Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Three Painted Thrift Finds: Quick and Easy Thrifted DIYS

I'm creating like crazy, I can't stop! I missed going nuts on thrifted finds and yielding new creations. Here are three quick and easy DIYS I made in minutes last week:

This big suitcase is better than ever sporting dinosaur figures! I taped dinosaur-shaped cut outs to the case and sprayed over them with white Color Place spray paint. 

With hands shaking from doubt, I proceeded to blaspheme all over this beautiful mid century modern chair. For shame! I could have done better, but this painting was done in minutes and the chair sold for more than I would have sold it for without the added detail. 

I'm finally displaying all of my tiny toys for inspiration and crafting purposes. I prowled for tiny shelves to hold my beautiful toys while thrifting and found the perfect duo, but they were dirty plain pine wood shelves shaped like houses.

The application of black acrylic paint makes them look modern and helps the toys pop. It makes the shelves with consistent with all the other black framed art in the apartment, too.

It's been fun rearranging the toys within and coming up with creative photography and crafting ideas along the way. We're never too old to play with toys, right? The tallest toy in the new layout photo is no taller than 2 inches! I love tiny representations from everyday life.

What creative things have you been doing with thrifted finds lately?
Daily thrifting updates, information, & Inspiration: Follow Thrift Core on Twitter and Facebook.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Small Business Success Tip: Invest In Your Business, and Yourself

My unofficial business month is drawing to a close. I shared heartfelt tips on earning more, photography improvements that will help you sell, and Etsy selling tips. I continue to receive questions on making a blog or online business successful and I have to ask:
Are you investing in your business? 

Put in the Time: My online creator story started in 1998 when I made my first websites. I got serious about it four years ago and worked 55+ hours at a marketing job on top of 20 hours or more on art projects and this blog. I've invested hundreds of dollars and  thousands of hours to get where I am. I'd love to give you the advice and boost I didn't have when I started my blog and reselling journey.

Website Analysis: When you buy an ad on Thrift Core for March, 2013 you'll get a complimentary website analysis! I've been trained in SEO and web marketing and know how to keep buyers and readers engaged. You'll receive a skilled evaluation of your website and/or online store and of course, a free banner design. All this on top of ad placement that will get you the customers and exposures you need. I love to streamline websites and make them successful! I'm a nerd that way. :)

Your time is valuable, I want to help you invest it properly so you move your business in the right, profitable, direction. Let's collaborate on getting your website and brand where you want it to be. Venture here to buy and ad or e-mail me so we can discuss options.
Daily thrifting updates, information, & Inspiration: Follow Thrift Core on Twitter and Facebook.

Monday, February 25, 2013

Thrift Haul: Tiki Tray, Fire King, Creepy Clowns, and Retro Goodness


I hit up an Estate Sale for the first time in months recently! Combine that with some carefully selected antique mall and thrift store scores for some beautiful vintage that was too fun to photograph, arrange the house, and play with.

My kitchen item fetish was satisfied with these two pieces. The radish spoon rest and gorgeous tile go together perfectly. That food still life with a fish, cherries, boiled egg, onion, and beer stein is so appealing! ---> On Etsy

This pair of beautiful blue fire king mugs already has the most favorites out of the over 300 items in my Etsy shop. I've been using them every day for tea! They're beautiful stacked on the kitchen counter, or hanging out with my tiny gundam toy! ---> On Etsy

Something about these little figures called out to me. Not what I'd usually buy, but I have some fun plans for them, I especially love the lion and the white zebra.

And this illustration on thin wood, beautiful! It's a low carved relief with nice soft yellow/white/black/red color combination. So perfect for a study! It's hanging out on Etsy, I'd sell it for $15.00 on the blog. --> On Etsy

And I like mini-anything and was happy to discover this lighter shaped like Winston Filters cigarettes  I'm selling it for $5 if anyone's interested.

These clown art prints by Dianne Dengel are colorful and expressive...and just bit a little bit creepy for the clown-phobic among us! They're attached to one long sheet.

What do you think, should I sell it that way or cut the pages and frame them individually?

