My tutus were always big sellers at the craft fairs, but never on ETSY. Maybe that's because of the large amount of competition on ETSY. It's ok with me, I actually don't like mindless manufacturing. I love doing new things. I love coming up with a new design and watching it become a real product. I also love turning a picture of someone's loved one into something new, like the Candid Memory Paintings, or the portrait tote. I like the personal nature and the creative aspect. Unfortunately that leaves me with a bunch of tutus that have no purpose. For some reason Laurel decided to put on the Woodland Fairy tutu before we went on a walk last night. She ran outside with her long hair flowing, her tutu rustling...and went straight for the dandelions. She began to blow the seeds all over the place. They danced through the air and came to rest in her hair and all over the tutu. It was enchanting. She is enchanting, my wild wild girl.
I also redid my pig basket design slightly. It's not a permanent change or anything, just another option. I think a like it better, though I'm not sure. The earlier design is more subtle and folksy whereas this one makes more of a statement. It was a request for a boy's basket, and I wanted to make sure it looked more gender neutral. It's a pig...it's gender neutral by nature. But the previous one had pink polka dots on the lining material. So I changed it to bright apple green with white polka dots instead. Anyway...I like it...what do you guys think?
I worked most of the night filling orders. I love making new designs. Not that making old designs is bad, sometimes the brainlessness of knowing exactly what to do already is soothing. But I love the design process. Deciding how to make it work, and seeing it all come together. I had a custom request for a ducky easter basket. I had a vision in my head what it should look like, but the vision in my head, and even the sketch on the paper often proves difficult to produce exactly as shown. In my head the duck had feet and a tail.
In the final product simplicity of just the beak and eyes proved better I think. I made the feet, and they're adorable, but I couldn't make them fit right on the duck.
It ended up being awkward. I want these too be used, and played with. I make the body parts on these fun so that kids actually like messing around with them. The pigs tail is stretchy, the ducks beak is flappy, ears are floppy, etc etc. I want kids to have fun with these. But somehow the feet were too much, so here they are...lonely lonely feet. They'll have to go into the drawer for another day. (Actually it won't be too long until they have a home) I cut the pattern for a new bag. Actually it's a back pack...nay...a quack pack. (or duck sack if you prefer the term ruck sack). I'm working on the rigging system. It will involve grommets, and the straps will retract when the bag is opened and cinches when the bag is put on your back. The bottom of the straps will be the duck legs...and on the bottom...the lonely feet. Lonely no longer. Alas though, the Quack Pack must wait. I have many orders to fill and can't sew him yet. If only I had entire days to sew instead of a few hours after I put the kids to bed or before they wake up. (And if only I was better at putting them to bed on time!)
The other day I was sitting on the ground outside playing with Luke when Laurel suddenly came up and started singing You Are My Sunshine. I have never heard anything so beautiful, I think I almost cried. I didn't even know she knew that song, she must have learned it in school. And what's interesting is, she won't sing it on demand. I'll ask her to sing it to me and she'll give me a scheduled time. Generally it's after something concrete in her day; like after preschool or if I buy her M&Ms (so smart that girl). I've really begun to realize that my years with them loving me so affectionately are numbered. She won't always run out of her room in the morning and beg me to spend "5 more minutes" snuggling with her on the couch. Certainly as an adult I don't snuggle with my mom...that would just seem weird. And yet, it seems perfectly normal to me that I want to snuggle with my kids forever. Why must it stop?!?! Maybe we'll break with tradition and be the forever-snuggling family. Look for it on 20-20 in about 30 years.
So, it's gray and rainy outside and it got me to thinking about that. Then, as I was strolling through my tagged favorites again and I came across this picture and it is so the opposite of gray and rainy that I thought I'd share it. This is from an ETSY shop called Erin Jane Illustrations. (http://www.erinjaneshop.etsy.com/) Maybe it's the kid in me, or the daydreamer...but I'm always attracted to illustrations that are dream-like. My guilty pleasures are movies that are total fantasy, Narnia, Alice-in-Wonderland, Coraline, Harry Potter. Luckily Laurel seems to like them too. Ever since we saw Coraline together we've been putting big buttons on our eyes and calling ourselves Other Mother and Other Laurel. I love that kid.
