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Jack-o’-Lantern Shirt Stencils

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Craft Retail: Running a Business to Have More Family Time

We’ll announce the Giveaway Day winners later tonight! Until then, check out this great crafty business advice from Marla of Memory Miser.

Marla Gibson
In 2005, Marla Gibson decided to get out of her career as a special ed teacher and start her own craft retail business. Today, she runs Memory Miser, a store selling Provo Craft (Cricut) products and the AccuQuilt line. I got the chance to ask Marla a bit about her journey from full-time employee to business owner, and you’ll love what she has to say!

1) When and how did you get started with your Memory Miser business?

I  started when my youngest was a year old, in December of 2005. My husband had started a new job that required long hours and a lot of time away from home. I was teaching special education and had so many after school meetings. My babies were at daycare way too many hours. I told my mom that I wanted to stay home and needed to come up with a plan. She said, “Sell that machine you like so much.” Within 2 weeks, I had become a Provo Craft retailer, sold through my first order on eBay, and had the website running. We grew quickly thanks to some very kind customers who spread the word. Until this past spring, we didn’t advertise, so it has always been based on customers referrals. I am proud of that.

2) What does a typical day look like for you?

My day starts with getting the girls ready for school, taking them, and then helping out there for an hour or two some days. Other days, I drop them off and go straight to work. My days are usually taken up with team meetings, email/phone calls, eBay/website promotions and book keeping. I usually work until 1pm, then go home for lunch and start “mom” duties. I then pick my girls up from school and hang out with them and whatever friends happen to come over. Once they are occupied, I pick up where I left off with work from home, cook dinner, and throw in more laundry. After we eat, I run to whatever practice they have. (I’m currently coaching Elise’s softball team and teaching Abigail to pitch, so its a little crazy right now.) We usually have about 30 minutes of quiet family time before they go to bed, then its time with hubby (often with my laptop, too.) Some days are a little nutty and I always work several hours on the weekend, but its really great to have the flexibility to work in chunks. I never miss an honor’s assembly or event at their school!

Memory Miser logo

3) What are the biggest challenges with owning and managing your business?

The stress! There is such a low profit margin on the majority of what we sell, every dollar has to be watched carefully which takes a lot of time. If I slack off, I always see it in the bottom line. The other big stressor occurs when something goes wrong. It doesn’t matter what plans or commitments I had, I’m the one who has to fix it.

4) What do you love most about your business?

Each day is different. I enjoy being in the office as much as in the warehouse. I actually had to unload a freight truck full of pallets this winter with a forklift- twice! I was scared to death, but it was also fun to learn. I’m doubtful that this will be a skill I’ll have cause to use again, but who knows! I love seeing all the new products and getting to play with them. I love when I get to answer the phones and talk to our customers. Each day is like hanging out with friends. There is so much joking and laughing throughout the building… I just think I am very lucky.

5) Do you have tips for others who are interested in getting into craft retail?

Don’t get overwhelmed. Take it in chunks and keep plowing through your to-do list. That line on your grade school report card, “Uses time wisely,” will never be more applicable than when you own your business.

Giveaway!

Memory Miser is generously giving away a Cricut Cartridge to one lucky reader! One winner will receive the Cricut Give a Hoot cartridge (one of Lindsay’s favorites), pictured below.

Cricut Give a Hoot cartridge

Giveaway now closed. The winner of the Give a Hoot cartridge is Niki!

To enter:

1) Follow Craft Buds (this blog) and leave a comment, or tell us if you already follow. (one entry)

2) Subscribe to the Memory Miser mailing list, and leave a comment here saying you did! (one entry)

3) Facebook or Tweet about this giveaway, and leave another comment. (one entry each) You may copy and paste the tweet below:

#Win a #Cricut Cartridge! #Giveaway now at @CraftBuds thanks to @MemoryMiser and @provocraft! http://tinyurl.com/3kkvgm6

Three chances to win! Giveaway open in the U.S. and Canada, and one winner will be chosen via Random.org on Wednesday, June 1 at 8pm (EST).

