Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Polka dots decals

Over the weekend I added these gold dot decals to the far wall in the TV Room.  Again, the walls could really use a coat of paint but that's just not something I am going to attempt right now and so I wanted to jazz it up quickly and cheaply.  These decals totally fit the bill!  

They were a great price, are so easy to apply AND reapply if you need to change their placement.  They also stick well and aren't going to fall off.  I love how they add a little something special to this room and are the perfect thing for a busy mom.  Now I'm trying to decide what other rooms in my house I could add decals to :)

Side story, I had my 2.5 & 4.5 year old help me with this thinking they would really enjoy putting "stickers" on the wall.  I also thought it would help the dots look haphazard and not too planned out.  Yeah, it was one of those times where you mean well and it just doesn't really work.  It was too frustrating trying to explain to the kids the general area where to place the stickers with a baby crying in my arms.  It ended up fine but I did have to move some at the end.  Especially Haven's because she was determined to make a smiley face with her dots.  Ha ha.  


P.S. I'm having a hard time getting the website to load but the decals are from  I purchased them through Joss & Main as the 3" dots.  I have only seen the 2" inch dots on the Walls Need Love website which I think would be even better.  

Thursday, October 16, 2014

TV Room Upgrade

Just days before my baby was due last month, I got a wild hair, took a break from the nursery (which I still haven't put all the finishing touches on) and decided to do a quick redo to our TV room.  We spend a lot of time in there in the evenings.  It's upstairs near all of our bedrooms and tends to be a room we relax in after the kids go to bed.  

I knew I would probably end up in that room a lot with the baby... nursing her, watching the kids play, resting, reading, watching TV, eating Second Dessert with my hubby (this is where we sneak sweets after the kids go to bed, haha) etc.  It was my least favorite room in the house and I seriously dreaded going in it or taking people to it.  The room tends to feel dingy because it's in desperate need of new paint and carpet, has only one small window and low attic ceilings.  Until I got my creative juices flowing, it was just a mish-mash of colors in the random lamps, pillows, and blankets that somehow ended up in that room.  I cringe just thinking about it again.

I knew I couldn't tackle the paint or carpet at the tail-end of my pregnancy but I wanted to do SOMETHING to this room I spent so much time in.  

I had bought a striped rug at Crate and Barrel majorly on sale back in February.  During that time, I intended to paint the room but ended up being waaaaay too sick to do more than watch cartoons with my kiddos and eat oranges.  I kept the rug rolled up and never even opened it to take a peak until last month.  I'm weird when I am pregnant.  

Come September, I thought at the very least, I could lay the rug down and maybe change a few pillows.  So, that's essentially what I did, but I was inspired to do a little more after I saw how much the beautiful rug changed the room and livened up the space (and my attitude!).  

Here was my original idea for the room that I posted way back then:

Here's what I ended up with after some small and very inexpensive upgrades.  I wish I had a before picture!  Just imagine no rug, torn up carpet, random coral and blue pillows, two old lamps from IKEA and no decorations or cohesion.  

I (finally) put down the beautiful rug and that made the room feel so much bigger.  I had bought a gold pillow from TJ Maxx back when I originally started thinking about this room and set it out on the chair.  

Then I bought two more gold pillows for the couch for Target.  They have a great texture to them and I really love them!  

In a desperate attempt to get her daughter to quit whining about her decorating issues, my mom gave me two black square pillows because she had them at her house and wasn't using them.  

I dug the long black leather pillow and chunky knit throw out of storage and threw them on the couch as well.  Just those few upgrades made a world of difference.  It's amazing what a little but of direction can do for an otherwise chaotic room.   

Perhaps the most exciting part for me were the lamps on either end of the couch.  I had found them at the junk shop my mom and I frequent about a month before this.  They were a great shape and a steal of a price so I bought them without knowing where I would use them.  

Since they were a shiny brown color, my mom spray painted them with a can of black paint I had in the garage.  The shades were something I picked up at a garage sale earlier in the summer and also didn't know exactly where I would use them.  The bases and shades look perfect together and probably cost me only $15 total.  That's amazing for a pair of lamps.  I guess the lesson there is when you find something beautiful, classic and dirt cheap, buy it and save it because you never know when it will be useful in your space.

