Sunday, February 14, 2010

Say It Sunday - What do you do when you have the Flu

I don't know about anyone else, but I'm perfectly willing to admit I'm usually a baby when I'm sick.  Which is to say, if I'm not dying then I like to be pampered.  The few times I've been sick enough to be in the hospital I kvetched the whole time about how I was fine and really needed to go do XYZ right this minute.

3 days ago I got cold.  So cold that if the temperature in the house dropped below 70 I would start shivering.  I had a headache, but that wasn't really anything considering how little sleep I was getting trying to do everything I needed to do. 

Last night I became violently ill, the temperature in the house was 75 degrees and I was shivering so hard my back was popping.  Today I am exhausted.  I am barely holding food, and I have developed a cough.  Everything I have made the last 2 days has been thrown away.  I keep my soap making as clean as possible.  I wear gloves when I need to, I clean everything with 91% alcohol as I use it, I sterilize everything in my dishwasher and I use preservatives, but I would rather bear the brunt of unhappy people for delayed shipments than pass on viruses. 

So what do I do when I have the flu?  I sleep a lot - 12 hours so far since 3am.  I curl up on the couch with a blanket, a bottle of water, a good movie and my dogs.  And I try really hard not to freak out about the work piling up. 

Hopefully the rest of you are healthy and doing well. I will hopefully be moving again by tomorrow. 

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Thud Thursday!

Ok, not quite yet.  If I get everything I've set out to do today done, then I will thud later tonight. 

I dreamed last night that my most recent supply order came in and I had 10 bars of every soap in the shop pre-made... it was a lovely dream.  I was almost sad to wake up at 7:30 (before my alarm clock - YAY sunlight!) and realize it was just a dream.

But, these are the things I dream about.  Go figure. 

Right now I am living and breathing the shop trying to get new photos in there, new products listed (like the Cedarwood Lime Facial soap with French Green Clay!).  I've got some great new products in the works, now I just need the time to get them all done!

Yesterday was a flurry of soap making and I even got a new one done for the Black and White Collection.  If I get everything done this weekend I'll be working on the Viking Heart.  I might get delayed on that a little bit though, I realized I'm dreadfully low on coconut oil, and probably only have enough for 4 or 5 more batches, which will more or less cover my upcoming consignment.

I hope everyone is having a fabulous day!  And if you see this... come by and say hi on the Facebook Fan page.  Become a fan.... I know a lot of people are leary of Facebook, but I'm so hoping it becomes a way for me to be able to interact with my customers on a more personal level.  I like to talk, but sometimes one way communication is very difficult to manage.

I hope everyone has a fabulous day!

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Technical Tuesday! The Dilemma of Wholesale

There are a lot of discussions in the forums about wholesale.  A lot of questions, and as many answers as there are people to give them.  So while this isn't an in depth detail laden post, I'm going to venture to give my opinions on how I do wholesale and some generalized "rules" for wholesaling in general.

Rule #1: Don't Put the cart before the horse.

If you haven't done a thorough accounting of where and how you spend your money, what your supply costs are, what your overhead costs are and what your minimum profit margin is; do yourself a favor, and don't fret about doing wholesale.  While wholesaling is a great way to get large sales all in one shot, and it can be a *great* way to get your business name out there, you're going to have a really hard time making a profit when the industry standard is a 50% discount off the MSRP.

Rule #2: Do the math.

In direct relation to Rule #1, as much as just about *everyone* hates spreadsheets (except  possibly me because I'm a dork that way, and working on spreadsheets and symbolic logic problems are fun for me), they are indispensable for calculating your costs to the penny.  They can be as simple or as complicated as you need them to be, but what it needs to track are:

Materials cost - each and every material you use.  If you sew sock monkeys and each monkey requires 2 socks 1/2 spool of thread, 2 feet of sewing floss, 2 buttons and 8oz of stuffing (yes, i'm pulling these numbers out of thin air - I have no idea how to make a sock monkey)... then you need to account for all of those supplies.  And don't forget the little stuff!  Do you put a hang tag on your monkey? Do you print his name on it? Do you print it on a computer or do you print it by hand?  Add in the cost of that tag, a couple cents for the ink.  Do you sew a tag into your monkey with your brand/logo on it? Don't forget that too!

Fees and Advertising costs - are you selling retail on Etsy?  If so, do you renew?  Are you accepting payments via paypal? Propay? Odds are good you've got fees to pay for them.  You need to build those fees into the final cost of your items.  Do you advertise? How much, where? Is it free? Does it take time? Do you have to pay for your advertisement?  Do you give out business cards? Do you give out samples? These are your advertising costs!  Include them.

Salary -  A touchy subject to be sure, but even if you're just doing this for fun, you should probably get at least a nominal sum for your hours.  If you don't want to get paid for your work... my recommendation would be "Don't do wholesale".  The reasoning is simple enough.  Sooner or later you will resent working for nothing and if you started crafting because you loved it there is nothing worse than growing to hate it because everyone expects you to work your fingers to the bone for free!

Now... to give you an example so you can see how this works... (I am giving you numbers based on buying items from a local craft shop or random figures pulled out of thin air...this is just an example!)

Lets say you want to sell soap.

