May 31, 2012

Tophatter: Love It or Hate It?

Tophatter.com
A few months back, I was introduced to Tophatter by a Facebook ad at the Left of the screen. I was immediately thrown into a Live Auction led by a little guy with a mustache and monocle. I couldn't take my eyes off the screen - it was so addictive! I didn't do any actual bidding, but I definitely liked to watch all the action.

I've been keeping an eye on Tophatter.com for awhile, now. I've been watching all sorts of auctions, and even getting in on a little bit of bidding. Recently, I decided to throw in a few of my own items and see how much they sell for. It's definitely been hit and miss, that's for sure.

Now, if you aren't familiar with Tophatter, it's basically a Live Auction website. No, it isn't like eBay where you get to bid on things that take days to finish - it's more like a real auction where the item is presented to you and bought up within just a few minutes - sometimes seconds.

"Lots" come up, the little mustached guy at the podium tells you a little bit about the item - What price it is starting at, how much it is worth (retail), and where it can shipped and for how much. You can click on the item to get details about it, as well as extra photos. You can place a bid on the item, which is usually in increments of $1 to start, and the increments get a little bigger as the bidding progresses. If people stop bidding, it's basically "Going once, going twice, sold!". Just like a real auction, whoever places the last bid will win.

There is "Standby" where items are placed to be potential items in the current auction. Anything in Standby will sit there until someone "Advances" it to the auction by placing the first bid on it. Once somebody bids on the item, it goes to the bottom of the Auction list. If nobody places the first bid, you're out of luck, and the item will not be sold at Auction at that time. Standby usually opens about an hour before the Auction begins, and a few times throughout the Auction as the amount of Lots up for grabs starts getting low.

It doesn't seem to matter what day it is, there are usually quite a few people in the Auctions. Sometimes there are a few auctions at once - Jewelry seems to be the most popular. In the Auction room, crowds can range from just 50 to over 200. I've seen almost 300 people in one room at once. There have been some pretty fierce battles over certain items, and there have been times where people just didn't budge and things were just flying off the shelves to single bidders for only $2 - $5.

A 10% commission is taken from each sale - $1 is the minimum. So if something sells for just $2.00, Tophatter gets half of that. Priority to sell more than one item at a time is mostly given to those who have sold many items at a high price.

The first item I placed up for auction was my Fabricated Heartbeat heart. In my shop, it is worth $55.00 plus shipping. As the bidding began, it was a little slow - but then some cheerleaders hopped into the action. I didn't even know these people, but they praised my heart like there was no tomorrow! The bidding got a little more fierce and then closed at $42.00. Not too bad for my first auction! It must have been luck, though...

Now. That was during a Jewelry auction just after dinner - probably around 7:30PM Eastern Time. It was a totally different experience selling the same heart at 2AM in the Night Owl Bazaar. The same heart sold for only $22 - and that was with a $20 starting bid. I was rather disappointed. The same thing happened at a few different auctions. Different items, but low selling prices.

It's strange to say, but the items that seem to do the best are the mass produced ones. You know, the lockets and charms that you can just throw together with some chains, beads, danglies, or gears... something pretty or shiny or sparkly. It's quite sad to me because most of these things are something you would often see for wholesale prices on eBay or Alibaba, and for just pennies.

It's the handmade things that seem to sell the worst. People just don't seem to see the value in handmade when it comes to Auction sites. My advice to those who want to sell handmade on Tophatter? Create something that is easy to make many of and something that is less labour intensive and requires the least amount of materials. Because when that sculpture that you worked hours on sells for just 5 bucks - you're going to be heartbroken. Nobody can see how much time and effort you put into something - only you are the one who knows that.  The auction can last seconds to just a few minutes - most of it will be impulse bidding, and folks just won't take the time to read the description. Pictures mean everything on this site, and although people may "Ooooo" and "Ahhhhh" your Lot until the cows come home, that doesn't mean they are going to pay up.

My diagnonsense? Wholesalers, resellers, and destashers - Tophatter.com may be for you. Handmade sellers? Forget it... Unless you have a high starting bid or you can make something small, quick, clever, and appeals to the masses - for pennies. Lockets seem to be hot right now. Any locket, really. Stick something in it, glue stuff to it, and call it steampunk. There you go. Instant $30 - $40 right there.

So what do you guys think? Tophatter - Love it? Or Hate it?

Mar 21, 2012

Funeral Bot: Queen of the Dreads

Victoria - Creator, founder, and the madness behind what is Funeral Bot Dreads is an absolute dread-making machine. She makes synthetic dreads, dread wigs, dread falls, cyberlox, hair accessories, extensions (human and synthetic), and a hell of a lot more. Just look at these cute lil' Lady Gaga hair bows she made! She's also got some new things cookin', as well.

"Something new is always cooking! I'm always trying to learn something new and think up what the next big thing is. Lady GaGa bows are in now so i have learned to make those and are up for sale.. i have just as of today started offering multicolor hair bows! A storm is brewing for something new, but i cant tell Shhh! ;)"

Victoria is local to Toronto, Ontario, and in addition to creating some kick-ass dreads, she also installs them. Her technique is flawless, resulting in good tight dreads that aren't going to fall out.

