Thursday, June 26, 2014

Did I really just quit my job?

As I wind down the last few days of June and my “old life”, I thought it would be a good time for another update. 

Since I wrote last month about my resignation, my mind has been very active.

Initially, it was filled with excitement and feelings of being empowered. I felt like I was on a mission and couldn't be stopped. I kept thinking about the future and all of the possibilities that are surely lying before me.

 After a few days though, I experienced the first jolt of fear. It took me by surprise.

I was getting ready to go to bed, my mind was wandering a bit and all of a sudden my stomach dropped and I thought what am I doing? I’m giving up a steady paycheck, benefits, a sense of security and certainty??? 

What if this doesn't work out?? What will I do then??  It was a pretty powerful jolt.

I've had a few more of them since then, but not nearly as powerful as that first one.

Each time though, I was able to quiet the noise with 2 words that are more powerful than the fear - 
total faith. Simply saying those two words, a couple of times, helped calm me down and remind me of the bigger picture.

What if it doesn't work out?  Well, I’ll just try something else. One way or another I’ll end up doing something, somewhere.

I actually did this once before, believe it or not.  I was in retail management for about 8 years when I decided I wanted more. At that time I was in my late 20’s, I had nothing saved, I didn't have a college degree nor did I have a plan. I left and never looked back. I’m so grateful I did. A story for another time….

This time around I’m in my late 40s and bettered prepared. I've saved, I've earned 2 degrees since then and I have a plan.

I also have a lot more to lose, however. That must be what produces the jolts!

So, the past month has been a roller coaster of emotions. My mind is actually more active than ever. The difference now is that it’s focused and clear about what I need to do. I've sketched out a vision of what my work day will look like now. I’m currently working on a “map” that will lead me to the goals I've set. I also made a list of all of the reasons I’m making this change – just to remind me what it’s all about and what I stand to gain by taking this risk.

I’m ready now, at least as ready as I can be, to turn my keys in to my boss and unlock my future without them...


Get Your Ruby Red Gifts Here!

July's birthstone is the ruby so here's a collection from the Buffalo Etsy Team including creations featuring bright ruby red!

Ruby Red gifts curated by Buffalove on Etsy

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Buffalo Loves Stars and Stripes!

Stars and Stripes curated by Buffalove on Etsy

Friday, June 13, 2014

Creative Spaces: Where Buffalo Etsians make their magic

A look inside the work spaces of our fellow teammates.
I love seeing where makers and designers create their works of art. Their work table, their supplies, how they decorate their space. Is it neat, clean, always organized? A messy tangle of this and that? Folders full of ideas? Baskets of yarn, jars of beads, old cans stuffed with well-worn paint brushes?
I wonder, do they listen to classical music or something soulful or jazzy while they work?  Whether a little corner somewhere or a grand old attic, each space is so personal and should be just what the artist needs to dream up those designs and create those masterpieces.
The first artist to be featured in this series is Shaun Silverwood of “road kiln”. Shaun creates copper enameled jewelry and art. Besides her Etsy shop, Shaun sells her work at many shows and gift shops.
She started her business as a sole proprietorship in 1996 after taking workshop classes with master enamelist, Shirley Rosenthal.
She opened her Etsy shop in January 2009 and started actively listing her work in April 2012, after she had retired from teaching in Buffalo.

I asked Shaun to describe her work space,  how she organizes her equipment and supplies, what she likes the most about it and what she would change or improve and to share any tips she might have “keeping it all together” while creating and running a business.

Shaun’s studio takes up most of her basement.  She fires her pieces in one section where her kiln is  located and uses the saw in another. In other areas she keeps found objects to be used in her wall hangings. The rest of the basement is used for storing her displays and canopy. She also utilizes a fourth bedroom and den when she has an upcoming art show.

Asked what she might change if she could, Shaun mentioned proper ventilation.  ‘” That is something I might be able to have done this summer.  If not, I will continue opening windows and wearing double masks.”

When asked if there were something she would like for her studio, she said she would like employees, who could help her with the non-creative part of her work such as drilling, cleaning and carding the pennies she uses in her jewelry.

