LINKS

2014 was like whoa!

And we’re back! 2014 was insane… in a good way. This year Robo Roku dived into licensing shows and the licensing world. I tried to prepare for that by not restocking stores we were in and not doing as many selling shows, but between online sales, the few selling shows we did and adding the licensing shows and design work we had to do for those shows (plus life changes here and there) it was quite a lot. 2014 was certainly a learning/practice year. 2013 was all about art licensing classes and learning and 2014 was about implementing what I had learned, licensing shows, and taking more classes. It was hard to try to balance everything, and I know I failed – I was behind on deadlines, didn’t post on social media enough, had a blogging break, many things suffered. Even today, I am scrambling to finish things I’m behind on because I am determined to not have anything hanging over my head as we go into the new year….except maybe this…
Too Many Leaves
Raking will be done tomorrow. Sorry neighbors! It really sucks because we’re the corner house. I’m sure our neighbors are not happy with us.

I don’t want you to think 2014 was a bad year, because it was quite an exciting year. We did new shows, I made new friends, our artwork has improved, our online sales improved, we got two agents, everything seemed to be on an upswing. I call 2014 a “practice” year even though everything we did was “live”. I didn’t expect much from the licensing shows we did, but good things came from them. I’ll be going into 2015 having a better understanding of the time, energy, and work it will take to bulk up our portfolio for the licensing shows; I have sales data of what sold best at shows and online, and what our customers want more of, which will help us streamline and order supplies more smartly. 2015 will be about spending my energy and time more wisely. I can’t be all the things all the time, but I can continue to grow my dream biz without exhausting myself into a ball on my sofa.

Armadillo Christmas Bazaar went well. From December 16 – 24th our booth was open 11am-11pm. It was a very long 9 days. This pic was on the last day, as you can see we don’t have as big of a selection; load out was not so bad, as we had sold out of quite a lot. See the kids clothes on the wall? Those were made by our guest vendor Petite Pensieri. We love doing this show and can’t wait to do it again next year.
Armadillo

I only asked for one thing for Christmas, and it is the best thing ever. I’ve been snuggling up in this on the sofa. The sleeves are very wide, so I sorta feel like Renée the Pink, Wizard of Cute!
Snuggie

I’m not going out tonight. I’ll probably be in my Hello Kitty Snuggie most of the night to tell the truth. The cool thing about the Snuggie is I can still work in it! It may seem rather boring to be working on the designated party night of the year, but I want to start 2015 off ready. Tonight I will be organizing my goals by assigning deadlines and timelines for everything. I work better when most of my days are planned out. This is why most of my friends know we need to make plans a month in advance. Booking my time keeps me sane and better on top of things. You know I don’t really make NYE resolutions, I feel like a lot of resolutions don’t work out because they tend to just be wishes. I’m a planner. By breaking up my big dreams into tiny goals I can plug into my planner I’m able to reach my goals without freaking out over them. Maybe that tactic will work out for you? Let me know what you’re looking to accomplish in 2015, and if there’s anything I can do to help, reach out!

Sending you wishes of love, prosperity, (and safety if you’re going out tonight) – let’s own 2015, and not just float through it.
XO!
-renée

 
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Happy Thanksgiving!

Trees
Happy Thanksgiving!

This month has been a whirlwind of busy! We’ve been prepping for Printsource (50 designs and/or patterns due 12/1!), we also had designs to work on for some licensees, add ordering supplies, and starting in on holiday show prep. Whew! I am SO glad we decided not to do any bigger shows this November. I think I’d be dead if we had done our normal show schedule with our new licensing workload. I’ll do a “the haps” post soon to fill you in more.

Today I want to share what I’m thankful for with you.

1) Work
No matter how busy I am, I am so thankful to do work I love. Admittedly some days I’m so tired I want to quit, but that’s just a passing phase when I’m heavily overloaded. I love drawing, painting, making, and blogging. I also love sleep. ;)

2) Family & Friends
I could not be where I am without a strong supportive network. When your work is so demanding and can be a bit of a roller coaster having friends and family that say they believe in you, and keep your chin up when you’re low, congratulate you when you’re on a roll, and have fun time with you so you can decompress, is just the best! Monthly meet ups at Sierra’s with a group of girls all working for themselves is really helpful (and fun, too!).

3) Being Grateful
This one may seem weird, but I know a lot of people out there that seem to take for granted the good in their life. I’m glad I have a grateful spirit. It keeps me grounded, and I think when you show gratitude, you attract more things to be grateful for.