The acrylic table was already in the room (something I bought on 5 years ago). While looking for a couple accessories around my house that I could use, I found this black drawer I had put away and got it out again.  It was a perfect & fun detail.

The lidded jar was also something I had bought back when I was thinking of re-doing the room.  I set it in the drawer and now put our remotes in it.

After awhile, I was on a roll and wanted to make a few fun accessories.  I picked up some feathers and glitter at Michael's.  I simply used glue and a paint brush to adhere the glitter in the pattern I wanted for each feather.  SO easy and fun.  

Second, I attempted a yarn tapestry (back wall) which was A LOT harder than I thought it was going to be.  It took me 3 hours and still never looked as nice and uniform as I wanted.  The yarn kept not being the right length once it was tied to the dowel.  I had to iron it because it was kinky in a lot of places.  I wanted to make a few different ones for the wall but after one I. was. done. Pay someone on Etsy to make yours;)

I used some old side tables we bought at a garage sale 5 years ago to place the lamps on.  They had been in our bedroom but I figured something else out for that room (something I actually like more; I love when that happens).  The tables have a gold intricate base and a classic marble top.  I liked the symmetry of the matching lamps and so the matching tables worked great with them.  Another "buy for now, use later" inexpensive find.  

I also made some curtains for the little doorways to the "hideouts" on either side of the room.  We use one for storage and one for a play space for the kids but they have no doors and are something I would rather hide.  I used iron-on hem tape and rods I already had to make and hang the curtains.  It took about an hour to make two curtains and no sewing was required!

I hope to make this play corner a fun space with colorful art and toys for the kiddos.  That will come eventually.

In the original moodboard I planned to put wallpaper up on the window wall but will be using less-expensive gold dot decals instead.  I intended to buy the Lottie Dots from The Land of Nod but found some for half the price on Joss and Main the other day and purchased those.  They are on their way to me and I will post when I get them up in the room.  

Some day (let's be real here), I want a whole entertainment unit that span the length of the wall to store our DVDs, electronic equipment, board games and toys.  We need more enclosed storage in our house.

I have some other fun ideas up my sleeve that I would love to get to in the next few months, and if I do, I will post about them here and on IG.  I work at a real-life-on-a-budget-with-three-kids-and-priorities pace so things can be slow around here.  Eventually I will paint the room and we will replace the carpet but for now it feels so much more inviting.  The gold really does wonders to make a dingy room feel luxe and happy.  I highly recommend a few pops in any room you feel less-than-enthused in.


Monday, October 13, 2014

Wendi's Rustic + Vintage + Fabulous Kitchen

Wendi is a fun friend that I met about 8 years ago when we lived in another nearby town.  We both volunteered with the high school youth at our church and I remember some of the girls talking about how her house was so cool and different. "Like, she has an old pink door hanging on the wall!".  I remember being intrigued by what I knew of Wendi's decorating style but wasn't really into the vintage/salvaged look myself yet.  Wendi was totally cool before vintage was cool.

Wendi, her husband and their three kids live in a 1000 sq foot 1950's ranch.  They have considered moving somewhere bigger but instead Wendi has decided to love where she lives and is making it her mission to add a dash of cottage style and loads of character to their abode.

Check out the exterior before Wendi did her magic:

After a little redo it's so adorable and unique <3  I love the teal shakes.

Recently, Wendi's kitchen was completely gutted and renovated in an effort to make the space more functional for their family.  I seriously adore what she did in the space.  When she posted photos of the new kitchen on facebook, I died.  You will too.

This gives you an idea of the style of her kitchen BEFORE the reno:

Here's Wendi's inspiration:

I LOVE white subway tile.  It's so classic.  I also love the warm woods mixed in with the whites and grays. It's so inviting.

Here's her kitchen after the remodel:  
{Can we get an audible applause?!!!}

If I was designing a new kitchen, this is exactly what it would look like.  And can you believe the counters are laminate?!

Wendi said her inspiration is just what she is drawn to.  From Wendi:

"Growing up my mom owned a cleaning and decorating business. So changing things up, painting a room a new color or rearranging was common place. Since she was a single mom without much cash flow, rearranging gave us a chance to create a fresh new space without breaking the bank. I've carried that philosophy into my home."

