Getting ready for summer

Getting ready for summer

With Memorial Day weekend upon us, the days of backyard barbecues, fresh garden veggies, cold refreshments and trips to the beach are finally here. The summer is the most fun time of year for a lot of people but it can also be the most overwhelming. Here’s how I’ve been preparing…

Keeping up with the messes – I’m a busy body, just can’t sit still. I feel like I’m always cleaning up a new mess so the easier cleaning can be the better. My can’t-live-without tools for cleaning my little house are as follows:

  1. Disinfectant wipes: These have been around for a while now but I’m shocked that people still use spray bottles and paper towels. The wipes are so easy and so much more effective. Plus, they don’t tear or leave bits behind when wiping rough surfaces. My favorite ones are made by Seventh Generation, which use botanical ingredients rather than harsh chemicals.
  2. Shark Rocket Vacuum: In 2008 I bought a Shark stick vacuum for $30 at Best Buy. This vacuum worked great for nearly 7 years but finally gave in to the wear and tear a few weeks ago. Since I was so impressed with the suction power and ease of use, I decided to stick with Shark and bought the new Rocket model. I really like it a lot – still has great suction, weighs only 9 lbs and is very easy to use. It’s actually shortened my vacuuming time because it doesn’t have to go over the same spot multiple times. Plus it comes with a million attachments for various uses, including a detail kit that makes cleaning my car much more tolerable.
  3. Organization: Baskets are my best friends. I really love them because you can just fill them with random crap and keep your space looking clutter free.

A fun antique window project – A few years back I bought several old windows at a flea market for $10. I used one as a “canvas” for a painting of a cow, which I’ve since sold. The others have just sat in our basement collecting dust. Until I came across this awesome pin on Pinterest, and made my own serving tray. Set atop a vintage tablecloth-covered table with candles and a rustic planter, this tray makes the perfect beverage station.

Antique window serving tray

Antique window serving tray with bar setup

With all my preparation I’ll never feel quite ready to get into a bathing suit for the first time. It does help when you find a fun new one to show off. Modcloth has a great selection and they’ve put together this infographic about the history of bathing suit fashion. They’ve also made a point to let us know that any body type can look beautiful on the beach, so don’t be discouraged and check this out:

“It’s a pool party over at ModCloth, and you’re invited! With so many bikinis and one pieces to pick from, you’re bound to find a standout look that suits your style. And while you’re at it, check out ModCloth’s exploration of so-called “ideal” beach bodies in their new Swim-fographic! It’s an intriguing look at how arbitrarily beauty standards have changed over time. Of course, ModCloth knows that every body is a beach body — the only requirements are a beach, your bod, and a swimsuit you can’t wait to flaunt!”

Swim-fographic 

**This post contains affiliate links and I will be compensated if you make a purchase after clicking through my links.

 

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Pin-spiration

Happy Friday Night Friends!

I’d like to take this opportunity to talk about Pinterest and why it is one of my go-to sources of inspiration.

I’ve been an active Pinterest user for several years now – I attempted to find out exactly how long but to no avail. I have 36 boards containing almost 1200 pins. If you’re already a pinner like me, feel free to follow me and check out my boards!

Visit Tara’s profile on Pinterest.

For me, Pinterest has become a more reliable search engine than Google. Mainly because I am a completely visual person and need to see things rather than read text. I also know that many things that are pinned have been tried by others and probably pinned because they were amazing. So I find it unbelievable that there are still people out there who don’t use it. I have also heard from many people who have no idea what its purpose is. I think a good way to describe it is like when you used to read a book or magazine and would dog-ear the pages that you wanted to back to. Or when you were 12 in the 90’s and cut things out of magazines and taped them to your wall. Did anyone else do that? I had an entire wall devoted to teen heart throbs!! It’s a place where you can store your favorite things from the internet in an organized fashion. It’s also very visually appealing. Some of my boards are designated for recipes and I definitely refer back to them all the time when I want to remake something I loved. Others are for ideas for things in the future like home decorating ideas. Then there are my inspiration boards. These are for things that are really cool and from which I can draw inspiration for my own creations. My newest one is inspiration for some Valentine’s and Spring crafts.

