Thursday, April 26, 2012

it's time.

Recently, I took a trip to Texas to get away and think, pray, and seek the Lord's will in several matters that were on my heart. I know myself well, but often times I try to hide the ugly, the selfish motives, and cover it up with excuses. My prayer for my few days away was that the Lord would give me clear direction about how I spend my time. ((being a wife, work, teaching sewing lessons on the side, discipling, serving in different capacities at The Well, living in community, this blog, my shop, etc.)) I felt overwhelmed, spread too thin, and unsure that what I was seeking and expending my energy on was even what God had for me.  As I prayed and pondered and took some time to just sit and be with the Lord, I felt confident that anything that isn't missional and intentional needed to go. Things that had  become  burdens that I put on myself can't be a priority any longer. 

When I read this verse, I felt sick at my stomach...not from guilt but of conviction. A conviction I couldn't shake.

For all that is in the world -- the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride of life -- is not from the Father but is from the world. And the world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever. ((1 john 2:16-17))

I've seen so much ugly in my heart when I try to become well known, gain more followers, yearn for sales, and find my worth in it when that happens. My worth and identity HAS to come from the Lord and not my selfish motives or desires or my shop or my follower count or my paypal account balance.

With all of this said, I will be closing the doors of my online shop. When I receive orders, they have become a burden. Trying to find time to sit at my sewing machine to sew dresses or  burn myself with use my glue gun for some rosettes is tough when my schedule is so hectic and constantly full. I find so much more joy in being generous with my designs, allowing you guys to follow along to a tutorial. Handmade Monday will be jam packed with some fun tutorials that I've tried to hold off on because I was considering selling those designs. Money had become a desire my heart was resting in, not a bonus from doing what I love. 

As much as I've loved this journey of selling online, I just can't do it anymore. I love creating new products and dreaming up photo shoots & marketing plans...but I just can't do it all anymore. Even just 5 orders backed up takes an entire day to cut, sew, package, and ship...which is usually a day off from my real job that I LOVE. If anything, I will be trying to go the wholesale route every now & then when creativity sparks in hopes of building more relationships with business owners in Boulder and using up my INSANE fabric stash ;)

I will also hopefully be working towards making this whole India thing a reality...which is another post for another day. Long story short: a non-profit partnership will possibly be coming to fruition sooner than later where we will be employing & outsourcing my sewing to  unemployed Indian widows in need of income. They will earn a fair wage and I will have more sanity & possibly not go blind from late nights sewing hundreds of coffee cuffs and bridesmaid dresses. 

SO... in the next few days you will have a chance to purchase some of my inventory that I've had saved up for miscellaneous craft shows, gifts, etc. They are being sold at killer prices that kind of stings, but there is so much peace in getting it all out of my closet.  Just like those furniture store commercials - everything must go, my friends!


Wednesday, April 25, 2012

sponsor highlight + giveaway: scuttle bog

The Scuttle Blog is a lighthearted and fun blog that I love popping over to see what Holly is up to. She has a great fashion sense and chats about all things food, fashion, and fun. Here's more from Holly:

My mom has always said that since the day I was able to dress myself I would put together the most off the wall, crazy outfits. I wore nothing but bold colors & patterns & of course I wore them all at once! If it was pink, sparkly or twirly... I wore it.  Luckily as I have gotten older my taste has grown & I have become much better at matching, but bold colors & patterns are definitely still prevalent in my world. 

Scuttle is my fashion journal where I post all about the art around us. I grew up in a very artistic home & I learned early on that I may not be able to paint, sing or dance but I can put together a killer outfit & that is my art form. Mixing colors, shapes & movements to create art that we live in & is in our world every day. My blog is about appreciating just that,  the everyday art! 


Isn't she great? You can find more from Holly at the following links:

Today, Holly is offering up this gorgeous Free People necklace! 

Mandatory Entry:
Be a follower of the Oh, Sweet Joy blog via GFC or bloglovin'

Extra entries:
1. Head on over to Holly's blog and comment (on any post) to say Hello on a post & let us know you did.
2. Follow Holly's blog via GFC
3. Follow Oh, Sweet Joy! on Twitter (@ohsweetjoy)
4. Follow Holly on Twitter (@lovemyscuttle)


Tuesday, April 24, 2012

((outfit schmoutfit)) just in case you were wondering

Watch, Plaid Pearl Snap: Fossil
Charms + Necklace, Dress: Anthropologie
Braided Leather Bracelet: c/o Flourish Leather
Shoes: Kimchi Blue for Urban Outfitters

I realized as I was finishing up these photos that I still had my work key around my (right) wrist on this not-so-stylish coiled key chain. Cute huh? Almost as cute as my horrible posture when I stick my hands in my pockets.  Well, at least now you know ((if you were wondering)) that these are for real outfits that I actually wear and not just styled for outfit posts. This outfit reminded me of a spring version of this outfit from winter those colder months we don't speak of. 

