Thursday, April 15, 2010

Who ARE you?

I have to admit, I'm a sucker for Girl Scout cookies.

Well, actually, that's not true. I'm a sucker for Girl Scouts. It's the cute little braids and puppy-dog eyes that do me in. How can you say no to a sweet little 6-year-old handing you a box of Tagalongs? I'm equally as helpess in the face of lemonade stands and Little Leaguers going door-to-door with magazine subscriptions.

Now, I have no trouble passing up these items in the grocery store isles. Honestly, I need a box of cookies like Sampson needs an electric razor. The thing is, it's the pitch, not the product. And that makes me think.

What's my pitch?

A few months ago, I attended a Virtual Lab critique session with daniellexo of Etsy. One of the things Danielle talked about was the shop profile. It is vital, she said, that your profile tell a story about you and your work that will draw potential buyers and make them remember who you are.

Now, just about every craftsperson I know has a story. And it's usually a pretty good one. My own story is all about itching. Grocery store "soap" made me itch. I tried a bar of the real thing and I itched no more. And so, a soaper is born. It's that simple.

However, wend your way through the plethora of shops on Etsy and most seller profiles will have your eyes glazing over faster than a Congressional budget session on C-Span. "Hi! Thanks for coming to my shop!" or "I have always dabbled in one craft or another," or "XYZ's is dedicated to providing the highest quality widget blankets!"

ZZZZZZZZZZzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz ...... wha? oh, sorry.

If you want to pull me in faster than a toothless cherub at a lemonade stand with free chocolate samples, take note:

1. Tell me your story. Be specific. I don't want to hear that you're a naturally crafty person. I want to know WHY you make widget blankets that are special enough that you think I need to have one. Maybe you learned widget blanket-making while in prison, and have since turned your life around. Maybe your great-grandmother taught you this family widget blanket-making method on her knee. Maybe you set out to make a blanket for your pet canary but realized it fit your widget much better, and viola - a cottage industry was born. THAT's what I want to hear about.

2. I already assume that you are dedicated to providing the highest quality item. I've already figured that out from your photos, or I wouldn't have gotten this far into your shop. Tell me about your wonderful customer service in your policies section. Unless you are telling me about the time you got on an airplane to deliver one of your widget blankets to Oprah, and Colin Firth was seated next to you on the plane and insisted on having it for himself, but your supreme customer loyalty wouldn't allow it.

3. Same goes for the "highest quality ever" materials you use. If your shop name is "WidgetBlanketShop," please don't announce that you create one-of-a-kind widget blankets. The average shopper is somewhat brighter than you think, and can figure that part out for themself. However, please do tell me if you are in the process of patenting the use of fair-trade organic tomato seeds and Peruvian llama eyelashes for the trim. I'd love to know what makes you unique.

Here are a few examples of fun profiles:
And now, off to raid that box of cookies in the pantry.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Beauty from across the pond

Those Brits know a thing or two about beauty.

Some of my very favorite people hail from across the pond ... Jane Austen, Shakespeare, Cat Stevens, Vincent Van Gogh and (sigh) Colin Firth.

So it should come as no surprise that another Brit - Naomi from moonangelnay - has one of my new favorite shops on etsy. Naomi has an amazing eye for beauty and mystery, and manages to capture the essence of everyday items, turning them into works of art.

"I'm inspired by the human form, philosophy, nature, free will and color," she says. "A fine art artist at heart, yet I have an ever changing abstract style which has also drifted into my digital art work."

"I try to bring contrasting duality into my work, highlighting my interests in both light and dark and the veil in between through form, color, mantra and poetry to bring forth my objective to brand my work as more than just physical art or home decor, but something to think about," she says.

Naomi bases much of her work on "the affinity I perceive an object to have with it's environment, which can give a spiritual ambience to what I do. I love spectral brightness and the gothic glamor of monotone, instead of being quite the opposite, can be meshed together like light refracting through broken darkness."

You can learn more about Naomi and her work at her blog, here:
And you can view more of her gorgeous photography, calenders, cards and photo jewelry at her shop, here:

Monday, April 12, 2010

You gotta love lavender

It is said that lavender was used in hospitals during World War I to disinfect floors and walls.

Whether that is true or just another bit of urban legend, it is testimony to the antiseptic and anti-inflammatory properties of the wonderful little plant. (And other hospital smells not withstanding, it surely smelled a lot better than whatever industrial strength stuff is used today!)

We love lavender, for so many reasons. For one thing, it makes a killer jelly. It's beautiful in the garden, and entire books have been written on its medicinal uses ... According to traditional wisdom, lavender infusions can soothe and heal insect bites. Bunches of lavender repel insects. Rubbing lavender oil slowly on the temples can soothe a headache. Lavender on your pillow can help with sleep and relaxation.

Recently, lavender got a bad rap when a few scentists claimed that lavender and tea tree oil used together caused prepubescent breast growth in boys. However, that has basically been debunked as it was found that the studies included only three (yes, three!) young boys, and that no scientific connection even existed between the condition and normal use (more info here).

Neat facts about lavender:
  • In ancient Greece, lavender was known as "nard."
  • Nard is mentioned in the Bible (Song of Solomon 4:14).
  • Dried lavender flowers have become recently popular for wedding confetti.
  • Pregnant and breastfeeding women should avoid using lavender.
  • The lavender plant actually belongs to the mint family, Lamiaceae.

We love the way lavender essential oil smells in our Lavender Bliss shampoo bar. We add just a wee a hint of clove essential oil, for an amazing blend that's calming, wonderful, and well ... blissful!