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Monday, March 28, 2016

I Must Have Blinked...

Welcome!

What do you mean it's almost April???  I must have blinked like "I Dream of Jeannie" and the time flew by!  Wow...well I suppose I didn't stay on track of keeping up with my posts did I?  I kept thinking "Oh! I need to write a blog about that!" but then I would finish something I was doing, maybe start something else...have dinner...then totally forget!

So I have quite a bit that I can tell you but I will try not to jump around too much today!

I finished my preparation for Etsy Wholesale (making at least one of each item I am offering, photographing, editing, listing) and published my linesheet at the end of January!  Quite exhausting but very exciting at the same time!

Etsy Wholesale started something new this year on Instagram called "Mini Open Call" where they feature a different boutique each month, tell you what type of product they are looking for and then give you the opportunity to "pitch your line" to the retailer for a chance to be carried in their boutique!  I submitted my new copper petal hoop earrings to a flower and gift boutique in Chicago, didn't get chosen but it was a great experience to learn how to "talk" to a retailer.

I haven't talked about these earrings yet have I?  Well it came to me that I only had one type of earring for Etsy Wholesale (Gemstone chip cluster hoop earrings--which I changed over to hand forged copper hoops and bulked them up a bit) Here is an example of one of my wholesale listing photos:
Apatite Gemstone Chip Cluster Hoop Earrings  

 I offer these in quite a few different Gemstone chips and I just love making them!

But back to the problem...only one kind of earring... so I thought something with my super petite Czech Preciosa crystals would be nice... I'm really enjoying making my own hoops...what about a different shape of hoop...

So I experimented, a lot, I mean A LOT... I knew the shape I had in my mind but I just couldn't seem to get it "right" and it took me a few days, which was frustrating...not being able to make my vision a reality was something so odd for me...here is the first shape I created:
Copper Leaf Hoop Earrings
They were nice...just not exactly what I had in my mind.  I may create more of these later on, but for now I put them aside and kept thinking how I could achieve what I wanted...

After placing an order with Rio Grande for some heavier gauge wire (thicker) and ordered a few mandrels (one steel for hoop earrings and one large wooden for bangles) I got back to it and though it took more trial and error I finally was happy with the shape I achieved!  
 
Petal Hoop Earring in the process

So then I had to decide how I was going to weave the petite crystals...I had tried this on a pair of regular hoops years ago, but then a few years later when I tried to recreate them I just couldn't for the life of me remember how I wove the crystals together!  But I really loved the look so I tried a pair on the new petal shape, not two seconds after I finished I had another idea for a different pattern for the crystals! Here is a photo of that moment:
 
Petal Hoop Earrings in the process

I loved them both...but the full bottom point was very difficult to duplicate...I would sometimes end up with one or two more crystals on the second earring...They look beautiful, regardless, but for boutiques I want to offer something that is easier for me to replicate many times without being off a crystal or two.  I'm sure no one would know the difference...but I do.  So I went with the diagonal line pattern, hand forged some ear-wires and voila! Here is an example of my Etsy Wholesale listing for these:
Hammered Copper Petal Hoop Earrings
 I absolutely LOVE them!  Of course I realized that replicating the exact shape was pretty tricky as a lot of steps go into creating the petal hoop, but it is a handmade item and slight variances are what prove I made them, not some machine in a far off country... anyways, I find that I need to make these in batches, as in: on the same day, if not the shape is still beautiful but how I hammer one day is not necessarily how I will hammer the next day...

OH!!! Of course I wanted to mention, since my last post was ironically about how much better my photos are...that I was told twice in one week that my photos were too dark... TOO DARK? Kill me now... first they were way over exposed, now they are too dark, I thought they looked so much better...will I ever get this right?

So I went through every single one of my listing photos for Etsy Wholesale and with PicMonkey I brightened them up, here is a before and after of some Gemstone chip cluster hoop earrings:
Before & After Editing
 Ok...yes...they do look better...it took a lot of time trying to figure out how to brighten without altering the color of the piece (from how it looks in real life) but I can say that I am very happy with the finished result.  (I then started in on the over 3000 photos for my Etsy retail shop and they look much better as well)

It must have worked because not a week later I received my FIRST Etsy Wholesale order!!!  I was so excited! It was mainly skinny hand stamped cuff bracelets and a few leather wrap bracelets, so I didn't get to make any more petal hoops, but I was still very excited and so grateful that things were staring to turn around!