2lbs of soap base costs approximately $5
1 pack of 3 soap colors costs about $3
1 2oz bottle of mid-grade fragrance oil costs  $6 - you'd use about .25oz to do 4 bars of soap... so $1.50
1 soap mold sheet to make 4 bars of soap will cost you about $9 - you can probably make 100 bars of soap before you break it... so about $.09
Shipping to have all of those items delivered to you costs $10 by UPS (yes, even excluding the soap mold)

So now you have everything you need to make 4 bars of soap.

so... add it all up...  $2.5+$3+$1.50+.09 = $7.09
divided by 4 bars of soap  = $1.78 per bar

Now... here's the kicker with soap, and I'd imagine with anything else - you want to stay competitive with your fellow sellers... so the market sets the price range.  On soap the average is about $5 a bar.

So. Let's say we sell that soap at $5 a bar.  We're making $3.22 per bar!   (insert chorus of "i'm going to make soap because it sells so well and I can make loads of money!" here).

But wait! There's more! (Isn't there always?)

Now.  You have to pay for packaging and labels.  about .02 each (.02 for the packaging and .02 for the label)...  You have to list it to sell it.  .20  There are 76,000 listings in the bath and body category, so being new you have to renew your items about 4 times each on average to get them seen often enough to sell them at a fairly good clip.  .80 cents there.

$3.22 (after materials)
-.20 (listing)
-.80 (renewing)
-.04 (packaging and labeling)

= 2.18

then... finally! someone buys a bar of soap! yay! Now you have to pay 3.5% of that $5 to Etsy. Say goodbye to another .18 cents.  And now we're down to $2.00 profit.

But wait, they're paying by Paypal! .30 is gone for the transaction fee and they take 2.9% of the $5  .15 ....

-.30 (*transaction fee paypal)
-.15 (paypal %)

= $1.55 per bar.

So lets say you sell 8 bars of soap and you're making $1.55 per bar.  You've made $12.40. Right?

But what about the electricity for the stove/microwave to melt the soap, the pipette you used to add the scent to the soap, the measuring cup you melted it in, the water and soap you used to wash it out afterward, the rubbing alcohol you used to get rid of the bubbles or sterilize the bowls and cups before use...

The fact that it takes about an hour to make those 8 bars of soap (including all time from beginning to packing it for shipment).

Oh wait! Shipping!  You have to buy an envelope to ship it in, you have to buy business cards to put in there with it!  You should probably have a thank you card of some type.  You should possibly be printing off copies of the receipts, or including a handwritten copy from a receipt book.  and and and and... all the little nit picky details come in...

But if you're wholesaling you don't have to do all of that right? So you save all of that money.

But you are selling for 50% of your retail.  Because this is wholesale, and they expect you to sell them the soaps at $2.50 a bar!

So you don't have $12.40.  You have $6.20 for 8 bars of soap and about 1 hour of your time... to say nothing of the time you spent promoting, and seeking out the wholesale account, developing your recipe, your design. 

Now, I'm not trying to discourage anyone... but this is intended to show you that before you start worrying about doing wholesale... you really need to be in a place to buy your materials in large bulk amounts.  You need to be at a point where you can make huge volumes to satisfy demand.  And you need to be able to pay all the bills.

And if you're not there yet, don't worry.  Telling someone who enquires that you are not able to do wholesaling right now, but you are grateful for their interest and hope that they will keep you in mind in 6-12 months (insert figure of how long it will be before you can wholesale if this is your goal).  It's not a bad thing to not be able to wholesale.  It's just not for everyone.

Next week I'll delve more into spreadsheets and how to determine what you should really be selling your items at if you're looking to make your craft into something you can earn a living with.


Monday, February 8, 2010

Made It Monday with Wild Heather!

We've gone from necklaces to descriptions, and now rings! Amazing how well soap and jewelry go together! But, before I ramble too terribly much, here's a little bit about today's guest writer, Heather!(minor issues with pics, I will be adding them in again as soon as I can!)

I got started making jewellery about 4 years ago, after dabbling in lots of different crafting trends. At the time, I was working with a woman who used to make jewellery during mother/daughter ‘dates’ who would occasionally sell a few pieces.After carefully looking at the pieces I purchased, I thought, “I bet I can learn to do that!” I started picking up beading books in the library and bookstore and making note of the types and styles of beads, I liked.

That summer, I happened to be in my favourite bead store in Victoria BC, and I asked a helpful employee if she could make a pair of earrings for me if I picked out the beads. She informed me that if she put them both together for me, she would have to charge me a (rather steep) design fee, but if she helped me put one together and then watched while I put the other one together, there would be no charge! That was my first pair, and I have never really looked back. After about 3 months of making earrings for myself, people at work started asking me if I would sell them. The first week I started selling, I sold over 20 pairs of earrings! That co-worker that had inspired me to make my first pair bought three pairs from me!

I find making jewellery to be incredibly fulfilling. I am always challenging myself to learn new techniques and styles. I have gone from basic ‘cold process’ assembly (making earrings solely by putting together purchased components) to learning wire wrapping, ‘Viking’ knit woven chain and even silversmithing. Once you fire up that torch and watch the way the silver melts and fuses together, everything changes! I love working with semiprecious stones, freshwater pearls, and combining colours and textures. I hope people derive as much pleasure from wearing my jewellery, or from giving my jewellery as gifts, as I do from making it.

(Note: I was absolutely delighted to be asked to contribute to HeathensHearth’s blog on Make It Monday! I absolutely love every product of Amy’s that I have tried, but my very favourite has to be her Pink Sugar Goatsmilk soap. The lather is just ridiculous, and it feels like an incredible luxury to use, but it’s so good for my skin at the same time! The wonderful fragrance doesn’t hurt,either!!!)

So, without further ado, here's today's Made It Monday!

