Meet the Maker - Magda from Twisted Thread & Hook


I was born in Poland and came to US when I was 16 years old. I lived in in New York since then - Brooklyn, Queens, Geneseo and Binghamton. Finally settled in Poughkeepsie, NY when I found a job in my field – computer science. I felt in love with Hudson Valley. I found my husband here and now we have 2 amazing kids. At first, my indie business was a side job – did it when I had some time in the evenings. Then I got a little break from corporate world. Presently, I'm a stay at home mom and working on my indie business part-time and working on growing it bigger and bigger!


I always wished I could do something on my own, be my own boss & take control of my career but could not find the thing I excelled at, loved to do and that had potential to be a sustainable business. And then of course, there was the fear of actually taking that leap into entrepreneurship. One day I came across the wonderful world of online handmade marketplaces. I was inspired to open my own shop since that required very little monetary investment. I always liked crafting. I've been crocheting since I was very young, but I wanted to do something more unique than hats and scarfs. When I found a picture of a handmade rope rug, I felt in love with it. That's how my rope decor business and my rope obsession started - from cotton rugs, to jute mats eventually expending into fleece rugs, curtain tiebacks, baskets and coasters. I love playing with rope and designing new things!


My business originally started as a jewelry shop. I was making crocheted fine thread jewelry. However, I knew that this wasn't it, and once I got to know the handmade marketplace world and get involved in indie community, I found my true calling was in home decor rather than jewelry. My business being rooted by my love of crochet is how I came up with the Twisted Thread and Hook.


One of my obstacles that I'm still trying to overcome is believing in myself. I'm not talking about believing in my product and that there are people who would love it and buy it. I'm pretty sure if I did not have that believe, I would not be running this business. It's more about believing that I've got what it takes to make this business grow bigger. It's about having the courage to approach boutiques and wholesalers and show it to them that my product IS what they need. But with every step, I'm reaching a little further and further. I will prove it to myself that I CAN do it and my little business will not be so little in the future.


I'm very happy to say that my products are being sold in two boutiques. I've had sales coming from different parts of the country, but also from UK and Australia. It puts a huge smile on my face knowing my creations are being enjoyed by many.



In the next few years, I would love to see Twisted Thread and Hook's products in bigger shops, in addition to more mom & pop boutiques. I would love to turn this job into a full time business where I need to hire somebody to do things I enjoy less (like bookkeeping, ugh!) so I can focus on creating!



Sometimes loving your product and making it best you can might not be enough to make it a successful business. I still love my fine thread jewelry and I love making it. However, this was not something that I could see growing big. Make sure there is something unique about what you do & that you can stand out from the masses!

connect with Magda

Tips for Modeled Product Photography - The Healing Tool & Why You Will Love It.

This post is brought to you from Melanie of Violet's Buds. Melanie has Bachelors of Science in Photography and provides product photography advice and services to entrepreneurs.

Few things are more frustrating than concluding a photo shoot and noticing you had a dust spot on your lens, stray fuzzball on your product, or that the model had a smudge on her face.
 
Similar to the cloning tool (which you can read about here), the healing tool can be a lifesaver for product photos - especially modeled product photos!  The healing tool works by sampling the surrounding pixels to blend the imperfection away, which is why it will work on textured areas such as skin or hair, textiles, beads and yarn too.  

Please Note: It is never okay to edit out actual blemishes on your product like stains, discolorations, or rips. This tutorial is intended solely to help you remove fuzz, floating dust spots, skin blemishes, or stray fibers that floated into your product photo shoot. You should always use a lint remover on products before photographing items, which reduces the need to edit!  

My model friend has allowed me to use her arm as an example to remove blemishes and freckles for this tutorial. This tool seriously changed my life when I discovered it!


Start by opening your favorite photo editing program. For this tutorial, I used Adobe Photoshop, but both Pixlr and PicMonkey are free editing programs that also have this feature available.

 
Select the healing tool, which resembles a little bandage. Next, (depending on your program) you may need to define a source point. This is where the editing program will select pixels from. Do so by holding down the ALT key while clicking.


