in a boutique. My jewelry bag for travel, for instance, gets a lot of nose turns from people online because they want one for $10 that an Amish woman made. This isn’t an Amish jewelry bag. It’s a carefully thought out one with square pockets and secured ring loops for easy access, funky color and fabric combinations with beautiful fabric that you’ll never see anywhere else.

7. What has been your biggest struggle with your business? How did you overcome it? Pattern making, I’d say. I am dependent on someone else to help me make prototypes. I did take a class at FIT to help me in this department, but fitting pieces together that didn’t look like they went together just gave me stomach aches. I am still overcoming it, because I need to find someone I have good synergy with to crank out new inventions. I don’t actively look for this person, however, so it takes a while. :) So far, I have left it to fate.

8. What has been the most rewarding part of your business? Producing the design, and someone buying it. I love matching all of the trimmings (and by matching, I mean unusual matching), sending them to who will make them, and getting them back in a box full of color. I also love growing my business in different directions. When I launched the website division of my business, Katie James Pixelated, I put up free desktop art and Twitter paper on my site, and the possibilities for where that can go is like a new frontier.

9. What is something you wish you knew when you were fist starting your business? You know what I wish I had? This is my second business I co-founded with two other hands-on partners, and it’s such an expansive outlet and learning center for business owners of all kinds – indieprepreneurs, craftypreneurs, etc. I’m so function happy, so we built with lots of ways to answer all kinds of needs from getting your own PR to building out your website for SEO, to business development in other areas, so many things. It’s also an online and offline group connector that has proved invaluable to growing my little Katie James in all sorts of directions.

10. Do you mind sharing a business goal that you hope to accomplish with your business? Boy oh boy, where to start! And what secrets to entice you with? I want to really launch Friends of Katie James on my site. I have my first designer on the site – Perry M Tote Bags. She hand draws super detailed designs on canvas totes. Hours of work. I want to transform my blog, into a…blog with more dimension, let’s just say. It’s had many makeovers in my mind, and it’s time to put thought to pixel!

How To Start A Podcast (The Easy Version)

As promised, I am going to give you the lowdown on how to start a podcast. Remember – this is the easy version. You can get all technical if you want. But I’m going to tell you how to get started without a bunch of equipment and with just a little cash.

1. Make Some Decisions – You need to decide what the general topic of your show will be. Since you’re reading a craft site, I suspect that it will be somehow crafty… but will it be general? Or do you want to get specific and focus on a particular craft? Will it be a “how-to” type of podcast, or a podcast where you give industry-related news? Will you interview people or will you  just give your opinion?

2. Decide How To Record – You can record yourself for free with a computer microphone headset and the free software Audacity. If you want to record interviews, you can use Skype and the Pamela plugin. I also enjoy Audio Acrobat, because it will host your audio for you on their site. Audio takes up a lot of room and if you have a lot of downloads, you may exceed your bandwith,which means you’ll end up paying your website host extra money. The service also makes it very easy to put your podcast into iTunes.

3. Take Action! The above info is the “basics” – the stuff you need to know to get started. So go for it!

Here are some extra things you may want to take note of… but you don’t need them to get the ball rolling:

  • A Theme Song – Create one yourself with royalty free loop music (Google that term and you’ll find lots of websites to peruse), or hire someone to make one for you.
  • Custom Graphic – If you put your podcast in iTunes, you’ll probably want to create a custom graphic. This will be displayed along with your podcast and it will help your podcast look more professional. If you’re not gifted with graphics, hire someone to do it for you.
  • Flip Video Camera – If you want to venture into the world of video podcasts, I suggest getting a Flip Video Camera. They are easy to use, affordable, and uploading your videos is a snap!