"Dreads installations cost $35/hr and at the most take 3.5 hours. For micro link extensions if you ordered the hair from me installation is FREE of charge!"

Victoria realized that most folks were charging an arm and a leg for a good set of dreads, which led her to think that quality didn't really have to break the bank. In fact, she made this her mantra, and this is what started Funeral Bot Dreads.

"As im sure most of you have seen dreads and extensions are far from cheap. I remember wanting some for myself and refusing to pay $500 or more. So.. i made my own! I learned with many hours of online searching and many youtube videos. I took pieces from many different ways of making them and combined them to what has been the master solution for me, and learned some of my own tricks along the way ;)

I think that you get what you pay for doesnt always have to be the case. I like to offer the best quality along with a reasonable price that wont break the bank. That is something that is hard to find. I've seen dreads makers that have insane prices and still offer poor quality. I feel that is such a shame! Also as a dread maker i am ALWAYS trying to figure out what's next, im not a one trick pony. I am always learning so I can offer more options and am always expanding!"

A little while back, I decided that my hair needed a little bit of a change. All my life I've had long hair, and decided to shave off the sides and cut my hair shorter at age 18, resulting in a great deathhawk. But at age 24, and endless hours of spiking, backcombing, and sore arms, I wanted a change. Victoria made me an awesome set of Monster Kookies themed dreads in black, purple, and lime green - both solid and candy-cane. I can't even tell you how many compliments I got on them! As you can tell from one of the pics, I'm having a blast in them.

Making dreads is a very repetitive process, and it can definitely wreak havoc on the fingers. She describes the process:

"Wake up, section hair, tie hair, back comb hair, back comb hair, back comb hair lol, wrap hair, seal hair, repeat! Then depending on the style of dreads this process can have added steps.

You are smoothing out plastic hair over and over for hours and holding hair really tight then steaming. So your hands feel gross from running them over plastic for a long time, then your fingers start cracking and aching from pulling holding and twisting hair, then sometimes you burn yourself on the steam. So... they hurt lol"

She shows *much* dedication to the craft...

"Oh man! I remember my best friend wanted a 90 16" DE kit for her birthday.... which was the next day! She's lucky i loved her i was up till 4 am making dreads... and i think i started at noon. I was busted! Then had to do her 4 hours install the next morning with no sleep and blistered fingers and my fingers were bleeding by the cuticles from rolling elastics over my steam burned hands from working all night. It was horrible!"

...Even when things get a little crazy.

"Oh dear god!!! it was horrible.. This girl! Let me tell you it was an 80 piece dread kit and almost every dread was different! Different lengths, different styles, curled dreads, straight dreads, 16", 28", 24"!! Transitionals, candy canes, solids.. OMG!!!!! I actually vowed never to take an order from that girl EVER again.. i hope she doesnt read this lol"

But still - she is very enthusiastic...

"I'm always searching the net for something new i can bring to my company and making it affordable. FBD is also on the path of expansion! The word needs to get out! You can have premium quality hair products and not have it cost you and arm and a leg!"

Victoria has been creating dreads since she was 15, so she has had a lot of time to perfect her skills! However, she's been selling her dreads under the Funeral Bot name for about three years, now.

Interested in getting yourself some sassy dreads? You can contact Victoria on Facebook by searching for Victoria Funeral Bot Visser or e-mail her at F.B.Dreads@gmail.com. You can visit the Funeral Bot Dreads Facebook Page or check out the Funeral Bot Dreads Website, as well.

She carries all colours of the rainbow and then some, but make sure to be specific about what you're looking for! Length, style (solid, candy cane, transitional, striped, harlequin (double ended only), blended or curled), colours, quantity, and whether you want single or double ended are all very important. She doesn't just sell locally, she ships Internationally as well - contact her with your order specifications and location so that she may give you a shipping quote.

All in all - I've gotta bring her back those dreads that she made me - I'm dying to get them back onto my head!

Mar 16, 2012

The Big List of Monster Kookies Articles

It's been a LONG time since I last updated, hasn't it?

I've discovered how difficult it is to upkeep a journal AND a blog, so unfortunately this blog hasn't been written in for quite some time.

I will keep the blog up for the sake of all the articles and whatnot that I have created over the past few years, but I am also going to make more of an effort to update.

If you'd like to keep up with the latest Monster Kookie news, I regularly update my journal over at DeviantArt:

Monster Kookies Journal @ DeviantArt

Here are some of the interesting articles I have created over the years - all very helpful for someone wanting to learn more about Polymer Clay. It'll save you from having to go through everything! Enjoy. :)

MK Talks PC: Kaweco Fantasie Pens (video)

Baking Polymer Clay: Choosing Your Oven

The Dreaded White Clay

How To Scent Polymer Clay

Farewell, Fingerprints!