This post gives a before and after look at how I made a moonstone ring. Or rather, two rings. These are works currently in progress, and they were both created using materials purchased at The first ring is composed of silver wire, hammered for texture, a sterling bezel cup and this lovely moonstone. (The first part of this entry has already appeared on my blog, My Jewellery Box, which you can find at

The front view of the bezel cup and the ring shank. The ring shaft was crafted from sterling silver halfround wire, formed around a ring mandrel and then bent to meet the sides of the prepurchased silver bezel cup. I could simply have mounted the cup onto a perfectly circular band of sterling halfround wire, but what fun would THAT have been?

The view of the left side

The view of the right side

The lovely moonstone cabochon. 

If I place the cabochon in the bezel cup before I solder it to the ring shank, I'll ruin the stone. If I simply place it in the cup, to show you all the effect, it can be difficult to remove.  HOWEVER, I have a great tip for this, courtesy of Barrie Edwards. Simply drape a piece of dental floss (UNUSED, PLEASE!) across the bezel and drop the stone over it so that it lays behind the stone. Then  Here’s what came next!

I painstakingly soldered the bezel cup into the ring shank, using flux, easy solder cut into TEENY little squares, and my handy little butane torch. Once the pieces were solidly joined, I filed away the excess solder using an emery file. Yup, a plain old acrylic nail grade emery file that I bought at the dollar store!  Then I filed down the edges of the bezel cup to prep it for the stone.

I really wanted to make sure that the stone  would sit solidly in the cup. I knew from fiddling with it beforehand that it was quite a tight fit, but I wasn’t quite willing to risk it dropping out. Before pushing the stone down into the cup, I cheated JUST a little. Using a toothpick, I dabbed a smidge of E6000 jewelry adhesive into the centre of the cup. Make sure (and I can’t stress this enough) that your studio is well ventilated when you use that stuff, and that you put the cap back on right away, or you may have trouble tying your shoes (or doing anything else requiring coherent thought) for the rest of the afternoon! The fumes are pretty potent. Then I applied gentle pressure to the stone to seat it in the cup.

After applying pressure for a few minutes, I applied pressure to the cup itself using a cute little tool from Grobet: it’s a bezel rocker. It allows you to form the sides of the bezel firmly around your stone. Here’s the final result!

I have already produced one custom version for a long-time fan who asked if I could do it for her in size ‘huge’. It was only an 8.5...I can make them up to size 15! The next one I make, though, I think I am keeping for myself, because it looks so great on my hand!

As a special thanks to Amy for featuring me today, I am going to send her a giveaway for readers: a pair of my Pick a Pearl earrings in either grey peacock, black peacock or pink! I’ll let Amy decide how to do the giveaway! 


YAY! Give aways!  I think we'll do this nice and random! :)  Tell me what kind of tutorials you'd like to see here, and next Sunday I'll select someone at random using!

As a special gift, You can get 20% off at Wildheather's shop just by answering the following question:

What is her favorite product from my shop? If you answer the question correctly at checkout from her shop, you'll get 20% off your order!

Monday, February 1, 2010

Made it Monday with GalleriaDiGiani

So last weeks MIM was all about how to make a necklace... which was awesome!  This week, John, from GalleriaDiGiani, is going to explain how to write better descriptions for jewelry!  :-D  I think a lot of these steps can also be used for other applications as well, so lets see what he's got to say!

How to Write Better Jewelry Descriptions:

Ok, so you have designed your merchandise, you have manufactured it, you have taken all the photos, uploaded everything, and now comes the hard part (for some). How on earth do I write a product description beyond just saying what the piece is? There are a lot of factors that go into deciding what to say about your piece.

1. Pick a few adjectives that might describe your piece. Is it fun and flirty? Bold and eye-catching? Classic and stylish? Wild and imaginative? Pick a few adjectives that describe how it feels to you. Right away, when people see a few adjectives, they start to tune into the personality of the piece, and can instantly think of times when they feel the same way, and can relate to how this piece will work for them at times like that, thinking "You know what? This is a fun and flirty piece, it would be neat to wear when I go clubbing with my girlfriends", and right away, they are picturing themselves wearing it.

2. Talk about how things coordinate with the basics. Think about all those basics that most women have; the jeans and t-shirt look, the little black dress, the white blouse and skirt look, etc. Can you see your piece being worn with multiple items in the basics? If so, discuss it. Let them know this piece makes a great transition from your jeans and t-shirt to you little black dress. Showing a piece's versatility is a big plus. If women can picture it matching multiple items, they are more inclined to wear it. If they can only picture it with that dress they wear once a year at the holidays, they will be less inclined to buy it.

3. Play up a certain aspect of the piece. If you are trying to describe a chunkier piece of jewelry, you can mention how well it goes with turtleneck sweaters. Since turtlenecks are often a fall and winter thing, though, be careful about making it a seasonal reference. Mentioning that it goes well with a turtleneck all winter long might not sell that piece in May. That might lead to "I will think about it and come back for it in October." Instead, throw in a few different references that span a whole year. Yes, it will work for turtlenecks, suits, it will dress up that power suit, go well with that long flowing summer dress, etc. Now, you have covered an entire year, and again shown the versatility. That's win/win.

4. Play up the type of stones used, if any. If you are using stones like amethyst, peridot, garnet, citrine, etc, and your piece is faceted, by all means discuss the facets. Faceting was done specifically to catch the light. That means that piece will catch someone's eye across the dance floor just as easily as it will reflect the candlelight from a romantic dinner. You have now just appealed to single and married women in the same description, so you haven't left anyone out. If the stones are opaque stones (tigers eye, lapis, onyx, etc), you can talk about how they not an overly dressy stone (depending on the piece you have them in), so they could easily be worn in a variety of situations (such as work) in which other gemstones might be too flashy.

