LINKS

link love: october 24 2014

Welcome to our first “Link Love” post. I’ve been wanting to do this for awhile because I tend to share awesome finds with my Twitter friends, but not everyone is on Twitter, and sometimes tweets get missed. I’m going to try and post a “Link Love” post once a week.
Yellow Hair
First I wanted to share some hair tips. Hair color, styles, and care has been on my mind a lot lately. In August, before my birthday, I got my bangs trimmed by someone that had never done my hair (my normal stylist was on maternity leave). I showed the guy a head-on pic of me with how my bangs normally look. I told him how I like it, and he started cutting. Then he said, “I think we should layer your bangs, it will be so great!”. Before I could ask questions, or say no, SNIP! SNIP! Too late! I’ve never had my bangs layered, the rest of my hair, yes; often, in fact, but my bangs?!? No. I was horrified when I saw the finished results. I looked like Joan Jett, which is not a bad look, just not a good look for me. It’s now almost November, and my bangs are still trying to recover from what he did. When I went back to get them cleaned up, another stylist did my hair, and I had to explain what happened, and let her know I knew there was only so much she could do to clean them up. She was so sweet, you could tell she felt bad that she couldn’t wave a magic wand and heal my bangs. I recently went back for another trim, and we chatted about how close my bangs are getting to normal, and started discussing color. As you may know, I love to color the bottom two inches of my hair fun colors. I was going to do it before my birthday, but after the bangs mess, I didn’t want to spend money on color, when I wouldn’t be happy with all my hair. The stylist complimented me on my hair, and asked how I kept it so healthy. I get asked this a lot, and I thought I should share “my secrets”…

1. I don’t wash my hair everyday. I wash it every other day, and once a month I don’t wash it for 3 days. It takes careful planning to make sure that third day is a day I can stay home and hide my greasy hair.
2. I get trims often. I’m at the hair salon every three months for hair maintenance, and every three to four weeks for a bang trim. It’s so important to keep your hair split-end free.
3. I wash and condition my hair with warm water, and do a cool water rinse out. This helps my hair shine.
4. I try not to blow dry my hair. I gently towel dry and then try to air dry. If I have to blow dry my hair, I hold the blow dryer so it is facing down my hair shaft. If I’m blow drying and in a hurry, I use this brush to help soak up some of the water from my hair.
5. I try not to stress my hair too much with ponytail holders or with braids. That said, I do love to style my hair for fun occasions. Check out this milkmaid braid tutorial from Roxy.

Enough about hair, let’s talk jewelry — jewelry and dogs! Have you followed the hashtag on Instagram of #dogsinjewelry yet? So far it’s mostly Sierra posting pics of Faye in Manic Trout, but there are others adding pics, too. If you have a dog that would totally rock some jewelry, you should add a pic!

Do you need some uplifting encouragement (presented in amazing art, mind you)? Then you should follow Adrienne’s blog. This recent print is my current fave of hers. I like to say “Resilient is my middle name”.

Are you trying to save money, and don’t know how? Words of Williams offers such great advice, and I really liked this recent post, on categories in your budget where you can cut costs. As I’ve mentioned before, I used to eat out a lot, until a fro-yo date with Sierra chatting about grocery bills led to the realization that I could save $400 a month by eating at home more. $400 a month! You better believe I changed my lifestyle real quick for that amount.

I loved this tour of my friend Kristen’s candle making studio. She moved from Austin to California a few years ago, and this town certainly misses her. Her candle making biz has skyrocketed and can be found all over the place. I’m particularly fond of the candle scent Laundry Day.

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biz chat: holiday show season inventory prep and sales

Square Analytics
With the holiday show season fast approaching I wanted to do a four part series to help you get prepped. First thing I do is look at our sales data from Square of the previous holiday season. If you don’t use Square, please come up with a way to be able to look back at your sales data, it’s so helpful. Stitch is great, too! We use Stitch to manage online sales and show sales combined (it helps to keep us from over selling), but when I just want to look back at show data, I use Square data. You’ll want to know the quantity, size, style, and price point of each item sold. I have a separate button in Square for sale prices, that way I can easily see the difference in numbers between the regular and sale price points.

If any of the goodies we sold last holiday season are still in play for the upcoming season I look at the best sellers and make sure to start our inventory minimums with the quantity that sold last holiday season.

Poor sellers get the boot. Medium sellers may get the boot, too. Holiday show season is when you want to focus on upping your inventory on your best gift items to maximize sales to get you through the January lull. We sell 1-inch buttons at shows; those are not really a great gift item, but are good for stocking stuffers and just to pick up at check out. We do not up our inventory on buttons for holiday shows. We make “enough” and have them near the check out, just as an add-on item. By minimizing our not so “gifty” (made up word) items we have more time and money to spend on upping our best gift-giving sellers.

For items released newly this year, I like to do spring shows to get a feel for what people are liking, buying, and how they feel about our price points. I use this data to determine the quantities we’ll need per show for the holiday season.

HOLIDAY LINE:
With a holiday line I will not have real data for the designs, so I try to have lower quantities on these, because getting stuck with holiday themed goods after December is not ideal. This happened to us our first holiday season, and every time I looked at the leftover holiday cards the following year I was so frustrated. We did sell the leftovers at a discount the following holiday season.

BRANDING:
Keep in mind the chance of each sale being given as a gift is more likely than a purchase for the buyer, you want your items to have your brand name on it. Make it easy for the gift recipient to be able to find you, so that they can become a future fan. Include more than one business card with purchases, too, that way the buyer can keep one, and give one away. Invest in quality cards and or stickers to give away to help get your name out there.