For more inspiration, I turned to Wanelo to find some pretty new items to help fuel my creative engine. For inspiration, a framed quote. For the office, a wintry glitter desk lamp, pretty vintage-style floral bird pillow, glitter wall clock, floral binder, botanical clipboard, fun washi tape, vintage wire desk sorter, turquoise desk and leather secretary desktop organizer. For comfort while creating, a pretty yoga tunic. And to look professional but still inspire creativity when representing my crafts, a floral blazer.

Wanelo Collection

New Year New You

 

Can you tell what my favorite colors and themes are? If you like my collection you should totally enter Zazzle’s New Year, New You Challenge!

Zazzle is looking for you to create a fabulously fantastic collection on Wanelo titled “New Year, New You” where you include products that represent your New Year’s resolutions.

If you enter, you have a chance to win one of the following amazing prizes:

ONE GOLD PRIZE : $75 Zazzle Gift Certificate and feature of 9 products from your collection on Zazzle blog

ONE SILVER PRIZE: $50 Zazzle Gift Certificate

ONE BRONZE PRIZE: $25 Zazzle Gift Certificate

How to enter:

1. Follow the Zazzle store on Wanelo

2. Create a collection on Wanelo.com titled “New Year, New You”

3. Tag every product in your collection #zazzlenewyou

4. Add at least 4 Zazzle products, and include at least 9 products total in your collection

5. Fill out this form to submit your collection

For a full description of the challenge please visit Wanelo Collections Challenge .

TWS 2015: Reorganization and Realignment

TWS 2015: Reorganization and Realignment

While others were partying and ringing in the new year, I spent a quiet evening on the couch with my dog, Jackson. We reflected on the past year and realized that Tara White Studio, as a craft business, needed some reorganization and realignment. The first step in addressing these would be to draft a business plan.

This is something I have never actually done before, so I was a bit nervous to get started. After a quick Google search I came across a post from Etsy’s blog (of course, why didn’t I think to check there?). The post, How to Write a Creative Business Plan In Under an Hour, was exactly what I was looking for. In her post, the author included an example business plan for her fantasy business. This was not the text-heavy word document that I had initially envisioned. It was very visual and fun but included all of the pertinent information for a successful business plan.

Since this was my first attempt at this document, I decided to base mine off of her example, but added my own flair. In an effort in keeping it all on one page it may be a bit busy, but since it is a plan for myself, I am happy with it.

Tara White Studio 2015 Business Plan

The most difficult parts for me were coming up with a value proposition, assessing the market need and proposing the solution to that need that my business fulfills. These parts are definitely going to be works in progress and one of my goals for the year is to reevaluate them and make them a bit more specific.

The fun parts were adding up my expenses, revenue and calculating my profit. Since 2014 was not as successful as 2013, I set my revenue goal for 2015 in between the two other values. However I also plan to spend less on expenses. One of my goals for this aspect of the plan is to start utilizing my expense planner again or look into a Quickbooks account.

Back in 2013, I made an active effort to post on social media and this blog. At the time I did not think it was impacting my business, however after looking back at the past two years I’ve realized that this was the biggest difference between 2013 and 2014. This year, I plan to boost my social media presence through increased Instagram posts and more personal stories here. I will also be taking more advantage of some of the useful tools provided through Facebook Page Insights. Here I was able to find a graph summarizing all the people who have liked my page, including gender and age. Interestingly, the percentage of women versus men is comparable to that of my Etsy customers. I hope to use this information to reach out to and provide better products to my potential customers.

Last but not least, were my milestones. I admit these are modest but every small thing means something and can provide inspiration and drive for moving forward. In the past year my notable moments were surpassing 200 likes on the Tara White Studio FB page, 2 sales resulting from custom requests through FB and of course, completing my business plan!

I am very excited for the year to come and all the work I plan to do. I wish you success in your own ventures.

~Tara W.