She goes with what she loves; simple as that.

Things I adore in this kitchen:

  • The open shelving
  • The lighting (and the ambiance the can-lights bring to the room)
  • The counters
  • The sink
  • The cabinets
  • The range hood
  • OK, everything!! (Especially Wendi's styling)
Here's a source list for ya:

Cabinets: Paramount Kitchens (White shaker)
Knobs & Pulls: Rejuvenation

Countertop: Wilsonart HD Laminate in Calcutta Marble with Marbella edge

Open shelving: reclaimed wood (made by a local business, Rescued Junk)
Brackets on open shelving: West Elm

Slim Line fridge: Home Depot

Breakfast bar and above sink lights: Restoration Hardware

Stools: Iowa State University surplus sale at only $10 each!
(just like Restoration Hardware and Schoolhouse Electric's $200-300 version!)

White dishes from a mix of places:
TJ Maxx
Garage sales

Range hood: IKEA

Sink: Kohler (she couldn't do a farmhouse sink because of lack of space but this gives a similar feel because of the white cast iron)
Faucet: Home Depot

Pantry door: reclaimed door painted matte black with old white porcelain knob (also from Rescued Junk)
Frosted glass: done by local glass company
Interior shelves: Rescued Junk

All the construction was done by a company from Norwalk, Iowa: Juergen's Property Development (Wendi said they were great to work with and totally got her vision, by the way!)

Isn't it beautiful?  Thanks for sharing with us Wendi.  Now we will all go and cry over our boring kitchens ;)


Sunday, September 14, 2014

Introducing: The Nar(wall)

I have been a little MIA over the past several weeks.  It may have a little something to do with a growing business and a baby arriving sometime very soon (as I write, I am due in 7 days).  I have been at the phase of my pregnancy for awhile now where my body is so physically exhausted that it's a good day if I get a load of laundry done, breakfast and lunch made and my son off to preschool for the afternoon.  Forget bending over to pick up, clean floors, etc.  You get the picture.

But like any true pregnant woman, I still have the urge to nest and have been doing *some* things little by little (oh, how I wish I was able to get more done before this baby was born).  We have been working on the nursery since April and it's slowly coming together.  With my last two kiddos their rooms were done months before they were born.  With this baby, I know it won't be done completely until after he/she is born and I've come to terms with that.  I have to choose my battles :)  

The first thing we did for the room was paint the walls gray and hang charcoal gray curtains.  Then we painted the crib kelly green.  I had grand ideas for us to create a narwhal  for above the crib out of scraps of wood we already had.  After several tweaks, it turned out pretty cute.  

I drew the narwhal onto some kraft paper to create a template.  Jared, my husband, screwed together strips of plywood we had lying around and then I traced the narwhal shape onto what was now a large surface.  Days later (this is real life, people), he cut out the narwhal using a jig saw.  Several more days after that, we used some stain we already to cover the piece and then distressed it vertically with sandpaper and a hand sander.  I wanted it to look older, like it was found in an old shipping vessel.  

We hung it using a very lightweight and inexpensive picture cleat we found at the Home Depot.  I plan to eventually put Velcro between the cleat pieces because I know how rowdy kids can be in their cribs and don't want this thing coming down to be used as a sword!  

For now, I have a button taped to the head for an eye.  For the longest time I couldn't decide on eye placement and kept moving it around.  Depending on the photograph or image, a narwhal's eyes are pretty low on their heads so I think I will keep it where it's at and glue it down soon (again, this will probably take me months to get to-ha!).  

I searched high and low for some fabric for a crib sheet that mimicked waves but felt somewhat sophisticated.  I had seen Japanese fabrics that looked like handrawn waves but at $17.99 a yard, I knew I could buy a much cheaper sheet than have one made from fabric that expensive.  After almost giving up and then deciding to look at Pottery Barn Kids one more time, I stumbled upon THE PERFECT SHEET on sale for $10 (I had looked at their website a million times and never seen it).  I mean.  I couldn't even buy 2.5yards of fabric for $10 and this was the whole shebang!  That was a happy day.  

