I've retired from 26 years working with "suits" and sales. Now I'm following my creative passion of designing soft home furnishings. I have a professional drapery workroom and also my online stores. For Canadians at iCraft.ca/pillowthrowdecor.com
and for US and International buyers at PillowThrowDecor.Etsy.com I have a very eclectic collection with 3 more distinctive pillow lines: "Luxe and Found", Pocket Pillows and an embroidered line. Did I mention I have a line of DIY designer pillow kits comming soon too?
I run my business with "Big ECO ATTITUDE"! It benefits my customers with lower prices and a greener earth.
Follow my blog for trends, colours, how-tos and top best picks and deals. Gift giveaways coming soon too!
4)Put your shop on 3 new directories --- http://www.dmoz.org/ ---http://www.votehandmade.com/ --- http://www.loadedweb.com/
5)OPTIONAL… Let’s do some research on key words. Click on the links below and do some keyword searches appropriate for your shop. Google Keyword Tool Webmaster Favorite - Enter website name or keywords for list of related searches. Statistics show search count and advertiser competition. For help see Keyword Tool Tips. Use Google Keyword Video Training for methods to evaluate and create keywords for ads or web pages. See also: Search based Keyword Tool (beta).
2)Go to this site and create an appealing background for your twitter page. It’s quick and easy and you can change it as often as you want. In your profile information make sure you list your website. In your bio, list the things that interest you and make them searchable words not flowery speech. Sound / look interesting http://www.twitterbackgrounds.com/personalized-twitter-backgrounds
3)Go to the Business and Marketing forum, to gallerialinda’s post … Places For Business and Products to be Featured or Listed and pick any small task on her suggested list. http://icraft.ca/forum/viewtopic.php?t=857
4) OPTIONAL ACTIVITY Get some good reading material and a cold drink and lay around on the patio this weekend. Your good reading material is this… Download this ebook … secrets of savvy sellers http://onthedotcreations.typepad.com/onthedotcreations/secrets-of-savvy-etsy-sellers.html it’s a fun easy read.
3)After you have created your “new listing” Tweet about it.
4) Add 50 names of people you want to “follow”.
5) Get your business cards out and explain to your family that you need their help getting your cards out there. For those of you that don’t have business cards yet you may want to talk to PolkaDotPixels.com.
6) Post everything that you get done and any comments in the Bootcamp What Happened thread right after this one… bragging is allowed.
This is an abbreviated version of the day's assignment.
1)Make it easy for people to go to your shop. Add your automatic store signature, your twitter address, and your blog address to every email in Outlook or Outlook express. For Outlook go to Tools, Options, then the Mail Format tab and start creating your NEW signature. There is a little link button in the small signature frame to add your shop name as a LIVE LINK in every email. In Outlook Express, go to Tools, Options, Signatures then click on NEW. As far as I know you cannot put a live link in here. If you need to add a second store then create the second link or shop url right below your icraft.ca address. Your signature might look like the example below. I use about 5 different signatures depending on my correspondence but my default one is icraft.ca
2) List your store in a free local store/business directory. Bootcamp emphasizes LOCAL PROMOTION as it is the easiest and the quickest way to generate retail icraft.ca sales. Find one… any where where you can park your URL… Here is a suggestion by Galleria Linda http://02d6485.netsolhost.com/default.asp
3) Open a twitter account using your shop name.
4) Get your business cards ready. Order some. Get some. Make some. Do what you have to do to get ready to start getting your cards out. I can recommend PolkadotPixels .com for the design part of it. Emily is very quick, reasonable and most importantly I liked what she created for me. She also did this blog, ads, banner, etc.
5) Bootcamp Goals - Spend some time thinking and writing down answers for the following questions.
How many items can you reasonably produce and list in the next 28 days? How many sales would you like to make in the next 28 days? What products would you like to introduce or eliminate from your product line? To whom will your products appeal to? Describe your buyer (male, female, age, profession, etc) What areas do you need to tweak in your shop? (pictures, bio, policies, shipping, descriptions, etc) What networking activities have you been procrastinating but really want to start? (blog, .com,twitter) Is there a seller/shop out there that you wish you could be like? Or admire? Why?