Zoom in on the photo, and begin clicking around to "erase" the blemishes. If necessary, you can change the size and shape of the healing tool brush. Remember, that if you make mistakes you can always go back in the image history or click Edit>Undo (or press CTRL+Z to quickly undo your last step). 


The healing tool can take a little time getting used to, but is a great option to fix minor issues & have beautiful product photos!


And it's that easy! What do you think? Do you see yourself using this handy tool often? 

#happyhandmade week eighty-two

Hello & welcome to #happyhandmade, the original social sharing collective of handmade products from various artists, shops & platforms - all brought together to aid in product discovery and help connect artisans with new audiences and other makers! 

This collective generates over 2,000 click-throughs to participants shops every month! 

Each week there is SIX chances to be featured, either as staff pick or most viewed - so be sure to  share #happyhandmade with your friends, family, Etsy teams, in forums and Facebook groups you are a part of - the more people seeing this link up, the more people shopping & seeing your goods and the bigger our #happyhandmade community grows! YOU radical makers are what makes this event so awesome, and I appreciate you all so much for helping me spread the word about this great handmade collective! 

This week's Staff Picks:


Rules:
Link up to three {3} handmade products from your shops below! 
  • Share at least three {3} items from this collection (not yours) via social media
(Do not Pin items to Pinterest without express permission from the creator)
  • Spread the word! the more people who hear about it, the more exposure everyone gets!
  • Please show your support of handmade and leave a comment listing your favorite three products from the link up that you shared!
What can you link up? Handmade products, art prints, and any designs you personally have created and had printed in small batches on clothing, fabric, notecards, etc. So long as you made it, you can share it! 

What you can't link up: blog posts, Facebook pages, giveaways, tutorials, items that are factory produced, supplies & vintage items. This collective is to connect handmade shop owners with one another and promote one another's products, so all links you share should be to an individual product in your shop. 

Click "add your link" - this opens a new window. In the first box put the URL to your INDIVIDUAL product listing, not your shop home page. In the second box, put a description of your product. In the third, your email address. Then below that, chose a product image for the thumbnail. Easy peasy! 

Meet the Maker - Jessie from Jessie's Studio

I am a designer, wife + creator. I'm inspired by textures, rich colors, and textiles. I believe in doing what you love + helping others find the same. I love Oh Henry Bars, Skittles, beautiful houses, my family, traveling & making fashionable accessories for women!


I've always loved the creative process and it was a natural step for me to eventually have my own shop of handmade accessories that I love. My line of handmade handbags started on a whim and has quickly grown to be a treasured collection of thoughtful, handmade accessories for the modern woman. I am inspired by colors, life, textures, and combining my love for Earthy style with modern fashion. I love to create whimsical yet everyday pieces that will inspire you.


The name "Jessie's Studio" is inspired by my love for fashion and designing and turning it into my livelihood. In my studio, I draw inspiration from colors, textile, and textures, I design and I create. It is my personal haven.


For a lot of wives, trying to balance a family and keeping a home is more than enough to try to schedule throughout the day. For me, it was just the beginning. With the support of my family, I have been able to work towards completing a degree in business, and work full time with my busy little shop. It hasn't always been easy. Some days, I wish I had the stability of a full time corporate job, but most days, I remember why I love doing what I do so much. The satisfaction of making someone else feel and look amazing is so gratifying and pushes me to pursue my dreams as a small business owner.


I've got a busy little shop + with help from local staff, we make it happen. I am so grateful. So beyond grateful to all of you for your overwhelming support. Thanks to Storenvy, I have been selected as a Featured Shop, which has immensely helped me to gain exposure. I have had blogs approach me as well as admirers request to promote my items. I am truly humbled by this experience!


Some advice for makers just starting out: Do what you love. You need a support system. Do the research. Be professional from the get-go. Join communities with similar interests & network!

connect with Jessie

Using the Rule of Thirds for Product Photography

This post is brought to you from Melanie of Violet's Buds. Melanie has Bachelors of Science in Photography and provides product photography advice and services to entrepreneurs.

Easily create more dynamic photos by learning to compose your product photos using the Rule of Thirds.
The Rule of Thirds theorizes that an image is most pleasing when its subjects or regions are composed along imaginary lines which divide the image into thirds — both vertically and horizontally, which creates a grid. 