5. Form and function. If you have pieces that serve a function on top of being just pretty jewelry, play that up, and give examples where you can. For instance, I have a line of magnifying glass pendants. While they are pretty, and a great throwback to a bygone era, they also serve a modern function. You can use them for antiquing, and inspecting for all those cracks and nicks that can reduce the value of something. You can use them on a night out, to assist with reading a menu. That means you can leave those reading glasses at home and have more room in your purse, which is a big help, especially if you are only carrying a clutch and need the room!

6. One-of-a-kind pieces. Oh, I cannot stress this one enough. Anytime you have a one of a kind piece, play that up! How cool is it to know that you will own a piece that no one else can own that will be quite like it. Those are the pieces that will get you noticed, those are the pieces that will have friends say "Wow, where did you get that??" Isn't that a special feeling when that happens?

7. Age appropriateness. Sometimes, buying things for teenage girls, or "mature" women can be difficult. Not all jewelry styles necessarily work for either group. If your piece is delicate enough, or simple enough, that you could see your teenage daughter/granddaughter wearing it, or your grandmother, make sure and point that out. Not everyone is good at buying the right thing. Answering a question like that for them in advance can be a big help.

8. Heirloom quality. Does your piece have that look of heirloom jewelry? Does it look like something that has been passed down through the generations (things like cameos, or antique brooches, things like that). If so, make sure and mention it. Having someone see that buying this piece could start a family tradition might be the final push they need to make that purchase. Aren't we all touched to see family traditions, whether in our own family, or in friends' families. How nice would it be to start one of your own?

9. Does your piece help someone overcome a problem they have with some jewelry? Lariat necklaces, by their very nature, do not have clasps. Sometimes, on longer necklaces (say, 24 inches or longer), people make them a continuous strand, with no clasp. If this is the case, you can definitely discuss that. Some women have trouble working clasps, for any one of a number of reasons. By reminding them that your piece has no clasp, and that it would be perfect for anyone who has trouble with clasps, you have just shown that you have solved their problem for them, and have created a piece with them in mind.

10. Sterling versus Fine Silver. Not everyone may know the difference between the two. If you are using fine silver in your pieces, make sure and point out that fine silver will take much longer to tarnish. Of course, if you have some sterling and some fine silver pieces, it is probably best to watch how you word it, so as not to discredit your sterling pieces. Perhaps say that even with the best of care, sterling might occasionally need to be cleaned, whereas fine silver will require much less maintenance in that regard.

These are just some of the things to take into consideration. If you start thinking in these terms, you will no longer be saying:

"This necklace is 18 inches long and is made of small lapis beads with a large lapis pendant. This necklace can be resized. Indicate size when ordering."

Instead, you can now say:

"This stunning necklace is made of small lapis beads, completed by a bold lapis pendant. This necklace can be the centerpiece of your jeans and t-shirt look, can set off your white blouse at the office, would look stunning with you little black dress for that special dinner (you know, the one where you want to dress up, but still feel a little casual). No matter what the outfit, this piece will get you noticed. No matter your mood (fun, classy, elegant, relaxed) you will find many opportunities to wear this almost anywhere, and it will become the piece in your collection that you come back to over and over again."

I hope I have helped.


Sunday, January 31, 2010

Say It Sunday - The 3000th Item Sold Edition!

Wooo! It's Party Time!  

Heathen's Hearth got its 3000th Etsy sale last night!  A big thank you goes out to all of my customers over the last year and a half!  This landmark wouldn't exist without you!  And a very special thank you to Pixiebell for being the one to get me to that lovely number!

So now there are questions.

1.  How to celebrate?
2.  How to keep it going.

To answer the first... I think i'm going to have a 30% off sale.. :) I'll have to work on that. In the meantime there is a discount section in the shop. 

To answer the second... I'm currently working on a consignment order for a shop in Pennsylvania, I have 2 shows lined up - 1 in illinois, and 1 in upstate new york... I have about 2 dozen new scents to get into the shop, and lots of new products lined  up... including a fabulous new Paraben Free lotion that will be a blend of the best of my whipped body frostings, with the convenience of being able to ship it year round!

:-D  lots of new stuff to do... so I think I'm going to go get started!

Hat's off for the Party! (thank you Danilykewoah)

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Slacking Saturday!

So I completely neglected the blog this week. My bad!  This was quite a week though.  1 almost failed batch of soap (yay hot process and friends with quicker brains than me!) 1 batch that just absolutely exploded (NEVER make soap when frustrated), and busily trying to catch up after a very frustrating week.

Tuesday my aunt and cousin were in a head on collision car accident (no one was too badly injured) when 3 kids stole a car and went joyriding.  3 cars totally wrecked and countless other episodes of hairy carey. 

I am attempting to solidify my social networking to allow more time for keeping in touch.  I have set up a new fan page for Heathen's Hearth - so stop by and become a fan! Join the mailing list and you can get a coupon for a free bar of soap.

I plan on taking down the standard facebook page for Heathen's Hearth no later than February 15th.

It's barely afternoon and its already a day today.  Blah.  I'm totally slacking today.  Guess its a good thing the weekend has 2 days.  I've always been the first to admit I'm a little backward when it comes to doing things and snow is no different. It makes everyone else so happy... just makes me miserable.

I did manage to get one new listing up today before photoshop crashed on me though.  I'm sooo looking forward to spring!

