10, 9, 8, 7.......


Happy New Year everyone!  This year has been AMAZING and I hope next year is just as wonderful!  This year we've expanded our product lines, began offering size options on our washer jewelry, joined up with Amazon Handmade (STILL can't believe that one!), and completed the year with 100% good feedback!  WOW!

I hope you all have a safe and happy holiday and that all of your 2016 dreams come true <3

Coloring Pages



I've been down with the plague for a bit now (thank you, youngest child, for your lovely gift) so I haven't updated.

It's time!


New Happenings

The past couple of weeks have been utter chaos in the shop.  With our approval for Amazon Handmade and our subsequent invitation to begin building the shop I've decided to vastly expand the options available for our washer jewelry.

Introducing Petite, Standard, and Large Sizes!


The standard washer measures 1.25".  The large jumps up to 1.50" and the petite at a tiny 1" diameter.    

All of the products are undergoing an overhaul and, in many cases, a makeover.  A few designs are going to be retired as many new ones are introduced.

Keep your eyes open for lots of new activity as we gear up for the busiest time of year for retail artists!

You can find us on Etsy and, very soon, on Amazon Handmade

Phoenix Pagan Pride Day

I am happy to announce that Mazer Creations will be participating in Phoenix Pagan Pride Day again this year, marking our third year vending with this event!


Mazer Creations Favorites


For this week's business blog post I thought I would share with you all what I have found to be the best of the best when it comes to the craft supplies that I use in my shop.  

Please remember that these are chosen based on my own opinion after having used them extensively in my own creations.

Alumilite Clear Cast
Resin:

Alumilite Clear Cast.  This can be purchased online through Amazon,  or in person at Hobby Lobby and Michaels (some).  I've been using this stuff for nearly eighteen months and will not switch.  It's that good.  

It cures wonderfully and I have had no problems with discoloration, etc.  It is also a very forgiving blend in that if you are off in your measurements by a couple of drops one way or another it will still cure properly.  I can't praise this product enough.

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Oracal Vinyl
Vinyl:

Oracal 651.  A girlfriend recommended this product to me after I'd experienced the worst vinyl and had gotten frustrated.  Shannon Burke of Delight Designs Vinyl knew what she was talking about when she pointed me in this direction.  I've been using it exclusively since early 2014 and have never had a complaint.  I purchase it through Amazon in large rolls and have amassed quite the color collection.  

It is important to note that Oracal makes several types of vinyl.  The kind I use is "651" which is the permanent style.  They also sell a removable stock for things like wall decor, etc.

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Hobby Lobby Waxed Cotton Cord
Cordage:

I've been through a lot of cordage in my shop's existence and this one, found exclusively through Hobby Lobby, holds up great.  It is about four dollars per spool (though you can get it half off quite often with the sales they run) and lasts quite awhile.  It is very wallet-friendly and well constructed.  

It also grips itself quite well which is a definite plus when I am making double-knot, adjustable bracelets.




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Sculpey III
Polymer Clay:

I will state for the record right now that I am not a brand snob when it comes to polymer clay.  If the clay is the color I want then I use it.  However, when the color I want is a Sculpey III brand it makes me happy.  

This brand is so easy to work with.  It is firm enough to hold its shape well but yields well enough to make your creations without excessive force.

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These four items are constant fixtures in my arsenal.  Stay tuned for the list of items that did NOT make the grade (and instead wasted my money!).

Feedback Frustration


There's a hard fact that all online retailers have to swallow - your reputation often means more than your products or services do.  This is, of course, because customers can't pick up your items and judge quality or usefulness for themselves.  And rather than trusting the images and the item description they often will skip right to the shop's feedback section to see what other customers thought of items they had already purchased.


I won't lie, I do it too.

But what I don't do is leave negative feedback unless it is warranted.  And even then I will let the seller have an opportunity to correct the issue before I go spewing my words all over their page.  I thought that was the norm.  I was wrong.

Since opening my shop in 2013 I've come to realize that less than stellar feedback is nearly always the result of the shopper not reading the item description fully.  "I purchased a five inch decal but I thought it would be bigger.  Minus one star."  "I ordered the 7/16 washer and was shocked at how big it is.  Minus one star."  

Now don't get me wrong - I've had my share of "She said it would be maroon.  It's clearly bright red." to which I reply, "Oh snap, you are so right.  Let me correct that for you at my expense."

Full disclosure: I don't say "Oh snap" in any regard.



