Sunday, November 27, 2011

Weekend Wrap Up ~ Cyber Monday

All the holiday excitement is starting to die down. I hope everyone had a fun and safe Thanksgiving.  This year Blair and I crashed a friend's family gathering to celebrate. We had a wonderful time and are so blessed to have such great friends that we might as well call family to share with.

Even though a lot of things are indeed dying down, there is one more big hoorah before all is said and done. I am having a cyber monday sale starting TODAY and extending through all day Cyber monday in my Etsy store! This sale is for a whopping 20%! That can add up to some super sweet savings. To get this great discount use coupon code: "CYBERMONDAY11"  at checkout and your 20% discount will be granted! 

Here are a couple of great items that are available:

Stock in the store is limited at the time thanks to all you your custom order requests lately, so take advantage of it now before I sell out! I have hardly had time to make anything to add to the store. Speaking of which, I am still taking custom Christmas orders. There is VERY limited space for additional orders and they are filling up fast.  If you want something that you don't see in the store just in time for Christmas, let me know quick before time runs out!

As a heads up, keep on the lookout at the end of the week for the Future Friday segment! I have a couple of great new things that are on the list to add to Innov8ive Knits goodies to buy. They are going to be so much fun and I can't wait to introduce them to you.

Once again I hope you all had a great holiday, and don't forget to take advantage of my Cyber Monday sale. It's only for 2 days and the clock is ticking!

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Inspiration Spreads Like Wildfire ~ Storytellers Tell THEIR Story

Katie and Jeff Barker are a special pair of people who are near and dear to my heart. I met them while looking for a photographer for my wedding in March. I've developed a bond with them that you would have never expected to get from a photographer. I don't know if I ever told them this before now, but learning about how they started their own small business doing what they love was one of the biggest inspirational factors for me to put myself out there with Innov8ive Knits.

So not only is their work beyond amazing, they have influenced my life in a way I can't repay them. They have been kind enough to let me feature them as someone who I find incredibly inspirational and answer questions about their business and give advice from their experience. You can visit their website at: Katie and Jeff Barker Storytellers

Why photography?
Both of us enjoyed photography as a hobby for years before we decided to start our business. Katie took photography classes in high school, Jeff was always getting into crazy positions and situations to photograph our family. We have experienced love and joy and can't imagine not having photos documenting those times. We've also experienced pain and loss, and appreciate having photographs that pre-date those times. All of us have a story, and being able to tell that story with photography is awesome. We've had clients lose grandparents, friends, and spouses after their wedding, and knowing that we captured beautiful images of these individuals touches us very deeply.

How did you decide that your business should be the bread winner and leave the regular day job?
Honestly, we got a kick in the pants that made it happen. Jeff was working in a Monday to Friday 8-5 sales position, so photographing weddings on the weekend wasn't an issue with his work. His boss knew he was up to something on the weekends, but because it didn't interfere, Jeff didn't talk about it much. His boss asked him to take a client out on a Saturday that we had a wedding, and when he had to say no, his boss told him to choose which job to keep. We had the guts to go ahead to choose Storytellers. At the time, it was a little scary, but now we'd like to go shake his hand and thank him for making us leap.

What is your favorite picture?
This is the hardest question in this interview! [long pause, lots of hemming and hawing] This is a picture Jeff took of my [Katie's] grandfather. He was diagnosed with Alzheimer's a few months after our wedding, and he slipped away little by little. He ceased to tell jokes or to work to make other people smile, so when Jeff got this picture of him about a year after his diagnosis, it meant to world to me. This is the look I remember in his eyes all the time when he'd joke and laugh. He died just this spring, and I'm so grateful to have this picture. I have this picture framed and it's a constant reminder to me that what we do as Storytellers matters. It really does. When the cake has been eaten and the music has stopped, all people will have from the wedding day is their pictures, and it's important that we capture images that capture the essence of the people in them.

How do you find the right balance in pricing (pays the bills but doesn't keep you overpriced)?
We've definitely not gotten it right all the time. There have been times that we've had our pricing too low, and when it was all said and done, we were working for less than $5 an hour. The formula that we've used that makes sense is to figure out how much we need to make to keep our business afloat and pay ourselves a living wage, and the worked backwards. How many weddings do we want to shoot each year? How much time do we want to work? And then it's just simple math. Money needed divided by number of jobs equals the amount of money we need to earn per job. Obviously it takes a while to come up with the answers to the first questions, but they're worth asking. We work six days a week, we work long hours, and we're always on call, but we love our clients and they make the hard work worth it.

