Saturday, May 30, 2009

New Arrivals "My Lil Birthstone" Necklaces (and other stuff..)

I can't believe it has been two weeks since my last update. I wonder what I have been doing these two weeks! My Etsy shop has slowed down a lot after Mother's Day, and I got some time to relax and sleep.I seriously have been sleeping A LOT recently, and it makes me feel guilty because I feel like I'm sleeping my life away.But, I've gotta do what I've gotta do -- I can't work when I'm sleepy!
I'm leaving for Taiwan next Tuesday and have been pretty nervous about the trip.There's a lot of things to be sorted out and my small brain is stuffed with a big to-do list.The first thing was to get my new 12 birthstone necklaces listed. I finished making them and photographing them on Memorial Day, and started listing them a few days ago.My goal is to finish listing all 12 necklaces before I leave.They are all listed under the title "My Lil Birthstone".I have quite a bit of different gemstones in stock and it took me some time to decide which ones to be used in this collection.My final decision was to use stones of the closest size and shapes and therefore larger stones and marquise shaped stones are not included, but I'm open to custom orders if customers are interested in them.

I will also admit that I'm still playing my silly farm town game whenever I'm not sleeping or working.(and I admit I've been sleeping more than working) I have met some other "farmers" on facebook and made friends with them, so in some sense you can also say I've been busy making friends :) My farm has grown a lot since my last update, and I was able to grow crops in patterns.See if you can read what I'm trying to say on my farm.The crops grow everyday and here's the picture from day 1 --

Day 2 ...
Day 3, almost complete..
Did you see the message? :)
I'll be posting again after I arrive Taiwan next Wednesday.Murphy will be travelling with me this time and posting for me when I'm busy!

happy weekend!
mollie xo

Sunday, May 17, 2009

"Social Networking" and Facebook Games

It's been a week since my last post.I had so many things on my mind, mostly about my business and trip to Asia.I finally booked the hotel in Hong Kong and plan to write about my trip planning,but before that I just want to share some "simple pleasure" with you.

I really suck at enjoying small and "meaningless" stuff in life.Seriously.I feel guilty and restless whenever I am not working -- if I take a few days off from work I would feel as if my precious life is slipping away and it's my fault that I'm not accomplishing more.I don't know where I got this "I need to work as much as I can and not waste any time on meaningless stuff" idea from, but I seem to be like this since I was very young.
Anyway, as part of my "shop makeover"(which I will also talk about more in a later post), I invited many of my customers and to be my Facebook friends.It's an eye-opening experience for me to get a glance of many people's real life at once.Many customers wrote on my wall telling me how much they like my jewelry, which is encouraging for me, and I was also glad to see how my customers are.I didn't expect this to happen, but just like customers may want to know who they are buying from, I want to know who buy from me as well.
Inspired by my new Facebook friends, I started playing a few games on Facebook, especially Bejeweled Blitz and Farm Town.I did pretty well on Bejeweled Blitz(in the picture above you can see I rank number 2 among my friends) and actually started some random online chats with other player friends!
As for Farm Town, it started with other facebook friends sending me " farm town gifts", and I "accidentally" enabled this application on my facebook profile. You can see my farm in the following picture --

When I started playing Farm Town, my farm was not like this at all.It was very confusing to me because I started with a bare field like this(the farm below belongs to my new friend Custom Cuteness', who started playing it just two days ago) --

I figured out that I was supposed to grow crops on this bare farm and harvest them,but the whole thing still felt pretty meaningless and silly until I saw my friend& "farmer neighbor" Shelly's farm --

Shelly's farm looks like a real farm to me.I mean, it looks like a farm that I would want to live in! It's just irresistibly cute!!!! Shelly immediately became my farm town mentor and model and I'm working my way up to having a pretty farm like hers.This must be the most "meaningless" thing I've done for a while but I truly enjoy it.I love how pretty the farm looks when the crops are ready to be harvested, and I also enjoy checking my crops to see when I can harvest them -- anyway, here's a silly post about my recent silly life.I suppose it's ok for me to do some meaningless things every once a while.

Friday, May 8, 2009

Happy Mother's Day -- Gallery of Birthstone Necklaces

custom family birthstone gemstone necklaceI know it's still two days to Mother's Day, but I'd like to do an early post in case I don't have time on Sunday :)
Here's a gallery of "Circle of Love" custom family birthstone necklaces I made since it was first introduced in April.It started as a basic 4 stone design, but since it was meant to be a custom piece, I started getting requests to make it with different number of birthstones.

I take pictures of every birthstone necklace I made(it feels like trophies to me lol) and keep them in a folder. Here are the necklaces with 2 stones --

3 stones --
custom family birthstone gemstone necklace
custom family birthstone gemstone necklace
custom family birthstone necklacecustom family birthstone necklacethe original 4 stone design was done with the stones laying against the circle frame..
custom family birthstone necklaceAfter making a few of these, I thought it may look nice to arrange the stones like a little "arch" instead, and since immediately became the preferred design by my customers, I changed the prototype photos for the listing.

custom family birthstone necklacecustom family birthstone necklacecustom family birthstone necklaceHere's a 6 stone design.I played with it a little bit and decided to do an asymmetrical arrangement of the stones.I also offered the customer to do a larger 3/4" circle frame so I can fit all 6 stones on one arch, but she preferred how the stones are broken like this--
custom family birthstone necklaceThe 6 stone design was actually a variation of the original 7 stone design as shown in the following picture. All 7 stones are lined against the frame and I added a little extra wire wrap in the middle --

Another 7 stone necklace I just made.This is one of the few necklaces that I was given the freedom to arrange the stones the way I liked (most customers prefer stones arranged based on birth orders), and I was very happy with the result --

I found myself making these birthstone necklaces with great pleasure knowing they have special meanings to the gift recipients.I was also honored to make a miscarriage necklace with the lost baby's birthstone added to the necklace.

