Jun 16, 2009

The Winner!

Tina of Verbena Custom Fragrance Blends has made her decision, with my input of course, and a winner has been chosen for the Spring Into Summer Giveaway!

The winner is...

Chef Runner, with their fresh and lovely scent:
"I went running in Charlottesville, VA a couple weeks ago, and loved the smell, with all the honeysuckle blooming. It was a conference, and right before graduation, so they had done a lot of maintenance on the grounds, so I would say, Honeysuckle, Fresh Cut Grass, with a faint base note of Fresh Mulch. Smells green, welcoming, and like the early morning."
Congratulations, Chef Runner! You get a $20.00 credit for Verbena Custom Fragrance Blends on Etsy! You may purchase something for $20.00 (including shipping) and send a message with your purchase noting that you were the Spring Into Summer Giveaway winner on the Monster Kookies blog!

It may not be everybodies scent of choice, of course! But Tina feels, especially, that this was the most unique and interesting "Earthy" scent she came across. She hopes to actually be able to create this scent and do it justice in one of her body products!

So, a special thank-you to everyone who participated. It was a rather hard time deciding with all those lovely fragrances you suggested!

If you stay tuned, I believe you may all be interested in a contest that I will be holding to win one of my own Monster Kookies products! I should have this contest underway very soon, so keep checking back to my blog!

Jun 12, 2009

Contest Closed!

I'd like to thank everyone who participated in the Spring-Into-Summer giveaway. Tina of Verbena Custom Fragrance Blends and I are currently choosing and discussing our top-favourite scents and will determine a winner by June 15th!

So stay tuned, dolls!

Jun 9, 2009

Cuckoo for Joojoo

Possibly one of my most favourite clay artists happens to be somebody completely opposite to my style. Her creations aren't creepy or industrial themed like mine, but everything about them seems to have my clear attention.

There is something so playful and innocent about the imaginative polymer clay designs of Joojoo on Etsy. Her use of colour is extraordinary and it shows through in soft pastels and bright tropical hues. Little details like the addition of painted-on eyelashes are perfect and whimsical and her use of natural pieces of nature like sticks, acorn caps, and shells breathe life into her designs. They're like a breath of fresh air!

I have personally had a few delightful conversations with JooJoo, or Afi as she called herself, and she is an absolute darling to chat with. She happens to reside in the same city as I do - Toronto, and we both happen to dig the polymer clay.

I could possibly be having a love affair with every single one of her creations, but I can tell you that I am quite tickled when I see her dear little Spring Snails. Their design is such a simple one, but so admirable in every way. Their little antennae and painted eyes just make me feel all warm and fuzzy, and each of them have a natural shell and a rare earth magnet so that you can stick it to any metal surface you wish. They look especially cute on the sides of a candy tin, like she shows here in the above photo.

An amazing addition to her collection of snails would have to be her signature Tattooed Snail. The bright pinks, reds, and blue patterns against the translucency of the white are a perfect match, and the pearly white shell finishes it off very nicely. I am usually tempted to make my own creations as opposed to splurging on someone elses, but this piece makes me want to break my piggy bank!

Each of Joojoo's creations is like a fairy tale, some of them with their own little story. I personally find it truly magical to find a polymer clay artist who is just as dedicated to her lovely descriptions as she is to her wonderful creations. Her photos are fantastic, clear, vivid, and some of the backgrounds she chooses to use are just darling. Like the Nosy Toucan, pictured to the left. He's spying on his friends, and doesn't like to be caught.

Check out JooJoo on Etsy, and take a look at more of her work and to add a few of her bright and whimsical creations to your life!

Jun 5, 2009

Packaging & Shipping Your Lovely Creations

A lot of people tend to think that because they have done all the hard work to get a sale online, they can take a breath and worry not because all the work is done. But realistically, posting and selling your items are only half of it. You have an impression to make!

Packing and shipping your items might seem like a meagre task, but what you are doing is sending the buyer a piece of your personality. You can't be there in person, so you have to send a good representation of yourself. A good packaging job can mean the difference between repeat sales and one time buyers, and it is up to you to give them a little bit of magic with every parcel you send. Just think of it this way - it's like Christmas or a Birthday for the buyer, so WOW them! Make it personal, make it beautiful, but most of all - make it memorable!

