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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.