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Wednesday, May 26, 2010

The Art of Feedback

Anyone who operates an online business in a marketplace like Etsy, knows the importance of feedback. The feedback system was designed to let other shoppers know how trustworthy the seller is – are their descriptions accurate, their policies fair, their items the quality they profess? It’s a good system when it’s used properly and everyone understands the ‘rules’. Unfortunately, I’ve seen some really interesting comments and feedback scores, both in my shops and in others.

For example – I had one just yesterday. A customer contacted me wanting to know about my return policies. She had purchased a pair of tiny, catchless hoops she wanted to return. I explained she could return them in their original packaging within five business days of receiving them. When I receive them back, I will issue a refund. The items are one of my best sellers so I was curious about the reason for the return, so I asked her if there was a problem with them, or with my description, etc.

She said “no” and explained that she only has single piercings in her ears and she needs something she can take in and out often and easily, but that I’d done a good job of describing that they were more for people with additional piercings, as well as a photo to show how they work best. She also noted there was nothing wrong with the workmanship either, but that she’d been hoping they might fit her needs too.

Okay – fair enough, I thought. I thanked her for the info she took the time to provide and then I happened to check out my feedback, as I do regularly. This same customer had left NEUTRAL feedback and a comment that they weren’t right for her and that she’d contacted me regarding a return. We’ve since worked it out but I was very confused.

I’d provided a quality product, accurate descriptions and photographs, as well as exemplary customer service, and the feedback was neutral. I’ve seen this in many other shops too – feedback ranging from neutral to negative, for similar reasons. I think there’s some confusion about what feedback is and what it isn’t.

If I purchase something that’s the wrong size, the wrong color for me, or I just don’t really like it when I get it, that doesn’t warrant neutral or negative feedback. I’ve bought plenty of beads over the last two years that for some reason I expected to be larger than they were but the descriptions were accurate. My mind had made them bigger than they really were – so it was MY error in judgement, and nothing to do with the bead store’s product(s).

I’ve also seen feedback left as negative feedback with no comment, and no contact from the customer to discuss any issues or problems. It left me to wonder all kinds of things: (a) did it never arrive? (b) did you think they were bigger/smaller/thicker than they were? (c) they were sterling silver – did they tarnish and you didn’t know sterling did that? I could go on forever with what could have happened, and it would have been great to know what it was.

Leaving negative or neutral feedback without contacting the seller for a resolution to the problem is similar to a person who buys a shirt in a local store and when the seam comes down, instead of going back to the store and explaining the problem (with or without a receipt), they make a sign and picket the store. What happened to communication?

I’d love to see a tutorial in place that someone needs to complete before they can leave feedback. Or perhaps a series of specific questions that generates what the feedback will be. That button click can make or break a business – it is very powerful. Please use it wisely :)

Monday, May 10, 2010

Who Spilled the Beads?

Guess what happened to me today? I went to grab a plastic container of tiny beads and the top popped off – spewing teeny little beads everywhere! What an incredible mess; they were everywhere, all over the floor and my bench. The bouncy little things went into my pots of sterling scrap, on my chair, and behind every piece of furniture in my shop.

My intention was to put away some new beads I had bought recently but I was waylaid by about an hour’s cleanup. The photo below shows the size of the beads – at this point they were mostly cleaned up.

Who Spilled the Beads

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Studio Tour

People are always curious about where the things I create come from so I thought I'd share a little. First of all, they come from my hands, and mine alone, so keeping up is quite a job - but it's one I wouldn't trade for anything. Welcome to my little studio!

View from the Doorway

This is the view from the doorway as you step into my world. I spend most of my time in here creating, answering your questions, re-listing, and ordering new things. Occasionally, I clean up and it's getting to be time to do that now. I'm putting it off a bit, because I need an overhaul of sorts and I'm too busy, as well as not sure what the goal is - I want it to have an impact and it may mean breaking the studio into two rooms - the creative room, and the business/computer room. I haven't decided yet, so it is as it is.

As you step further into the room you see an absolutely invaluable cabinet on the right. A thrift store find for about $30 that I don't know how I lived without.

Cupboard 2

On top is where I keep my music - to keep the creative juices flowing as I'm working away, and within the cabinet - jars and jars of little pieces of what makes up my business - hoops, rings, components, bezel settings - all things I have made and ready to put the finishing touches on to ship out, or things that are completely ready to go. I spend most Fridays re-assessing this cabinet to see what needs to be made and put into stock so I am 'ahead of the game'.


And yes – that’s a fire extinguisher in the bottom of the cabinet. I work with a torch to make many of the pieces you receive so it’s important to consider safety when using open flame. It’s right there should I ever need it.

Further down the wall on the right is my work bench. Another inexpensive find – I purchased this piece from an ad in the paper for about $40. It is the best work bench I can imagine, and even though it’s a work bench, I must admit to a bit of sadness when my soldering brick got too hot and melted the top finish. Oh well – now it is truly broken in!

Work Bench

This bench is really the backbone of what I do. You can see my torch, my finishing dremel, and my polishing dremel-like tool. At the back of the bench is bead storage and the stack of plastic drawers on the right hold all of the sterling and copper wire and sheet I have on hand. My chair is on rollers and it gets a workout here – back and forth between the bench and the silver drawers and the computer station behind me when I hear a ‘ding’ in my email with a question, order, or comment from those who support me so wonderfully.