4) Josh
He totally deserves his own number. I’m always amazed at how well we work together, but then I see it’s because we respect each other, and always say thank you. Working and living together could be strenuous, and we both need our alone time, so we make sure to give each other space when we can. We’re really good at teaming up to get stuff done, and when one is sick or behind schedule, we pick up their slack. Go team Robo Roku!

5) SXSW, Cherrywood Art Fair, Make Art That Sells (MATS), Tara Reed, and Cultivate Art Collective
This is a group thanks, because these organizations and people helped get Robo Roku on the licensing path. If it weren’t for me volunteering for SXSW I would have never met someone that would eventually be in charge of merchandise for SXSW, who would then see our work at Cherrywood Art Fair, and offer us our first licensing deal. From there I signed up for MATS and learned about the licensing world, and then joined Cultivate Art Collective (started by a member of MATS) which would get us to Surtex & Printsource. Tara Reed has been a fabulous mentor, and with her suggestion of going to Licensing Expo we have secured agents and licensing deals.

6) Music
I love nothing more than seeing my favorite bands play live. Music is on almost all the time, I even play music when I shower! Music fills my soul. It has always been how I get through my days (you can ask my parents and brother about that). My parents patience with me always playing music is quite spectacular.

Of course I’m thankful for more than this list, but these are the big ones. This list is what my life is about. I hope you have a wonderful Thanksgiving. Be sure to eat some stuffing for me!

XO!
-renée

 
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makeup monday: two-face transformation

One of the coolest part about having a geeky circle of friends is collaborating with them and bringing clever ideas to life. This Halloween, when my friend Brian Salisbury decided he wanted to dress up as Two-Face, I was immediately excited and enthusiastically accepted the challenge.

We started by sticking a nice, straight strip of tape down the center of Brian’s face. He shaved off all the facial hair on the left side prior to my arrival. I then used scar putty from a costume store to begin creating freeform texture and “burns” directly on the skin. I liberally applied liquid latex all over that half of the face with a brush, right on top of the scar putty. This helped not only seal the scars in place, but also created more texture and some really great subtle transitions between the real skin and putty skin.

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Brian’s favorite incarnation of Harvey Dent is the Batman: The Animated Series version, so I knew right away I wanted to integrate a blue tint to make him look a bit more cartoony, as opposed to a thoroughly realistic burned face effect. (Thankfully, I had some leftover blue metallic FX makeup from the previous weekend’s Mystique makeover!)

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Once all the latex was dry, I used a combination of reds, browns, and black to paint the “skin”, accentuating areas prone to highlights and shadows. Once I was satisfied with the dimension, I gently sponged on the metallic blue, after which I accented the eyes with black liner and did final touch-ups. The tape was removed, and a crisp edge remained.

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Brian stitched together two coat halves, one tweed and one black, for his costume. I used white cream makeup to frost his hair for a more natural salt-and-pepper effect rather than a solid coat of hair spray paint. (I actually DID intend to use hair spray paint, but accidentally purchased white silly string instead, so we improvised. It looks much better the way it is than it would’ve if that had gone as planned. Happy accident!)

Here we are together at a Halloween party later that night:

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I’m super proud of how this turned out, and I can’t wait to do more elaborate makeup work. The human face is quickly becoming one of my most preferred canvases.

P.S. Check out Brian’s blog and podcast, you guys! OneOfUs.Net is a community for nerds of all kinds, and is run by some truly talented dudes. Geeks of the world, unite!

 
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geeking out: seriously cool costume makeup tutorial videos

Still in need of a last-minute Halloween costume? Fear not! With a little makeup, some brushes and sponges, and some expert guidance in the form of YouTube vids, you can totally create an amazing costume of your own. (And no one will ever know you pulled it off at the last second unless you tell them!)

Here are a few of my favorite FX makeup tutorials. Enjoy!

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The Joker:
http://youtu.be/ZXYkfqv0FK4

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Harley Quinn:
http://youtu.be/ZHmW16N1Vnk

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Bride of Frankenstein:
(This one features one of my absolute fave models and artists, Micheline Pitt, being made up by monster-making legend Rick Baker.)
http://youtu.be/TsfqJsv5w50

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Zombie look by Linda Hallberg:
(She’s one of the coolest Instagram MUAs, in my opinion.)
http://youtu.be/2kfHdlTuyFU

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Really creepy, really awesome half skull effect:
http://youtu.be/mgTtXdnxwX0

I hope some of these inspire you to get creative this Halloween! Please tag me on Twitter or Instagram if you try one and take photos: @jenheartsart

Happy haunting!