Oh and I almost forgot, I also reorganized my small and humble work space. Enjoy some pictures below!

Craft Corner

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Upcycled hanging storage boxes

Craft Corner with re-upholstered and distressed bench from my sister

 

 

That’s my bag baby!!

My latest go-to gift item has been bags – I find a fun and unique pattern, or come up with my own, and then put a bunch of awesome stuff inside! For a few bridal showers I made bags and then purchased small items from the registry to put in it. Saves on wrapping, looks really pretty and makes a great keepsake gift!

Here are some of the bags I’ve made recently…

Nautical themed bridal tote bag ~ designed by Tara White Studio

Bag handmade by Tara White Studio using pattern from the Purl Bee. Apple tree designed by Tara White Studio.

 

Green duck shoulder bag ~ designed by Tara White Studio. Available for purchase on Etsy!

Chipmunk shoulder bag ~ designed by Tara White Studio. Available for purchase on Etsy!

Custom penguin and duck shoulder bags ~ designed by Tara White Studio.

And here are some of the many, many bags that I have accumulated over the years…

Tara's bags ;)

Uh oh, I think I might be hoarding bags, maybe I should donate a few of these, hehe. Thankfully, for my wallet’s sake, most were gifts!

That being said, I definitely enjoy finding unique and interesting bags when I shop. Modcloth actually has an amazing collection of super cute bags. Here are some of my faves…

**This post contains affiliate links and I will be compensated if you make a purchase after clicking on my links.

ModCloth may be your go-to for cute dresses and clothing, but did you know they have a flourishing decor department? Think fun and unique adornments for your home, kitchen, bedroom, office space, and more. If that’s not incentive enough to check it out, they just so happen to be having a 20% Off Decor Sale that’ll give your place a pop of personality. No code needed, so just shop ’till your heart is content and there really will be no place like your home! Hurry while it lasts!

If you like bags as much as I do, I hope you found something you like here! See you next post!

~Tara

Spring Air and Craft Fairs

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Before I started on Etsy, I participated in a holiday fair at my work where I sold my handmade clay ornaments. I had a great time and made many sales. Sadly, the organizers got busy, people lost interest and the fair did not happen for the next few years. I then took it upon myself to start it back up again. In 2012, I organized the first official Employee Holiday Craft Fair at my work. I reached out to my coworkers who were also crafters and artists as well as their friends and family. We had a variety of items ranging from jewelry to crocheted octopi! This past year was the second annual Holiday Fair, where we had about 10 different vendors, half employees and half friends and family. Everyone did very well considering there was no cost to us and we held it for only 3 hours.

Before the 2013 holiday fair, I participated in several public craft fairs in my area. These were my first experiences at more professional, open-to-the-public, vendor shows, although many were the first ever. I learned a lot and would like to share what I leaned from each experience.

Destash Bash (first one)

How I found it: Etsy team

What it was all about: selling crafts and “destashing” excess materials and supplies

Duration: 6 hours

Cost: $25 for 10 x 10 space

The good and the bad: For my first public fair, this was pretty successful. I sold a lot of my jewelry but not much of my supplies. I found it helpful to have someone there for part of it so that I could take breaks, use the bathroom, etc. This fair was indoors and possibly not as advertised as it could have been so there were a lot of lulls where there were no shoppers.

My personal seller rating: B+

 

Todd Farm Flea Market (has been around for many, many years)

How I found it: Been going for years!

What it was all about: mostly antiques, some handmade

Duration: ~8 hours (first come first serve for spaces, so have to get there early)

Cost: $35 for 20 x 30 space

The good and the bad: I took a chance trying to sell my small, handmade items at a place known for its furniture and antique decor. I brought my Dad along who was selling some of his antiques and other items, so we split the cost and shared the space. The hardest part was getting there as early as we had to just to barely get a spot. The market is outside, so you’re exposed to all the elements and it was a hot day! In the end, my Dad sold more items than I did and I even put many things out for free near the end to get rid of stuff. I still love Todd Farm, but will probably just go as a shopper from now on!

