Thursday, June 30, 2011

May & June 2011

Whew! May & June turned out to be busy months! I had several wholesale orders and custom requests for which I'd like to say thank you lovely customers! I also had a couple of very large orders! It started with an order for 42 oversized zip pouches to hold headphones for an LA County School District.

Zip pouches are relatively easy to make, but anything in the quantity of 42 tends to become monotonous after a while.  Just FYI, I do offer discounts on large orders. Discounts can be as good as wholesale pricing (50% off) depending on how many you need.

I also had a couple of custom request embroidered travel clutches - which are one of my favorite things to do. Especially since I'm so recently obsessed with the embroidery function of my sewing machine. I haven't totaled my bill on how much I've spent on embroidery designs and materials thus far, but I have a feeling I'm going to be shocked at that total. That's ok. I'm going to chalk that overage up to how much fun it's been this year to do all this embroidery! Anyway, here's one of the designs:
The customer wanted to change the color scheme of the Peacock Plume to focus more on purples and blues. I thought it was such a great idea, I actually made two of them. The other one is half way finished, so I'll be listing it pretty soon.

Perhaps my most favorite request of the year so far is a bride requesting matching travel clutches, purses and luggage tags. I LOVE making purses, but so do a lot of other people in the Etsy market so I tend to focus on more of my travel niche. Anyway, I was lucky enough to make 12 purses, one for each of the 11 bridesmaids and one matching smaller scale purse for the flower girl (to match her bridesmaid mom’s purse), 11 travel clutches and 11 luggage tags. Believe me, I fully planned to take advantage of that photo shoot. I may never get an opportunity like that again. My Love* was NOT happy that I agreed to a 2.5 week time line.  In order for me to agree to that kind of time line, it means nothing else gets done around here. No laundry, no cleaning, no meals – I’m doing good to take daily showers. Seriously. The only thing I WILL take time for is Busy*. I refuse to ignore or become lazy in being Busy’s mom because he is why I do this business. If I ever lose sight of that, then I’m sunk. Luckily, Busy’s Gigi (my mother –in-law) was able to watch him a couple days a week. So, that helped. My Love was, however, happy that the price tag of the order paid for half of Busy’s recent surgery bill. Of course, My Love is my love for a reason, and he was really awesome during those 2 weeks and definitely picked up where I left off. Oh, and don’t get me started on how much Obamacare is such a ridiculous farce, or I will absolutely lose my mind. I could fill several blog posts on the obscene cost of health care and how if we lived anywhere else but these great United States, my beautiful boy would not even be eligible for the surgery's he's received and will be receiving in the future.  More on Busy’s health later….Anyway,  take a look at this great order.

My Love  helped me set up a laundry line between two trees outside so I could try and get them all in one picture. 

Ok, obviously I'm a picture short in the collage above...which is why you should never do anything worth while when you're tired. Below are some close-ups.

It was windy on picture day which was nice considering the hot weather, but not so nice when you're trying to take pictures! I have lots of blogging to catch up on, but first a Newsletter for my loyal followers. If you're not signed up for it, hurry! Click on the 'Newsletter' tab at the top to get signed up!

*I recently read a blog where the blogger referred to her husband and child by nicknames, to protect their identity of course. I loved that idea. She referred to her child as 'Busy' so I'm adopting that for my own.  And my husband is 'My Love'. Really how perfect?

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Larger Passport Covers

Since I've opened my shop in 2009, one of the questions I was asked the most is 'Will your passport covers fit Canadian Passports?" And every time I had to send a regretful response that, 'No, unfortunately, my vinyl passport covers will not fit Canadian Passports'. As OSD's store popularity grew and I started shipping to more countries, I discovered that there are several other countries that have passports larger than US standard sized passports.

This was becoming a pretty big problem. Due to me not being able to provide larger vinyl passport covers at the same $5 price as my standard passport covers, Canada was replaced by Australia as the #1 country I ship to outside of the US. I was losing a whole country of customers!

So I researched my options. I briefly offered laminated paper passport covers that were sewn together. These were mildly popular, but because of the cost of lamination and my time to sew them, I couldn't offer them at the same $5 price and eventually their popularity waned.