The whales even matched the crib color!

I didn't start out to do a nautical nursery.  I really just wanted something that was gender-neutral but still felt like it had personality with some fun quirks.  I planned to combine a little preppiness with some rustic woods and industrial elements to hopefully get something suitable for either a boy or girl.  I think that's happening so far, but after the narwhal went up and the sheet was purchased, it started leaning nautical and I decided to go with it.  I bought some accessories for the room that feel coastal but hopefully aren't too theme-y (more photos to come!).

I will do a whole write-up on the room and show you the rest of the space when it's done... we still have to add a couple of pieces of artwork and hang a different light fixture.  For now, however, this is one of my favorite corners of the room and since it's complete, I thought I would share!  

I wish this were my room now!


Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Upcoming Shows + New Products

I have two shows coming up in the very near future.  I'd love to see you or meet you and share my work with you in person!

Saturday, July 26th 10-5 (Historic Valley Junction)

This will be a smaller show behind Vintage No. 35 in Valley Junction.  There will be a mix of "junk" and handmade goods.  I went last year and am looking forward to being a vendor this year!  


The following weekend, I will be at my first Market Day!  If you are already going to be at the Downtown Farmer's Market, please come visit me at Market Day in the Kirkwood Hotel lobby (just down the street from Java Joe's)

Saturday, August 2nd, 8-1 (Downtown Des Moines)


Alright, now that we have your calendar filled out for the next few weekends, I wanted to show you my latest creations.  I'm really excited about both of these!  As an artist, it's so neat to grow and evolve over time.  I love thinking about what I was designing a year ago vs. what I am doing now.  I hope I am always getting better!  

First up, I was inspired to do some more chalkboard lettering.  I wanted to create a "Give Thanks" print that was versatile for all year round. I always want to be someone who is thankful, no matter what my circumstances are. 

 Located in my shop here.

I have been wanting to do watercolor designs for months now.  I tried it one day, wasn't feeling in the groove, and didn't go back to it for months.  This time, I was determined to make it work!  

I painted two watercolor backgrounds with this exact brush and paint palette. I also drew the "Be Still" phrase with sharpie and scanned them both.  In the computer, I put the files together and voila! 

I printed them for the first time today and am so encouraged by how they turned out.  The peacefulness speaks to my soul.  

These prints can be found in my shop here.

I'm now brainstorming other words I could do with a watercolor background.  "Abide", "Rest" & "You are Loved" come to mind.  What would you want to see in watercolor?


Monday, July 14, 2014

An awesome lunch recipe from my neighbor

As I posted recently, moving to the country has provided us some bumps in the road (literally!) but has also been a huge blessing and rest for our souls. One of our favorite things about where we live is who we live near. We have the sweetest neighbors "across the pond" that are so generous and loving.

They are also some of the most interesting and fun to chat with people I have ever met. We have lots of laughs together. Who knew the country is where all the cool people hide? :)

Last Friday, my neighbor Siobhan, came over to bring me lunch and we chatted for awhile.  It was a nice time, as usual.  She always comes bearing gifts whether it's goodies from the garden, farm fresh eggs, flowers when it's been a rough week (like the time Jared drove his car into the ditch) or chicken soup when I was nauseous and couldn't keep anything down.  I'm constantly amazed by our neighbor's giving hearts.  I thought I was a giver until I met them ;)  

But Friday. Siobhan brought over the best thing she's ever brought.  And I'm pretty sure she just made up the recipe and threw it on a tray to bring to me (she's that awesome!).  She made a sandwich that I couldn't stop thinking about and decided to recreate again today for lunch.  Not only is it SO yummy and healthy but it's beautiful too!  

It's different than most of the boring sandwiches I make, and not being a huge tomato lover, I was surprised by how much I liked it.  It was so good and fun to eat that I had to share it with you here:  

Open-Faced Tomato and Avocado Sandwich 
(Or as I will call it, The Siobhan)

Sliced bread 
Dijon mustard 
Sliced deli meat (turkey, ham, whatever you like)
Ricotta cheese
Sliced avocado
Sliced tomato
Salt and pepper 
Dill or chives 

Toast the bread and spread on the Dijon (I used my favorite kind, the White Wine Dijon by Grey Poupon).  Layer on the meat, avocado, ricotta and tomato (I didn't have ricotta so I left it off and still thought it was awesome).  Season liberally with salt and pepper and add your herbs (Siobhan had dill but I used chives-- both are great!).  

