01 September 08

The Isabelle School Bag

Isabelle's School Satchel

Not only is this bag good for stylish and precocious 5-year-olds, it could also be good for you, too. If you think so, then head on over to The Shoppe and make a purchase.

This will be a fairly limited run, solely because the fabric is vintage and once its gone, its gone.

Here is the official description and story behind the bag:
What happens when you give a very stylish five-year-old access to your entire fabric stash? She picks out the 100-year-old crushed velvet made from a small textile company in Ohio that you bought at a flea market. And I’m glad she did. I’d been meaning to make something but wasn’t sure what. With the help of Isabelle, I created this bag for her to carry her crayons, paste, and construction paper to school. But it is such a stylish bag that I think you’ll like it too. This cotton velvet patterned fabric combines a rich blue and gray to show of the thickly napped fabric. The lining is solid gray, the webbing is solid silver, and the hardware is powder-coated charcoal gray metal. One silver magnetic snap is used to keep the flap closed. Inside the bag is a 7“x5” zippered pocket that will keep a few things safe and easy to grab. The overall bag dimensions are 12” wide x 12” high x 3” deep. The strap is adjustable and you’ll be asked if you’re short, average, or tall once the order is placed. The bag can be brushed clean or dry cleaned. It is lightly interfaced so it will keep its shape while hanging on the body, but it will not stand up on its own.

The price is $50 ($4.50 for shipping, tax if you’re in Illinois).

21 July 08

We have a winner

If you’ve read my site during the last two weeks, then you know that I’ve been running a little contest. I asked people to answer the question:

If your business were a type of food, what kind of food would it be, and why?

And thanks to the random number generator, the winning number was 3 with Caroline of Little Package Cycling Caps being the winner. Caroline makes cycling caps and is located in Portland, Oregon. If you’re a cyclist and you like caps, then you should check out her Etsy shop. She’s got some great styles available right now and if you’re picky, she also does custom orders.

And I have to say thank you to everyone who tried to win the book. I wasn’t sure if I’d get enough responses to make it worthwhile, but I’m glad to see that there is enough interest in this book to inspire many small businesses who are new to me. It’s been great looking at everyone’s website and seeing how their answers compare to their online presence.

And thanks again to Lauren Bacon and Emira Mears for writing The Boss of You. And in case you didn’t win, but still want the book, check out your public library or purchase it at Amazon where it is only $10.85.

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13 July 08

As promised earlier

Here’s a picture of my copy of The Boss of You:
A well-loved book
And here’s an image of what most of the first three chapters of my book look like:
Annotated

If you think you could benefit from this book, too, I’m running a contest. Scroll to the bottom of this post and leave a comment. I’ll be drawing one winner at random and emailing them a brand new copy of this book.

And I’d like to reiterate that this book isn’t just geared to people who produce a small line of independently made goods. This book is for women starting a small business. Whether that business is a copy-editing agency, a line of kids clothing, or even a yoga studio I think this book would be helpful for you. And while there is a definitely a focus on women business owners, I could see some men finding this a helpful business book as well. If you want to get to the top of the heap as quickly as possible so you can buy that Beemer before your little brother does, this isn’t the book for you. If you wan to develop and explore your entrepreneurial energy while still having friends, a family, and fun that isn’t related to how you earn a living, then you’ll like this book.

I’ve finished mine, and I’ve been blessed by the number of people who said that they support me and have offered to help me as they’re able. The period of self- and business-focused reflection has been very good to me. I’ve begun to realize what events have happened in the last two years that have gotten me off track from my original goals. And, for a variety of reasons, I’m not comfortable sharing them publicly but I’m glad that I’ve had this outside influence that has given me the ability to back up and figure out why I’ve done what I’ve done. And not all of it is flattering, but all of it is beneficial. Or will be in the long run.

29 June 08

Wickedly Chic

Liz of Wickedly Chic has chosen the CinnamoNOLA bag as one of today’s Top Picks. I’m flattered. Thanks, Liz!

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08 June 08

A coupla links

I usually just link to things I like in my Del.icio.us feed (which you can see at the bottom of this page) but decided that I needed to extrapolate on a few things a bit more.

Sewing Room Ergonomics
About a year ago I started redoing my sewing room because the layout just wasn’t working for me at all. The table I was using for cutting and sewing was too low for cutting and too high for sewing. There wasn’t enough storage and I just wasn’t happy with the layout. So I spent a lot of time researching how to make a sewing room ergonomic and found lots of little bits of info, but nothing cohesive. And what I have now works, and I need to tidy up so I can feel comfortable taking pictures and showing it off to the internet world. But thankfully Lemon
Tree Tales
posted a very cohesive and concise explanation of how to set up your cutting table and sewing table. So if you’re thinking of redoing your sewing setup, read this first. You just might be surprised with what you find out.

Pricing your work
Oh, howdy is this a rough subject. So hard to make the best decision, so hard to justify raising your prices. So hard to figure all this out. Well, Oh Boyd Enterprises has a great piece about doing just that. It’s intense and long so you may want to read it so you can take notes and refer to it later when you’re pricing your next piece. My favorite section title? “You are a business person – In Fact, you are a miniature factory.” Good things to remember. Good things indeed.

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12 May 08

Not one book but two. Okay, maybe three.

I feel blessed this year beyond my wildest imaginations. Not only did Lauren and Emira, the witty and brilliant behind Boss Lady interview me for their most recently published book The Boss of You which is now on shelves and which I’m slowly reading through. Instead of reading it like it were a hamburger, I find myself wanting to read it like it were an artichoke; slowly, methodically, and savorally. Which means that its going to take me a while to read it and I’m enjoying it so, so much.