Also? I picked you some flowers. 


Monday, April 23, 2012

((handmade monday)) foot wrap tutorial

Blogger has a new layout for posting and I'm embarrassed at how long it took me to figure everything out.  Oye. Moving on...

I saw these cutie pie crochet foot ties at free people and thought they were so fun. I don't knit or crochet so today, I've teamed up with Rebecca ((who also lives here in Boulder!)) for a tag-team Handmade Monday! Click here to  head to her blog & read the first part of this tutorial as far as making the triangular granny square needed for this tutorial...and then come back for the completion of your project :) Okay? OKAY!

What you'll need for my portion of this DIY:
Granny Triangles
Leather or a long strip of fabric
Two Feet

Step 1:

Cut your strips of leather, fabric, or whatever you've chosen to use as your ties into two pieces that are 30ish inches. **

Step 2:
Place your "little piggy that stayed home" through the top loop. 

Step 3:
Place the tie underneath the triangle and then pull through UP the bottom/side loops.

Step 4:
Tie around your ankle and repeat on other foot. Dance around outside barefoot. Your feet are styling!

I even paired mine with my Ssekos. Because really, how practical is walking around without a sole to protect your feetsies? :)

((options)) crochet a "chain" for the ties // make using a crochet string vs. yarn // braid long strips of fabric to use as the ties //  use any color combination your sweet little heart desires!


**when I wear them with my ssekos, I used two 30 inch ties for each foot

Friday, April 20, 2012

((a texas recap))

My favorite things this week are simple:
small town charm
ladybugs riding bicycles
1 Timothy
lunch with a "forever" friend
home-cooked meal(s) by mom
minor league baseball
being above the clouds
short & sandals weather
green grass & wheat fields
texas sunsets

I left this past Saturday to spend a few days in Texas. There were multiple reasons I booked a last minute flight to the good ol' Lone Star state, but on the top of that list of reasons: 
1. I needed some clarification, some time to just sit & pray, rest, and direction. 
2. I missed the junk out of my family.

I'll share more about number one soon, but until then, here are some photos from my trip. 

Finally, Mom took Tuesday afternoon off from work and we went to a daytime Rough Rider game. I used to work for this Minor League baseball team and I loved the nostalgia :) Is there anything better than warm weather & a baseball game? Nope.

Have a happy weekend!


Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Sponsor Highlight + Giveaway: Lovelay

You guys! I am so excited to share Abby's shop, Lovelay, with you today. I knew Abby in college and I love seeing what her stylish self comes up with! Also? She has great hair. That's not super important today, but I felt like I should throw that out there. 

She has done an amazing job of rebranding and honing in on what she's wonderful at - making beautiful headbands and clips that combine together with a bohemian feel.  I love dreaming up combinations of her headbands and would wear any of them any day!

Here's a little bio from Abby about her shop!

On January 31, 2011, my husband and I were blessed with such a darling gift - our daughter, Layla. She has been such a joy and it has been such an honor being her mother. Since day one of her existence, every creative desire has been inspired within me. I began a shop (named Designs by Abby Lynn) where I sold many hair accessories identical to what Layla wore. As she grew, so did my products and so did the name (Lovelay).  My goal is simply to provide people an opportunity to add a dash of lovely to everyday by wearing one (or many) of my hair accessories. I love Lay and she already loves you, I promise. 
One great thing about Lovelay is that you can wear just one clip or headband, or you can bundle them and wear them together for a lovely layered look. Today I am offering one lucky winner a set of three or four clips and headbands that you can wear alone or combined. The winner will get to choose from one of the four looks above.

Also note that you can use the code JOYLOVE for 10% off her already amazingly priced items. Have fun & make sure you check out more from Abby on her blog

To enter this giveaway, simply head on over to Abby's shop & tell us what you'd pick if you won! :)

To earn extra entries:
1. follow the Oh, Sweet Joy! blog via Google Friend Connect or bloglovin' (one entry).
2.  Follow me ((@ohsweetjoy)) on twitter.
3. Follow Abby ((@AbbyLSaunders)) on twitter 
4. Follow the Lovelay blog via GFC (one entry).
5. tweet/facebook/blog about this giveaway (one entry).  
Feel free to use this:
I just entered to win some amazing handmade loot from @AbbyLSaunders on @ohsweetjoy's blog!

