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Alternative Giving for the Holidays

Alternative giving is catching on. With frustration over the increasing commercialization of the holidays, the public is looking for alternatives to “shop-to-you-drop” consumerism in an attempt to get back to the true spirit of giving. So I’m continuing my annual round up of alternative giving that I started last year. Whether you tire of buying

Is It Spring Yet???

It’s mid-March and still snowing. Which prompts the question, “Is is spring yet?” We don’t know what the weather has in store, but while it’s getting it’s act together, here is a preview of the makings of my spring collection. More in the slideshow (below) Let me know what you think. ShareDelicious

Etsy Success: 3 Things You Need to Know – Part 2

In part one of this post, we asked Etsy artisans three essential questions about their strategies that contributed to the success of their shops: 1. What marketing or sales strategy do you attribute to your volume of sales? 2. Is there anything that you changed since you began your shop that resulted in increased sales?

Etsy Success: 3 Things You Need to Know

Have you ever wondered why some Etsy sellers flounder while others seem to flourish? I have. So I asked several dynamic Etsy sellers three essential questions: 1. What marketing or sales strategy do you attribute to your volume of sales? 2. Is there anything that you changed since you began your shop that resulted in

What Do You Have to Be Thankful For in 2013?

Today means different things to different people. For many, it is a reminder of Native American hospitality that was repaid with genocide. Ironically, it is also Native American Heritage Month. For others (I’d dare say most), it’s the day that precedes Black Friday and the advent of the commercialism we have grown to associate with

Alternative Giving for the Holidays

Alternative giving is catching on. With frustration over the increasing commercialization of the holidays, the public is looking for alternatives to “shop-to-you-drop” consumerism in an attempt to get back to the true spirit of giving. So I’m continuing my annual round up of alternative giving that I started last year. Whether you tire of buying gifts you can’t afford; you prefer to make a socially-conscious statement; or you wish to donate to those truly in need, I’m sure you’ll find a worthy cause to contribute to below.

International Organizations

  • Doctors Without Borders (Medecins Sans Frontieres) provides emergency medical care to millions of people caught in crises in more than 60 countries around the world. They have also been on the forefront of assisting with the Ebola crisis in Africa.
  • Heifer International provides livestock and training to people in developing communities so that they can feed themselves. They have a special gift-giving brochure to help gift-givers with ideas during the holiday season.
  • Women for Women International provides women survivors of war, civil strife and other conflicts with the tools and resources to move from crisis and poverty to stability and self-sufficiency.
  • Outreach International has an online catalog of sustainable gifts in a variety of categories and price points to satisfy the fashion-conscious as well as the socially-conscious. The organization’s mission is to provide sustainable solutions to help end extreme poverty around the world.

Local Organizations
In addition to the international agencies mentioned above, there are also a number of local causes worth giving to – either for yourself or on behalf of others as a gift:

  • Central Union Mission provides food, clothing and shelter to the homeless in the DC area.
  • The House of Ruth helps women, children and families in greatest need with an emphasis on ending homelessness and chronic abuse.
  • Food and Friends provides meals, groceries and nutrition counseling to people living with life-challenging illnesses such as HIV/AIDS and cancer. They also have pies you can purchase for the holidays; the proceeds go to advancing their mission.
  • By acquiring food and distributing it through its network of partner agencies , the Capital Area Food Bank feeds those who suffer from hunger in the Washington metro through its network of partner agencies; and educating, empowering and enlightening the community about the issues of hunger and nutrition.

This list is not exhaustive. If you are so-inclined to give gifts with a purpose, there are plenty of causes to donate to — on behalf of loved ones, or in lieu of buying gifts for someone that she really doesn’t need. If you’re participating in alternative giving during the holidays, I’d love to hear from you. Please share what you’re doing below.

Happy Holidays.

Is It Spring Yet???

It’s mid-March and still snowing. Which prompts the question, “Is is spring yet?” We don’t know what the weather has in store, but while it’s getting it’s act together, here is a preview of the makings of my spring collection.

RAM Jewelry Designs - spring collection

Double-stranded adinkra necklace

RAM Jewelry Designs - spring collection

Double-stranded recycled glass and seed bead necklace

More in the slideshow (below)

Let me know what you think.

Etsy Success: 3 Things You Need to Know – Part 2

In part one of this post, we asked Etsy artisans three essential questions about their strategies that contributed to the success of their shops:
1. What marketing or sales strategy do you attribute to your volume of sales?
2. Is there anything that you changed since you began your shop that resulted in increased sales?
3. What advice do you have for beginning Etsy sellers?

In this post we continue the conversation with three other Etsians. Here is what they had to say.

Of her marketing strategy, Sarah Kelley of The Beaded Lilly says, “I don’t really market at all and I don’t strategize sales. I make stuff– stuff I like, stuff people ask me for. I strive for authenticity, transparency, clarity, punctuality and kindness and that resonates with my customers and clients. What I make is not about what I can sell. It’s about what I can say.” Sarah has, however, changed the focus of her Etsy shop since she started. “When I opened I was focused on beads only. I love beads. But simple metal designs are my bread-and-butter sales now..” in response to customer inquiries and demand. Her advice to new sellers is to recognize that “things take time to gain momentum. Be patient, follow the advice that resonates with you, and don’t give up. Focus on the work and the presentation and the sales will come, eventually.”

Stephanie Lindsay of yoyosbuttonsandbeads has a passion for… well, Yoyos, Buttons, and Beads. You’ll find all sorts of beads and buttons in her shop &#151 many from recycled or reclaimed materials. She attributes her sales to “precise, yet creative photography” as well as “accurate and honest descriptions.” Changes that have helped increase sales include joining “as many teams as I possibly could manage. I didn’t do this until I had been selling for awhile. I started some teams, too. Both of these seemed to improve sales.” Her advice for Etsy newbies is “to just keep plugging along. It takes awhile to become an established seller on Etsy because it is so competitive with so many sellers selling some of the same things.”

Sandy Baker of Abigails Vintage Shop says that putting “one new item or renew[ing] one item every day” was advice she got from another Etsian in terms of sales strategy. She adds that “this actually seems to work well.” One of the things Sandy has changed that positively impacted her sales are the quality of her photos. “I try to use more natural settings and especially take pictures outdoors. I tend to shy away from ‘staged pictures’ and I am always trying to improve my photo techniques.” The advice she has for newbie sellers is to have “patience and perseverance. I still work full-time and it can get frustrating when I do not sell anything for a period of time and I think I am doing everything right. Then out of the blue I sell something everyday for no apparent reason. Because the economy is so fickle, my advice is patience, be honest and hang in there.”

Dawn Kimble’s New Tribe New Traditions shop features inspirational and AFrocentric tee shirts that she designs. She says, “I use Etsy marketing, Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest and I sporadically blog about my shop. I haven’t invested much money in advertising and marketing because I want to utilize as many free online opportunities as I can. I also want to capitalize on word of mouth and the quality of my products.” One thing that’s helped her sales is “to increase the number of customer pictures that I use on my site. I love to see customers wearing our products and others enjoy it too.” The advice she has for Etsy sellers is to “do your research. Find out how other merchants are driving customers and look at the quality of their product pictures. It doesn’t cost much to get started if you are smart.”

Work on photos, persevere and keep at it. Those are my major takeways from this two-part post. And there are others. What resounds for you? We’d love to hear from you if you have other techniques and strategies that have contributed to your success. Please share and happy selling!

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