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Fresh Picks for Wednesday, 5.25.11

Wow! We’ve been pretty busy with Giveaway Day! (Entries open through Friday.) Between approving comments and entering giveaways ourselves, there’s been little time for leisurely blog reading. Amazingly, we’ve managed to scope out some inspiration for this week’s Fresh Picks!

Kids' Dress at Real Photography

Sweet Prints: Traci blogs about Kid’s Sewing at her blog Stolen Moments, with a pattern review and excellent photography!

Spool Toy @ A Little Gray

Upcylced Spools: What to do with old spools? Play with them, of course! Jessica shares her tutorial for a spool stacker toy at her blog, A Little Gray.

Butterfly Bookpage Wreath

Flutter By: We couldn’t help but notice this butterfly and book pages wreath at Mama Says Sew. Brilliant!

Plant Labels @ FW&MP

Let’s Ketchup: Katie at Food, Wine and Mod Podge shows off adhesive vinyl plant labels she made using the Silhouette. Check it out!

Vendor Applications

Host a Craft Show: We’ve found some more great tips at DFW Craft Shows! This time, it’s an explanation of how to promote your craft fair to vendors, and all about vendor applications!

 

If you’d like to be considered for a future spotlight here at Craft Buds, we invite you to submit your project, business tips or craft tutorials here.
Giveaways Roundup
Visit the Craft Buds Giveaway Roundup, with more than 40 current giveaways to enter! It’s updated each week, and you are always welcome to link up your craft supplies or handmade giveaways.

Giveaway Day! Win fabric, a tote bag & more

Sew Mama Sew’s May Giveaway Day is here, and Craft Buds is so excited to offer some fun prizes to our readers! (Giveaway now closed, and winners announced.)

Sew Mama Sew Giveaway Day

What’s up for grabs? All of this divided among FOUR winners!

1 winner
$25 Store Credit to buy fabric or sewing patterns online at Crafty Girls Workshop!

1 winner
Jennifer Paganelli’s new book, Girl’s World. Includes instructions for 21 projects and an envelope of patterns. See Lindsay’s review here.

1 winner
Handmade Tote Bag and Just Wing It Charm Pack (includes 42 five inch squares)

1 winner
Fiskars rotary cutter and fat quarter bundle

To enter:

1)  Follow our blog. Leave a comment telling us which of the four prizes you’d most love to win! (Required – you must be a follower of Craft Buds via Google Friend Connect, RSS or e-mail subscription to win.)

2) For an extra entry, head over to our sponsor’s Facebook page. “Like” Crafty Girls Workshop on Facebook and leave another comment on this post letting us know. Psst: She’s hosting another giveaway on her Facebook page, so head over!

* * *

That’s two possible entries. This giveaway is open to the U.S. and Canada.

Comments will close on Friday, May 27 at 8pm (EST), and four winners will be chosen by Random.org. (Winners may or may not receive their top pick, but we’ll do our best to match up people with prizes.) Good luck everybody!

Book Review: Girl’s World by Jennifer Paganelli

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I’ve been pretty anxious to get my hands on this book. The reviews so far have been amazing, and although I don’t have any young girls in my life, the mere look and feel of Jennifer Paganelli‘s new book Girl’s World makes you want to put on a ruffled apron and host a garden party.

I’m in.

Girl’s World: Twenty-One Sewing Projects to Make For Little Girls (Chronicle Books) is the first book by Paganelli, creator of Sis Boom fabrics (FreeSpirit). Fans of her fabrics will eat up the pages of this project book, which are beautifully printed in colorful patterned swirls and florals. Did I mention that the book covers are tied shut with pink ribbon, an invitation to unlock this pretty little world?

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Getting Started, the book’s intro, includes some sewing basics, including notes on dress sizes—for this book, girl’s x-small (2-3) to x-large (12-14). Filled with illustrations and diagrams for the visual sewist, the hardcover book has patterns tucked inside a pretty paper pocket.