These ten thorough tips will get you started on packaging your beautiful products in a way that will make an everlasting good impression on your buyers. To make it easier, I will also include examples from my own experiences. So here we go!

  1. Packaging should reflect you! Come up with a style of packaging that matches the items you sell. If you send your items in cute yellow polka dot gift wrap, and your shop doesn't even have an ounce of cuteness, you are going to look like you are either having an identity crisis or that you really just don't know how to coordinate. My shop is basically white with many additions of lime green, purple, and black. I generally ship my items in lovely white boxes tied with green polka dot ribbon and purple tissue paper - it matches the colours of my shop!

  2. Don't be a grub! We all try to cut corners to save a buck when we can, but if the box that you are planning to ship in has been mashed up and torn - don't use it! Rips, tears, and other damage will always been seen as carelessness. The best rule to follow is to use new packaging products. If you decide to reuse old packaging supplies, just make sure that they are in excellent condition. Wrapping things in newspaper, Christmas wrapping paper (if it isn't Christmas), old Chatelaine magazines from 1976, or worn & old bubble envelopes are an absolute no-no and will put off your customer in an instant.

    If you make your own boxes or bags, do a good job - don't just throw them together. Remember - presentation is of the essence!

  3. Serve and Protect! It is a real downer when you open a package only to find that it's been damaged or broken. Do all you can to make sure that your items are safe and cozy, because postal workers tend to play football with your parcels, sometimes. Things like tissue paper, cotton, shredded paper, packing peanuts, bubble wrap, plastic balloons, and bubble envelopes are a good way to protect your items from damage as well as the elements.

  4. Keep it clean! Nothing is more disturbing than finding pieces of pet hair, human hair, and fuzzies in a brand new parcel. It's un-hygienic for sure, but it is also a turn-off. Always keep the area where you package things free from dust, hair, and smoke. Do not eat or drink around your shipping area, as cookie crumbs and soda stains are no fun either. One of my biggest pet peeves is receiving an item that wreaks of cigarette smoke. If you smoke, don't smoke around your items - or better yet, smoke outside.

    If you pride yourself in being green, recycling is definately a regular part of life for you. Recycling boxes and packaging supplies is not necessarily a bad thing unless it is in bad condition - so think before you use it!

  5. Keep shipping realistic! If you charge too much for shipping, you might not even got as far as a sale, at all! All you have to do is visit your local post offices' website or pay them a visit and ask them a few questions. An example of a no-no would be the actions of the majority of eBay sellers: Many eBay sellers give you a great deal on the product, but shipping is through the roof to compensate for a low selling price.

    Only charge what is realistic for shipping. Invest in a moderately priced digital scale and measuring tape, and get your shipping fees down to an art before you start selling. Any costs such as boxes, tissue paper, bubble wrap, and other packaging prices should be incorporated into the items selling price - not the shipping price.

    On the other of the spectrum, do not under price your shipping. By doing this, you are reaching into your own pocket each and every time you sell an item and are undercutting any profit that you make from the item. If you plan on selling as a business, you need to think business. If your shipping prices are on the high side but are realistic, all you have to do is explain why, and most of the time people will understand. If your product is good, the shipping price is always worth it in the end.

  6. Include a business card! Business cards can be made for rather inexpensively. I personally use Vista Print, and their cards (in Canada, atleast) start at $17.99 for 250 cards. Stick the business card on your package; or better yet, stick a few in with the package. If you include more than one card, chances are that the buyer will pass them on to somebody else who may be interested in your products.

  7. Offer coupons and freebies! How many of us flock to free sample stands in the grocery store? If it's free - we love it! Try adding a little something with each package that you send out - such as magnets, stickers, and buttons with your business name on it. It's such an inexpensive way to say thank-you, and most people will be very happy about it. A great way to coax buyers to come back is to include coupons with their purchases. Things like "10% off your next purchase" or "Free shipping on orders more than $20.00", are great promotions to offer. Just make sure to set an expiry date!