Share what you are doing here with family, friends and other sellers that you know. encouragement is always a good thing!
Welcome to icraft Sellers Bootcamp #2 Are ya ready ???
Wow more than 100 Bootcampers on the list. Many of you are back for round 2 because you miss all the smiling faces and the grueling pace. I want to assure everyone that we are slowing the pace and narrowing the focus.
Objectives in Bootcamp 2 will be building sales and exposure for our shops by:
1)Listing new product daily 2)Tuning up our stores in pictures, descriptions 3)Finding new publicity and advertising venues for local and online communities 4)Building links for our stores, blogs and icraft 5)Building a presence on Twitter and, if we have time, FaceBook too
With serious, concentrated effort the assignments will take around 45 minutes a day. Saturday and Sundays are off. Some activities build on each other so if you miss a day,catch up by skipping the “routine” activities. Bootcamp is a real opportunity for all of us to try new and different marketing ideas. Make notes of what works and what doesn’t… response will vary depending on product and geography.
If you have questions, ask , ask, ask! If you’re stuck, share it, we’ll help you fix it. Don’t quit. Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org if you need a quick answer, otherwise post on the day’s assignment thread. We have experts to help us. Some of our experienced Bootcampers will “mentor” you through too. Please share ideas or anything and everything that we can all learn from. Brag when you’ve "done good"!!! We'll all share in your victories!
My goal for Bootcampers is that in the next 28 days you’ll establish a marketing routine that will feel comfortable and fun. For icraft.ca, my goal will be that we attract many, many, new sellers with lots of interesting high quality handmade products. With more “stock on the shelves” the buyers will come.
I am so excited to have found icraft.ca because IT GIVES ME CONTROL OF MY STORE AT A PRICE THAT MAKES MY BOTTOM LINE LOOK GOOD! More importantly, I am building my business for the long term and I absolutely believe this is the venue that will lead the Canadian online market and be a prominent player in international markets. The gates are now open… fly at it!!!
PS… If you are reading this and wishing you could sign up it is not too late... ask me about a referral code for 6 months free!
Decorative pillows aren't my only passion. In fact, amongst the heaps of pillow fabric around my workroom are home decorating magazines, training manuals, sticky notes and other "stuff" that help me put together icraft.ca Sellers Bootcamp training assignments every day. My new best buddy GalleriaLinda, jeweler extraordinaire, is my brilliant right hand!
Seller's Bootcamp isn't just for pillow makers or even just icraft sellers. ANY online seller needs to take some sort of action like this 28 day, kick-butt, get a plan, get it going program. One of the hardest things for most small businesses is accountability. They have no daily to-do-list or anyone to march them through it. There's people like me, who have waaaaaay too many ideas, but not enough and therefore diddle around finishing nothing. I see a few smiles out there... you're probably like me... hey, we are true creative artisans!
So I started a group of like minded artisans at icraft.ca where together, daily, we encourage, mentor, share knowledge and "kick each others butt" and generally keep each other focused on a plan that is proven to work. We do it in the spirit of fun and the desire to make our businesses grow. It's free... it just costs 45 minutes a day.
How do we know it works? We have some great success stories from Bootcamp1 and many of our Bootcampers are back for more because they missed the structure and the discipline that Bootcamp provided. Statistically, we know we improved our views, number of sales and new listings! We increased our online presence with lots of new strategic links for our stores and our blogs... AND icraft.ca is climbing in the site rankings.
The most important statistic of all is this... "80% of success is about showing up". I'm not sure who said that first but it just simply means... doing something positive, even if you don't do it well, increases your chances of success 80% more than doing nothing. That's good news because there are lots of us that are brilliant artisans but we're online newbies. Unless we can get the word out about our work and our store, we're just a well kept secret.