The concept is that placing main elements and subjects near the intersecting lines of the grids creates a more balanced photograph and engages the viewer more readily than one placed directly in the center. 

GipsonWands has allowed me to use several of his images as an example of Rule of Thirds.

center placed subject
As you can see above, the center placed wand photograph is stagnant. The image below of the wand at a diagonal draws your eye from one side of the image to another and is more aesthetically pleasing.

diagonal subject
Many cameras and photo editing programs allow you to turn on a grid to help you decide your image placement.

While its best to compose while photographing, cropping can be a great back up method to creating dynamic compositions.

In the following photo, subject is too close to the center of the frame.  



By utilizing the cropping tool, we can move the subject off center to create a more pleasing image.  


Changing your product listing from a centered shot to an off-set shot may make your work stand out from all the rest by catching a shopper's eye with a more visually pleasing image.

Here are a few photo examples of the Rule of Thirds. These images are captivating, and tell a story or evoke an emotion merely by the strategic subject placement.

In this photo by Opposite of Far, the placement of the subject (the child) an the use of negative space (not the subject, in this case, the backdrop) creates a beautiful image that would be perfect as a magazine centerfold!

Opposite of Far


Lu & Ed utilizes the Rule of Thirds with negative space here - in this image, her rainbow of her best-selling product Mon-stors is off set by 1/3 of the image being neutral, drawing your eye along the edge of the photo and making it her "most liked" Instagram photo ever. 


Crafteroni & Cheese shows her new amigurumi work-in-progess by having it pop diagonally into the frame, crossing the lines of the grid & creating a fun, visually pleasing image.

Crafteroni & Cheese

The whimsical placement of HiTree's product gives off a fun and playful vibe.  This is a great example of using the product to fill 2/3 of an image with 1/3 negative space (the blurred background).



As always, keep shooting and experiment! The rule of thirds is fun to experiment with & see what sort of results you get with it compared to other images. Remember, the subject doesn't have to be precisely in a single column or you don't have to use 2/3 of the image for negative space - just use the grids as guides for product placement. If your camera has a grid option when shooting, turn it on & play around with it to get a feel for how you can use it to improve your product photos. Remember to place your product at intersecting points of the grids for a more dynamic image!

Are you more drawn to images that are centered or images shot using the rule of thirds? 

#happyhandmade week eighty-one

Hello & welcome to #happyhandmade, the original social sharing collective of handmade products from various artists, shops & platforms - all brought together to aid in product discovery and help connect artisans with new audiences and other makers! 

This collective generates over 2,000 click-throughs to participants shops every month! 

Each week there is SIX chances to be featured, either as staff pick or most viewed - so be sure to  share #happyhandmade with your friends, family, Etsy teams, in forums and Facebook groups you are a part of - the more people seeing this link up, the more people shopping & seeing your goods and the bigger our #happyhandmade community grows! YOU radical makers are what makes this event so awesome, and I appreciate you all so much for helping me spread the word about this great handmade collective! 

This week's Staff Picks:

This week's Most Viewed:


Rules:
Link up to three {3} handmade products from your shops below! 
  • Share at least three {3} items from this collection (not yours) via social media
(Do not Pin items to Pinterest without express permission from the creator)
  • Spread the word! the more people who hear about it, the more exposure everyone gets!
  • Please show your support of handmade and leave a comment listing your favorite three products from the link up that you shared!
What can you link up? Handmade products, art prints, and any designs you personally have created and had printed in small batches on clothing, fabric, notecards, etc. So long as you made it, you can share it! 

What you can't link up: blog posts, Facebook pages, giveaways, tutorials, items that are factory produced, supplies & vintage items. This collective is to connect handmade shop owners with one another and promote one another's products, so all links you share should be to an individual product in your shop. 

Click "add your link" - this opens a new window. In the first box put the URL to your INDIVIDUAL product listing, not your shop home page. In the second box, put a description of your product. In the third, your email address. Then below that, chose a product image for the thumbnail. Easy peasy! 


