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Saturday, June 29, 2013

The Business Chat - Engage!

“Where’s that new series you’re working on, the ones in your email?” said my first customer today at a craft show. 
I showed her the new pendants and yes, she bought one. And so did the next customer. Then several other people commented about my last sailing trip, or how much they enjoyed my monthly letters. 
Did I actually email each of these women? Well, yes and no. Not a personal email but my last newsletter that I emailed to my mailing list. 
According to all the business books, Rule #1 of making money online is “build an email list.” In my opinion this rule applies not only to making money online, but to making money anywhere. Rule #2 of making money is to CONTACT the people on your email list. Rule #3 is to engage your audience and then leverage this to generate a return. 
In plain language, send your customer a newsletter and get them to open it and buy something. 
Let’s start with the basics: an email list is only useful if those people on the list are interested in what you have to say. 
Engagement is the real marker of success, not the amount of subscribers you have.
I’ll put this into perspective by giving you a real life example. My email list subscribers is arguably as powerful as an “average” email list that is 2 times bigger. Why? Because I enjoy an open rate of nearly 40%, which compares very favourably to an overall average of 19% (across all industries). Links in my newsletters are clicked more than 4 times the standard rate. 
A mailing list of 2,000 with an open rate of 10% is less effective than a mailing list of 500 with an open rate of 50%. Rather than focussing on getting the largest email list you can, it is better to focus on engaging those people on your list as much as you can. This is a case for quality over quantity. 
One of the biggest advantages to using a professional email marketing service is being able to track statistics like your open rate. For every bulk email you send you can see how many people opened it, how many pages they looked at, what they clicked through, how many times it was forwarded and loads of other details. 
If you want people to open your emails then I think the most important thing is to offer them more than information. Offer them a brand and a personality – give them something to get attached to.
I am talking about creating a persona that people can like. You want to create a kind of emotional connection that will compel them to open your email as if it were from a friend. Remember, people are buying handmade work because they want to know the artist. This is where you have to show up. 
My brand has been built on what my company is built on - adventure, travel, stories and dreams. I keep it light and positive. I make happy jewelry, I send out happy newsletters. Consistency is key.

Try not to sell (much). Don’t send a flyer, send a NEWSletter. If it looks like one of those papers cluttering up your mailbox, (you know the ones), “SALE NOW!” “Top ten selling items” “BUY THIS!” of course no one will open it. Would you?
Think of your newsletter as a letter to a friend. You want them to know what  is going on, what’s new. You want them to know where they can find you. Would you give a friend a hard sales pitch? 
We are presented with so much email noise that we are leery about anything that looks like an advertisement. By not screaming “BUY NOW OR THE WORLD WILL END” you will be regarded as more of a person and less of just another company trying to sell you crap. As a friend you are more likely to be trusted. This leads to higher opening rates and more click throughs. This leads to more sales. 
While there is more to building a successful email list that this, these tips are the foundations. Be yourself, talk to a friend. Show your friend what’s new in your world and then let your friend know where they can find you. 
It’s a good start. 

Friday, June 28, 2013

Colour Inspiration: Bright, Bold and Happy

I've posted before about how much I love colour and I'm quite bold in my colour choices compared to most people. With the neon trend still going strong since Swarovski's launch of the neon pearls, many companies have followed suit. I really don't see this trend towards sunglasses required brights ending anytime soon. 

Last week, beadFX's neon bead offerings extended to spikes, twins, druks, daggers, tiles and round beads all made from glass. Merchandised all together, they certainly seem to glow with nuclear neon power!

The trend towards using the neon jewellery is showing up in beading magazines in a big way. The last two covers of Stringing magazine published by Interweave feature neon beads prominently. 

Think about adding a pop of neon in your summer beading projects. Here are some pictures to inspire you and spark your creativity. 

Thursday, June 27, 2013

On SALE this WEEK: 20% off Epoxy Clay & Related Supplies!

Epoxy with Moxy!