Unfortunately my own mother doesn't wear any jewelry, or I would love to make her one necklace along with a family birthstone ring :)
But I'm sure mom will be reading this before Mother's Day, so --

Happy Mother's Day!
to my dear mother, and every mother who is reading this post!

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

New Arrival--"Romance" Pink Tourmaline Wire Wrapped Necklace

This necklace was actually completed a few weeks ago, but I haven't got time to photograph and list it.It's now finally available in my Etsy shop! I also used it to test the new light box I just made using Annie Howes' tutorial. It was not as easy to use as I thought, actually, but after some trials and errors and adjustments of camera settings I did get some decent photos with the light box.The photo above was taken under natural day light(cloudy, unfortunately), and the one below was taken in the light box.Both pictures were then edited with my favorite Picasa. As you can see, I'm also starting to play with photo props now, and I think I'll continue to do this at least for more intricate designs.
Picture below is size reference(taken under natural day light)--the pendant is actually pretty petite.I've never used this coiling technique so extensively and in such a small scale.It's pretty labor consuming, but also a very enjoyable process.It appears to me this pendant looks prettier against pink(below) then green(above) background.What do you think?

Monday, May 4, 2009

Shop Makeover--Part I

I have been very busy since the beginning of April for various reasons.After checking out the farmers market I thought for a very long time about whether to start selling at shows and markets myself.I even applied for one juried market and got accepted, but after talking to other full time Etsy sellers and thinking through the time and booth fees involved, I decided to keep my jewelry exclusively online for another year.
Instead of going to the markets and shows, I will be working on starting my own website by the end of this year(seriously!).And before that actually happens, I will give my Etsy shop a "makeover" first.

First Step -- New "Thematic" Sections

My sales has always been very steady, but I wanted more than that. From my past experience,I knew that something needed to be done, even though I wasn't sure what that something was, or I was not going to see my business grow at the pace I wanted to see.

I have been using the most old fashioned shop sections for my jewelry--rings, earrings, bracelets, necklaces..etc.Because I have a large shop and my main lines feature gemstones and pearls, I divide rings and earrings into four sections--pearl rings, gemstone rings, pearl earrings, gemstone earrings.For a very very long time I feel dissatisfied with this kind of arrangement and have been thinking about re-organizing my items based on their styles.However my own stubbornness and fear stopped me -- "what if people searching for earrings can't find them anymore?" I told myself, "what if they can't find what they want, and stop buying from me?"

These are the kind of thoughts that always creep in to stop you from making changes. I struggled to overcome them by telling myself "if this doesn't work, you can always change the sections back.But if you don't even try, how can you find out if it actually works better?"

So I started the experiment.

It took me almost two years to be unhappy about the looks of my shop, 1 minute to delete all the old sections, and then another 10 minutes to add new sections and put my jewelry into the current sections.Thankfully, as soon as I was done, my doubts disappeared completely.My shop instantly looked better when I browsed through different sections--I saw clear themes in the jewelry, and also knew right away how to improve my photos.Here are the sections that are at least 80~90% done..

I didn't have any customers complain about the section changes.I didn't know if they liked it, but I did seem to see some sales increase-- but that could also be a coincidence, you really never know.

Second Step--Redo Photos

After browsing through different sections a few times, I realized the weakest section in my shop was gemstone jewelry.I always tried to photograph gemstones on white background because it presents the colors of gemstones more truthfully. However, unless you have a great camera and/or use a light box, it's very difficult to shoot against white background. Since I don't have a SLR and also prefer shooting under daylight ,many of my gemstones looked washed out against the white background.Again, even though I sort of knew this a long time ago, my stubbornness prevented me from accepting the fact and improving myself. But after the section change and I could clearly see my mistakes, I decided to give my gemstone section a gray background.

My "Rainbow On My Neck" necklace was the first to get a photo update.It was first listed in January, and although it's been one of my favorite gemstone piece, I didn't sell as many as I expected.Now here's the stats: when I used the original photos, I sold one rainbow necklace each month.After the photo update, I sold three of them in less a month--now that doesn't look like a coincidence to me.

Below you can see my work in progress.Circled listings are the ones waiting for a photo update. Because I have so many designs and so many photos to update, it's a very slow process, and not so enjoyable.I can only tell myself-- if that's what it takes to succeed, then I will do it.

Here's another small section that will be redone--I will also use gray background for my custom birthstone jewelry.In addition, the two designs at the bottom will either be discontinued or re-worked because they haven't been selling as well as I expected.I have also been letting some old and less popular listings expire naturally and may relist them after I re-take the photos. A few designs that don't match my shop style will also be removed.

I realize I'm dragging this post too long so I'm going to stop for now. There'are too many things needed to be done and I just want to share a few of my experiences with Etsy sellers who read my blog first. I will be back in a few days to talk more about my other plans and discoveries. (Be sure to subscribe to my blog or become a follower so you can find your way back to my blog)

--Dream big, work hard and work wisely.
mollie xo

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