Member Feature: PleasantExpressions

Contributor post by Michelle of EviesToolEmporium

Please join us in welcoming Debbie of PleasantExpressions, our featured member!

Tell us about yourself.

Hi there! I am a wife, mother of two wonderful adult children, one fantastic stepson, and several beautiful grandchildren with two being great-grandchildren. I am very blessed! I am 63 years young now and enjoying my family and my creative business. For many years, I worked two jobs until I married my supportive husband. After giving birth to our first child, I became a stay-at-home mom and homeschooled for four years. This put a damper on our finances some, so I made all our home decor myself. When my children went to pubic school, I became a paraprofessional so I could work with children with disabilities. My time in this job gave me precious memories.

I have always been active and big on fitness. I like to water ski, snow ski, dance, do aerobics, walk, camp, swim, play piano, and research anything I hear that I don’t know. My husband is the mechanic of our house, and I am the techie.

When did you open your business and what make you decide to do so?

I have a daughter that has had chronic illnesses that began when she was 16 years old. We have been all over the USA in search of successful treatment.  Her illnesses have caused ME/CFS and she has adrenal insufficiency. I retired from being a paraprofessional so I could be with her at home as we continued to search ways to help her. She is 29 now and still fighting illness.

I continued to create decor for my home when it occurred to me one day that I could also make pretty things for others and sell them. I started researching ways to do this and stumbled on Nancy Alexander’s video tutorials. Nancy owns Ladybug Wreaths. I contacted Nancy and joined her Facebook group so I could grow my new business the right way. After learning the valuable instruction Nancy has, I also joined her Nancy’s Inner Circle Group. I enrolled in her Etsy Training course and from there, she and Linda Joseph helped me create my own website pleasantexpressions.com after I won a contest in the Etsy Training for being the most improved student. When I chose the name for my shop, I wanted it to sound like what I feel in my heart about creating warmth for a home. That’s when I chose the name Pleasant Expressions. That was three years ago. This last year, my son Charles became my partner in business. He has a BBA in Business, and a MA in Administrative Leadership. He is my financial advisor, marketer, and shipper. He also handles our gift shop on Amazon. I am so thankful for him.

Tell us a bit about your products.

I began my business only making and selling wreaths. After a few months, I saw so many other types of decor that I loved, so I began branching out to other areas in handmade products. I discovered that I love making arch swags. Many of my customers have bought these for wedding arches. I also love lanterns and embellishing them with triple bow swags hung with beautiful greenery and seasonal picks. Then, I discovered that I could make centerpieces using many kinds of bases like wagons, wheelbarrows, and trucks. I also enjoy making beautiful grave saddles. I found cute signs and sleds that I could decorate with bows, picks, and seasonal florals that many people have liked. I especially like creating things that no one else has done yet.

After working on my handmade products for two years, I decided to start selling some of my overstock as a way to keep my bulging inventory in check. When Etsy opened up Etsy Studio, I was ecstatic!

What inspires your work?

Oh, so many things lure me out to my workshop! I see so many things around me that give me ideas. Just walking around our woods and gardens brings nature into my creations. Much of what I create in my wreaths comes from a picture in my mind of what is real in our beautiful world. That’s why I incorporate a lot of birds, nests, houses, butterflies, frogs, ladybugs, mushrooms, and many more. I love wildlife and I am a rehabilitator. I have raised three opossum litters and three squirrel litters. I look forward to many more. I love whimsical creations, but the decorations that come from nature are my most inspiring.

What are your future goals for the business this year? What is your dream for this business?

This year I want to work more on reaching out to my customers and followers. I want to do more videos. I’ve had a hard time staying in touch with my special people on social media. My mother had a stroke in December and my time with her has been very important and a blessing. Also, I have traveled quite a bit with my daughter for consultations and treatment. I have struggled to expand in this realm and sometimes I felt that I should just keep trying to create new products instead while the time I spend in my workshop creating something is wonderful therapy for me. It relieves stress while I make something pleasant. This year, I will give more time to reaching out to touch the hearts of those I have missed.