Meet the Maker - Melissa & Nick of Print Therapy

Some makers know they are meant to be makers from a very young age - they have always been crafting, creating, and dreaming. For others, like Melissa of Print Therapy, the dream of being an entrepreneurial maker became clear after working hard for what she thought she wanted, only to find out she didn’t want that at all! After three business related degrees and nine years climbing the corporate ladder, it took nine months of handcrafting numerous wedding details, several very long business trips, and her supportive husband to make Melissa trust her gut, listen to her heart, and start Print Therapy, a stationery company devoted to sending happiness, one card at a time. 


Print Therapy is run by Melissa and her husband Nick, and is focused on greeting cards, invitations, and love notes. Their name took a few tries to get right - Yellow Dog Creations, Two Hearts Stationery, and Blue & Grey were all on the idea list (which they still keep in their home studio today!) before they settled on Print Therapy. To them, it spoke to what stationery is all about - that feeling of love, happiness, and excitement that comes with opening a card, finding a love letter in your mailbox, and putting your emotions down on paper. Melissa and Nick run Print Therapy from their home studio in Longmeadow, Massachusetts, with their rescue pup Sawyer by their side, who often sneaks his nose into photo shoots and has been caught eating a card sample or two! 


Melissa and Nick started Print Therapy in April 2013, just a year after Melissa graduated with her Master’s Degree in Communication and Information Management, while she was a Project Manager for a large company. She admits that at first, it felt counterintuitive - she had finally finished years of schooling only to realize that Corporate America wasn’t for her, like she once thought it was.  Now, however, she knows that her educational and professional background gives her an edge as a small business owner. Not only does she love the creative side, but she loves the non-creative side of running the business as well. It’s been a good lesson for her, and for some of her close friends and families, that just beacaue you’re doing something, have been doing something, and think you should be doing something, doesn’t mean that you can’t be brave enough to 


While Melissa handles the design work and client communication aspects of Print Therapy, you can find Nick behind the scenes building (and rebuilding!) their website, fulfilling orders, and monitoring their inventory. While they feel blessed to be able to add “business partners” to their relationship titles, they’re open about the fact that finding their flow of how they work best together wasn’t always easy at first, as they both wanted to be involved in every single decision, action, and plan. Over time, and after very open communication, they learned how to play to each other’s strengths and settled into roles that compliment each other, and the business. Today, they work in separate offices out of their home, and have delegated most duties to one of them or the other, but make all of their big decisions together and are always running ideas by each other.  



While there are a lot of stationery companies out there, Melissa thinks Print Therapy is set apart by their overwhelming drive to connect people. It’s not just about pretty paper and thick envelopes - they revel in the fact that every day they get to help people connect, say I’m sorry, tell someone they love them, or just say hello, in a way that is meaningful and permanent, and in a way that cannot be achieved through an email or a text message. This year they also started their Send Love . Share Love campaign, which links a specially released card with a specific charity each month, and 50% of the profits from each card sale are donated to that charity. It’s their way of connecting and giving back to organizations that matter most to them and to the ones they love - which to them, is what stationery is all about.




Connect with Melissa 

What file type to use when saving product photos

Today's guest post is brought to you from Scott Gipson of Gipson Wands. Scott is a digital archivist for UMKC specializing in image file restoration & conversion.

As an edition to the product photography series, I thought I’d take a minute to talk about image file formats and which ones are the right ones for your product photos. I’ll go over some common file types for digital photographs & when they should be used for your indie biz. 



Tif or Tiff 
Tifs are great for pictures you want to store images (archiveally) in an un-compressed format. You can create & save collages you've created - and edit them later, since each layer can be saved separately. The only drawback is they are big… huge really, and can be slow to load and save. Tif files are usually too large to upload into selling platforms like Etsy & Storenvy. 

Jpg or jpeg 
Jpeg images are the internet standard - the most accepted file format, if you will. Jpeg images are the best option for product photos in listings. They have many options in saving that allow you to create a smaller file, making it easy to upload images within megabyte range that some sites require. But, resizing jpeg images comes with risks. The more you edit a jpeg or the higher compression you use the more you will get artifacts (blocky patches and pixelation, lower resolution, just not good lookin' images) so it’s best to shoot in uncompressed Jpeg (or even Tif) then edit and save and change file size from the largest, most high resolution form. 

