Monday, January 31, 2011

Finishing up my last big resin jewelry order

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In terms of my resin jewelry orders from the wholesale show last week, I saved the biggest until last.  It was an order for 160 of the scrabble tile pendants.  I decided to save this order until the end because there were so many patterns involved; I needed to make sure to keep everything straight!  Things were going well until I started to pour the epoxy resin.  Let's just say, I learned only to pour about 75 to 100 pendants in one day.  Between smelling the slightly noxious odor and seeing bubbles in my sleep (in the resin, not the kind in the picture, although that would have been nice), I had enough resin pouring in one day to last an entire week.  The good news is that they're done and curing and should get shipped out by the end of the week.  Maybe I will open a bottle of bubbles to celebrate.....

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Slacker Mom Saturday

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Being a parent is the full time job.  I just try to fit everything else in.  I had finished up all my orders from the Orlando ACRE show this week, with the exception of one.  It was my biggest order, and I knew it was going to take a bit of time.  Unfortunately, my oldest two are outgrowing the nap (a.k.a. mommy time) and didn't let me get much accomplished.  I needed to get my groove on, so come Saturday morning, I turned into slacker mom.

"Who wants to watch a movie?"

They were cheering and I was giddy at the idea of gettin' my groove on for more than 15 minutes this time.  In an unbiased as possible self-assessment, I'm somewhere between "anti-TV nazi" mom and "meet my babysitter, Miss Sony 32 inch".  I'm convinced that too much of the "crack box" will melt their brains.  I just don't know where that line is and don't want to pay for the therapy sessions they're going to need later (at least not for that anyway).

The good news:  I got work done and they got to watch one and a half of their favorite DVD's.  Good thing I can go back to being a better parent tomorrow.

Friday, January 28, 2011

New retail locations for KMS Designs resin jewelry

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Announcing several new places across the country to purchase my resin and scrabble tile pendants.


Lyonia Environmental Center, Deltona

Vickie Lynn's Salon, Lakeland


Prelude Gifts, Needham


Trova, St. Louis

New Mexico:

Lilly Barrack, three locations in Albuquerque


The Malone Flower Shop, Canonsburg


Dandridge General Store, Dandridge

Stop in and say hi.  (Even if you don't buy anything, please tell them you think they're pretty cool.  *wink*)

Thursday, January 27, 2011

How to go from having nice dinner to getting advice from Dr. Laura in 2 minutes or less

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So you want to get to know me, eh?  How about I start a regular post called the Thursday rant.  A tongue in cheek look on something that has anywhere from mildly irritated to vastly annoyed me in the past week.

So in attending the wholesale show this last week, I got a chance to meet some other artists.  All in all, I must say that they were the nicest group of artists I have ever had dealings with.  I found their willingness to help a wholesale newbie like myself quite refreshing.  I should have known better than to expect everything to go without a hiccup.

One artist, whom I had chatted with a few times, asked if I wanted to go to dinner with her.  I was at the show by myself and the idea of eating with someone sounded more fun than sitting in a restaurant by myself and having people think I was a serial killer or I had bad body odor (neither of which are true -- just for the record).  As I was driving to a local Orlando eatery, we shared details about what we do when we're not making jewelry. 

Now, have you ever been in a conversation with someone you just met and you get that, "oh, I wish I could fake a seizure right now to get out this" feeling?  Without getting into the details of the conversation at that moment, let's just say it was the equivalent of talking with one of my "never had kids, can't plan more than 5 minutes ahead" friends telling me how to parent my two year old who's having a tantrum of all temper tantrums in the checkout line at one of those big stores with a bullseye logo. 

My immediate thought is:

Plan A:  Rewind time to 15 minutes ago.  When you ask me to go to dinner with you, I'm going to tell you I'm on my way to get an appendectomy.
Plan B:  Find the heaviest thing I can in my truck to hit you upside the head. If you're unconscious, you won't be talking.

Since time travel hasn't been invented yet, and I didn't have anything that could be used as weapon, I had to enact Plan C as soon as we sat down to a table.

"Vodka tonic, please."

