Lucy Jane in Progress

Lucy Jane Totes

 

I can’t wait to share all the details of the new line of products with you all.  They are gorgeous!  One even has the word gorgeous on the outside.  I love designing something “pretty”, but I think the engineering background pushes me to make items durable and long lasting.  We all make decisions everyday on how to spend our money.  We prioritize and make sure all of our ducks are in a row.  The most disappointing feeling is to make a purchase only to have it fall apart a few months later.

I’ve had customers contact me after using their extra large totes regularly for two years and talk about how well they have held up.  They go on about how much weight they carried around and the bag could take it.  This is not an accident.  I put a good deal of thought into the design, the materials and the construction so it will last for you.

It only felt natural to continue this idea of design into my latest products.  Let’s just say they will be stylish, useable and durable.  They are designed to add organization, color and fun to your everyday.

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Keep watching as a new website will be coming next week!

How To Create An Image Map

My inner nerd is going to surface and you may just be surprised at the cool thing I figured out.  I wanted to add my own social icons and have them be clickable.  Here was my image…

 

After doing a LOT of google searches, I discovered a really cool trick.  And why not share it with some friends?

I will walk you through how to take a picture and make different areas of it clickable.  I’m thinking style boards can have a whole new life!  Put on your nerdy cap, cause we are about to go on an adventure.

Create an image in Photoshop or Illustrator.  I used illustrator for this example…

(and yes, I am a bad speller, and yes, I know that instagram is spelled wrong)  Ha!

You are then going to save your image…

Next, you are going to upload that image to create a URL for it.  I uploaded mine to my wordpress library, but you can also use something like Photobucket.

This is when it gets fun.  This website provides free software to create image maps for your image – www.image-maps.com.  This is just a fancy way of saying that they do all the hard coding part for you and make your picture click-able.

Input your picture URL here…

Click “Start Mapping Your Image” … then click “Continue to Next Step”

Change the Base URL to your website.  For instance, I would change mine to www.LucyJaneTotes.com.  This is very important, so that your code is correct!

Now start mapping your image…

Now “Get Your Code”

For my image, I placed the code into a sidebar text widget.  For a post, you would just copy and paste into your post. Remember to paste the code under the HTML tab on your post.  Easy, right?

Go ahead, click on my sidebar image…it works!

 

 

Country Living Fair 2012

So excited to start planning an awesome girls’ weekend to the Country Living Fair in Columbus, Ohio.  What started out as a “hey wouldn’t that be fun” has turned into a road trip to Columbus, Ohio!  It is a three day event from September 14th – 16th.

 

Photo Source: Country Living (with a little added flare from me)

 

It is a weekend full of shopping, food, seminars, demonstrations and a chance to meet the editors of Country Living magazine.  I will be traveling with two of my favorite ladies who make me laugh, relax and appreciate the value of good friendship.

 

Can’t wait to go…I’m sure I will take a zillion pictures to share.

Maybe we will see you in Columbus!

Wating for the Mail :: Mom, Inc.

photo source: Oh Joy!

Looks what’s coming in the mail today…I’m so excited to read Mom Inc., The Essential Guide to Running a Successful Business from Home.

Two years ago, I took a leap of faith and listed my first item on Etsy.  A collection of pillowcase dresses, nursing covers and a few bags filled my little shop.  I shot all my pictures with my Nikon D40 on auto mode (yikes).

In 2011, I decided to shift over to only selling extra large totes.  It was a scary move for me.  I knew that nursing covers and pillowcase dresses were good sellers on Etsy, but I did not LOVE  making them.

My heart said to make what I LOVE, so that is just what I did!  I focused on the extra large totes, started shooting my pictures on manual mode and refined my style.  Much to my surprise, sales were better than before.  I felt like I found my passion and my niche’.  During this time, we moved to a small town (for my husband’s work).  This meant a whole new schedule and a shuffle to figure out  the preschool situation for our twin boys… my work week was reduced to nine hours per week!  I met another mom (former elementary school teacher) and discussed the possibility of watching my twin boys one day a week.  This increased my work week to about 14 hours per week.  This meant working a lot of evenings after the boys went to bed.  This summer we worked out a schedule to watch the boys about 18 hours per week.  Still left a lot of sewing for after bedtime, but worked out great.