10 Crafty Questions With Beth Nixon (Reware Vintage)

10 Crafty Questions Featuring Beth Nixon of Reware Vintage

1. What kind of art or crafts do you make? My most popular craft is my Record Notebooks – they are made using vintage record albums in uncollectable condition, and use the cover of the record as the cover of the notebook, are filled with locally made paper, and include the record itself as the last page of the book.They are a lot of fun to make and customers all over the world  love them! I make lots of other crafts, too – jewelry made from records, pouches and purses made from vintage fabric, reconstructed clothing, and necklaces from found objects…I dabble in a lot just for the fun of it!

2. When did you get started – and when did you realize this could be a business? I’ve always had a fascination with vintage clothing, and with records. For years I would customize my own clothing that I’d found in thrift shops, and people would stop and ask me where I got my outfit…that’s how it all started! My husband and I started building a website to sell vintage clothing and items that I’d put my own touches on. I’d read a book a few months before the website launched that had a couple of projects made from records in it, and I made Christmas presents for our friends with the ideas. Everyone loved them, and I was so hooked with records as a new craft material. I worked for a while on the notebooks and gave them away to a few friends to try it out, and the response was overwhelming. I started getting requests from friends and friends of my friends, and from then on I knew that I would always have a destructive relationship with vinyl.

3. Where do you get inspiration for your projects? I love to learn and try new crafts! I’m also the type of person who focuses on function. I love to look at something that might be junk or trash or just something to look at to the average eye, and try to find a new purpose for it that will make it better or more usable in a way. It’s a puzzle to me, and I just need to figure out what to do and how to do it – the process is the best part for me!

4. What do you like best about selling through more traditional venues (craft fairs)? I love selling at craft fairs to see the response to my items! It’s so great to meet people and see their reactions to what I make, and it is very inspiring. There have been many craft fairs where I have sprouted a totally new idea of something to make based out of a customer’s comment or conversation. It is incredibly rewarding to have that customer interaction from time to time!

5. Now, what do you like best about selling online? Selling online is great because I am able to reach audiences all over the world! I’ve sent items to Japan, Greece, Australia, Great Britain, Mexico, and that would never be possible without my website. I love the idea that someone in Tokyo is using a Michael Jackson record notebook that I made in my home – It’s a pretty amazing concept!

6. How do you price your work? I personally am a very price-conscious consumer, so I price according to what I think is a reasonable cost for the item. I also take into account the time and energy that I put into it, and the cost of my materials. It’s not an exact science for me, and it’s always a battle in my mind!

7. What has been your biggest struggle with your business? How did you overcome it? My biggest struggle is definitely the self-promotion aspect. Having an online store is so different than a brick-and-mortar store. No one is driving past you on the street. You have to create your own opportunities every day, and you have to find the people in the world who are really going to love what you do and make yourself known to them! I work at it every day, and it is a learning experience every day.

8. What has been the most rewarding part of your business? The most rewarding part of my business has been all of the friends that I have made over the years because of a similar interest and passion for the crafting community, especially my fellow members of Handmade Detroit. It really is an amazing, massive, and awe-inspiring network of people and I am so happy to be part of it!

9. What is something you wish you knew when you were fist starting your business? I wish I would have had a DeLorean and a flux capacitor to know that it all worked out later. The first year was difficult for me, and I repeatedly questioned whether or not it was a good idea to quit my job and go for my dream job of working for myself. I knew I had some great ideas, but I wasn’t sure it people would really “get it”. The day of my first craft fair – The Detroit Urban Craft Fair – was the day I knew I had made the right decision, because I almost completely sold of my notebooks, but until then I sometimes doubted my sanity! My advice to anyone starting out is to just be confident in themselves and go for it without fear!

10. Do you mind sharing a business goal that you hope to accomplish with your business? I have so many goals and dreams for my business! This year my goal was to do a few out of state shows, and I’ll be traveling to Cleveland, Ohio in a couple weeks for my first! My main goal is to always keep waking up excited for work, and to live passionately for my work and the friends I’ve made through it every day. Oh, and I want to send Mickey Dolenz a Monkees notebook, because he’s my favorite!