For the next 28 days, I'll post Bootcamp tidbits especially our BEST OF THE BEST OF BOOTCAMP TIPS. So if you're too shy to sign up at icraft.ca Bootcamp 2 you can peak here.. daily. Just FOLLOW ME or jump in and use this referral code and get 6 months free fees. There's just a 25$ one time sign up fee and NEVER any sellers fees. It's the best deal out there.
Well I better get back to my pile of pillows, they are calling my name... oh yes, my pillows have so much character they can talk!
It is so exciting to see someone like my GEEK guys as much as I do. Super Geek was featured today at MyShoppingConnection.com! It says ...
"Get your geek on with this decidedly nerdy pillow from PillowThrowDecor.
The Geek Pillow is part of the Luxe and Found Collection, which focuses on eco-chic pillow designs that utilize remnants, upcycled materials and other "throwaway" items.
This cute little guy is made with faux leather fabric and A/V cables, and you can purchase pillow inserts made with Ecofill luxury fiber fill (formerly PET bottles) separately. $69 from PillowThrowDecor"
I am just about finished Super Geek's family which includes Little Sis Maddie, Mom, Dad, Grampa and a really nerdy older sister. these guys all have so much character I swear they can talk!
These are all originals so no two are the same. Check them out at http://pillowthrowdecor.etsy.com or http://icraft.ca/pillowthrowdecor
It's been way too long since I last posted but there has just been so much happening at my new store at icraft.ca. I'm thrilled to say within the first few weeks I had 17 sales and for online selling that's pretty awesome.
I never realized that online selling was so different than traditional face to face selling. But boy am I learning fast! In fact, I am applying my years of experience as an instructor at the University of BC and sales trainer in a program for icraft that I've dubbed "Sellers Bootcamp". It's a 28 day program where I assign a list of activities that are designed for sellers to market within their local markets as well as their online communities. It's about commitment and accountability too. A seed of an idea has grown to a whole team of approximately 60 people. Bootcamp II is already in the works!
I have had a chance to meet some really awesome and incredibly talented people, not just as artisans but technological geniuses! With these people, we have quite an impressive leadership team so that we can all share our talents and support one another.
Bootcamp isn't just about marketing our own shops but promoting icraft.ca as a new and hugely remarkable selling venue. The beauty of icraft.ca is that it is all about handmade! No vintage stuff and no supplies so it keeps the site uncluttered and easy for buyers "to stroll the isles". The site itself is fresh and colourful and Canadian (which is important to me and my local clients). There are however, sellers from around the world with an amazing diverse collection of goods. Icraft.ca is still very, very new so we are still looking to add a lot of sellers. More sellers means more products, and more products mean more traffic. LOTS OF TRAFFIC generates more buyers enthusiastically shopping for fabulous finds which is good for all of us at icraft.ca.
So, I ask all of my faithful readers to pass the word on to sellers and buyers, that icraft is an up and coming, first class, HANDMADE venue to be watched and to be seen on!
If you want to check out our forums and join the fun there is a live link in my picture at the top. I'm also including a link to all of our Bootcamp Sellers and I would love for you to stop by and preview their stores because we are planning a huge "OPEN HOUSE WEEKEND" in the very near future offering "ODD SOCK SPECIALS".
This introductory weekend will be offering items normally retailing for $10-$60 for only $5. Other items will be offered at an "Odd Sock 50% Discount". There is so much more to tell you about this "OPEN HOUSE WEEKEND AT ICRAFT.CA" but I better not spill any more beans. Leave me your note in the comments that you want to be notified for some really "blowout deals". I will ask sellers to stop by in the comments and tell you what their specialties are too.
Until next time, which won't be a long time... Cheers!...Christine
I'm so excited to announce I have opened a Canadian store for my Canadian buyers. No more US dollar conversion, no fear about duty, brokerage fees or other border issues. There will be the same products just in Canadian dollars.
Resemble anyone you know? Geeks have risen to a new social level and this one is a 10!
My husband always gets worried when I'm on a snoop around the house and when I appeared with a handful of tv and stereo cables he immediately checked all the tvs. Our house like every other household has a box or a drawer of cables and plugs that get stuffed in there every time some new electronic something is brought home.