Make a gluten-free version by simply using GF bread. 

This sandwich is super simple to put together-- which is the honest truth because I am pregnant and exhausted and don't make anything that takes over 15 minutes right now ;)

I sort of want to recreate this recipe a lot of different ways.  Mozzarella, tomatoes and basil with balsamic?  Feta and kalamata olives?  I'll let you know if I do and if it turns out! 

Try this recipe, you won't be sorry!  


Friday, July 11, 2014

The joys and realities of living in the country

If you would have told me two years ago that I would be living in the country and loving it, I would have no other choice but to assume that you had me confused with someone else.  I grew up with a single mom.  I was spoiled to the hilt.  I was fifteen the first time I went camping and that was only because my two best friends were going.  My mom and I's idea of "roughing it" was shopping at the sub-par mall on the other side of town.  We didn't go outside a ton, except for the years we lived in Florida. Those were always the best years of my childhood which I attributed to the sunshine and beach within walking distance.  And like a lot of our culture, I'm also a convenience girl and have never lived more than five minutes from multiple restaurants, grocery stores and shopping opportunities.

Fast forward to two years ago.  My husband and I know it's time to move on from our little brick bungalow in the city, but we don't know where we are headed or what's next.  We know we want something that suits us.  Meaning something with character, a nice neighborhood, fun architecture, more square footage for a growing family and after lots of work in our old house, not a fixer-upper.

One day we were traveling back from my in-laws and I got a wild hair (I'm the wild one in the relationship, hubs is the safe and steady one).  "What if we moved to the country?  What if we bought an acreage?"  Jared had lived part of his growing up years on an acreage and I knew those years were special to him.  But I think what really inspired my idea that day was the beautiful view from my car window of the Iowa countryside and the desire to have more space to breath.  We talked for awhile about what country living would look like and what part of Iowa we would choose.  We weren't wanting to uproot our whole lives and move from friends, family, our church, his job etc.  We wanted a country feel but not too far of a drive to town.

Let's get real here, a girl CANNOT live more than 15 minutes from Target.  Cannot.

That conversation opened the door to our living in the country.  And our search began not long after.  It wouldn't be for another year that we would move but it was an idea that stayed in our hearts and minds until we felt God calling us to the home we believed to be ours, the home we now live in.

I still remember the first week we moved into our special house in the Iowa-not-so-far-from-town-countryside.  It was magical.  Like a fairy-tale.  I woke up each morning in awe of my surroundings.  I'd look out the window at the lake shimmering like diamonds and be so moved by God's beauty. We would find secret rooms to play in around the house and I felt like a child again.  My kids and I laughed and played and rolled on the floor.  We went on walks and made new discoveries.  I saw animals I had never seen in town, just a short commute from here.  I could walk to the top of the hill and see countryside for miles.  I remember being overwhelmed by God's blessings.  Even the noises were breathtaking.

All I know is that week was confirmation of a very complicated moving process that required a big leap of faith on our part (I promise I will share this with you eventually).  I felt we were now in a sacred place but we also knew there were complications and struggles ahead.  I love this quote from Beth Moore because I have learned it to be true in this phase of our lives, [When facing a challenge] "To the extent that it is hard, it will be good".

We absolutely love it out here.  I have realized that those special years in Florida were so magical because I am a nature girl at heart.  I connect with God when I see His creation.  The way He paints the sky & grows flowers just for His children's enjoyment.  Every day I see something that reminds me of His sovereignty or grace.  Just today, in a rainstorm, I looked out to see a small fawn curled up under a tree in our yard and I thought of Psalm 91, "He who dwells in the shelter of the most high, will be safe in the shadow of the Almighty".  I feel God speaks to me through what I see out my porch door.

So, I can honestly say, there is something beautiful out here, something sacred, something that fills my soul like never before and I do believe it's because we are right where God wants us to be in a space He designed uniquely for our family, because He is awesome and loves each one of His children enough to care about the details.

