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10 Crafty Questions With Carey Gustafson

10 Crafty Questions With Carey Gustafson

1. What kind of art or crafts do you make? Most of the crafts and projects I work on for “Glass Action” are more fun than traditional: Night lights, jewelry and tie clips, boxes and picture frames, and custom orders.

2. When did you get started – and when did you realize this could be a business? I got started working in stained glass right out of high school and was a designer and fabricator for many years. It’s a very, very small market in metro-Detroit and suddenly I found my self an unemployed in 2004. Being a homeowner, I knew it was time to convert that basement room and do my own thing!

3. Where do you get inspiration for your projects? Originally it was out of boredom and from what I’d been working on all those previous years- Birds Of Paradise, Grape clusters, tulips and the like. I wanted to make art for people that have outgrown hanging posters in their bedrooms, but will always love pop culture.

4. What do you like best about selling through more traditional venues (craft fairs)? Walking up to a display and seeing that piece of art that grabs you or makes you smile, and the immediate thought of who it would make the perfect gift for. It’s a feeling I love to have and love seeing when a customer approaches my table.

5. Now, what do you like best about selling online? Ugh, it’s a mystery to me! Truthfully, I’ve had way more success through my Myspace page than on esty or ebay. In the latter two I’m a needle in a haystack, and haven’t quite learned how to “work it” correctly! People will write me for quotes and send me ideas through Myspace. Sadly, it’s slowed down a bit, but it’s still the best for directing people to a photo gallery of work (when you don’t have a website up yet).

6. How do you price your work? I base it more on what I think people can afford vs. what it’s worth in labor. I try to make a lot of one design at the same time which cuts the time down. When I make Michigan necklaces for example, I try to cut a million out, then grind them into shape, etc. Making a few at a time slows me down!

7. What has been your biggest struggle with your business? How did you overcome it? I’ve had to train myself to keep track of hours, form a budget, and figure out what I spend on supplies. I want to run Glass Action like a lemon aid stand, but my CPA advised me otherwise!

8. What has been the most rewarding part of your business? Having repeat business, great word of mouth and people really seem to like what I make. Not just the “quality,” but my ideas and designs. That means so much and keeps me inspired!

9. What is something you wish you knew when you were first starting your business? I would have been serious sooner – I wasn’t consistently making and designing as much as I am now. I think I would have a broader range of projects. But there isn’t much i’d change. It’s been so fun year by year working in glass and doing shows!

10. Do you mind sharing a business goal that you hope to accomplish with your business? www.glassactionhq.com is the next big challenge. I have a very talented and patient friend that’s helping me.  And I’m getting into the “wedding” game! I’m designing custom jewelry for brides and bridesmaids, and reception gifts. That’s a direction I’d love to explore more!

Friday Finds

Here are some ultra-cute business accessories to help you get into “work mode!”

File Folders – Definitely not your run-of-the-mill boring, manila folders. These folders from Staples’ M Line are bright and cheery! They make you want to actually file something away.

Business Card Holder – I found this super cute business card holder on Etsy (from Cassylaintotes) I love the orange fabric and retro print!

Altered Clipboards – If you’re looking for something to write on, try these clipboards. I love this lime green leafy one and this coutoure one, which looks like it could have been holding some dressmaker’s sketches!

Skull & Crossbone Push Pins – I like bulletin boards – and these pins from Mostly Magnets [on Etsy] make hanging stuff on them even more fun!

Traffic Tip – Article Marketing

Getting traffic to your site doesn’t have to be super complicated. One easy – and free – idea to try is Article Marketing. There are many article reprint directories on the web (just Google that term and you’ll see there are tons!). Website owners and bloggers visit these sites daily to grab pre-written articles for their sites and blogs.

When you submit an article to these sites, you are giving permission for others to post it on their site, for free. As a “thank you,” these site owners will include your author bio and your link. You’d be surprised by how much traffic can come to your site from these articles!

Let’s say that you submit 10 articles and they each get published three times, and that 25 people view each page they’re published on.  That comes out to 750 new people reading your article and possibly clicking on the link to your website. Now, let’s say each of your articles are published 10 times and that 100 people see each page it’s published on…. Well, that’s 10,000 views and possible clicks.