20% off  Epoxy Clay & Related Supplies!

s28331 CrystalFX -  Swarovski Chaton Mix - Night Fog (1 gram)

Apoxie Clay

Crystal Clay

Bezel Findings

Swarovski Chatons

Swarovski Chaton Mixes

Swarovski Rivolis

MetalFX Powders

s35306 Metal Bezel Settings - Size 7 x 9.5 mm Channel (Finger) Ring - Brass (1)

All our Sales start on Wed Midnight.
and run to the following Wed midnight.

Do you like your seed beads big?

Do you like your seed beads big?

9m-3205 Glass - 9 mm Big Hole Colour Lined Pony Beads - Magic Emerald Marine (1)Do you like your seedbeads big?
Not like an ant but a guinea pig?
Do you like them large and chunky?
Do they make you feel all funky?
These are for you - don't be a monkey!

Glass - 9 mm Big Hole Colour Lined Pony Beads

Don't be a fool - you want to say
s36583 Czech Seedbeads - 32/0 Seedbead - Crystal AB (25 grams) That's not a seed-type-bead - no way
Then p'raps you'd really like to use
A happy bag of thirty-twos?
These beads are kind of rough and ready
But there's no need for hands too steady!

s36572 Czech Seedbeads - 2 Hole Twins - Colour Lined Happy Easter MixFah! You scoff - you're full of sins
I like my beads to come as twins!

And then I want - so please be kind
Beads so small they make me blind
They zing and shine like movie starlets
So give me small - give me Charlottes!66601099 Seedbeads - 13/0 Charlotte - Cobalt AB (hank)

And then, oh please, if you're not Tire-d
s36372 Glass Beads - 4 mm Tire Rondelles - Green Iris (Strand 100)I'd Wheely like some rondelles wired.
And then, because, I'm such a fool
I need a bracelet-bending tool! s36464 Tools - Pliers -  Nylon Jaw Pliers - Bracelet Bending (1)

And because I've lots of Moxy
I'll take some on-sale two-part Epoxy.

Each weekly sale ends Wednesday midnight
so catch those bargains, do it right
finalize before the clock strikes -
'cuz when it does is when the price hikes.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Going Geometric

Jean Power came to beadFX this past week to teach three incredible classes. I was lucky enough to squeeze into Geometric Stars on Saturday and I am so glad I did. 

I'd been working on her Reversible Triangle Pendant pattern for a while using different colour combos. I finally settled on a bright, happy colourway to complement a top I bought for the Swarovski cruise. 

Jean's instructions are fantastic and have excellent diagrams with them. She shares all sorts of tips and tricks to creating the stars and also provided colour coded charts for different designs. The Geometric Stars is in her book, so have no fear, you can make some too!!

It was fun to take a class with some of my fellow beadFX instructors and Toronto bead Society members. 

I always learn something new about teaching techniques when I take a class. One thing that Jean does that I thought was very interesting was that she uses large beads to demonstrate the stitches. I'll certainly be adding that trick to my repertoire. 

Jean also showed us different ways to use the components of the Geometric Star. 

That's for Dwyn!!

Oh, and I bought a few vials of delica's!!!!! I'm loving those darn little beads! 

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

July will be 'Hot' with Classes

Can't stand the heat? Come into the air conditioning for some great classes during July! And, yes, you may want to bring a sweater - our air conditioning works very well.

July has some amazing classes, including our new Summer Arts Camp classes for youth. We also welcome three new instructors!

What's new July 1st - 14th: (these are in addition to other repeating classes!)

