Shop Spotlight: Cosmic Bath & Beauty

craftlaunchIf one person knows the secret to reaching full rise-and-shine potential, it’s Michelle Adams, owner of Cosmic Bath & Beauty, a shop that sells handmade, all-natural, all-wonderful cosmetics.

While rocking the roles of a wife and a mother of two, Michelle creates beautiful and “honest” products while keeping the prices reasonable. She lives for well-being and happiness, and prides herself in her business and her belief that everyone should have access to being healthy. Lucky for us, Michelle Adams wants to share her secret with the world.

What got you started? Where did you begin?

Like most people these days, our family was being more conscious of what we were eating and putting into our bodies, so naturally that eventually spilled over into being intentionally conscious of other products we were using every day.

In 2009 I began making soap for my family in our kitchen. When I learned that I had the power to create healthy alternatives to the chemical filled products we as a family had been using every day, I felt so empowered!

eyeshadow samples

What do you always try to keep in mind while you create your products?

Always natural, the “honest” kind of natural!

Without harmful chemicals, Cosmic is always free of detergents, petro chemicals, FD&C color and dyes, antibacterial Triclosan and Triclocarban, EDTA, TEA, DEA, sodium laureth and sodium lauryl sulfate, parabens, talc, and bismuth. My customers “trust me” and they trust that the products are always made with my best of intentions and their health in mind.

Always love and good juju!

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People always giggle when they read love and good juju on the ingredients list but we absolutely never make a product without it. I don’t have any scientific findings that they can actually be passed through a physical handmade item, but I standby making every Cosmic item this way. I feel like it’s the only way. I honestly LOVE what I get to do every day! I feel so privileged and grateful that both people who know me and complete strangers, support and love what I do.

Always affordable!

We believe in natural beauty and that honest, natural cosmetics and body care goods should be accessible to anyone who believes they’re worth it. That being said, we take great pride in keeping our line affordable.

What advice do you have for those just beginning to sell online?

Just get started! Yeah, it’s a little scary putting yourself (and your goods) out there, but just do it. Your first sales will fuel and motivate you to move forward. You’ll never have the opportunity to connect with your AMAZING customers unless you make yourself a little place of your own online where they will have the opportunity to not only find you but support you and your work.

craftlaunch

What is the most fulfilling aspect of your business?

There are really two things I love most. The first is the ability to do all this and still be really available for my family. I am a mom first and a businesswoman second. I love that I can work this handmade business around my family’s ever changing schedule.

Connecting with my customers is a really strong second. Don’t get me wrong, sales are super exciting but getting that personal note or email from someone who really gets what I’m doing is pretty darn amazing! Connecting with women in this way, sharing stories and inspiring each other… I just love it! I’m so happy to call many customers my friends now.

What’s your favorite thing about CraftLaunch?

As a maker, we wear many hats—designer, photographer, sales, marketing, and so on. CraftLaunch just makes it so simple, the setup takes no time at all. If you already have your Etsy shop you’re more than halfway to having a really beautiful, professional looking website.

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Cosmic Bath & Beauty: http://www.cosmicbathandbeauty.com/

Shop Spotlight: Dyeabolical Yarns

Fall is here and we all know what that means. It’s time to put away the shorts and exchange your favorite summer t-shirt for a cozy warm sweater. However, there’s no reason for the bright summer colors to stop. Rachel Kluesner, owner of Dyeabolical—a shop for quality yarns, spinning fibers, and soaps, is devoted to maintaining the beauty of color through her high-quality products.

From the comfort of her home in St. Louis, Rachel dyes her yarns herself, producing gorgeous blends of vibrant colors.  She focuses on finding the best possible way to make her products “pop,” and has overwhelming dedication to her passion for color creation.

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What do you hope people will receive from your products?

Joy. Color is so important and riotous color is just plain fun. Having a constantly changing yarn running through your fingers is a pleasure.

What inspires you?

I draw my inspiration for product names from pop culture, nature, art, and customer suggestions. The inspiration for my colors, though, come from color itself. I rarely set out to create a colorway inspired by an idea. Instead I look at my jars of dyes and let the potential combinations inspire me.

perfume

superhero yarn

soap of the month

What advice do you have for those just beginning to sell?

Read. Read. Read. Write a little, too. Set aside a few hours a week to learn about SEO, taking pictures, blogging, doing business online, and connecting with fellow sellers. Learn as much as you can about your craft, and crafts related to it. Be able to talk intelligently about why you make the choices you make, both in your art and in your business.