What makes your business stand out from businesses that sell similar products?

Well, I cannot say my business is better than many others who do the work I do. In fact, I know many other ladies and gentlemen who are very talented, and I admire their work very much. I feel like all of us support and encourage each other.

I can say that with my own creations, I work very hard to make things that are not quite the same as others. I am very picky about everything in a design being a perfect fit and anchored to stay. In my wreaths, I like to incorporate many varieties of plants and colors. I like them to look like twigs and grasses stray out and do not lay perfectly because this is what we see in a natural garden. In my centerpieces, I like to create a scene that brings back a memory of something dear to our hearts.

For the most part, my business is different because it is a part of what’s inside me, LOL!

Tell us a bit about your work space. Do you have a separate studio?

I have a wonderful studio! When I first mentioned my business plans to my husband, he said, “You really think people would buy wreaths?” Well, he was surprised! Last year he bought me a 12′ X 18′ storage building to put my workshop in. He and my son added paneled walls and an air conditioner and heater. My husband took a double/twin bunk bed frame and built me the grandest ribbon cabinet I’ve ever seen! Then I asked for pegboards to be installed on one wall and found peg baskets to hang and fill with all my florals, greenery and picks. The rafters have hooks hanging down that I hang some wreaths from. I added a rocking chair by an end table and have a drafting chair to sit on at my bench when my feet get tired. I have two easels to work on. My husband built my bench higher for me so I don’t have to bend to use it. I am very happy!

What have you learned since opening your business that you wish you had known before hand?

I wish I had known about the many wholesale vendors that I use now. I love my vendors. I wish I had been more careful about buying too much of some items, although I am constantly finding a way to incorporate them.

Any advice for those thinking about selling on Etsy?

I have run into people who have an interest in starting an Etsy store. I have given them my business card and told them that if I can help them in any way to please call me. Etsy is such a wonderful place to show our talents and make money too. I have never forgotten the help I received from Nancy Alexander, and I hope to help others like Nancy helped me in the future. Go for it!

When you’re not working, what do you like to do to unwind and have fun? Do you have any hobbies?

I have too many! Working in my workshop is a way to wind down, but my family wants me too. I love family movie nights, family game nights, and having friends and family come over to visit. I love to sit out by our pool in the summer, or gather around a fire pit in the back yard. I enjoy a roaring fireplace with lanterns and candles in the winter. I also enjoy fishing in our two ponds and frying up the freshest fish ever. We also have cattle, a horse, chickens, swans, peacocks, guineas, 2 dogs, 2 cats, and until 2 weeks ago a pet opossum Scamper.

What is your favorite quote?

God grant me the serenity
to accept the things I cannot change;
the courage to change the things I can;
and the wisdom to know the difference.

Where can people find out more about your business?

Etsy: pleasantexpressions
Pinterest: pleasantexpressions
Website: pleasantexpressions
Facebook: pleasantexpressions
Twitter: truthnut
Instagram: montgomery.debbie

Is there anything else you’d like to share?

I would only like to add that I hope that I can put a smile on someone’s face, a pleasure in their heart, and leave them feeling like they are loved.

________

If you would like to be featured, please go to the CIJ Etsy Forum and fill out the questionnaire. Please note you must be a member of the CIJ Etsy team to be featured.

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Member Feature: WitchesLairWreaths

Contributor post by Michelle of EviesToolEmporium

Please join us in welcoming Laurie of WitchesLairWreaths, our featured member!

WitchesLairWreaths

Tell us about yourself.

