Screw Factory Open Studios

Posted: May 3rd, 2011 | Author: | Filed under: art | Comments Off on Screw Factory Open Studios

I am honored to have been invited to be a guest artist by the lovely women of Dovecote during this Saturday’s Screw Factory Artists Spring Open Studio event. We’ll be there 1–7 p.m. — come and join the fun!

The Screw Factory is located at 13000 Athens Avenue in Lakewood, south of Madison and east of Bunts. Dovecote is on the third floor.


Taking Risks

Posted: January 15th, 2011 | Author: | Filed under: art | Comments Off on Taking Risks

Part of running a business is taking risks and making calculated gambles. Once in a while, you get burned.

Late last May, I was contacted by Queen City Emporium in Springfield, Missouri, to see if I would like to consign my items in their shop. Consignment is when you place merchandise in a store and they pay you when it sells. Typically, the store keeps 30–40% of the sales price, and you receive the rest. Although many sellers will not consider such an arrangement, consignment can be a very good way to get your items out there without a lot of fuss, as the store absorbs the cost of promoting the merchandise and making the sale — no time spent marketing, going to shows, packing and mailing individual orders, etc., on the part of the seller. I have several consignment arrangements in place, and, until now, they have all worked very well for everyone involved.

I am especially cautious about consignment arrangements with shops that aren’t within easy driving distance of my home, so I took some time and did a little research. I Googled them and their shop and saw nothing that looked out of the ordinary. I checked Google Street View to be sure that the shop and the area were actually as described. I searched for websites of other sellers they had listed to see if anyone was complaining about them, and found nothing of the sort. The contract they sent seemed typical of other consignment contracts I’ve entered into. Not seeing any major red flags, I sent them twelve necklaces with a total retail value of $452 the first week of July.

Consignment contracts spell out reporting and payment schedules and details (e.g., previous month’s sales paid by check on the 10th of the month or some such), among other things, and when the sales reporting date had come & gone, I contacted them for information. I was told that they were a little behind in getting the reports out, but they were working on it, but never received the promised report. Then I got busy with other things and just let it slide. In October, I contacted them again and was given a similar story, with a similar result. Just before Christmas, I made a note to follow up after the holidays and ask for my items to be returned. I was preparing to do just that yesterday when a (now closed) forum thread in the Etsy forums caught my eye. (Head to the Etsy forums and do a title search on “Queen City Emporium” for a big eye opener, if you so desire.)

It seems that I am not the only one in this situation. As of this moment, there are known to be at least 35 sellers who have sent more than $25,000 in merchandise to Queen City Emporium and have not been able to get current, consistent sales reports or payments out of them. Several of the affected sellers are contacting others known to have merchandise on consignment there based on lists provided on the shop’s website and blog, but I would have never known there were others in this situation had I not accidentally stumbled on the forum thread, since I’m not listed as a vendor on their site.

I was fairly lucky in this situation. Because I had no history or in-person contact with Queen City Emporium, I sent only a dozen pieces, rather than the 20–30 I normally supply for consignment. Because I use a pricing formula that is made to accommodate wholesale and consignment, my materials cost is only a fraction of the retail value; those who price closer to materials cost are out a lot more than I am. Because I itemize, I can write off the materials cost — although not the lost time — as a loss on my taxes. And because I make sales through a number of venues (shows, Etsy, others shops and galleries), this loss is a smallish blip on my yearly sales.

Yesterday I filed a complaint with the Missouri attorney general’s office, as have many of the other known affected sellers. Today I am writing my merchandise return demand letter, although, based on others’ experiences, I am not confident that my merchandise will be returned in saleable condition, if at all. Today I am also putting into place some new policies and safeguards to limit my future exposure to this kind of scam.

Consignment will continue to be part of my business plan, but I am going to be focusing much more on wholesale arrangements, especially for out-of-area shops. A distant shop that wants me to consign is going to have to meet much more rigorous standards and pass a more thorough investigation before I’ll be willing to consider it, and if an arrangement is made, I will be limiting my exposure to loss until the relationship is well established. And, recognizing that I should have been following up on this situation more closely and more forcefully, I have made some adjustments to my procedures to ensure that missing sales reports and payments won’t be allowed to slide.


Expand-o-rama

Posted: November 27th, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: art, jewelry, shows | Comments Off on Expand-o-rama

No, not my waistband after Thanksgiving, although I did have two full meals in the space of three hours on Thursday. I’ve added two new shops and a show to my portfolio.

Blush Boutique in Cleveland Heights is now carrying a selection of my sterling silver and etched copper pendants. Blush is a great little shop on Coventry Road, just a few doors down from Mint Cafe. They have a lovely collection of clothing and accessories for women.