Unfortunately, a week after the original shipping date had passed I was staring to feel uneasy... (Etsy Wholesale orders only ship after payment is completed) I tried communicating with my buyer as the Etsy guides instruct you to, (even got some suggestions from some lovely fellow sellers on Etsy Wholesale) with not much response from the buyer I was losing hope...and then she responded...that she thought she had already sent a cancellation on the order.  So meaning she did not want to complete her order and wished to cancel it.  I was so disheartened. I had taken a photo of the order mid-way through packaging it up with my new boutique branding cards and because I was so excited to share it with my followers on all my social media platforms...well here it is:
Etsy Wholesale Packaging
 Since this order didn't work out, I'm hoping my next order will be (well I guess it will then become my first order, again...)  more successful.  I've pitched my line to a few boutiques here in Springfield (3 were not interested, one seemed very interested and I'm just waiting to hear back) I also pitched to a few boutiques that I found though Etsy on the Grid--it showcases retailers in larger cities that are Etsy Wholesale supporters-- and some of them have a few locations which would be amazing!  So I'm hoping that since this account didn't happen maybe God has something special in mind for me next...

I hope I didn't "talk" you to death today!  I hope you enjoyed my little ramblings and I will be back to share more soon! 

Sunday, January 3, 2016

2015...Quite The Year...

Welcome!

How did the time fly by so quickly??? I most definitely was not consistent in posting this past year...lots of health set backs prevented me from doing so, actually from doing quite a bit and from accomplishing all the goals and dreams I had hoped to achieve.  On the road to recovery again and hoping my health will continue to improve as this new year goes on :)

Not everything was bad...I did get myself a new camera and photo light tent which improved my photos A LOT...I also recently got some new backgrounds that give my products a totally different look.

I had the inspiration to make some long feather earrings and was thinking about how to better capture the bright beautiful colors...lots of other sellers (on Etsy) were using natural wood as a background and the feathers just seemed to pop...but my first thought was "That doesn't go with my branding look at all...but if it was grey..." So I went on the hunt and found place mats, yes I did say place mats, that were grey wood texture printed cloth...FABULOUS!!! I have two that I bought since I wasn't sure which I'd like better, turns out I love them both!

So what am I talking about? Let me show you the progression of my photos (I honestly can't believe how bad they were in the beginning...but it was the best I could do with what I had then)
Old photo vs new photo for Feather Earrings
 I had to edit so much to try to get the colors to brighten up so that they might look closer to how they appeared in real life...hours upon hours of editing...now they don't need any editing at all! The colors just naturally pop and have more depth against the new background.
Photo quality progression of Peyote Stitch Cuff

 The top row was old camera with white sheet for a background.  Middle row was a huge improvement with new camera, photo light tent and hand display.  Bottom row was adding the new grey background to the new set up and voila!  It's a much softer look, and after constantly trying to "brighten" and "whiten" my photos it sure took some getting used to...I kept thinking they were too dark...but the details and color show so much better on the softer grey.  All the feedback I have been getting assures me I'm now on the right track and "more professional" is the main comment I get now, what do you think?

So that was one of the good things that happened this past year, another, well maybe the most exciting for me was getting accepted to Etsy Wholesale!!!

I had applied the previous year (yes...with those not so great photos...) and I was not accepted.  I thought I would try again, now that my photos looked better and I had the BEST Friday the 13th EVER!!! This was in November, and even though I was fighting yet another virus and feeling terrible I was overjoyed!

Now...wholesale is a totally different mind set than retail.  I never wanted to "mass produce" the same thing over and over again...that gets boring to me...and most of my pieces are one of a kind...so there was some figuring to do...

I decided to only offer items that I knew I would ENJOY repeating the process of, or pieces that even though they are the "same" there are variations within each piece.  For example I had wanted to make some Silk Crocheted "Wear-Alls" with gemstone chips for quite some time (because I have a gazillion...) but didn't really like the idea of multiples of the same necklace...but that's what wholesale is all about! So Perfect fit! As well, when working with gemstone chips you find because they are natural, there will be variations in size, shape, color and pattern; resulting in each necklace being unique in its own way...I like that :)

I also had to think about packaging in a whole new way...no little gift box with tissue paper inside to keep items separated and safe... so I decided on clear cello bags that will hold each individual piece, either on a necklace/earring card, hanging tag or with a simple tag attached with string.  Those were another issue...right now I make my own cards but for boutiques I didn't feel that they looked professional enough for the owners to want to display them.  So I found a wonderful lady on Etsy and placed an order with her, enough to get me started and then when I get some orders I will replenish as I need to.  Here is a photo of a few of the different types of cards I ordered:
My new "boutique cards"
I went with my color scheme in my business cards of red, grey and black and I'm so happy with how they turned out!  I also added "Eclectic. Bohemian." to them because I think that best describes my style of creating and the finished pieces.

Now I can't wait to get an order so I can use them!  But first...making at least one of everything I will offer (almost done with that part) then photos, editing photos (cropping & re-sizing are all that is needed now) after that creating listings and putting together my linesheet...lots to do....enjoying every minute of it and looking forward to 2016!  :)






 

Sunday, November 29, 2015

A Quick Update...