Next week, the boys will start their 4-year old preschool program and my work week will reduce back down to 9 hours per week!  I’m constantly evaluating, trying new things, figuring out what schedule works…Should I continue to  sell made-to-order?  Should I pre-make and sell ready to ship?  How many bridal orders can I handle per month?  What tools/equipment will help to optimize my time?  How do I stay motivated?  How do I stay focused?  Is it okay to take a break when I need it?

Working from home, being a mom and running a handmade business has definitely had its challenges, but the rewards always win!  I love the flexibility it offers our family.  Running my own business has given me a sense of purpose and identity.  Don’t get me wrong, I love to be introduced as someone’s mom, but I also love to be introduced as the owner of Lucy Jane.  I think all moms struggle to find the right balance between their identity as a mom and their identity as their own person.

Looking forward to a good read and maybe a new perspective…

DO YOU WORK FROM HOME?  WHAT WORKS FOR YOU?  DO YOU HAVE A DESIGNATED WORK SPACE/ DESIGNATED SCHEDULE?

Tips for Selling at a Craft Show // Art Fair

A couple of weekends ago, I sold at my very first craft show.  Well, sort of craft show.  In May, there is a local music festival where several vendors set up to sell handmade art, jewelry, soap, bags (that’s my stuff), amish handmade rugs and pottery.  The main focus of the event is music, but who doesn’t like a little shopping mixed in?

I knew I would not be able to make enough items to fill up an entire booth, so I asked my friend to join.  Cara is the owner of a local boutique, The Little Golden Fox, which sells a lot of local handmade items.  We created a mini-store in our booth and am pretty sure we got voted most colorful display.  I was also lucky enough to have one of my best friends come into town to hang out and help out.

Here are a few tips if you plan to sell at an art fair or craft fair:

1.  Plastic is KING (or QUEEN) – make sure you have a way to accept credit cards.  I use the Square App on my iPhone and card reader.  There is a small transaction fee, but the card reader is FREE and there is not a monthly charge.  You can order multiple card readers at no extra charge, so you could have multiple people checking out customers.  If you want to get extra fancy, buy a stylus pen for people to sign on your phone…oh yah, impressive!

2.  Buddy System – you don’t want to leave you space unattended and you will probably need to eat or use the facilities at some point during the day, so recruit some extra help.

3.  Aprons are your friend - I made a craft room apron about a year ago (see tutorial here) and it was perfect for such an event.  I was able to carry my money, phone (with the card reader), stylus pen and extra cards.  This is great, because you will probably be up and moving around.

4. Let ‘em know who you are - See my sign in the picture above.  I had this made by Holly at Word Whipped.  It is perfect for such an event.  Give your space some brand recognition.  Also have business cards by your items.  I also like to have hang-tags on all my items.

 


I really need to be better at pictures of myself…I promise I was there!

 

turn your fears into your dreams

Over the weekend, I attended my first blogging conference…BlissDom!

My head is still spinning with information, inspiration, and new friendship overload.  I have a new level of appreciation for strong women who find their voices behind a keyboard each and every day.  We are able to create jobs for ourselves, take care of our families, gain a level of confidence in our own voice, and inspire others to try amazing things.

BlissDom also made me examine closely why I started my business and, in turn, started a blog.  I would love to say my number one motivation was my passion for sewing and creating.  While this passion is strong and affords me the luxury of LOVING my job everyday, it is not the only reason I got into this…

A year after my husband and I were married, he was diagnosed with Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma.  We were told there was a good chance that having children would be left up to science and out of our control.   Fast-forward one year…he was in remission, and we began discussions of starting a family.  A fertility doctor encouraged us to try the “old-fashioned way” to have children.   Fast-forward another month, and surprise…we were pregnant with twins!

