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. :)