It is so easy for a customer to drop a three or four star rating even if they were perfectly satisfied with their purchase because they don't realize just how much it affects the small business owner.  And when I say small business I'm referring to the one or two man shows who do everything themselves and for whom a casual mid-range feedback rating could mean a loss of future business.  

Now don't get me wrong - I'm not saying that you should sugar coat your experience with a shop just so that you don't look like "the bad guy".  Instead don't hesitate to give credit where it's due.  If you like your item and didn't have any problems with shipping then give the person props for it.  

And if some dillweed messes up your order or makes ordering from them a nightmare then yes, leave appropriate feedback.  But try to be helpful to the next customer.  A simple "This guy sucks" followed by an expletive does nothing for the next shopper.  "The package got lost in the mail and he said it's not his fault and to figure it out myself" is a lot more descriptive and comes off less like you're a jilted lover.

/rant


Packaging on a Budget



Having a shop - online especially but also a brick and mortar - it's important that your packaging be a reflection of your brand and of your business.  But let's face it - custom printed bags, earring cards, boxes, envelopes, etc can be expensive!

10 Things Handmade Sellers HATE to Hear




I could make that myself
This one is often said just after “Oh my gosh this is the cutest thing I’ve ever seen!  How much is it?”.   Otherwise you hear it stage-whispered between two people as they stand over your items. 

You know what would work better…?
Usually heard from the mouth of someone who knows someone whose cousin makes the exact opposite of what you make. 


Why is your stuff so expensive?
This one is usually reserved for in-person sales situations like craft fairs and artisan shows.  And it always comes from one of two types of people: Clearance Whores or those who don’t have a crafty bone in their body and as such don’t understand how long it takes or how much goes into hand-making each item.

I saw this exact thing online for half the price
No you didn’t.  You saw something similar or something roughly the same color.  This is also a tactic by some to get you to give them a discount.



What’s your real job?
This one and it’s variation “When are you gonna get a real job?” are usually reserved for older relations.  Some people (a LOT of people) just can’t comprehend that someone could make an income with their own two hands.

Oh you sell on (Etsy, Artfire, Zibbet)?  They SUCK!
Nearly always uttered by someone who failed at the aforementioned venue, this one is heard fairly often.  Yes friends, there are even elitists among the handmade artisans.



You’ll never make a living doing this.
Just like with any small business, you won’t make a decent profit right away.  And, as with any business, you need to spend money to make money.  People who say this aren’t understanding that the term “business” applies to huge corporation AND the lone person working into the night in a home studio. 

I wish I could stay at home and craft all day.
I wish I could too.  I bet that would improve my Etsy business.  But I’ve got two kids, a husband, a home, homeschooling, and a whole slew of other responsibilities.  



I need this by tomorrow.
Oh does this one piss me off.  My processing time is clearly posted yet people STILL purchase their item and leave a note saying they need it by this day.  Good customer service makes me try to meet their needs but the rudeness of it really fries my potatoes.

I want to buy this but I don’t get paid until next month.
I have no problem holding an item for someone for a couple of days until payday.  But then there are those customers who keep requesting extensions.  Over and over and over.



I know there are more out there!  Can you think of any that I missed? 

From Coat Closet to Craft Studio


When I started my Etsy store in 2013 nearly everything I made was polymer clay based.  Having two children under 4 at the time I was fighting a constant battle to keep little hands out of my equipment.

How to Cleanse and Charge Your New Travel Altar



Whenever you acquire a new tool for your magical workings it's strongly recommended that you cleanse it and charge it for your own personal workings. 

Here is a simple spell you can use for your new travel altar (or just a new item in general!).

Ingredients:  A small cup of water and a pinch of salt.

                  Place your hand over the water.  Make three Tuathail (counterclockwise) circles over the water, concentrating on removing any negativity from it.  Say something to the effect of: 