Do you sell offline too? Where else can we find your stuff?

I sell my products in several Missouri yarn shops (Knitorious, Ewe Knits, Hillcreek Yarn Shoppe), Sifu Designs in Chicago, and All About Ewe in Clark, NJ. Knitcrate.com – a mail order subscription service – offers my stock, too.

My products can also be found at Kakao Chocolates in Maplewood, MO, where I have a line of yarns inspired by local businesses.

fibers

What’s your favorite thing about CraftLaunch?

I love that I can update my Etsy site and CraftLaunch updates automatically. I stay with Etsy because they have a large, dedicated group of customers who prefer to shop directly from Etsy.

I stay with CraftLaunch because I have a core group of customers who are not Etsy shoppers. This way I am hitting two demographics without the hassle of trying to keep inventory straight in 2 different online shops.

Dyeabolocal: http://www.dyeabolicalyarns.com/

Shop Spotlight: Etta’s Soaps

Fresh ginger and lime, bamboo lotus, seaside escape—soap artisan Belinda Skarka knows exactly what you want. Etta’s Soaps, Belinda’s bath and body store, is any girl’s haven when it comes to pampering and nourishment.

pomegranate scrib

A natural born crafter, Belinda only found a knack for creating soaps and balms later. Inspired by natural colors and smells, Belinda set out to find the perfect textures and scents to give her products that special magic. Named in honor of Belinda’s grandmother, Etta’s Soaps consists of high quality products and irresistible scents. The goal is simple and the reasoning admirable.  Etta’s Soaps is for anyone with a love of pampering and an appreciation of the complex yet simple behavior of the sense of smell.

What got you started? Where did you begin?

I worked with an esthetician for ten years in day spas throughout the country. I have always been creative. I love scrap-booking and making different crafts. However, making soaps never crossed my mind until I started going to farmers markets and seeing all the soaps and body care products. I did some research and found an intensive course on making soaps and after making my first soap, I was hooked.

herbal balm

The right name for my business was important to me. I started thinking about the people in my life and what meant the most to me. This is how I came up with Etta’s Soaps. Etta was my grandmother and she was an amazing woman. She taught me a lot and introduced me to business. This is my way of honoring her.

What do you hope people will receive from your products?

When customers use my products it is my hope that it makes them feel pampered and that they enjoy the wonderful scents and how good it cleans and makes their skin feel.

I always think about what my grandmother taught me. Provide a great product and give exceptional customer service. I work hard to get my orders out fast and I always try to add a little extra touch like a sample or something.

lip balm

What inspires you?

I really get inspired by color and nature and anything that makes me feel pampered. I find a lot of inspiration on the web, in magazines and by going to boutiques.
I love how scents can take you back to a special place or special memory. This is why I use quality fragrances and essential oils.
I also love learning, taking classes and going to trade shows. This way I’m always growing and learning.

What do you always try to keep in mind while you create your products?

I always use high quality ingredients and work hard to create a great product.

bath bomb

Where do you hope your business will go?

My business is still evolving and I’m learning more every day.
My dream will come true when I open a quaint little Bath and Body Product Store in a busy downtown area where there are little shops and restaurants. I would also like to offer classes in skincare and making soaps.

What advice do you have for those just beginning to sell online?

Take good pictures and describe your product well. Have an easy to navigate website (CraftLaunch can help you with this) and always add a note to your orders thanking them for their business.

Do you sell offline too? Where else can we find your stuff?

I also sell at local farmers markets and craft shows.

pure lavender soap

What is the most fulfilling aspect of your business?

I love meeting new people and listening to their concerns and life stories. Before I go to a craft show or a farmers market to sell my products, I ask God to let me be a blessing to someone.
Starting this business has pushed me out of my comfort zone and made me do things I wouldn’t normally do. I am also being a role model to my daughters. Show them when you want something —work hard through all the challenges and don’t give up.

What is your favorite thing about CraftLaunch?

I was so happy that I found CraftLaunch. I’m not a computer tech and was really struggling trying to get a website together. You know the ones that say you can build your web site in and hour (LOL)? It didn’t work for me.

I think CraftLaunch was the easiest software I have ever worked with and allowed me to put together a website in no time. I have also been very impressed with their customer service. When I have a problem or question they address it promptly.

sugar scrub

What’s something we should have asked you but didn’t?

