Friday, September 28, 2012

A Team Collaboration

Instead of Friday Finds, today I'm pitching a team project. But be forewarned: this one may cost a little money to participate. Don't let that stop you though, because you can quickly make it back --  and maybe more!  And if you don't, you will instead end up with a unique piece of artwork!

The idea is to create a team collaborative, mixed media art piece. I have started with a blank 16x20 canvas and added a little piece of crochet work (a leaf in my favorite green yarn.) It is now listed in my shop. It is fairly priced so as to recoup my initial investment for the canvas and Etsy fees. I estimated shipping (within U.S. only) so total price and shipping equals $11.00.

If you would like to be a part of this project, you purchase the piece from my shop. I ship it to you. You have three days after receipt to add your signature handmade to it - decoupage, paint, fabric, leather, jewelry component - whatever medium you would like to use. Then, within the three days, list it in your shop with your price and your terms. It is then open for another member to purchase and continue the cycle.

This continues until either a team member decides to keep the piece (or is forced to keep it because no one is buying!), or it is purchased by someone outside the team. At this point, the piece is finished. The team member who keeps the finished piece gets to title it and hang it on their wall! Or, the team member who sells the finished piece to an outside buyer gets to title it and also keeps the money from the sale! However, if the team member sells the piece, he or she must start a new collaborative piece using these same rules.

  • By participating, you understand there are no guarantees the artwork will sell. However, the more team participation, and the more artful the creation, the higher the chances of selling!
  • Once you buy the piece, it is yours. You determine if it is finished or not.
  • If you don't relist it within three days of receipt, the piece is considered finished.
  • When relisting, add your name to the list of artists in the same format as mine.  Each subsequent participant continues the list. (This is to keep us Etsy-legal.)
  • Team members can purchase the piece up to three times, but must add something with each purchase.
  • Be mindful not to cover another's work. You can work off of it, but try not to make drastic changes to it. We want everyone's work to be recognizable (if possible.)
  • Do not add items that are not handmade. That is, do not add a mass-produced charm!
  • No copyright items.
  • As soon as you list it in your shop, post to this thread.

Besides creating a unique piece of artwork, this project will serve several purposes:
  • As art, it will be a representation of  both "team" and  "handmade."
  • The listing itself will serve as a team promotional tool.
  • If it lands in your shop, it may become a "what-is-it" that draws in buyers.
  • It may help participants gain a better understanding of pricing.
  • Participation allows the opportunity to experience other team members work.
  • One of our members could possibly make a little money from this project.
  • Should be fun to see where this goes!

Alrighty then.... Etsy Handmade Team Collaborative Art - Mixed Media #1 - now listed!

 Cap'n Kathi

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Copyright Infringement...

Some people still don't understand that if you have a photo YOU took, YOU own the copyright to that photo and NOBODY has the right to use that photo for any purpose without YOUR permission.  The social sites you post photos to may have the right to use them for their own purposes as we all agree to when we sign up for said social networks.  But OTHER USERS of those sites do NOT have the right to your photos.

Facebook, Flickr, Pinterest and other similar sites have made it difficult to keep that message out there.  And the general public is largely ignorant about copyright issues, not having to be concerned with it.  But anyone who has been selling artwork or goods online for even 2 months, should know by now that you don't lift someone else's photos to use them for your own purpose unless you have their permission.  There are some very minor gray areas having to do with fair use that even lawyers can't figure out what is or isn't infringement.

But there is NO doubt that if you post a personal photo of yourself on your facebook or blog or flickr, NOBODY has the right to lift that photo to then use for their own nefarious purposes.  They do not have the right to use photos of your product for anything other than promoting YOUR item with credit to you and a link going back to said item.

There are people trying to spread misinformation to justify their own behaviors.  Posting articles that cloud the issue even more by stating basically that with all the technology we have it's pointless to fight infringement anymore.  That if you post your photos anywhere online, whether personal or business related, you should EXPECT people to "share" them.  Hmmmmm.  This coming from someone who has been selling online for years but doesn't think twice about stealing personal photos.

