All of my life I have had animals as parts of my family. They really make the best companions. They are always happy to see you, they don’t judge and never stay mad at you. This is why I have enjoyed drawing portraits of companion animals. I feel that it is just as important that our memories of our quadrupedal friends last forever. As a former veterinary technician, I have seen many people lose their loyal friends and it can be just as painful as losing a human friend. Although you can go out and adopt another pet, no one forgets their lost companions. They are all unique with their own personalities, just as we are.
Most portraits were made for friends and co-workers, but a few were for some lucky raffle winners.
(click on the images for slideshow and info)
Chloe in color. 11×14, colored pencil, 2010.
Jackson pop art. 8×10, acrylic paint, 2014.
Commission. 8×10, pastel, 2013.
Sunny Afternoon. 5X7, graphite, 2006.
Rio. 8×10, graphite, 2011.
Sisko. 9×12, chalk, 2010.
Same Sleepy Dog. 8×10, chalk, 2006.
Chloe in the Snow. 8×10, graphite, 2010.
Jack. 8×10, graphite, 2009.
Penny. 8×10, pastel, 2011.
Joe. 11X14, charcoal, 2010.
Australian Shepherd. 9×12, chalk, 2010.
Bruschi. 8×10, graphite, 2012.
T-Dough. 4×6, graphite, 2011. Frame painted with acrylic.
Bailey. 11×14, graphite, 2010.
I use high quality, archival drawing paper for graphite drawings, textured paper for charcoal and pastels.
But I decided to use it for something that I actually needed, which were new business cards. I have not had professional cards since I started referring to my business as Tara White Studio, apart from my free Etsy mini cards, which I ran out of.
I started from scratch and designed my own, full color, double-sided cards on a linen textured card. With the gift certificate and an online promo, I got 100 cards for just $8.10! They came in this adorable little kraft paper box with a little white Zazzle seal.
I am very impressed with how they turned out. The colors are exactly what I expected and the images and text printed perfectly. Even the reverse side, which I used to promote my pet portrait service looks amazing!
So thank you Zazzle for choosing my collection as a winner so that I can promote my business with these amazing new cards!
And now, Zazzle is running a 30 Days of Maker Giveaways campaign where each day they’ll be giving away a product from one of their Makers ! I’ll be entering for a chance to win and so should you!
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.
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.
Oh and I almost forgot, I also reorganized my small and humble work space. Enjoy some pictures below!
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…
And here are some of the many, many bags that I have accumulated over the years…
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!
Here’s a peek at some of the things I’ve made this Spring…
I wanted a beachy but rustic welcome sign for our front door so I painted the word on a piece of old driftwood, attached it to an old, weathered basket and embellished it with scallop shells and vintage mother-of-pearl buttons.
For Mother’s Day, I knew I wanted to make gifts for my mom and my mother-in-law. I had acquired a huge bag of vintage fabrics, including tablecloths, dish towels and doilies, many, many doilies! So, when a doily bag post from Sew Mama Sew came up in my blog feed, I was beyond excited. I came up with this bag for my mom. I altered the pattern a little by using the trimmed outer edge of my green doily as an accent for the top edge of the bag.
I was able to use a combination of some fun fat quarters that I had in this adorable little tote, pattern courtesy Oliver + S blog. I gave this to my husband’s Mom along with the Family wall hanging inside.
I decided to make something for my Mom to hang as well. She now works from home, using my sister’s old bedroom as an office, so I thought an office sign would be neat. I attempted to make it look old-fashioned, and even painted a vintage rotary telephone on it.
The wall hangings / signs were relatively easy and fun to make, so you may see some in my Etsy shop in the near future!
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 goodand 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
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
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
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
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+
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!