What has been my biggest challenge?

Trying to balance everything.

When starting a new business you wear many hats. The easiest part is creating your product, but my biggest challenge has been marketing and social media aspects of the business. I’m still working in these areas to improve.

Etta’s Soaps: http://www.ettassoaps.com/

Shop Spotlight: Leetie Lovendale, Handmade Vintage Earrings

Vintage lovers and color fanatics, meet Heather DeSimone—owner of Leetie Lovendale, the store where retro meets modern-age and the art of color is brought to a new level.

leetie lovendale

Created from the remains of a Rhode Island plastics company, Leetie Lovendale products creatively take advantage of the strange odds and ends that otherwise would’ve been thrown away and wasted. Colorful and unique, these pieces of jewelry now shine off the ears of their lucky owners and reflect the amount of love and care dedicated to production.

Heather carefully hand-makes each piece from her studio at home while caring for her two young sons. A passion for craft and color can easily be seen in her impeccable products. Her creations are one-of-a-kind and irresistibly smile-inducing!

brown earrings

What got you started? Where did you begin?

Leetie Lovendale was born of leftovers, really. I have co-owned a bead and jewelry supply company since 1993 with my mother, Jan Parker. In 2004, we purchased the contents of a manufacturer’s warehouse which supplied Avon, Coro & Trifari, among other jewelry designers in the 60’s, 70’s & 80’s, with jewelry components made of lucite. We sold loads of vintage beads over the past 8 years, but we still had all of these other funky plastic parts such as macaroni shaped hoops, holeless beads and balls and other shapes. I began to experiment with a torch-like device which sets these parts together and finishes them off. Working with industrial dyes, etc. and a line of fresh and fun jewelry, Leetie Lovendale was born.

earrings

What do you hope people will receive from your products?

I hope to make people smile. This jewelry is not to be taken too seriously. With its bold colors and retro and familiar shapes, it usually brings smiles to peoples’ faces. I like that.

What inspires you?

I’m currently in love with the mid-century modern aesthetic. I love the bold shapes and the industrial and space-age influence found everywhere from the prints in the clothing to the clocks on the wall and in the decor.

flower earrings

What do you always try to keep in mind while you create your products?

Wearability. It’s easy to go crazy connecting various shapes and parts together the way I do. But I always want to be sure that when a fan picks up an earring or sees a piece online that they realize it’s light-weight and comfortable even thought it might make a bold statement.

Where do you hope your business will go?

Ideally, I would love to see Leetie Lovendale on the shelves at Lilly Pulitzer, Nordstrom and Anthropologie. I’d love some more wholesale accounts, however I am really happy with the boutiques that carry my goods now and enjoy selling retail online as well as at various markets. I’m looking for other sales reps to sell retail at Open Markets around the world. Hit me up if you love to smile and sell colorful things!

earrings

What advice do you have for those just beginning to sell online?

Work smarter and not harder. If don’t have money but you have time, invest your time. Believe in your brand even if you don’t have others that do. And partner with people who know what you do not, whether that’s site design, marketing, photography, or pricing.

Do you sell offline too? Where else can we find your stuff?

Yes, I sell to several boutiques throughout the US as well as at Open Markets in Maine & Boston. Sowa Open Market is one of my favorites and I’m there almost every Sunday from May through October. It’s in the funky and trendy South End of Boston.

trunk show

What is the most fulfilling aspect of your business?

I get to be surrounded by color and my kids. My studio is right off of my house, so I can be home with them when I need to be. That’s worth a lot to a mom of two busy boys.

What’s your favorite thing about CraftLaunch?

I love that I only have to update one channel. Since it streams from my Etsy shop, I can keep that fresh and up to date, but my website will mimic the changes I made there in minutes. My time is so scarce lately so this is a huge value as a growing business. I also love that I didn’t have to invest $1000’s of dollars to start up an e-commerce site. With my other business, I have done that and I still am not able to do the maintenance myself. With CraftLaunch I didn’t have to invest up front, just monthly which is easy on my budget, AND I can be in charge of maintenance.

What’s something we should have asked but didn’t?

Do I love what I do? Yes, I really do. I am lucky.

Leetie Lovendale: http://leetielovendale.com/

Texas Style Council: Let’s Get Together

texas style council

The Hyatt hotel in downtown Austin recently held a conference, Texas Style Council, where bloggers, online sellers, and crafters alike gathered to learn about how to be successful in the online marketing and crafting world. The fourth-annual event featured an array of inspirational speakers and held over 400 attendees. With a focus on blogging, business, and general education, Texas Style Council offered attendees an experience that could not be matched.

