Monday, September 26, 2016

10 Elements of a Well-Curated, Sales-Increasing Displays For Artists and Crafters

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Creating a new successful business without the same built-in demand of my previous one forced me to re-learn the essential art of marketing with displays. Your marketing is everything for making sales, it trumps even the quality of your products, it's disheartening but true. The essential elements of creating magnetic displays that sell are similar to ones for making a good composition in any art piece. You know a beautifully balanced design when you see it, but it's harder to actually synthesize it into being. After lots of window-shopping, research, setting up at art/craft markets and watching the responses of shoppers to various displays I've distilled sales-increasing retail displays to the following 10 elements. I've put them to the test and watched them work!


1. Abundance 

Customers are attracted to tables, baskets, shelves and racks that look very full and may ignore solitary items. You can create an illusion of abundance by filling small baskets, adding padding to the bottom of your baskets and by stacking items.

2. Colors

Consider your color palate wisely and use it well. See my post on color psychology post for more info. 84% of customers admit that color was the primary reason why they buy something! Use color to attract your ideal customer and tell your brand's story.


3. Levels

Multiple-levels is how you'll help your different individual items stand out. Do this with shelving, risers, crated, you can get creative here! Items on one level get lost visually.

4. Texture

Adding texture to your design makes it visually appealing and magnetic. It's easy to do with baskets and cloths. It adds tangibility to the composition.



5. Solidarity / Memorability

Think of ways to add elements that make you stand out from everyone else, something people remember. Paint everything lime green, have a giant polka-dot octopus atop your market tent (holy hell I want one of those now) be crazy and unique!

6. Informative Signage and Prices

Making signage as informative as possible is a HUGE help for sales. Probably the most important thing you can do! A lot of people won't buy something without a sign in place, they often don't want to task for more information or even for the price.


7. Handmade Touches

With online shopping being at an all-time high, "low-tech" displays with a human touch is how you stand out in today's marketplace. High-end window displays in New York or popular chains like Anthropologie and Urban Outfitters employ artists to create handmade displays. It's easy to do this with hand-written chalkboard signs you can change and hand-written signage, but you can really think outside the box and have fun here.



8. Lighting 

With lighting you can highlight key items and just add general interest to your display and make it stand-out from the shops beside you (tents if you're at a market). You can use string lights, unique lamps and clip desk lamps.


9. Variety

Variety can be in your items or in the display itself. Either way, it's a great way to attract customers to the display.

10. Change it Up

Changing your display frequently and adding new items as often as possible (at least once a week) is a essential for keeping interest, and keeping customers coming back! If something's not working you can even change it that day and see responses. It's essential to work at it.

Adding these elements to your retail displays, whether at a brick and mortar store or at outdoor markets, will increase sales and interest for your work. Consistently creating great displays and items is a lot of hard work, you have to gauge the reactions of your audience and evolve, but it's also creatively fulfilling, fun, and rewarding (in more ways than monetarily). A good display makes the onlookers happy whether or not they buy something, and it's gratifying to provide that service for the community. You should also see it be gratifying for your sales!

Did I leave out anything important? Feel free to discuss your thoughts in the comments.

*Thank you Bead Here Now & Midnight Sun for letting me photograph your beautiful displays! If you love your local store's windows that make the landscape jaunty, be sure buy things from them to support and keep them around!
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Monday, September 19, 2016

Raw Vegan All-Purpose Cobbler: My Favorite Fast and Easy Raw Vegan Dessert

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There's a special pain that comes with self-imposed food deprivation. Sweets-deprivation is a huge hole in the hearts of many, because raw vegan desserts recipes, classes and commissions is one of my most frequent requests on and offline! It makes me think of a sad, true body image story. The author and her brother always enjoyed a slice of chocolate cake after their once-a-week family restaurant meal. Once the writer was nearly pubescent she was about to order her normal delicious slice but her mom stopped her, she was "too old" and had to worry about her "girlish figure" now. She never stopped craving that slice ever since. I hear that same deprived urgency in the voices of those who request raw vegan almond joys, macaroons, fruit and chocolate pies and other treats. "Give me the sweet satisfaction adulthood has denied me, it's instinct, I need it!"

Don't let body image get you down. Have some cobbler! You can even gobble without shame.

But you can have your cake and eat it too with raw vegan desserts. There are many recipes for healthy sweet treats and heal your body from the inside-out, you might even lose weight eating them. They are delicious, good for the body and the soul, because soul, it screams for sweets! Enough preamble about sweets though I just...sniff...get emotional about beautiful, delicious food and the complex humanity surrounding them. I'll share more of these recipes soon, but I'm starting with the easiest recipe I use the most, the all-purpose cobbler recipe.