We really do have nights that embody exactly what this photograph looks like:

We have had special moments with many people we love.  

We have embraced joy and nature.

Learned to slow down and rest more.

And have had a special time getting to know our neighbors. 

It's almost a spiritual experience for me out here.

But if I ended this post there, that would not be the whole story. Like I quoted before, "To the extent that it is hard, it will be good".  It has been good, so very very good but also equally very difficult.

The past year that we have lived out in the country has brought on more anxiety, stress, hardship and fear than I could have ever imagined.  We have had so many random and strange things happen to us in just a year that it's now becoming a joke among friends who know us.  Besides the huge leap of faith I referenced earlier that has become a burden I constantly have to lay down, we have had numerous other difficulties along the way.

Shortly after moving here, I hit a deer with our van and totaled it.  Jared did a complete roll into a ditch and totaled his (brand new-to-us) car.

We had the coldest winter in years and, coupled with a propane shortage, have a very very high propane bill at the moment.  I had multiple scares with people coming up to our property and even had a young man flag me down on the road with a white kerchief, roll up his window as soon as I slowed my vehicle, waited a minute for me to approach (which I didn't) and drove off in reverse when he suspected that I suspected something.  I know he was up to no good and shudder to think of what his plans were if I were to have gotten out of my car.

We've had a pipe burst in our garage, tornado warning with no basement, and a bat infestation earlier in the spring. One morning I was backing out my car, felt a nudge in my soul to stop, and got out to see my precious daughter two feet behind our van.  Recently, I was riding our mower and it fell down a set of landscaping stairs, I was thrown off onto the ground.  It was super scary as I am pregnant and could have really gotten myself or the baby hurt.  

And none of this even begins to mention the incredibly difficult pregnancy I have had this go-around.

So a lot has happened.  And those are just the big things.  I have to be honest with you, there are times it's really hard to not live in fear-- fear of my kids falling into the nearby pond, fear of what looms next,  fear for my safety, the baby's safety, fear of the unknown, fear of failure, fear that we didn't really hear God right and we aren't supposed to be here at all.  Hence, why there has been a lot of anxiety even in this peaceful country place.

However, (and this is completely honest and not me trying to wrap it up in a pretty bow) each time something "bad" happens, I sense God telling me not to focus on the "what-if's" but instead the fact that He rescued us each and every time.  I sense Him allowing us to see a little danger so that He can get the chance to prove His protection during this unsure season of our lives.  At this point, when something bad happens, I have started to go "OK, God, what are you out to prove now?  How will you turn this into something good?".  Because He has. Each and every time.

He's growing our trust in Him and I have a feeling we will need that trust when the time comes.

"And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose." Romans 8:28 

We are never promised an easy life but we are always promised a Jesus who loves us and walks beside us in the dark times.  I'm starting to understand that more and more out here.  

So it's a mixed bag.  It's incredible and gorgeous, a true oasis.  There isn't a day that goes by that I don't feel thankful for my surroundings, which I know God created on purpose.  He painted a view, just for me, out my window, to remind me of His peace in the storm.  There are days I don't know how I would make it out here without these special reminders of His love and plan for us.  Because similarly, not a day goes by that there isn't fear of what's ahead or stress from a new way of living.  I know that this is a season and eventually won't be as extreme on either end of things but because of our life out here, I am seeing beauty in the pain and learning how to give over my fears completely to Him.  

A Tale of Two Cities simply states, "It was the best of times, it was the worst of times", but there is no place I would rather be than here and I haven't ever regretted our crazy country life for one moment.  Grieved the simplicity of the past? Yes.  But adored where I am and what I have learned along the way? Completely. I've just had to come to the decision to put on my helmet and continuously trust Whose in the driver's seat.  


Thursday, June 26, 2014

5 keys to a successful Etsy shop

It's taken awhile but slowly over time I have learned some important aspects to having a successful Etsy shop.  I am continually learning, but  wanted to share with those of you interested in starting a shop or newer to the Etsy community, what I have come to know along the way in hopes it helps you in your business endeavors.

