Category Archives: Business Stuffs

Posts related to my businesses

It’s been a long long time.

I had a million things to say yesterday and I was thinking: “wow if I post all this on my Facebook status people are going to get really annoyed” when I remembered I have a blog just for that reason lol

I know, it’s been forEVer since I made any blog entries.  It’s not that I forgot about it, really, I’ve just been incredibly busy and every time I think of blogging I think “well maybe I can find some time next week”.   Next week always seemed to be busier.

In any case, I don’t think I’ve updated since before my bro came to visit this summer… it was a great visit! Even though both of us were having health issues, and we were often too tired/sick to do much of anything, we had a great time just enjoying each other’s company.

I was sooo upset when he had to leave — I thought I’d almost had him convinced to stick around but he left anyway, then he missed a train connection in Chicago and almost did come back… I had a hard time processing it all and then dealing with being stuck here alone again.  The next couple of weeks I don’t think I could have blogged if I’d wanted to.  Then the holiday orders started early, and I’ve been working pretty much nonstop since then.

Holiday sales were great this year! My business took a huge hit a couple years back when I shut down for 9 months because of the uncertainty caused by the CPSIA toy laws.  After I opened back up my sales were no where near what they had been, and I felt like I was building from the ground up again, so I was very pleasantly surprised to see sales pickup so early this year.  And they kept up.   I still have a couple of orders to fill, but I am proud to say I managed to get every holiday order out on time this year (the ones that came in before our cutoff dates anyway).

One of the main reasons I was able to keep up with holiday sales this year is becuase MY ARM IS BETTER!! My arm had been relatively okay while Fred was here, and then 2 days after he left it was screaming again.  I knew it wasn’t psychosomatic so I started analyzing what could have caused the change… and tracked it back to my favorite ezchair.  While my bro was here I spent most of my time on the couch beside him, instead of in my chair.  It turns out my favorite chair has been exacerbating the nerve entrapment in my arm for YEARS.  I feel completely stupid for not having figured this out before, but I had an old easy chair in the other room, so I had someone help me switch it out… and my arm’s been better ever since!

It’s not great.  I still can’t do much with it without it having trouble, and I still have to load up on NSAIDs to keep it functional, but without the chair exacerbating it all the time it is SO much better.  Before I switched the chairs it had gotten to the point where it was hurting and useless more often than not, and if I did too much with it it would be useless for days afterwards.  Now it’s only hurting when I use it too much, and it’s more or less recovering over night.  I cancelled the appointment I’d made for a cortizone shot, and hopefully won’t be needing it, at least for a while!  For the first time in 2 years I’m actually holding out hope it may heal most of the way given some more time.

I have a lot more to share but I think I’ll end this post here for now, and pickup more tomorrow :)

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Venting a little frustration…

Lately I just want to scream, as I watch my competitors and friends continue to prosper, selling products for kids that aren’t properly tested/documented (under the new CPSIA laws), or items with someone else’s trademarked or copy-written images and logos, while my business continues to suffer as I fight to do things legally.

I don’t know whether these people are oblivious to the laws, or just breaking them on purpose… part of me wants to yell at them "what you’re doing is NOT legal", another part of me is envious that they can ignore these laws with a clean conscience, and still another part of me is happy to let them live in their ignorance, just glad to see they aren’t suffering yet from this nightmare that is the CPSIA.

I shut down my business because I couldn’t see a way to meet the ridiculous CPSIA testing laws (even though all of my products were safe).  I’ve since re-opened, but I’m unable to list my most profitable products (which also happen to be the best ones, and one is the item the entire business was named after) — because I can’t afford the insane testing fees.  The customers that have come back are annoyed to find the products they want unavailable, and are more than happy to go to competitors — who are still selling similar items, either oblivious to, or in defiance of the new laws.  

The copyright/trademark infringement issue is a new one on me.  I used to have no problem pointing out trademark infringements, most people I ever saw doing this were strangers, online.  These laws have been in place longer than I’ve been alive, and everyone should know about them!  

Lately, however, I’ve had the opportunity to converse with more local crafters, and trademark infringement is apparently running rampant around here!  It’s much harder to confront a law-breaker in person, especially when you’re trying to make new friends, and you’re not entirely sure they KNOW they’re breaking the law.  It’s also hard to confront a shop owner who may be considering placing your items, with the fact that their store is carrying illegal items from other vendors…

Paint me frustrated.

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Christmas Rush

So the holiday sales rush from StoryBlox is finally over, I’ve still got a couple of orders to take care of, but I’m not in a huge rush. 

I dropped a cutting board on my foot the day after Christmas, I think I broke my big toe.  So, I’m sitting here bored out of my mind and figured I’d write a blog entry.  I have work I should be doing, but all of it requires sitting up, and my foot is still swollen so I’m trying to keep it up as much as possible today.