PACKAGING:
If your packaging has been rock-star awesome all year, then kudos to you! If not, now’s the time to up your packaging. If you can simplify the gift shopping experience you’ll be remembered fondly, and may gain repeat customers.

GIVE THEM SOMETHING NEW:
When we do a series of holiday shows in our hometown we release something new at each show and let our customers know. This gives our customers a reason to come to the next show, has been a great way to gain repeat sales, and an opportunity to chat multiple times with our customers.

Come back next week for a post on booth set-up tips! If you have any questions or tips to share, leave them in the comments below.

xo
-renée

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geeking out: extra life — gaming for good

With #gamergate going on I’ve been a little sad and distancing myself from anything game related. My friend putting a call out for support for his efforts for Extra Life gave me a little boost. Extra Life is a 24-hour video game marathon to raise money for the Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals. It started in 2008 and has since raised over 7 million dollars for Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals! I love that gamers have made such a huge positive difference for so many kids. If you’re a gamer, you can join in this Saturday October, 25th. You can play any type of game you want — video, board, card, role-playing, whatever you like! Not into gaming? Support my friend’s marathon, or find someone near you to support. It’s a great cause, and an easy way to do something good today.

 
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music monday: new fall tunes

Last week two albums were released that are perfect for chilly weather and cloudy days. I’ve been alternating between the albums of Pompeii and Taxes, and wishing the weather here in Austin would get it together and allow me to fully embrace the music the way I think it would sound best (aside from live, of course. nothing beats live).
Pompeii Band
You can hear songs from Pompeii’s new album loom here. They just left for an East Coast tour, and will be playing CMJ, so if you’re in the area, go check them out.

Tuesday, when It Never Ends by Taxes was released, I purchased it immediately, and dragged my laptop to the kitchen to listen to the tracks online while I made cupcakes for girls’ night. There was definitely some dancing with a spatula in my hand happening. I think Lost at Sea is my favorite song off the album (so far). West Coast friends can check them out Nov. 6th in SF at Bottom of the Hill. Here’s a video for Kali:

What new albums are you listening to? Anything I should check out, or share? In case you haven’t noticed, swoony (let’s pretend that’s a real word — like bloaty <–that’s for you Gilmore Girl fans) tunes are my favorite.

xo
-renée

 
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the haps: holiday crunch time is coming

paperplanes
I’m happy that we will be returning this necklace to the This Creative Life shop soon. With one small change, our wood necklaces are going to be hand-painted again. This one was printed for us. We’re working on re-launching the This Creative Life line soon.

WORKING ON:
Our new project, This Creative Life online shop, getting caught up for holiday crunch time, blog posts, design portfolio for our agents and Printsource.

THINKING ABOUT:
How to survive the next three months.

ANTICIPATING:
Finishing up the site for our new project, redoing the blog layout (seriously, I have it planned out, just no time to make this happen! sigh.), the holiday season rush, and Printsource.

LISTENING TO:
Taxes and Pompeii (more about that tomorrow).

THANKFUL FOR:
1. Sierra — she’s going to work my booth at Armadillo Christmas Bazaar the night of The Hobbit release, so Josh and I can go.
2. That things have been falling into place here. Josh’s last day at the print shop is on the 24th. Soon he will have more time to work on Robo Roku stuff, which is so great, because we are quite behind.

PLANNING FOR:
This will probably not be changing for the rest of the year: Holiday season, and licensing shows next year.

WATCHING:
ALL THE SHOWS! Ha ha! I seriously watch a lot of tv, but it’s the only way I can decompress. I haven’t watched Netflix much recently because of the fall shows being back. Doctor Who, Revenge, The Good Wife, Downton Abbey, Selfie, Madam Secretary, Scandal, Blacklist, Sleepy Hollow, Gotham, Cutthroat Kitchen, Gracepoint, Nashville, How to Get Away With Murder, Franklin and Bash, and Project Runway (my fave!) — lots of tv. This list is kind of embarrassing, but seriously, without a way to veg out, I’d probably lose my mind. The normal things other people do to relax make my brain go into hyper-drive. Truth be told, I work on my computer blogging or emailing while watching a lot of these.

Are you getting ready for holiday crunch time, too? Anything you’d love to see return to the shop? Back to work I go!

xo
-renée

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fan art friday: harley quinn

My friends are all huge nerds. Thankfully, that means we have plenty of shared interests. Like art, and Batman. (Duh.) Over the last few years, I’ve painted several portraits of Gotham-dwellers for friends and clients, of various villains as well as of Batman. This time, it was THREE consecutive paintings of Harley Quinn, requested by two different friends.

This Harley pin-up is based on the character’s Batman: The Animated Series version. It’s acrylic paint on a 24×24″ canvas, and was shipped to Bruce, whom I’ve known nearly 15 years. (What?! That’s crazy.) I love the bold colors.

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Detail:
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After finishing the full-color HQ pin-up painting, I began working on two coordinating smaller pieces for my feisty lady-friend, Gillian. She already has an amazing art piece, purchased from another local artist, of the Joker. He’ll soon have these (shown here in progress) hanging on either side:

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These paintings are each 8×10″, acrylic on canvas. I chose the cool grey instead of white to complement the pale neon glow-in-the-dark paint color on the Joker painting with which the Harleys will hang. Can’t wait to see them all together!

Happy Fan Art Friday, everyone!

-Jen

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