Good Luck!


Sponsor Highlight + Giveaway: DianaPantz

Diana runs a blog and a shop, DianaPantz. She creates gorgeous fine art prints, fun leg warmers for baby, and adorable bow ties for your little man. Even more recently, she wrote a new e-book that is a 30 recipe cookbook called "The 3-Day a Week Vegan" that's only $14, so make sure you check it out. Here is more from Diana!

i run a sustainable accessories shop & a vegan lifestyle blog ; both named dianapantz.
i share vegan recipes, fun home projects & small business tips on the blog. in my shop, i sell spring & summer infinity scarves, bow ties for the cute little [and big!] man in your life, leg warmers for babes & hand-knit winter wear.
i spend my time eating cupcakes, riding my bike around the lakes & hanging out at the library in minneapolis!

Everyone can receive 20% off their DianaPantz purchase with the discount code SPRINGDAY20. Enjoy & Check out more from Diana at the following:

shop // blog  // twitter // Facebook 


Tuesday, April 17, 2012

outfit schmoutfit: say cheese

necklace - unknown (gift) 
earrings: francesca's 
denim - paige (from anthropologie)
shoes - dsw (!)

In the summer, I live in tank tops, so it's great when I can find them with feminine & fun details. I especially love a-line flowy tops for really warm days. This purchase may have been a little pre-mature, but I'm okay with that.  I'm so ready for consistently warm weather! Also, apologies for the major cheese in these photos. 

I'm heading back to Colorado today! Can't wait to hug my hubby.


Monday, April 16, 2012

((handmade monday)) peplum tank tutorial

Peplum is a trend that I'm all about. It's feminine with a hint of retro, a bit flirtatious & sassy, and downright fun. It's been all over the runway and will be hitting stores full-force this spring and summer. 

Cute, right? Today I'll teach you how to make a subtle peplum tank out of a large t-shirt. 

Here's what you'll need:
Elastic Thread
Bobbins (2)

Got it? Let's sew!
1. Cut off the bottom of your tee. I wanted mine to be a drop waist, so I tried it on and cut where I wanted it to hit. 
2. Using a tank top that fits you well, trace that shape onto your tee's top portion and cut out. 
3. Sew up the sides of the tank. I got fancy and did french seams. Once in a lifetime occurrence.

1. Wind up your elastic thread onto a bobbin and install into your machine as usual. 
2. Using your machine's widest stitch, sew around the top of your circular piece.
3. Keeping your tank portion right side out, turn your circular (now gathered) piece upside down AND inside out.  ((this photo doesn't really show that. sorry!))
4. Line up the raw edges and pin at the side seams and in the middle of each side. 
5. Stitch, just below the elastic thread so it doesn't show. 

Turn right side out and voila! Pair with your favorite scarf and be one of the first of your friends to wear the peplum trend!

scarf - anthro // denim - paige // leather bracelets - c/o flourish leather

use bias tape or a rolled hem foot to finish the raw edges of your tank. make a tee instead of a tank. do pleats instead of a ruffle for a "fuller" peplum. color block and use a different fabric for the bottom.


Thursday, April 12, 2012

asked, answered.

A little bit ago, I opened this post  & my inbox up for questions regarding running a handmade business and/or blog. Now it's time for those answers! There were a few more, but they all came down to the same general question. 

Q:  Do you involve your husband in your business? If so, how? Is it intentional or unintentional?
A: Yes and no. I've learned that he trusts me to run my business how I see fit (I'm the entrepreneurial one!) and isn't entirely interested in hearing about all the detail. However, he is good about listening & helping when I'm indecisive and need advice. Otherwise, he's super busy and has more important things to worry about :) 

Q: How has running a shop full time helped your shop? Have you received more orders/ success?
A: I'm assuming you meant "running a blog full time," ...and if that's the case I feel that allowing others to see a face behind a shop makes it more personal. My blog actually came first, before the shop. When I am diligent in using my blog and all forms of social media to promote my products, as a whole, it does result in more orders/success. However, success is relative, my dear. Only you can decide what success is for you. :)

Q: What have you found is the most challenging part of running your own shop? 
A: I think the most challenging part for me was preventing burn out. I'm not very good at asking for help. I tried so long to do it all on my own and I got burned out after a mere 5 months.  I also didn't know how to turn my brain off. Any project or recipe somehow became a blog post. Instead of just enjoying trying new things, I felt tremendous pressure to blog about it. This fed my inner-perfectionist and also led to burnout. 