I am a 3rd generation Floridian born in Tampa, Florida raised in Brandon, Florida. I am 50 years old and currently reside in Palm Harbor, Florida with my amazing husband Jeff whom I’ve been married to now for 15 years. Without his love & support, this dream would not be possible!  I must mention our sweet corgi dog “Lady” who keeps me from becoming a work-a-holic as, she requires her daily walks and rides along with me to the post office every time a sale is made in my shop. We have raised two beautiful daughters, Tabatha 32 & Alisha 25. Tabatha has blessed me with two beautiful grandchildren Carley 12 & Grayson 8 months. Thank you Jesus as I couldn’t be any more fortunate & blessed than I am!

When did you open your business and what make you decide to do so?

My grand opening of The Witches Lair Wreaths was in September 2015. I decided to go into business for myself because I was tired of the rat race of working for someone else.  I am fortunate that my husband financially supports me. I am able to stay at home to run my business from my shop and commit to it as often as I need too.

Tell us a bit about your products.

In the beginning, I was making only wreaths and then I branched out and started making bows, centerpieces, swags & garlands in all sizes, for every Season, Theme & Team you can desire. My shop currently has over 250+ items in it. All hand made by me and are ready to ship out to you now. I have been collecting items for my art for many years. It could be a vase or a wooden tray, or a flower, a bumble bee pick, a ribbon, a gigantic pumpkin, a Marine plaque, etc. The next step is to do lots of research online for other items that coordinate with it and to help me to complete “the vision” that I have in my head of how my finished product is supposed to look. Once I have every piece in its place, I will assemble it to completion for my finished product.

What inspires your work?

My favorite Holiday’s are Halloween & Christmas! I was born on Halloween & that’s why I am “The Witch of The Witches Lair Wreaths”. I absolutely love the colors & themes of Halloween as, it keeps me young at heart.

I don’t usually make things too scary or gory but, I am proud of my Halloween vulture/skull centerpiece & my Fall/Fairy, pumpkin centerpieces. They are my original designs and are very unique.

My inspiration to open my Etsy shop is from becoming an empty nester & from the passion that I have from creating something beautiful with my own two hands.

What are your future goals for the business this year? What is your dream for this business?

My future goals for my business is to downsize the merchandise that I use to create my art with by spending more time working and less time shopping!

I am also, working on promoting a Etsy sale “Out with the old & In with the new”. Anything more than 3 years old in my shop will be marked down.  This will keep me motivated to stay up with the current trends and help me to move out the outdated items to clients at a cheaper rate as, the craft world is always evolving and so am I.

My dream for this business is for me to continue to grow and to reach for the stars with my creativity so that I can produce irresistible products that are one of a kind unique!

What makes your business stand out from businesses that sell similar products?

I try to be different and think outside of the box when I am searching for my materials to create something new. Sometimes, I purchase an item just to tear it apart so that I can use that “one unique piece” just to make it my own style. I use many elements. Like I might spray paint a wooden or ceramic candlestick just to turn around and glue it to a charger plate which allows me space for a beautiful flower scape at the base, for my centerpiece. I also, love hand painting and stenciling words to make my own plaques. I cut, stuff and sew material sometimes too for that finished touch. The key is to customize my work so that it stands out from others. I mostly use high end quality materials but occasionally I will find that “gently used” second hand piece that inspires me too. I do a lot of customization pieces for my clients because they know that I can deliver a product designed with their vision in mind that will look absolutely amazing! Please make sure to read all of my 5 star ratings from my happy clients whom I must thank as, none of this is possible without them!

Tell us a bit about your work space. Do you have a separate studio?

My amazing work space consists of a 25′ x 14′ room that is devoted entirely for storing some of my crafting items and also, for my every day work space. Located along the walls are 2 large industrial racks to support my inventory like my incomplete wreath & garland frames, centerpiece vases, plaques for my wreaths etc.