    Things not to include are freebies that could result in a mess upon opening. For example, chocolate is a cute gesture but what if the person lives in a warmer climate? You don't want chocolate goo all over the product, do you? The same goes for extremely strong smelling perfumes, soaps, and candles - they can permeate the entire box!

  8. Personalize your packaging supplies! A plain old box is all well and good, especially if it looks great the way it is, but try adding your own flare to it by stamping your name and website onto the box or adding a sticker with your store logo. Not only does it look professional, but the buyer will be reminded of you everytime they see it!

    Don't just think inside the box - think outside! On the outside of the parcel, that is. Add your logo name and website on the outside of the envelope where all the shipping information is. Do you know how many people handle your items before it gets to it's final destination? Many! If your name or logo looks interesting, somebody who handles the parcel might write it down for their own references.

  9. Write a little thank-you note! Buyers just gush over the fact that their product has been made just for them. It really is a luxury that you cannot find with mass produced items. Your products come from real people with a heart - not a robot. So show it! Write a quick thank-you on a cute stick-it note and make the customer feel special! Because they are!

  10. Follow Up! Just because the item has been shipped does not mean that the transaction is over and done with. Send them a quick message or e-mail asking if they have received the item and check to see that they are happy with it. If you're on Etsy or eBay, leave positive feedback and ask the buyer to do the same for you. Happy buyers are repeat buyers!

Jun 3, 2009

Online Selling Tip #1 - A Picture Is Worth A Thousand Words

I know you have probably heard this a billion times before, but pictures really ARE worth a thousand words on the world wide web. Your customers do not have the same benefit as walking into a store - they cannot touch your product, see how big it is, look at the details, or see it three dimensionally.

We as humans are very interactive creatures - we love to completely SENSE what we are getting. We want to touch, smell, taste, look at, and listen to everything. If you have one shot at getting a customers attention, your pictures will certainly have a huge part in it. This isn't a photography lesson - obviously I cannot teach you how to use your camera, but these are some pointers that will generally help you to get the best results. A good example of the use of some of these tips is the photo off to the left that I took of my latest creation - Bertram the Mechanical Birdie.

  • Lighting is extremely important! You can't take your pictures in the dark, can you? If your lighting in the house is minimal and dingey, invest in a few inexpensive clip-on desk lamps -they can be found in hardware stores as well as big box stores. But don't go for soft light bulbs - go for Daylight bulbs. They give off the same type of natural light as the sun does. Colours are more true, and brightness is at it's best.

    The best light you will ever have is the natural light of the sun. If you live in a sunny climate, or it happens to be Spring/Summer where you live, take your pictures outside! There really is no comparison - the colours are their truest when the light is natural.

  • Show your product in it's true environment! If you are selling prints, you might want to stuff it into a frame and take a picture of it hanging on a wall. If you are selling bracelets, show the product on somebodies wrist. You don't have to do this of course, but it really aids in helping the customer visualize how it would look in their own environment.

  • Your product really needs to steal the show! Don't take pictures of it on top of a busy or clustered background. You need a background that will allow the product to practically POP off the backdrop! Say your product is purple - take a picture of it on a green, yellow, or orange background. You can use the "Color Wheel" to find some great colour complements and opposites. Another good tip is to take pictures of light objects on dark backgrounds, and dark objects on light backgrounds.

  • Keep your photos clean! I know it is extremely tempting to add huge borders and decorations while editing your photos, but it can be really distracting on Etsy. Try to skip out on adding names and words on your photos as well, as they can be very distracting.
  • If you do use watermarks on photos, add a disclaimer! Especially if you sell prints, most people tend to add watermarks to avoid having someone steal the image. If you use watermarks, make sure you add a disclaimer to your listing that says something along the lines of, "If you purchase this print, it will not come with a watermark on it." I know it sounds sort of obvious, but you'll be surprised how many people can get confused by this, and think that your photos really do come with "Copyright so-and-so on such-and-such date" plastered across the entire print!

  • Make sure your photos are large enough that customers can see all the details. If it's too small, people will be scared off because they can't see what they are buying.

  • Nobody likes blurry photos. Especially if you are taking pictures of smaller objects, use the Macro setting on your digital camera to get a well focused and sharp photo.