When did you realize that Storytellers was the success it is now?
I think when people started asking us for advice, we felt successful. We enjoy speaking with other photographers, especially ones who are just starting out. It's a great feeling to help other people!

You have customers all over the country How did you get word of your business out?
We depend on referrals from our clients. Word of mouth is hugely important for several reasons. First, advertising is very expensive. Paying for clicks on Google or Facebook could easily eat up hundreds of dollars a month. Referrals don't cost you anything (although we do give our couples incentives for referring us). Second, having people who have worked with us recommend us is infinitely more valuable to potential clients than just randomly picking up the phone book and choosing someone they know nothing about.

What gives Storytellers an edge over other photographers?
I think it's the amount of care and attention we give our clients. I mentioned earlier that we work six days a week, and I really meant it. We care a lot about the people who have invested their trust in our work, so we work really hard to meet their expectations.

What is your number one piece of advice you would give to anyone starting their business?
Keep reading, learning, and asking questions. There's always someone out there who does what you do better or differently than you, and there's no shame in trying to learn as much as you can.

Katie & Jeff have been a tremendous inspiration personally to me. They have been so encouraging! I'm not just saying this to butter them up but sometimes I look at their portfolio or our engagement photos and can't believe we even know them.

I hope that you have found the Storytellers just as inspiring as I have. I truly do believe that inspiration spreads like wildfire and hope that my sharing this with you will give you that push to do something that your heart really wants, no matter what it is. To my fellow Etsians I hope that you find their expertise and experience well received and are able to take their advice and apply it to your small business. I know I will.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Weekend Wrap up ~ New Strides & Organizing

This week has gone by so fast! The holidays are right around the corner and the days have gotten so short that I can hardly get anything done these days.

If you haven't already heard, this week I made my first sale!! I also got my brand new business cards in! Things are really coming together and Innov8ive Knits is making great strides every day lately. These new business cards are a BILLION times over better than the last ones I had. I got smart this time and had a graphic designer work with me on creating the new logo. With my new photoshop skills I put the logo on a clean, simple background with only the most important information on the bottom and had them made. My last cards were super busy and you couldn't hardly even read the letters. Most of the time less is more, learned that the hard way.

This morning I finally sat down and organized my giant stash of yarn and updated my knitting queue. Before I started to organize I had a plastic tub of all of my yarns crammed in with no rhyme or reason and receipts for them all over the place. I took all of the yarn and attached a tag on them showing what project they are for and how much it cost, then put all the yarn for the same type project in a bag together. It's not quite where I want to be, but until we get a new house & a new office this will have to suffice. When we do get our new place after the wedding here a few things I'd like to do (thanks to pinterest, feel free to follow me hereFollow Me on Pinterest)

I really love the way this works. I would most likely do mine by yarn size or project, and the chalk labels are ideal! My stash is always changing being able to easily change the way I categorize it is so wonderful!

This is another genius idea! Although my business is based around knitting, there is always paperwork to be done. Any way that I can minimize desk space taken up is a thing I want to be involved in. On top of having paperclips and such available & out of the way. I can also stash tapestry needles, my clothing labels, and other frequently used notions there.

I've had to put aside a couple of projects I had planned for my Etsy store stock to work on some new custom orders I've picked up. I am so grateful for all the new orders I've gotten lately. It certainly has kept my busy and my Etsy store very naked but that's ok.

AND I purchased a new pattern! I have had several requests for this, or something similar so I thought it would be a great idea to include it in my goodie pattern catalog.

I would love to have your thoughts on what colors you would like most for this. I've also considered attaching a button on the headband and making a couple of flowers in complimenting colors so you can change it up if you like by attaching it via the hole in the center of the flower.

It seems like just yesterday it was Monday and here it is again right around the corner. Next thing you know the holidays will be here (and my wedding right behind). I have a VERY LIMITED space for custom orders guaranteed by Christmas now. I you are interested please let me know soon. Have a great week!

Monday, November 14, 2011

And the winner of the bearded beanie is....

First of all I want to take a second to thank everyone for their support and participation in this giveaway. I am thrilled to have so many new people in my knitting "family" and I can't wait to share with you all of my new projects and experiences. This truly wouldn't have been the same without all of your support. 

After all of the entries were totaled I put each entry on a same sized sliver of paper and folded them all the same way (no special treatment) and put them all in a bag to pull out at random. Here's the results: 

Contact Me- with your address for me to mail you your bearded beanie!

 If you didn't aren't the winner, you can still get a chance to put your hands on one. I have one for sale in my etsy shop right now! Not only do I have one for sale I am taking custom orderes for them as well. You can get just about any color your heart desires for $40.00. I will warn you though if you want it by Christmas I will need to know within the next few weeks to make sure I can get it done in time.