The first year of having infant twins is rather memorable…pretty much a daily survival exercise.  I decided to not go back to work at first.  It was a decision that instinctively felt right, but sparked a little voice of self-doubt in my head…what if my husband’s cancer comes back?  Would I be able to support two children on my own?  In five years when they go off to school, would I be able to find a meaningful job?  This little voice just kept getting louder.  So when the boys were 13 months old, I went back to work…I was miserable.  After a month I went back to being a full-time, stay-at-home mom…and the worries returned.

And then, something amazing happened.  I began to sew, never intending for this to become a “job”.  I carried a purse that I made for myself, and other moms actually said they would pay money for one…WHAT???  I started selling handmade items on Etsy, and I am now a WORK-at-home mom.  My boys attend preschool three mornings a week, so most of my sewing happens after they go to bed.  That little voice of self-doubt is much quieter now.  Daily I build skills, manage a business, manage our kids, and contribute to realizing our dreams as a family.  Every sale I make gives me a sense of purpose and a reassurance that I can do this.

What are your fears?

selling online: finding what works for you

 

Late last year, I made the decision to leave Etsy and open a Big Cartel store.   I loved the idea of building my own website, so after much thought I decided to give it a try.  After a month of using Big Cartel, I decided that Etsy was  better suited for my needs.  It was hard to “admit” that I made a mistake, but it is also worse to keep going down a path that does not seem right.  Many shops have had much success with Big Cartel, so this is a very personal decision.

Why did I go back to Esty?  For several reasons, but mainly the behind the scenes (back office) work was easier for me.  This is very important, because I’m a one woman show.  This means when an order is placed, I cut, sew, package and ship that order.  So, anything that makes something a little more complicated just doesn’t work for me.

The reasons I love Etsy are plenty, but here are a few:

  • Opening a shop has little risk.
  • Great behind the scenes order detail.
  • Easy to communicate with customers via their conversation system.
  • Built in advertising.
  • Built in SEO (search engine optimization).
  • Easily close your shop with “vacation mode”.  Customers can sign up to be notified when you are open again.  Great for catching up on orders or even taking a vacation!
  • Coupon codes can be used.
  • Buyers can read feedback from other buyers.  (I think this really helps to build trust).
  • A clear understanding that the item being purchased is handmade.
  • Many magazines are now looking at Etsy for features.  I was contacted by Pregnancy & Newborn magazine while selling nursing covers.
  • Newsletters and other great information provided by Etsy to their sellers.  Sign up even if you don’t have a seller account.

There are several other on-line venues for selling handmade, so I encourage you to find what works for you.

Please feel free to share your thoughts or experiences.

 

on finding your passion

 

Two years ago, I opened my Etsy shop.  It has been an amazing journey built on hard work, passion and a complete love for what I do.  It would be easy to say that I knew this would be my dream job when at three I was designing clothes for my barbie.  Or maybe hours spent in my dad’s workshop building furniture for my dolls.  Or maybe my obsession with a box of crayons and coloring for hours.  But, then why did I go to school for engineering?  And why was my next job after being a project engineer to be a business analyst.  It is because my passion was not obvious until I actually started doing it.

I design bags in my head while I’m driving.  I think of different fabric combinations while showering.  I get excited to be in my sewing room and still have a thrill whenever an order comes in.  I am constantly thinking of how I can do something better, how my customers will use their bag and why they would love a certain look or pattern.

In my previous jobs, I never felt this way.  I was good at what I did, but there was no passion.  If you have a dream, start doing it.  If you have an idea, give it a try.

I don’t regret my degree and actually think it gives me a unique way of thinking.  I love to make something that is pretty, but I also love for it to be practical.  I don’t just want your purse to look good, but I want it to be comfortable.  I want it to fit the things we need, like an ipad or your phone or a small planner.  I want your extra large tote be just the accessory you needed for trips to the pool or weekend getaways.

I’ve decided to give a more personal look into the true behind the scenes of Lucy Jane.  Did you know that I usually work at night?  Did you know that my only work time during the day occurs on Monday, Wednesday and Friday when my boys are in preschool from 9am – noon? 

I get asked a lot, especially by other moms, how do you do it?  I usually just laugh and say that I don’t get a lot of sleep.  This is some of the truth, but I also use many tools and methods that I use daily.

