Wednesday, May 28, 2008

self portrait again

For those who love me enough to read my blog regularly : )
it's very difficult to smile at the camera and it's even more difficult to take picture of myself using my own arm and not to crop my face, but I tried..

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Finding Your Niche

Selling on Etsy is hard work.It takes more than your love for crafts to stand out from the crowd. Apart from great photos, clear descriptions and frequent listings, you need to have something different to offer. There needs to be a reason for shoppers to buy from your shop instead of others'.
I have always understood the importance of artistic styles. I am not sure if this is because I received formal art trainings in different media -- especially in fine art, writing and classical music. When I started selling jewelry on Ebay two years ago, I had just started making wired jewelry for two years.I had this passion for working with wire, even though I did not know what I wanted to create with it. I read many tutorials and books on wire working.I liked both modern wire wrapping and traditional wire sculpture. I liked so many things I saw but I didn't know what I liked the most. I decided to try my luck by selling some basic earrings made with very simple wire work on Ebay,and here are one of the very first designs that I introduced --

I had great luck.For some reasons I did not even know, these earrings sold very well on Ebay, so I started making variations of them.They are now still for sale in my Etsy store under listings Moon Pears, Sun Pears and Moon Pear with Flower.

then I learned to make wire wrapped rings.I did not know if they would sell, but I just loved making those rings (For some reason it felt so good to wrap the wire around a mandrel.Wierd, huh?) and it felt so natural to me. I did not like the design I learned from the tutorial, so I modified it to highlight a center pearl.Here you can see one of the very first wire wrapped rings I listed in my Ebay store in August, 2006--

I was lucky again. People seemed to like my wire wrapped rings, for reasons I didn't know, so I listed more rings in my Ebay store.Very soon I had an Ebay store full of wire wrapped rings and more people started to buy rings from me. The same pearl ring design is still available in my Etsy store.

If you take a look at the pictures of this same design, you will find that after making hundreds of rings and taking thousands of photos, my wire wrapping and photography skill have improved a lot.

If you asked me two years ago what my niche was, I would not be able to tell you. But now I can confidently say I offer wire wrapped rings, and I have a simplistic and colorful style. I was fortunate enough to notice what customers wanted from me from the very beginning, and I developed my skills and expanded my designs accordingly.Then I started to find my own style, and people started to notice me more, and I started to sell more.

If you have just started selling on Etsy, or if you have just started making your crafts and don't know what your niche is, give it time and ask yourself consciously as often as possible when you make your craft,and you will know what your style is someday.

my first day

Today is my first day as a full time jewelry designer.It feels so foreign and natural to me at the same time.I can envision myself enjoy this job much more than driving to students' homes to teach the piano.I was so excited last night that I couldn't sleep until the sun came up this morning, and that made me totally indulgent, like I was a college kid again. I slept until lunchtime.I have not been able to sleep until so late for quite a while.

Then I got up, went straight to the computer, and started working in my pajama.I checked the order list, emailed some customers, printed out shipping labels, finished a few orders, and then went to the post office.By the time I realized, I had worked over 9 hours with a short break.

And then I took a bath.I was so excited last night, and now I'm just happy and relaxed. It's so nice to be my own boss. :)

no more "day job"

After one month without a single day off from work, I kept working more on my website throughout the Memorial Day weekend. For four full days I worked without a break. From the time I woke up to the time I went to bed, I was always working on something for the website: catching up with the orders, making new designs, taking pictures, listing new items, answering emails, tracking non-payers, checking supplies...etc.

I had no time to do grocery or dishes, no time to cook, to shop or to pack for my move that is coming in 17 days, so I decided to take a dinner break tonight.

I was gone for two hours, and when I came home, I saw more new orders already placed. I was overwhelmed. I was worried about making customers wait too long for their orders. I was worried about making mistakes on the orders because there have been so many special requests.I was afraid that something may go wrong, even though I was not sure what that "something" could be.I worked so hard to catch up with the orders but it seemed I was always one step behind the demand.

And then I realized it was time to quit teaching.

I had promised my students to give lessons until the week of my move, but I knew I could not keep my promise anymore.It was a very difficult decision for me, because I will not able to see them for the last time and say a proper goodbye.I struggled for a while, and then did what I had to do--I emailed them to cancel our last lessons, and then I was relieved. I will no longer have a "day job". I now own a full-time business .This has been my dream and I feel extremely lucky it happened sooner than I asked for. This is the first time I feel successful, no matter what the term "success" means. It is exciting and scary at the same time. It is overwhelming, but I enjoy it most of the time. It has been an amazing journey and I know there are more amazing things to come. :)

Saturday, May 24, 2008

14K Gold Filled Jewelry Now In Stock!

Finally I have 14K gold filled wire in stock! I took some time today to make a few popular items in my store with it and have listed a few designs in gold in my store. I am hooked! Gold makes everything so glamorous.