Tuesday, July 2
Netted V's
6:00 - 9:00pm
Instructor: Maria Rypan

Thursday, July 4
Sprinkled Diamonds (left)
1:00 - 4:00pm

Instructor: Sureka Sriharan

Intro to Bead Embroidery (right)
6:00 - 9:00pm

Instructor: Stephanie Dixon

Friday, July 5
Peruvian Wire Crochet Chain Earrings
4:30 - 8:00pm
Instructor: Gio Paz

Tuesday, July 9
Diamonds, X's and Zigzagging Motifs
6:00 - 9:00pm
Instructor: Maria Rypan

Friday, July 12
Wire Crochet Pendant
4:30 - 8:00pm
Instructor: Gio Paz

Saturday, July 13
Peyote Bootcamp Part A - Flat Peyote
10:00am - 5:00pm
Instructor: Pamela Kearns

Sunday, July 14
Tree of Life
11:30am - 12:30pm
Instructor: Bonni Poch

For complete information about all classes including descriptions, class and kit fees, please consult the website.

Next week: Summer Art Camp classes for youth!

Monday, June 24, 2013

Inspiration Monday: The Origin of Life

Get your creative juices flowing

The Origin of Life
by: Dwyn Tomlinson
This shipment of Blue Green Quartz - well - sorry - but I can't hear the phrase "blue-green" without thinking of "Blue Green Algae" or Cyanobacteria - the bacteria that started photosynthesizing and churning out oxygen as a by-product - thus changing the planet's atmosphere from largely carbon-dioxide to one with enough oxygen for a whole new biodiversity to evolve. It may be bacteria (ick) but - yay - oxygen = eventually - US! So hooray for blue green algae - we wouldn't be where we are today without you.

Course, if you don't live and die by National Geographic specials the way I do - all of this may seem pretty esoteric to you. Downright geeky, in fact. So you'll just have to enjoy the aesthetics of this blue green translucent quartz (with some beige and brown thrown in for good measure) on it's own merit.

This is a very organic necklace - in that it grew - rather than having a specific design. I intended to made a multi-strand necklace - alternating the tumbled nuggets and the rice shapes - but I ran out of the rice shapes, and just carried on. You may want to plan your necklace more carefully, (for instance - the two strands are exactly the same length - can't do that if I try - but noooo - happens by accident), or you can duplicate this exactly (well - every strand is a little different - so not exactly!), or you can make your own, organic, "happy accident of design."

1. To string, I took about 65 inches (about 165 cm), and looped it over the jump ring on the clasp, and secured with a crimp. I strung a tumbled nugget, alternating with a rice shape, each separated by a triangle accent bead. After 13 stone beads (not counting accent beads), I added a faceted hex bead. I carried on the same way, nugget/rice, for a total length of 26 inches (66 cm).
2. I added a crimp, added the jumpring from the other side of the clasp, and back through the crimp, and crimped it to secure it. To avoid a big clump of beads on the back of my neck, I threaded back through two stone beads, and then added TWO accent beads, and then started adding stone beads/accent beads. I was just about out of the rice beads, so the second strand is mostly all tumbled nuggets, with the exception of 2 of the faceted hex beads, at about 14 inches (35.5 cm) from the end (2nd end). I then carried on to almost the end,
3. and ran the beading wire up through the last 3 stone beads, secured it with a crimp on the first jump ring (which was tricky - because you don't have a lot of space at that point), and then tucked the end back down into the stone beads again, and trimmed it where it poked out.

So it is all strung on one piece of softflex, left to right and back to left again.

With these S hook clasps, you need to gently open one hook a little so that you can slide the jumpring on and off easily. They come closed up so that they (hopefully) don't lose their jumprings on their way to you!

The gold and the green are a particularly nice colour combo - and the flat surface of the triangle beads reflects light and makes a nice sparkle, without being overly glitzy.




Go to our components list for this project and to buy what you need!
Need some help with some of the techniques? Check our tips page.