This giveaway is the first of many to come. Keep in touch for future events and don't forget to follow my blog for exclusive sale codes and giveaways!

Thanks again everyone!

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Weekend Wrap-Up ~ end of giveaway & speial trip

Weekend time with some of my favorite people. As you can see, we have a slight internet addiction :)

This weekend my fiance and I drove up to Auburn to vist one of my best friends to celebrate my birthday weekend! I took Friday off of work and just have been enjoying every second of it. I could get used to spending all of my days knitting and blogging.

As usual I have a project on my needles for the 3 hour trip up and back. I have gotten to the point where I can't even go to bed without knitting or I get all anxious. It has turned into some type of wind down thing that I have to do to sleep lately. It is so nice to get out of town for a few days and just sleep in, veg out with a pair of knitting needles, and just basically do whatever the heck I want while surrounded by my favorite people.

What do I have on my needles this weekend you ask? I have officially started the mardi gras scarf! I am so excited with how this is turning out. This scarf is very light and lacy which is great for southern winters (it rarely gets too cold for a bulky scarf) and this one has some really fun beading. What says mardi gras more than beads? Now it's not those cheesy plastic mardi gras beads, I've got more class than that now. I can't wait to get it finished and blocked. This pattern is turning out just how it's supposed to which is a welcomed chance in contrast from that stupid tie I have been fighting the last couple of days! 

 Also this weekend is the end of the bearded beanie contest. I can't wait to get all the entries together in a little sack to do the drawing and see who wins! This is the first giveaway that I have done for Innov8ive Knits and I have been so pleased with the results and how supportive everyone has been. I am thrilled to share the wealth with a lucky someone winner :) The bearded beanie has been one of my most popular viewed items. I thought that the newsboy cap would be most popular but my Etsy stats beg to differ. I am still patiently awaiting my first sale through the store, but I think that will be more likely when I get most items into it. (like the mardi gras scarf)

by the way... if you haven't noticed already I have made some changes to the website. I hope you like it. Feel free to leave your comments about it.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

I could push this tie off a cliff

Sometimes being creative can really put a cramp in your style. Knitted ties is something that I have planned to have it's own section in my Etsy shop. I have a million ideas for them floating around in my head, I hardly have enough time to write them all down so I don't forget for later!

I started the first tie I had in mind for the store and so far it has been one of those creative disasters. The things my brain envisions are not translating into my knitting fingers. This tie turned out short... like a good 5" short. lol! Can you imagine wearing a tie that ends higher than your bellybutton? Epic fail. Once I started to block that bad boy and realized that it just wasn't going to stretch out to the size I had envisioned, steam blew out of my ears. Like seriously, I was on FIRE! 

It can be so disappointing to work hard on something just to see it flop. That's the life of creating something new though. Ideas don't always just fall into your lap. Fantastic work doesn't always happen the first time around. Just like anything worth having, it takes practice and time. I figure if I'm going to dedicate an entire section of my store to knitted ties, that won't be the last time that I have a jacked up tie sitting in a box labeled "creative experiments".

I've decided to go ahead and finish the tie by hand sewing the lining to the back and everything else that it requires so even though this will be unacceptable to sell, I have that lesson learned under my belt and I know what to expect the next time around! I do get this evil glare on my face when I start working on it because I know as soon as I finish, it's hitting the no good box to never be seen again but thought of frequently.

I thought I'd share this little "hiccup" in my knitting to attest to the fact that I refuse to sell anything sub-par. Really and truly I could put it on a model and manipulate it where it looked long enough but it you were to look at it from the back there would be like a smidgen of a tiny little piece in the back just waiting to pull loose and untie the tie. From the photography you'd be none the wiser. Buying off the internet can be so scary for just that reason and I want people to know that I am a PERFECTIONIST. I am not interested in selling deceptively. I put labels on all of the things I make with my name on it for goodness sake. I would hate to have a garbage product floating around with my name plastered all over it. How embarrassing.

Really and truly I could use the vent. I've been very tempted to take a pair of scissors to the thing after I finish it for a little sanity therapy. lol Maybe I'll post pictures :) Everything is a learning experience. Even patterns that I have made a million times over unravel a new lesson, experience, or bout of anger each time I make it. This is just a step towards a very fun, successful, and  HIGH QUALITY line of knitted ties. As frustrated as I have gotten with this project, I'm thankful for the lessons I have learned from it and know that it will help make an even better product than I originally imagined.

Treasury Tuesday ~ turquoise

Business card holder

My wedding is coming up in March and one of my accent colors (and my favorite color) is turquoise. This week's treasury is all about that super great blue/green color! Check it out!