Christmas was weird this year.  I usually approach the holidays with a strange mixture of dread, fear, and excitement.  Our family always fights a lot during the holidays, but Christmas is a very important holiday as a Christian.  Plus there are a lot of children in our family, and it’s so great watching them get excited …

This year was a lot different for me, because I spent November and December working to try to get all of the holiday orders out.  I did most of my shopping earlier in the year, and only had 2 days to get the rest of my shopping and my holiday chocolates made for the family. 

I was so rushed and tired this year that I lost track of time and nearly forgot which day Christmas was.  I didn’t have time to put up a tree or anything here.  I didn’t even have time to get stressed out about dealing with family.

In the end, the day itself was just enjoyable, no one fought too much, and I was able to give individual presents to my nieces and nephews this year instead of just making them chocolate (I did that too).  It was kinda cool, although it felt like something was missing.  I think I kind of lost the true meaning of Christmas this year in all the rush.  I think I might have to find a way to celebrate Christ’s birth on my own after things have settled down or something.  

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New Store

Twice Round Banner

Mosaic of Paper Beads I’ve become increasingly displeased with Etsy, but I had a hard time finding a viable alternative. I believe I might have found one in eCrater though. I’m testing out new storefronts there, and, if I get enough traffic to satisfy, I might be switching over after the Christmas season. In the meantime, I’m going to be splitting my beads between the etsy shop and the new eCrater store.
When I first started selling recycled beads I decided to just use my tmbmt username as the shop name, since I didn’t expect to sell much and had no real reason to advertise. Since they’ve been selling fairly well though, I’ve decided to get a real shop name. The eCrater store is named “Twice ‘Round”, and I’ve changed my banner at etsy (you can’t change usernames there) to reflect the new shop name as well.

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Do You Squidoo?

I just was pointed to an article on squidoo and found it intriguing… I just set up an account but I’m not really sure what to do with it…

If you’ve used it, or know much about it, please share :)

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Okay I’m just posting this because I haven’t blogged (or even logged in here) in forever.  I haven’t been around etsy for a long time, I haven’t been checking in with my yahoo groups…

I’ve been working like crazy on StoryBlox, doing tons of required summertime family stuff (including ball games, 2 weddings, and an 80th birthday party), doing some very part-time web report work, tons of yard work and garden stuff, listing/buying on PoshPoints (which has been my only real hope of getting decent birthday presents for anyone this year), and I’m starting to get more involved at church.  Add in the disability and that means I’ve been drugging myself up enough to run nonstop for about 5 days a week, and then crashing for at least 2 days a week…

So…I just figured I’d drop by and let people know I’m not dead (if anyone even reads this lol).

I’ve had nightmare after nightmare trying to get blocks in stock for this wholesale show.  It didn’t work out, so I have just enough blocks to do one set of each type of StoryBlox for the show, and no extras to take to sell!  Gah!  At least I have extras of most every other product, so I’m working ike crazy trying to get enough stock of everything else together.  The show is this weekend and I’m SO not ready! 

Mom’s been coming down almost every other day trying to help get stuff made, but as soon as we get stuff done more people order!!  I wasn’t expecting orders to pickup this early… I finally took all of my personalized items off of etsy the other day, and someone came and ordered a full block set instead!  I would normally be ecstatic over the sales, but right now it’s just stressing me out cuz I’m afraid I won’t have enough products to take lol.

In any case, the wholesale show is this weekend.  After that I’ll have who knows many orders to fill (hopefully a lot, cuz it was like $700 to get into the show in the first place), like 10 birthdays, a labor day party here (I’m having a big cookout, Lindsey, if you’re reading this you’re invited), and who knows what else.  By that time, Christmas orders will be pouring in, and I won’t get another break until at least January!!

I’m really hoping I get enough orders at this wholesale thing that I can hire people to help me, cuz I don’t know how long I’m gonna hold out at this rate.     

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Breaks & Blocks

I feel like I’ve been absent from most everywhere for weeks.  I think I forgot to check into Flickr for something like 2 weeks straight.  I only go to Etsy once in a while to convo a customer or relist expired items items, and I haven’t posted on here forever.  The only thing I’ve kept up with is PoshPoints, because dang, I’m getting some awesome stuff through there :P

I had my brother’s youngest girl (13) for a week the week of the fourth, and started a new part time telecommuting job.  Once my niece left, I think I slept for almost a week straight.  I finally made a phone call to a friend:

Me: “I’ve been tired for a week straight, I can’t get ANYTHING done, and I can’t figure out why!  I’ve been taking my pills regularly (I got that new daily pill box thing and have been using it) any ideas?”
Him: “Uhm, how many muscle relaxants have you been taking?”

So yeah, I felt like an idiot, because even though I’ve been taking muscle relaxants for years, and even though I’ve been measuring out my pills into my daily pill organizer, and even though I have been actually remembering to take the pills I put out for a change… I somehow managed to FORGET to put out ANY muscle relaxants for an entire week! 