Now, in her defense, I'm sure she thought she was being helpful.  But here's my rant:  Improve your listening skills!  What should have been just a nice conversation turned into me getting unsolicited advice and opinions from Dr. Laura when I didn't even call into the show.  Besides, I can always get unsolicited advice from my mom and chances are I don't have to be put on hold.

Now, I'm not going to tell you that I've always been a good listener.  I haven't.  In fact, I'm sure I was pretty bad at it.  It wasn't until I took some business classes about 10 years ago (that included "improve your listening skills" modules) that I realized just how totally I lacked at listening. 

It gets me thinking.  We take 'public speaking' classes in college.  How about 'public listening' classes?  You have two ears and one mouth for a reason.

Does anyone else have this problem, or is it just me? 

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

The real me

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One of my very good friends (who shall remain nameless), called me very recently.  She explained that she had been reading my blog recently.  The conversation went something like this:

"I like reading your blog to find out what's going on, but that's not you."

"No, I'm pretty sure it's me.  Might be one of my other personalities, but it's me."

"That's what I'm talking about."

"Whaddya mean?"

"I mean you're funny, crass, brutally honest, moderately opinionated and always full of wit.  You don't do that on your blog."

"I know, I talk jewelry making on my blog."

"Why don't you throw in some of the other stuff."

"Okay......  You really think people want to read that?"

"Why do you think I call you?"

All right people, here goes.  It's me.  Uncensored.  Uninhibited.  Sleep deprived and looking for my next good wine buy.  Oh yeah, I also make resin jewelry, raise three boys, have a house full of furry animals and hubby gets what's leftover.  (Yes, you should feel sorry for him.)

Monday, January 24, 2011

Orlando ACRE show wrap up

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I'm getting ready to pack up, but wanted to share news that KMS Designs resin jewelry will now be coast to coast!  (And also many thanks to Theo who brought me a glass of wine to enjoy with my trail mix this afternoon.)  

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Day one at the ACRE Orlando show

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Phew! Day one is done!  The lesson for today:  what I didn't make in sales, I gained in incredible knowledge and experience. 

My finished booth setup is at left.  I set my table with an assortment of the resin jewelry.  I like not having to keep it under glass, and I know the gallery and store owners appreciate that as well.  Can't blame them one bit for touching before buying.  (I have talked to many other artists who have said they have never had anything stolen.  Too bad all art shows couldn't be like that!)  The crowd is about a tenth of what I see at art festivals, so it never got crowded (or least the crowded that I'm used to).  It was nice having the time to talk with other galleries and shop owners to understand which of my jewelry pieces is the best fit for them. 

I also had a separate pedestal with my mailing list signup cards and a laptop computer with examples of my work.

I will admit, I didn't like how everything looked.  It was a bit of a hodge podge.  I knew that this was most likely going to be the case as I was preparing for the show, but did the best I could.  The other artists here have been INCREDIBLY helpful in helping me come up with new booth design ideas for next year. 

This is an assortment of the resin and sterling silver jewelry.  Since I've only got a 6 foot table to work with, I couldn't put everything out.

This yellow, red and purple resin pendant that was the biggest hit of the show.  Everyone gave me different reasons why they liked it.  Funny how it was everyone's favorite, but for different reasons.

I displayed some some of the resin pendants on black busts.  (And yes, in case you noticed, the organza ribbon necklaces are new.)

All said, I have had a great experience.  This show may not be a money maker right away, but what I have learned in the first day will help me to have better shows in the future.

Another side note to today: remember how I talked about the photography class I took yesterday?  I got a chance to speak with the guy who taught the class.  I was up front about how I was overwhelmed with all the information and he gave me a link to see it all in print.  Woo Hoo!  That will also be on the to-do list when I get home.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Setting up at the ACRE Orlando show

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I thought it wouldn't have a blog post before Monday, but enough happened today that I had to write a new post before then.  The ACRE show I've been blogging about recently is finally going on this weekend at the Orange County Convention Center, Orlando, Florida.  (seen right)  A friend reminded me last week just how big the center is.  I had completely forgotten until I found myself circling the complex and having to stop and ask for directions.  (That's what I get for not making a point to make sure I knew exactly where I was going.)  I didn't get an early as start as I had hoped (up late the night before getting all my printed materials ready), so I made it there late morning.  I was a little concerned that I wouldn't have enough time to cart my pieces in from the parking lot before my classes, but was thrilled to learn that I could pull into the loading dock underneath the complex.

