Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Farasha Style

A few months ago I was contacted by a firm in New York that seeking designers for a client who was opening a new boutique. I was asked to send my press kit to them, which they forwarded to the owner of a new boutique in Park City, Utah, called Farasha. I was SO excited to be chosen as one of the designers to be featured in this new shop!

Recently, Farasha hosted a runway show featuring its designers. Here is a stack of my hand-carved resin bangles on one of the models as she walks the runway.

You can check out the rest of the photos (by David Galbraith) here. Phenomenal! You can find my bangles and other designs featured in the runway show at farasha-style.com.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Line Sheets

In my previous post, I mentioned "line sheets". Until a few months ago, I had no idea what a line sheet was or it's function. Basically, it's a sheet that has your products listed and pictured, along with the wholesale price, suggested retail price, and wholesale terms (minimum quantity, etc.). At least that's my take on it. After doing some research and looking at other line sheet examples, I came up with this for my new summer line, Ocean View.
It features the following: Clear photos of the merchandise, short and concise descriptions, basic measurements of each piece, the wholesale price and suggested retail price, and the minimum purchase requirements.

I might need to make changes down the line, but you have to start somewhere! Plus, it sure is nice to have something that can easily be emailed to retailers!

Speaking of retailers, I have an appointment next week at a fabulous boutique in town! All because of the promo card I sent out! If anything develops, I'll be sure to post the news on this blog!

Friday, May 14, 2010

Courting Retail

After spending the last few months preparing collections and getting my website together, I decided it was time to seek out some potential partnerships with retail shops. I have done consignment, and still do, but it is quite a financial strain to have to create all product up front, then wait (sometimes for a loooong time) for it to sell.

Now that I have a more concrete focus and definition to my collections, I feel confident in offering a select few as wholesale options. But how to go about it? I have no real experience or training in selling or marketing, plus I'm not a natural born salesperson...it is a challenge for me to get out there and see people face to face, touting my product. I tend to market the way I like to be marketed to...no pressure, show me what you have to offer, let me decide. SO, what I started off with is a "targeted" mailing, focusing on a select group of shops and boutiques where I think my product would be a good fit.

First, I did A LOT of research on local and regional boutiques, creating a list, then narrowing it down to those I considered the most relevant to my product offerings. Once I had my mailing list finalized, I needed to decide what to send. It would need to engage the store owners within the first, oh, three seconds of looking at it. I know how fast promotional mail gets tossed. It would also have to be limited in cost. Like many small business, my marketing budget is teeny.

Lucky for me, I am a graphic designer by trade, so I know how to create a marketing piece on the cheap that has impact. Instead of paying to have a postcard-type piece printed, I wanted a piece that looked custom, so this is what I did:

I took 4x6 prints from the photo shoot of my newest collection and adhered them to 5x7 pieces of high-quality ivory cardstock. Then I printed my logo and copy onto 5x7 sheets of ivory vellum, which I used to overlay the photos. I chose dark brown metallic envelopes and addressed them with gold ink, giving them a rich and a bit more high-end look, which is very important if you want the recipient to actually open your mailing, instead of throwing it out with the rest of the unsolicited promo material they recieve.
I kept copy to a bare minimum because my goal is to drive the shop owner to my website for more information, where they will look through my products, and at some point (hopefully) request line sheets. Speaking of linesheets, I will post another entry about them soon, so stay tuned.

The cost of this marketing piece? Well, the paper was on sale, making each 5x7 sheet approximately 15 cents (2 pieces cut from an 8.5 x 11 sheet), the photo print was 20 cents, the envelope was 50 cents, and the stamp of course was 44 cents. That brings the total cost per piece to $1.29, including postage. Not bad at all for a custom-designed piece!