Friday, May 23, 2008

Broad Ripple Art Fair

After my first show, my second step to the crafting business was to pay a trip to the Broad Ripple Art Fair on 5/17. Even though I was extremely tired from over-working and did not go to bed until very late the night before the fair, I woke up in time for the fair from excitement, and was able to find a parking spot within walking distance to the fair. Oh, and did I fail to mention--I did not have a booth at the fair! I just went there to check out other people's booths!
There were over 200 artists at the fair, and I spent the whole 7 hours just to discover more and more booths I had not visited. I observed other crafters' booth set-up and packaging and bought some great jewelry (oh yes, I buy jewelry too).
It was the coolest craft fair I have ever been to. We don't have craft shows in Taiwan, so when I first came to the United States five years ago, I fell in love with this brand new experience to shop for crafts right away. Little did I know that I would soon start to make and sell jewelry, and that I would become more than a shopper at craft shows.Even though I have known my artistic nature since I was little, I never knew in which form my creativity was going to manifest itself until the moment it happened.
Life is a real mystery. :)

900 sales

one step closer to 1000 sales :)

Saturday, May 17, 2008

new eraser logo stamp

The little kraft jewelry boxes I ordered finally came in today. To establish my brand name,I decided to make a logo stamp for the boxes. I have been carving stamps sincesixth grade, when I first discovered the versatility of erasers. : )
The last time I carved an eraser was probably three years ago.Luckily I could still find my kraft knife.Here you can see my name Mu-Yin in Chinese characters and my initials (M-Y) in English letters..
I love my name -- Mu (慕) stands for love or adore, and Yin(音) stands for sound or music. What a perfect name for a musician (and works for jewelry designer too).

Wednesday, May 14, 2008


I stayed up late last night and got up early to catch up with the orders. It's now one month before I finish my position as a piano teacher to do jewelry full time, I'm very tired but also excited.They are so many things I want to write about, and so many new designs that I have not had time to work on, but very soon I will have my full freedom again as an artist.I'm trying to keep teaching until the date I promised my students' parents, but with the high sales volume on my website, I hardly have anytime for myself, and I have been working 7 days a week for three weeks straight.
It is now very clear that jewelry making/selling is becoming more stable and fulfilling for me than teaching the piano, and I know my students' parents understand it, but the sense of responsibility plus the sentiment of leaving my students (who probably will forget me in a few years anyway) stop me from telling the parents I need to stop teaching now -- not next week, not two weeks later, and not in June.
I'm starting to worry that I may cry in front of those little kids during the last lesson. Silly me.The truth is I never forgot my piano teachers, even though I never contacted them anymore after I stopped taking lessons from them.

Monday, May 12, 2008

800 sales!

yay!! drum roll please! I sold 200 items in the past two weeks.My supplies were out and I had to order everything--wire, business cards,packaging materials..etc.I'm totally swamped but at the meantime also excited.Have been working 7 days a week to catch up with the orders.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

my first show

I just had my first show! It went very well, I would say.It rained all day so the farmer's market was held inside the barn.I could not find the organizer from the farmer's market at the time of set up, so I set up my booth at a lonely corner which was apparently no one else's spot. My display was still very simple at this stage because I mainly sell online. Having read so many tips on how to set up a nice booth, I was a little embarrassed knowing I probably could have done a better job, but still I was overall happy.The first step is always the most difficult. I was so glad that I finally came out of my shell to meet the public.
And it was fun. : )
If you missed me today, I will also be at the market on May 16th.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Trader's Point Creamery

I will be participating the farmer's market at Trader's Point Creamery in Zionsville, Indiana this Friday. The market runs every Friday from May to October and I just learned about this from other crafters in Indianapolis. Last Friday was their first week and I decided to check it out before signing up.It was very windy so the market was held inside the barn.I absolutely loved the market and bought lots of food from the farmers.And of course I signed up with the organizer right away.
In two days, my jewelry will meet with the public for the first time.I am so glad that I am finally coming out of my (internet) shell, and am glad the casual settings of the market makes me less nervous.
Come by to see me if you are located in Indianapolis!

Friday, May 2, 2008

the power of exposure..

My shop has been extremely busy in the past week.In fact, it was busier than Christmas time. I have not changed much on my website except updating the pictures of the two rings featured in Figure Magazine. I am pretty happy with the new pictures, and these two rings just can't seem to sell fast enough. : )

Since many customers told me that they saw my jewelry in the magazine, there was not doubt where the traffic came from. I was absolutely amazed by it.
Then, as usual, the more I sell, the more supplies I buy.I have been using 10K gold filled wire in my shop because it is more economical. Now that I am finally confident enough about my jewelry business (thanks to my sweet customers), I decided to place the largest wire order tonight, which means upgrading the wire to 14/20,also known as 14K, gold filled wire. After my current wire is used up,I will also start to use anti-tarnish (argentium) sterling silver wire for most of my wire wrapped rings. I am very excited about a new beginning of my shop.

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