#1 Have good, clean photographs with natural lighting--

Having good photographs of your product is the most important thing you can do for your Etsy shop.  People have no way of seeing your product in real life so this is your only opportunity to show them how good it looks.  I don't know about you, but if a shop doesn't have good photography or if I can't really see what I am buying, I won't.  I can't stress to you how important this is.

If you don't have a digital SLR just take the best photos you can with the best camera you have.  Even if it's an iphone.  You'd be amazed at what you can get from an iphone with just a little editing.  Always place products near a window or in a room with good natural light.  Never ever use a flash when photographing and never take photos after the sun goes down.  I use Pioneer Woman's Photoshop Action set to help me edit my photos-- I only ever use the boost and slight lighten actions.  If you have Photoshop Elements, she also has an elements version available.

Etsy's front page

Keeping it simple is a good rule of thumb.  Taking photos on a plain white background is completely acceptable and can even be a good thing.  One of the best ways to get recognized on Etsy is by making it to the front page in a treasury... look closely and you'll notice what ends up on the front page are products with good lighting, simple backgrounds and little to no props.  Also, if it's something wearable, a model is important too.

IF you do use props in your photos, make sure you are intentional about what you place in them.  They need to make sense and fit with the image or brand of your shop.  They can help you if you do them right but if you are nervous about this, just start out with a simple backdrop.

I love the Bees Knees Shoppe design (I also think her products are so adorable!).  Everything in her shop is cohesive from her colors, to her products to her logo and even the custom listing images.  Her shop makes me want to buy something from her because it looks put together.  She does a great job using props that help highlight her products without taking away from them.  

Mint Home has fabulous furniture pieces that stand on their own.  I like the simplicity of their listing photos with just a simple or white background.  This method really makes each piece pop because there are no competing elements.

Finally, don't fret if your photographs aren't coming out the way you'd like.  You will learn as your shop grows and as long as the photos are decent, you will get sales.  Take a Skillshare class to help you tighten up your photography skills if need be.

#2 You need a clear style--

Equally as important to good photos is having a vision and brand for your shop.  If you don't know what you're selling or how you want it to look to others, they won't know either. Is your shop whimsical? Vintage? Industrial? Preppy? A mix of things?  Whatever it is, make sure it's reflected in a nice logo and any other branding you have in your shop.

Pencil Shavings Studio has some of the best branding out there. You know exactly what they are about just by looking at their shop banner and a few listings.  Everything works together and speaks to their preppy/colorful/whimsical style.

If you sell multiple types of things in your shop, make sure they make sense together (like the shop above!).  You can sell clothes and photographs in one place but they should somehow be connected.  If you owned a brick and mortar shop, you would have a concept of who you were selling to and the look you wanted for your shop in it's decor, branding, style and feel, products etc.  Keep that in mind with your Etsy shop too.  Make sure your shop styling makes sense and that the items you are selling fit together.  I wouldn't sell vintage records and handmade soap in one shop but that's just me.

#3 Choose awesome tags and titles-- 

When choosing a title for your listing, make sure you are using search terms that people are looking for.  If you are posting a handmade bib for a boy-- "baby boy bib" would be a great starting point.  Don't make up a cute nickname for it like "Oliver's Favorite Bib" because no one is looking that up on Etsy, and search is the primary way people will find your items there.  It seems bland and boring but this is all about SEO and SEO brings buyers and buyers bring sales.

From there, use as many words in your title as you can to describe your piece.  For example you may continue with "Guitar Print Fabric, Baby Shower Gift, Gift Set" and therefore your whole title could be "Baby Boy Bib, Guitar Print Fabric, Blue and Green, Hipster Boy, Baby Shower Gift, Gift Set, New Baby Gift".  It's long but it works.

To know what people are searching for, simply start typing a term into the Etsy search bar.  For this example, you could type "bib" and see what other's are pairing with the word "bib" when they are searching.  Put those items in your titles with the most important words at the front of your titles.

Little Low Studio is a shop with good titles on their listings that are sure to be directing buyers to them (I also love their shop styling and photography too).

In addition to good titles, it is key to make sure all the important words in your title are also in your tags. This gives each word more weight when Etsy is searching how relevant your items are to the person looking. So for my imaginary listing I would tag: baby boy bib, baby boy, blue, baby shower, gift, handmade, etc.  I would keep going until I had used up all 13 tags.