Monday, January 25, 2010

Made It Monday with MAB Jewelry

Thank you to Laura from MAB Jewelry for sharing this awesome tutorial on beading a necklace - which is perfect, because I've been dying to try my hand at this for ages.  I have some great beads too.  Now to find all my supplies again!

How to make a simple beaded necklace on beading wire
Welcome to MAB Studios, aka my living room floor.  I'd like to apologize for the state of my poor battered bead board.  I've been using this little guy for about six years now, and I didn't realize how battered he was until I took pictures for this tutorial.
You will need:
Enough beads for your project
A clasp
Enough beading wire for the length of your necklace, plus about an additional 5" of wire
Crimp beads
Wire cutters
Needle nosed pliers

It's usually a good idea to lay your beads out in the desired pattern on a bead board.  When I first started beading, I actually used a cutting board with a ridge in it, so you can certainly improvise and use something handy.  Bead boards also give you measurements along the curved indentation, so you can judge lengths.  I've laid out the main larger beads here, but I usually add smaller beads like bugle or seed beads on the back of a necklace.  The back usually isn't seen when worn, and smaller beads are more comfortable worn against the back of the neck.  Also, I often change the design between the time I lay out the beads and the point where it's finished.  I did with this design!

Cut a length of beading wire about five inches longer than you want your finished piece to be.  I use Beadalon stainless steel wire, .015" for almost everything I do, but different beaders like different wires.  Experiment and find the one that works best for you.  String a crimp bead and then another bead onto one end wire.  Adding another bead at the end of your project will keep the crimp from rubbing directly against the clasp, which will protect the wire and lengthen the life of the piece.  String one side of your clasp onto the wire.  Loop the wire back through the bead and crimp bead.

Pull the wire tight, leaving about 1/4" of a loop between your bead and the clasp, so the clasp can move freely.  Also, leave about a 1" to 2" tail from the wire end.  Crimp the crimp bead flat with a pair of pliers. 

Begin stringing your beads onto the wire.  Make sure the first beads cover the tail you have left after crimping.  I usually measure the piece at the halfway point, to make sure it's going to end up being the length I wanted.

After finishing your bead stringing, add a crimp bead and another bead at the end of your project.  String on the other end of your clasp.  As you did at the beginning, loop your wire back through the end bead, crimp bead, and down through about 1" to 2" of beads in your project.  Pull the wire tight with your needlenosed pliers, leaving about 1/4" or so of room near the clasp, so the clasp can move freely.  Crimp the crimp bead flat with your needlenosed pliers, being careful not to break the beads on either side of the crimp bead.

Trim the excess wire and your piece is ready to wear!
Sounds like fun! I can't wait to try it!  I'll be posting the results of trying my hand at this soon!  In the meantime, if anyone else follows along and creates a lovely piece, drop me an email and send me pics! I'd love to show off some of our creations.  :)

Thank you again Laura!

Wednesday, January 20, 2010


Cuz yeah, I totally missed Technical Tuesday.  Oh well.  It happens.  I am getting better, but I am still only human.

So... today's word of the day... Shipping!

And here is my question (already in convenient poll format over there to the right of this post):

Would flat rate shipping be a turn off for you in a shop?  Ie.  I know for a fact that the average cost for me to ship a package is $5 - even for 2 bars of soap.  Yes, 2 bars.  By the time I pay for postage, delivery confirmation, and envelopes, and the thank you cards that go in the packages. 

The fact of the matter is I can ship up to 6 bars of soap (sometimes 8 depends on the soap in question) well bubble wrapped and secure, in a flat rate priority mail envelope for $5. 

But, from the largest order to the smallest, it costs me $5 average to ship domestic packages.  So what I want to know dear readers (and customers, or potential ones)... Would it be a turn off for you if you saw a flat rate shipping charge of $5 for the first bar of soap, with free shipping on everything else you purchased?  Or would it encourage you to buy more products knowing that no matter how much you bought you'd only be paying $5 for shipping?

And, transparency being the goal here, yes, this is both a way for me to try to save my customers some money, but also a way to try to encourage larger sales... because while I must say that I don't mind shipping one bar at a time, and would always be willing to ship a single item at cost (postage plus envelope), it would be much easier on me in the long run to have multiple purchases done in a single shot.

So, express yourself!  What do you think?  Vote in the poll and tell me your opinions here.  Let's get a dialogue going!

Monday, January 18, 2010

Made it Monday & A Call for Submissions

Saturday was full of creativity for me.  I had a boost of inspiration while making soaps for filling orders and came up with some cool new soaps.

I also managed to get some new things made and have begun to fill out my Black & White fragrance line.  The Black & White line was inspired by the popularity of the 2 different Sandalwood bars in the shop, which I am sure you are all very familiar with. 

Black Celtic Sandalwood

Now that line will be expanding.  Many of the Black Fragrances have already been included in the shop:

And the newest listing among the Black & White Line:  Black Vanilla
An arousingly seductive blend of exotic Madagascar Vanilla and Tonka Beans, resting on a sensually balanced base of passionate Patchouli.

And now, a call for you!  Would you like to share your craft with the world?  Every week I will be offering a Made It Monday post, and I would love to have you do a guest feature here!  Share your talent and craft with my readers. All I would need is for you to choose a project that you would like to share - one you have already done, or one you are working on.  3-5 photos of the work in progress (all stages need not be photographed - you don't have to share your top secret production techniques, just the basics), and simple explanations of how you create your craft!