Have I mentioned lately how amazed I am at the talent on ETSY? I am. I am constantly tagging favorites. I have so many it's too much to keep up with! I found these not so long ago, and I after I saw them I wondered to myself why I would ever buy real flowers again.
Men out there...buy your women these flowers. They might be the most awesome flowers in the world. I actually was first attracted to the site by the earrings. (which I also found to be amazing) But, not so practical in my world. Luke would pull them out of my ears...and Laurel would take them to feed to her stuffed Alligator (who knows why she does what she does...I'm in constant amazement of her too)...and I would be sad because my new beautiful earrings would be crushed. I remember four years ago (before I knew anything about ETSY) I went searching online for some amazing paper flowers to decorate my soon-to-be-born baby girls room. And I found some that were pretty neat, and both the large ones and the small ones still hang in her room. But these...these aren't just neat. These are awesome Alice-in-Wonderland works of art. Someone tell Jon how much I like them so that I can be totally surprised with them one day. (I can't tell him that I want them, it would defeat the purpose!) Anyway...this is her site...check it out...her flowers rock. http://www.karinhopedesigns.etsy.com/
I've decided I'm going to give something away for my 100th sale on ETSY. I've wanted to do give-aways all along, but time just hasn't permitted yet. But, I think the 100th sale is cause to celebrate. But what should it be? A monster tote? A personalized apron? I'm making up a full apron that has the same face-portrait like the portrait tote...that might be fun. Or I could just make something that isn't personalized so it would be ready to ship right away. Or maybe I should do something totally new. Hmmm...help me decide. You guys let me know what I should give away. You can comment here or convo me on ETSY. I also haven't decided how to give it away. First person to contact me after the giveaway starts...or the 100th...or the first person to answer a question...hmmm...so many decisions!
I've really made the mental jump to taking my business full time. Not today, not tomorrow...but in my future...I can see it now. Sales are certainly picking up right now, but I think that has more to do with the time of year then anything else in particular. I'm certainly not doing any marketing yet or anything like that. There are a couple of bright things on the horizon.
1) I bought my domain. Check it out...www.maggiebluedesigns.com. Before you say anything, YES, it's supposed to do that. It will take you automatically to my ETSY store. I don't have a website yet, so it's got to do something in the meantime. I plan (in my head only...not on paper) to launch the website in 3-6 months. How do I plan to do this? Dunno. I've never done any of this before, so I'm learning as I go. I did create a layout that I liked, but it's purely visual...it is a jpeg, not a website. If only it were that easy. I also have big decisions to make...like which jobs I should hire a professional for. Ideally all of them, that way I could just focus on the fun stuff!
2) I was contacted by an online/catalog company for a couple of my products. We've agreed upon wholesale pricing, and now I have to send in my products to be photographed. I see no reason why this partnership won't go through, but I'm still reserving any big hopes. I have no idea whether the extra exposure will get me zero additional sales or a million. Zero of course isn't good, but neither is a million. I'm not ready for a million!!
I really feel like I'm on the edge of something, but not quite sure where to start. I don't anticipate this being full time for a long time. And that's ok. But I know now that I can do it if I want to, and I've decided that I want to.
I'd like to start this off by saying that this is all Corey's fault. I was on the phone with her last night when I got to my mom's to pick up the kids. Therefore, she distracted me. This caused me to lock my keys and my purse in the car. Luckily my mom could loan me her car for the evening so I could go home. But wait...I don't have the house key either. (locked in the car) Ah, but I DO have a set in the vehicle that's been parked at my mom's since the fall because it died there after a craft show and we've been too lazy to get it fixed. (Yes, my mom is a saint) But it's dark and I can't find the keys. So my brother Cody brings me a head-light and gets himself a flashlight and we set in to find them. Can't find them, can't find them, can't find them...give up...turn around one more time...there they are! Woo hoo! Then I drive home in my mother's luxury mini-van (can't figure out any of the high tech gadgetry) and realize that Laurel's stuff for school is in the car. (tote bag, carpool number) So I wake up early to make her a tote bag she can bring (ok, this is my fault...a normal person would have let her use any number of free-already-made totes that are lying around everyone's house). I have this lovely bit of purple canvas (see last blog), and it just screams MONSTER. So here it is...the "A MONSTER ATE MY tote bag." I blame Corey...or should I thank her?