Finally, I am happy to announce a solution. OSD is proud to announce that we offer a new larger passport cover design. Please see the picture below (drum roll please)

They are identical in quality to my standard sized passport covers. The only difference is their larger size and the interior pockets are larger than the standard passport cover size. They are ideally suited for Canadian Passports as well as any country that has a slightly larger passport. These larger sized covers are priced the same as my standard covers, just $5. And perhaps the best part is, you can ONLY get this larger size at Owl Say Designs. Can I call myself a pioneer, cause that's how I'm feeling right now! You can check out the measurements below:
These larger passport covers have been available in my shop for several weeks, but I wanted to test them out before I made any announcements. Thank you to those of you who helped quality test this new product!

Monday, March 14, 2011


I know a few of you have been waiting for this post. I apologize for its delay. My munchkin was sick and then being the kind, sharing family we are, I got the same upper respiratory crud too. Today I'm finally feeling like a part of the living world again! That whole line about moms never getting sick is bunk!

If you haven't heard about Heartsy yet, it's time to crawl out from under your rock and check it out. It's a Groupon-like deal for Etsy shop owners. And until Groupon starts offering me $14 for $35 worth of groceries at my local grocery store, Heartsy is much, much more addictive. If you don't have an Etsy shop, but appreciate awesome deals from handmade artists, Heartsy is your dream come true! If you have an Etsy shop, arranging for a Heartsy deal may get you more money in one day than you can make in a couple weeks. At least it did for me.

While I was waiting to set the date for my Heartsy deal, I purchased two deals from other Etsy artists. Not only did I fall in love with the shops featured and just couldn't help myself, I also wanted to see how Heartsy would look to my potential customers. My deals codes were emailed to me right away and I was free to shop immediately. I made my purchases the same day I bought the deals and both times I spent over the allotted store credit. Not by much in either case, but enough to potentially cover the shipping. I haven't received my purchases yet. Considering the amount of traffic I received in one day, I'm very willing to be patient for my order!

When you apply to Heartsy, make sure you submit your best product photography. You have to have at least 30 'Yes, Definitely' votes to be considered. I know it's tempting to get all your friends to vote for you, but try getting votes without lobbying. Don't you want to know if people outside of your circle thinks your stuff is as amazing as you do? Once you get 30+ votes, someone from  Heartsy will shoot you an email with a proposed deal. You do have some room to negotiate the deal, but trust me, you really don't need to. Some deals are limited and some deals are unlimited within a certain time frame. I was concerned that I'd end up losing money on individual orders and that absolutely did not happen.

I'm not sure how Heartsy decides what deal is right for you or what day of the week will work best. It probably has something to do with how many votes you get, how established your store is and maybe even just a 'gut' feel about what you sell. My deal was $14 for $32 worth of store credit. It ran on Tuesday March 8th for 10 hours (maybe 12, not sure, it was kind of a blur!). I sold 59 deals that day. Just let me do that math for you, 59 deals times $14 is $826. Let that sink in. How many handmade artists, especially ones that completely run their business by themselves, make $826 in one day. BTW, Heartsy paid me promptly that same day via Paypal. Cha-ching!

So far, only 41 people have claimed their deals, so my next stats are really based on 41 deals not 59. Out of the 41 claimed so far, 8 of them purchased either the exact amount of the store credit or slightly less - so 16%. Meaning that 84% of the rest of the deals were over the $32 store credit. Of the 33 remaining deals claimed, 5 of them were significantly over the store credit. I considered an additional purchase of $10 or more as significant. So 12%. The balance were over the $32 store credit and ranged from cents up to $10. I considered this amount to cover the shipping/packaging costs.

On the surface, $14 for $32 (57% savings) is not a great profit margin, for me anyway. I don't have my products marked up much more than 57%. But this is definitely a case where the volume made up the difference. No other time would I sell over $1K in product much less $2K which is the approximate retail value of what I sold. Plus, I've lost count of how many of the customers told me they found my store via Heartsy and they'd be back for presents, Christmas, etc. It's essentially like I was paid to advertise my shop. when you look at that way, it's so worth whatever deal Heartsy proposes for your store.