In case some of the shop owners don't make it to my web site, I will send a follow-up email after the initial mailing. Even if I don't receive an immediate response, this piece still gets me in front of potential buyers. They might not buy now, or next week, or next month, but maybe, just maybe, they'll be thinking about me when they have coffee with their friends, or they'll happen to mention my company or my designs in random conversation. I have learned that every little bit of exposure helps, and that you never know where your next raving fan will come from...sometimes they show up seemingly out of nowhere...then you find out they are a friend of a friend's sister, whose mother's cousin owns a boutique and received your promotional material...you just never know.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Ocean View

I have a secret desire to one day live in Southern California, specifically the Laguna Beach area - and NO, it has nothing to do with "that show," which I have never seen.

It all started a few years ago, when my husband, daughter and I went out to visit a good friend of mine and his wife, who live in Los Angeles. I told him we wanted to stay near the ocean, and he suggested Laguna Beach. Needless to say I loved this artist community! And the climate of course is to die for. My favorite view is above, from the gazebo at the top of Heisler Park.

After visiting the town a few times, seeing the multitude of art galleries, and meeting people from all over the world, I began dreaming of living there, creating my pieces somewhere near the ocean...well, probably inland a little, since anything close to the ocean is beyond prohibitively expensive.

Who knows, we may end up there one day...anything is possible, right? Until that day arrives, however, I have created the Ocean View line to represent my dream.

I designed the pendant and ring for this line so that it seems like a small piece of the ocean, captured and held still in time.I also created a long beaded necklace that can also be doubled-up for a shorter look. Incorporated into the necklace and also the bracelet design are handmade resin beads, embedded with glass seed beads and shells.The resin beads are quite time consuming, but their beauty is definitely worth the time spent creating them!All in all, I'm very pleased with the look and feel of this collection! The pricing ranges from $15 to $35, allowing you to have your own ocean view without the pricetag!

All pieces are now available online here.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Adventures in Dreamweaver

Ten years ago I purchased Macromedia Dreamweaver 3, thinking that, as a graphic designer, it would be a good thing to expand my skills into the web design arena. That thought quickly faded and the program sat virtually unused until recently.

Since the beginning of the year, I have really wanted to design my own website, so I finally opened up Dreamweaver and ran with it. My biggest hurdle was that my design mind thinks in "print media" - I spent years designing brochures and magazines - instead of "web media", which is an entirely different animal. SO, I would work on it a little, get frustrated, set it aside, go back to it a few days later, figure something out, get excited, get stumped again, get frustrated, set it aside, and so on...I of course didn't read any manuals or watch any tutorials because of my innate desire to make things as difficult as possible. :)

After a few months, I had figured out enough to actually create my site with links that actually worked (after few rounds of adjustments). I researched the crap out of hosting options, then just settled on godaddy because I had used them previously, and frankly, because I got tired of doing the research. It's really hard to find honest reviewers of hosting sites that aren't being rewarded in some way shape or form for their review.

One HUGE lesson I learned is that most ftps (file transfer protocols, which you use to upload your files to the hosting server) do not like slashes or spaces in titles. So, I had to rename some files and fix a bunch of links. Once I did that, to my surprise, everything actually WORKED. I have since even made a change to one of my web pages, uploaded through the ftp, and the change actually appeared almost instantly on my website - that was a relief. I'm feeling a bit more comfortable with my abilities now, but I still have a looooong way to go!

I wanted to keep my website simple and clean, with the main focus being the photos of my products. Each collection has a shop link, which takes the visitor to my etsy site to make any purchases. As confident as I'm feeling about getting a handle on basic web design, I'm not ready to handle the ecommerce aspects of it on my own - yet. I did, however, figure out how to add meta tags to my site - oh, was I giddy over that discovery!

One other thing. Being from the print media side, I assumed that if you manually centered elements in your web page, they would automatically show up that way on the web. Of course that isn't the case, so I need to rework the layout at some point - this time, I have a book I'm reading so I can do it right the first time.

Ok, now that you're dying of suspense, here's a link to my "possibly" centered website (but no guarantees).