I've started a whole line of geek pillows. "Dreadlock Geek" and "Curly Geek" have been the favourites so far. I had them all out on display on our sofa on the Easter weekend and there were two attempted kidnappings.
I've made them with huge eco attitude! I've upcycled telephone cables and cords for hair, video cable for eyeglass rims, all fabrics for the glasses and the pillow panels are all remnants.
For the guy that has everything these will make great Father's Day gifts for dad or hubby. I'm designing a line of female geeks so stand by. These are great conversation pieces, eco friendly and they're ORIGINALs as all of the pillows in my LUXE AND FOUND Collection. Check them out at my Etsy store or my new Canadian store at icraft.ca/pillowthrowdecor
Lots going on at PillowThrowDecor this week with a fresh new look and some good-deal pricing. Emily at WWW.POLKADOTPIXELS.COM. or Polkadotpixels.etsy.com came through for me with a fun, contemporary design that's real eye candy and so much fun for me to work with. I'm amazing at designing with fabric but dumber than stick when it comes to the techie stuff. Emily has this remarkable ability to read my mind. I appreciate being relieved of the stress!
I am still experimenting with my product line and with the help of my "design diva" I will be adding some weird and wonderful. Goth, nerd, steampunk, noir, edgy and twisted stuff is a real scream to work with and is a stretch from my usual "beautiful but boring stuff"... says my Arrianna, AKA Design Diva. After you check polkadotpixels.com, check my store, and get back here as STUFF is going to start happening next week!
These were just way too much fun!!!These decorative pillows were a ladies size 28 pair of Versace Couture Jeans. Upcycled, recycled, repurposed or whatever you call it, when I finished I had only eight square inches of fabric left. Eco smart or what? It takes hours to unpick an article like this but it's important to save what you can. It's always the last scrap you throw away that's needed for buttons.
My Luxe and Found Pillow Collection is all about upcycling interesting bits of clothing, belts or even household items and artistically embellishing a pillow. These are absolutely unique and to have a wee bit of Versace is just heaven! Bonus ipod pockets too.
I can hardly wait to show you what's next on my work table! It is Chic Geek so come on back and check it out. The Versace pillows are for sale at PillowThrowDecor.Etsy.com starting at $65. If you like em' by em' quick... These cannot be duplicated!
Two things I'm always looking for when I flop out on the couch are my laptop USB cables and my hand creme (fabric really dries your hands. I used to stash these under the couch because cables looked messy. After stepping on my handcreme one day I knew I had to come up with a better solution. Here it is... a "Couch Pouch Pillow".
Sometimes I'm just too tired to get up so I love having all my "stuff" so close. My husband calls it my "toy bag". It holds everything but my coffee cup. I've given them as birthday gifts and friends use them to stash remote controls, crosswords, seduko books, phones, iPods, knitting, sewing, dvd's, you name it! I gave one as a get well gift to my little niece. Being stuck in bed wasn't nearly so bad when she could store her "Molly Dolly" and clothes in the pouches. My granddaughter stores her iPod and her phone in her pouch pillow so she can flop out on her bed and "yak and listen".
These are fantastically convenient and look great too. I don't have kids or pets at home but if you do, you'll have to retrain them.... no sitting on pillows. Its worth it... you deserve to pamper yourself with some extra comfort. More than 4 styles in my store and more coming everyday, each uniqe and custom handmade... check them out!
I'm spring cleaning in my shop and there are over a dozen different designs between $49 and $19 that I have marked down to $10!!!
Buy your Mother's Day gift! Or just spoil yourself.
Sale is until Monday when they will be at regular price again. However every Monday I put a few items at half price for the week. So keep checking back.
I'm thinking about a new marketing plan... a pillow party... but it is a "virtual party" so you don't have to panic about getting the house cleaned and baking for weeks ahead. A hostess has a chance to earn FREE PRODUCT or even some cash. If you have any ideas let me know... otherwise stay tuned I've got some great news on this.
That's it short and sweet. Hope to see you in the store!