Every seller needs to show their pieces in a good photo. I am no expert but have learned a few things from others willing to share their information. Natural light where possible is what I’ve found best. I keep some props in front of the window where I can set up some good scenes for photos. On nice days, I take it outside for even better shots. The mannequins are a valuable addition to my photos and add a lifelike element that helps buyers make a decision based on size, placement, etc. I know they look a little odd, but they’re my ‘buddies’ – even the headless one ;)

Mannequins and Photo Window

My newest addition to the studio is this funky, lime green bench. I just knew I had to have it, even though it wasn’t exactly in the budget. I picked it up at a 2nd hand store (sense a theme here?). The guy wanted $95 and I got it for $75. It is the shipping bench and holds everything I need to get orders ready to ship out – thank you tags, envelopes, my stamp, customs forms, boxes, tape, ribbon, etc. It has a drawer to hold post-its, pens, pencils, paperclips and more – is loaded with cubby holes, nooks and crannies, and even has glass shelving with mirrors behind it. I love it! Someone has painted the words “love”, “be free”, and “magic” on the cupboard doors, and I truly think it was made for me.

Funky Bench

So yes, I do need to clean up a bit, although my friend Sharon from MetalRocks assures me that I’m tidier than many artists she’s met over the years. I do know that when I get too much mess, I have to clean up or the creative energy stops flowing.

Thank you so much for taking the time to walk through the studio with me and I hope it helped give you a better sense of who I am and where the pieces you wear come from.

In gratitude,

Darcey Lyn

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Packaging and Parcels - Oh My!

I sent out orders on Thursday, April 1st and after the long weekend, I had 36 packages to ship off! Check out my overflowing outbox:

Speaking of packaging, it is a critical part of any online business, and packaging and postage are of critical importance to an online Canadian business. It can, in fact, make or break you.

It costs me $2.27 to ship a package as shown in the photo to the US. I use really tiny charm boxes (1.75 x 1.18 by 5/8" high). The last number - 5/8" high is the critical one for little boxes. You see, it must fit through a small slot to be eligible for the $2.27 shipping rate. Sometimes I use a larger jewellery box, but I cut the box down so that the height will fit through the slot, which is clearly not all that attractive. The $2.27 covers only the shipping cost; not the envelope, nor the box, nor the gas to get to the post office, nor the time it takes me to get there, or the time standing in line to send my items. These are also all part of the very real costs of shipping.

I have searched for other dimensions of boxes that will meet the 5/8" high criteria; without success. Anything higher than that costs $4 + for US and would you believe, more than $9 to ship within Canada! I can ship cheaper to the US from my Canadian home than I can within my own country for the same size item. This I truly do not understand.

If anyone is thinking about selling online, I recommend pricing out your shipping costs before you take the final plunge. Do your research and be sure you know what that item costs you before you put it up for sale with a 'guesstimate' shipping rate. This goes for both Canadian and US sellers alike. Know what kind of package it should ship in too. I used to use bubble wrap and bubble mailers, and while it appeared to be cheaper, I had items arrived broken beyond repair in more than one instance. I replaced them - that's the kind of business I operate, but I had to ask myself - "is it cheaper?" A little box provides a lot of protection and peace of mind and I'm pleased to have a shipping standard - a way that I ship that provides security and protection for the lovely items I painstakingly make. I want them to arrive pristine and take every precaution to ensure they do.

Shipping - one of the critical considerations in the world of handmade sales.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Sneak Peek and Advanced Sales

For my blog readers, I thought I'd set up a sneak peek of a few items that will be on sale in the shop tomorrow. Feel free to stop in tomorrow or contact me for advanced purchases at sale prices - available only to you. Remember that some things are one of a kind pieces and may be sold out.

Some pretty posts in sterling silver and gemstone cabachons:

Were $19.50 ~ now $15

Post earrings are always a real sweet choice for a simple day or a loving gift for a friend or family member. These are bezel set by me in sterling silver and come with the earring backs.

One of a kind sterling silver pendant:
"The Boneyard"

This piece is made from bits of sterling silver and reminds me of what you'd find at a scrapyard - bits of treasure. It was $75 and will be on sale for $44. It is a one of a kind piece.

One pair of "Branching Out" earrings. There are only one pair of these and they were $34. Will be on sale for $28. They are made from sterling silver and lovely, iron pyrite.
For more deals, come see me tomorrow at: www.RockYourWire.com and check out the Rockin Birthday Sale Section or contact me in advance at rockyourwire@shaw.ca.
Let's have some fun!

Monday, March 15, 2010

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Sneak Preview

Sort of a 'back to my roots' line - the URBAN Elegance collection is a marriage of copper and sterling - hammered, antiqued, wrapped, and otherwise funked. I absolutely love it and think the earthy tones are appealing and inspiring.

I love to add the patina slowly...darkening the hammered copper and then polishing it to an earthy brown. Too fun. You followers get a sneak peek - the listings will go up in the shop on Friday for the newest pieces in the collection.

Honey Drops:

Swansong (these have a matching necklace too):

A great big chunk of moonstone necklace that really needs a cool name. Help me anyone?

Mulberry Twizzles (matching necklace will be posted too!):

Pop by the shop on Friday to see the rest www.RockYourWire.com