I welcome you back each week to take a look behind the scenes.

What does your dream job look like?

Small Business Saturday (+ FREE Shipping Coupon)

Today is a special day to support your local shops and favorite handmade stores!

Have you been drooling over a purse in my shop?
Hoping for an extra large tote under your Christmas tree?

Today is your lucky day! 

FREE SHIPPING on all orders placed by Tuesday, November 29th at 9pm EST.

Enter coupon code THANKSGIVING when checking out

Head on over to Lucy Jane Totes and get shopping!

 

I truly love and enjoy all of my customers.  In fact, some have become sort of like pen pals for me.  It started with a sale and ended in a friendship.  Little notes from you saying how much your extra large tote helped getting the  kiddos to the pool all summer or a bride sending a note about how much her bridesmaids liked their totes MAKES my day!  Thank you so much for all of your support.  **smiles**

:: I love this post by LaunchHer with 5 Reasons to Support Small Business Saturday ::

St. James Court Art Show: Louisville, KY

When you get a call on a Friday morning asking if you want to go to an art fair and your kids are spending the weekend with their favorite Aunt Karla, how can you say no? Amber and I were roommates in college. This girl can make me laugh until I cry, listens to me ramble on about ideas for bags and makes shopping for a new couch seem like fun. Of course I would go with her! She was actually chasing down an artist that she LOVES, so we were on the hunt for Mosaic Madness!

The St. James Court Art Show is located in the historic district of Louisville the first weekend in October. It is a three day event with over 700 artist. The talent was AMAZING!


Amazingly, we found Mosaic Madness right away and Amber was one happy customer! Jill and her husband Chad create these beautiful and colorful mosaic pieces. She creates her own glazes to achieve these bold colors!



Jill and Amber showing off one of her purchases!

Visit Jill’s Facebook page to find out where she will be next!

Shop Local: Little Golden Fox

Hello Little Golden Fox! I am so excited about the opening of this oh so wonderful boutique in our town.  A unique high end consignment shop that also carries local handmade items.  On any given week, you might find a pair of shoes you must have or a piece of unique pottery for your home.

Meet Cara, the owner of Little Golden Fox.

Cara approached me about carrying some of my Lucy Jane items in her shop. I was very excited, but mostly because she’s such a great person to work with. Her enthusiasm in inspiring!You can currently find some Lucy Jane pillowcase dresses. Totes and purses are coming soon!






Become a fan of Little Golden Fox to find out more.

What’s your favorite local shop?

Lucy Jane Has A New Shop & Website

I’m super excited to announce my new website and shop!  Logic would have told me months ago to hire a web designer, but my heart and creative spirit told me to give it a try.  After a WHOLE lot of Google searches on website design here is the result!

I’ve added a welcome page!  From here you can visit my blog, shop or facebook.

 

Check out the new BLOG page!

 

And most excited about my new SHOP!

 

All items are currently shown as COMING SOON, so please sign up for the newsletter to get the news on the opening!

 

Thanks for stopping by…hopefully we will get to see each other more!

Why I Do What I Do

Around 11:00 at night when my eyes are tired and I turn out the lights to my sewing room, there is often the thought at the back of my head.  Why do I do this?  Then, in the morning, I see two little boys as they roll out of bed and remember why I do this.

When the boys were born, I knew my place was to be at home.  First of all, I don’t really know if I could have pulled my act together enough to get two babies and myself ready in the morning.  I loved my mornings home with my babies.

When they turned one, I started to question being a full time stay at home mom.  On one hand I love it, on the other a piece was missing.  I was lucky enough to go to work for a good friend.  The boys started daycare and it quickly became clear that this was not the right path.  I went back to being a full time stay at home mom.

Around this time, I pulled out my sewing machine and slowly started to do different projects.  I would work on projects at night and people actually bought stuff from me!  I took a leap in early 2010 and started selling on-line.

At the beginning of the year, we moved to a new city (for my husband’s job) leaving behind our friends and family.  My etsy shop was turned off and my sewing studio was packed up.  We moved into our new house and slowly reorganized ourselves.

