Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Do You Still Believe? I DO

It's been a while since I could take the time to sit down and write. I've been working on special orders for the holidays and trying to get some "new" things ready to go. So instead of talking shop, I've decided to share some of my family's Christmas Magic.
Vintage Glitter Pear Ornaments from Black Magic Emporium

Do you still believe in Santa Claus? I DO!!! One of the best reasons is my husband, his actions as a teenager and the tradition that he carries on to this day.

When my husband was about seventeen there was a young family that lived across the street. The mom was a stay at home mother and the dad had just lost his job at the beginning of the month. My husband was helping to shovel their sidewalk when he overheard them talking about how they were going to handle Christmas. See they had a four year-old boy and a little girl in Kindergarten, and if they were going to make their house payment there couldn't be a Christmas. So they felt the only thing they could do was them the "truth."

Good Old Santa Ornament from GrapeVine Ceramics & Gifts

Now my husband was a helpful guy but he was also unapproachable to those who didn't know him. He played hard, had a lot of fun and damn the consequences. But to those who actually know him, he's one of the most stand up guys you're going to meet. He'll give you the shirt off his back if you are in need. He still remembered the excitement of having presents from Santa at Christmas and he didn't want to see a little kid, let alone two grow up without that experience. So my husband hatched a plan... He took his beer money for the month (yes at seventeen he always made sure he had beer money... see description above) and bought Christmas for the family. He managed a small decorated tree for their table, a Barbie, Barbie car, clothes and accessories, a Big Wheel trike, and Hotwheels cars for the little ones, and hats and gloves for the whole family. He then dropped them off on their door step the weekend before Christmas (rang the doorbell and ran). We don't know if they had already told the kids but either way Santa came and the next year they all believed.

Parker's Christmas Tree Forest by Kater's Acres
My husband a few of his friends have since adopted a different family that is struggling every year since. They all pitch in for gifts and take turns playing Santa. As they get older they are finding it more difficult not to get caught, especially when families have pets, so they are slowly asking their sons to join in.

I Believe... Copper and Sterling Stampled Necklace by Little Green Room

So... I still do believe... The idea of a person "Santa" is gone, but the feeling, the giving, the anticipation and excitement, and above all the love remains.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Open House Research

The preparations for the holidays at home and in the shop are underway. This weekend I went to several open houses in the Chestnut District in my hometown of Hays, KS. I really want to put one together next year for our shop, so I took notes.

One of the many displays
 at the Paisley Pear in Hays, KS
First stop was the Paisley Pear. It's a relatively new shop that features home decor and kitchen stuff. Other than trying some great food and drink samples, my dear friend and I found items to start our holiday season off right. She found items for her "Secret Santa" exchange and I found crystal ornaments to add to my tree. 

This gourmet popcorn was one of many samples we tried.
If you get the chance to stop by and try some, please do...

But remember this was also a learning quest... what could I learn that I may be able to use when I finally get to hold my open house? First off, this shop offers an awesome variety... items that make your home look good, function well and smell great. What am I going to be able to do to create variety at my open house? I can add some great snacks and drinks but not anything I can sell to anyone. Unless, I find a person who sells food items to go in with me.. hmmm I'll have to see what else I can come up with. Secondly, I can stage my shopping area better for that weekend. Right now my sales area is staged as functional, there are shelves around the office with my items displayed but not really any additional decor. Why you ask? Because my storefront is also my husband's oil change business' office. Can't clutter it too much for daily use, even if it would look great - it would be impossible to keep clean.

Cup of Christmas Tea Ornament
I want my open house to do what this one did for me. I'm hooked. I love that shop and I will return, and not just for the holidays. This open house also inspired me to get more of my Christmas items listed. So keep an eye out in the shop, you never know what you will find.

Set of Patriotic Ornaments

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

It's About That Time

I know that it's not even Thanksgiving yet but the holidays are fast approaching. It's time for making memories, looking back and celebrating life.

