Tag Archives: handmade

New Instant Downloads- Project Life Cards

New printables available in the Etsy shop.

Looking for Project Life cards? Instant downloads available today.

Just print and cut. Decorate with washi tape, hole punch, and add it to your binder or planner! on tap journal cardsglitter circle journal cards

Love bright colors!

Do you use journal cards?

Artist Interview: Kelley Frisby of Kellsworth Ink

kelley-frisby-artist-interview-blog-title Kelley Frisby is an artist and illustrator from Southern California. I’d describe her work as uniquely adorable. All of her illustrations, cake toppers, wine stoppers,  jewelry, and everything in between has a touch of whimsy, a pinch of vintage, and a whole lot of style. Kellsworth Ink is her side business for now, but it won’t be long until she’ll be running it full-time.

Thank you, Kelley, for sharing your firsthand experiences and tips!

kelley-frisby-painting1) Describe what you do in 15 words or less.

I’m an illustrator who dabbles in everything from cards & prints to custom wine-stoppers and cake-toppers.

2) What was your biggest struggle starting your creative business?

I think for me, time management. I’m freelance, so this job is still a side job. Working full time and then coming home to the job I really want after a long day is tough. You get tired, you don’t have the same enthusiasm at the end of the day you started out with, I think that’s usually my biggest hurdle.

3) Is this something you still struggle with or do you think you’ve moved past it?

I think I still struggle with it from time to time. Some days the “other” job takes it out of you and you just have trouble feeding the creative beast. I always end up getting it past it, it’s just some days are tougher than others.

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4) What are some ways you feed your “creative beast?”

My creative beast loves movies. During the holidays, while painting and prepping, prepping and painting, I must have made my way through two seasons of Supernatural, LOL! Normally I pick visual movies that inspire me like, Amelie or the Labyrinth. Other times, I just want something on in the background that I can pick my head up, laugh at what’s going on and then continue forward. You know, something I’ve seen eight million times, the Goonies or So I Married an Axe Murderer.

5) Handling a day job and your side job can be tough. Do you have any time management tips to share?

My time management tips are probably terrible. I tend to do a lot of sketching on my lunch break. Generally working only on things that I can easily transport. Carrying paint supplies back and forth just wouldn’t work. So sketches, brain storming, things of that nature are done during my breaks. When I get home and unwind a bit, then I try to work on messier projects. Pulling out paint supplies, varnishing finished pieces or cutting and scoring my cards. Plus, it helps that I can borrow the Boyfriend’s hands to help package cards and apply tags to things, hee hee.

kelley-frisby-craft-show-display

6) Where does the majority of your revenue come from? Example: online sales, craft shows, consignment deals, special orders/commissions.

The majority of my sales right now are from craft shows and consignment. The mass of that being craft shows. My online sales are super minimal at the present time because I think I spend too much time making new things and not enough time listing them on my Etsy or website…again, my own fault and bad time management.

7) We’ve all had craft shows that stunk. When the sales aren’t pouring in like you want them to, how do you keep from diving into a pint of mint chocolate chip ice cream?

One of the things I do is look at what DID sell. Was it only my cheaper items? Was there a specific piece everyone stopped to look at but didn’t purchase? If so, then maybe my pricing was off or maybe I just didn’t “fit” with this crowd. If a show truly stinks, I try to look at those factors first before I give myself a belly ache with the ice cream.

kelley-frisby-work-in-progress-drawing

8) How do you know when you need to take a break?

From drawing? Usually when my neck or back hurt from sitting so long, hee hee. I’ve never really been one of those people who is constantly sketching in their sketchbook or making things daily. I mean I have my spurts when that happens, but it’s not constant. I tend to get my creativity in waves. But when I’m really into working on something, it’s almost like you have to drag me away.

9) Any big goals for your business this year?