                  “Behold, I exorcise you, O creature of Water, casting out from you any impurities which may lie within!”
                  Visualize yellow-white light pouring down from your hand into the water, and forcing out all negativity.
                  Now make three Deosil (clockwise) circles with your hand over the water.  Say something like:
                  “And I do bless and consecrate you to this work!”
                  Visualize the water being filled with a clear, bluish white light.  Visualize the water filling with this light until it shines as brightly as if there were a blue-white sun within it.
                  Now turn to the salt.  Place your hand over the salt and make three Tuathail circles over the salt, concentrating on removing any negativity from it.  Say something to the effect of: 
                  Behold, I exorcise you, O creature of Earth, casting out from you any impurities which may lie within!”
                  Visualize yellow-white light pouring down from your hand into the salt, and forcing out all negativity.
                  Now make three Deosil circles with your hand over the salt.  Say something like:
            “And I do bless and consecrate you to this work!”
                  Visualize the salt being filled with a clear, bluish white light.  Visualize the salt filling with this light until it shines as brightly as if there were a blue-white sun within it.
                  Now say something to the effect of:
                  “Behold, the salt is pure!  Behold the water is pure!  Purity into Purity then, and purity be blessed!”
                  Add the salt into the water.  You have now made sacred water.
                  Dip your finger into the mixture and touch it to each ritual item, including the cloth.  As you do this, visualize each piece being flooded with yellow light.  Let the yellow light fill the area, going out in all directions for a good distance.  This is the act that actually sends out the negativity, so focus on it as strongly as possible.
                  As you do so, say something like:
                  Behold I cleanse and purify my altar.”
                  When you have completed this, take a moment to clear your mind before holding your hands over the altar.  Say something to the effect of: 
                  I bless and consecrate this space!”
                  You have now cleansed and blessed your altar and prepared it for your magical workings.


**The speaking parts are simply suggestions.  If another phrase or sentence feels right then by all means, use it! 


Want to purchase your own travel altar?  Click here to see the many colors and styles I have available!


Interview - Amber Allen of A Witches Garden

Today I wanted to showcase a relatively new Etsy shop owner.  Amber Allen specializes in spiritual products such as gemstones, herbs, and oils to create items to promote health and well being for her customers.  Her store - A Witches Garden - opened in August of 2014 and already has nearly 100 sales. 

I had the opportunity to sit down with Amber via Skype and get an inside look into her shop and business goals:


Mazer Creations: What was your motivation for going into business for yourself?


Amber Allen: Honestly, you (my best friend) my mother and sister were jewelry makers and I have always been the corporate worker so it never really occurred to me to make jewelry or sell products, but after a long conversation with you and going over how really easy it is, I decided to try my hand at it and fell in love with it.


MC: What do you believe you can offer customers that your competitors cannot?

AA: I believe I can offer some more unique options just for my customer.  I prefer to custom make things based on the customers need instead of just a thousand of the same necklace over and over. Each customer has a different intent in their minds when they order from me. We talk over and over and I will send pictures before they buy the piece to ensure it is the right fit for them.  The more the customer loves their piece the more magic it will hold for them.


MC: How do you think your products differ from those seen elsewhere in the Etsy marketplace?

AA: I use herbs for their magic properties and turn them into easy to wear and stylish jewelry. I can also create medicine bags for the every day Wiccan, though I have people of every faith
contacting me to make something for them.
I have the ability to work with pretty flowers, herbs and stones and create inexpensive things to make a piece that someone would love to wear for years that fits their personality.

MC: How do you get your ideas for your products?

AA: Customers, honestly. When a customer contacts me for a piece, I take that and work with it to create other pieces. What I like, someone else isn’t going to necessarily like, so I use what customers have me create for them as inspiration for future pieces.


MC: What is the most rewarding part of your business?

AA: The best and most rewarding thing for me is getting the feedback. When someone gives me the 5 stars and says the piece was everything they were looking for or my fertility charm worked and they will be expecting their first baby soon, those are when things are the most rewarding for me. I know I always do the best I can, but to see it make someone else very happy, just makes me so happy…


MC: What is one thing you want potential customers to know about your operation?

Click the image to see full size
AA: Do not hesitate to contact me first. I am open to a very long conversation on what you want and I will do my best to accommodate it with what I have. The more the piece is tailored for you, the most effective it will be and if I can’t make what you need, then I will look to see who else can if it’s possible.
Again, the more the piece is crafted for you, the more effective it will be.

MC: Where do you want your business to be at this time next year?

AA: I would like to be set up to do more vending at craft fairs and outdoor markets where I will get the opportunity to interact with more people. I love meeting new people and getting a sense of the kind of things they are looking for. In person, you can get more in-depth too about what colors they like and where they want to go with the charm you make for them.


MC: Do you have any new products or concepts coming out this year? 

AA: YES!! I have a drawer full of beautiful marble and real stones that I can’t wait to work with and finally launch my stone line. I also acquired some amazing resins that I would like to work with to get some homemade incense going as well. I love smoldering incense, so it would be nice to have a good line of those for any occasion.


Be sure to check out Amber's shop A Witches Garden on Etsy!

Are you a shop owner who wants to be interviewed?  Email me at chrissy@drawntomadness.com