My personal seller rating: D

 

Essex Shop and Stroll Event (first one)

How I found it: Invited through Etsy

What it was all about: Bringing together Artisans and shop owners in Essex, MA

Duration: 6 hours

Cost: FREE!

The good and the bad: This event was spread along the main street in downtown Essex, MA. Each participating shop was paired with two local artisans who were set up along the road out front. Myself and a local sculptor were paired with an antique shop very far from any other vendors. We were near the end of the route, so shoppers who were walking had to go quite a distance to find us. My Dad and Grandmother came down and almost didn’t find me! Since we were so spread out our potential customers came very sporadically throughout this long day. I would love to participate in this event again and hope that it will be planned a bit differently so that we can get more visitors.

My personal seller rating: C

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Tara White Studio, closeup of vendor table

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Fall Fest 2013 (first one)

How I found it: Friend

What it was all about: Local vendors from Cape Ann area ~ food, drinks, music, fun for the family

Duration: 7 hours

Cost: FREE!

The good and the bad: This was one of the longer events I did, but it did not feel that way because of all the festivities happening around me. I also did very well, selling many of my items and making more than any other fair. I met a lot of great people too! I guess I don’t have anything bad to report here!  Thanks to The Bridge for having me! If there is another next year, I hope to be part of it and encourage you to come!

My personal seller rating: A

Tara White Studio, Fall Fest Gloucester, MA

Holiday Craft Market (4th annual)

How I found it: Last year’s advertisement

What it was all about: Craft fair at local elementary school

Duration: 6 hours

Cost: $60 for 8 ft space, plus donation item for raffle (all proceeds went to the school)

The good and the bad: This was the most expensive fair that I was part of, but the money went to the school that I went to as a child, so the cost was easily rationalized and I didn’t mind donating a raffle item because I had an overflow of merchandise. While the fair was only 5 hours, with setup and breakdown it was more like 6 or 7 hours for the vendors. The organizers were definitely not noobs though, and had the whole process under control, everything from unloading and parking vehicles, getting vendors to their spaces, having adorable kids bring around lunch orders and surveys. I was impressed. But, the turnout was not as impressive. I didn’t even make back what I had paid, which was very disappointing. I did have a chance to walk around and there were so many amazing vendors there. This was the largest fair I had been part of, so that may have been why I didn’t make as much, too much competition! I would probably not sell there again, but would definitely like to do my Holiday shopping there!

My personal seller rating: B+

2013 Holiday Craft Market

Tara White Studio, 2013 Holiday Craft Market

After the last one, I did a fair at our sister company in Ipswich, MA. This one was free as well, I sold several items and met some more awesome people. There was another vendor who we had at the fair that I organized and I was proud to say that both of us did better at my show! All of these experiences have taught me a lot about what people like, how to display my items, how to network and so much more. If you have any questions about other aspects of selling at craft fairs, I am certainly not a pro, but I’d love to share more of my perspective with you!

 

Tara White Studio, last craft fair of the season : (

 

Jackson says, “Hello and happy Spring!”

My Little Corner – fitting a studio into a small space

My Little Corner – fitting a studio into a small space

My husband and I love the beach cottage we call home, but living in such a small place has its drawbacks. I find it difficult to keep clutter to a minimum while still being able to express myself creatively. I know I briefly described my studio space in my first post, but I think I made some real progress with it this weekend, so here’s more!

Our downstairs is open concept – the kitchen, living and dining rooms have no walls between them. Upstairs is one big bedroom, no separate office or anything. My first thought was to take over part of the bedroom – there’s a perfect corner for it. Unfortunately, I do a lot of my creating at night and my husband works the early shift. I couldn’t be up there with lights on and potentially making noise while he’s asleep.

I ended up taking over the dining table, which was awesome while I was in the middle of a project because I could have all my supplies out at once on the table and had a huge workspace. But it was a major eyesore if it wasn’t all cleaned up. About a month ago, we realized that we really didn’t need a dining table. We hadn’t hosted anyone for dinner, that is, inside… we have a beautiful deck and it is great for summer entertaining which is when this place is really awesome! And, I hate to admit it, we always end up eating in the living room while watching tv, a product of how we were both raised, I guess! So we sold our dining table to my sister, who didn’t have one and has a ton more space for it.