Next we have this nifty gold nautical lighter sporting a ship's steering wheel. Selling it for $7 to anyone who's interested. It would make a sweet gift to a former sailor or just any boat lover. If you don't smoke, use it to light candles and incense like me ;) I use a bar-b-q lighter that's far less stylish!

I fell in love with this tiki-style mid century modern tray when I saw it near my booth at Southern Crossing Antique Mall. It's perfect for arranging still lives, serving people, and holding booze on your groovy tiki bar! ---> On Etsy

LIKE IT? BUY IT: Every find in the post is for sale! Send me an e-mail if you want to buy something.

So tell me...what have you found at the thrifts lately?

Daily thrifting updates, information, & Inspiration: Follow Thrift Core on Twitter and Facebook.

Friday, February 22, 2013

Q & A with Top Etsy Seller Ismoyo: Market, Increase Sales, and More!


Ismoyo's Etsy Shop, Ismoyo's Vintage Playground is filled to the brim with some of the most colorful and cute vintage treasures you've ever seen- and they sell! I had to sit with Ismoyo and get some of her Etsy selling mojo and secrets!

1. When did you start reselling, did you start online or offline?

I started reselling vintage treasures online in the summer of 2009. I had just moved to NY from Amsterdam two years before, and was already selling handmade items in my Etsy shop for almost a year.

2. Have you sold anywhere other than Etsy, why do you stick with Etsy?
Etsy is my main venue for online selling. But I do occasionally sell items to visitors of my site. I regularly get requests to look out for special items on my treasure hunts and I love “thrifting on request”. I love Etsy because of so many things, I like the look of the site, my items fit well and you can't beat the built in traffic of shoppers Etsy has.

3. What are three big things you feel have contributed to your success on Etsy.

- My Love for what I do.- Knowledge of what I sell.- Hard work.

4. Good ones! I love the "hard work" part, a lot of people skip that! It's not easy. Everyone wants to know how to increase those sales! What are your top tips on that?

I would say get your inventory up with quality products. In the Etsy forums people mention the magic 100 items a lot, but don’t stop there. The more listings in your shop, the more entry ways for people to get in and browse around. There are currently more than 3 million vintage items for sale on Etsy, if you only have 10 items for sale, it will be very hard to be noticed.

5. How do you interact with and engage the community on Etsy?

I stop by the Etsy forums almost daily, I don’t post a whole lot, but it’s good to check for changes and updates to the site. I have a twitter and facebook account where I give some sort of behind the scenes look and information about what’s new with the shop.

6. How do you market yourself on Etsy?

Except for keeping my shop freshly filled, most of my marketing if off-etsy. I don’t use the search ad option and being featured on the front page or in the Etsy newsletter is great, but not something you can control happening.

7. What are the three top mistakes you see people make on etsy?

The biggest mistake is not using all the tags. Again, you want as much ways for shoppers to find you. Unclear product photos and bad lighting. Good photography makes people click.
Descriptions that don't describe the item, no measurements or materials listed.

8. How about your top 3 tips for beginners?

-Research your items, know what you sell and what its worth. -Learn about SEO (Search Enginge Optimization).-Find the macro setting on your camera and learn how to set the white balance.

9. Have you noticed any sales trends?

For me usually the summer is the most quiet time sales wise. I’m still selling, but the holiday season at the end of the year definitely keeps me more busy. On the other hand, during the summer there are lots of flea markets, yard sales and estates to scour through. So it’s not necessarily a time of not a lot of work.

10. How about trends in WHAT sells?

That’s harder to say. I do sort of know by now what my shoppers like, what it is they come to my shop for. But there are also some items that I think will fly off the shelf and they don’t. Or at least not right away. I do well with vintage nursery decorations, wall décor in general, and vintage toys.

11. I hear that all the time and experience it too, sometimes items you think will sell fast don't, and random ones you take a chance on do! Random Time: What's better, deer, mushrooms, or robots!? 

Best interview question ever!! Knowing you I should say robots. But looking around my home I have to say Deer.

Thank you for the candid interview and for sharing so many helpful tips with us! We'll definitely put them into action! 