As far as organizing the business end of things, “I am a fanatic about keeping good books.  I have so many spreadsheets set up on my computer in my den. It’s a great place to work as it looks upon gardens and has so much natural light. Since I sell to so many gift shops, it is critical that my bookkeeping is always up to date”.

“My basement is organized in my own haphazard way. I use to clean up every time I was doing firing but now after so many years, I know what I need to keep close by and am comfortable with the way I work when I fire.” “Others coming in who know me would be shocked at what appears to be a mess of disarray…but it works for me”. “Letting a little chaos into my life is healthy as I am so type A.”
I can certainly relate to that Shaun!
Music also helps her while she works. “I like it upbeat and happy and I think it shows in my work.”
Shaun is such a talented artisan and professional.  It was a pleasure to learn about her creativity and where she makes it all happen. Thank you Shaun.
Shaun’s beautiful jewelry can be found in her Etsy shop:

Thanks to Carla Kestner for the wonderful photos.
~ Linda Richards  

Monday, June 9, 2014

Improve Your Etsy Product Photos: An Interactive Workshop

Are you looking for some guidance on how to take better photos of your product for selling on Etsy? Why not join members of the Buffalo Etsy Team for this special workshop on best practices in digital photography to make your work stand out.  This event will feature demonstrations and techniques that will help Etsy sellers at all levels by emphasizing tips and tricks ranging from knowing your camera settings, optimal image quality (for posting on Etsy), lighting and more. 

When: Tuesday, July 1, 2014, 6:30 PM – 8:30 PM

Where: Creative Essence, 9450 Clarence Center Road, Clarence Center, NY (corner of Goodrich, 2.5 miles from Main Street). Plenty of street parking is available.

Workshop presenter: Mark Busch, photographer, website designer, and internet marketing strategist.

WHO SHOULD ATTEND? This workshop is open to Buffalo Etsy Team members, and all who are selling their work online with a focus on Etsy.  Registrants are encouraged to let us know their photography questions on the registration form so we can address specific needs.

REGISTER NOW as seating is limited.  Tickets are $7.50 per person.  You can pay using your Paypal account.  Light appetizers and drinks will be provided.  Street parking is available. We will also have some Etsy swag to give away!

The Buffalo Etsy Team is grateful to Creative Essence whose mission is to provide a community space that supports creativity using a multitude of mediums where people come to share skills, inspiration and a few laughs along the way.  For more information visit their website at  

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Tips & Tricks: DIY paint brush rest

Too clever by half!

I paint a lot of different colors at the same time. After getting really annoyed with having to lay wet brushes down all over my workspace (on my laptop keyboard, on rolls of tape, across the dirty brush cup ... ), I decided there must be an easier way!

I bought a pack of white Sculpey (because white is obviously what you want to put wet paint brushes on) and promptly left it on my desk for 3 months.

Eventually I got fed up with clumsily painting myself with a different color every time I reached for something, and knocking brushes off their precarious perches onto my (again, white - what is my deal) desk and made my stinking paintbrush rests already!

Sculpey comes conveniently pre-notched in quarters, so I took each piece and rolled it out into a tube. Then I used a wooden clay shaper thing that I had lying around to create the divots where the brush goes. You can see by the longest one that I didn't make the spaces big enough the first time I pressed into the clay. Whoops.

Then bake in the oven on wax paper, wash the nasty clay residue off your hands 3 times, and voila! Clay paintbrush rests!

This has cut down the amount of times I've put a paintbrush on my laptop by at least 73%. Hey, old habits die hard.

If anyone has any little tips or tricks that help make their crafting process more efficient, I'd love to hear them! Please write in a comment below!

-- Jocelyn //

Buffalo Etsy Team Interview: Jessica from FastCrawl

Jessica opened her Etsy shop, Fast Crawl, in October 2011. Her plans and creations have evolved since she was first interviewed in May 2013, so it was time to catch up! You can read that interview here:

You’ve recently made big changes to your original your business plan. Where did the new direction come from? Do you work with a mentor? 
>>> I did make some big [and a little scary] changes! I think the problem was that originally I didn’t have a business plan — I was just sort of winging it. The idea for a change came when I realized my style and pricing were in competition with discount stores like Wal-mart and Claire’s. I needed a new clientele — one that would appreciate the handmade and unique pieces I was making. I didn’t quite know how to go about doing that until I got in touch with Elizabeth from Southern Carnival - who graciously gave me all of the direction I needed. She’s been a fabulous mentor and cheerleader for many, many months, though she’d hate that I called her that!