I ended up buying a walnut-colored trestle desk and matching bookcase on Amazon. I also ordered a matching stool, that was recommended to go with it, but it was way too high for the desk. Having already assembled the stool, it would have been more of a hassle to try to return it. Instead I am selling it to a coworker. For the past few weeks I’ve been using the desk chair from our desk upstairs. While it functioned well enough for the time being, I found the rolling feature to be very annoying. I end up sitting cross legged and would roll away all of a sudden! I also hated looking at the giant, black, high back monstrosity of a chair, it was definitely designed for men! Finally, yesterday I found a gorgeous yet very comfortable occasional chair at Marshalls of all places. It looks great with the rest of the decor and fits the desk and my sitting styles perfectly!

So here’s what my new space looks like!

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  • I mentioned the desk and bookcase ($125, $93, Amazon.com), the beautiful chair ($99, Marshalls) and the cabinet on the right was inherited from my Nana.
  • I found the task lamp at a local thrift shop for $4 and painted it neutral beige.
  • The rustic magnetic organizer ($15), was made by Frick and Frack Scraps, a fellow Etsy seller (http://www.etsy.com/shop/FrickandFrackScraps).
  • If you couldn’t tell from the photos, I love using decorative baskets and boxes to stay organized. Michaels Craft store has an awesome collection of home decor paper storage boxes ($8 – $14). I picked up a few on my last visit there and they make a huge difference in minimizing clutter. They are shown above on the bookcase and the one on the bottom shelf looks like an old fashioned suitcase, so adorable!
  • Finally, the desktop carousel and storage cube provide a ton of storage space for many of my tools and supplies. I got them a while ago from Michaels and sadly they have to live on the floor for now!

So that’s my OCD craft studio resolution – I am very happy with it, finally, and wanted to share some of my ideas with others struggling with space issues!

Before I go, I want to tell you about an awesome Etsy seller promotion I took advantage of. It was an offer from Moo, a printing company who I hadn’t heard of before. The offer was for 100 free mini business cards, I only had to pay $5 shipping. Well, they came this week and I absolutely love them! They are worth so much more than that! I chose to have images of my items printed on the front, so there are all different ones, almost like trading cards! I will definitely look to Moo for future printing needs!

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Saving the environment and money, one button at a time!

Welcome to the blog for Tara White Studio! I am so excited to share my first post with you on this lovely snowy day!

I’d like to begin by giving you a quick tour of the actual “studio” space that I work in.

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Here it is! Since our place is small, this is actually the corner of our living room, which was previously the dining room, but who needs one of those? The beautiful cabinet on the right was my Nana’s and I recently bought the desk and bookcase to match. They provide necessary storage space, while reducing the cluttered look of such a small space. I just have to be careful about how many “supplies” I keep at once; I tend to be a slight hoarder.

My material of choice lately is polymer clay. It is so fun and easy to work with, leaves very little mess and can be baked in your oven. I always hand-sculpt each piece and never use molds, that way each is completely unique. Then I paint, add textural elements, bedazzle, you name it!

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When possible, I utilize pieces of broken or vintage jewelry for the necklaces I make. I also love to incorporate found objects into my pieces. This jar of buttons, accumulated over time, could translate into many, many new and beautiful works of art. Not only is this method environmentally friendly, but it saves so much money. I love going to flea markets, antique stores, yard sales, even…I’ll admit it…”free” boxes on the sidewalk! All great places to find materials to give new life!

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I just completed photographing several new necklaces featuring handmade clay sand dollar charms as well as buttons from the old jar here. I’ll be listing them shortly, but here’s a sneak peek at one of the final products:

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Now it’s time to get listing! I am excited to get these in the Etsy shop these because it means I can get started on my next project!

Thank you so much for checking out my new blog! Hope to see you again next week!

~*’*Tara*’*~