I bought some bright colored canvas the other day for a couple of projects I was working on; first pink, then purple then blue. So I had little bits of each left over, enough to make one small project (if I really used every bit). I've been wanting to make some of the easter basket ideas that have been swimming around in my mind as well. At first I'd planned to make them out of flannel because the flannel was on sale and they had some great spring shades. BUT, something kept bringing me back to that colored canvas. It's just so vibrant. The blue just became a whale in mind, and that's where Luke's basket came from.
Laurel I wasn't so sure of. I drew a bunch of designs for her, thinking she'd pick a bunny or chick. Instead she picked the pig. I was pleased as punch because the bright pink canvas would make a perfect pig. But I was a little confused since she's never shown any interest in pigs. Later in the day she divulged that she picked the pig because of a story I told her about a little plastic pig that poops candy. (True story, they keep them at the front of the Joann's stores so when you're waiting in line you can't help but look at the little pigs that poop candy when you pull on their tails) Anyway, this is why she picked the pig. I think her brain train went something like this pig-> poop-> candy-> easter-> basket. Aha! And she knew what she wanted. My brain train often works that way as well. Jon thinks it's hilarious (if not what somewhat confusing).
Besides filling orders we're trying to get our lives, our house, and just about everything else in order. It seems we've spent every weekend trying to organize one area, only to destroy several more. I need to call the TLC Clean Sweep crew and tell them I'm in desperate need of a whole house clean up job. (Come on, it's a small house...I think you can handle the whole thing!) We don't even mind helping, we just need someone to keep pushing us in the right direction. It does make me wonder why I bought so much stuff over the years. Which is strange, because for people who know us we are a very tightly budgeted family, we don't buy that much stuff! Of course some of it predates us as a couple...a lot of it is gifts from our wedding, from having kids, etc. Unfortunately no one gave us a bigger house, so all of that stuff has no where to go but up. (And I don't mean the attic, it's already full...I mean up into tall towers of stuff balanced oh-so-carefully so as not to tip and fall and crush us all) So in between cleaning and filling orders (and working and taking care of kids) I've also been trying to play around with some designs for canvas storage baskets/bags. The goal is to make something cute, relatively free standing that can be used as whatever it needs to be. Larger ones for toys and laundry, smaller ones for knick-knacks. I made one yesterday that is SO big (not on purpose) that I could carry Laurel around in it...standing up...and barely able to see over the top. It wasn't my intention to make it so big...but that is what prototypes are for. Getting a feel for what works and what doesn't. Essentially you should be able to pick it up like a tote, set it down on the ground and have it keep it's shape, and then when you're done hang one of the straps on the wall and have it look cute and decorative. If this works out I plan to have a couple in each of the kids rooms, a couple in the living room, and maybe some smaller versions in the kitchen, bathrooms, etc. Just an easy way to clean, pick up and organize while looking cute. This is the goal, we'll see how it turns out. In the end I'm sure you're asking...why don't you just go buy baskets like normal people? And that's a good question. Partly because we're cheap, a little because I think it will look cute, but mostly because we're trying to get things off the ground and free up some living space. We'll just have to wait and see how it works out.
In the meantime I've also been working more on the graphics side of the business...cards, etc. I've expanded on the digital Candid Memory cards that I was working on. I like the simplicity of the designs. So here are two I did up with my two scallywags. The goal will be to sell singular cards for special occasions, plus packs of cards for general stationary, thank you cards, etc. I think a pack of cards personalized with pictures of someone's kids would make a good mother's day gift. It's simple, cute, personalized and inexpensive. But, maybe I'm too biased. I need one of those friends who is totally honest who would tell me whether something looked stupid or not. (Actually, I have one of those friends...but I'd be afraid to ask her because she might say they ARE stupid. And really, I don't want to hear that!)
Becoming Maggie Blue is the journey to becoming the person I want to be. After many years of living a conventional life, we decided to move to Alaska and live on a boat. Currently we're traveling full time in a camper with our two kids, exploring North America. We have no plan beyond going slowly and seeing all there is to see, and taking the time to connect and be together as much as possible in these special years.