Thursday, July 21, 2011

I know I know I know

... a good Tegan and Sarah song AND what I say when someone tells me "you haven't blogged in a while."

Just since, like, April.

My trip to the coast was a success. I conquered my fear of approaching stores to sell my Goods and got into 4 new stores. That doubled the amount I was already in. Most of the books I've read say not to just show up to a store. That you should call first and set up an appointment. Well ... showing up worked for me. I suggest you try it too.

LATELY I have been getting organized to create an online wholesale shopping site. This has to start with awesome, catalog-like pictures and a solid inventory.  I had neither. I take good pictures, but they are often of what I have and not of everything I COULD make, which is what a picture inventory should look like. So check this out: all the colors available of my small hoop clusters.

Lapis lazuli - Turquoise - Angelite

Carnelian - Jade - Green Aventurine - Amazonite

Coral - White Glass - Black Glass

Bone - Riverstone - Crazy Horse Stone

Are you impressed?

Not only did I make them in every color, but also 3 pairs of each color so I can show all the different ear hooks available.

Between these small clusters and my medium clusters I spent over 8 hours just making jewelry the past 2 days. Around 60 pairs of clusters. Pictures like this are also great for your Etsy store. So in each item listing you show everything you are capable of making. Even if it isn't currently in your store, someone may contact you for a particular color and you get a sale anyway.

I started out putting up a picassa web album to use as inventory of what's available in my shop, but I think I will go another step and look for a template that's more professional. I would like to be able to have prices only viewable to people who sign up to the website. And also be able to easily update what quantities are available. I mean, I'm still just starting up! If someone wanted 20 pairs of one particular thing, I would be in trouble.

So, there's a lot of work to be done and things to think about. Here's what little advice I have to anyone else in the same position of wanting to start an online wholesale site: 1. JUST DO IT! Don't be afraid to not have enough or to have to much of something. You are bound to make mistakes in your start-up business so just make them! 2. Start with items you know you can make more of. For instance, I know I can make a lot of clusters, however I cannot make a lot of my stone necklaces because I only buy a few strands of the stones at one time (for now). (This is where it helps to be able to put limits on how much of something your wholesale buyers can buy). 3. REALLY REALLY REALLY organize your inventory. Make sure you have room in your coding to expand AND make sure the coding, once in a spreadsheet, is easy to run tasks on. I just organized mine for a 3rd time and I still don't have it in a computer ;) 4. Get really specific about how you price things. Your wholesale prices have to be able to cover your materials, your business expenses, and (if you want this to be your job) it has to cover your living expenses.

If anyone has suggestions for website templates that are good for wholesale selling, let me know. Fred says to check out Square Space. Anyone have comments on that one? And if you have an 'inventory fairy' I could borrow, call me!

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Travel Plans

Oh boy! Here I go! Across the state, all the way to the coast, by myself! I am excited and scared and kinda bummed no one can go with me. I don't even have a freakin' dog for a travel companion.

So, I'm blogging about this because it's exciting and big news for Gritgoods, but also because it's good to tell the world where you'll be and when you'll be there, just in case something happens. Similar to going on a long hike by yourself in the wilderness, which I also do.

My trip starts Sunday the 10th. I'll drive to Wilmington and check out stores for a full day Monday and stay again in Wilmington Monday night. Tuesday I'll drive to Ocracoke and spend that afternoon and Wednesday searching the outer banks for stores. (I don't know if you've noticed but my jewelry has a distinct beachy feel to it. Of course someday I'd like the beaches I'm combing for stores to be in Bali.) Wednesday evening I'll drive to Raleigh and search stores in that massive area all day Thursday. I've been to Durham for the Durham Art Walk, but never made it to Raleigh proper. I'll stay one more night in Raleigh and then drive to Boone Friday morning. I searched the Boone area last year, but didn't keep good records of what I saw.

So, 6 followers, and anyone else who made it this far in the post, if you have any knowledge of cool shops or suggestions for places to eat let me know. In particular I'm looking for shops that emphasize handmade arts and crafts and local artists.

Wish me luck!

Sunday, March 6, 2011

What's a Perfectionist To Do?

Conundrum - Gritgoods critical eye just realized that the perfect clusters are not perfect. I have a few things to say about this.