I don't expect my sister, a teacher, or my brother-in-law, a forester, to know anything about copyrights.  People tell me all the time "Oh, look at this bracelet.  You could make that!"  Even giving me brochures and catalogs from home party jewelry businesses so I can make the items shown in the brochure.  They just aren't educated about copyright any more than I am about being a teacher or a forester.  So I understand that.

But we as sellers online, have a responsibility to educate ourselves, and to a certain degree, educate others who don't know.  To protect our work and also to protect others' works.  There are enough gray areas in this issue without people who should know better, trying to make it cloudier simply to justify their own malicious behaviors.

Technology definitely makes it harder for those of us who care about this issue to keep the message out there, but I will not stop.  I will never embrace the idea that if you put your photo out there, it is mine to do with as I please.

This is an interesting read, if you can get through it.  It mostly serves to stir up my initial apprehensions about using Pinterest.   And why I don't have thousands of pins or 50 boards like many enthusiastic pinners do.

I'm very torn about pinning.  Something to think about.  We can embrace Pinterest as a promotional tool and still pin thoughtfully, ensuring that links to the artist/artisan's work travels with the image being pinned and never take artists' works for our own personal use, whatever that may be.  But especially not with bad intentions.  And for goodness sake, never pin another seller's work to a DIY board!!  Pin thoughtfully...

and come back HERE to carry on with our discussion

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

OMG! A Negative Feedback!!

Positive.  Neutral.  Negative.  Feedback.  Those are our choices on Etsy.

But Etsy feedback is kind of weird.  The feedback a seller leaves for a buyer is invisible to the public so you can't see what feedback has been left for them.  But you do see if they have a negative as a buyer.  You just don't know for what and why.

Seller's feedback on the other hand is right there in all its glory for the whole world to read. So as sellers, we sure do care what that feedback says about us, our product and our customer care.

You can only leave one feedback.  You cannot leave any additional feedback, to explain a questionable feedback left about you as a seller. Are you confused yet?  I'm not surprised.  If you get a negative, the only recourse you have is to ask the other party to 'kiss and makeup'.

You read that right.  I did not make that up.  If someone leaves you a feedback you feel is unfair, you can ask that person to 'kiss and makeup' so you can have it amended to more positive comments.  The only people I want to kiss and make up with are my family.  And even then...nevermind...  

Many sellers feel a neutral is as bad as a negative.  I think it depends on if there is an explanation or not.
Most customers aren't into the whole feedback thing as much as we are and don't think neutral is negative.

Then there are those on Etsy who feel that a negative feedback is equivalent to the kiss of death.  And while I would not be happy with one, I don't think it means the end of your Etsy career or that you have to sell one of your children, even though that might be a viable solution for some.  I have made many purchases from sellers who had a negative.  Even when they had more than one.  I look at the ratio of positives to the negatives.  The higher volume of sales, the more the odds go up of running into a negative from time to time.  And I carefully read any negatives.  I can tell if someone is too hard to please, has an axe to grind or is just never going to be happy with anything.  So if you really want that item, but the seller has some negatives, read what they are and decide if it's a risk or not.

But then there are, in my opinion, the worst kind of feedbacks.  No information at all, just the little plus, minus or circle symbols.  If you really want to hurt a seller, leave them a negative or a neutral without explaining.  Slightly better, but still not great in my opinion, a positive with just enough information to make you curious but not really tell you anything.

For example:  "This is soooooooo cute!" and then a string of little characters denoting all kinds of emotions, none of which I really know the meaning.  Feedback like this and blank ones are totally useless to me.  Although if it's positive, that's more encouraging.

I want to know about the qualilty of workmanship.  Was the item accurately represented in the listing and photographs.  How well was it packaged and how long did it take to receive.  Was the seller helpful in answering any questions?  Things like that are what will help me decide on whether to purchase or not.    And that is the kind of feedback I want my customers to leave about me so other prospective customers know what to expect.  

So what should you do when you get that dreaded negative?  I feel that as the seller, accepting people's money for our products, it is our responsibility to bend over backwards and go the extra mile to ensure we end up with a happy customer.  I know there are times where this may be impossible, but if you don't give it everything you've got, you have failed that customer.

