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Posts Tagged ‘Handmade

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.

Deciding the right price for your product is indeed important. You cannot afford to overcharge your customer and yet you cannot undervalue your own efforts either. There’s a very thin line there. So what do you need to do to fix the right price for your product? Here are a few tips:

1. First of all, calculate the price of the raw materials that you have purchased. It would be an excellent idea to make a database of a spread sheet for this. Also, add in any overhead charges you wish to take in to account, such as taxes, bills maintenance costs. You can use www.plunderhere.com to get your hands on some cheap raw materials.

2. Now you need to estimate your hourly rate – this comes from the opportunity cost of your time. To calculate this, consider the following questions. If you were working, how much would you be making? How many things do you have to sacrifice to take that time out – what non-monetary price do you have to pay. Once you have the hourly value, multiply it by the approximate amount of time it took you to make that product (including the initial brainstorming or idea generation time). http://shareme.com/images/large/13144-jdatagrid_spreadsheet_edition.gif

3. If you make things in batches, then add up all the costs and then divide them by the total number of products made during that period. Add your desired profit margin to it and viola you have your ballpark figure.

4. Is your product unique or one that is available freely. If you think that your product has an element of exclusivity to it, then you might want to charge it higher than what is the average price. The customer would still be attracted to it.

5. On the other hand, if your product is not that exclusive, you must not charge it more than the market price. You’ll have to reduce costs to still be able to earn some profit. If you’re selling handmade items, then the non-exclusivity will be become a non-issue. You can compare prices on www.pricegrabber.com . Or you might want to check out the category of hand made products being offered on other websites, such as www.silkfair.com where there is an entire section on handmade items you can use to compare prices.

6. If you are donating money to a charity fund or such social cause from the price of your product, make sure you highlight that as well. Such offers always help attract customers. For example, you can market it up on https://www.gocharity.com .

Found this great blog post by a new member of silkfair.com:

“What a breeze it was to import listings from etsy today!  It only took  minutes to configure my setup… WHOO HOO!!  Once I overcome my disbelief, I’ll get back to work.  There must be a catch.  This venue can’t be EVERYTHING that it promises right? LOL”

Thanks Anna. Check out her store – she has some pretty amazing jewelry items… some of them are below.

Akoya Pearl Bracelet – $44

Bridal Elegance – $47

 

Copper Age Dangle Earrings = $15


Golden Natural Handmade Gold Fill Necklace – $28


Jewelry is one of the hottest and trendiest industries in the market.

(Lampwork Viola Flower choker with macrame strap ~ via http://catldy99.silkfair.com)

 

(Gwynstone necklace seahorse set of bone and jasper ~ via http://gwynstone.silkfair.com)

 

(Chocolate Earrings ~ via http://lilyja.silkfair.com)

 

(Andy Warhol Marilyn Monroe Earrings ~ via http://froufroubijou.silkfair.com)

(Cosmic Sphere ring lampwork ~ via http://formfireglassworks.silkfair.com)

 

Tips for getting started with Jewelry Design

Pieces like the above images come alive under the talented hands of jewelry designers. Outrageous, funky, funny, or unique, depending on its creator’s views and ideas – handmade jewelry finds its very own, precious way to our hearts by representing our own personalities as soon as they’re shipped towards our homes.

But how does it all start?

1- Identify the designs that tickle your fancy

From general to particular, you should think about what type of jewelry you love the most before beginning to design. Perhaps you’re into necklaces or rings, maybe you love earrings and bracelets or maybe broaches and pins are your call. Or if you tried your hand in men’s jewelry – cufflinks and tie pins may be your artist trigger.

As a jewelry designer you have the satisfaction of making your vision a reality. So choose wisely, listen to what your inner self tells you. You may as well discover that your artist skills appeal more to recycled jewelry made of paper, bright colored clay or neoprene rubber. When you find the materials and types of jewelry that fit you, you’ll start growing more confident and your pieces will capture your essence and will start to sparkle.

2- Develop your skills

Either way, jewelry design asks for a native skill and desire to create. There’s no jewelry class or specialized courses that can teach you more than the basics (working with metal, creating chains, ring sizing) and techniques you deal with while developing your talent and increase your experience.