Over time you can watch your shop stats and see what people are searching to find you and then edit your listing accordingly.  Try new words and phrases on a couple listings once in awhile, you never know what will be popular!

#4 Make sure to market outside of Etsy--

If you are doing your tags and titles well, Etsy search will drive a majority of your traffic. But Etsy alone is not enough to have a thriving shop.

Pinterest is an awesome way to get your product beyond Etsy's walls.  It's OK to pin your own designs.  I have some prints that friends have pinned to their Pinterest boards that have brought in a lot of hits and sales.  So far with my business, Pinterest has always brought in the most traffic aside from Etsy.

Facebook is fine but it used to be better.  I would continue to market on Facebook but I wouldn't put all my effort there.  In the last several months Facebook has limited who can see your shop's business page.  It can be very difficult to get your "likers" to see your stuff on a regular basis unless you are willing to pay to "boost" your post.  I've never done this but I have heard it's completely not worth it. Your personal page will have better luck reaching others but if you use it too much, you can get busted by Facebook.

Nonetheless, Facebook is still a great way to tell people about what you are doing. Try a variety of post types from links to status updates to photos-- some are more popular than others.  I often find that Facebook tends to bring in sales from friends and family that might not otherwise know what I was up to.

Instagram is a really fun way to show others what you are making, it's like a mini-blog and is quick and simple.  I find it's so much more rewarding than Facebook when trying reach my followers. It's a great way to interact with others, there's a lot of creative people and it's a super encouraging environment.  Others find me and the pictures I post by searching different hashtags (#etsy, #etsyshop, #handlettering) and then can head to my Etsy store because of the link I have in my profile. MAKE SURE to have good and styled photos on IG, similar to what I said about your Etsy shop photos, people here expect things to look nice. (Natural lighting!!!!)

I find IG is really good for networking and getting to know other designers/crafters/creatives out there too.  It's inspiring and is by far my favorite social media platform.

Follow me @SereneDesign ;)

Markets and Shows are super fun and can be a huge boost to your business.  Besides selling your product, you can make new customers, meet existing ones, make new friends with other small business owners and possibly get invited to other shows.

I'm new to shows myself but for now I would simply say, get yourself out there and be intentional.  Research the shows you sign up for and make sure your items fit in with the feel of the show. Also make sure the show is well marketed and the people running it seem to know what they are doing. There's nothing worse than doing a show and losing money in the end because no one shows up or the attenders are not searching for the types of items you are selling.  Sad day.

#5 Keep it fresh-- 

There's discrepancy out there as to whether or not you need to re-list items on Etsy or post new ones to get more hits to your shop.  It used to be that was entirely how you drove traffic to your shop-- with people re-listing their items multiple times a day. However, since each time you list something it's 20 cents, the shops with small budgets complained.  Now search is based on relevancy, not recency, so re-listing has little to no effect on people finding your items.  Which is another reason why good tags and titles are now so important.

All that to say, I do think it's important to keep adding things to your shop.  The more you have the more likely people will find you (there's simply more out there to be found) and it keeps your shop looking new and fresh.  People like to see that you have new products in the works and are continually creating.  Give them something new to buy-- you never know when you will land on a new design idea that propels your business forward.

I hope this helps and is informative for those newer to Etsy.  It sure makes me want to redesign my shop some, which I plan to do in the coming months. If you have any questions, don't hesitate to leave a comment or email me!

Good luck,

Thursday, June 19, 2014

New in Shop: Fourth of July Banners

I have loved the new customizable pennant garlands in my Etsy shop so much that I decided to do some Fourth of July themed ones.  These make me smile.  

Right now I am offering these 3 pre-made styles, but you can really choose whatever patriotic phrase you want.  For example: "Stars and Stripes", "Old Glory", "USA" etc.

Stripes, dots and stars.

Stripes, dots and canvas.

Just stripes and dots.

Want more star strips or more canvas?  Just convo me on Etsy and I can basically put it together the way you want it using the materials shown.  

These are so fun and festive!  I want one in every room of my house.

What do you think?  Do you decorate for the Fourth?  Well if not, now you should ;)