SilkFair

Incorporating hair accessories into your wardrobe happens to be one of the best ways to define one’s personal style. Sometimes a fabulous hair accessory can make or break the outfit. Adding something as small as a hair band to a simple outfit consisting of pants with a plain collar-shirt (maybe to a job interview) exudes a confident demeanor as well as expresses your individuality. You don’t have to be an accessory maniac but don’t hold yourself back from experimenting with your hair and finding out what works for you. Good accessories are handy in a wardrobe. A scarf or a hair band may keep your hair from flying all over the place before you reach your 9 a.m. lecture. A hair clip can push those bangs off your face. A brightly colored flower can bring out your eyes. A nice hat can either provide shade from the sun or keep you warm on a chilly night. A cute little barrette gives out a flirty vibe for a night out in town!

Sometimes the finishing touch to an outfit that needs just a little bit of tweaking usually requires a hair accessory to complete the look. Trying new things is always tricky, but the key thing to remember is that accessories can be mixed-and-matched. This enables you to wear the same outfit twice but look completely different by simply switching up the accessories! So next time before leaving the house, take a quick look at your appearance in the mirror. What seems to be missing? Be daring. Surprise yourself. Who knows, that Marimekko-inspired print on the scarf tied around your pony-tail may lead the women on the subway to strike up a conversation with you by complimenting your style. Accessories come in many weird shapes and sizes and tend to compliment short or long hair, be it wavy or spikey! Online shopping sites are fabulous sources were one can search for snazzy little hair trinkets, because long gone are the days of mall-shopping and Claire’s!


Read the res of the post on our new blog here.

This is a guest article written by Sana Salam on the rationale behind using blogs as a promotion medium for your products. Sometimes its not enough to just list your products on an online store, promoting them is as important. You have to get the word out to others so that they can be directed to your stores. Without getting the word out, there will be no traffic. We’ll continue this series with tips on how to effectively use Twitter and other social networks for promoting your stores. 

Read the full article here

Every girl dreams of owning the perfect wardrobe. Each item they purchase only brings them closer to achieving their goal. However, money doesn’t grow on trees and designer pieces cost an arm and a leg. So where does one look? I love bright things and a good bargain. My favorite place to look for exciting new additions to my walk-in closet is a vintage store. One of the best things about shopping for thrifted or vintage items is that there is a guarantee that the girl sitting next to you in calculus won’t be wearing the same thing as you.

There is also your own personal touch when it comes to layering your pretty goods. You can mix and match different pieces and create your own mini wardrobe-remix. Vintage stores can be a nightmare for some people. You walk inside and don’t know where to begin. There are rows and rows of clothing on racks and shoes on the floor and scarves drapes everywhere! You begin with a list. Keep in mind what exactly do you need and ask a salesperson for help in directing you towards your sizes. Thanks to our super-connected lives, it’s easier to find great products and deals online.

Stay determined and you’ll have the perfect wardrobe with just the right kind of sassy accessories to spice up your daily outfits! I’ve compiled a list of my favourite vintage must-haves with some links/resources to several fashion blogs written by beautiful and successful women who love shopping vintage. (Credits are at the end of the post)

1- The denim skirt.

From KARLA’S CLOSETYou can dress it up or down and wear it with long sweater or a cropped cardigan.

Read the rest of the article here to check out the complete list of the 52 beautiful vintage items.

Hi all,

We’ve switched our domain to http://Blog.Silkfair.com. Come and join us on our journey together!

newblog-snap

SoapyBlessings has a buy 2 and get 1 free offer on her store items. She has some really well crafted items that every soap lover should try to get their hands on. Here’s some of her pricing advice to new sellers in the market:

Getting Down to the Nitty Gritty of Soapy Finances

On the days that I make soap, I admit that I get very excited in anticipation of the day. Because I work full time at a secular job, I don’t devote my time entirely to soaping, but have to set aside a time in the week for it. The time I set aside is a real treat for me and I look forward to that day that I have set aside immensely.

