Sunday, March 31, 2013

April Creative Challenge

Update! We are now voting for a winner. Visit to join in!

Winter is starting to slowly fade in Western New York and it's an inspiring thing. Spring is a season of new life and our team is starting a new life of its own. With that in mind, we are going to try doing something fresh and fun: monthly creative challenges.

We're just starting out, so I'm sure we'll end up changing some rules along the way, but let's give this a try. Here's how it works:

  1. We pick a theme.
  2. Anyone who wants to participate creates or finds something new inspired by the theme.
  3. We share our entries on the third week of the month.
  4. We vote on our favorite and pick a winner.
Once we get rolling, the winner of the challenge will pick the theme for the next challenge. But since we're starting from scratch, I will set the first theme: Spring in Buffalo.

Entries for our April challenge will be accepted starting April 21 and continuing through April 26. We will vote for four days starting April 28.

We don't have a tangible prize to offer for the winner of the creative challenge, but we can do something on the blog or elsewhere to promote the winner's shop. In the coming weeks, I will explain more (how to share your entries, for example) and browse team members' shops for examples of work that fits well with the theme for the month. I encourage you to post in the comments if you have any questions.

I hope this proves to be a fun way for us to inspire each other each month and gives us yet another opportunity to appreciate how creative and talented our teammates are!

Remember that the theme for this month is Spring in Buffalo and that we will start accepting entries on April 21. Happy Easter to those who celebrate, and a happy spring weekend to everyone!

Update: Entries are now being accepted at this link:

Saturday, March 30, 2013

ART SHOWS 101: Survival Tips for Show Artists and Crafters

                                                                      Volume 2: TARGET MARKETS

Investopedia explains 'Target Market'

Not all products and services are meant for all types of consumers. 

And from Entrepreneur:

Your target customers are those who are most likely to buy from you. Resist the temptation to be too general in the hopes of getting a larger slice of the market. That's like firing 10 bullets in random directions instead of aiming just one dead center of the mark--expensive and dangerous.

To an artist or craft person, the above excerpts may seem a bit clinical. We put so much of ourselves into our work that the thought of labeling it as a “product” can be offensive. But guess what!  If we’re listing on Etsy we are, indeed, offering a “product” for sale.

Understanding that our products appeal to a certain type of buyer, and seeking out shows and venues which will connect us with those buyers, can save us a lot of grief! Unfortunately, that’s often easier said than done; but simply understanding that art and craft shows are not exempt from the laws of marketing can help point us in the right direction. It can also soften the blow when we take a wrong turn. 

One of the true dangers of ignoring target marketing is tangled up with what I like to call the “R” word: REJECTION. It takes a lot of guts to apply to a shows and set up a table or booth at a festival. Often times, if we are not accepted into a show, or if we participate in a show that we do poorly at, while our neighbors make sale after sale, we view it as a personal failure. “I wasn’t accepted into that show because .... or ...I didn’t sell anything because...... my work isn’t good enough....” Quite often that’s not the case. It’s more likely that our product just didn’t match up with the interests of the buyers who attended the show.

Take some time to think about who your target audience is. Who’s bought from you in the past? What types of shows have worked for you and which ones have not. If you are brand new to selling you can ask yourself: Who am I making this for? 

Here are a few tips that go hand in hand with pitching to your target market:

  • Set out a Mailing List form or journal at shows. The people who sign up are truly interested in your work and you’ll be able to contact them directly about upcoming shows.

  • Keep your display consistent . If you are a glass artist who also makes candles and cards you may want to choose one area to focus on per show. Displaying very diverse products side by side dilutes your display’s overall appearance and may make it harder for your intended audience to find you.

  • Don’t be too hard on yourself for choosing a show that’s a bad fit. We all do it. Just chalk it up to experience and move on.

Until next time -- keep creating!


Upcoming Deadlines for Local Shows:

  • Glen Park Art Festival, July 28th and 29th, 2013 DEADLINE: July 15th, 2013 Apply Earlier!!