My biggest goal this year for my business is to get EVERY item up for sale online. I have so much stuff that I take with me to craft shows, but only a smidgeon of those are up on the website. For example I have literally 4 different types of birthday cards, a few thank you’s and get wells, and a huge assortment of every day blank cards but I have 4 things listed on Etsy and a handful on my personal site. My focus this is year is to get it ALL up online. My goal for myself personally is to make more art, try to exhibit more, go to shows and just get things FINISHED.

10) Where do you see yourself in 5 years?

In 5 years, I would hope that I am making art full time. That Kellsworth Ink makes enough to pay my bills and allow me to focus solely on creating new content and doing what I love.

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11) If there was one thing you could tell yourself when you started working toward your dream, what would it be?

Honestly, I think I would have told myself to start sooner. I wish I’d started showing my stuff years ago instead of just last year. My focus previously was in polishing up my portfolio and trying to get my illustrations ready to sit down with a publisher or agent. While I still want that to happen, I’ve realized that this side business I love so much has potential as well. Granted I’m not able to quit my day job just yet…but hopefully, some day!

Thank you again, Kelley, for sharing your journey with Happy Little Business.

4 Customer Service Tips to Keep You Sane

4-customer-service-tips-to-keep-you-sane

Congratulations! You made it through the holiday season alive. Now comes the dark side of a busy holiday season for handmade business owners: difficult, upset, angry, and/or cranky customers. There is no doubt that you  will have more happy customers than unhappy, but the more sales you make, the more likely you are to have customers who need you to answer questions or fix a problem.

Imagine what the day after a major holiday looks like for a big retailer. Mile long lines for returns and exchanges. As an online small business owner, your job also includes customer service. And because there’s no buffer between you and a potentially cranky customer, you can go from happy to tears in a matter of seconds.

We already know you are going to do your best and go the extra mile to help your customer and make them feel special. But what about you? Are you approaching customer service with your own health and happiness in mind? Here are some tips to keep you sane.

1) Read the whole email. If it makes you angry, defensive, or want to cry, mark it as unread and walk away.

Customer service is an essential part of running your business. And you don’t want to write a response that is fueled by negative emotions. Writing an email or Etsy message gives customers the protection of being faceless and anonymous and there is a chance that, depending on what the problem is, they may get heated. Especially if you’re dealing with something that was meant to be a present for a loved one.

Before answering that upsetting email, write a reminder note and just step away. This doesn’t mean don’t respond. You will respond soon. But take advantage of the email/messaging system and walk away for a little bit to distance yourself from the negative energy.

2) Talk to someone.

Before answering an upsetting email or message, vent your frustrations and talk about your concerns with someone you know.

Talking to someone, sharing in the frustrations, and yelling can be therapeutic. You’ll get everything off your chest that you want to say to your customer but probably shouldn’t. And you don’t have to go to another business owner, but it can be helpful sometimes. There are discussion boards for handmade business owners and they usually have a few threads going on about difficult customers. If you ever need someone to relate to, seek out some of these forums.

3) Absolutely no excuses.

Life happens. Unhappiness may strike. Or maybe you were just so busy, one order slipped through the cracks. Whatever the reason, don’t respond to a customer with excuses.

Unless you’re emailing the customer BEFORE shipping out their order and letting them know why it will be late or that you need to cancel it, you should not respond with an excuse.

Why? They don’t want or need to know. All they want to know is if, how, and when you are going to fix their problem. And the less they know about your personal life, the less they can direct any negative energy toward it.

4) Be real. Be authentic. Be you.

You are not a big, faceless corporation. A lot of handmade customers come to you because you are a small business owner and not only do they love your gorgeous work, but they want to support you.

So, if you’re not a big, faceless corporation, why are you trying to talk like one? Stop stressing and don’t attempt to wrap your mind around what kind of jargon a “professional” business would use in this situation. If you think of yourself as a professional, then you are already a “professional.” And as long as you remember to apologize, thank them for allowing you to remedy the situation, and use spell check, the way you speak is probably just fine.

Do you have any customer service tips to share with other handmade business owners?