Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Wordless Wednesday Featuring TiddlyInks

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Tots on Tuesdays No. 11 -- Featuring Vintage Sweet Peas

Let me start today's post by saying congratulations to Becky, who won the Elephant Print Baby Cuffs from Joey and Aleethea. Thank you to all who commented. Thanks Sandra, for giving away the great cuffs!

Today we are featuring one of The Downtown Boutique's very own sponsors, Lisa of Vintage Sweet Peas. Lisa uses vintage linens and new fabrics to create little girls clothes.

Here's what she has to say:
Well, my work started when my children were little. I have always been a stay at home mom and did drifferent side jobs from time to time. But, I love vintage linens, and started sewing interior designs using linens that clients had been given from loved family members. It all started with one client who's mother had passed away and left her family linens, she wanted to update them, and use them in her out of a channel bedspread we made a beautiful shower curtain, turned some tableclothes into euro sized pillows for her quest room and table napkins where made into pillows for her sofa... we combined all this with new updated fabrics and it all turned out so beautifully! Her words to me were... "now my mom is still with me" my business began!

Just gorgeous work, Lisa!
Now for the fun part!
Lisa is offering up a $20 Gift Certificate from her shop.

All you have to do to enter is this:

Go to Vintage Sweet Peas, take a look around, find what you would spend the $20 on, and come back here and leave a comment about it. Only one comment per person please. Be sure to leave a good, easy way to get ahold of you. Deadline to enter is Monday, May 5 at Midnight PST. This giveaway is open worldwide.
Don't forget to enter to win the Polychrome bracelet giveaway from Tilley Jewels.

Monday, April 28, 2008

I'm Looking for a Couple of GOOD Co-Authors.

Well, I have had the discussion with my husband...we have come to the decision that The Downtown Boutique takes up a LOT of my time. DUH! Actually, I pretty much came to the decision, and he just kindly agreed with me. So, I am looking for a very select couple of (2-3) people who have a little bit of time on their hands, and would love to help with the upkeep on the blog.

I will be very picky in my selection, so if you're interested, please email me with your interest, and let me know why you think you would like to be a part of this, what you have to bring to the table, and a link to some of your own creativity or writing. I do have some very strict guidelines that must be adhered to in order for you to be a co-author, but nothing outrageous.

What you will be responsible for: Helping find wonderful things to show off to our readers. Keeping the blog fun, interesting, and beautiful. I will need one person to take my "Wordless Wednesday" feature, and run with it...or in other words, find an Etsy shop or other website you would love to feature. I will explain more when you get chosen. I will need one person who can take over the "Tots on Tuesdays" portion, including finding people who would be willing to participate in the giveaway and are willing to follow our guidelines for being featured.

Your compensation: A free 125x125 ad spot and a free Link Listing spot (under "Go Shopping") on the right hand side, for however long you will be a co-author (your choice), as well as a free 125x125 ad spot on my other blog, Rio Oso Designs.

If this sounds like a project that is right down your alley, then please contact me. I would love to keep this going, and reach a lot more people, and showcase a LOT more artists and crafters, but I definitely need some help with it.

Have a great day!

Friday, April 25, 2008

Friday Features No. 11 -- Featuring Tilley Jewels

I know, I know, it's a little late, but we've had a really hectic week, and I am only now just getting a chance to post the Friday Feature. It's still Friday here in California, so I'm safe. :-)

Thanks to Helen, from Sheer Whimsy who gave away one of her Gadget Garbs to Liz, of "FrayBabyBibsandMore" on Etsy. Helen's Gadget Garb is going to travel all the way to Germany! Thanks Helen! Thank you to all who entered to win.

Today (tonight) we are featuring Meredith of Tilley Jewels. Meredith is one of those people who has been doing some sort of craft since she was very small. She has dabbled in many different things, and has some wonderful things to share.

TDB: When did you start making jewelry, and why?
Meredith: My mother got me started crafting when I was very young and my favorite projects aways involved beads. The first actual jewelry I can remember making was in high school, deconstructing thrift store and rummage sale finds to create new pieces. I remade a multi-strand graduated pearl necklace to wear to my senior prom in 1990 and never looked back.

TDB: I see you're very familiar with craft shows. What are your top two tips for people who want to sell at a craft show?
Meredith: If at all possible go visit the shows you are interested in doing as a buyer before you ever fill out an application. Even if that means delaying applying to the show for a year, it can save you a lot of time and money in the long run. Not every show is for every artist, and by going and seeing what it's all about in person you can size up whether that particular show is for you. Look for things like attendance, layout, whether the people are buying or just wandering around. Is there music playing so loudly you can't hold a converstaion with a customer? Are the artists set up next to food vendors where strong smells could permiate your product? There is a wine and art festival in my area that I really thought I wanted to do because I had heard such awesome things from other artists who had been there. Fortunately my oldest daughter and I went to scope things out first--the winery and artist booths were mixed together and the smell was so overwhelming that after an hour my head was pounding. Other artists might not have even noticed it, but for me it would have meant a long miserable three days.