The convention center has a staff that keeps everything about it running on a tight schedule.  As I went to unload, they were checking people in and out of the loading dock and directing them where to park.  Being able to park under the center was a huge help in speeding up the unloading process. 

As I was unloading, I remembered that I forgotten the scrabble tile display pieces (I use the ones from the games).  I began brainstorming about what I could do, but found out in a couple of minutes that it didn't matter.

This is my home for the weekend.  It is 10 feet wide by 5 feet deep.  It was actually smaller than I was anticipating.  (Somehow the visual picture in my mind was much bigger.)  As you can see, I've got a skirted table and a "bar stool" height chair.  This table is pretty low, so I realized right away there's no way I can use the scrabble tile holders since it would hold them upright and make them hard to see.  I reviewed my pre show materials a few weeks ago and thought I read that it was going to be a counter height table.  (Either I was mistaken, or someone's else definition of counter height is much different than mine.)  I also wish that I had brought my banner to hang in the back of the booth.  Other artists are doing it and it looks good.  (I actually asked a show staffer about this a couple of months ago, and she said it was unnecessary.  Drat!)

I got the booth mostly setup and went to my afternoon classes.  I got a crash course on selling wholesale and how to interact with buyers.  It was a lot of good information and gave me reassurance that I was doing a few things right.  I also took a class on how to improve my jewelry photography.  While the guy who taught the class has forgotten more than I will ever know about taking pictures, I found the class mostly gave me a headache!  I learned a few important points, but for the most part, he was hard to follow.  There weren't any notes either.  (That would have been helpful.)  I did, however, get a recommendation on a new camera.  My Fuji is giving me a hard time and I know it's living on borrowed time.

So at the end of the day, I covered up the booth and will be ready for tomorrow.  I've already learned a few things and am looking forward to what else is going to happen!

Friday, January 21, 2011

Getting ready to sell wholesale jewelry

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  The truck is packed I'm just about ready to head out the door to ACRE Orlando!  This is going to be a lot different than the art shows I've done because this will be a show for people to place orders for inventory, not buy and take home the jewelry, as is done at the art festivals.  I need to be well organized so that I can be sure to get everyone's order fully completed accurately and on time.

To borrow a few words from Santa Claus, I'm makin' a list and checkin' it twice....  What follows is an exhaustive list of what I will be taking with me (any many thanks to other artists and the ACRE Orlando staff for helping me to come up with this list):

Jewelry.  I'll be taking a large sampling of everything I can possibly carry.  While I may not display it all at once, I can pull it out to show customers should a conversation go a particular direction..

Large duplicate invoice pads.  I need to make sure I have plenty of room to get all the contact information and the specifics of the order.  Plus I need to be sure I keep a copy for myself.

Fact sheets about me, KMS Designs, and my jewelry.  Knowing that many of the attendees are coming to gather information and (hopefully) place orders, I need to give them pertinent facts that they can review later and place and order.

Mailing list signup.  I need a list and method to collect email addresses for vendors to receive contact from me about what's going on within my jewelry business.

Laptop computer.  This will allow me to coordinate the orders with my account on the ACRE wholesale crafts website.  It will also give me the chance to show gallery and boutique owners my Flickr jewelry page, which has pictures of me doing works in progress.  (There is wi-fi at the show.)

Business cards.  I need people to have a way to contact me, whether by phone, email or my twitter and facebook pages.

Signage about the jewelry prices and a bit of information about how they are made.  This might be overkill, but I like people to get information without having to feel "embarassed" to ask.

Jewelry display materials.  This includes my velvet displays, tablecloths, and risers.

Track lighting, zip ties, and extension cord.  Since the show will be indoors, I need to bring extra lighting so people can fully appreciate the jewelry.