Ingredients:

1/3 cups Raw Nuts (I like pecans but you can use any, walnuts, pecans, almonds, etc. preferably raw and soaked overnight)

1/8 to 1/4 cup Dates to taste

1 Cup Fresh, Ripe Peaches or Mango, diced (can work in strawberries and apples too but peaches and mango have the best texture for the base, the fruit must be very ripe and sweet, the mango unstringy )

Pinch of Sea Salt

Directions:

In blender or food processor, pulse the nuts, dates, and salt. In my vitamix it only takes a few seconds. I pour this over the fruit and you're done! If you don't have a blender or food processor you can finely chop the nuts and dates.


This cobbler definitely hits that sweet spot and it's fast and easy to make. It's the perfect breakfast, dessert or snack. The nuts give it a good crunch, the dates natural sweetness that's high in fiber so it won't spike blood sugar levels, and the soft mango or peach gives a soft mouthfeel. Make it for friends, take it to holiday parties! You basically can't mess up the proportions either, no matter what the measures, it will be delicious! I never measure anymore, I always make this with two peaches, two handfuls of pecans and 4 dates and that's enough for a cobbler for AJ and I to share!

When you get creative with seasonal, whole, unprocessed ingredients you can make healing versions of basically anything you crave. I enjoy the challenge of creating favorite recipes with health-giving food. I hope you give this cobbler a try when you need a healthy sweet, the voice inside screaming for dessert will be satisfied. I promise.
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Wednesday, September 14, 2016

The Cleansing, Healing, Creativity Regenerating Powers of Nature (With No Technology)

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I often say The Hostel in the Forest is my favorite place in the world. On our recent trip, with my camera hidden nearly the whole trip, I finally deciphered exactly why it's such a magical, blissful space.


It starts on the walk to the Hostel. You follow the soft, dusty path through the forest to arrive at the cluster of dome and treehouses and while you do it, something amazing happens. All your problems are where you left them, back in the "real world" outside of the trees. The pace of the world suddenly slows. You're not frantic, you're not thinking of your next blog or social media update. Electronic use is forbidden in public spaces at the hostel so you explore, read, write on paper (le gasp) and just take in all the beautiful natural scenery around you. And this does amazing things for your creativity, the rest, the lack of distractions, sets it afire with ideas.

(Our cabin situated in a tree on our recent trip to the Hostel in the Forrest. Surrounded on all sides by nature, so peaceful you never want to leave. I only let myself take a few photos and then left my SLR camera in the cabin. It was hard but essential. )

It's hard for me because one I get sucked into work I never want to stop (I love what I do!) but I need to make more time for creativity-boosting no technology natures walks every week! After my recent adventures in nature I feel ready to just move to the woods and only occasionally come back to civilization! That delicious slow pace is paradise.

You don't have to be a magical hostel to do this. But a walk through a nature trail or some extended time in nature (leave your phone, and maybe even your SLR camera behind, especially if that's your "work") could be just what you need if you're overworked.

Note: I have more photos of the whole gorgeous hostel here and here.
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Friday, September 9, 2016

DIY Idea For Branding Pins, Jewelry or Small Merchandise (Vintage or Handmade)

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Impulse buys are your bread and butter as a small or crafty business owners. These impulsive splurges are normally small, lower-priced items that can really rack up your sales. I brand my best-selling small impulse-buy items to make them stand-out and also to give them a consistent look that ties back to my business name and ethos. Here's what I do:


1. The first step is to choose your cello bag size if you choose to wrap yours. You can display yours on cardstock paper without a bag, too. I order clear adhesive cello bags in bulk on eBay, one order's lasted for months now.


2. Design the background your pin, necklace, magnet, etc. will rest on and make a grid of it to fill the page you'll print on in photoshop. Pictured above are the fronts and backs of the ones I use for my gemstone jewelry at local markets. (My new ones will have my Body & Soul brand name and website on them as good packaging should!)

3. You probably want to add a little dot or two to the design where you'll poke your necklace/pin/etc for balance and consistency.


3. Print and cut these out. I use scissors but need to upgrade to a paper cutter; faster and more precise!


4. Add your merchandise to your backing.

 These sell like crazy in a nice display at local markets I do. I have them online, too, at $5 each or 3 for $12.

5. And slide into your bag!

I've had so many customers say they want to buy my stuff or "buy one of everything" just because of the packaging. I sell high quality natural wares, but they it's the labels that sell it. Brand and marketing is king for your sales!