Gestures Gift Shop & Gallery in Rocky River also has sterling silver and etched copper pendants, as well as sterling silver earrings. Gestures features work by a large number of local artists — there’s something for everyone.

Lampwork artist Jen Pitts of the Velvet Box and I are teaming up once again for an open house on Friday, December 10. Jen will be opening her new studio in Berea to show hundreds of handmade artisan glass beads that fit most popular collectible bead bracelets, including Pandora, Troll, Chamilla, Biagi, and more. I’ll have several dozen new pieces in my existing lines and will also be debuting my newest line of enamel work. There will be demos and food and fun people to meet and mingle with. If you’re on Facebook, please RSVP on the Facebook event page, and feel free to invite your friends. RSVPs are not necessary to come, but they help us get a better idea of how many people to expect for planning purposes.


Showtime!

Posted: November 5th, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: art, holiday, jewelry | 1 Comment »

My denial of the change of season (snow last night!) hasn’t prevented the days and weeks from continuing their march forward, and here it is, the start of show season.

I’m starting out tonight with a trunk show with several other artists (Brenda Traffis, Deb Perry, Linda Hahn, and Sandy Cseplo) at Bead Q in Chagrin Falls.

Sunday is the Beachwood Arts Council Holiday Craft Show, a new one for me.

Next Saturday is Basket of Treasures in Westlake. This is my second year for this show, and it’s a huge one.

Friday after Thanksgiving is late night Big Box Detox at Blush Boutique on Coventry. I’ll be there starting at 9 p.m. (yes, that late) with Kathy of Smashing and Chris of Copper Leaf Studios and a few others. We’ll be there until midnight or so.

Early December has a couple of private events, then I wrap it all up with the mother of all shows, the Cleveland Handmade Last Minute Market on December 18, the Saturday before Christmas, at the Screw Factory in Lakewood. If you live in the Cleveland area, you don’t want to miss this one. Last year we had a couple thousand people through the doors. It was busy all day, and it was a great atmosphere and a great time.

Hope to see you out at a show this season!


Tetris

Posted: June 18th, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: art, books, editing, Etsy, jewelry, life | 2 Comments »

I’m a puzzle girl. I like putting my brain through its paces, figuring out how something goes together, knowing that there is a solution and if I’m patient enough, it will eventually reveal itself.

Even though I have a Kindle subscription to the Plain Dealer, I still subscribe to the hardcopy Sunday paper so I can get at the two giant crosswords and the sudoku. (Yes, I know you can get those online, too, but it’s just not nearly as satisfying to me to work those online as it is to sit with pen in hand and cat in lap.)

The week past and the one coming, however, are ruled by real-life Tetris. Tetris of the calendar + to-do list kind. On my plate right now are:

  • A giant proofreading project — giant, I tell you — that’s waiting for query replies from the editor. That whole thing has to be on the way out of here Wednesday, after I hear back from the editor.
  • A more normal-sized proofreading project, not due for a couple more weeks, but I still don’t want to be stuck rushing on it, so I’m trying to chip away at it a little bit every day.
  • Show prep for two outdoor shows, one of which is tomorrow and the other next Sunday. Thankfully, I was able to spend all of Tuesday up in the studio and have plenty of stock, but I still need to price the new things, double-check that everything I need is where it should be, and pack the car for a crack of dawn setup tomorrow. This is what I’ll be doing tonight instead of attending the local Etsy Craft Party — which was always kind of a pie-in-the-sky, wish-I-could-be-there-but-yeah-right kind of thing anyway.
  • E-mail newsletters for myself and for Cleveland Handmade. Nothing too complicated about either, but still time-consuming.
  • A client meeting in Columbus on Monday to discuss a kind of rush-ish layout project, which is looking to be a bit more involved that I initially thought. I have to do a little OCR experiment today to prep for that, since it looks like there are no files to work from for at least part of the project.
  • Final preparations for my class reunion, which is three weeks away, and replies to a bunch of e-mails relating to it.
  • And, the bonus: A super-rush copyediting project from a newish-to-me client I’d like to do a whole lot more for, a book by one of my favorite jewelry artists. Serendipity. The kind of project I’ve been wanting to break into for quite some time now. It dropped in my lap yesterday, and it’s due Tuesday. Yep, four days from now, with two of those days already spoken for. Fortunately, it’s not a long project, and I can find the time that has been budgeted for it if I plan carefully, move some things around, and don’t get too distracted. (Hence the Tetris.)
  • I know I can make this happen and still maintain my sanity. But well-wishes are still gratefully accepted.


    busy afternoon

    Posted: February 26th, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: art, jewelry | Comments Off on busy afternoon

    Got my studio mojo back. I’ll be listing these over the next couple of days.