So, at this point at least, making soap is not my method of making ends meet, not even close. It IS a desire of mine to make that a goal, however. With that thought in mind, I chose to review what my costs are to make my soap, and how much I am making as profit on my soap…or am I making a profit?

As with most new little start up businesses, and this is a business for me, they don’t always make money initially. In the first few years of opening my little soap business, I showed a loss because of buying equipment and getting enough supply to make it viable. Then, it was drawing customers to my soaps and building a customer base. It all takes time. Now, I am at a point where I am breaking even (whoo hooo!) I am learning to make the most of my soaping methods. Still, I would certainly like to do much better than “break even”.

It was time for me to review how much it is costing me to make my soap. Am I charging enough for this amazing stuff? Am I counting in all my cost factors? So, I began to break it all down…the results were just a bit eye-opening for me. I already know basically how much soap I will make this year based on customer purchases and trends from the previous year, so base my cost per estimated bars I will make.

Here is how I broke it down:
I added up the cost of the supplies I use most often in my soap per batch, such as oils, sodium hydroxide; the basic stuff.
I added up the cost of the “extra” supplies that I most often use per batch, accessory stuff like, calendula blossoms, rose petals, fragrance or essential oils, oxides, micas and other fun little additions to the basic soap formula.
I added my basic cost of packaging each bar of soap.
I averaged the yearly cost of supplies that I use regularly, such as soap molds, wax paper, bowls, scales etc and broke it down per bar.
I added basic prep and production time per bar of soap (like paying myself wages for making them)…about 1/2 the amount per hour that I make on my “usual” secular job.
I added Paypal fees, listing fees, fees when the soap is sold, and average per year craft showing fees per bar of soap.

I did not add cost of electricity, sewer, water, phone, internet access, although I should if I were to be more accurate.

The end result?

At my current charges per bar of soap, I only make about $1.62 per average size (4 to 4.5 oz) bar! That is paying myself wages. So, this little extra money would be the stuff I would put in the my savings for my next vacation?

At that rate, it will be years before I get a vacation!

Could I cut more corners and make more $$$? Absolutely! It would take some additional sacrifices of freshness of the oils I purchase and quality of my product to do it though. If I bought more bulk product, it would certainly be much less expensive. The down side is that I don’t make enough product right now to ensure freshness of my oils if I bought bulk, so resort to making smaller batches at this time. There are a lot of other small ways I could cut costs and I am still in the process of streamlining and revamping some of the things I do.

Doing this was a great reality check for me even though I already kind of knew it based on keeping decent records that I wasn’t making the thousands that I always envision.

BUT…It won’t keep me from continuing to make soap. This is wayy too much fun!

An additional thought:

Selling products effectively is not only about listing them online – it also about how you reach out to prospective buyers. Reaching out to online communities who love handmade stuff, networking with the cottage soap-making industry for being a part of their supply chain, forming affiliations with complementary products (like bathroom towels), promoting your store on Twitter, Facebook and other social sites, supplying limited quotas per month to retail outlets (via partnerships).

Soon enough the money will start coming in, and it will become more than just a passion and hobby.

Best of luck to SoapyBlessings and all other store owners on Silkfair!

byhand-logo-largeByHand is an ideal resource for those who buy,  sell and support handmade.  We were so impressed with the efforts of its founders that we thought our users might want to know more.   Silkfair interviewed Rebecca Dillon for an introduction to the site.  The interview was both personally insightful and informative.  The handmade revolution continues, read on.

Tell us about the story of byhand.me and how it came to fruition.

ByHand.me was conceived and created by my husband, Adam. Frustrated with handmade venues that seemed to advertise only to sellers and not to buyers as well as social networking sites that seemed steeped in nothing but seller spam, he wanted to create an environment where artists could showcase their work and at the same time really get seen. We feel ByHand reflects an answer to these issues. Front page blog posts are carefully monitored for content and we also actively advertise to buyers as the bulk of advertising.

Who are the folks behind the scenes at byhand.me and what are their backgrounds?