That said... Here are a few of my favorite things this holiday season

Dazzling White Light Strand with Green and Red Flowers
by One of a Kind Baby Design

Usually at this time of year I find myself swimming in projects and getting ready for craft shows. Well no craft shows on the horizon but the swimming in projects hasn't changed. I have current product lines to maintain, new lines in development, and couple of old ones that it's time dust off and pull to the forefront. While this can be overwhelming, this year I WILL take time to make new memories, nuture the old, and get together with family and friends.

Vegan Peanut Butter Madness Sampler Box
by Sweet Vegan Delight

What are you looking forward to this year?

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Support is Key

We had to take a step back for most of July through September this year due to family emergencies. My mother-in-law went from being self sufficient and still working at the age of 76 to being in need of assistance. Through trial and error we found out that she suffered a mini-stroke and that she'd been having them for years. Just when we thought we had it figured out, she had another set back and had to be placed in a nursing home. We're now dealing with mid-level dementia. So the Etsy shop, our consignment shops, and even our brick and mortar store had to take a back seat.

Natural Lavender Exfoliating Soap
by Crimson Hill Soaps and Scents 
We've been struggling just to get things done. So much so that we have cancelled out of all but one craft show this year; and that one is the one that we help set up, promote and run. I don't know about my husband but I'm really missing the circuit. We always make new friends and catch up with old ones. Not to mention that it was time we got to spend together.

Washer Key Chain or Pet Id Tag
by Curiously Sappy
The game plan has had to change for the last three months of this year. We are concentrating on restocking our inventory, developing new items, revamping old, organizing the gift fair, and getting back into the swing of running the online shop. I'm reconnecting with the teams that I had to put on hold. In the previous two posts I've introduced you to the Etsy D Listers Team and the Promotional Frenzy Team. The next team that has helped keep us running is the Kansas Etsy Team.

Flower Elastic Headband
by Leah's Little Bowtique
The Kansas Etsy Team is a group of artists, crafters and vintage collectors that live in Kansas. Members of this team help promote and just give good advice that is relevant to the area and it's markets. In prior years members were able to meet the other members in person at the area craft shows. This year members have had the opportunity to meet up at several meet and greets, a trunk show and a craft show. The trunk show and craft show featured artists from Kansas Etsy Team and other local Etsy Teams from the area. To drive creativity we also have a bi-monthly challenge to create an item that fits a theme that is chosen by the winner of the previous challenge.

Ceramic Large Sunflower Vase
by GrapeVine Ceramics & Gifts

Etsy is such a large market place that I'm glad it has encouraged the development of teams along the way. Each of the teams that I have featured in this and the previous two posts provide us with something different that we need to keep going. The Etsy D Listers gave me the support I needed when I was clutching at straws and ready to throw in the towel. It continues to give me a sense of community and a way to help others that are in the same position that I was in. The Promotional Frenzy Team gave the knowledge and support I needed to find different ways to get my products out there. I can't wait to get everything settled so I can help mentor new members. And finally, the Kansas Etsy team gives me a sense of home, local and regional connections. I can't wait to see what we can put together for next year, because I want to participate a whole lot more.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Patience and Diligence (Part II)

If you read my last post, you know that 2010 ended a little flat for GrapeVine Ceramics & Gifts on Etsy. It was time to create a new plan and follow through. 

Inspirational Keepsake Box
available at GrapeVineCeramicsGft

That's when I joined another Etsy Team -  the Promotional Frenzy Team, this team is all about promotion. You get what you give with this team. Participation is key! I was introduced to the team by Mandy from Inspired Designs aka Heartstrings by Janice, through of all things a team BNR (Buy and Replace). I was listed in this BNR for less than 30 minutes and sold an item that I didn't even have a formal listing of in my shop. I decided that I needed to check this out.