Friday, March 29, 2013

Everything Old is New Again in Kitchens

          I love everything from the 1950’s.  But more than anything I love 50’s inspired retro kitchens.  My husband and I are saving up to design my very own retro inspired kitchen. I couldn’t be more excited to pick out colors, accessories, appliances and tiles.  To me retro style kitchens represent comfort and family.
          Retro inspired kitchens are truly on a comeback.  Most popular is called “vintage modern design” where modern meets vintage.  Incorporating select vintage objects or furniture in a modern kitchen can create a sense of style nostalgia and uniqueness.
          Below are some current trends in vintage inspired kitchens.
Colors:  cherry red, tiffany blue, lime green
Accessories: Pyrex bowls, kitsch towels, teapots, checkered pattern table clothes, mason jars, tin advertising signs, retro clocks, canister sets
Furniture: Diner booths, 50’s diner table/chair sets, open shelving, painted kitchen hutch
Appliances: Farmhouse style sinks with deep basins, refurbished refrigerators/stoves, retro reproductions of refrigerators/stoves (Elmira Stove Works), hand held appliances

Is it time for your kitchen renovation?

Here are my favorite three vintage kitchen items from Etsy shops in Buffalo, NY:


Retro Pitcher and Glasses Spaghetti String Drizzle Plastic Color Craft Coated


Vintage White Porcelain Pitcher


Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Treasury Love, Part II

If you build it, they will come.

Honestly, there are better ways to increase your shop's views than building treasuries. Just look at other shops: look at their massive number of sales, and then see how many treasuries they are creating, and how often. In many cases, they haven't created a single treasury!

Now look at these mind-boggling stats from Etsy's February 2013 "Weather Report:"
• 1.49 BILLION page views  • 1,988,713 new items listed  • 1,025,124 new members

Those staggering numbers, while down from January's numbers, mean two things to me:
#1. There's a lot of competition out there. #2. It's easy to get overlooked

Don't be discouraged. Go ahead and create a treasury, because YOU need views. Yes, building a treasury is not a purely altruistic effort. I check my shop stats, and views quintuple when I post a new treasury.

You can't list a new item and expect a chunk of those 1.49 billion page views to be YOUR shop page, right? Well, the same goes for treasuries. Ya gotta PROMOTE.

Once you've published your treasury to "everyone," get to promoting. Take a gander at this recent screengrab and those 4-digit views (I added the green circles):

Promoting, step-by-step:

1. "Favorite" each of the 16 items you've treasured. This step is often overlooked. If I favorite one of your items, for example, that means your item will potentially be seen by my 700-and-some followers. If your list of followers is wimpy, I would gently suggest that you get to working on that.

2. Publish your treasury on Facebook, Pinterest, your website, your blog, Tweet it, etc. Use social media to your advantage!

3. Notify each of the 16 shop owners that they've been treasured. Another step that's often overlooked. The copy and paste function makes this process more efficient. Compose a message to send to each of the 16 shop owners, click the item you've treasured, and contact the owner. Write something like: "You've been treasured! (copy and paste the URL of the treasury page here). No need to reply to this message, but favoriting the treasury and leaving a comment are appreciated. This treasury has also been promoted on (copy and paste the URL to your Facebook shop page and anywhere else you've promoted the treasury). Sign off with a friendly "Thank You" or whatever you deem friendly. NOTE: Your featured shop owners don't always respond. DO NOT SEND THEM A REMINDER CONVO. Yes, I am shouting. Spamming via convos is a major no-no on Etsy.

3. Promote the treasury on Etsy. My best guess is that the curators in the above screengrab are very busy promoting their treasuries on Etsy.

You belong to teams. Those teams have dedicated threads for treasuries, but follow their rules. Some require favoriting and commenting on x-number of treasuries above you. This means anyone posting treasury links after yours will be doing the same for you! Some team captains threaten a wrist slap if you don't follow their game rules.