If you would like to share with us, contact me at heathenshearthsales at gmail dot com and let me know you'd like to be a part of this new feature.  Include the approximate time frame that you think you can have the photos and instructions written up, whether you would like for me to edit what you send or post it as is, and what kind of craft you do (also let me know if it will take more than 1 entry - if you're doing something detailed, like making a necklace, it might be easier to split it into multiple posts)

I will let you know what weeks are available for your post (to avoid having the same craft run back to back). I will add a permalink button to your blog or shop on the left side of the post under a new section called "Made It Monday Crafters" which will also have a link to your entry so it can be easily found by readers.

This is a great opportunity for all crafters to get some excellent exposure.  As of this week I am currently at almost 200 unique readers per week and growing fast! (2 weeks ago it was half that!).  So get in touch!

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Say It Sunday - The good, the bad, & the sick.

So, I tend to keep my private life, well, private, especially when it comes to blogging.  I'm not one to share lots of my personal life, because I'm never really sure how much information becomes Too Much Information.   Today is "The Good, The Bad & The Sick" but I'm going to start with the sick, because its getting to the point where I can't avoid it. 

Some of you will know from other places, most of you probably will not, that since the middle of September I have been having some fairly serious health issues.  My doctors have not been able to determine yet exactly what is going on.  Now, please, don't take this the wrong way - but this isn't a call for random guesses (which is why I'm not mentioning specific symptoms).  Trust me when I say they've tested me for just about everything they can think of.  I've had more tests and procedures than I care to think about.

So why am I mentioning this?  Now we come to the bad.  Even though things have slowed down since the holidays, I am still taking 3-5 business days to ship out most non-ready made items in the shop (ie, almost everything since supplies were seriously depleted in the holiday rush).  I am working as hard as I can to get things made in multiples so that I can reduce that back to a 1-3 day turn around time, but it is slow going because right now I'm only able to work about 3-4 days a week (total 10 hour days), so its all I can do to keep up with orders as they come in - and some of them are still missing the 5 business day deadline.  Not often, but often enough to worry me into serious debate about how to proceed.

Now the good.  I am still planning on opening Little Heathen's by this week - a week later than planned, but hey! Better late than never!  I am still planning on having the grand opening in February.  I am caught up enough right now that I'm starting to be able to list new things in Heathen's Hearth again.  I have plans. I am learning how to pace myself to avoid exhaustion whenever possible.   I am on track right now to have almost as many sold items during the month of January as I had in December... which is amazing growth, and I am very thankful for it.  Now if I can just keep up with the demand! 

I hope everyone has a wonderful day!  I am off to try to be as productive today as I was yesterday :-D  My goal is to have all current orders in the shop packed and postaged for Tuesday shipment by tomorrow night! Wish me luck!

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Saturday Sales & Specials!

Its that time of the week again!  Here are some fab sellers from Etsy who are offering sales and specials tonight.  Please check shops for more information!

First up is the lovely Rose from 2kute!  She's offering 20% off all orders of $10 or more.  (Which reminds me I need to get more scrubbies for my facial care gift sets!)

Next up is Kristen from ModMomMe!  She's offering Free USPS shipping for all fans on her Facebook page, which can be found here.

I have a key fob like this one from her and I love it! Haven't lost my keys in months! ;)

A couple of lovely soap sellers are up next:

Lindsay from BLSoaps is offering a FREE 4oz Shea Butter Lotion with all purchases over $25!  You should try it - its fabulous!  Personally, I have tried both that and this Jezebel soap - love it!

and last feature for the evening (but certainly not the least!) is MorganStreet  who is offering 10-25% off!

I haven't tried any of her soaps yet, but maybe after I'm done with the Jezebel I'll try this one:

Enjoy!  Happy Saturday Shopping!  Me... I think I'll do 15% off all sets and baskets.  :-D  

Friday, January 15, 2010

Friday - I'm in Love - Steampunk Fascination!

Steampunk Fairy By Deconstructress

Ok, so I'm not a huge fan of jewelry.  I normally only wear a ring (my wedding band) and a short necklace with a howling wolf pendant.  The jewelry I wear on a regular basis has emotional or spiritual meaning for me, so I'm very picky about it.  Then too, I don't have what you'd call a social life, and so I don't usually have a reason to doll myself up.

However - there is a possibility I might go to a Steampunk Ball on the 25th of January -in which case I'd definitely need accessories...I already have some clothes around here that I can use for general costuming, but as I was looking for steampunk accessories, I did find some interesting outfits as well as you can see from the first pic in this post (all pictures take you to the shop or the listing in question)...

Decible Productions has this really cool looking necklace "Here Comes the Steampunk Sun"

Welsh Royalty has headgear covered with this really fascinating hair piece/hat. For those (like me) who think a real top had would be... well... over the top!

Alternatively, Instead of a hat, I'd probably go with something slightly more understated (I'm an understated kind of girl) and head for these hair clips that are also from Decibel Productions:

One of my fave sellers - and the woman who really makes me re-think my lack of exciting social life - Deconstructress has combined fairy and steampunk in the really cool outfit at the top of this post - but this outfit by The Jane Victoria is just... amazing!

As for me... I've already bought new laces for my corset.  I have a corset, a skirt with a ribbon tie that will create an artificial bustle... I would need something I can wear under it (it doesn't cover the nipply bits) and accessories.

I also have a second variety that might work as well - A victorian costume gown in black velvet with a white bridal satin chemise dress and hoop.. The chest piece of the bodice has a gold gothic cross embroidered on it.