And to be honest, I think I could have sold more. Halfway through the day, I had to take A for a Dr's appointment. I left the house just as the deal was started. By the time I got out of the appointment, I checked my emails on my phone and I was FLOORED. I couldn't believe how much had sold. While I was waiting for prescriptions to be filled, I was renewing items like crazy. Which is hard to do on a phone with a sick and cranky little boy in tow. I certainly hadn't anticipated being gone on the day the deal was offered, and I think this didn't help me. It prevented me from utilizing any social media to help further market myself. By the time I got home and settled, I set my first task as finishing to renew items and address customers who wanted custom listings and had questions. By the time I finished this, it was late into the deal and I felt like I was scrambling to try and promote the deal any further. This isn't anyone's fault, of course. Who can predict having a sick child? But if possible, I recommend staying glued to the computer for the day.

Overall, when you include all the extras that customers bought, I made over $1000 in one day. The week my shop was featured in Hong Kong's U Magazine, I made a little over $1000 in that one week. I can also clear close to this in one week during October-December, but I've never come close to making anything like this in one day. This is absolutely unreal to me!

Right now Heartsy is free. Eventually, they will start charging a fee for every deal sold. But if I make anything close to that, I'd pay a reasonable fee in a heartbeat.  Overall, everyone I dealt with was more than kind. They were easy to deal with and they were excited for me when my deals started selling. All questions/concerns were answered promptly. It was an absolutely awesome experience. The only thing I would change is the lead time for knowing the deal. We discussed the deal back and forth for a few days. I knew on Sunday that the deal would happen for sure on Tuesday. It would have been nice to have closer to a weeks notice. We happened to be in San Antonio for the weekend, so we came home a day early so I could have Monday to list as much stuff as I could that I had finished. Believe me, I'm not complaining. But it would have been nice to have more lead time. I think Heartsy will be able to better schedule as it gets more underway and more people applying to host deals.

I don't know if Heartsy has a list of 'Potential Repeat Sellers' list, but if they do, I hope I'm on it. It's such a genius idea!!

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Happy New Year!

Ok, as a rule, I do not really make New Year's resolutions. I think if you want to make a change, you should plan for it and do it. You know, Just Do It. But, sometimes you need a start date to start rolling out changes, so I figured Jan 1st, 2011 is as good a start date as any!

My first change to OSD is a new Etsy banner. I have a lot of wonderful and kind repeat customers and I think changing up my banner and blog layout once a year is the least I can do to keep it fresh and keep them interested. My husband and I brainstormed for a long while on what my new Etsy Banner should be. I envisioned Sir Olaf McOwl (didn't know he had a name did you) dressed up as the Red Baron in a sweet biplane with goggles, a pilots hat and a scarf waving in the wind. He'd be my little advertising Owl, pulling a banner with "Owl Say Designs".

So my sister-in-law is my amazing graphics artist. She initially designed Sir Olaf McOwl, so I asked her if she could make me a new banner. Sometimes your initial vision is hard to capture in great detail when you are limited to a 100x760 pixel size. The rough draft was awesome, but about this time my husband and I had been brainstorming on introducing new friends to OSD. So, when  my husband saw the initial layout, he suggested my SIL elongate the plane and add a Bluejay, as the pilot. We laughed hysterically. I loved the idea of Sir Olaf being piloted around and sort of as a stationary, unchanging symbol (like the Traveling Gnome). Plus, goggles, a hat and scarf were hard to pull off on a weeble-wobble Owl and at least 2 out of three just needed to be somewhere in any plane graphic. I think it's a rule.

So OSD would like to officially welcome Captain 'Bullseye' Bluejay. Captain Bullseye is a diabolical military strategist and tactician and has been known to commit daring air raids divebombing unsuspecting humans while mowing their lawn.  Although now retired, his military career is impressive having climbed up the ranks to Captain in half the time of his fellow enlisted Bluejays. He now works as the head of Security Detail for Sir Olaf McOwl.