4. Repeat Step 3. The web is a 24-hour operation and there are people browsing Etsy who live in other time zones. Re-post your treasury link at other times of the day, but again, follow the treasury rules posted: you might be required to wait until 10 others have posted before you can re-post.

Speaking of promoting in team threads, there are Etsy teams focused primarily on treasuries! Search teams, and join Avid Treasurers, Click and Comment, or any others that strike your fancy.

New-ish! An easier way to curate treasuries!
When you click on an item that you want to add to a treasury, there's now an "Add to treasury" option right above the social media icons on the right. This means you don't have to manually copy and paste the URL of each item into those 16 boxes. There's also Schmetsy, but I haven't taken it for a test drive yet.

Happy treasuring... see you next week!  - Carla

Monday, March 25, 2013

Monday Interview with Alison Kurek of Silent Mylo Studio

This week Alison from Silent Mylo Studio joins us!

Please tell us a bit about yourself?
I'm an artist since birth and I think it's in my blood.  I tried to make it go away more than once (I have a BS in Business!) but it just keeps coming back!  I've been selling at art shows for about 20 years now and have recently decided to try to make a go of being "almost" completely self employed. I'll let you know how it goes :-)
What do you create?
I have a pretty wide range of items -- from large, mixed media paintings, to prints, to small gift items like magnets and ornaments. 

 How did you come up with your store name?
My original Etsy shop name was AlisonEKurek. I changed it to SilentMyloStudio a couple of years ago. I have a bratty tuxedo cat named Mylo who is the model for my cat paintings. He seems to have acquired a bit of a cult following (I sell a LOT of cat prints :-) so, when Etsy gave us the chance to change our shops names I choose SilentMyloStudio. 

How does Buffalo influence your work?
I’ve joked that the long Buffalo winters force us to be creative and I really do think that’s true .In addition to that, Buffalo has a VERY strong arts community. We have a world class art museum in the Albright Knox, a fabulous resource in the Burchfield Penny, local galleries and groups such as 464 and WNYAG, regionally know and well attended art festivals and shops that want to sell the work of local artists. We're pretty lucky to have all of that -- not all cities do.

What is the best thing about having a etsy shop? 
The wide geographical reach. I’ve had a handful of local sales, but the majority of my sales go out of the area -- quite a few to California and Texas -- and even a few to Australia, England, Finland, Germany and Israel.

How do you promote your work to the world? 
About 80% of my sales come from direct, face to face sales at festivals. Another 15% comes from shops and galleries. My online sales last year were only about 5% of total sales -- a number I am working to increase! I'll be the first to admit that my marketing skills are lacking! My big marketing plan of last year was to hand out flyers at shows that listed all of my online contacts. It worked to some extent. I made a few online sales and gained a number of Facebook followers -- but I know I can't stop there. I've been making more of an effort with my Facebook Pages the last couple of months and have noticed increased activity on them -- more Likes, more views, and comments -- and will continue to build on that.

What is the hardest part about selling online?
What's probably bothering me the most these days is the inconsistency of views and sales. I had a very good (well -- very good for me :-) start to 2013. January 2013 was was up 300% from January 2012 -- and February was okay too. But then if just stopped! My views plummeted and I went from every other days sales to NOTHING for the month of March. It's like my shop dropped into a black hole! Ha ha! Can you tell I'm a bit frustrated?

Where can your work be found locally?
Village Artisans on Main Street in Williamsville carries a large selection of my work -- and you can find some of my items at 464 Gallery (Amherst Street, Buffalo) and the TR Inaugural Site (Delaware Avenue, Buffalo) as well.

Do you have any up and coming art shows/craft shows that you would like us to know about?
Yes! I'll be at the Small Press Book Fair on Saturday, April 6th at Karpeles Manuscript Library Museum, 453 Porter Avenue in Buffalo as well as the Artists in Buffalo Spring Gift Show at the Burchfield Penney Art Center, Friday and Saturday, April 26 & 27, Elmwood Avenue in Buffalo

Do you have any advise or suggestions for new sellers to etsy?
Keep on plugging away! Post good photos; use Etsy resources to learn about tags and titles, and find ways to promote yourself and your shop beyond Etsy.