Giving it everything you've got does not mean you sell the farm to appease a grumpy malcontent who spent $5 and is now griping that you overcharged shipping by 30 cents.  Of course, there are times where the customer is absolutely wrong and nothing you do to appease them works.  That's when you cut your losses and move on.  Most of the time, however, if you react politely, calmly and show a real willingness to work to fix the situation, you will convert an unhappy customer to a happy one.  That is worth their weight in gold.

But please don't ever run to your blog and publicly rant about a customer by name, trashing them and insulting the town they live in because you're upset they left you a negative without contacting you first and copy/pasting their messages onto your blog, posting it to your facebook and tweeting it repeatedly, even two months after the fact.  That happened once. Really!   I saw it very recently.  Nevermind the unbelievable unprofessionalism of this type of behavior.  It downright smacks of vindictiveness.

One of my purchases, this past winter was less than positive.  The item arrived and was not sized properly at all and the craftsmanship was poor to mediocre.  Then I read their policies that they do not accept returns.  My bad for not reading this before making my purchase.  Anyway, I decided I had to leave a negative and explained why.  This seller later contacted me and offered me 15% back on my purchase if I would change my feedback to a positive.   Well, I said no thanks to their bribe.  Even if I got 15% back, I couldn't wear the article without altering it myself and it didn't change the fact that the quality of workmanship was not good. 

We are in business catering to the public.   We have a system where they can and do leave us feedback.  Most of the time it will be good.  But when that one time pops up where there is a problem, even if you're right as rain, smile, do everything you can within reason to remedy the issue and remember that you are the one in the public realm offering a product you want people to spend money on.  If you consistently offer superior customer care, it will be reflected in your feedback and your reputation will build on that and customers will have faith in you and your product.

Just don't sweat the little bumps that come along.  And for goodness sake, don't turn the little bumps into rocky mountains by lashing out at the customer.  Take the high road.  It will pay off and you will be happy you did later on down that road.

So come back to our discussion forum and let's discuss

Tuesday, September 18, 2012


Our Tuesday Teamie this week features a new member to our team. Her name is Micaela and her shop is foundationcreations (True Foundation Creations.) Here is how she introduced herself to the team:
Hi everyone, My name is Micaela! I'm the owner, maker and designer of True Foundation Creations! I'm a high school home school senior and have been an avid crafter for as long as I can remember!
I live in the beautiful Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina, where I work with my sister capturing the happiest moments of people’s lives! From weddings to newborns, seniors and families... photography keeps me very busy, but I always enjoy every minute of it!
I’m a crafter, a painter, a photographer and a blogger… I love to sing, smile, laugh and make pretty things. My sister once told me that “to describe my personality by a color from a box of crayons would be impossible, because,” as she said “I’m the whole box!”
I think that pretty much describes my crafting too… most crafters like to pick one or two things and focus on that, but for me, I like to learn and do as much crafting as possible! From Crocheting, to basket weaving, candle dipping, cross stitching, embroidery, painting, jewelry making, photography, knitting, pottery, paper making, sewing, glass cutting, stamp carving and quilting… just to name a few ;)
I started my etsy shop July 24 of not too long ago... I am enjoying every minute owning an etsy shop and love the encouragement that all my fellow etsy shop owners have given me!
I’m so excited about joining this team and can't wait to start meeting you all! :D

I don't know about you, but I find Micaela to be an inspiration, and her enthusiasm infectious! Let's all give Micaela a big welcome today and promote her shop via pin, tweet, post! We welcome you to the team, Micaela, and wish you much Etsy success!


'Etsy Handmade Team's Tuesday Teamie' by pomegranatefarm


Hand Crochet Afghan khaki Lace Color Autumn - FoundationCreations
Window bouquets Jute String Home Decor Window Floral Arrangement Wedding - FoundationCreations
Framed Fall Leaf Pressed Leaves  Autumn Wall Decor Thanksgiving Decor - FoundationCreations
Jute String Ornament Christmas Rustic Wedding Unique Christmas Decor - FoundationCreations
Kissing Ball Flower Girl Flower Ball Large Oranment Wedding Autumn Fall - FoundationCreations
Clothespin Snowflake Ornament Upcycled Clothespin Ornament -Unique Christmas Decor  Gift Topper - FoundationCreations
Acorn Top Sparkle Ornament - FoundationCreations
Crochet Dish Cloths Crochet Wash Cloths 100% Cotton Set of Three Bathcloths bath and beauty - FoundationCreations

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Reaffirming the Team Vision

There is no more powerful engine driving an organization toward excellence and long-range success than an attractive, worthwhile, achievable vision for the future, widely shared.
� Burt Nanus, Visionary Leadership

Less than six months ago, in response to then-current Etsy events, this team was formed in an effort to elevate the status of Etsy handmade shops over the increasing number of reseller shops, and to raise awareness of the importance of handmade in general. In our efforts, we determined that we first needed to establish a team reputation, and to do that, we needed to get our team "out there." That is where we are now.