At this same time, I found an on-line indie business class.  It was a great class and made me evaluate where I was going and what I was doing.  I soon realized that my passion was making totes and bags.  I also realized how much all of me wanted this business to succeed.  I tweeked my design style and turned off all the outside noise of other’s ideas.  Soon, sales took off!

When I turn out the lights of my sewing room, I know why I do this.  I want my little boys to look back and say my mom had a dream and she went for it!

Today I’m linking up with Gussy Sews Inspiration Workshop

The prompt this week is what inspires you. 

My family inspires me to follow my dreams.

Etsy Love: shipping tips for etsy sellers

There are many lessons I have learned over the past year. Some the easy way, some the hard way and some just by pure luck. When I shipped my first order on Etsy, I hand wrote the address, went to the post office and was so proud of myself. I now have a mini-shipping station in my home.

How do I ship my items?

If you are an Etsy seller, you will receive payments through PayPal. This is also where you will print out your shipping labels. You can either print out one shipping label at a time or do a multi-order shipping.

I know what one beach bag order weights, so I can create a preset in PayPal to “remember” the details for one beach bag. If you are shipping a variety of things, it will probably be easier to do order by order.

When I first started, I printed out the labels through my normal ink jet printer. You can cut out the label and tape it to your box or bag. Make sure you do not tape over the bar code.

Once I started shipping more, I invested in a label printer. I LOVE this and it saves me so much time…plus it looks nicer. I found mine on Amazon.

Did you know you can request a carrier pick-up through usps.com or through PayPal? Woot, woot!

Stuff you will need:

1. Shipping scale – I use this scale from the post office. It retails for $39 and can be purchased at most post offices. I like this scale for several reasons. (1) Weighs up to 10lbs (2) Easy to read display. Even large boxes will not hide the display. (3) Very accurate (4) Plugs into the wall…no batteries!

2. Boxes or Packaging – Did you know priority boxes are FREE from the post office?!?! And they deliver them right to your door! Visit their on-line store to see what sizes are available. If you are looking for poly bags for items like clothing, check out a store like esupplystore.com.

3. Label Maker (optional) – I use the Brother QL-570

Other Random Shipping Knowledge:

First Class versus Priority Mail:

When to ship first class versus priority mail?  When an item is under 13 oz, you can ship first class.  Anything over 13 oz must be shipped priority mail (for domestic shipments).

*First Class typically takes (3-5) business days.

*Priority Mail typically takes (2-3) business days.

I like to tell my customers what items will ship first class and what items will ship priority mail.  This helps to explain the difference in shipping prices.

Can I drop off a package over 13oz off at a USPS drop box?

Yes!  There is a sign that states you can not put anything in over 13oz, but since you printed out your label at home through PayPal you can drop yours in there.

What if an international package gets lost?

When you ship internationally, no tracking information is provided.  I always keep my receipts from the post office and write the customer’s name on it.  There will be a customs number that the post office can look up to tell you where the package is in the process.  Not an exact method, but at least gives you an idea.

 

Please share any tips or tricks that you use when shipping.
Or if you have a question.

 

xo,
Lucy Jane

 

finding the balance as a mom

I’ve read a lot of blogs that talk about quitting your day job to start your dream job.  I laugh inside, because my current day job is being a mom.  So, quitting this job is not really an option.  It is more of a change in how my day to day operates.  I usually wake up before the boys and check/reply to e-mails, package up any orders ready to be shipped and try to organize my day.

I love (LOVE, LOVE, LOVE) that I get to create and be creative.  My days are usually filled with toddlerville and my nights filled with sewing, but lately it has been getting to be too much.  This summer, I enrolled the boys in a two day program where they go all day.  On the first day, I drove away to two little boys holding hands in the middle of the playground.  Another day was filled with a sobbing goodbye, which was followed by my tearful drive home.  But, I think we are all adjusting (and happier).

I often say prayers not that certain things will happen, but that I will be guided in the right direction.  And pretty soon, the direction becomes obvious.

This past year has been like riding on a teeter totter.  I think for now, my teeter totter is in balance.  I still get long days at home, but also get days where I can get a lot of work done.

How do you find balance in your day?