Heart Charm Necklace
by HeartstringsByJanice
While Mandy is no longer with the team, I decided to stay and have tried to be an active participant. I've had the opportunity to promote myself as well as cross-promote others. Since joining the team, I've been pushed to create a blog, list an item a week, promote myself and treasuries. There have been workshops on improving photography and  shop critques. I've met great people, who as in the Etsy D Listers Team are just trying to find their way and succeed.

I dug in really hard and added the Promotional Frenzy Team strategies to what my existing plan. By the end of May, I had met my goals for the year. I had sold 25 items and have been able to maintain at least 50 items in the shop.

Tulips - Blank Floral Fine Art Card
by Painted Memories by Ros
She purchased the first item I ever sold in a BNR

What I really like about the Promotional Frenzy Team is they are always evolving. Promotion is the name of the game and when the field changes so do they.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

A Tale of Patience and Diligence... It's Worth All the Work (Part I)

I don't know about most people, but when I started selling my product online- I thought it would just fly off the shelves... I was wrong.

GrapeVine Ceramics & Gifts officially opened an Etsy account and set up shop on May 28, 2009. Prior to that we had our items in my husband's shop and followed the area craft show circuit. My first and only Etsy sale that year did not happen until December 17th. While I was excited and grateful for the sale, I had no idea what I was doing. Etsy was supposed to be this great place where you put your item out there, someone found it, fell in love with it and purchased it. You didn't have to have a degree in computer science, web development or marketing. I was frustrated and basically turned my back on the shop.

Sunflower Ring Vase similar to the first sale from
GrapeVine Ceramics and Gifts on Etsy
Fast forward to August 2010, I've discovered that if I want to go to my sons' football games, I'm going to have to cut back on the number of shows I do each year. This is majorly going to cut into my ability to fund Christmas, not to mention helping to pay my other bills. I start to look at Etsy again. This time I do my research. I look at everything the Etsy website provides in the way of guides and suggestions. My personal favorite bookmark quickly becomes The Etsy Seller Handbook. If I had a question about how to list something, what my policies should look like, or just what was lacking in my shop - that's where I went. I read it through several times. I literally absorbed any and all information I could find on Etsy.

I discovered that Etsy is more than an online market, it's a community. If I wanted to succeed I was going to have to tap into and become part of that community. So in October I joined my first team. The Etsy D Listers is a team that was started to help new and struggling shops. To become a member you have to have a low number of sales and at least 10 items in your shop. I should note that one of my many mistakes was that I started my shop with five items that I would renew whenever they came due. This is one of the most supportive teams that I belong to. As your sales grow, you help others to succeed in their shop. We celebrate each others successes and help smooth over and correct the failures.

Good Ole Santa found himself a lovely home
with another Etsy D Lister
My dry spell lasted until December 2010. When a member of the Etsy D Listers bought a Secret Santa gift for another member. Within a week I had my third sale, this one like the first one in 2009 was from a complete stranger.
Purple Santacicle 
I spent a lot of time online trying to gracefully elbow my way into the Etsy community. My husband became concerned that I was wasting time and effort. He really wanted me to give up. I think he forgot how stubborn I could be when I put my mind to it. So to appease him, I set goals for 2011 and made a list of what I was going to have to do to meet those goals.

Goals for 2011:
25 sales from Etsy
50 listing in the shop

So begins my lesson in patience and diligence...

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Sometimes Life Just Gets in the Way...

Ever have the best of intentions and then just have everything fall apart?

Oval Dragonfly Jewelry Box
GrapeVine Ceramics & Gifts
That's what happened this summer to my family and therefore the shop. My mother-in-law had a medical emergency that kinda threw a wrench into all our plans. We now have her settled into an assisted living center and everything is slowly getting back to normal.

What I've learned through this summer is not everything is what you expect it to be. We were in fear of basically a death sentence diagnosis and were presented with a much more manageable situation. I've personally discovered that you don't know if you are strong enough until you have to be. I've become a caregiver, money manager, and expert at researching "the rules," and have learned to say no when necessary.