Still have questions or tips to share? Feel free to share them in the comments! I'd love to read YOUR reselling/etsy selling tips, too!
Daily thrifting updates, information, & Inspiration: Follow Thrift Core on Twitter and Facebook.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Product Photography Basics: Boost Sales and Visibility on Etsy and Beyond!

I'm often asked for tips on my product photography, and I'm happy to share my pointers on taking appealing photos that raise interest and help you sell! You don't need a fancy camera or equipment to start with. All you need is time, patience, and a stubborn dedication to quality!

1. Consider Your Background: You can use colorful paper, vintage fabric, or let your home be the backdrop. Be creative. My background is a sheet of fifty cent poster board, but the result looks professional!

2. Bright Natural Light & Tripod: I see a decline in photo quality when I don't shoot in bright natural light. Schedule picture-time accordingly. Always use a tripod to prevent blur caused by camera movement.

3. Try Many Angles:  I forbid you from taking pictures from one angle! Get on your knees, lay on the floor with the subject. Turn the subject in all directions. Get intimate. It's photo-love-makin' time, baby.

4. Communicate the Use: Stage your item in use. Hell, create new uses for your merchandise! I "made" a planter (above) into a "pen cup" and sold it for twice as much as I would have before.

5. Play and Edit:  It's up to you to make the photo tangible and appealing to the buyer. Brighten, straighten, and crop your photos to perfection. I will follow-up with photo editing tips next time.

6. Right In-Camera: I may edit every photo I put online, but I also get my pictures right in-camera. It cuts down on editing time and yields a better result. Using a tripod and natural light will help you get the proper exposure so your post-production is only for minor and/or artistic improvements.

7. Personalize: My first product photos were rushed and bland. Now I'm getting a feel for them and inserting my personality. The increase in traffic and favorites is substantial! Stage your photos, and add props. Your viewers know when you're having fun, and it makes them want to buy and share your work.

8. Don't be Afraid to Re-Take Photos: My first priority is getting the rest of my merchandise online, but when that's done I'll replace photos that don't fit my new standard.

9. Innovate and Practice, Practice, Practice: Strive to learn new techniques, master your camera, and practice your ass off.

10. Shoot Daily: Try new things EVERY DAY and you'll see improvements quickly.

Just Get Started! My first product photos were not my best work, but they were clear and technically correct. I got my merchandise online and in front of eyes quickly and made sales immediately. Don't agonize if your work isn't where you want it to be. Just keep shooting daily, you'll discover your style and make improvements along the way. The priority is getting images online and making those sales! Be dedicated to quality, but don't get so wrapped up in it that you're paralyzed and don't get started. That used to be me, but no longer!

Got any photography tips to share? Still got photography questions? Let's discuss in the comments. I will follow-up with more product photography tips next time.
Daily thrifting updates, information, & Inspiration: Follow Thrift Core on Twitter and Facebook.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Raw Vegan Hummus Recipe: Flavorful, Easy, Delicious, and Nutritious


Hummus is a vegan staple, but raw vegans can't indulge in the deliciousness as the main ingredient, chickpeas, is cooked. Fortunately, there's an endless array of similar dips to play with. This is another amazingly delicious recipe from Handmade in the Present Moment The Present Moment's (best. resturant. ever!) cookbook. I like this hummus recipe even more than the non-raw chickpea hummus I used to make!

Ingredients: 3 cups raw cashews, soaked 1-2 hours, 1/2 cup lemon juice, 1/2 cup filtered water, 1/4 cup tahini, 1/4 cup olive oil, 7 cloves garlic, 1 1/2 tbsp cumin powder, 1 tsp salt


1) drain and rinse cashews well after they've soaked for at least 1-2 hours
2) Blend all ingredients in your blender, preferably a Vitamix, until smooth and creamy.
3) Serve garnished with a sprinkle of paprika if desired.

This is the most delicious hummus I've ever had! It's incredibly rich and creamy, perfectly spiced. I love to serve it with fresh cucumber, bell peppers, and carrots. The raw vegan flax seed crackers pictured are made by Shakti a raw vegan caterer I work for part time. You can buy their food at Grassroots, Native Sun, and European Street locally.