But now Faythe Levine, the crafty brain behind Art vs. Craft in Milwaukee as well as Handmade nation, previously known as the Indie Craft Documentary, has announced that her book titled Handmade Nation The DIY Rise of Art, Craft, and Design is now available for preorder. While Faythe did interview Amy and I for the DIY Trunk Show, I don’t know that our interview will make it to the book directly. I do however know that we were asked if we would edit our Craftifesto from the DIY Trunk Show to be included in the book. And we gladly offered our words to Faythe and her co-author Cortney Heimerl for use in the book. As individuals, as fellow craft show organizers, and as DIY-minded folks we completely support Faythe and her efforts with this community and were, heck are!, flattered that she would consider us for her book. The book is due to ship in November I think and the documentary will release next year.

And, in more untitled news, I’ve also provided a short piece for another book about crafting and activism. I don’t want to spill the beans since I don’t know that the F&Gs have been sent to the author yet (that’s the fold and gathers, the initial printer proofs) and I’d like to hear from her that the book title is ready for public consumption. But I’m just as excited by this last book as I am by this first book.

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16 April 08

Fair Pay for women

Blog for Fair Pay

I’m a day early, but since I probably won’t post before the 18th, I think its okay to cheat a bit.

I’m a manager. Its been in my title for about a year. And I’ve grown into the role. It’s not been an easy trek. I’ve learned a great deal about myself (and if so many of my co-workers didn’t read this I might have written more about that), and I’ve learned a great deal about people, and I’ve done things in the past year that I was shaking in my shoes over, but I did them. And let me tell you something, that low self-esteem post I wrote the other day, still holds true, but because of standing up and facing my fears and approaching troubling moments, scary moments, fearful moments, I vanquished one small corner of that low self esteem.

But I didn’t do it alone. I’ve been so fortunate. So very, very, very fortunate to have a few women who are 1-2 steps on the ladder above me, or they’re at my level, but they’ve been there long enough to know more than I do. And you know what they did? They shared with me. And they shared by example. The explained why they did things and because I admire them, when they nodded gently and nudged me forward I went. I went with my shoulders back and even though I didn’t really believe in myself, I figured if I could pretend that I did for about 15 minutes, I could fake my way through. And it worked. And then I thought, if faking confidence helps, what could real confidence get me?

And I don’t have empirical data, cause I’m still working on that part, but I’ve gotten good at gathering my confidence and forging onward for a few minutes. And each time I do so, it works for me. And, more importantly, each time I do so it gets easier to do it again and I become slightly more convinced that I’m right.

So, since I’ve been fortunate to have mentors, I thought I’d share just a little bit of information. “If you don’t ask for something, you won’t get it.” Whether it is a raise, a promotion, a job alteration, a trip to a conference, etc. But if you do ask, and if you ask in a professional and non-emotional way, you just may get it. And if you don’t, you’re not really any worse off than you were before.

A year ago, when I was offered the position of manager I sat down across the desk from my boss and held in my hand a tiny piece of paper. On this piece of paper was written the salary that I wanted, that I felt I deserved, that I felt that I earned. I kept it in my hand because I was nervous and because I wanted to be able to say “Actually, sir. I think I’m worth this much” if I needed to.

And when he showed me the form that contained the salary offer, I blinked. I looked at him in shock a little. “You’ve earned that, you know.” And instead of hemming and hawwing. Instead of diminishing his comments, I laughed a little and said, “Oh, I agree with you. I came in here prepared to ask for an amount, prepared to not accept less than an amount, this amount, actually. You’re offering me exactly what I think I need to feel comfortable taking on this role.”

And that may have been a huge coincidence, it may have been fate, it may have been that the recommendations I got from women I trusted was spot on. But it worked. And I didn’t have to argue. And the best part? When I went in that meeting I felt guilty asking for my desired amount. When I came out, I came out feeling like I deserved exactly what I got, exactly what I was prepared to ask for.

So, do I firmly believe that women get paid less than men in similar positions? You betcher feminist card I do. But do I think that we women owe it to each other to share skills we’ve learned to make it easier for other women to fake their courage and confidence long enough to say, “I’m a great employee and I deserve $X from this company.” And this won’t take care of all of it, but it will help some people, maybe many people.

And, here is another very pragmatic piece of information that I read in a great book on being a boss and asking for raises and promotions for yourself. If pay increases are handed out in your review, going into your review ready to ask for more money is the wrong timing. Two months before your review, schedule a time to go see your manager and present 3-5 things you’ve done during the past year that you feel make you qualified for a pay increase. Do your best to stay firm, confident, and focused. And you may not get it, but you will be more likely to get it if you ask beforehand than during. By the time your review comes, your department budget is probably already determined. And this negotiating tactic will work with other things as well. For example, “Because of the work I’ve done in the past year, I think I deserve a pay increase. However, if the company would be willing to send me to a conference, pay for me to take a class, sign me up for professional development, offer me some scholarship funds, give me extra vacation days, etc. I’d prefer that.” Sometimes cash in your check is less important than getting set up to earn more cash a little way down the road. Consider it an investment. Cause you’re worth it.

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27 March 08

I am the boss of me!

This is what the cover of the book co-written by the two coolest Boss Ladies looks like. I just got word that it is going to hit shelves on May 1st. And I think I’ll be able to do a giveaway so stay tuned and you might be able to win a copy of this book.

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