Source: via Kim on Pinterest

Q:  What's the piece of advice you wish someone had told you before you began? 
1. Take weekends and don't work overtime. You wouldn't be okay with your boss at a regular 9-5 to not pay you for overtime, so why would you do that to yourself? Turn the computer off at 5 o'clock. It can wait until tomorrow. 
2. Make what you love to make...not just what you think will "sell." If there are already several shops making the product you can make as well, don't do it. You're creative! You can think of something else :) 

Q:  Do you get tired of it?
There are times where I'd rather go for a walk or just veg on the sofa. However, I truly love being creative and blogging/sewing is a true joy & outlet for me. 

Q: How do you manage your time so that you are able to be fully present with your family in the evenings and on weekends?
A: I just do. Chase is more important than the people behind the computer screen, whether they are readers, customers or both. I had to learn that the hard way....the #1 reason I took a long break with my shop is because I had stopped making Chase a priority. This is simply not okay. My marriage has to be #1 (after Jesus of course!). 

If your blog and/or shop is a lucrative part-time to full-time job, you have to structure your days based upon those hours. 

Q: How did you get your name out there so that people could find your products and how important was blogging, Twitter and Facebook in getting yourself out there?
A: I cannot stress enough the importance of social media. Networking is huge in any business, but it is crucial for online businesses/blogs. It wasn't overnight, but it just happened. Be friendly, leave comments on others blogs (genuine ones, not just copy & pasted ones with your blog link), make products that not everyone else is making, stand out, be positive, be real, and treat your customers REALLY well. Word of mouth is amazing marketing!

Q: How did you get inspired to start a handmade shop in the first place? Do you ever get discouraged or feel that the world is over-saturated with similar products?
 A: I needed a creative outlet and when I made some owls for the kiddos I nannied, the demand started to pick up. As I made items for myself (rosette headbands, covered button earrings) people asked for them. This led me to open up shop and it all snowballed from there! 

I try not to make products that are saturated. When I started making rosette headbands, there were only 2 other shops on etsy making similar items. I get discouraged when people take items I worked hard to dream up and execute as their own. Other than that, I don't care what other people do. I make what I want to make and love to make. 

You have to do your own leg work. Study trends. Do customer surveys. Figure out what they want, what colors they want  it in, and go for it.

Q: I just started up my little Etsy shop, which is made up of thrift finds, handmade jewelry, cute little home decor, etc...How can I get more traffic to my shop and not have to spend $$ in which I don't have?
A: You've got to spend money to make money, at some point. However, button trades are a great way to partner with other small shops, blogs, etc, make friends and get exposure at the same time! Just make sure to ask people with a similar following. It's kind of insulting for someone with 10 followers to ask for a trade with someone who has 1,000. It's got to be somewhat equal, or else it's not a trade now is it? :) 

Fun  & quirky marketing, social media and target marketing is a great way to do that!

Q: How do you grow followers for your blog and FB page without breaking the bank? 
A: see above :)

Q: How do you know when to start offering advertising on your blog? How do you evaluate how much to charge?
A: I had some shops ask if they could advertise, which is how I knew it was time to consider that route. Blogging has to be for YOU and if you don't have time to dedicate to consistent and genuine posting, then it's not fair to ask people to pay for an ad spot. The tough thing about offering ad space is that people are dependent on you. You have to find a balance between blogging for enjoyment and blogging as a lucrative venture. 

There's not a go-to sliding scale for followers/ad cost ratio, but it should be dependent on a few things:
1. Are you in this to make a lot of money, quit your day job or  just to do your part in helping handmade shops & small blogs succeed? (there are many more options, but that's a few to think about!)
2. What are other blogs with similar followings charging?
3. What are you offering with a sponsorship? (giveaways, social media plugs, reviews, highlight posts, etc, or just side bar real-estate?)
4. Would you PAY to advertise on a blog with the same amount of followers as you? If so - go for it. If not - give it time and grow and make it worth while for someone's hard earned money to go to your paypal account. (( my general rule of thumb is that I don't advertise on someone's blog if they have less followers than me. I work hard for my $ and want  to get the most bang for my buck ))

PHEW!  Hope that helped you guys a bit!