M. Adam Kendall is the creator, designer and programmer for ByHand. He currently works full time as a programmer for an independent company in Arlington, VA. However, his background growing up was very different from this and another reason that ByHand was created. Adam actually came from a lower income family with three other brothers and a sister. His dad lost his job at one point so he is very familiar with what it is like to struggle through a hardship. He also, unfortunately, remembers what government cheese and powdered milk taste like. Adam’s mom was a seamstress who worked at her craft to pull in extra money to help support the family. It’s because of her that Adam gained an appreciation for arts and crafts and the reason he knows how to sew. He also learned woodworking from his dad and metalworking from his grandfather. You can read Adam’s whole story on ByHand under Our Story. http://www.byhand.me/component/option,com_content/Itemid,272/id,1342/view,article/

Myself, Rebecca D. Dillon, I’m from a pretty average American family. I grew up as part of the struggling middle class in the 80s with a mother who was always trying to give my brother and I whatever we wanted and therefore living a bit beyond our means. My mom was always doing arts and crafts with me and taught me how to bake. I attended college locally at Roanoke College where I studied a bit of everything including photography, screen printing, graphic design, pottery, 3-D design, drawing, painting, art history, poetry and even writing. It took me seven years, but I eventually managed a BA in fine arts. I do a lot of the basic customer support for ByHand members, the advertising and marketing. I also work up the artist features and interviews.

Together, husband and wife make a pretty good team.

Why handmade? Why do you think supporting handmade is important?

Handmade is the backbone of America. Pretty much everyone who immigrated to America came here to work for themselves doing whatever it was they knew how to do. Handmade is [also a piece of] women’s history, [including] baking, cooking, sewing, and crafting – all those things women did before they were allowed to do anything else.  Before we could work and actually make a living at it and before we could vote, it was a woman’s skill at these things that helped us through the wars and clothed a lot of families through the ’50s. So, handmade is really important. It’s part of America’s culture. We should be supporting artists here at home and abroad who work for themselves, not a factory that mass produces items at the expense of their workers.

Additionally, the artists who produce handmade typically care about what they are making. They are going to be more stringent about the quality of their products than someone who is working on a line everyday for
someone else.

How many members do you have on byhand.me?

We are right at a month old since publicly launching and we currently have 2, 071 registered users.

How do you choose your artisan item of the day and your featured artisans?

I personally choose the artisan item of the day at this time. I select from two different pools. One is members who are active on ByHand. The other is just random members listed in our Artisan Directory. I basically go through and look for items that I feel are good products and have good pictures from these two pools. I try to include items from every category and every price range.

The Featured Artisan is pretty straight forward. Anyone who makes handmade items can apply by visiting the pinned topic on applying in our Links and Opportunities forum. Basically I just ask you have a decent number of items in your shop and good photographs. You then only need to submit a photograph of yourself – because we want to make this personal – along with several paragraphs about who you are and about your craft.

Let’s say that I am an artisan and I am brand new to byhand.me. What is the best way to navigate the site and use it to its fullest?

To use all of the features on ByHand you need to be a member. So signing up is number one. Registration is simple and free. You can then find everything you need by visiting the main tabs at the top of every page.

Community includes the forums and clubhouses – both places that offer a way to share ideas with others and get any help you might need. You’ll also find Site Help there which gives you a basic run down of all ByHand’s features and how to use them.

Shopping is primarily for buyers, but many artisans love this section as well. This is where you go to get to our Handmade Search, member created Spotlights, to enter our handmade contests, find members in the Artisan
Directory, and most importantly Wishlists. Wishlists are perfect for buyers as they allow members to add an item to their their list on ByHand from any of eight handmade venues without ever leaving the site they’re on. Wishlisting is as simple as one click from your toolbar and that’s it. ByHand users can then go to their Wishlists and create individual lists from their items as well as email their list to friends and family. The lists are a great tool for artists because every list that gets sent links back to the list on ByHand. This brings more buyers to ByHand and gives all of our artists a better chance of getting additional exposure. Of course it’s even better if they’re on someone’s list!