To be effective, keep your articles related to subjects that match your website. Since the person reading the article is already interested in the article’s subject, they’ll be more likely to visit your website if your website’s topic is on key with the article topic.

For example, if you make handmade soap, you could write an article on why organic ingredients are better for your skin or an article on the toxins found in grocery store brand soaps. At the end of the article, your bio will be displayed and the person reading it will see that you make natural soaps and will be so intrigued by your article, they will want to click that link!

Some of my favorites reprint directories include Ezine Articles and Lady Pens.

10 Crafty Questions With Megan Green (Stinky Bomb Soap)

10 Crafty Questions With Megan Green of Stinky Bomb Soap

1. What kind of art or crafts do you make? My husband and I have a mom and pop shop named Stinkybomb Soap. We have created a line of bath and beauty products that take irony to it’s sudsiest form. Our soaps resemble hand grenades and our cassette tapes appeal to anyone over the age of 10 who remember tape decks. All of our soaps are created by us by casting molds from their real life counterparts, therefore carrying all the detail that the original product contains into our soap. Our beauty products appeal to the ladies but continue our militant theme with products like bath bombs and napalm lip balm, which is vegan friendly. My husband, Rob, makes all the molds and while he is a silent partner, he offers support and continued inspiration.  I manage the day to day operations, handle all the production, marketing and sales.

2. When did you get started – and when did you realize this could be a business? I should state that I have all ways been a crafty minded individual.  My grandmother gave me my first lesson with a sewing machine. I’ve dabbled in candle making, beads, and created a line of plush dolls.  It wasn’t until after the birth of our daughter that the Stinkybomb line came to be. I should also divulge that Rob has a side business where he makes replica knives and grenades out of resin. He had a bunch of old grenade molds lying around the house and I just kept telling him that I thought those molds would make some sweet bars of soap. So with nothing but time, and diapers to change, I went to work sourcing out different soap bases.  Once the recipes came to be, then it became searching out containers and creating labels. As soon as I started telling my friends I knew from their response that we were really going to have a lasting product and brand.

3. Where do you get inspiration for your projects? Our inspiration comes our general interest, Rob’s being military history, mine consisting more of pop culture and movies. A good deal of ideas come from our friends. We saw an artist friend speak the other night about her body of work, she resculpts and transforms plastic baby dolls into sculptures. It immediately gave us the idea of baby doll head soaps. It took less than two days for Rob to come back with a mold ready for soap production.

4. What do you like best about selling through more traditional venues (craft fairs)? First, would be the networking of other crafters and artist. I spend so much time in my work room or behind a computer, I love getting to talk them in person and seeing what they have been creating.  Next, is seeing the look on people faces when they walk by my booth. People either fully embrace our Stinky personality or walk away in disgust. I love engaging with those people in particular. They tend to walk away with a better idea of what this whole indie art movement is all about.

5. Now, what do you like best about selling online? Attempting to work from home while my daughter explores the house.

6. How do you price your work? This is always so hard. I do take a mark up from my cost of supplies. Every item used for the creation of one soap has been measured. From the colorants to the crinkle paper used in our packaging. I then have timed each step of the production process, that includes pouring soap to shipping. All of this factors into the product cost.

7. What has been your biggest struggle with your business? How did you overcome it? My husband plays such an integral part to Stinkybomb but it comes down to him finding time to create new products for the line. I am currently starting to learn more about his process so I can rely less on him and start making my own molds.

8. What has been the most rewarding part of your business? Hearing customer feedback. People love our soaps but are not likely to use them as the shape gets washed away with each use. So when people actually use them regularly and rave about the soap itself, I get warm fuzzies. REALLY PEOPLE: wash, rinse and repeat!

9. What is something you wish you knew when you were first starting your business? It takes time to grow a business, nothing happens over night. Also constantly apply yourself. Oh and relish in the parts of the process you love most.  I guess that was three things.

10. Do you mind sharing a business goal that you hope to accomplish with your business? We hope in a years time to attend a wholesale mart as a vendor. A very scary thought for many reasons but one that could lead to an exciting new place.