What are your favorite quick-and-healthy snacks? I like quick fruit smoothies, dips for veggies, and pâtés. I'll be sharing more of these favorite recipes soon!
Daily thrifting updates, information, & Inspiration: Follow Thrift Core on Twitter and FacebookAlso, shop away!

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Let's Talk About Money: How to Earn Exactly What You WANT


We don't like to talk about money, but we need it. We're thrifty so we can have more of it to spend on food and fun. I've been soul-searching and reached a conclusion: I need to re-focus my money goals! Here's how you and I can make our income exactly what we want it to be:


Flashback, 2008. I was 21-years-young. The company president sat behind his desk and maintained a perfect poker face, his eyes burned into me like lasers. He asks what I expect to make, I squeak, "I can't make less than $10.00 an hour." It's amazing he didn't crack the professional mask he wore with peals of laughter over his victory. He offered $11.00. My pay continued to rise but I was always the lowest paid marketer at the company.

NEVER AGAIN! Now I know my value. I make websites, design graphics, take bright, clear photos, market effectively, know SEO, draw, and write my ass off- and fast! Other designers I charge $25 to $45+ an hour to do 20% of what I did! I'm worth more and I will charge more. You should, too!


The picker skill is not universal, not everyone can pick out special items in thrift stores. Some don't have the eye to curate a collection. Not everyone can cook or craft. You have a special skill and people WILL pay for it.

Consider this: You pay a mechanic good money because you can't switch out a catalytic converter, right? People will pay good money for your special skills.


I was stubborn here. People often suggest I should raise prices for my merchandise and services but I stuck to my lows, wanting to pass on savings to the customers I sincerely appreciate. But by doing so, I'm robbing myself of the type of income I need to make.

Do This: Track the hours it takes you to find, clean, photograph, and list your items as a reseller or make your items as a crafter. If you're paying yourself $20 an hour, incorporate that into your prices. You deserve to be paid for the hours it takes you to curate your online shop!


If people aren't buying there are two problems: 1) You're not providing the best quality you can in every aspect of your business and two 2) You're not effectively communicating exactly why your customer needs your product. I work every day on improving my message and quality, it's essential to raising pay.


Write down exactly what you want to earn for the year. Divide this by the months in the year so you know your monthly money goals to hit. It helps to go further and divide that into weekly and daily money goals. Do whatever it takes to hit those money goals! Get busy!

For real now, most people know what they need to do to earn more money, but they're just not doing it. I was there, too. The hardest part is getting started, but once the momentum is going it's hard to stop. I'm earning more and my creative energy and drive is ON FIRE. I can't stop making things and improving. Let's get on it and make the money we want to make!

If you've got any success tips to share in the comments, I want to read them!
Daily thrifting updates, information, & Inspiration: Follow Thrift Core on Twitter and Facebook. Also, shop away!

Monday, February 18, 2013

Thrift Haul: Vintage Browns All Around, Beautiful Brown Dinnerware


We collectors have our fetishes. I have a big one for brown vintage dinnerware, it gives me comforting memories of childhood meals. They're nostalgic like sepia photographs and warm like a creamy chicken soup. I was happy to uncover these plate set treasures this weekend.

Anyone up for coffee? The creamy white glaze recalls the delicious foam atop a cappuccino. They measure 2.8" x 4". Beautiful set! I'm selling them for $35.00 on Etsy but you can buy them on the blog for $20.00. ----->>> Etsy Listing

So bright, so kitsch! How could I leave this behind? Why does this remind of the time my fifth grade teacher asked the class, "Who here has been to California" and I answered, "I haven't been there but my parents said I was made there!" $9.00 for blog readers. ----->>> On Etsy

It's a BIBLI-OWL-PHILE! I sold one of these guys at the antique mall booth recently, I love how it look staged with books and appreciate the color palate. Beautiful combination. $9.00 for blog readers. ----->>> On Etsy

I was so happy to find this Rooster Log Cabin pitcher...thing. Do you know the official name for this guy, couldn't find it online. I saw one at an antique mall that was high priced and was fortunate to find him at a thrift store instead. $25.00 for blog readers. ----->>> On Etsy