I was lucky enough to attend this conference where I learned about social media, marketing, and blogging. The event featured speakers from great shopping websites, blogs, and businesses, including Ruche, Yelp, and Lulu’s.com. Aside from these great speakers, the attendees were nothing short of awesome. Fellow bloggers and business starters were friendly and excited. The event only confirmed my great amount of faith in the online crafting world. I took away more than I could have hoped for, and I’d like to share three of these take-aways with you.

  1. Pitch– It’s very common for people to overlook the importance of their pitch. This includes social media, branding, and most importantly, email. When sending an email to a potential client or collaborator, it’s important to establish a relationship while keeping the email clear and concise. This will help both of you understand whether or not the opportunity fits, as well as ease the idea of future partnerships. Just as important, a concise email will drastically enhance your chances of collaboration. Don’t beat around the bush—use the first few sentences of your email to tell your recipient what you want. It’s simply considerate of time. Emailing is often the first step to getting what you want, so take the time to write a good one!
  2. Resources– There are a lot of ways to earn money on social media sites that many are unaware of. For example, there are affiliate services such as Reward Style where whenever a person clicks on a product that you’ve blogged about, you get a percentage. It’s also important to remember that you may have something that someone else wants and vice versa. Cross promotion with guest contributors can be very helpful, as well as promotional trades which can done through sites like Pinterest. Along with that, discount codes and giveaways can also be effective. A little trick: notifying people about different promotions at different times through specific media outlets will encourage people to find you on all of your sites!
  3. Connect– Austin is a great place for companies to grow.  We may not always be able to host a get-together in the Hyatt, but that’s no excuse for cooping ourselves up in our own little studios, shops and home offices. For all of you bloggers, business owners, and crafters out there: growing an online business doesn’t mean it all has to be online. We can meet, relate, and just talk. Let’s get together over coffee and help each other succeed on the great, big Internet!

-Monica

Three Common Mistakes Etsy Sellers Make and How to Prevent Them in Your Shop

This is a guest post by Michele Gallagher from My Craft Assistant

You know the scenario: you come up with a fabulous new item, you show the item to your friends and family and they love it, in fact some may even place an order for you to make one for them. You take pictures of the item, invest the time to write a thoughtful description and list it on Etsy. Maybe your item is one of a kind and something people have never seen before, maybe it’s something other Etsy sellers have listed in their shops and are selling for them, but either way your item just sits there… it doesn’t sell.

Many Etsy shop owners come to me and they say “my friends and family love my items, I always get compliments on them, so why aren’t they selling?” or they simply ask “why aren’t my items selling?” There are a handful of mistakes I see crafters make time and again that prevent them from making that sale. Here are a few of the most common ones I see (and how to prevent them in your shop):

Mistake #1: Your listings are not set up for the Etsy Relevancy Search. Etsy does not do a great job of telling you upfront how they rank items in their search results, you really have to do research on it to get a good understanding of how to list your items the “right” way. Many crafters believe that their item’s tags are the most important factor in getting found, but that’s not true. Your item’s titles are just as important and are a factor in where you fall in the Etsy search results. Take the time to research keywords and phrases that are relevant to your items and make sure they are prevalent in your titles AND tags. You are allowed up to 140 characters in your Etsy title – make the most of it! Use the Google Keyword Tool to help you find the right words and phrases to use. The Etsy search bar and competitors listings are also great places to find ideas. If you need more help figuring out how to structure your titles and tags I offer an Etsy Relevancy Ebook as well as custom reports to show you exactly how you can improve your titles and tags.

Mistake #2: Not paying attention to your shop title. Your shop title, located underneath your banner, right below your shop name is one of the key places the Google search engine looks when deciding whether or not your shop is relevant in a potential customers search (and in turn determines where your shop should be placed in the search results). If Google does not deem your shop relevant, your shop will appear low in the search results and will most likely not be seen. Many times I see Etsy sellers using their shop name as their shop title. Instead, use this space to describe what it is you’re selling. Use broad terms (like jewelry, art, woodwork, etc.) along with more descriptive words (like boho jewelry, children’s wall art and custom woodwork) to further target your exact customer.