In the past few months, as our membership has grown to over 800, we have created a team blog, promotional website, Facebook page,  Pinterest page, and have begun promoting on Wanelo. Some of these promotional avenues are still a work-in-progress, but as we continue to grow and learn as a team, our progress will be reflected in our promotional output. Keep in mind, in team years, we are pre-schoolers!

The first few months were spent getting the team off the ground. Now it is time to have some fun! We have started putting forth more team games and challenges, and all members are encouraged to participate. Besides great promotional tools, games and challenges are a fun way to get to know your teammates.

We have also loosened the rules for team treasuries to give them more diversity. We need to keep up the treasury-making as this is one of the best ways to keep our team out there on Etsy. And, once again ----- please tag your listings with the team tag - "teamhandmade." Otherwise, you are missing out on free shop promotion. If you can't be found, you can't be promoted! Simply add the phrase "teamhandmade" (no quotes, no capital letters) as one of the tags in each of your listings.

With our team vision in mind, we will continue to promote our members and build our team reputation as we move toward our goal of raising awareness to the buying public about the importance and value of buying handmade. It is my belief that by working on this goal, we will be much closer to attaining our goal of elevating handmade shops above resellers on Etsy.

Work is continuing on a handmade directory that is a stand alone website. This is a slow-going work-in-progress, but once completed should help our team reach its goals. Please bear with me. I will be calling on membership for help when I get a little further along.

As always, suggestions and ideas for attaining team goals is always welcome and appreciated!

As a reminder: During team formation, we decided to be as inclusive as possible and to accept members, not based on skill-level or quality of product, but on dedication to keeping the spirit of handmade alive and well on Etsy. And this is the criteria I have used in accepting shops onto the team. There may be team shops some members find questionable as to quality and/or "handmadeness" of shop offerings. I think most of us would agree that quality is a choice for the buyer. And - I stand behind my conclusion that "handmadeness" is in the eye of the beholder.

Also, many of our newest members are also new to Etsy and trying to find their way around this often confusing place! We need to continue to make them feel welcome to Etsy, and especially welcome to our team. It is only as they become acclimated to Etsy that they can better understand our team goals and mission.

I appreciate everyone's work in building this team.
I appreciate the help and assistance members give to one another.
I appreciate the respectful, friendly, and inviting tone of our team.

Keep up the good work, ya'll:)

The major reason for setting a goal is for what it makes of you to accomplish it. What it makes of you will always be the far greater value than what you get. ~Jim Rohn

 Cap'n Kathi

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Friday, September 7, 2012

"What Else Can We do?"

Ok, Alex of Woodenaht.  You inspired me in one of our team discussions, where you stated that you frequently ask yourself "what more can I do" or "what else can I do" in reference to your online business, as a way to keep moving forward and improving it.  That's the second time your words have struck a note with me that made me think and actually act on them to work harder on my shop. 

And got me to thinking about this in respect to our team.  So I'm asking "What more can WE do?".  What else can we do to improve our team experience and elevate our team profile.  Well, as I've been looking at and joining some other teams and studying them...there is MUCH more we can do.

Please bear with me.  This is going to be a long post.

Treasuries!  The other teams I've been interacting with are all treasury teams.  I am convinced that this is the way to elevate our team profile and get noticed.  Which means that our individual shops will also get noticed.  And just how does that work you may ask?  Well, maybe not really ask, but are you wondering just a little?  I will attempt to explain.

And as always, I state up front that I am no expert. At anything other than being a non-expert. There are many more people who know more about this and the whole Etsy thing in general than me. But I'm the one with the blog column.  ;-)   So I do welcome all feedback, ideas, and even corrections.  There is a comment box down below just for that.