Welcome!

It has been months since I've had a chance to sit down and write! Lots of good, and a few not so good things happened, but I think things will continue to improve as the months go on :)

Just wanted to let you all know that my Annual Holiday Sale is going on in my Etsy shop until tomorrow (midnight CST) 20% off the entire shop--click on the Etsy button--> right hand side of the page & it will take you directly there!

There are SO MANY items to choose from including rings, bracelets, necklaces, earrings, custom stamped pieces and a few pieces for the guys in your life like braided leather bracelets, a custom stamped cuff, tie clip or money clip!  Be sure to pick out a gift for your family, friends and co-workers...and of course a little something special for yourself!  ;)

I'm still getting over virus #6 since September (my Colitis medication is an immune-suppressant, making this time of year very difficult for me) so I will keep it short and sweet today.

Lots of new and exciting things are starting to happen for LITVA'S Jewelry and I will come back soon to give you all the fabulous details :)

Sunday, July 26, 2015

A Few Goals Accomplished...

Welcome!

 Quite a bit has been going on since I last had a chance to post...

On Friday July 19th I had my first live show in many years, here's a quick (and blurry) photo of me and part of my table:
Me & My Booth Set Up  
 I was so looking forward to this event! For months I had prepared; buying a few new displays, table skirt, awesome banner, putting everything that could go on cards with my logo stamped & price tags, printing out signs for other items, and pre-stuffing gift bags with my business cards, Care guideline cards and a loyal customer coupon code (the latter two I print out & cut by hand with my fabulous paper cutter) for future purchases from my Etsy shop....

Unfortunately...this seemed to be more of a "promotional" event rather than a retail/selling event...

Aside from two ladies who bought a hand stamped ring each, two vendors came over and purchased some bracelets....

After my booth fee and mandatory door prize gift I didn't even manage to break even...BUT... this was a huge step for me and my health getting better as I was actually able to make it to the event, stay the entire time (even though it got pretty bad with my Colitis and anxiety for a while) and be around 800+ people.

So I guess God's plan for me wasn't to sell a whole bunch but to just accomplish the goal of being able to do something I've wanted to for years.

With medication I'm quite limited, I lose about 4-5 hours each day, so an all day & early morning events are out of the question for now but I'm hoping that this victory was a sign of things to come!

My next possibility will be at the end of April next year and I'm hoping to be healthier and able to do well there seeing as it is an actual shopping event at a local church called their "Spring Market".

So....another big thing is that Monday July 20th marked 1 year for LITVA'S Jewelry on Etsy!  My first "Etsy-versary"!

I'm having an Anniversary Sale of 30% off THE ENTIRE SHOP (excluding custom stamped rings) AND ladies will receive a FREE GIFT with your order!

Did I mention that I ship internationally???

So pop over to my shop (click on the Etsy button in the right hand margin) and browse around...NOW is the time to get yourself that piece you've been thinking about and a great time to stock up on gifts for friends and family! Happy Shopping! :)

 

 

Monday, June 15, 2015

A New Solution To An Old Problem...

Welcome!

This past little while I have been trying to think of a new solution to an old problem plaguing one of my jewelry essentials: stacking stretch bracelets...

Here are some of the issues I have found with these popular little guys as I have been wearing them for years...everywhere... but especially to the salon where they are exposed to water frequently; the elastic inevitably stretched out farther leaving a not so pretty gap of elastic showing (left photo) and the accent bead I use to hide the glued surgeon's knot looks terrible as the plating wears off (right photo--those used to be a pretty gunmetal color...)
Old Style of Stacking Stretch Bracelets
 I understand I am rougher on my jewelry than the average customer, but things like this bother me and I want my pieces to stand the test of time; years later, it is just as beautiful as the day you purchased it.

So I did some thinking...and came up with a modified version of how I wire wrap my Freshwater Pearl pendants, I had seen a few ladies doing something similar on Instagram and Etsy, so I really took my time figuring out how to make mine in my own unique style. This is what I came up with:
New Style of Stacking Bracelets
 I'm in love!!! Not only are they more durable, the wire has a non-tarnish coating on it so it will never change and they are still flexible making it quite easy to squeeze together to catch the hook onto the loop for closure :)

Now....I have had these gemstone beads that I bought specifically for stretch bracelets for a while now, in three sizes: 8mm, 6mm and 4mm.  Little did I know just how much of a headache they were going to give me as I tried to figure out length measurements for different wrist sizes.... you see the larger beads take up more space on the wrist; meaning I need a much longer length than 6" to fit a 6" wrist comfortably.  