Treasury:Turquoise Treats

Here are a few of my favorites from the treasury. Be sure to check it out and see the whole thing!


little makeup bag

button pendant

Thanks for taking a look. All of these products are REALLY great! Be sure to look at these shops, they have plenty more great things to offer!

Saturday, November 5, 2011

The Life of a Knitted Object ~ Part 1

I have had this conversation with a lot of people. Friends, family, customers, and other Etsians. There is an interesting, fine line in the pricing of an original, handmade object. 

I recently had a conversation with someone who I will call "A". This person asked how much I would charge for a plain one color toddler hat. I quoted "A" $35.00.  "A" then proceeded to tell me that she could get a hat like that from someone else's Etsy store for $15.00. That's half price! I can certainly relate to shopping around for the best bang for your buck so I thought I would share how I determine my prices, and why it's the smarter choice.

hand knit newborn cable hat in sky blue
 I will use this hat that is currently for sale in my Etsy store as an example. It is listed at $30.00. (note this is a newborn hat and not a toddler hat which = less yarn & less time to make which is why it is cheaper).
  1. First thing I think about in the cost of my work is the materials put into it. I NEVER buy yarn from Michaels or Hobby Lobby. Yarn is not like GreatValue aspirin ~ same thing for less money. Commercial yarn that you buy from these places are mainly made from acrylic. While acrylic is a man made fiber and will probably last a long time, it's itchy, uncomfortable, and well... cheap. In most cases it is also manufactured in a mill with poor quality control. All the yarn I buy is quality, luxury, name brand fibers that will both last a long time and will be something you can take pride in having. Cost for this yarn is approx: $4.00. So that's $11.o0 profit, not too bad for a small hat right? WRONG!
  2. Next thing to take into consideration is the TIME put into making it. A small hat with cables can take anywhere from 4-5 hours depending on the size yarn and the intricacy of the cable. Lets say that it only took 4 hours. $11.00 divided by 4 hours = $2.75/hour. Last time I checked, no one in the United States or in their right mind at least works for $2.75 even if they LOVE what they are doing. It just doesn't make sense, there is no successful business that runs on that kind of profit!  At this point you can see that either your less expensive purchase has low quality yarn, OR the person who makes it doesn't value their work or time, which can probably in itself tell you what quality of work you can expect
  3. Also I have to take into consideration the the fees assicoated with listing an item on Etsy. As well as the price for advertising (search ads, renewals, etc.) On top of that I also have to think about the time it takes to photograph, edit, and load these listings on Etsy too. 
  4. Last thing I incoporate into pricing is the intricacy of the pattern. Simple patterns get no upcharge but complicated ones like the one below that contains a series of short rows, inserting elastic linings and re-inforced plastic bill, unique increases and decreases get an extra fee. These things are skills that are intricate and not necessarially owned by casual knitters.                                                                  

After those things are taken into account, selling that hat would basically put me in the red. I didn't go to business school, but everyone knows that a business simply can't be run in that manner and I take enough pride in my work to not be OK with basically paying someone else to buy it from me. Although there's always exceptions, this is the reality of pricing a hand made product. Just goes to show you that you truly do get what you pay for when it comes to hand made.

To better elaborate how time consuming and involved a knitting project can be (depending on the project), part 2 of this segment will walk you through the details and pieces involved in making my current project: a knitted tie. A lot more goes into a project than I think some people realize, and I hope this will really open up some eyes on  time and love is invloved in my work!

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Featured Etsy Seller ~ J. Rachel Besnard Designs

Seller: J. Rachel Besnard Designs ~BumbleBeeBead
Etsy Site: J. Rachel Besnard Designs Store

This is a jewlery seller based out of Paris, France with a unique, vintage/antique style. My personal favorite thing about her style is that she manages to put in a perfect POP of color without it being too wild or overbearing. Don't get me wrong, I love to see some wild colors here and there but every time I buy something vibrant like that I never have anything to match it. BumbleBeeBead has just the right balance so that you can truly make your purchase into a staple in your wardrobe.

Here are a few of my favorite items she has for sale right now:

How many of you can say that you have a fine work of art from Paris, France?!? I know I can't! Her items are extremely affordable too!

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Treasury Tuesday ~ Mustache Mania

I am officially obsessed! I love the facial hair! So this week I decided to dedicate my Etsy treasury to all things mustache.

Link to treasury: Mustache Frenzy

Here are just a few listings included in the treasury. This is just SO fun. Don't forget to hit up the link and visit the whole thing. These sellers have some really great stuff that are reasonably priced as well! 

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