Back to treasuries.  The next thing I noticed about these teams is that they allow non-member treasuries and in fact encourage them and promote them.  They do this through treasury challenges.  Usually, one member item is featured or the inspiration for the theme and the challenge is to build around that using any listings in Etsyland that fit your theme.  The point is to make the most beautiful treasuries possible and how can you do that if you don't use all the "resources" (code for listings) available to you on the site.

The point of making the most beautiful treasuries possible is to get lots of notice and hopefully, the ever coveted front page spot.  Now wait a minute before any of you bring up the old "front page isn't all that" argument.  I agree!!  Surprising, I know.  But.  There's always a but.  We're not aiming for the front page just for sales.  I know from experience, that is a long shot, usually doesn't happen and disappointment sets in.

Is that the only value to the front page?  Sales?  I don't think so.  What about the exposure?  That has tremendous value.  It's not a 'final destination' to sales nirvana.  It's a tool in our trunk for the journey to sales nirvana.

So back to treasuries.  Again.  And what we can do more as a team.  To help facilitate members make the best treasuries, we are going to start having treasury challenges and games.  There might even be one where there is a 'winner'.  The 'winner' usually gets to be the next featured seller the following week or gets to choose the theme...something like that.  Haven't worked out all the details to every possibility yet.  And we will be allowed to use any listings on Etsy as long as there is one team item in the collection and the team tags are used.

Making these treasures does require time and effort.  My challenge to my teamies is are you willing to at least try it and participate for a month?  Are you willing to put in a little time and effort towards the team goal of raising our profile?  And no, I'm not asking everyone to make treasuries every day or even every week.  Just participate in one challenge for the month.  They are lots of fun and when you see all the activity it can generate in your shop, you might want to join in twice a month.  Or even every week.  If we have enough challenges going, you can select from a variety. Just remember from my last blog article---to generate activity, you have to be active.

Think about this.  Why did you join the team?  What are your expectations?  What did you hope the team would do for you?  And is it turning out as expected?  Are you contributing to the team in a way that benefits you as well as the whole?  If not, what more can you do?

Ask not what your team can do for you.  Ask what you can do for your team!!! 

(sorry...about that one, but I couldn't resist)


Friday Finds

'Teamhandmade Autumn' by AlbinaRose

Autumn Glow Melted Crayon Upcycled Art - 3D Butterflies - 5X7 - aboundingtreasures
Handbag Vintage Vinyl Handpainted in Fall Colors, Upcycled Purse Indian Summer - itzaChicThing
Knobby Crochet Gnome Baby Hat (6-9 Months, Multi Fall Colors) - PlainOldUnromantic
Pumpkin Argyle Dog Collar and Bow Tie Set - BigpawCollars
Olive Oil Soap, Bed and Breakfast, Spice and Citrus Scented, Oatmeal, Exfoliating, Vegan, Cold Process, Warm Gold Color, FREE SHIPPING - MikeandDianeSoap
BAMBOO BUTTON handmade ceramic 2 holed square celery green original design by Wisconsin artist - FaithAnnOriginals
Granite Dark Gold Flower Fabric Necklace with glass beads and copper metal chain - GoodLuckWishes4U
Crochet Coaster Set - 100% Cotton - pomegranatefarm
Decorative Scroll Carved Orange Pumpkin - purpleinkgraphics
Yellow vintage button necklace - Pass the mustard  Yellow fall vintage button collage wire wrapped on a crochet necklace. - BeachPlumCottage
Chipmunk Photo Woodland Animal Photography Fall Colors 5x7 Nature Wall Art Print - NatureVisionsToo
Handmade knitted shawl, striped in brown, green and beige colors - YanasKnitting
Green Mosaic Jewelry  Pendant, moss jasper stone beads, leaf shaped pattern sage forest mint green  ceramic tile - FischerFineArts
Retro inspired Embroidery hoop wall art decor OOAK abstract brown, rust orange, cream hand embroidered - rosemauve
Wire wrapped Ring 14K gold filled  sterling silver accents.  "Sultan's Ring" - Untwistedsister
Trilby Fedora Burnt Orange Wool Felt Hat - MixedMediabyBridget

Treasury tool by StylishHome.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Mobile Shopping

I have been wondering if there is a different marketing strategy we should use to target mobile shoppers on Etsy. Yesterday, my curiosity took me on a 12-hour journey across the internet trying to answer these questions:

Who are these mobile shoppers?
What makes a good shopping experience for the mobile user?
Is Etsy mobile friendly?