Gif 
If you need an image with multiple frames that is animated then this is the format for you… otherwise don’t use it. If you product photo isn't animated (which it shouldn't be) then there's no need to ever save your product photos like this.

Png 
Does your image have a transparent background or is full of big fields of single colors? Png are meant for logos or images created in a Vector program. It’s also good for saving mutliple color or black and white typography graphics. If you save a Vector created logo in jpg or gif you are bound to get artifacts in the large fields of space and they can end up looking unprofessional. 

So, what image format you need depends on your needs. Not every format is good for every occasion and using the right ones can make a big difference. Let's recap: 

Tif - large, high resolution images - best used to print publication like magazine submissions.

Jpeg - best used for uploading to web stores, social media or sending via email. 

Gif - animated, unprofessional (sorry!) short "video" type image slides. Should never be used for a product photo. It would be better to upload an actual video of your product in action than a Gif. 

Png - for digital images like logos, typography art, art print files & printables.

I hope you find this post helpful! 

Save Money on Postage & Keep Track of Packages in One Place with Shipping Easy

Today's guest post is brought to you by Toni from Little House Of Crafting


Of the multiple ways to print a shipping label, I've found ShippingEasy to be the most affordable and effective. It works in conjunction with a variety of different storefronts including, Etsy, Storenvy, & Ebay. The low down: 

 You can sync one ecommerce shop and purchase 50 shipping labels per month for free. 

You will need to set up an Edicia account for both First Class Mail and Expedited (Priority Mail) shipping. 

The only draw back is you must purchase a minimum of $10 worth of postage at a time through Encidia. Don't worry, you will use it!

I found ShippingEasy under the "Extras" tab on the Storenvy dashboard. After signing up for ShippingEasy and Endicia and syncing my store I was ready to go & it quickly became my favorite way to prepare orders for shipping, so I thought I would put together this little walk through to help others get started using it!

This is the order screen. You will see all of your open orders on this screen. 


Clicking on the down arrow will open up a drop down menu. From here you can create a shipment, edit the shipping weight, add notes, pick a quick ship option, etc. 


After clicking on "Create a shipment", you are taken to this screen. You will want to edit the shipping weight first. Then, choose your carrier (USPS, UPS, etc), choose your carrier service (First Class, Priority, etc.) and then the type of package. The prices will automatically adjust as you change the settings as long as you have your shipping weight updated. ShippingEasy will tell you if there is a cheaper way to ship your package based on weight and location. 

You can also change the shipping date as well. If you change your shipping date, when your purchase the shipping label, ShippingEasy will send an email to the customer letting them know that their shipment has been scheduled. I've gotten very nice feedback about this feature. My customers enjoy it very much! (You can turn off shipment notifications here.)


When you're ready to print your label click on "Add to Cart". You will be taken to the "Ready for Payment" screen. You can pay for multiple orders at a time.


After payment, it's time to print! Under "Settings" and then "Labels" you will want to customize your label printing. You can print two labels per page or you can print a label combined with the packing slip. You will want to do this for both Domestic and International labels.


After your label preferences are set, click on "Shipments" and "Ready to Print". You can print multiple labels at a time. This is particularly helpful if you choose to print two labels on a page. Click on "Print All" to print all labels. Otherwise, select the orders you would like to print, click on "Print Selected." Select what you would like to print:  Labels, Packing Slips or Labels & Packing Slips. Another window will open with the document. Ctrl+P or "File" and "Print" and you're ready to go! 

  
Other helpful information can be found by clicking on "Dashboard". Here you can see how many new orders you have today, how long ago you printed your last label, if you have any unshipped orders, your postage balances and your postage purchase history. 

 
On the left hand side of the screen, click on "Review Shipped Orders". Here you can check the tracking of orders and sort orders by destination and time. 


Also on the left hand side of the Dashboard, you can "Order Free USPS Supplies". This is where you can order Priority Mail Flat Rate envelopes and boxes.

That is a quick run down of ShippingEasy! Detailed plan and pricing information can be found here.

Will you be trying out ShippingEasy?