The fundamentals are however critical for any aspiring jewelry designer. You should learn wax design and casting – These raw processes are the ones that turn ideas, drawings and visions into real jewelries. If you go for ring designs, stone setting will be an important part of your designing routine. Thus, the use of tools for your creative projects changes from one jewelry design need to another, but no matter how you take it, getting your hands dirty is part of the job, too.

3- Understand the required commitment

There are plenty of benefits when you start your own jewelry design business: the freedom and flexibility, the unlimited earning potential. And most importantly, your jewelry design “work” is rewarding by itself as you do what you love. However, you have to keep in mind that there will be a lot of commitment required from you in order to make this a viable business stream. Keep in mind that initially none of your jewelry pieces will be perfect from the start, you will need to promote your business, you may need to have an initial capital to invest in supplies and tools, and you will have to dedicate a number of focused hours of work.

4- Find your niche specialization and get creative

Instead of making all sorts of jewelry items, try to restrict your specialization to more focused and narrowed offerings. It can be bead jewelry, sterling silver, wire bracelets, painted ceramics, or whatever. The idea is to develop your skills in a specific type of jewelry design.

5- Develop your brand style

Once you have your niche style, it becomes easier to be known in the market for it. Your brand should revolve around your area of expertise within the jewelry design business. If you are great with semi-precious stones in silver, then your entire website text, product details, captions, and marketing should be based on that. Prospective buyers should be able to ‘google’ their way to you.

6- Promote your products

You will have to promote your products on different sites for maximum exposure and outreach. You can begin by listing it on platforms like Silkfair.com.

You can then get your friends and networks to see your products. You can host demo fashion shows on virtual worlds like secondlife. You can post images of the products on Flickr and other image sharing sites. You can build Facebook groups for your fans. There is no limit to the things that you can do to take your business to the next level.

7- Have fun

And lastly, here’s a little something extra from one of our community’s jewelry designers: Yoboseiyo

“My recommendation would be to have fun! Don’t worry about if others might find the colors you put together a little odd, because if you like them, that will show through in how you present them. also, buy a few extra beads if you’re trying a new technique. You never know when you might accidentally crack one. But definitely have fun!”

So have fun and don’t forget to come back and show us your first pride and beauty.

I was so glad to come to work and see this tweet by a member of our amazing community of buyers and sellers:

@Silkfair I heart you guys! You’re so sweet, any time I have a question, ur quick to answer, plus ur just mega cool, big hugs!

Its incredibly humbling to see a website grow beyond the code and the servers and the wiring and become something as rich as a community, a gathering of like-minded talent and a group of people who all want to share and celebrate in each other’s success.

A great example of this is the “Tell & Win” competition – we started it in the middle of December but going in, we didn’t really know how the community would react to it. Essentially, we were asking our community of sellers to promote and evangelize a lot of the other sellers on our platform…. sounds a bit strange doesn’t it?

But this is really the type of things that makes a crowd into a great tribe to be a part of… it’s been incredible watching people from within our platform – who are small business owners, work from home entrepreneurs or hobbyists making crafts, handmade gifts, jewelry and more – take out time to help each other and invite more people to become a part of our family.

So today we’re happy to announce the winners of our first Tell & Win Competition – they are:

Lets take some time out to get to know our winners and see their amazing products!

 

LazyBreeze Jewelry

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LazyBreeze (Melissa) is a recent addition to our Silkfair family, and she’s already our big winner in the first month!

She works-from-home making handmade jewelry inspired by both ancient designs as well as modern fashions, and uses materials from antique stores, local bead shops, presents and elsewhere.

Originally from Peurto Rico, she is an anthropology graduate now settled in Florida.

Check out her amazing products – and be sure to contact her for custom requests too

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Krisybird’s Beads & Things

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Based in Breckenridge, MN, Krisybird enjoys making jewelry and recycled envelopes and note cards in her free time. She had a booth in a crafter’s mall, but since then has moved to selling her items on Silkfair.

In addition to these, her recent interests include polymer clay and photography.