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The next section, Dress-up includes seven dresses worn by sassy little girls who are having so much fun wearing them that you almost forget to look at the clothes. But then you catch a glance and don’t want to flip the page. Far from basic but simple enough not to intimidate the sewist, the dresses range from poufy to comfy. Little additions of a sash, pleat or pocket define each dress as its own. The Agnes Tunic Dress is a bit grown-up and sophisticated, while the Annabel Apron really pushes the envelope of cuteness, edged in tight ruffles and featuring a keyhole-and-tie ruffled pocket.

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In the Accessories section, the five patterns are one-size-fits-all, including a purse and a floral headband. Glue guns replace sewing machines in a couple accessories, a trend that continues toward the end of the book. The Chloe Paper Doll Overnight Bag is such a darling and clever design that moms will swoon for it more than their little girls, who will already be adorned in tulle-and-pearl Fiona Fabric Flowers.

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The book’s final 9 projects are group together in the Home section. The Gigi Ruffled Pillow and George the Puppy really caught my attention, and both would make great gifts. The Genevieve Patchwork Square Quilt is suited to beginners, with its large blocks and suggested hand-tied quilting. Two of the projects in this section are basically the same project with a slight twist, so they could have been grouped together.

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Whether you’re sewing for a girl, or teaching a girl to sew, the projects in Girl’s World really engage all levels of crafters. And the book really is beautiful! I recommend it and so appreciate Jennifer sending me a copy to review.

In fact, she was just as fun to interview, and now we have her next book Happy Home to look forward to next year! As well as new fabric lines, Crazy Love and Super Fly, due out this fall.

Would you like to win a copy of Girl’s World? Stay tuned, because there’s a giveaway coming up next week!

Hosting a Successful Giveaway on your Blog

Believe it or not, there’s an art to hosting a giveaway. No, you don’t have to have a lot of built-in traffic to have a successful giveaway. And yes, hosting a great giveaway can actually help you gain new followers.

Blog giveaways are increasingly popular these days, with some bloggers hosting a giveaway to celebrate blogiversarys, birthdays, hitting x-number of followers, or just because! Here are some blog giveaway tips we love:

Stack of Giveaway Fabric
Flickr/CraftyDame

Choosing giveaway items

The basic rule of thumb with a giveaway item is, give away something that you would like to win. Whether it’s a stack of beautiful fabric, a hand-knit scarf or a gift certificate to a favorite store, make sure it’s something that will attract the type of blog reader that you’d like to gain. This is not the time to destash your most dreaded fabrics, and if you wouldn’t enter, nobody else will either.

Setting the rules

Before posting your giveaway, you’ll need to decide a few things.

When does it end? We suggest 3 to 5 days from the start date, or longer if you are giving away a big-ticket item and want to attract the most attention. State the end date in your giveaway post.

Open to international readers? If so, specify which countries you’ll ship to, whether it’s the U.S. and Canada, or the U.K. only. You don’t want your readers to waste time entering only to find out later that they’re not eligible.

Maximum entries: How will readers enter and how many times can they enter? One entry only? One per day? Let’s say blogger x promotes a giveaway for a $20 gift card to Hobby Lobby. In order to enter, the reader must leave a comment. For another chance to win, she can become a follower of the blog. The prize value matches the effort you are asking people to put in, which is a good thing!

Contact info: If your winner has no e-mail address in his or her profile, will you draw a new winner? This may seem obvious, but best to think about these things before starting your giveaway.

How will you choose a winner? We suggest numbering the comments and using a random number tool like Random.org. But some people prefer to choose a winner based on the best answer to a question, or even writing down names on slips of paper and drawing them out of a hat.

Giveaway Winner Numbers
Flickr/hellojenuine

Working with giveaway sponsors

Oftentimes, a business or individual will choose to sponsor a giveaway on a blog that’s not their own in order to promote traffic to their shop or general interest in their product.