First - I am more type-A than I'd like to admit, even though I walk around all "I'm relaxed and balanced from my yoga class this morning" my brain is still going 50mph thinking of all the things I have to do. This confession of Type-A-ness (anus), unfortunately means I can not poke fun at my type-A sister as much as I'd like to. :)

Second - Truth be told, most of the time, I am a relaxed balanced person, perfectly able to just let things go. But when it comes to my business - if I am going to market something as the 'perfect cluster' then I must believe that it IS the PERFECT CLUSTER. It's true, like most artists, I am my own worst critic. I see all the things in my work that could be better, and everyone else sees all the things that are great about my art. It's a constant battle of knowing it's good enough, but also knowing it's not exactly how I want it.

(And I have to go on a little tangent here and bring up a high school memory of when my art teacher tried to explain to me and a friend how our artistic styles were different because she was very loose and I was very tight. Lemme just say for the record that is not a good way to explain artistic styles to teenage girls. We could not stop laughing.)

Third - The realization of my type-Anus and Gritgoods' imperfect clusters is really putting a hitch in my giddy-up. I now have to decide what to do with this knowledge. Do I change every medium cluster I've made in the past month? Take new pictures? Make new postings? Put the old clusters on sale ALREADY?

Darn me and my critical eye! I just listed within the past few weeks half a dozen medium clusters on Etsy, including 3 sets, which are already at a discount price for buying them as a set.

So lets get down to the Grit of it. The current clusters have 6 stones each. When laying flat they look great, but pick them up and they're actually a little off balance.

The newest clusters I JUST made (literally, minutes ago) have 7 stones each, which creates a much fuller cluster when they're dangling.

Do you see a coupon code in my future or what? If I do decide to put the old clusters on sale, this would be a great time to start following me on twitter or facebook to make sure you get the coupon code.

Am I a type-B personality trying to make type-A art? I'd rather think of this as simply creating a more balanced cluster, which is a direct reflection of how I chose to live my life.

And Gritgoods' fans can reap the benefits of my (tight) type-A artistic tendencies.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Kress Emporium Upgrade

I've had space at the Kress Emporium for about 8 months now. I walked in one day to inquire about space and whaddya know, they had something available! They offered it to me that day and after some hemmin' and hawin' over it with friends (for all of about an hour) I decided to go for it.

It's been OK! Christmas time was the best time, but other months haven't been so great. So I've decided to upgrade my space with the hopes that a new, more professional look will bring more buyers. I mean, it can't be the Kress' fault I'm not getting sales! The space they have is beautiful and the quality of art has increased over the last 5 years, so I feel proud to be a part of it. Overall I have a pretty sweet space (go left and look in the first 'cubby'). I'm surrounded by a bunch of other jewelry, but my space is not locked up (thus easier to peruse) and it has great visibility as soon as you turn the corner.

cards on dowels in new frames
However! The display they provided for me is preeety preeeety preeety blah. An old frame of a window thing with screen to put the jewelry in. It gets messy, the screen comes loose and it looks completely unprofessional. Not to mention the hideous 5-minute hand-drawn sign that says "Gritgoods" above it. It must go.

So I put together my Buy Local brain and my Just Economics brain and found a local frame shop to make some frames for me, Frame it to a T. These were preeety expensive, but I like that I supported a local, living wage certified business.

side view

Well, with frames in hand I was excited but paralyzed! I was so afraid to drill them myself! Thank goodness for awesome business owners like Bert at the Citizens Hardware store! He drilled every hole for me and cut my dowels for free! We had a moment, thanking each other. I didn't quite understand why he was thanking me, and as it turns out he has 7 grandsons and it was a pleasure for him to help a young lady. Aww. We had a moment. It was beautiful.

Now I'm ready for all the incoming tourists, following Fodor's travel guide suggestion to make Asheville, NC their #1 travel destination this year. And may I so boldly suggest that these same tourists make the Kress Emporium their #1 downtown shopping destination. :)

4 frames, 20 dowels, will hold a total of 120 cards with earrings

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Surprising Photography Set-up

I was once voted "most likely to surprise you." And I think you'll be surprised just how simple my photography set-up is. Paper, tape, table. Done.

I have tried building my own light box out of a big cardboard box. It was bulky and in the way, and the lighting was a huge hassle. I got eco-friendly light bulbs that would look like real daylight, I got 4 plug-in clip-on lamps, I got extension cords to plug in all my clip-on lamps, blah blah blah. The receipts had really big numbers on them. It was a hot mess (literally - those lamps heat up quick!).

I have tried building my own light box out of pvc pipe and sheets. First of all, just so ya know, you do not need a 2ft square light box.* :) That's too big! I tried sheer sheets, white sheets, a white shower curtain, all cut to size and attached to my huge pvc pipe frame with zip-ties. Again the project turned out to be expensive, bulky, and didn't improve my photographs.