Come to think of it, I have quite a few pieces that would easily fit in - as they look quite a bit like bits and pieces of the outfit above - I'll have to wait though - as the top I'm thinking of is actually at someone elses house right now.  *sigh*  If I had the funds available - I'd just buy that whole ensemble and be done with it.

Right now though, I'm leaning toward the white brocade corset paired with the eggplant satin skirt with matching eggplant corset laces.  There is also a matching white brocade neck corset, and I have ties for that if I decide to wear it.  It has D rings hanging off it all the way around - and so i'm debating hanging a charm from them.  Alternately I may go with the "Here Comes the Steampunk Sun"  I need to decide soon though - as I have to have all of this in hand by Friday of Next week - the Ball is Saturday!

In the end I may have to make do with some thrift store finds - assuming I can ever get out to it.  My car battery is still dead. :(

But the mail is here so it is time for me to go to work.  I have lots to do and I'm running out of time.  Have a creative day folks! (and if you have any steampunk suggestions let me know soon!)

Thursday, January 14, 2010

THUD! The Sleepless version

Because I am crazy and stayed up all night.  But, it was fun.  I spent all night just about chatting with fellow soaper DirtyAssSoaps discussing life in the universe, the necessity for 30 hour days, how unbelievably busy its been for both of us... and how much we're hoping to be totally caught up soon so we can get on to creating new lovelies for our shops!

IM really, sadly, is the next best thing to having a girls night in sleepover.

My to do list is printed and ready to be cracked on.  Just as soon as I go perk some coffee, because I need it! This afternoon will be crashed by doctors appointments in 2 different cities (mine here in Suffolk and hubby's off in Portsmouth at the Naval Incompetence Facility), and so in about 3 hours I will not be getting anything worthwhile accomplished for at least 3 more hours.  I am aiming for at least 5 packages posted by the time the PO closes, we'll see how those go.

Note to my fellow sellers:  During the holiday rush from September through December WRITE DOWN EVERYTHING! I totally forgot an order because I f*cked up the shipping label, and I am kicking myself from here to Timbuktu right now and feeling like a total idiot.

On an up note: Little Heathen's has its new Banner, Avatar/logo, Label design, and is waiting for me to start photographing items to list.  I even have the Grand Opening Give-Away planned out in my head... but that won't be till February - Stay tuned for sneak peaks, hints and other such things.

Monday, January 11, 2010

HALP!!!! New possible themes!

For the Little Heathens Shop!  Help me choose!  Please?


Manic Monday

So this is not going to be a regular kind of posting,  at least, I sincerely hope not.

But it is definitely a manic kind of day.  First, I overslept, again.  I hate when its cold.  It makes my arthritis flare and my sciatica act up, and falling asleep easily becomes a distant memory.  Second, FedEx for the 3rd time, has promised me a refund on the packages sent December 18th that were supposed to be Overnight and took 2 days to arrive. 

Then, oh my lovely customers how I adore you for keeping my business going... my how they shopped this weekend. So I have an absolute TON to do to get all of those out - and still desperately trying to carve out time to make new products and get the Little Heathen's soaps and things photographed so I can begin listing again!

So, my fellow bloggers and readers.  How is your Monday going?

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Saturday Sales & Specials!

Welcome to the Saturday round up of shops that I know who are doing Saturday sales and specials or who are having sales today!

First up:

My Other Princess Featuring the most fabulous bath fizzies EVER!   She is offering 25% off all orders of $10 or more!  I can't recommend her fizzies enough!

Tea Man. Has 2 listings in his shop for only .20 plus shipping for 25 tea bags!  No catches, just great tea!

Sun Basil Garden is offering Free Shipping on purchases of 5 or more soaps!

ZadyBall is offering 10% off any one item, 20% off any 2 or more items through out their shop! 

If you have a sale or special tonight, leave it here in the comments!  :)  Happy Shopping!

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Wordy Wednesday! Murphy's Law of Business

First, some announcements:

1.  Please be sure to check out the sponsors of the blog over there to the right.  Your support of them helps support your favorite bath and body products (ok, indirectly by allowing me to continue advertising, but still...)

2. Directly below said advertisers, are the current sales available in the shop and also a variety of give-aways being hosted on other blogs.  If you would like your give-away to be mentioned, please send me an email with the URL and End date of the give away so that I can post it for you :)

And now the meat of the post - The Shops!

Running a business alone has been quite a growing experience for me these last few months.  Talk about Trial by Fire - nothing like going it alone right before the holidays to really get your mind into overdrive! First there was time management to be dealt with - how do I continue to do all of the things as one person that two people used to do?  And, I have to say, it is just not possible.  And so, things like blogging, twittering, facebook, etc... fell by the wayside while I focused on the most important aspect of running a shop - filling orders.

I think I have finally gotten the hang of that one (hehe) - though believe me, I have started implementing changes on how things are done because in the process I made many mistakes.  In all reality, just keeping up with orders some days was more than I could handle.  20 orders a day to make a part time income sounds easy enough - *if* you have the stock already made and the ability to put in huge supply orders ahead of time.  Christmas season is *NOT* the time to realize you are low on key ingredients and short of funds! I wasted a lot of money (no I will not say how much, its painful) on 2-day or express shipping to get my supplies to me in time to fill customer orders.  The end result being that for all that I had a fabulous December for sales - I have little to no profit to show for it.

Lesson learned - stock up in June - and always have a back up plan.  You never know ahead of time that your car battery will die 3 days before the end of your Christmas purchase/shipping deadline and leave you stranded with no way to get to the post office in the next town over, because the PO in your town has lost so many packages that you refuse to risk shipping any more packages with them.  It's horrifying.  Plan for it!