If you are working with a giveaway sponsor, it’s best to set up the giveaway in a way as to direct traffic to the sponsor’s blog, store or newsletter. Ask the participants to go to the site and comment on something they saw there. You’ll be much more likely to get future giveaway sponsors if you treat your sponsors right.

Getting new followers through giveaways

One of the huge benefits to hosting a giveaway is the ability to attract new visitors, and hopefully turn them into followers. While you don’t want to coerce people into following a blog they are not interested in, you do want to make it profitable for people who do decide to become a follower of your blog, Facebook, Twitter, etc.

Once you get people to your page through a giveaway link, ask them to follow through Google Friend Connect, an RSS Reader or e-mail subscription. State whether or not following your blog is required to enter. You can always ask the entrant to leave a comment, then leave a second comment if they are a follower (for an extra entry). This is a good way to attract followers who are truly interested in your craft blog.

One way to do this is to choose a product that attracts the type of reader you hope to gain. A $100 gift card to Walmart is going to attract a lot of people who may not care too much about your photo blog. On the other hand, a handmade camera strap will attract the types of people who’d love to read a creative photo blog!

Handmade Camera Strap
Flickr/tjstabb

Promoting your giveaway

“If you host it, they will come.” Well, you hope so, but this is not always the the case. Unless they have a built-in following, most bloggers will need to implement some kind of promotion for their giveaway. This can be as simple as submitting to a few giveaways blogs, or as detailed as contacting individual bloggers and asking if they’ll share about the giveaway on their sites.

Here are some tried and true places to promote your giveaway.

On Twitter, share your giveaway with a link to the short URL, and include the tags #giveaway or #win. Example: If you haven’t liked our great #earrings, get on it quick because you could #win them! http://ow.ly/4P8XN #giveaway

On Facebook, share a link to the giveaway URL, preferably with a photo of the item. Before posting, use the @ symbol to type the name of specific people or pages you’d like to alert. For example, if I’m hosting a scrapbook supplies giveaway, I’m going to post something like: @Paper Crafts Magazine readers: Enter our giveaway! (When you type the @ symbol, a dropdown list of pages you “like” will pop up.)

Getting  entrants to promote your giveaway is one of the best ways to increase your giveaway promotion organically. For people to enter, ask them to link up the giveaway on their blog, Facebook or Twitter to spread the word. If you give them an extra entry for doing so, you’ll generally get a lot of new traffic.

Giveaway blogs like Quilty Giveaways and Blog Giveaways will allow you to submit your crafty giveaway link. When I host a giveaway, I also like to alert One Pretty Thing, Craft Gossip, and Someday Crafts (stop by on Thursday or Friday to link up).

Craft Buds has a continual giveaway linky party where you are always welcome to link up craft supplies and handmade giveaways!

Giveaways Roundup @ Craft Buds

Sew Mama Sew Giveaway Day

If you get nothing else from this post, I hope you pop over to Sew Mama Sew and consider participating in this year’s May Giveaway Day! You must sign up by this Friday, May 20.

Once you sign up, decided if you want to give away a handmade item or craft supplies. You’ll post a giveaway on your blog next week from Monday, May 23 to Wednesday, May 25. Sew Mama Sew will create a master list of all participants, and you will get to experience the joy of getting lots of new visitors to your blog!

Sew Mama Sew Giveaway Day
It’s recommended that you keep your giveaway requirements short, because people will be entering tons of giveaways in addition to yours. One strategy is to ask readers to leave a comment of some sort, and follow your blog for an extra entry. Or you can ask them to follow you on Twitter, Like you on Facebook, or subscribe to your newsletter. (Just make sure that the prize value matches what you are asking participants to do.)

Have you hosted a great giveaway? Ever been part of a not-so-good- one? Please share your own giveaways tips in the comments! And if you know of any giveaways right now, link them up on our weekly giveaways roundup! We’ll be giving away some great stuff, too.

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