My muscles stay spasmed if I don’t take the relaxants, which uses way more energy and zaps my strength, so that’s why I’ve been sleeping all day,  and been more sore than usual.  Sheesh!  So I’m finally back taking ALL of the pills I’m supposed to, and I feel much better.  I’ve started getting stuff done again, and my brother’s middle girl (15) is staying here this week.

Today we painted.  All day.  I think we used every paint brush I had out, and something like 20 different paint colors.  I finished some NameBlox™, a couple of Birth Announcement Blocks that were ordered for twins, painted 4 sets of 8 1″ colored cubes, a pair of 1″ color dice, a set of “painted yahtzee” dice, 4 pairs of standard dice (stained, not painted), a set of dice with 18kt gold pips that look awesome!, and uhm… oh yeah about 6 NameBlox™ benches.  Whew. 

Elizabeth painted animals and designs on every little piece of wood she could find, I’m not quite sure what’s she’s doing with them all, but I’ll try to upload a pic to flickr of her creations sometime in the next few days.

I also found time to fix an awesome dinner of Zataran’s Herb Rice (with pieces of chicken breast instead of the hamburger it called for), sauteed zucchini and homemade cole slaw.  And we spent about an hour trying to get Elizabeth into a maple tree with a hand saw so she could help get a couple of limbs down that’d been hit by lightning (she got up there, but dropped the saw, and by the time we got it back up to her she was too tired to fight with the limb that refused to come down lol).  We’ll probably try again tomorrow because she really liked the idea of being that high up in a tree.  The limbs have been dead for a year or so, but they twisted funny and are hanging on by a bit, and refuse to want to come down the rest of the way.

How’s that for an update? lol

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There are times when I love VistaPrint

Product Total Before Discounts: $215.32
  You Saved: ($205.32)  
  Product Total After Discounts: $10.00  
  Shipping & Processing (Slow 21 Days): $8.05  
  Total: $18.05

This total is for
10     Sheets of Custom Letterhead (my graphics)
250   Premium Business Cards (my graphics)
100   Post Cards (their graphics, my text)
10     Flat Invitations
25     Brochures (my graphics, both sides)
25     Business Card Magnets (my graphics)
10     Calendar Magnets (my graphics)
10     Folded Note Cards W/Envelopes (their graphics, my text, plain envelopes)
1       Custom Stamp – Fragile/don’t bend/keep cool  (for my crayon shipments)
1       Note Pad (my graphics)
1       Pad of Post-It type Notes (my graphics)
1       X-Large T-Shirt (my graphics, front AND back)

This is today’s order.  The other day I got 1500 business cards, a sticky-note pad, a custom address stamp, and 25 business checks for $27.27 shipped. 

If you’re looking to score some promo stuff, this is a good time to get it, use the link: then go through and look at each one of their products.  Every single item above would have been completely free had I not opted to upload my own graphics — with that link, graphics uploads are still half off though, and you can use any graphics you’ve already paid to upload in the past, for free.

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Special UPS Pricing for PayPal Shippers

If you sell (or have sold) on eBay, and still have a current account (actuallly, I think it will work even if you don’t), and you ever ship via UPS through PayPal, you might wanna really look at this:

UPS is pleased to offer eBay Sellers the opportunity to save big – up to 31%* – on U.S. outbound ground, air, and international shipping. You’ll start saving with the first package you send. Then, the more you ship, the more you save.

*Savings when compared to UPS Retail Rates.
Offer is available to US-based UPS account numbers for US domestic and international shipments. The UPS Special Pricing Program for eBay Sellers is brought to you by UPS and is available for packages processed on eBay or PayPal. Savings begin 1 to 6 business days after sign-up.

A few days after you sign up you’ll be enrolled for “UPS Daily Rate” pricing, instead of the retail pricing, which appears to be the same discount that high volume shippers get.

This works for current UPS accounts, as long as you’re not already setup for the special Daily Rates, just imput your current account number on the signup form.  If you don’t have a UPS account you’ll need to create one.

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Suggestions Welcome

Okay, so Etsy is driving me nuts. If I had to take my StoryBlox™ shop off of etsy tomorrow it wouldn’t be a problem, as a lot of my sales come through my main site, or elsewhere.

The tmbmt shop is another issue though, because it’s odds and ends and stuff that I don’t really want to bother with selling more than one place.

So, does anyone have any good suggestions for a place to move to? It’s mainly for paper beads, random crafts, and odds-and-ends supplies. I don’t want to make a custom store just for the tmbmt stuff. I won’t merge it with StoryBlox™ stuff, and I can’t afford ebay.

Problem is, I’m not sure there’s an alternative to eBay, other than etsy, that has much traffic sales-wise. Someone please let me know if I’m wrong.

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