We are in the process of getting back to the swing of things at GrapeVine Ceramics & Gifts; along with the launching of a vintage shop featuring some of my own finds and my mother-in-laws treasures.

Footed Tea Cup and Saucer
Granny's Treasure Nook on Etsy
If you have a chance, stop by and take a look.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

New Button Listings

Last post I introduced our button line and promised more. Well here are our newest listings.

They can all be found in our Etsy shop.

The next set will include flowers, flowers with lady bugs and watermelon slices.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

First Round is Here!

I've been struggling with branding and packaging for our new line. I have ideas I can't just seem to get them designed to my liking... So, my husband says it's time to list. I think it's his way of putting my feet to the fire and say now you have to make some decisions with what you have.

So you can now find the following items in our store.
LadyBug Square Ceramic Buttons
Wheat Square Ceramic Buttons
Modern Screen Embossed Buttons

We'll do custom orders, so if there is a project you are needing a special notion for please let us know.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

I'm back! Lot's of things on the horizon...

I admit it ~ I've slacked on this blog, my Etsy shop and several other things have been put on a back burner. BUT today, I'm turning the corner and running back at it full steam ahead. I really haven't been doing nothing, just not the things that I had been doing.

We're in the process of designing a new ceramic button line. We feel it will fit well with our existing line, and allow us to be even more creative than we already are. As soon as I figure out the packaging, I'm ready to start taking pictures, and posting away.

Just one of the many designs we are working with.
This button measures approximately 1.5"x1.5"

We had a wonderful month of sales in April and May isn't looking too shabby either. There was a wholesale order of figurines going to a tourist location, several BNR sucesses, and Mother's Day turned out to be a better draw than it has in previous years for us. Our consignment items at Kansas Originals have also started to move again. I've really been working on getting the items that we sold replaced and just making new things.

This past weekend we also got to meet several members from our Kansas Etsy Team. The Kansas Etsy Team is a group of Etsy shops that are based in Kansas. We provide each other support in the forms of answering questions, promoting each others shops, suggesting craft fairs and just being a great sounding board. It was great to finally be able to put faces with some of the names.

People we got to meet:

Team Captain, Deb from Beads and Blooms

Rain Flower Bead Woven Necklace
Beads and Blooms by Deb
Clay Center, KS 
Team Leader, Steve from Country Windows

Pretty in Pink photograph
Country Windows
Manhattan, KS

Gayle from Kit and Caboodle

Bronze Wild Raspberry Necklace
Kit and Caboodle
Manhattan, KS

Jennifer from Pink Elephant Embellishments

Parisian Pink Lampwork Bracelet
Pink Elephant Embellishments
Wichita, KS

and our host, George from Precious Selections
Vintage, Bavarian China 12 Place Setting
Precious Selections
Abilene, KS
So here I go, pushing full steam ahead... I hope to finally figure out the balance between what I was doing and what I should be doing.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Ladybugs... Need I say more?

Today I'm sharing a poem and some great Ladybug items on Etsy...

The Tiny Ladybug - Author Unknown

When I was a child
Ladybugs would fly to me.
The would land on my arm
and whisper secrets in my ear
of the things I would become:
A kind man
...gentle of mind.
A man of spirit
who could close great divides.

But I don't feel that big.
In fact, as I sit in the grass
at talk to you,
I feel like a tiny Ladybug
on someone else's arm....

And your ear is most important to me.

I went searching for Ladybugs, look what I found...

Keiki Couture makes this great Ladybug Banner.

Personally Forever has this lovely necklace.

But I think the most warming item is this quilt by BeeBlessed.

What do you think?

Thursday, April 14, 2011


If you can't tell by my previous posts, I love dragonflies. Not only do I find them around my house during the summer, but we used to tell the boys that they "followed" us out to the lake when they were little. There's nothing quite like taking the hand of your five year old and walking the beach around a private lake. The wonders they find, things as an adult you don't always see. While we were invariably looking for turtles, snakes and toads we'd always find dragonflies dancing across the water. Watching them from the beach has always had a calming effect on me, well until the dog would jump into the water that is...