I had a carpenter customize to my drawings, 4 solid wood shelves to hold my every day and seasonal ribbons. There are shelves on the front & back sides easily accessible with the casters on the bottom to allow easy access as I turn it around to see what’s on the other side yet it stays flush against the wall to allow ample floor space in my work area. The rest of my ribbons are stored in jumbo ziploc bags and then placed inside of a rubber-made storage bin labeled for the appropriate season. Then I place out in our 3 car garage until needed again. In the center of the room is my work space area where I have placed two 6′ tables & two 4′ tables to make a large “U’ shape and my executive chair sits smack in the middle of it so, that I can access my work from many angles. I have a 4 drawer mesh organizer that holds my “go to” items like a hammer, saw-tooth hooks for my plaques. So many types of glue for all types of materials. Markers, pens, several types of tape, push pins, sewing pins, spray paints, latex gloves, brushes, more paints, stencils, paint tape, pain saucers to hold the water. I have glitter & glitter glue & raffia tie & twine in every color imagined.

I have a wooden table on wheels that I use solely for my shipping station. It homes my professional scale that accurately weighs my items, a measuring tape to measure the boxes for approximate height, length, width which is mandatory for accurate shipping rates for my website. There is a large solid wooden desk organizer that holds all of my VistaPrint mailing labels, Thank you cards, envelopes, instruction sheet on “How to rate your item on Etsy” that I print out and mail in every Thank you card with every purchase. Flyers for my art classes at Hobby Lobby which I leave in the store and hand out for publicity. Gift tags that coordinate with my merchandise that I tie either directly onto my merchandise or onto the ziploc bag that they are packed in for that extra, wow moment. Packing & Fragile tape for my boxes. I located

My desk in my bedroom with a printer, printer ink, printer paper, along with a multi leveled tray organizer to sort out all of my business paperwork. I find it hard to work with stacks of papers waiting to either be reviewed, sorted & filed that is why I separated my desk from my work space! On my U table which is my work station I have my journal which I list every single item in detail & price as I create a new item. This helps me stay organized & offer an accurate sale price in today’s market to my clients.  I have a connected adjoining room to my main work space that is my “Floral room”. It displays my daily floral & current Seasonal floral. I zip tie each color of flowers together for that Season and then I zip tie that to my 4 metal grate stands. Each stand has two sides and there is a season on each side of these metal grates. This allows me to visually see & pick the floral that I need immediately without disrupting my work flow.

Most of my completed wreaths are stored on 2 of my duo industrial clothes racks in my garage. Each wreath is stored in a sealed tight XXL ziploc bag and hung for easy viewing/access. These bags are great to protect your wreath from any insects while in storage. All of my items are shipped in sturdy corrugated boxes (some new & some recycled) as there is such a large fluctuation in the sizes & weights of the items that I ship therefore, I have committed an entire 1 car garage area & another industrial rack to store my boxes and other packing materials like, Styrofoam, butcher paper, popcorn to assure that your item does not break during shipment.

What have you learned since opening your business that you wish you had known before hand?

I have learned that creativity can not be forced! It has to come naturally or it just isn’t made with the same amount of  love & devotion that it deserves. I have learned that there is no such thing as an accident but, instead its a learning curve/experience. I have also learned that because of the size of my items, most people at the craft shows won’t purchase my items. They are too large or too heavy to carry around and most people are too tired to return to purchase an item even if their intentions are good. I no longer set up tent due to these reasons.

Any advice for those thinking about selling on Etsy?

Go for it as, It is an amazing experience to be your own boss but, just know that like any business it is a lot of work! You really need to do a lot of research before you take the plunge. I found it very exciting but, tedious as, you have to stop creating to do this and that is hard for me. It took me months of research and also, studying Etsy’s website and learning about the “How to’s”. It all comes together in time and it is so worth it!!! I thank all of the shop owners out there on Etsy that helped me “problem solve” when I was unsure of something, without your help the process would have been daunting. Also, locate the customer service help area so, when you do run into a problem, you can get expert advise not just a hunch. Best of luck and reach out to me for help anytime.