Taken Outside (and yes it was cold)

So wouldn't you know it, big surprise, sometimes the best solution is the simplest solution. On overcast days I take photographs outside. I have a table, and I tape a sheet of gray matte paper to the banister as a backdrop. Done.

Taken Inside

On any other day I am inside next to a window. With my gray sheet of paper taped to a trash can on top of a table. On inside days I also make use of a mirror propped up to give some reflected light and/or a sheet of sheer tissue paper taped to the window to diffuse direct or bright sunlight.

I recommend a gray paper backdrop over white paper because white paper can be overpowering in its brightness. Gray is neutral and won't reflect the colors of your props like white paper will. Also, depending on your camera's metering settings, the white paper may cause the camera to adjust for a brighter setting. I learned this tidbit from my Dad, who now says that "gray paper is like the third bowl of porridge. Not too hot. Not too cold." He's a brilliant, deep thinker.

So there you have it. A surprisingly simple photography set-up = paper + tape. Mirror is optional.

Friday, February 18, 2011

The Importance of Planning, Friends, and a Well Balanced Life

Being a business woman is hard work! Especially when I rely on my brain to remember everything I need to do.

Planning is IMPORTANT. Unfortunately, planning is not a strength of mine. I enjoy doing things, I don't enjoy planning to do things. This goes for making art, traveling, meeting with friends, etc. Don't take it personally. I guess I'm just a person who prefers an organic lifestyle, one that manifests itself naturally, instead of being PLANNED. I could go on a real tangent here ...

Last week I took the time to write out what I would get done on a Friday because Friday is a good day to devote to my business and my friends (I work other jobs M-Th). So I made the cutest daily schedule EVER! I shared it with friends because I was so proud of it. Of course, the most interesting part of the list was that I had scheduled a snack. Not so unusual to artists - we forget to eat sometimes when we get 'in the groove'. So it made sense to me to schedule when to eat. Well, the great friends I have, who I currently PLAN to see as much as possible (to keep a well balanced life) thought it was so funny. And now I never hear the end of it.

Friends are IMPORTANT. If I were to devote as much time to the business as I'd like to I would never see my friends. Plus, now they remind me to eat snacks, publicly, on my facebook page.


Thursday, December 9, 2010

My new bio ... not B.O.

 I decided that my last bio stunk, like B.O. Here's the new one:

"Gritgoods" is a play on my real name, Margaret Goodson, but my tag line "get some Grit in your Goods" has multiple meanings! Literally the Grit is the gunmetal amidst the Goods - semi-precious stones and sterling. In addition to the unlikely pairing of gunmetal and silver, my designs also include pairings of natural materials with stones. As to the figurative translations ... there are many and I leave it up to the buyer to find their own meaning.

Gritgoods was born from the desire to create jewelry that brings flare to the traditional and good taste to the ordinary. You will find my designs to be versatile, for everyday wear and fancy nights out, affordable and practical. By hand forming most of my sterling silver ear wires, and using lever backs and kidney shaped ear wires, my earrings don't fall out! Lobster clasp closures, large gauge jump rings, and hand-formed double looped links also ensure a feeling of security while wearing my jewelry. I keep my jewelry affordable because I'm also a special education teacher and can appreciate those who want to support handmade, but may not have the deep pockets for 'fine art'. I have taken a metalsmithing class but prefer not to go that route because of the expenses to myself and my fans.

I have a long-time appreciation for handmade Goods that started with getting handmade Christmas ornaments every year from my family. My Grandma painted canvases and gourdes, made ornaments, small baskets and even did some wood working. My Mom paints silk, my sister is a photographer and web designer, and my aunts make jewelry, hand painted tiles, baskets, and pen and ink drawings. I draw inspiration from my artistic family and also from the area in which I live - western North Carolina is full of talent and beauty. I originally came here in 1998 to receive my BA in Art (concentration in ceramics! go figure) and have lived here since.

Gritgoods makes every effort to have a low impact on the environment and buy locally. My business cards, tissue paper, and gift boxes are all made of 100% recycled material. I have a local supplier for stones, buy many supplies from my neighboring state, Tennessee, and also support many Etsy supplies sellers. I buy less than 5% of my supplies overseas. I keep sterling bits for recycling and support local movements like the Asheville Grown Business Alliance and Just Economics. Gritgoods is also a member of the Asheville Etsy Street Team.