Sunday, January 30, 2011

Weekly Treasures: Be My {Gothic} Valentine

This week my Valentine's Day-themed treasury is a bit darker, but in a good way.  While I'm not a part of the Gothic subculture, I do find some of the Goth-themed fine art and handmade items on Etsy to be quite beautiful and filled with complexity.  I decided to feature some of these items in a small 12-item treasury I put together using Etsy search:

'Be My {Gothic} Valentine' by ellesbeads

Beautiful collection of Gothic valentines and romantic items pulled from Etsy search

Original Art Card '...

Dark Victorian Valentin...

Blood Red Rose on Gothi...

Tree of Hearts

Desdemona Necklace

LOVE/HATE 8x10 art prin...

5 Gothic Black Floral H...

The dark night - black...

Valentines Large Gift S...

Only Have Eyes - Goth G...

Black Leather Love Cuff...

Rorschach Romance Silk ...
Treasury tool is sponsored by

I hope you enjoy browsing through these artists' shops!  Please feel free to comment here or on the treasury and let me know what you think!

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Weekly Treasures: The BEST Spring Collection

I don't know if you're following the national weather stories, but this has been an unusually snowy and (in my opinion) dreary winter.  Sometimes it's encouraging to look forward to warmer seasons and relief from slippery black ice and high heating bills.  One of my fellow Etsy sellers and BESTeam members has decided to beat the cold with a brightly colored team treasury in the spirit of springtime:

The item of mine pulled for this treasury is my Yellow Beaded Chunky Adjustable Ring:

Yellow Beaded Chunky Adjustable Ring

Be sure to check out the curator's shop, Your Daily Jewels, and all of the wonderful BESTeam shops represented here!

Also, if you made or were included in a spring or summer-themed treasury, be sure to post the link in the comments!

Until next time,

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Weekly BEST: 41park

This week I have the pleasure of introducing you to a talented artisan from Natick, MA (near Boston).  Liza, a wife and mother with formal training in fine art and art education, is the creative soul behind 41park.  While she has professional experience as a painter and potter, Liza's 41park Etsy shop focuses on my favorite medium: handmade jewelry.  In addition to beautiful gemstones and metals, her jewelry often features eco-friendly components such as recycled silver and vintage glass.  Here are a few of my favorite items from 41park:

Spiral : bracelet . copper . amethyst

Lil' Girls Nest : necklace . birthstone . sterling silver

Mini Half Spiral : ring . sterling silver . quartz crystal

Boston Garden Ginkgo : necklace .  Angelite

Each of her pieces has a story to tell, so I encourage you to visit the shop and read the descriptions!  Find 41park at these places around the web:


Don't forget to come back here and leave a comment about your favorite item and/or the 41park shop!

Until next time,

I'm a part of an Etsy team called Boosting Etsy Shops Team or BEST. The purpose of the group is to provide promotion for each team member through our existing social networking accounts. Each week I'll be doing a blog feature about a different team member.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Weekly Treasures: Be My {Eco-Friendly} Valentine

As long-time readers know, I love eco-friendly items and try to do my part in minimizing my environmental impact.  I also love supporting those artisans who are trying to do the same.  For this weekly treasures post, I've put together a small, 12-item treasury of sepia and earth toned eco-friendly items in the spirit of the Valentine's shopping season:

'Be My {Eco-Friendly} Valentine' by ellesbeads

Lovely collection of recycled, upcycled, repurposed, and otherwise eco-friendly items pulled from Etsy search.

Je tadore French Adorat...

Love Coasters in Chocol...

Mixed metal vintage 2 h...

FREE Shipping Valentine...

Valentine Heart Purpleh...

Woodgrain magnets - 6 l...

Candle Holder Natural W...


Laser Cut Mini Wooden H...

I Love You - Wood Penda...

Mountain of Love

A Little Bit of Romance...

Generated using Treasury HTML code generator by Whale Shark Websites.

I hope you enjoy browsing through this collection and the artists' shops.  Please feel free to leave a comment here or on the treasury to let me know what you think!

Until next time,

Friday, January 21, 2011

Weekly BEST: Fluttering Flowers


As a special treat this week, I'm doing a bonus Weekly BEST feature on a shop in Oklahoma that is just too cute not to share with you!  Fluttering Flowers is a fantastically whimsical place full of bright color and youthful imagination.  Deborah, the artist behind Fluttering Flowers, was introduced to her craft at a young age and has a true talent for shaping plain blocks of clay into something quite magical.  Here are a few of my favorites from her large selection of handcrafted pieces:

4 Little Big Eared Bunnies FIMO and Sculpey

Fruit Pendant FIMO and Sculpey

7 Small Trees Fimo and Sculpey Microbeads Plant Sticks

Rainbow Mushroom and Noodle Plant Sticks for Terrarium or House Plant FIMO and Sculpey

Deborah's shop has well over 100 listings for you to browse through, so I encourage you to take some time to discover more of her work.  You can find Fluttering Flowers at these locations around the web:

Be sure to leave a comment and let us know which Fluttering Flowers creation is your favorite!