I will still continue to make things in smaller batches, but I will, by the end of this month, have an ongoing stock of pre-made items - things that have no expiration date (soap, solid perfumes, lip balms) I will keep the most of on hand.  Things that should be used up within a year of production (scrubs, lotions, frostings, body oils) I will keep fewer of pre-mixed, but there will still be at least 2 or 3 of everything, and double that of the popular scents.  This will require some good record keeping, and will also mean keeping an eye on non-moving stock so I know ahead of time when and what may need to be put on sale for quicker movement.   All in all, its about becoming organized and more streamlined in operations.

So how on Earth, you may be wondering, can I possibly be thinking about opening a second shop when I'm barely recovered from the holiday season of just one?

Well, that's the conundrum folks.  You see, I know what my customers want - and many of you have been clamoring for the baby and kid products back.  I know there is a demand for high quality all natural baby products.  It's a very narrow market, and so I am banking on the idea that since the market is smaller, it will not see the explosive growth that Heathen's Hearth has seen over the last year (sales this past week are 20 times what they were during the same week last year).

Don't get me wrong, I'd be happy to be wrong about the rate of growth - but I am prepared for it, or at least, better prepared for it than I was for facing the holidays.  I truly expected that sales would taper off or die out, and they didn't.  I certainly, based on last years numbers, never expected them to continue at a rate of 13 a day right up through Christmas day!

Anyway... for now, my plan is to do a soft reopening of Little Heathen's on Friday, Jan 8.  I will slowly start adding in items as I get them made (following the same stock plan as above - everything going into Little Heathen's will be pre-made inventory to start with) and then will gradually build up stock as Heathen's Hearth has the funds to add new items (or as custom items are requested).

My current time-line will allow for a total re-opening (advertised, full inventory listed) by no later than February 1st. Assuming, of course, all goes as planned.  First order of business is getting the other 22 packages sitting on the counter labeled, packed and to the post office.  1 day at a time, otherwise Murphy will get you!

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Technical Tuesday - I'm "technically" late with posting lately

But I have an excuse - really.  I had to do inventory.

O.M.G. that sucked.  You would not believe (ok, so I know all my crafter buddies would) exactly how much "stuff" one person can accumulate in a year! And all of it had to be sorted, weighed, tallied, counted, and recorded (to say nothing of being organized and restocked in the process because it had all just been moved from St. Charles to Virgina - yet another reason I *really* want to duplicate all my stock so I don't have to keep moving all that stuff!).

So - 4 days and 14 Legal Size pages of single spaced 1 item per line, later... inventory is *finally* done and I can get on with other things!

You see, I have this plan of greatness worked out in my head - now I just have to find the time to implement it.  But it goes something like this:

Blog more often - I have 6 daily topics I plan to cover throughout each week -

Made-It Monday - Tutorials, New Products, other crafts I do, or other major accomplishments in my life... I will also use this spot for guest bloggers to share their crafts as well.

Technical Tuesday - Technical information, in depth information about the ingredients I use (all 12 pages of basic ingredients should give me lots of things to talk about), business information (the life and times of running a small business and behind the scenes sorts of things)...

Wordy Wednesday - You've already had a taste of this.  Everyone else does "Wordless Wednesday" and I like to go against the grain ;-)  Then too - I like to talk... A Lot.  :-D

Thud Thursday - Thursdays for me always seem to be the hard days to get through.  I mean, Mondays routinely suck for everyone. Tuesdays are the real start of the week.  Wednesday is hump day... Friday is almost the weekend... Saturday and Sunday are days of rest and relaxation (can you hear the sarcasm in my text?)... but Thursdays are just... Thud Days.  So these will be all of the things that make you go "huh?" and other inanities in life - and sometimes (like the Christmas version) it will actually be me making that sound as I hit the floor from running myself ragged. (This week's Thud Thursday will be the "things that make you say "WTF?" version.

Friday, I'm in Love! - Yes, yes, credit where credit is due... when I came up with that one I was, in fact, thinking of the Cure song.  This is the day reserved for me to tell you all about the cool things I've found on the web - Etsy or otherwise, but primarily Etsy - to give a bit of encouragement and exposure to all of those cool handcrafted artisans out there in the world - because there are a lot of them that don't get near the attention I think they deserve...

Saturdays I haven't a clue what I'm going to do here... This may be the one day a week I don't blog - just because I'm sure you'll all get tired of me talking eventually.  Though I am debating running polls or something to go along with the theme of Sunday's posts which are...

Say It Sunday - All of the things that people have said - good bad and otherwise about the shop, the products, and everything else.  And yes, I said the bad too.  One of the hardest parts of running a business as a sole proprietor is trying to get it just right.  And, me being the human that I am, I am bound to f*ck it up from time to time.  So, when someone has a complaint about something I've  done, they don't like a product, or whatever the complaint might be, this will be the place where I work out what went wrong and how to fix it the next time around.  I believe that transparency is the best way to go about doing things... Of course, as with last week, I will balance that out with all of the raves that people have about the things I make - because, though it sometimes feels immodest, I do sincerely appreciate all of the lovely makes me remember why I do this during times when the stress makes me wonder what I was thinking in even starting it.

.... So yeah.  That's my grand plan for the blog.  Wordy Wednesday will cover my grand plans for the shops.  Yes, shops, plural.  This Friday, the 8th, I am reopening Little Heathens.  It will be a soft re-open, very low key.  I will be doing a Grand Reopening (with a party?) on February 1st - or as soon as I can get the full line of new products listed, which ever comes first. :)