Getting to where I am with branding the HELL out of my merchandise has taken years of experimentation, research and plenty of learned secrets and techniques from other business owners. I love to pay it forward and help others, so I hope this was useful if you hadn't thought of it yet! I have so many of these little tips I'm thinking of making an e-book just on the subject of the many ways to brand your merchandise! But of course, I'll be sharing more little branding-type DIYS in the meantime. Doing all the little things to curate, brand, label, and design a business is my favorite part of owning one! I love doing the photography, labels, etc. for other businesses too, I'm definitely the "details" person of any operation! I'm even working on a couple more little lines like this like a crazy person!

How do you brand you merch? Do you send out freebies with your wares? Do let me know in the comments!
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Monday, September 5, 2016

Life Lately: Trips, Markets, Progress, Purging, Vintage Collecting & Feeling Inspired

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I haven't done a Life Lately update in a little while. I may start doing these once a month, it's fun to look back at the progress of the previous month in business and in life, and to have an easy chat with you about what's been going on behind-the-scenes here! Let me know if you'd like to see more posts like these in the comments. Above is a shot from yesterday, I have my set-up for market days set up in my apartment living room! I'm selling booth this Wednesday's Art Walk and now new weekly at UNF market days. I'll be at UNF from 10am to 2pm and at Art Walk from 5pm to 9pm.


It's been so fun to let loose and design new labels, products, and a table set-ups like crazy. I feel I had a breakthrough recently about why the new set-up didn't feel quite "right" - the "kitsch" was missing, the playful retro imagery that makes the brand distinctly "me". I won't forget it going forward. It's retro crafting time! I'll be making a new line of vintage things (or two, small ones) behind-the-scenes.


Our recent mid-August trip was a big help with fixing my mindset on things I was spinning my wheels on. Suffolk Virginia is filled with open farm land and looking at the fields of Tobacco, Corn, Soybeans and other crops was awe inspiring and relaxing! The house above is surrounded on all sides by empty land and cornfields with trees in the distance. It's AJ's great aunt and uncle's former home where he'd stay when he'd visit family in Suffolk.


I think I'll dedicate a future post to this soon but, deer! DEER! I know people who live more rural areas get to see these gorgeous creatures in their back yards all the time but not I, living in an urban area minutes from downtown! (Though last night instead of six deer there were six cop cars right outside my front door. I love living here, and it's a lot quieter than it was when I first moved in, but peaceful deer nibbling on fresh grass would be nicer than sirens!) There was only one other time I saw deer so close to me, in Rochester, New York a little over a decade ago. I took plenty of photos of these lovely bucks, does, and fawns hanging out at the historic Jamestown site in Virginia.


Last month I also did yet another aggressive purge, selling off more items I loved, but that I could now live without. I took a quick shot on my mom's cell phone of the sale I hastily set-up at my parent's house. Not photogenic but I was exhausted and it got the job done! I actually made a decent amount for something I didn't promote much. I will continue to purge and sell! I'm actually helping some other clients purge their belongings and get organized, too. It's draining but very fun and rewarding work! I that was my full time job alone it would be incredibly satisfying, you see people come alive when they let go of the "past" to allow the "present moment" into their lives.


I'm slowly collecting vintage Halloween goods and making retro Halloween crafts this year! I'm excited for haunted houses, hay rides, and traveling to explore corn mazes! And of course, I've been working on watching horror movies all year. I've already added some to the "new favorites" roster in September alone! Can't wait to go all out and decorate my booth and home for Halloween! The photo above are some vintage eyes that go over string lights for Halloween.


And of course I've been formulating new products along the way. I could keep going with this new aromatherapy inhalers line but it feels well-rounded for now. It's been doing very well!


It's aromatherapy on-the-go. You unscrew the cap and inhale deeply, the small essential oil molecules pass the blood brain barrier for an instant health boost. I have Sinus, Calm, Energy, Headache and Focus blends. It was something I almost wasn't going to put out but the community apparently needs that healing because people have gravitated toward it!

And you can't start September without some Autumn Spice Blends! I have Autumn Soaps and body oils right now. Of course if you ever want anything you see send me an e-mail. I send out free goodies with every order. :) I'm almost done with the fresh new store and matching blog for this brand.

Overall, early to mid August was a time of rest (for one week, haha) and figuring out some wheel-stopping issues, and late August and early September have been incredibly productive and creative times! I'm so excited to keep the momentum going! I've scheduled time to get to work on some new giveaways, e-books and services that I'm excited to share soon.