Cart and associated bungee cords.  It's not going to be a short trip between my booth and the parking lot.  Carrying things in is going to have to be as stress free as possible.

I'm sure there will be something that I wish I would have had, but I will have to work on that for next time.  I will be sure to get some pictures while I'm at the show to have on the blog next week!

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Pictures of new resin jewelry

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So I'm a bit nutty this week getting ready for ACRE Orlando.  I always have this last minute push to get new jewelry done, for whatever reason.  (I can be a bit hard on myself.)  Anyway, I don't have time to write much, but instead will show some pictures of work I just poured.  Look for them on KMS Designs next week.

Monday, January 17, 2011

I am in love with Jack Bauer

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Sometimes it takes me awhile to get caught up on television shows.  I'm halfway through the series 24, and have decided that I am in love with Jack Bauer.  Ordinarily I am a very dedicated wife, but have informed my family should Jack come by and need me, I'm gone.  (But not to worry, I'll only be gone for 24 hours.)  For those of you who have never watched the show, he is super secret agent, friend of the president, git-ir-done kind of guy.  Do now, ask questions later.  He's adept at missing bullets, viruses, nuclear radiation, and even bad hair days.  My kind of guy (at least for 24 hours).  Should I get involved with him, not to worry, I'll write about it on my blog.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Delegating jewelry making tasks

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Remember how I talked a couple of weeks ago that one of my "words for the year" was delegate?  I had an opportunity to do that this week.  I gave my assistant a task that directly involved making the jewelry itself.  (Many of the tasks I had given her before had been more office duty and errand type work).  I gave her a sheet of my designs for the scrabble tiles, and asked her to cut them into squares to fit the tiles.  I am happy to say she "did good".  It wasn't perfect, but the important part is that I found out the sky didn't fall either.  Some she cut too close, some the ends weren't a good point, but for the most part they were usable.  This is a huge step for me!  I don't consider myself a control freak, but I'm very particular about making sure the jewelry is "perfect" since it's my name and reputation on them. 

The other exciting part is that she actually wants to do a good job and was very receptive to my feedback.  When I talked to her about some of the problems with the first set, she was eager to improve.  I gave her more designs to cut up yesterday.  She used a different technique, and the results were better.   I'm actually pretty excited this looks like it's going to work out just fine and free up time for me.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Getting ready for the ACRE Orlando wholesale art show

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I have spoken with a couple of people in charge of organizing the ACRE Orlando show.  I think I have a pretty good idea of what to expect.  In preparation for the show, I decided I needed a couple more things that I didn't already have.

I need some larger, duplicate purchase order forms.  I have something similar for art festivals, but they are smaller and meant only to be a purchase receipt.  I wanted something larger that I can take a lot of notes on.

Another art friend of mine told me that he had better luck getting people to sign up for his mailing list when he had people put their information into a ballot box.  Hmm.  Is it because their information is more private (no one else has to know that you want to be on my list), or is it because the box is more obvious and easier for people to see to include their information?  I don't know, but I will put it out to gather contact names from this show.

Even though I'm being provided with a table, I wanted to do something to "jazz it up" a bit.  I went by my local Target store and got a table runner to include over the top.  You may not be able to tell well from the picture, but it's four stripes that gradually go from a silver gray to a dark, taupe gray.  The runner looks good with black, taupe, and silver, so I should be set.  The black tablecloth is for a counter height stand I'm taking to put the box on for mailing list contact information.

I'll be getting everything packed this weekend.  The countdown is on!

Monday, January 10, 2011

How to make beaded hoop earrings

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I know a lot of my blog readers are budding jewelry artists and are always on the look out for ideas. I caught this video the other day on how to make your own beaded hoop earrings. Oh my gosh, they turned out so cute! The video is a bit long (just under 10 minutes), but the woman teaching the technique takes her time talking you through all the steps. If anyone makes a pair of these, post a picture on the KMS Designs jewelry Facebook page!