I'm not even sure if these are cups, bowls, dip bowls? I'm marketing them as bowls, they fit in your palm and are perfect for enjoying creamy soup or a scoop of ice cream. My former upstairs neighbor, a chef at a trendy downtown restaurant, presented a vegan potato casserole spiced in a very similar bowl to me one day. The small size encouraged me to slow down and savor every delicious bite of his food. ----->>> On Etsy

And a non-dinnerware surprise is this interesting shelf I uncovered. I thought it would be perfect to hang in the kitchen to hang mugs from the gold hooks beneath but they proved too small for anything but jewelry  You can buy it off my wall to display and organize your necklaces for $15.00.

Now you can see my little deer who will pose with certain items from here on out unless someone wants her for $7.00, first! I love the soft watercolor look of these Daisy Vale print vintage stoneware dinner plates. ----->>> On Etsy

The first was Daisy Vale clear on the black, not this one is Daisy Dale! Is one the rip off of another? Either way, I love this set as well. Selling it with two small and two large plates. ----->>> On Etsy

These vintage hand painted Red Wing saucers are so interesting, does anyone have information on them? I'll sell them to a blog reader for $9.00.

They are really fun to mix and match dinnerware with! A very beautiful pair, I love the organic hand-painted leaves.

It was so fun photographing all of this beautiful vintage, highly nostalgic dinnerware. This type of retro kitsch brown bits are personal favorites. If you want to buy anything you see, send me an e-mail. It's all for sale!

So tell me...what have you found at the thrifts lately?

Daily thrifting updates, information, & Inspiration: Follow Thrift Core on Twitter and Facebook.

Friday, February 15, 2013

The 5 Reasons Why You Should Buy, Use, and Collect Vintage


There are many reasons to collect, use, and sell vintage. Beware, once it starts you'll become an addicted vintage junkie, jonesing for your next fix. Modern retail won't do, you'll need housewares manufactured in the past in every room of your home! Allow me to be an enabler! Here are the top five reasons why you should buy, use, and collect vintage:


We often forget the negative environmental impact of shopping retail. When you shop vintage you're helping the planet- and getting something you can;t buy just anywhere. Win win!


Your vintage housewares are more valuable than regular retail counterparts, and the value will only increase with time. Buying the right vintage is wise investment.


It's sad to think that today's particle board furniture won't stand the test of time. Old stuff is just made better, with thoughtful, practical and timeless design to boot.


I display "vintage" (My god, I'm old! We're old!) from my childhood, like my Transformers and Ninja Turtles posters, in my home for nostalgia's sake. The amount of people who stop in and want to buy them proves that many of us want to surround ourselves with the items that reminds us of happy childhood times and people we love or miss.


Vintage design is often practical and beautiful. It's inspiring to behold and stimulates creativity. Vintage can express many things: the rejection of status quo, environmental causes, love of wunderkammer style or kitsch playfulness.

Four years ago when I started my job as a writer I never thought I'd leave it behind to embrace life as a vintage seller. The flexibility and creativity offered by vintage keeps me excited and engaged in this career. I don't see myself leaving it behind anytime soon! I get more inspired and driven to work in this field daily. Feel free to share this post with your vintage non-believer friends and family. Maybe you'll convert them ;)

Why do you buy, use, collect, or sell vintage? It ain't easy, but it's rewarding!
Daily thrifting updates, information, & Inspiration: Follow Thrift Core on Twitter and Facebook.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Adventures in Etsy Selling: Some Tips From Me, Some Tips From YOU!


I'm obsessed with improving my Etsy shop. I've been gathering merchandise for years and it's cathartic to finally get it in front of admiring eyes, and creatively fulfilling photographing the finds and curating them into a branded collection!

Please share what helps for you in the comments. Let's help each other be successful! These are my researched tips on improving sales on Etsy:

1) Marketing is Paramount: We should strive to create the best quality, but the evidence is there- you can market your way to the top with Etsy. Bad photos be damned!

2) Use the Community: Etsy teams and forums have resources for dating vintage and improving sales. Bounce questions off fellow sellers, promote. Be helpful and genuine in the community.

