Music to My Ears… and My Hair.

OK, I’m going to try my hand at being a nice lady to my Etsy shop again.  I fell in to a lull this summer when sales were slumping and the beach was getting warmer and warmer.  But now that the Picnic busy-ness is over, I’m on top of my wholesale order (yet again) and the only real ‘extra’ project I have going on is knitting socks it seems like a pretty good time to start taking pictures again.

Non-sequitur:  I am in need of someone with size 7 feet who would like to trade modeling socks for… a pair of hand knit socks.  I’d need your toes for modeling by mid-September and then I’d have a pair of socks (in your choice of color and calf-length!) ready for you by the beginning of October.

Ok, but now to make sense of this post title:  I experimented with making post earrings with bottle caps before Picnic — this is not something I would wear (I like little posts, big hoops, or super dangly ones) but I’ve noticed a lot of people walking around with the chunky, ‘clip-on’ style earrings so thought I’d give it a go.  It did pretty well!  I sold three pairs at Picnic which was half of my experiment stock.  Here are two listings that will be music to your ears (and hair):

A Pirate Looks Under Starboard - Click on the Image to see listing.

Bass Clef Hair Clip - Click on image for listing.

Packaging “How-To” for Little Businesses

the face of Little Eye. Awww.

I thank my lucky stars every day that Little Eye is still little.  However, what was once a tiny idea unfolding in my notebooks, attic studio and collections is now a little business, experiencing somewhat of an adolescence.  If you can remember (I blocked out most of my teens, too!) this is a time of life fraught with difficulties:  finding your identity, fitting in with others, learning to play by the rules.  After two years of being ‘open for business’ (but not actually, since L.E. only started actually making money this year!) it’s become clear to me something that was missing for a long time:  branding.

There are lots of pieces to branding, but tonight I wanted to write a quick piece about packaging, how to do it, and why it’s so important.

1.  What did you need to start packaging your items?

Hey Audrey, glad you asked!  In order to design packaging you either need a graphic designer and a good chunk of change or, the following:  a logo, a ‘color scheme,’ a font (just one, two TOPS), and a theme.  You’ll also need a working knowledge of some kind of design program – because I’m a photographer, I use Adobe Photoshop but I should totally learn InDesign because that would be way better.  It might also be nice to have a printer with some black ink – color ink, optional, in my most humble of opinions.

Little Eye's general logo

2.  Where did you start?

This fake interview is really silly.  But I’ll answer my question, anyways.  I started off by designing a logo based off the bottle cap shape.  I love the colors red, baby blue and white together so this is my ‘color scheme’ when it’s applicable.  But I hate buying color ink because it’s so expensive and it never looks right, so the color logo (above) is really only used online.  The font in the logo is one that I decided long ago (after flipping through all 500 on my computer) was ‘just right’ for the mood and the mission at Little Eye.  Some rudimentary line drawing and a layer of text and the ‘logo’ was complete.  It should be noted at this point that I’m not 100% happy with it (I would like to change the text around a bit) but if you are futzing with things until you’re 100% happy you might as well start off the whole branding process by turning in an application to the nearest temp agency because you’re not going to get anywhere!  Trust me, I futzed for two years.

3.  Ok, so then what?

I realized that customers were having a hard time picking up/focusing in on my products because it was usually presented in a bin full of bottle cap pins or magnets, which is really fun to root around in for some people but a complete nightmare for others.  I wanted to be able to curate small collections for people, came up with the idea of selling a set of 3 for $5 ($1 off the normal price for 3!) and wanted a nifty way to package it and have some control over what people were seeing.  Enter:  the set of 3 design:

I am proud of this like I think I'll be proud of my firstborn one day

Here’s where we can get down to the composition of the packaging and the elements I definitely wanted (and maybe you’d want?) on a product that people will be taking home and/or giving as a gift.  (A sidenote here:  I’m getting déja vu because I remember reading so many times about how ‘great presentation’ made all the difference when I used to read the Etsy blog.  And I was like ‘Ha ha, whatever, my stuff is so awesome it’ll sell itself,’ …sorry, Etsy, you were right… This time!!)

4.  Awesome!  How’d you put that bad boy together??

First things first.  I sized a new document in Adobe to be slightly smaller than a cellophane bag that I pre-ordered (oodles of!) that would fit the purpose.  Cellophane bags are WICKED important, because it makes customers feel like they can pick things up and look at them instead of admire them from about 3 feet away.  That’s no good for the bottle caps OR my bank account…

The header at the top is a revamped version of the logo – because I have my business information below I can use the ‘bottle cap’ corona to frame the product.  That way when someone picks it up and says “Hey, cool, bottle caps with pictures in them!” they’ll also be able to read that they are pins, as well.  You don’t know it yet, but you can’t actually tell they’re pins from the packaging.  Because I am sneaky… you’ll see.

Underneath the corona you’ll see three shaded lines – these are my guidelines for cutting slices in the paper once the packaging is printed so that the pin backs will fit snugly through the paper.  They don’t show up in the final product.

Beneath I felt like I wanted to have a little more information than my business name and web address (you should always have these on your packaging!!)  Because I’ve been pushing custom orders lately I included a little note about how to get in touch if someone is interested.  I get a lot of inquiries about custom work at craft shows, but never have cards to hand out.  This solves both of those problems!

I surrounded the whole thing in a black border, which is part of my ‘look’ that I hope signals people to recognize my products wherever they are shopping.