I can't help but giggle every time I peek at this cheeky red pillow. Before it morphed into a pillow, this upcycled skirt traveled to many business meetings, chased airplanes and was my secret weapon for closing deals. It was my million dollar power skirt!
Whenever my 3 year old grandson sees it, he hugs it, rubs his cheek on it and says, "It feels so yummy, Gramma". My daughter keeps hinting how COOL it would look in her living room except my 12 year old grand daughter says how HOT it would look on her bed. My husband just looks at it, shakes his head and says..." I think it was cool when it was a skirt 'cause it made you look so hot". Too funny!
This pillow was a labour of love but well worth it because it is a piece art with a really interesting story that gets even better! There is a zipper in the back that has a secret compartment between the leather and lining that you can stash jewels, bonds, illicit love letters... all kinds of stuff. Nancy Drew would snap this up in a minute. LOL
The leather is in almost new condition. It was carefully dismantled, sanitized, conditioned and then fully lined. It was professionally sewn on my industrial walking foot machine so you can be rest assured everything is well secured and will last for years to come. If you like it, buy it now, because there will NEVER be another like it! .... ps. ask me about the eco fill luxury fiber fill. Shhhh... Here's the secret hidey hole for all your loot!
Only one like it in the whole world! Very chic, modern and eco smart with new designer "For the Trade Only" fabrics from Maxwell's ($67 CAN per yard)and upcycled NEW vintage belts arranged and handsewn for a very hot customed design look. It's just been listed so check it out in my online Etsy store to see the really cool details like the"pillow stud earrings".
What's with the NEW VINTAGE BELTS??? I had the very good fortune of falling into a case of brand new belts from an upscale ladies clothing store that closed about 21 years ago. The price tags were still on them ranging from $40 to $50 which was a lot of money back then. What a PRICELESS FIND!
It was hard to put a current value on them but as she is regular drapery client of mine lets say we made a very fair trade. I'm dying to get into the rest of her clothing inventory... tons of VINTAGE GLAM... she doesn't know it yet but her whole house is going to get redraped!!!
Besides new vintage belts, I use unique collectible belts too. These few pillows are just a small sampling of what's coming in this awesome LUXE and FOUND COLLECTION. So keep watching for more here and remember these are originals, never to be duplicated, so if you like it BUY IT NOW!!!
In the spirit of BIG ECO CHIC ATTITUDE here's the first 2 pillows in the new LUXE AND FOUND line that I am adding to my "Eclections". They are made with fabulous designer fabrics from some of the top design houses hence the name "Luxe" and parts will be upcycled from some discovered or "Found" treasures. As my kids were growing up they knew not to leave things lying around lest it get hauled off to my hobby room and morphed into something for the Christmas tree or sewn to the curtains.
These pillows are labour intensive but so fun to make. Leather skirts, belts and electrical wiring are just a few of the items that you'll see transformed in this collection so keep an eye open here... there will be cool new stuff daily. I have another 10 TWEEN pillows coming once they've passed inspection by my design diva (12 year old granddaughter).
Wait until you see tomorrows additions!!! Lots of pink, brown, black, gold. If you have a tween at home I would greatly appreciate any feedback. See ya!
It's now officially BBQ season in Vancouver Canada! Yahoo! Sunday was a first for us. The weather held long enough to roll out the awning, arrange table, chairs, and lounge on the new cushioned chaises.
You just can't beat outdoor living. Right now every home decor magazine writes about extending your living area onto your patio. There are a lot of new fabrics by Sunbrella and "Performance Fabrics" from one of my favourite design houses... Maxwell's in Vancouver.
I made the featured pillow of "Gathering" from the Home and Garden pattern book. It's composition is 60% Acrylic and 40% Polyester, and is mildew and fade resistant. You can't beat the heavy, durable fabric that looks chic and feels smooth against the skin not like some outdoor fabrics that are stiff and scratchy.
The fabric retails $115.80 per yard CAD. At $39 per pillow its a good buy. There's limited stock of these so jump in now and order yours. PillowThrowDecor@etsy.com look under the "green section".