Here is what I found:

No longer are online shoppers browsing from their desktop or laptop; they are shopping from their mobile device while on the go - from the ballpark, the dentist's office, and yes, from the mall!  In fact, one study estimates that 50% of U.S. consumers currently use their mobile device for shopping. And according to wikipedia, "ABI Research has predicted that in 2015, $119bn worth of goods and services will be purchased via a mobile phone."

Who ARE these mobile shoppers?  According to an article from, they are "busy, on-the-go or live on their phones types. The people more likely to complete a purchase on their phones include mothers, office workers, young professionals and teens."

AND, from Mobiquity, Inc.:
According to mobile-ad company Greystripe, mobile shoppers are more valuable to retailers and brands than their traditional, in-store shopping counterparts across a number of metrics. Among the most significant are the fact that people shopping on mobile devices create more profits, are more influential (willing to write reviews rating their shopping experience and their purchases) and demonstrate less price sensitivity than in-store shoppers. Greystripe also found that how easy a mobile-shopping interface is to use had a significant positive correlation to mobile buyers’ willingness to make purchases...
What makes a good shopping experience for the mobile user?

-Good Visual presentation
-Fast view time
-Concise product description
-Accessible consumer reviews
-No-hassle, easy checkout
-They like deals - coupons, free shipping

Is Etsy Mobile Friendly?

I have never shopped from a mobile device, so my answer is:  I don't know. But this article explains Etsy's mobile strategy, and Etsy's mobile apps can be found here. And if you have never viewed your shop from a mobile phone, go to Go Mo and click on "See How Your Current Site Looks in Mobile."

Optimizing Your Shop for Mobile Shoppers

I had an aha! moment when I realized the mobile shopping trend explains the recent Etsy phenomenon of removing shop banners and adding customer reviews to listings (sound familiar?). Sellers are optimizing their shops for mobile shoppers!  And, from what I have read, these are the only viable strategies to target this group via Etsy.

In the end, my research left me dazed and confused, but one thing is clear:  mobile shopping is becoming the new norm!

Please share your mobile shopping experiences and any ideas or comments you have on this subject!

Links of interest:

 Cap'n Kathi

Monday, September 3, 2012

Trademark Infringement - A Follow-Up

Thank you to Kelli of Accessories by Kelli for today's post.

Today in my activity feed, someone had favorited a shop, I hadn’t seen before. One of the listings in that shop (not a teamhandmade team member shop) was for a handmade bag made of Disney Minnie Mouse fabric, very cute. Seeing that prompted me to share with you a revision of something I said in a blog here in May about Disney fabric with regard to trademark infringement.

When I posted on trademark infringement, I touched on the question: if I buy Disney trademarked fabric, can I sell the item that I make with it, or will it be considered trademark infringement? At the time I researched for the blog, I came to the conclusion that it is OK to do that, under the Right of First Sale doctrine. As long as the trademark ™ symbol is used in the description and the description does not say it is a “Disney” product but clearly states that it is a product “made with Disney™ fabric”, I stated I thought it would be OK to do that. Recently I discovered that my interpretation was not correct.

A week or two ago I bought a remnant of a Disney fabric showing Mickey Mouse, and I intended to make and sell a product with it. While pressing it after washing it, I noticed this statement of trademark protection in the selvedge: “Disney for Springs Creative Products Group, LLC.2011. Sold for non-commercial home use only.”

So it appears that Disney has taken action to protect their copyright even in the Right of First Sale Doctrine instances.

So I will wait until my expected grandbaby is toddling around her/his parent’s house and make something for him/her out of this remnant. No way am I going to put something up for sale that could cause Disney to take legal action against me. I apologize to all for giving out incorrect information, and urge everyone to take whatever steps they need to take, to avoid infringing on trademarks in their shops. Of course the best way to be sure you aren’t infringing, if you think you might be vulnerable, is to consult a Patent Attorney.

Happy selling,