5.  Tell me more.

Demanding!  Ok, the last bit I’ll jump ahead to – I ran in to the issue of the pin backs showing through and created a companion piece to go on the back of the packaging for a finished look.  It is kind of fluffy, doesn’t have a lot of ‘selling’ info, but I think it is a nice finish for a customer who appreciates details.

Now, here are some nice pictures to show you:

Printed and Cut Fronts and Backs for Set of 3 Pin Packaging

Fastened Pins

Here’s a picture of how the pins poke through the back of the front card.  I make a barbell-shaped slit with an exacto knife for each slit and push the pins through, then fasten them with scotch tape to make sure that the pins don’t get unsettled when I lug them around to shops/craft fairs.  But it’s kinda yucky looking, so I finished the back off like this:

Message on Back, Complete in Cellophane Bag

Each set of 3 has a slightly different color combination of the paper used for the front piece and the paper used for the insert on the back.  This insert is wide enough to cover the pins but narrow enough so you get a nice contrast of colors on the back!  Little Eye is kind of a playful line, so I love that I can print on whatever color paper I have available and then put them together and see what kind of chromatic magic happens.

Here are some sets that I’ve put together in the last couple of days.  I’m really loving picking and choosing the pins for people who may not have the time to sort through bins of pins.  Hoping to have packaging for magnets, and ‘six packs’ (get it?  bottle caps? huh? huh?) ready for the holiday season along with some hand knit accessories and maybe some screen printed kid’s clothes, as well.  Busy busy busy.  Enjoy:

Summer Months Set

Lyrics and Clefs

Photography Love!

 If you are without Photoshop knowledge, a printer, time, ink, or any of the above it’s probably definitely worth your while to make a list of your products that need packaging and sit down with a graphic designer.  They can make something really snazzy for you that you can potentially order on your own once the designs are completed.  It’s a lot of work and I have yet to see how these do ‘on the field’ but I just know they make my product look ten times better than it already is.

Consequently!  If you are looking to conceptualize packaging, need someone to bounce ideas off of, or would like someone to take the reins and do it for you – there’s nothing I know how to do that can’t be bought or sold.  So if you just read all this and are like “Yeah, like I’m going to do that!” (like I used to say!) but really would “like to do that” then let me know – maybe we can work something out!  I’ve been working on packaging and labels for my pins, barrettes, earrings, vintage and more this week – it’s actually a lot of fun, in a totally dorky sort of way.

OK – midnight and I’ve got about two more hours of work ahead of me… Audrey, out!

Pickles, Picnic, End of a Season

Good afternoon.  I’ve been curating again!  So much fun to make treasuries when you’ve got the time…  Click on each image to be taken to a selection of 16 items by awesome artists and vintage superstars.

Design Your Own Embroidery Hoop by merriweathercouncil.

Picnic! Treasury featuring items by vendors who will be at this weekend’s Picnic festival.

Chilled Dill Pickles Print by hartart13

pickle people Treasuryfeaturing delicious, pickled perfection.

2 Bicycle Etched Pint Glasses by phoenixfirestudios.

 end of the summer Treasury – featuring all those good, Autumn-y thingies.

Summer Knitting

mustard yellow socks!

It’s no secret:  my ambition this year is to handknit pairs of socks for all holiday time-y needs.  Which is convenient, because you certainly don’t want to be knitting sweaters ahead of deadline in the dog days of Summer.  It’s not been so bad, lately, and today has a certain (dare I say) Autumn feel to the breeze… but I was able to bring this project to the beach with me on Saturday, roast in the warm sun like a happy little lizard, splash about, dry off then continue to knit and purl.  Socks, mittens and hats may be out of season in August but they are decidedly the perfect project.

I’m halfway through knitting these ‘basic socks’ (ribbed ankle, knit foot, top down) but for a completed pair I made earlier this year, check this out:

contortionist crafter

Ta-da!  I am finally ‘intermediate.’  Which is exciting, because that’s one more step to ‘advanced‘ and I don’t think I’ve ever been able to do anything advanced before, at least not by pattern and how-to book criteria…

A real Face-y book page!

Click Here to Get to Little Eye on Facebook

Ok, ok — so when I originally started my Facebook presence as Little Eye I made it a ‘person’ instead of a ‘page.’  Woops!  Now, to encourage you to “like” my page just as much as you like my person I’m offering a 10% off Little Eye at Picnic coupon at my new page’s site.  Here is the link that you must click in order to get there.  You can also click on that gawdy “Facebook” icon to the right.  Or that awesome Little Eye logo above.  Then!  Print out the ol’ coupon, bring it to me when you’re buying awesome bottle cap stuff, and call it good!

Chalk the Walk – To Craft or Not To Craft?

Serious Bakery Eagle. Also, click on this image to apply.

I just got, er… found… an email in my much-neglected inbox about Biddeford’s Chalk the Walk coming up Saturday, September 24th in downtown Biddeford, ME.  A few thousand people generally meander their way through this event that is looking for craft vendors (apply here) or artists to actually design chalk paintings for local business sponsors.  Vendors pay a fee ($25?) but artists play for free (obviously) while businesses pay the sponsor money, some of which goes towards prizes for the best work!

Pretty cool.  I’m deciding right now whether to craft fair it up or not – I’m a busy wholesale lady these days but I do love me some ground paintings, that’s for sure.