Check out these great items!

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Silk Road Flowers By Far’ha

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Far’ha has been a seller on our platform pretty much from the start when we launched back in March. She makes beautiful decorative ribbon-flowers that blend together hand-dyed, bias-cut silk ribbons with Czech beads, ombre leaves and other exotic materials and designs inspired from the Silk Road, Arab Trade Routes, Gypsy Trails, Spain and elsewhere.

Check out these beautiful items:

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Her products go well with pretty much any type of women’s clothing, and her clients love her work, which is evident from this feedback one of her clients gave her:

August 11, 2008
Dear Far’ha,

I’ve had two performances now of our vigorous folkloric dance (one of them a two-hour gig) and the beautiful pink silk rose you created remains pristine AND it held to my hair the whole time!  You know how nervous I was about it since my hair is long, straight and fine.  But your handiwork held TIGHT!  And of course I had lots of compliments about my stunning hair adornment. Thank you for your creativity and industry.  My Flowers by Far’ha are perfection indeed.

Regards,

Her story of how she got into this work is pretty amazing too – as she recalls on her blog:

The name, “Far’ha” means “Joy!”  It was given to me many years ago by one of my bellydance teachers because he saw my joy when I danced.  I also share this joy when I work with color and fabrics, so I also made nearly all my costumes as I explored the dances of the Silk Road, Arab trade routes, and Gypsy Trails.

Eventually my journey in dance brought me to Spain, and more specifically Jerez, the home of true, gitano flamenco.  When I began performing, I needed a hair flower to coordinate with my costume.

None were to be found in town, so I went to the local ribbonery store, explained my plight and the owner pointed me to a rack of luscious, hand-dyed, bias-cut silk ribbons.  Then, when I found the perfect color, she quickly demonstrated the basic technique for a rose.

So, I went home, and what seemed easy in concept proved to be a challenge!  But the ribbon was so wonderful–and after years of making my own costumes, I figured I could get the hang of this, so one flower lead to another … and another… and another.

…and what does she think of Silkfair? 🙂

SilkFair just implemented the as yet to be name “mini-store widget”.
It is so much more than just a bunch of product photos, but allows people to find out about the seller (Profile); Item descriptions, like a preview of the shop and the seller.

Because my business name was inspired by the Silk Road,what this widget accomplishes conjures up images of a cyber version of the Silk Road traders bringing in their wares to people along their route and displaying them in at their homes and community gathering places.

It is a trunk show!

Let the show begin!  (Now…to find a place to put my “widget”…?)

 

Thank you, our members, evangelists and store owners – you truly are giving life to a virtual Silk Road on the web.

DesignSponge just featured a very exciting new indie-documentary called “Handmade Nation”, which opens in theatres next week and chronicles the rise of DIY and the Arts and Crafts revolution across our nation.

This film is the work of Faythe Levine and Courtney Heimerl. According to their website:

In 2006, first-time director Faythe Levine traveled to 15 cities, interviewing 80 individuals. Levine captured the virtually tight-knit community that exists through websites, blogs and online stores and connects to the greater public through independent boutiques, galleries, and craft fairs.

The film is coming out at an incredibly apt time. From running a community-based platform for people-to-people commerce, we have been seeing a meteoric rise of people who are now able to showcase their creative skills and build beautiful products and connect with likeminded people around them to get feedback. The small home-based entrepreneur or small business-person has never before been able to so quickly get their products out there, start conversations with people across the social-web and earn profitability from their efforts.

But the rise of Social Media since 2006 means it is now easier and more effective than ever to promote and highlight your products at minimal marketing efforts, and I think thats a chapter in this saga that’s worth spending good time on. We’d love to connect with sellers who have stores on Silkfair or even other platforms and offer free tips and advice on how to use social media to your advantage as a small business owner selling handcrafter items. Maybe we’ll do a whole series of blog posts on the subject. Let us know if you would be interested in reading something like that.

In the meantime – its a great feeling to know that this weave of websites and micro-communities represent a larger movement across this handmade-nation of ours, and its an honor that we’re also playing a role in its future


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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