Mistake #3: Many Etsy sellers have Twitter and Facebook accounts for their business but don’t fully understand how to use it to promote their items. Just sending out links to items in your Etsy shop makes people feel like they are being marketed too and can even get you removed from Twitter for spamming.  Instead, engage with customers, and provide usefully information…give them a reason to want to follow you! For example, if you sell jewelry, tweet tips on how to properly clean your jewelry, suggestions on how to store your jewelry to keep it from tangling, new trends, the season’s hottest colors or even information on how to build a handmade jewelry box. When you tweet information that people can use they naturally get interested in what you do and they will visit your profile and will see the link to your Etsy shop. It is OK to tweet links to your shop once in a while, but try not to do it more than 25% of the time.

I love working with crafters to help them grow their shops. While it can be difficult to get your items seen in a sea of handmade goods on Etsy, the above tips will help you drive more relevant traffic to your shop and hopefully start getting you some more sales! If you would like further assistance or help getting started feel free to contact me and I can help you get on the right path to making sales consistently on Etsy.

Michele Gallagher has a passion for helping people grow their businesses. She has been an active member of the crafting community for many years and has open and run several successful Etsy shops. Her products have been featured in many retail stores throughout her career including Nordstrom department store in 2009.  She also runs a popular Etsy Consultancy called My Craft Assistant (where she does marketing, SEO, shop setup and more!) and is author of a Etsy Relevancy Ebook.

SEO for Etsy sellers: Tips for optimizing your CraftLaunch Site

We’ve been getting a lot of questions from CraftLaunch users and Etsy sellers about search engine optimization, or SEO. Maximizing SEO is really important for website owners and Etsy sellers looking for new customers, but all the information floating around about tags, keywords and formulas can make things a little confusing.

Many users ask us, “Why am I not on the first page of Google search results for the phrase ‘vintage items’?” or “Why is my CraftLaunch site not on the first page of Google search results for keyword {fill in the blank}?” The simple answer is that quality SEO takes time, research and continuous review and tweaking. It takes awhile for Google to search every corner of the Web for links to and updates on your website. That’s why you should start optimizing your CraftLaunch site immediately if you haven’t already – you need to catch up to the competition!

As for the long answer to that question, here are some tips and resources that can help all Etsy sellers improve their SEO.

Resource: Starter guides

Both Google and a company called SEOmoz have some great resources on getting started and understanding SEO. These guides are a must read for anyone serious about getting started with their SEO strategy.

Google: SEO Starter Guide:
http://www.google.com/webmasters/docs/search-engine-optimization-starter-guide.pdf

SEOmoz: The Beginner’s Guide to SEO
http://www.seomoz.org/beginners-guide-to-seo

Resource: CraftLaunch Tutorial

We recently added a new feature for CraftLaunch users that allows customization of the title, description and keyword META tags on most pages. Be sure to read the tutorial and additional resource links to understand more on how to write effective tags.

http://help.craftlaunch.com/kb/getting-started/setting-up-meta-tags-for-your-websites-seo

Tip: Beware of Scammers

Have you had anyone randomly email you and say they have a “special relationship” with Google and can use their “proprietary software” to get you ranked #1 for the keywords of your choice? We are here to reassure you this is untrue – in fact, Google changes its search algorithms frequently to prevent companies from gaming the system and has penalized many prominent Fortune 500 companies for using underhanded tactics.

The following post from Google has some great tips on avoiding SEO scammers and important questions to ask a potential SEO firm.

http://www.google.com/support/webmasters/bin/answer.py?answer=35291

Tip: Focus on the Long Tail:

If you use generic keywords like “stationery,” it can be extremely difficult to achieve a high search ranking because there’s so much competition. Companies like American Stationery and Crane spend piles of money and man hours to rank on the first page of search results. Unless you’re independently wealthy, we suggest you focus on long-tail keywords – i.e. “personalized handmade letterpress stationery.” You are more likely to rank highly for specific, less common terms, and they attract focused consumers who want exactly what you’re selling.

The Long Tail of Keyword Research:
http://www.wordtracker.com/academy/long-tail-keyword-research

Illustrating the Long Tail:
http://www.seomoz.org/blog/illustrating-the-long-tail

We hope this post, along with the linked resources, will help all Etsy sellers and CraftLaunch users increase their SEO performance. Contact us through our support area if you have any questions regarding SEO and your CraftLaunch website – we will do our best to help you. Thanks and happy selling!