Saturday, June 22, 2013

The Business Chat - Rise above your competition

“There’s too much jewelry/soap/scarves at this show, I can’t make any money!” And if you think there’s a lot of work similar to yours at a craft show with 150 vendors, try looking on Etsy where there are over 800,000 active sellers. 
You have competition. 
Deal with it. 
Let’s use the examples of Amy and Betty. Both make really good quality jewelry using semi-precious stones and sterling silver. They both have decent craft show displays, a good website with quality photos and they both have a reasonable mailing list. Yet Amy has a lineup at her craft show booth and is selling like hot cakes online. Betty is sitting in her booth watching the tumbleweeds. 
Betty’s reaction is to lower her prices, desperate for a sale. She posts “SALE” signs all over her website. Betty has a few sales but finds she is now competing against much lower quality jewelry and her customers are all demanding more discounts. At the end of the day she is also making no profit. It’s a depressing, downward spiral. 
So what is the difference between Amy and Betty? Amy has found a way to stand out in her customer’s minds. Amy has been working on her branding. 
In a crowded marketplace it is easy to feel like Betty. How can we compete with so much similar work around us? 
The key to gaining a competitive edge has less to do with the thing you sell, and more to do with the way you position it. Most of the Amy’s out there don’t achieve success by creating a new product category — they manage to carve out a piece of their existing category and dominate it. How?
You need to find one or more meaningful differences between you and your competitors and building a reputation around them. 
Let’s use cars as an example. What if you wanted to look for luxury? Maybe a Mercedes Benz or a BMW. If you want value think Kia or Hyundai. Rich and hot? Go Ferrari. (keep in mind people that I drive a Ford Taurus and don’t know that much about cars, but this is what they make me feel). 
Each of these car companies has found how they are different and built a strategy around that identity. They found a way to stand out. 
So how do you stand out? 
Here are 5 steps to get you started. 
1. Understand your customer. 
There’s no point in being a luxury item if your customers are more concerned with value. Think of your ideal customer, what really matters to them? Are they looking for price and convenience or quality and service? Do they care deeply about the story behind the item? Be as specific as you can and note that your business may be serving many kinds of customers with the same work. 
The more you know about your customers and their particular needs, the better prepared you’ll be to resonate with them.
2. Know your competition.
Who makes or sells the same thing as you? And don’t stop at your direct competitors — are there other products that satisfy your customer’s needs? Look for gaps in the market or areas where other shops aren’t meeting customer needs well — these are ripe opportunities for sellers to compete.
3. Know your unique value. 
What are you really good at? Are you a perfectionist with incredibly high quality standards? Do you source out really unique raw materials? Do you love working making custom projects? Do you know a lot about a very specialized market? What makes you so incredibly special? (because you are.)
4. Decide on a positioning strategy. 
Ask yourself this, what’s the one thing I want to be known for? There’s almost no limit to the ways you can differentiate your shop, but some of the most common strategies are:
Some common strategies are:
  • Rare materials - sourcing out materials that no one else uses.
  • Design - unique aesthetic or functional design.
  • Service - always exceeding customer expectations.
  • Niche market - finding an area that few others are in
You can also stand out with your specialized techniques or process, personal story, or the way you make your customer feel. What is important is that whatever you decide is your special advantage must be a big deal for your customer. Maybe your technique is so rare that you are the only person on the continent doing it but if your customer is only concerned with getting a gift delivered within a week then your technique is irrelevant. Make sure your special advantage is not easy for your competitors to copy. Just as you are checking them out, you can bet they are checking you out too. And while you may have several special areas where you stand out, your customer can only remember one or two. 
5. Keep all your business inline with your strategy. 
If you want to be known as a top quality, custom order friendly, unique jeweller, then make sure you are. No “Sale today! Only 200 left!” Buy only the best raw materials and tell the customers they are the best. Remember, branding is all about consistency. In every single aspect of your business. 
Competition isn’t always a bad thing. When you start looking at your “competitors” you’ll find that most of them aren’t working on things like branding and competitive advantages. Since you are, it’s easy to rise above them. Now aren’t you smart? 
Today’s homework - what do you want to be known for? What makes you so special? 

Friday, June 21, 2013

Going on right now!

Pics from the class going on right now with Jean Power in our class room. That is one happy, absorbed bunch of gals in there right now.

More pics on our facebook page.