3) An Ample Start: Take photos of 10-50+ items before you even make an account so you start with a full shop.

4) About Those Photos: With bright natural light and a tripod anyone can take professional-looking photos. Strive to provide the best quality.

5) Naming Items: I'm learning that the first couple of words of your item description are the most important. I've changed the order of words in items to have them sell immediately.

6) Listing Times: It's best to list (or renew) items during peak hours. My research says that's around 9:30 AM and 9:30 PM, what do you feel the peak traffic hours for Etsy are?

7)  Customer's Shoes: Look at your shop as a customer would. Think of what you like in a shop and expect in customer service, then provide it with your store.

8) Brick and Mortar: Think of your online shop like a brick and mortar store. (Ex: Your banner's the sign, the merchandise is on shelves for easy browsing.) This will help you create the ideal customer experience.

9) Think Outside of Etsy: Market your store on your blog and other websites. Put cards and banners out in your community. I've gotten plenty of online sales by locals who've found my cards or have seen my ads.

10) Quality Counts: I'm re-taking photos and re-writing descriptions because I won't be satisfied until I've created the best quality I'm capable of. Customers see the difference.

What are your tips for selling on Etsy? What helps you improve sales? If you're just an admirer/shopper, what do you look for in an Etsy shop?
Daily thrifting updates, information, & Inspiration: Follow Thrift Core on Twitter and Facebook.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Vegan "Milk" 5 Ways: Easy, Delicious, Nutritious Vegan "Milk" Options


Vegan "Milks" or "Mylks" as they're often called are nuts or seeds that are blended with water, then strained. They are creamy, full of nutrition, and delicious! These easy recipes will help you blend your own creative nut milks to be enjoyed alone or with your coffee, tea, or cereals.

You'll Need: blender, cheese cloth or paint strainer bag/nut milk bag (They're the same thing. Get them for less at a hardware store. Looks like this), pitcher to store your milk

Soak Your Nuts! Use raw nuts and seeds. Soak the raw nuts and seeds (in this post, pumpkin seeds and almonds) overnight. This isn't just to make them easier to blend. It allows the nuts to release tanic acid and enzyme inhibitors, with those out of the way you'll get more nutrients from your nuts and milks. Dump out the tanin-filled water and give your seeds/nuts a rinse in the morning before you blend.

Creamy Coconut Milk  Blend half  a cup of coconut sheds with four cups of water.
Almond, Hazelnut, or Cashew Milk  Blend half a cup of nuts with four to five cups of water.
Pumpkin Seed Milk Blend half a cup of seeds with four to five cups of water.

Sweetener options: I recommend stevia (I use 3 packages of nu stevia) or 3-5 dates. Blend these along with your water and nuts or seeds. A pinch of sea salt is delicious, too!

Flavor Options: Your milks will be delicious with vanilla extract, cinnamon, chocolate or carob powder, or banana slices to add creamy sweetness.

Making Milk: Two easy steps to delicious vegan milk!

It's as simple as blending your three ingredients, then stretching your nut milk bag/paint strainer bag (recommended!) over your pitcher and pouring the milky goodness through it to strain out the pulp. I highly recommend the Vitamix blender, it blends up nuts quickly and finely and makes straining a breeze. I'm a Vitamix affiliate so if you choose to buy it, please choose to buy it through my site and throw a couple of pennies my way ;)

Pour your nut milk through to strain it, then squeeze the bag to "milk" out all of the goodness.

Keeps for... these milks keep for up to a week in the fridge, but I'm sure you'll drink 'em down before the end of the week! You may to shake or stir them before your drink as the oil will sometimes separate from the water.

Nuts and seeds, especially pumpkin seeds, are an excellent vegan source of omega fatty acids, vitamins, and minerals. These milks will heal you from the inside out, giving you glowing skin and energy. Making them fresh at home is inexpensive, easy, and delicious! Have fun playing with these easy recipes.

Got questions? Any Vegan recipes you'd me to share next? Let me know! By the way, any recipes to share with me? I'd love to read 'em.
Daily thrifting updates, information, & Inspiration: Follow Thrift Core on Twitter and Facebook.

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