When you’re not working, what do you like to do to unwind and have fun? Do you have any hobbies?

I enjoy being around my family & friends, cooking baking, sharing memories together! I catch up on house work that  I neglected during that “never ending” craft project. I go through my recipes, plan my week & hit the grocery store. We spend a lot of time cooling off from this Florida heat in the pool & unwinding with a drink in hand in our heated Jacuzzi. We occasionally hit the beaches and take Lady to the dog beach. Occasionally attempt to read a book. Garden my plants & manicure my assortment of plants in my Succulent & herb gardens.

My favorite hobbies are crafting, scuba diving, horse back riding, jet skiing, boating, fishing, hiking in the mountains during Fall season, decorating/staging my home.

What is your favorite quote?

“Don’t expect anything & you won’t get let down.”

Where can people find out more about your business?

Etsy: WitchesLairWreaths

Facebook: WitchesLairWreaths

Instagram: lkemp6133

Pinterest: lkemp6133

Twitter: lkemp6133

Is there anything else you’d like to share?

As an Entrepreneur, I enjoy teaching craft classes at my local Hobby Lobby store here in Clearwater, Florida. I have my flyer posted on my Etsy shop for all to view with the dates, time of classes and class information as well. If you live in my area, you can purchase my classes directly in my shop, just show up and have some fun crafting with “The Witch”!

Otherwise, come visit us in Florida and give me a call while your in town, to set up a private class anytime.

________

If you would like to be featured, please go to the CIJ Etsy Forum and fill out the questionnaire. Please note you must be a member of the CIJ Etsy team to be featured.

Items Of The Week: At The Beach

Contributor post by Michelle of EviesToolEmporium

Red Pear – Pantone Fashion Color For Fall/Winter 2018

Contributor post by Michelle of EviesToolEmporium

Color trends are a wonderful way to celebrate the seasons!

According to Pantone one of the top colors for Fall 2018 is Red Pear.

PANTONE 19-1536
Red Pear
Deliciously deep red, whose luscious depth entices.

Members of the Etsy Christmas In July Team have been inspired by the color Red Pear! They have created items in their shops reflecting this inspiration! Here are a few!

Przemila K from CanisArtStudio says:

The shield of this funny wall clock with a bulldog face is a red pear color. This is a deep, dark shade of red with the addition of bronze.

Small accessories in golden and brown color: numbers and the line of the “roof” make it a very decorative item. These colors create an atmosphere of coziness and warmth. A great idea for a gift and a Christmas decoration. I hope that a funny bulldog with a football ball will make you laugh.

CanisArtStudio

spoiledfelines1 from SpoiledFelinesArt says:

I love this “Red Pear” color … it’s a deep shade of red that I always associate with hearts and love. That is why I used this color to paint the heart in our “I Love Cats” wall hanging!

SpoiledFelinesArt

Margie Sarrao from FunNFiber says:

This fabulous yarn bowl is a great gift for any knitter, including yourself! It is hand-made on a pottery wheel, and fired twice. It is a delicious, earthy “red pear” color with a bit of blue towards the top. All materials are non-toxic, lead-free, and food safe. It is dishwasher-safe, as well.

FunNFiber

Roses Workshop from RosesWorkshop says:

This lovely tea cosy has been handmade from Harris tweed fabric in natural cream and “Red Pear” deep red. Many of my cosies are in colourful tartans, but this simple two colour design is even more stylish.

RosesWorkshop

Karen Hafel from timetalentjewels says:

Shades of red are always popular during the fall and winter season. Deep colors of burgundy red, cinnamon and wine of a pear capture an array of those shades. They can be shown in a stellar piece of jewelry such as this piece of Ruby Jade Beaded Necklace Set.

timetalentjewels

Nancy Duncan from EponasCrystals says:

Baltic Amber Necklace – Vintage red amber from the Baltics. The necklace is natural red amber chips in graduating sizes.