-Jen

 
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biz chat: craft show booth set-up tips

aliday2011

Looking back at this booth, I’m a little embarrassed. I’ve grown so much since this. That said, I did win 2nd place in the best booth contest at this show. I’m using the pronoun “I” instead of “we”, because booth set up is something I heavily obsess over, and is one of the facets of Robo Roku that I take complete charge over. I love trying to create a happy environment. I was fortunate enough to have had merchandise training in one of my former retail management jobs. The company I worked for sent managers on a week long retreat that mostly focused on the Psychology of merchandising. I don’t always use what I’ve learned, because “happy environment” is top priority for me. This post is going to be a little bit more “do as I say, not as I do”, sharing my past retail merchandise training and experience as a former producer for a local craft show with you to help you up your show booth game.

Memorable Experience
Use your booth as a way to create a memorable shopping experience. Infuse your branding into all the elements. From floor, to walls, to “ceiling” have every aspect of your booth show your colors and style.

We try to bring the outdoors in and remind people of a fun day laying in the grass looking at clouds. We use AstroTurf for the floor and walls, and batting to create “clouds” in the air. We use white curtains on as many sides of the booth as possible to brighten up the booth, and increase the airy feel.

Lighting
We also always pay for electricity. Lighting is worth whatever they charge you, it helps your booth stand out from your neighbors, and highlights your goods. It can also act as a beacon, drawing people in.

Table Coverings
If you have beautiful tables that you’re not hiding anything under, then you can skip the tablecloth. If you bought a standard folding table at Target (or wherever), then you need to cover it up, and class up the booth. Choose a tablecloth that matches your branding, ideally one that is water resistant. Having custom fitted tablecloths are even better. If you’re like me and change up your set up too much to justify paying for custom fitted tablecloths, have safety pins handy to tie back the sides of the tablecloth for a more polished look.

Levels
Height in your booth is very important. Having staircase type set-ups gives your customer’s eyes places to continue going, which keeps them in your booth longer, and maximizes your display area. I prefer to have a 3ft tall table, because it helps most people not feel strain bending over to look at your goods. Only having this height can cause issues for people not able to see that high up, so make sure you have multiple levels for all situations.

Space
Make sure there’s room for your customers to move around. Try not to create a dead end or bad corner where they can get stuck. In the photo above I have the tees on a rack near the entrance so people can flip through from the aisle. If you can make a space that’s shoppable from both sides, you gain more space in your booth.

Signage
Have a big banner with your name (maybe even your url) so people can know who you are, and can read from the aisle. Pricing signs (if your items are not individually priced); social media contact signage, so they can jump on their phones and follow you right away; payment options, so they don’t have to worry whether or not they can buy something from you. The payment signage is so important. Even with a sign from Square in our booth sometimes people miss it, assume we’re cash only and almost walk out of the booth.

Takeaways
At the very least you want to give out your business card to as many visitors as you can. Have these in more than one place. We always keep some near the front of the booth (opposite of where our checkout is), and some at the checkout. If possible, have freebie stickers, buttons, or postcards to help them remember you. While this is not necessarily a takeaway, make sure your shopping bags have your name on them, this is free show advertising for you. I chose a particular size and color for our shopping bags, and that bag alone (without our branding on it) is recognizable locally. At many shows I’ve had people tell me “I’ve seen so many people with your shopping bags”, it may not be true that so many people have shopped our booth, it’s that we’ve solidified our branding so much, that the bags stand out.

Seasonal Decor
If it’s the holiday season, try adding some garland, twinkle lights, pine cones, snowflakes, etc to your booth to up the holiday shopping spirit.

Keep in mind, even with my past retail experience, my first booth was a sad card table with no table covering. Just packaged jewelry and badges laying on the table. Not much height or interest at all. You can see some past booth set-ups here, and see the growth over the years. We all start somewhere, and even if your last booth was super awesome, I guarantee there’s always room for improvement. Every year I look at my booths from the year before and think “yuck!”, even though I know when I was setting up each booth I was super proud of the time and energy I put into it. I think evolving every year is one thing I really like about booth set-ups. I look forward to finding ways to make the booth better than before. If you have any questions or suggestions, leave them in the comments below. Some people have emailed me asking questions from the last biz chat post, and you’re welcome to do that, too. I just want to share with you what I’ve learned to help make your first time out a little less scary.

xo
-renée

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