    Whirlwind Weekend

    Posted: December 5th, 2009 | Author: | Filed under: art, jewelry, shows | Comments Off on Whirlwind Weekend

    I’ll be catching up on my Best of 2009 posts on Monday, since I’m spending the weekend at the Laurel School Artisan Bazaar. Last night was the preview party, which went well and was a lot of fun, and I’m looking forward to the rest of the weekend.


    tidbits: overstuffed turkey edition

    Posted: November 27th, 2009 | Author: | Filed under: art, critters, jewelry, life, shows, tidbits | 2 Comments »

    spaz_turkeys_2Yeah, I’m still working on the entry about how much I love my iPhone. It’s taken off in a direction of its own however, and it will not be rushed. I’ll get to it eventually.

    Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday. It’s about the company and the food, without the crazy consumer pressure of Christmas. We had a nice, low-key Thanksgiving yesterday at Mom’s. We hosted the whole extended family gang here last year, which was fun, but we just couldn’t do it this year, what with the mid-renovation state of the house.

    Considering how friendly I’ve become with the wild turkeys that wander about our neighborhood, I thought I’d have a very difficult time this year feasting on the bird. I didn’t. I enjoyed my share last night, then had some again this morning with my bacon and toast. I saved the stuffing for lunch.

    I’ve got another couple of crazy weekends in front of me. Tomorrow is the Summer Market — for the Holidays at Bar Symon in Avon Lake. Next Friday through Sunday is the Laurel School Artisan Bazaar. The first is a holiday incarnation of my favorite show each year, and the second is a great show that I’ll be doing for the first time. I have high hopes for both.


    tidbits: extra tidbit-y edition

    Posted: October 23rd, 2009 | Author: | Filed under: art, classes, Cleveland Handmade, house, nature | 1 Comment »

    giveaway-virtualloriI’m giving away a custom stamped and domed sterling silver pendant in this week’s Cleveland Handmade giveaway. Just visit the Cleveland Handmade website for information on how to enter.

    Six yards of mulch was delivered on Monday; after four hours Monday afternoon, five hours Tuesday afternoon, and five hours yesterday, it’s all been placed where needed. In truth, I could have used another yard or two for some other spots. But I’m done with mulch for the year.

    The leaves have been glorious this week, but today they’re coming down so thick and fast, it’s almost like a blizzard. I’m wondering if there will be any left on the trees at the end of the weekend.

    I had a great group for my etching class on Wednesday night. I love it when my students can relax and have fun with each other.

    Two more days to iPhone. Two more days to iPhone. Two more days to iPhone.


    tidbits: turkey edition

    Posted: October 9th, 2009 | Author: | Filed under: art, critters, editing, life, nature, tidbits | 5 Comments »

    surpriseThanksgiving might be a little difficult for me this year.

    I took a little break from a book I’m working on to take some photos of the changing leaves for a friend who lives in Hawaii but misses the fall colors on the mainland. (The colors are just spectacular in the rain.) I was working my way around the back of the house when I turned the corner and found my turkey friends in the herb garden, snacking on some worms or bugs or something in the freshly turned soil. I was almost on top of them before I noticed them (see how they’ve got that sneaky dirt-colored camouflage thing happening?), and one of them actually started to approach me. I snapped a few pictures, then switched to the movie setting and followed them around the yard for a few moments. You can hear the low sounds they make in the video, something between a gurgle and a bark.

    They weren’t quite sure what to make of the fence; the other end of the fence by the gazebo isn’t quite so low to the ground, and they’re able to easily duck underneath down there. And it occurs to me with Halloween approaching that the clip of them near the playhouse might make a good horror film — the scale makes them look ten feet tall.

    tingeofyellowThe herb garden is right up against the kitchen window, which now that I think about it explains the mysterious knocks I’ve heard a couple times today when there’s been no one at the door. At the last office job I had, the turkeys would come right up to the window and peck at their reflections, and it sounded like someone knocking. Mystery solved.

    In other news, I have a nice stream of projects coming in, a good mix of scholarly and fun, light and bring-on-the-machetes, quick and long term. I really am a project person; I thrive on being able to work on something and then put it away as done. I don’t do so well in environments where you have to do the same thing over and over and over and over and over and over and over again. Or I have to work really hard to find some way to make each iteration different somehow.

    redmapleI had a great time with the Cloth•Paper•Scissors Studio Tour last weekend. I visited every one of the stops on the tour and found something interesting or cool or beautiful or inspiring or otherwise worth my time at every one. And I found some intriguing new blogs in the process, too. (If you didn’t get a chance to take my studio tour, it’s the October 2, 2009, entry.)

    And speaking of new blogs, Chris of Copper Leaf Studios is doing a wonderful job with her new-ish blog. She has such a wonderful sense of humor and writing style, and her personality shines right through. Give her a visit if you haven’t yet.