I'm in a dragonfly mood today so here are a couple of finds on Etsy:

This flask by Tantalus Designs would make a welcome addition to any study display, or to be used for anything you want to take along.

Victorian Dragonfly Steampunk Flask
by Tantalus Designs
And this lovely necklace by Steinvika would go with about anything in my closet.

The Prairie Dragonfly...Water Blue...Copper Enamel Necklace
by Steinvika
I'm wondering, do you like dragonflies?

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Dance of the Bumblebees...

I love the taste of fresh honey... especially the dark winter honey that I bought at the Wilson Czech Festival last year. I couldn't wait to get it home and start tasting it on almost everything: fruit, crackers, fresh bread. I've baked with it and added it into sauces. You name it I've tried it. It's been nine months and I'm almost out - so sad, but I do have the number to get more.

That love of honey and my daily walks have me thinking about bees. I love watching the BIG bumblebees in my garden. They always seem so busy, so graceful.

Here are a couple of items I found on Etsy that I BEElive are worth a second look.

This Steampunk Necklace by Ballyhoo Jewelry was the first piece to catch my eye.

Steampunk Necklace with Bee Stamping Hamilton Pocket Watch Jeweled
by Ballyhoo Jewelry
 And for a touch of whimsy you could go wrong with this Original Painting by RozArt.

Nest 195 24x30 inch original oil painting
by RozArt

What are your favorite Bee items on Etsy?

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Treasury Tuesday: Spring Things

Spring has sprung... All you need for verification is a look out my dining room window. The plum tree and our red bud are in full bloom.

Or you could look at my computer screen and see all the spring themed treasuries.

I made this one for the Midwest Treasury Team. I love the splashes of color.

And doesn't this one by pepindor  make you think Spring meets Summer?

Monday, April 11, 2011

Party Ideas: Flip Flops

Every once in a while, I get the opportunity to help friends decorate for their daughter's birthday and graduation parties. Since I only have sons it's a refreshing opportunity.

I get to help with a party for a girl that loves flip flops. Here are a few of the things that I'm going to show her mother.

This garland by howstinkincute would be perfect over the cake table. It could then be moved into her room for a great accent.

Flip Flop Embellishments 4 pairs to make garland
by howstinkincute
Or instead of cake how about Flip Flop Cookies from Lori's Place.

FLIP FLOP Cookie Favors - Flip Flop Decorated Cookies - 1 Dozen
by Lori's Place
And since this is going to be a small party wouldn't these soaps from Soap Garden be a great party favor.

Summer Fun Flip Flop Soap Made with Shea Butter
 by Soap Garden
I think this could be one fun party... how about you?

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Whimsical Positive Reinforcement Provided by Larry the Rockhead

With a smile like his, Larry the Rockhead can't help but give your garden positive reinforcement and a good chuckle. He seems to be enjoying his brother Mo's antics and his father Pappy's stories of the old days.

He's such a positive rockhead that you'll want to meet the rest of the family, his Dad Pappy and brother Mo.

Can't you see him sitting under any of these garden stakes by Metal Garden Art?

Garden Poetry Word Signs 6 of your choice - 19 Inches Tall
by Metal Garden Art

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Introducing Humourous Whimsy in Pappy's Son Mo

Some humourous garden whimsy is coming your way when Mo the Rockhead takes his place. While his Dad's passion is watching your flowers grow, Mo likes to joke with all the critters. His facial expression reminds me of a little kid who puts his fingers in his ears, sticks out his tongue and says na, nannny, na, na.

He's such an endearing reminder of our youths that you just want to meet the rest of the family, his Dad Pappy and brother Larry.

I can see Mo playing with the toads that live in this "The Mother of All Toad Houses" by Clay Soul.

"The Mother of All Toad Houses" by ClaySoul
Can't you?