How has life and business been for you lately? Was the 2016 heatwave just as insane where you live?
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Thursday, September 1, 2016

What I've Read + Classic Books That'll Help You Earn More, Organize, & Get Happy

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I've got some books here that will change your life! No, really! I finally polished off a couple of classics I've been meaning to read and some fluffier fare along the way. I'm ashamed to admit that for long stretches of time I go without reading books, when I'm in school I mostly skim for information I want in non-fiction books. But it's not the same as immersing yourself in the subject.


How to Win Friends and Influence People, Dale Carnegie

With simple terms, repetetion, and ample supporting examples How to Win Friends and Influence people explains exactly how being a nice and likeable person focused on other people is paramount for accomplishing life goals. As I read this book it gave me some AMAZING ideas (indirectly) to apply to my business. More importantly, it knocked me out of self-pity parties. After reading this book I immediately started thinking of helping OTHER people again and just being happy and paying it forward. I'm excited to keep that momentum going. It's a book I will keep by me for practice and reference until all the lessons are second nature!

Recommendation: For EVERYONE. Not kidding, everyone needs a refresher on these lessons.

Rich Dad Poor Dad, Robert Kiyosaki

I have MUCH more to come on this book! The mission of this classic is getting people out of the "rat race" and into the "fast track" to riches. You don't need a desire for "super riches" to read this. Do you want: liberation from the day job, early retirement, assurance you'll always have enough funds to care for yourself and your family, and time to explore the world and your hobbies? Yes? Then read this book! It reassured me on some unconventional points I've always had (houses often are liabilities, taking jobs not for pay but to learn skills you can monetize, and even benefits of being scanner-brained). It also filled in some mysteries I couldn't figure out about the super-successful and how they manage to do it. I'm excited to put many of it's lessons into play and be a more sophisticated business owner. I slave for my dollars, we all do, but we don't have to if we become financially literate. That's the main lesson from the "rich dad."

Recommendation: EVERYONE who needs money. So, everyone. Unless you took a religious vow of poverty. Even then, read it!

The Little Book of Skin Care, Charlotte Cho

This is a detailed book all about the intense skin care routine of the country with the most advanced skin care products in the world, Korea. I read it as research for the products I formulate and for the cultural lesson, yes, maintaining excellent skin and health is a cultural norm in family-oriented Korea. It's a habit for the young and old, for men and women alike. The famous daily Korean skin care routine requires 10 steps and products! Charlotte Cho keeps the read light and entertaining, the cute illustrations help you understand products and concepts we don't have in the US. Bonus, There's a guide to Seoul, Korea in the back that I'd love to have the pleasure to use one day.

Recommendation: For Asian/Korean culture and other skin care curious people

Mysteries of the Ancient World, National Geographic Society

I thrifted this book YEARS ago and it finally found it's way back to me. I love art history books and this one from the 70s has bonus points of having cute (to me) dated information. Easter Island had five discos in the late, apparently! Not bad for a teenie tiny island with a singular itty bitty city! I love how snippets of some ancients cultures are with us today via cultural osmosis. We still use words started by ancient Etruscan! And we wouldn't even know some of these cultural roots if wasn't for self-funded, tenacious millionaires going on ancient legend and instinct! This book had chapters on all of great mysteries including one of my favorites, the elegant, carefree Minoans, inspiration for the Minotaur and his maze of Greek mythology. Ancient art history is a subject I'll never tired of studying.

Recommendation: For art history and ancient world nerds


Spark Joy, Marie Kondo

Of COURSE I bought this book the first moment I possibly could pre-order it! It's the sequel to The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up, the original book describing the KonMari method that swept the globe fills. With cute illustrations and uplifting words it explains any questions created by the first book. It's to be read only after the first book has been completed (preferably, after your first run of completing the KonMari method) and has more organization tips to take your tidying to another level. I found it helpful for some of my problem areas. Marie Kondo has a whole host of books in Japan that I hope get published in the US. I will eagerly read them all. (More on this book to come, too.)

Recommendation: For anyone who finished Marie Kondo's first book and loved it.

Being Happy, Andrew Matthews

And speaking of things just "finding" their way to me after finishing KonMari methoding... I found this one while thrifting. In simple, effect terms it explains how we "program" patterns in our subconcious that keep us making the same mistakes over and over, and how to get out of them. There are copies on amazon for one cent, I think it's worth a read.

Recommendation: Everyone! Even if you don't like self-improvement books, get out of your unhappiness patterns and open your mind for this one.

 * * *

I'm currently working on Demand and finally Refuse to Choose the definitive book on Scanners. I also need to pick up where I left off on The Artists Way, for years I've read the book in tiny increments never completing the full workbook, but I'm determined to start again and get through it.

What are you reading lately? Any essential recommendations for me? Let me know in the comments! Refuse to Choose was a reader recommendation and I'm eternally grateful for that hint!
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