Our Story is where you can read the background behind ByHand, find buttons for your website and our invite feature.

My Stuff is the big deal though if you are an artist. This is where you can find and fill out your profile, create Spotlights of your work to be seen in Window Shopping throughout the site, write blog entries for the community blog, and manage your Wishlists!

ByHand also provides a run down of all the features available at the top of the homepage under Benefits for co-op artisans.

What does one have to do to become a member? Do you only restrict users to handmade artisans?

To become a member on ByHand all you have to do is register. It’s as easy as that.

There are no restrictions on joining ByHand. Everyone is welcome. You can be an artist, a venue, a reseller, or just buyer. We welcome everyone to become a member and celebrate handmade. The only restriction we have set forth is that only handmade artisans can list their shops in the Artisan Directory.

With the current downturn in retail spending and the economy in a recession, what have you noticed in trends for handmade products and online selling sites? Is handmade suffering or thriving?

Online sales for handmade seem to be up. I’m not sure if this is because more people are turning to the internet to supplement their income in poor economy or if it’s because it’s easier to find and buy handmade with all of the options that are rapidly becoming available. I know that for me locally my soap sales dropped 50% the last quarter of 2008. However, my online sales for soap made up for that 50% that I didn’t make.

That being said, I think it’s easier to sell handmade items that are $20 and under. I also believe that more luxury oriented items, such as fine art, are currently suffering in this economy with sales that way down overall. So, in my opinion I think it all balances out. If you try to appeal to all price ranges in your market you can succeed at selling online even in this economy. It does take a lot of work, though.

Tell us your favorite part about managing and being a part of byhand.me.

Definitely getting to meet new artists and finding so many wonderful handmade items I never knew existed! My own personal wishlist just keeps growing!

What is a typical day for Rebecca Dillon and byhand.me?

Well, I  sleep in too late, stay up WAY too late, and neglect my soap business. I don’t do things in any particular order really. I am constantly doing a little bit of everything. I’m catching up on email, writing up an artist interview, changing the featured artisan, looking for new places to advertise, networking, writing out interview proposals for online venues and shopping based blogs, searching out new ways to market ByHand, participating in the forums, helping out with any problems members may have, writing content for the front page, monitoring front page blog articles – basically whatever is needed during any point in time. I am currently devoting 8 – 10 hours a day to ByHand. Adam, on the other hand, is constantly programming behind scenes from the time he gets off work ’til the wee hours into the next morning. Sometimes he provides support or fixes a bug during his lunch, as well.

What inspires you as an artisan and as a handmade supporter?

As an artist, just the fact that I’m able to do something creative. I think it’s in my genes. As a supporter, knowing that I’m able to give back and that I’m helping out someone else who is just like me, is able
to do what they love to do.

Describe some of the unique features such as the window shopping feature and the clubhouses.

Window Shopping is a fun way to browse. Basically, Window Shopping is set up like a Spotlight with nine items but with all of the items being random as they are chosen by the computer from all of the member created
Spotlights. You are shown a set of items. Want to see more? You just click ANOTHER and you’re given a whole new set of items. Click ANOTHER again and you get another new se, and on and on. We also have an improvised version of Window Shopping at the top of every page on ByHand. There’s not a button to click to change the items, but they change every time a user changes the page or refreshes his /her browser. Additionally, anyone can add the Window Shopping code to their own website or blog in the same way they can Spotlights and then they have their own little Window Shopping feature.

Clubhouses are like groups or teams, but since we wanted to create a more personal site, I got to name them Clubhouses since clubhouses are, well, where friends play! Any member can create a Clubhouse on any topic. It can be venue specific, artisan specific, location specific, or just because! Clubhouses can be set to allow anyone to join or moderate. Additionally, every Clubhouse has its own forum where members can discuss anything they like.

How do you foresee the growth of byhand.me? Where do you think it will be in five years?