EponasCrystals

If you’re on Pinterest here is the Red Pear  board!

While you’re on Pinterest please follow the Etsy Christmas In July team!

Member Feature: SilverTrove

Contributor post by Michelle of EviesToolEmporium

Please join us in welcoming Carol of SilverTrove, our featured member!

SilverTrove

Tell us about yourself.

I am a widowed mother of 3 grown children who have given me 6 beautiful grandchildren.  I live with my BFF and constant companion, Sadie, who is a 10-year-old border collie.

When did you open your business and what make you decide to do so?

I opened my business in 1990 because I love creating and wearing jewelry.  I was a single mother of 3 young children at that time and I felt they needed me at home with them.  I took a huge leap of faith when I resigned from my full-time job to follow my dream.  Shortly after that I took 2 classes in silversmithing and the rest is history.

Tell us a bit about your products.

I offer a variety of sterling silver jewelry, all handmade by me.  I love custom orders because it gives me a chance to get to know my customers and create pieces that fit their personality and style, but I also have many ready to ship products.

What inspires your work?

Nature, the work of other artists and, of course, my customers.  I was trained by a Native American silversmith so many of my pieces reflect that style.

What are your future goals for the business this year? What is your dream for this business?

I want to expand on past successes and grow my business to at least double my sales from last year.  I hope to create new designs and learn new skills along the way.  I also want to teach some of the techniques I’ve developed.  I know many jewelry designers have been able to grow their businesses by selling their designs to manufacturers but I want to continue to make every piece I sell.

What makes your business stand out from businesses that sell similar products?

With almost 30 years of experience, I can offer jewelry that will stand the test of time and I back that up with my service and repair policy and 100% guarantee.  I stand behind every piece I sell which is why I have many repeat customers.

Tell us a bit about your work space. Do you have a separate studio?

My studio is spread throughout my home, which allows me to have specific areas for specific tasks.  Being able to move from space to space and room to room is a nice change of pace and it works for me!

What have you learned since opening your business that you wish you had known before hand?

I have learned many things, but I can’t say I wish I had known any of it before hand.  Each learning experience has contributed to my growth and the development of my business.  For example, I had a brick-and-mortar store early on.  It was a great experience, but I learned that running a store takes a lot of time.  I didn’t have nearly as much time to create jewelry and it kept me away from my children.  Still, I’m happy I learned that lesson through experience.

Any advice for those thinking about selling on Etsy?

Go for it!  It’s not as difficult as you might think and you may be able to develop it into a full-time career.

When you’re not working, what do you like to do to unwind and have fun? Do you have any hobbies?

I love spending time with my family, gardening, cooking and studying the Bible.  I often go on nature walks with my dog.

What is your favorite quote?

Matthew 7:7-8 Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you: For every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened.

Where can people find out more about your business?

In my Etsy shop or on social media:
https://www.facebook.com/silvertrovedesigns/
https://www.instagram.com/silvertrove/
https://www.pinterest.com/silvertrove

Is there anything else you’d like to share?

I think other people love my work because I love my work!

________

If you would like to be featured, please go to the CIJ Etsy Forum and fill out the questionnaire. Please note you must be a member of the CIJ Etsy team to be featured.

Items Of The Week: Door Decor

Contributor post by Michelle of EviesToolEmporium

Future Of The Etsy Christmas In July Team

Contributor post by Michelle of EviesToolEmporium

Please join me in welcoming the Etsy Christmas In July leaders who have graciously stepped forward to be Co-Captains of the team! Alicia of AliciasFindings and Mairi of mairisdesigns! Please take a moment to check out their shops, and share on social media using the hashtag #EtsyCIJ! Thank you!

I have enjoyed being the Captain of the team for the past 5 years! It is time for me to move on! I leave you in Alicia’s and Mairi’s capable hands! They are up to speed on what we have accomplished over the years and I look forward to see where they take the team next!

Enjoy your journey!

Michelle-