Friday, January 07, 2011

Valentine's Day and snowflake jewelry

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Yes, we did just get over Christmas.  Yes, I already have Valentine's Day jewelry.  (For those of you not ready to get your "love" on, I also have colorful winter snowflakes on scrabble tiles too.)  Pink is not necessarily one of my favorite colors, but I have to say that the color grew on me while I was making these pendants.

There are also snowflakes in a variety of other colors (there are navy blue and turquoise blue snowflakes in the picture at left). 

I don't have these on the KMS Designs website yet.  (Remember one of my three words for the year is delegate?  Photographing jewelry is the job I am dying to delegate to someone else.)  I have left some this morning at McIntyre Studio and Gifts of Avalon, but if you see something you like here, drop me an email or give me a call.

Wednesday, January 05, 2011

American Craft Retailers Expo ACRE - Orlando, Florida

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I'm only a little over two weeks away from attending the wholesale ACRE show in Orlando, Florida.  While I'm still getting some new resin jewelry inventory ready, I started getting my booth planned and mapped out.

Since this is my first time doing the show, I qualified for an "emerging artist" booth.  Even though I have been creating and selling art jewelry since 2001, I only jumped into wholesale a little more than a year ago.  The show is indoors at the Orange County Convention center.  I only have a 10' by 5' booth space (when I do outdoor festivals I have a 10' x 10' space), but the booth comes with almost everything I need.  It will have a counter height table with skirt, chair, cross bar high in the front of the booth (I'll get why that's important) and a trashcan.  Only the first timers get these amenities.  The repeat vendor artists get a larger space, but have to rent these items or bring their own.  (Note to self:  pay attention to what the seasoned attendees do)  I'm grateful the show management took it upon themselves to go ahead and outfit the newbies with these items.  It's a lot less that I have to worry about, and it lets me concentrate on getting the jewelry and supporting materials together.

So as for the booth itself, I will be taking jewelry display materials and signage.  It will look very similar to my art show booth, except I won't need the glass cases.  There aren't near as many people that attend these events, so watching people is usually a lot easier (at least that's what I've been told).  I have also attended wholesale shows as a buyer, not a seller, and I must admit that there is a large mutual trust to leave valuable merchandise within easy viewing and reach.  I have been told by several people that theft is unusual as there is a mutual respect amongst business owners.  Too bad I can't say the same about the art festivals.  (That's another blog post....but let's just say that unfortunately, too much jewelry "sprouts legs" when it's not under glass)

Since it's an indoor show, I need extra lighting.  A few years ago, I bought the art equipment of a jewelry artist I knew who was getting out of the business.  As luck would have it, she sold me her track lighting setup just for cases like this.  It's a long piece with three lights.  I will be attaching this to the extra cross bar across the front of my booth.  I held by breath as I plugged it in, but found out that two of the three lights work.  I'll be getting a replacement for the third one this week (hoping of course that it is only a burned out light bulb).

Friday's project is to get my office supplies and signage ready for potential buyers.

Monday, January 03, 2011

New Year's Resolutions and why I don't make them

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I quit making new year's resolutions a few years ago.  I came to realize that anything truly important should be done before waiting for a new year to start.  Now, I'm not trying to disparage those that make new year's resolutions.  Certainly, you should do whatever works for you.  In my case, they just aren't a good fit.

Since I have been on Twitter, I have followed Chris Brogan (@chrisbrogan) and his tweets about business and social media. Instead of doing new year's resolutions, he starts his new year with 3 words to focus on.  I rather like that idea and am going to give a try for my resin jewelry business for 2011.

My three words in no particular order of importance:

Delegate.  If I want my business to grow the way I hope it will, I can't do it all myself.  I'm going to have to delegate some tasks to others within my studio or hire outside help.

Innovate.  What is something really special that my customers are wanting that they don't have?  What would really make them say, "Oh I have to have one of those!!".  (Suggestions can be left in the comment section below.)

Collaborate.  I have spoken with a few other artists about doing a couple of collaborative projects.  I'm not revealing any details as not to spoil the surprise, but I think it will be pretty neat (and may crossover into the word above.)

What are you focusing on for 2011?
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