Until next time,

I'm a part of an Etsy team called Boosting Etsy Shops Team or BEST. The purpose of the group is to provide promotion for each team member through our existing social networking accounts. Each week I'll be doing a blog feature about a different team member.

EB Friday Hotlist: Rethinking Your Handmade Business' Brand in 2011

Topics about branding have been popping up again all over the web, including in the Etsy Blog, over the past couple of months.  When the year starts winding down or the new year starts gearing up, people tend to reevaluate their goals and decide where they want to move next.  While it's certainly true that this type of reflection can happen at any point during the year, the start of a new year for many people can feel like a new beginning - a fresh, clean slate.  In light of this, here are a few questions you should be asking yourself about your business:

Goal Setting
Photo by Angie Torres
Used under Creative Commons License

1. What were my goals last year and how well did I meet them?  Were these realistic goals, or perhaps were they either overly ambitious or not ambitious enough?
2. What are my goals for the new year?  Where do I want my shop to be in 3 months?  6 months?  12 months?  How do I plan to go about achieving those goals?  If I'm not sure, how will I decide on the best approach to try?
3. Where do I see my business in the long term?  2 years from now?  5 years from now?  Do my goals for the next year help me move forward towards my long term goals?

In order to really answer these questions, you need to keep your brand in mind.  If you can't clearly articulate your brand in a few short sentences, it's time to stop and really think about what exactly you're attempting to accomplish.  Here are some questions to ask yourself in order to define your brand:

1. What am I selling? 
2. What need does this product fill and for whom?
3. What makes my product unique from the others on the market?

Those last two questions are really part of a larger question: Why should someone buy what I'm selling?  Once you've figured out the answers, you can start branding your shop.  You want to make sure that your business, from the shop front to the final package in the customer's hands, reflects the answers to those three basic questions.  If you're able to consistently fill a need with your product and you are somehow distinctive from other people selling things to meet that same need, you've got a unique selling proposition (USP).  Your goal at that point is to share your USP with your target market.  Everything from your packaging, to your communication with customers, to your shop's graphics should be a reflection of your USP.

#12 - Goals
Photo by John O'Nolan
Used under Creative Commons License

Perhaps your goal for 2011 should be developing your USP and figuring out your branding.  Perhaps you should be tweaking your branding or focusing on new ways to reach your target market.  Maybe it's time to make the tough decision to separate items into two shops that simply can't be effectively branded in the same shop.  Or maybe it's time to focus on the visual - making your shop graphics and product photos tell a coherent, attractive story.  Whatever your goals for 2011, be sure to keep your brand and USP in mind, so that any changes you make are in sync with the needs of your target market.

Suggested Reading:

Etsy Blog: Shop Makeover: Creating a Brand Identity for Your Shop - Article in the Storque about defining your brand, complete with a USP worksheet and tips for how to make your brand consistent at every point of the sale (before, during, after).

The Bookshop Blog: Bookshop Branding - Your Store Is Not Your Own - Article for B&M booksellers, but when taken as a metaphor, it works beautifully for online sellers as well.  For example, when he talks about the backdrop (paint, shelving, etc.), think shop banner, avatar, color scheme, photo props, etc.

Brand Studio: 6 Tips for Branding Your Business Freebies - Great ideas that can be adapted and applied to online businesses.  As the title suggests, this article is specifically about extending your branding to your freebies, i.e. business cards, magnets, pens, discount cards, etc.

Until next time,

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Weekly Treasures: I Have a Dream...and Some Thoughts on MLK Jr. Day

As an American in the US, I observe a federal holiday on the Monday closest to January 15th, in honor of the birthday of Martin Luther King Jr.  In my current job, this is commemorated by not making me go to work.  (Yay!)  However, this day is much more important than just a free vacation day, as Dr. King fought and gave his life for the civil rights I now enjoy as an African-American U.S. citizen.

Many people seem to have arrived at the unfortunate and misguided conclusion that since Barack Obama was elected U.S. President in 2008, that Dr. King's dream has been fully realized.  While this is a beautiful and noble sentiment, it's quite untrue.  I encourage you to reconsider Dr. King's actual words:

I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character.
Surely, we have come a long, long way since the 1960s.  We've come much farther than my grandparents and parents ever dreamed they would see in their lifetimes.  However, I do not believe we have fully realized that dream that Dr. King so eloquently defined.  Many still judge and find themselves judged for no other reason than they are Black, Hispanic, Native American, Middle-Eastern, too dark, too light, etc.  Racial profiling is still a problem, and the disparity between minorities and whites struggling in poverty, achieving in our educational system, and wasting away in our penal system clearly demonstrates that the color of one's skin is still a factor in many people's everyday lives.

Dr. King was assassinated in 1968.  Consider that it would be 1986 before he was recognized with a federal holiday and the year 2000 before all 50 U.S. states observed it.  Consider that even in the past week there has been controversy over comments made by an elected governor that he would not be celebrating the holiday.  Consider the recent birther movements that have tried to undermine the duly elected president of the United States because of the Kenyan (African) and Islamic heritage in one half of his genetic makeup.  Consider that affirmative action programs are still in place across the nation, and in my opinion, are still necessary.  Consider that there are dozens and dozens of hate groups still operating across the United States, with anywhere from 1 to 66 groups operating in each of our 50 states as of 2009.  There is no such thing as a post-racial America at this time.