Tell us about your new line: How are your new products different from your earlier products? Will your jewelry line be continued?
>>> The idea behind my new products is more or less the same, but the execution is different. My biggest goals are to create consistency and quality while being unique and paying myself for my time. I have slightly shied away from “one of a kind” pieces in order to focus on items I can make in multiples. Eventually I want to be able to produce large quantities of most of my clips. I am focusing more on bridal hair pieces, bridesmaid sets, and formal clips, though many of the items are versatile enough you can wear them every day. Styles range from very ornate and decorative to simple and understated. There’s a little something for everyone. I am using this transition period to eliminate the jewelry completely — my passion lies in silks.

You had a recent buying trip to New York City. How did you find/choose your supplier? 
>>> My ‘mentor’ Elizabeth found my new supplier for me, and I feel like I owe her my first-born child as payment. Finding a US-based source for my business was extremely important to me. With so much of the manufacturing businesses moving overseas [especially in fashion], supporting locally made businesses and nurturing business relationships is increasingly important.

In January of this year, I went to NYC to source a custom silk flower factory. M&S Schmalberg Custom Fabric Flowers is the last remaining silk flower factory in NYC, the largest in North America, and they do everything out of a space that is only slightly larger than my apartment. They are a family owned business that has been operating in the Fashion District for almost 100 years. You can supply any fabric in the world to them [I’ve seen flowers made out of python skin, velvet, hand dyed silk, and even a Burberry scarf!], choose any die cut flower shape, and any mold to add texture, and they will make it for you. The possibilities are limitless. They will provide leaves and petals, or create an entire flower to your specifications. I chose the former, though they have plenty of ready-made flowers stacked in boxes if I ever want to go shopping!

My favorite part of the trip was being offered the same flowers that were made for one of Oscar de la Renta’s runway shows. How could I turn that offer down? I turned a trio of 3 velvet roses into a delicate hair comb, and now have bragging rights that my flowers were made for my favorite fashion designer.

 Who is the FastCrawl customer?
>>> The Fast|crawl customer is youthful at heart, while drawn to unique details. Many of my pieces have a touch of whimsy in them that speaks to first time brides, debutantes, and anyone with a soft, vintage, and romantic side.
Has your marketing approach changed with the new line?
>>> Marketing is tough no matter what your product and who your clientele are! I am currently working with another local designer, and dear friend, Alexandra Farrington, of to develop a website, and I am trying to be more cognizant of my social media presence. I’m on Instagram and Facebook, and am hoping to get started with a twitter account soon. I’ve built wholesale pricing into my pricing model, so I’m going to start looking into to get into some local boutiques by the end of the summer.  Having local support is going to be key in growing my “hair flower empire.”

What’s the best piece of business advice you’ve received?
>>> Not to be afraid of raising my prices!  I have a notebook where I write all of my prices — I know exactly how much money each rhinestone costs, each bobby pin, each hair clip, and each flower petal. I’m not only the workhorse who puts it all together, but I’m also the designer, photographer, editor, writer, etc. I’ve come up with a pricing plan and follow it rigorously, so I make sure I’m not coming up with arbitrary prices, and am actually making money instead of losing it!

Are your products available locally, and if so, where?
>>> Not yet, but I’ve had a few offers. I’m still working on getting my product line back where it should be before I start selling offline.
Lastly, and just for fun: If FastCrawl could have any celebrity spokesmodel, who would it be?
>>> I’ve always thought that Rachel McAdams is the perfect blend of Grace Kelly’s vintage elegance and romanticism. A little flower tucked behind her ear, or pinned at the base of a formal updo would be just perfect. So if anyone knows how to get a hold of her…you send her my way!

Many thanks to Nicole Johnson of Mealy Monster for initiating the original Buffalo Etsy Team interviews!

Until I ask questions again, this is Carla from 716 Buffalos wishing you a happy summer and loads of Buffalove!



Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Fantastic Father's Day Gifts

Father's Day Gifts curated by Buffalove on Etsy