Where can you be found online? 

*next week we get a chance to catch up Erica from P&E Collectibles!

Saturday, March 23, 2013

ART SHOWS 101: Survival Tips for Show Artists and Crafters

                               ART SHOWS 101: Survival Tips for Show Artists and Crafters

                                                                        Volume 1: DO YOUR RESEARCH!

So you’ve decided to sell your work at art and craft festivals? Good for you! Making that decision is step one of a long, sometimes crazy, journey :-)

But where do you start? 

This is the first of many posts aimed at offering a bit of insight into shows and festivals; it's NOT meant to be an all inclusive HOW TO guide. There are as many show experiences, opinions, and suggestions out there as there are exhibitors. I encourage experienced show artists to share their knowledge and experiences by commenting and adding on to this and future posts.

Okay -- here are some of the basics:

Getting Your Feet Wet: Shows come in all shapes and sizes. If you’re just starting out you may want to visit a show or two before committing to exhibit. Fees for shows range from $5 to $10 for some local markets, to hundreds and, in some cases, thousands of dollars. Your set up can be as simple as laying down a table cloth and your product on a table that is provided for you -- to setting up a fully stocked street corner boutique! I suggest starting out small before investing large sums of money on a canopy, display walls, shelves, and expensive lighting systems. 

Juried vs. Non- juried Shows: Many people are surprised to find out that show vendors compete for a limited number of spaces at shows. Whether you are applying to a Juried or a Non-Juried show, be sure to read all of the rules and regulations put forth in the application. In most cases you will have to apply under a particular category (ex. painting, ceramics, glass....) and show/sell ONLY that type of work.

A Juried show requires prospective exhibitors to submit images of their work along with a non-refundable application fee. You may be asked to mail in actual photographs or photos burned to a CD; or you may be able to apply online.  More and more shows are switching to online, digital applications that allow you to upload your images directly to their websites.

In contrast, Non-juried shows do not ask for samples or images of your work. Simply filling out an application and sending in your exhibitor's fee will hold your space if you apply by the deadline, or until the show is full.

DEADLINES!!!!! Setting up a show is a LOT of work! Application Deadlines are often several months before an event takes place. Don't get discouraged if you find out you've missed the deadline for a show! Mark it on your calendar for next year and go find a show that's still accepting applications!

Beware of New and “Add-on” shows: Truth be told, there are probably too many shows and festivals out there. While I wouldn’t outright discourage anyone from applying to a “first-year” show, keep in mind that a new show will have to build an audience and attendance may be low. 

I WILL suggest that you think long and hard before jumping into an “Add-On” show. You won’t find the words “Add-On” in any show description or application. It’s my term for shows that are added onto existing events. For example, a show in conjunction with a concert, parade, football game, runners marathon, etc. While these events may have attendance in the tens of thousands, that doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll have tens of thousands of customers. In my experience, most people go to an event with a certain mindset. When they go to a concert or a sporting event,  their minds and wallets are usually set on the main event, not on buying your art or craft work, regardless of how fabulous it is :-)  I'm sure there are exceptions to this rule.  If you've had a good experience selling at this type of event please share!

Finding shows: Help! Please!!  If you know of a show, are promoting a show, or have a good source for reliable show information, PLEASE let us know!!

Here’s a list of a few places you can look for show listings:

  • Artists Friends and Buffalo Etsy Team members 
  • ArtVoice, Buffalo’s free, weekly newspaper dedicated to the arts

  • Exhibitors at Shows, show "neighbors" can be a great source of reliable information

Upcoming Deadlines for Local Shows:

Buffalo Saturday Artisans Market at the Central Wharf. DEADLINE: April 5th, 2013

The Elmwood Avenue Festival of the Arts DEADLINE: April 1st, 2013

• The Lewiston Art Festival DEADLINE: May 10th, 2013

Until next time -- keep creating!