I say all of this to say that while I am grateful that we have made such progress in the last 50 years, I do not think we should allow ourselves to hang a "Mission Accomplished" banner over the late Dr. King's message.  Let's remember where we've come from, but also continue to push forward to get to where we need to go.  Let's educate our children about the important figures of the African-American/Black Civil Rights Movement, so that they understand why this matters.  Let's do something more to honor Dr. King than simply enjoying a day off from work and going on about our lives.

Here's a treasury I made on Etsy this past Martin Luther King Day:

Thanks for taking a look at the work of these talented artists.  Feel free to leave a comment on the treasury or here on the blog to give your response to this collection and the message I attempted to convey with it.

Until next time,

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Weekly BEST: PaulaPi

This week I'm featuring Paula Pi, a bohemian spirit, photographer, and artist extraordinaire from Miami, FL.  Her work can be described as rustic and unconventional and ranges in medium from leather to wood to stone.  As a reflective, thoughtful person, Paula encourages those who shop with her to explore themselves and to think of art as a means of self expression.  I've picked out a few of the pieces from her shop to share with you.  These compel me because they reflect some aspect of my true self:

Modern Silver Sphere and Amethyst Earrings

Eco Chic Lavender Dreams Natural Pressed Flower Wood Pendant

Illusion in Black and White Wood Pendant and Silver Necklace

Rustic Red Carnelian Pendant on Thread

Find Paula Pi at these places around the web:

Be sure to follow her blog, check out her shop, and let us know here in the comments which items you love the most!

Until next time,

I'm a part of an Etsy team called Boosting Etsy Shops Team or BEST. The purpose of the group is to provide promotion for each team member through our existing social networking accounts. Each week I'll be doing a blog feature about a different team member.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Weekly Treasures: Summer Colors

It's been an unusually long, cold, and snowy winter here in my state following the longest summer and shortest fall I remember in my lifetime.  I've made an active effort to create items in bright yellows, oranges, and reds lately to contrast with the dreary, gray weather we've been having.  Etsy treasury creators have taken to making bright, summery treasuries as well.  Here are a couple I found today while thumbing through my Etsy activity feed:

When is Summer Coming Back?:

When is Summer Coming Back? is a treasury created by getlovelights, a new Etsy shop featuring a mother-daughter team who specialize in wearable textiles.  The item of mine pulled for their treasury is my Yellow Beaded Chunky Adjustable Ring:

Yellow Beaded Chunky Adjustable Ring

Blue and Gold:

Etsy's billiebrand created this Blue and Gold Treasury.  Billiebrand is a lovely accessories shop, featuring items especially for the little ones.  The item of mine pulled for this treasury is my Paisley Shade of Orange Flower Brooch:

Paisley Shade of Orange Fabric Flower Brooch with Vintage Button

I hope you enjoy looking through all of the bright, cheery items from these two treasuries!  Be sure to leave a comment on the Treasury pages if you would like to share your thoughts on the collection with the treasury maker.

Until next time,

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Guest Posting

As many of you have noticed, Elle's Beads has added a new feature to the blog - guest posting. Knowledgable craftspeople are invited to share their expertise with the Elle's Beads readers. Posts appear both here and on Creating the Hive. Guest posts may be published at any time, so be sure to check the blog regularly or subscribe via RSS (it's free!). I hope you'll love this new feature!

If you didn'1t catch the first EB Guest Post, please treat yourself here to a discussion on handmade clothing and get inspired!

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Weekly BEST: Little Peach Fuzz

This week I'm featuring a jewelry and accessories designer from Orlando, Florida who is no stranger to the world of creative art.  Rachel is the owner and artisan behind Just Peachy (LittlePeachFuzz) on Etsy.  This multi-talented artist spent many years drawing before expanding her creative energies to include the jewelry and knitting projects you'll find in the Just Peachy shop.  Her shop is full of youthful, colorful, funky pieces made from buttons, ribbons, and wonderfully sparkly bits.  Here's a selection of some of my favorite pieces from Just Peachy:

Dragonfly Origami Lotus Hair Clip - Blue Beige Clay Glitter Flower

 Rainbow Dangly Earrings - Pink Orange Yellow Green Blue Purple Skittles Buttons

Sequin Earrings - Metallic Multi Colored Pink Red White Silver Gold Green Tubular Blue

Lotus Origami Ring - Red Flower Print Blue Glitter Clay Yellow Green

Find Little Peach Fuzz and the Just Peachy shop around the web at the following locations:

Be sure to check out the shop for more funky button jewelry and intricate origami accessories, along with felted and knitted delights.  Then come back and let us know in the comments which item(s) you like best!

Until next time,

I'm a part of an Etsy team called Boosting Etsy Shops Team or BEST. The purpose of the group is to provide promotion for each team member through our existing social networking accounts. Each week I'll be doing a blog feature about a different team member.