One of the greatest appeals in buying" handmade" is that FOR EVERY ITEM THERE'S ALWAYS A STORY, some are taller, some are smaller and then there's mine......
...Once upon a time,long,long ago, there was a beautiful young seamstress who labored day and night, always at the whim of her two spinster, sisters.
It was the night before the prince’s coronation ball that the spinster sisters came for their final fitting. Their skirts swished with beads and braids, and bodices sparkled with jeweled buttons. As the old wives tale foretold, “You can’t make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear”… it was true, the two older sisters looked like gilded hams. Screaming in disgust they ripped the tulle from their skirts and the bows from their bustles.
All through the night, the young seamstress picked and patched, and added to every seam and dart, all the while weeping without sound. Working by candlelight, with needle and thread she collapsed at her table in exhaustion. Even in sleep, tears continued to melt from her lashes. The wetness pooled, and then spilled to the floor like falling beads from a broken necklace.
It was that sound of bouncing beads that caused the commotion from within the sewing basket. It’s lid lifted slightly. Then out poked little arms and itsy, bitsy, slippered feet until the lid flew fully open. A darning needle clinked repeatedly against a metal thimble like a trumpeter’s call to action. From the hollows of the thread cones climbed fairies, like toy children, yawning, rubbing eyes and stretching wrinkled wings. The fairies were like toy children.
A little green boy suddenly took flight and scooped from the floor, the most magnificent, the most breathe-takingly beautiful teardrop pearl. All was hushed while he closely examined its size, shape and luster. He shouted out in a loud, little voice, his devine pronouncement, “She’s the one! No creature of land or sea can produce a more perfect pearl.” They move
A happy dance and a fairy chant honored their princess while she continued to sleep deeply. Like hummingbirds, the fairies dipped and darted through a storm of lace stitching and weaving,tucking and pulling. For final good measure, the little green boy lifted the silver thimble and from high above the sewing table tipped its contents out. The fairies with their lacy wings fanned the glittering dust to every fibber and every fold.
It was the magic of the drifting fairy dust that tickled the young lady’s face. Her awakening was slow as her eyes were disbelieving. She didn’t see the two beautifully finished gowns hanging from the rack. Nor did she hear the piccolo flutes. Her only focus was the view just inches from the end of her nose. On the table before her was a circle of fairies, singing and dancing hand in hand, round and round.
The object of their attention lay in the center of their fairy ring, catching the luminescence of a dawning sunrise. There rested a silken pillow, describable only with heavenly words. The young girl dared reach out, fingers feather- lightly touching the mass of tiny, tiny, stitches embroidered as scenic toile … a story of love, life and laughter. Amidst these satin vignettes were sprays of teardrop pearls and bouquets of precious gemstones each laced to the fabric with threads of silver and gold.
That evening, all the gowned and garnished guests greeted the prince with proper pomp and ceremony. The two spinster sisters, all poured and pressed into their new gowns, gushed and blathered before the handsome young prince hoping to win his smile. It was almost midnight when the young prince, now a crowned king, opened the last of his inaugural gifts. About to retire from the banquet hall, he halted at the sight of the young seamstress standing shyly in the entrance doorway. The guests gasped, not in shame of her dress, but in awe of the ethereal beauty of the magnificently regal pillow she placed at the king’s feet. Transfixed by her beauty, he reached to lift her up. A tear of happiness slipped from her cheek and fell to the floor as a pearl. He knew then that she was the fairies’ princess as foretold by the old wives.
The very next day, the beautiful young seamstress and the handsome young king were married and lived happily ever after. She was lovingly remembered as the “Pillow Queen” as she continued to make her magnificent regal pillows, as did her daughter, and her daughter's daughter.
.. My mom told me this story when she gave me this old sewing basket, just like Gramma told her, and so on and so on.
I have such a PASSION for pillows! My Etsy friends call me the Queen of Pillows but I'm not sure if has anything to do with fairies. Sometimes I think I see itsy bitsy foot prints in the velvet nap. I find spools of thread in places I haven't put them.... And there's something going on in the basket but I'll save that for another story.