Of course the length adjustment is different for each size of bead...and I'm not a machine so sometimes my free-handed wire wrapping is not exactly perfect each time between each bead...changing the length again...BUT I don't necessarily want it to be perfect...there in lies the beauty of handmade; each piece is unique in its own way :)

So I figured out most of the measurements and found that keeping a group that I'm working on flat on my bead mat helped the process of sizing;
New Stacking Bracelets Laid Flat to Measure
As you can see I have two colors of wire that I am using: the dark gunmetal color (my FAVORITE) for the silver lovers, and the vintage brass for the warm toned metal lovers;
New Gemstone Stacking Bracelets
What about the gemstone chip stretch bracelets you ask??? Well I came up with an idea for those as well; similar technique but just a little bit different as to accommodate the chips;
New Gemstone Chip Stacking Bracelets
I'm currently still working with the round gemstone beads...there are A LOT of them waiting to become new wire wrapped stacking bracelets... when I have had my fill of wrapping those and using most of my inventory I will move onto the chips...if you only knew how many chips I have....

As for availability; I will start photographing the rounds as soon as I have a good amount of variety in stones and various wrist sizes.  I will keep you posted here or on Facebook and Instagram.

As always, I would love your feed back on the new and improved style of stacking bracelets!

Monday, June 1, 2015

It's Been A While...

Welcome!

Well it has definitely been quite a while since I was last on here... between taking new photos of my endless inventory, 3 computer crashes (that's right THREE) and my health not doing very well for a few months, the time has just flown by.

Lots of new things going on this year with my jewelry, but first I want to mention that the monthly giveaway on my Facebook page is going on this week! Just click on the button in the right side bar to pop over and enter...it's the perfect gift for Father's Day... (open to U.S. residents only)

So...those photos I mentioned... here is just an example of how far I've come in a short amount of time;
 
Progression of Listing Photos


  It just amazes me how dark the photos were, how off colored the background was and even how dull the color of the actual jewelry was!

 Here are the old listing photos of my Peyote Stitch Cuffs versus the new ones;
Old Listing Photos
New Listing Photos
 Did I mention I bought myself a frosted acrylic hand display? Best $15 I ever spent!  Well... the new camera and photo light tent are of course up there as well :)

What do you think? They are just so much clearer and crisp on the detail of these tiny little beads, and the whole photo looks "cleaner" to me, more professional.

It took quite some time to photograph my 600+ items (with several photos of each item) then of course the editing (cropping, resizing, color & exposure balancing) but still less time to edit as the photos were significantly better to begin with!  Of course then I had to go in and swap each of the photos of my listings.... having your own business is no small feat that's for sure! :)

I really noticed a difference as well in the Wire Wrapped Freshwater Pearl Necklaces
Old Listing Photos
 
New Listing Photos
 Though the Hand Stamped Cuff Bracelets may have the most noticeable difference....

 
Old Listing Photos

 
New Listings Photos

I'm just so happy with the results!  Of course I still have more to learn and improve on, and each time I retake photos or take photos of new items I think I will continue to improve each time :)

I would love if you would pop over to my Etsy shop (by clicking the button on the right side bar) and take a peek at my new look, come back and let me know what you think! :)

 


Sunday, January 4, 2015

Happy New Year! It's Going To Be A Great One...

Welcome!

I hope everyone had a wonderful Christmas and New Year!  I can't believe it's been so long since I've written a blog post!  The time seemed to just fly by!

My first Holiday Season on Etsy was wonderful!  I so enjoyed stamping out personalized pieces for gifts and wrapping up ready to ship pieces such as hammered bangles, feather earrings, chandelier earrings, silk crocheted (necklace/ bracelet/ anklet) wear-alls, silk knotted gemstone chip necklaces and some of my new black chain necklaces with freshwater pearls and the gemstone tassel!!!

So what's in store for 2015?  Well....of course I have more ideas to add to the black chain necklace series...but the biggest thing I think will be my monthly giveaways on my Facebook page!

The first Monday of each month I will be posting a piece of jewelry on Facebook that you can enter to win!  The giveaway will be open to U.S. residents only, and all you will have to do to enter is comment and share the giveaway post!  The winner will be announced on the Friday (of the same week) I will provide my email address and once I hear from you, your item will be packaged up and shipped out ASAP!

I'm also hoping that I will be healthy enough this year to do at least one live craft show where I can bring my jewelry to a new audience!

Maybe the most exciting thing for me is that I got a new camera and a photo light tent/box to use for my photography!  I honestly think it will make a HUGE difference in the quality of my photos so that I can capture the true beauty in every piece.  Not that I know how to use them yet...but I'm looking forward to the adventure that lies ahead :)

Be sure to check in on Facebook this Monday Jan. 5th (tomorrow) for my first giveaway of the year!