I don’t think either of has really thought that far ahead. I’d love for ByHand to continue growing as it has in its first month. That would just be fantastic. After all, our goal is to help artists and if we continue to grow and members continue to come back to use ByHand we have to be doing something right. It’d be great to be at a place in five years, though, where we’re able to put ads for ByHand in major print publications and our buyers are outnumbering our sellers!

Any other comments or features of which new users should be made aware?

There are always new features. Adam is constantly programming member suggestions for features or improving on existing ones. Just this past week he added a new venue to the spotlight, wishlist, and handmade
search features that’s dedicated to handmade edibles.

He also made it possible for members to blog on ByHand then automatically be able to import their blog entry right to their blogger/blogspot or wordpress blog. Additionally, members can now upload a banner for their ByHand blogs and he’s also working on a way to allow users to customize their blog sidebar as well.

I’d also like to point to out that a new directory was just added for Supplies and Services – this is for commercial suppliers, services, venues, etc. It’s not free like the Artisan Directory. It does cost $5 month for a listing, however, all funds from this directory go back into advertising for ByHand. We are and will remain non-profit for as long as it’s possibly feasible. We had been paying for many of our ads out of pocket, but we are hoping this new directory will help to reduce that burden. Additionally, we also offer advertising for anyone through Project Wonderful ads. These ads can be found throughout all of ByHand except the forums. All funds from PW ads go back into advertising through PW.

Currently we are not recouping any expenses despite several upgrades – a new server, increased bandwidth, and buyer targeted advertising – on our end as that is our gift to the community. We hope to get it back someday
in karma.

1. Clean the floors. It will be a good idea to start from the interior. Scrub the floor using a mop cleansed with detergent and anti-bacterial (perhaps even a little bit of vinegar), to bring out the sleek and shine look on your vinyl floors. You can apply a sealer to enhance the shine on your floor for this spring.

2. Clean those corners of the home that don’t get their due cleaning attention – walls, cabinets, racks, tables. Brush off the dust from them and then use a sponge drenched in liquid detergent in a bucket of water to complete the cleaning. Dry it up using a dry cloth.

3. Clean ceiling and light fixtures: Use an all-purpose cleaner with a sponge and a dry cloth for the final finishing. However, brush off any dust beforehand. A great tip to help you really clean it up will be that when you are brushing off the dust, start at the top and then gradually work your way down.

4. Clean up the doormats and carpets: To get rid of the greasy stains, use talcum powder or baking soda and leave it on for a minimum of 7 hours, after which you can vacuum it. For cleaning up stains, always use a white cloth.

5.   Once the cleaning is done, organize your cupboards, drawers, desks, shelves – take out everything which is unnecessary. Old clothes, shoes, appliances – everything which you know you won’t use in the future can go. Use labeled baskets and boxes to organize the rest of the stuff in an orderly manner.

6. Organize a garage sale: Of course once you are done with the exhaustive cleaning of the inside, there will be a pile of apparently useless stuff. What you can do is organize a garage sale and make money out of what you don’t need anymore. A good idea will be to have a multi-family yard sale, with like items grouped together. The setting could be in a U shape as this would give your customers ample room to walk and choose. A good idea would be to cut prices and offer great incentives, such as buy one get one free, or a drop in prices to boost up the sales.

7.   If you have certain things that you’re not sure of how to dispose off, like old jewelry or collectibles, you can sell them on online stores or auction sites.

You can get the help of your family members – divide the chores amongst each other. For a prim and proper household, start the stringent enforcement of a few “laws” you’d like your family to follow. For example, Dirty shoes to be taken off at the door step so that the floor is not made messy. Or putting the keys in the box placed at the corner of the room and nowhere else. A regular cleaning schedule would also help you a lot in maintaining the fresh look of your house this spring!

This is the official blog of Silkfair.com - we're a rapidly growing platform where crafters, vintage and retro fans, and eco-conscious buyers come together to trade... just like the Silk Road, but online!

We love our community because of how close-knit and respectful it is of each other - and this blog is our way of highlighting them and their successes as a way of sharing in the joy. Join us!

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