Next Blog Post Topic: What Type of Show is Right for you?... determining your target market.......

Friday, March 22, 2013

Everything Old is New Again....

Everything Old is New Again…

   I often can be quoted as saying “everything old is new again”.  It has become the motto of my vintage Etsy shop, PECollectibles.  Yesterday’s trend will be tomorrow’s trend once again.  I enjoy bringing vintage items to the marketplace as much as collecting them for myself.
   Below I’ve answered some questions that you might have on your mind about all things vintage!

What is considered to be vintage?

   Vintage is a term used to describe items (including jewelry, clothing, books, etc.)  that are more than twenty years old.  It often represents high quality from a past time period.  In regards to Etsy, items considered vintage must have been made sometime before 1994. 

What are the benefits of buying vintage?

1.     Quality- The quality of vintage items for the most part is often made of better materials and superior craftsmanship than new items that you can purchase from retailers.

2.     Trends- In the last few years the world of fashion has embraced vintage styles from all decades, whether it be 70’s style flower child patterns, 50’s style knit sweaters or 20’s style flapper dresses. Antique and repurposed house wares are also quite popular these days.  You can easily incorporate a vintage piece of clothing or accessory into your modern wardrobe.  Even modern homes can have vintage house wares, repurposed items or antique furniture that does not create a dated look. 

3.     Affordability- Vintage items are just that, vintage.  They are rarely new.  Purchasing these items at consignment shops, antique shops, thrift stores and flea markets can definitely be economical. 

4.     Uniqueness- Vintage pieces are limited. You cannot find the same item by the 1,000s in retail stores.  You’ll always have something different from the crowd.

Here are my three favorite vintage/repurposed items this week from local Buffalo Etsy shops!

Buffalo, NY Necklace - "The Old First Ward" vintage skeleton key, Buffalo token, emerald green heart St. Patrick's Day Irish

Vintage Rodo Wicker Clutch with Copper Metallic Finish Made in Italy

Vintage Jantzen THE PETTY GIRL Suit Of 1940 Print Add Original In Modern Frame


Thursday, March 21, 2013

Following your path...

                                                                                              Following YOUR Path...

Many people dream about working for themselves
and the freedom, enjoyment and satisfaction that
come with it.

Of course, there is a lot of hard work, stress, and
doubt and, sometimes, it still results in failure.

We've all read the success stories about people who
reached the goal of successfully working for themselves. Many of us have drawn inspiration and motivation from them. But...

What fun is it when you know the outcome before you read the story? Where's the suspense?

That's what this blog is about; following the journey of a few brave souls who, along with us as readers, don't know the outcome. We'll be watching how things unfold in real time (or very close to it). The joys, frustrations, doubts and successes of fellow Etsians trying to make their way.

This blog will feature a few shop owners who are kind enough to invite us along on their journey. We'll update you on a regular basis about the things they are facing, and how they are moving along - in their own words.

Followers of the blog will get a chance to offer support and encouragement to each of the shop owners and we all get a chance to learn and grow from each other.

I am still looking for 2 more shop owners who are willing to share their experience - please contact me if you are interested.

Introducing: Sarah from  Wonderstrumpet

Name: Sarah Trumpp

Craft: I paint, sew, needle-felt, sculpt, fold, spindle, and mutilate, and I change my focus as often as I change my clothes. I try to infuse everything I make with either guileless joy or utter oddity.

ExperienceI have been making things for myself, my friends, my dolls, and my mud pies since I was a kid, but I've only been making with intent to improve on things consistently in the past five years or so.

Leap of Faith: I had been a medical transcriptionist working from home since 2002, hating it since about 2004. I originally opened my Etsy shop in 2009 with the intent of getting it set up so that I could quit my job, but I never listed anything. I was petrified of failing, so I didn't even start. 

 In 2011, I started with four
other artists, and, even though I didn't have a lot of time to make stuff and therefore didn't sell a lot, I still was able to see that there were actually people out there who liked what I did. A couple of the wonderstrange artists left, and the three of us who remain decided to make the jump to Etsy (we still blog on the site and give away free lineart, but we deactivated the on-site shopping cart). 

I opened a tattoo shop out of my home in December, and I have been tattooing rarely and working on art the rest of the time, so opening the shop was the push that I needed to quit the day job and go for this full time.

What's at Stake: own inner critic will force me to go back out to working some soul-sucking drudgery if I can't manage to make enough money with the art and tattoos to at least pay the bills.

I guess my soul is at stake at this point.

What Gives You Confidence: Honestly, I'm not yet at a place where I'm confident, as sad as that sounds. I am still hoping that the faith my husband has placed in my ability to make this work isn't unfounded, and I'm trying to force the confidence.

Goals for 2013:
1. Force my short attention span into a few definite discernible "lines" - products that obviously go together.

2. As trite as it sounds, make money. List more so I can sell more. I have a bunch of shows lined up, one per month from April to October, as long as I get past the juries. If I don't get past the juries, that will be on the goal list for next year.


         Coming Soon....

The Jury's out - going through the juried process of craft shows

Show Time - another month, another craft show

Highs and Lows -  reflection on the last few weeks

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Treasury Love

Welcome to Treasury Love!
In upcoming issues, I'll go more in-depth on different aspects of treasuries. Today we'll talk about the most basic to-do's. But first, a story...

Once upon a time, a handsome prince from Italy, Giulio, curated a treasury that included a necklace from a wee shop (mine) in a distant land. His glorious treasury scaled mountains and crossed rivers to arrive, in a burst of glory, in the Land of Handpicked Items (also known as the front page of Etsy). Lo and behold!  My wee shop had five sales that day, thanks to Prince Giulio's magnificent treasury and its glorious front page positioning! A joyous celebration commenced, the wine flowed, maidens with flowers in their hair danced...


OK, the fairy tale is over.

You might be thinking, "Five sales in one day? Big whoop." Fair enough. But that front page treasury meant a record-breaking day for me, and gobs of exposure or sales for 15 other shop owners!

A lot of Etsians go to the trouble of making treasuries, but are unaware of some basics that prevent their treasuries from getting exposure. Honestly, I've seen FPTs (front page treasuries) that have only 30 views initially. From the front page, if you click "see more" next to "Handpicked items," you'll see a list of treasuries that have hundreds of views. The Etsy merchs may or may not use numbers when choosing the FPT, but promoting your treasury means more views for the shops you've featured --- and for you.

Since you're already making treasuries, I'm skipping the "how to" mechanics. If you don't know how, visit

For starters, here are a few basics that, surprisingly, get overlooked when creating a treasury list. These may seem painfully obvious, but we've all seen treasuries with whoopsies.

1. Don't use your own shop items

2. Use all 16 spaces

3. The 16 spaces are for different shops, don't duplicate

4. Use a trending theme and make it pretty, like Mary's!


5. Use descriptive tags, just like you tag items in your shop. 
(Be sure to use Buffalo NY and/or Buffalo Etsy Team if you're creating a team treasury.)

6. Use the curator's comment space to describe your treasury. 
Also a good place to tell viewers it's been promoted on Facebook, Pinterest, wherever. There is a character limit, so choose your words and links wisely.

6. PROMOTE your treasury!
Details to come in next week's issue of Treasury Love.

1. "Favorite" the treasury.  
Yep, there's a heart up at the top right that will turn red when you click it. So click it.

2. Leave a comment on the treasury.
Don't bother sending a convo to say thank you; that won't increase the treasury's (or your) views.

If you don't favorite and comment, the curator probably won't include one of your items in future treasuries. Just sayin.'

3. PROMOTE the treasury!
Details to come in next week's issue of Treasury Love.

Promoting your treasury, and promoting a treasury you're in!
While you're waiting, make a pretty treasury, and maybe YOURS will be featured, like Mary's!

Thanks for reading. See you next week!