My second tip would be to go up, up, UP! with your booth construction. When a crowd gathers in front of your booth you want passers-by to be able to tell what they are finding so interesting. If they can't see what is going on they may not want to wait their turn and will take their wallets and walk on down the aisle.

TDB: You've been on Etsy for two years now...what advice can you give to a newbie?
Meredith: Etsy is really what you make of it. If you want to be successful there you have to make a commitment to spend time listing regularly with good descriptions and pictures. Do some serious research before you start, know how you will package your items, how much it will cost to ship. Invest in a postal scale and spent some time on the USPS website to learn about shipping restrictions and costs. Shipping internationally isn't as scary as it might seem and can really increase your sales. Clear pictures are so very important because the customer can't hold your product in their hand before they purchase. Descriptions are just as important, not only to let the buyer know all the details, but because Etsy listings are picked up by search engines. I've had many buyers tell me they found my shop because they were "googling" for a specific type of item.

TDB: What's your favorite thing to create?
Meredith: I love color! My "real" job is in the wedding industry so I work everyday surrounded by white and ivory. When creating, even in my own wedding line, I like to bring in lots of colors. I can't really pick out any one favorite piece, but I really enjoy making my "Polychrome" rainbow jewelry because it's so bright and cheery.

TDB: Your photos are gorgeous...what's your secret?
Meredith: I appreciate you saying that! I've done a lot of work to improve my pictures since I started selling online. If you go back and look at my earliest sold items on Etsy you can really see a difference from then to now. My photo set-up is the antithesis of everything you ever read to do--I take my pictures indoors, at night, without a lightbox and with a rather inexpensive camera. The most important thing is to familiarize yourself with your camera. When I first tried to take jewelry pictures I knew I needed to use the macro feature, but it wasn't until I actually read the manual and found out there was a specific distance from the lens to the object where the macro would work properly that I got anything to turn out. Play around with your settings and take notes while you are doing it so when you get that perfect shot you'll be able to repeat it. The lovely thing about digital photography is that you can take hundreds and hundreds of practice shots and it doesn't cost you anything but your time.

TDB: If you could have three wishes, what would they be?
Meredith: 1. Never running out of ideas for new pieces. 2. That my hands and eyesight will hold on for as long as I want to continue making jewelry. 3. A 50 gallon drum of sparkly Swarovski crystals, please!

Thanks Meredith, for some great tips for selling, both online, and at craft shows!

Tilley Jewels will be giving away this beautiful Polychrome cuff bracelet. "You will not receive the EXACT bracelet that is in the picture (a couple of different samples are shown). Each cuff bracelet is a unique work of art, but all Tilleyjewels rainbow cuffs are made with the same mix of bright cheery materials and loving care! Your bracelet will be as similar to the picture as is possible with individually handcrafted items. I guarantee you will not be disappointed with the cuff you receive."

To enter: Simply go to Tilley Jewels, and find what you think is MY favorite pair of earrings, and MY favorite bracelet, and come back here to let us know. Ok, Ok, it doesn't have to be my favorite. It can be your favorite. :-)

Only one comment per person please. Be sure to leave an easy way to get ahold of you. If I can't get ahold of you, I will draw another winner. I will draw a winner from Deadline to enter is Thursday, May 1st at Midnight PST.

Don't forget about the baby cuff giveaway from Joey and Aleethea! And don't forget to answer the poll question, if you're a regular.

Have a great weekend!


Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Wordless Wednesday -- Featuring Sara Paloma Pottery

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Tots on Tuesdays No. 10 -- Featuring Joey and Aleethea

Congratulations Susan of Bloom Design Studios! You have won the $20 Gift Certificate from Sugar Plumkin. Thank you to all of you who entered to win.

We're going to make this post a part of the Bloggy Carnival that is going on right now. So be sure to head over there to enter to win some really cool gifts and prizes!

Today, we are featuring someone whose name might sound a little familiar--Joey and Aleethea. Sandra, of Joey and Aleethea, makes some really cool things for babies, including Monster clothing! I love her "Aristotle the Owl" set, and the Monsterlicious jeans are just perfect for any little boy (or girl, for that matter).

Here's a little that Sandra has to say about herself:

I'm a mama to a beautiful 2 yr old boy / an expecting Mama due in June! / a professional programmer and website developer / wife to a super husband, super geek, and U.S. Air Force veteran. As a momtrepreneur, I design and custom make each super cool and luxurious item in our shop...all by myself!

My hubbs and I are baby-wearing, breast-feeding, co-sleeping, attachment-parenting parents! We're all about family and fabric, love and laughter, and handmade super coolness. That's how we rock.

And now for the giveaway! Sandra is giving away a very hip and trendy, super cool item, a "Baby Cuff". The winner gets to choose either the Lime Elephant Baby Cuff, or the Tangerine Elephant Baby Cuff.

To enter: Simply visit Joey and Aleethea, find your favorite item, and come back here and comment about it. Only ONE comment per person please. Be sure to leave an easy way to get ahold of you. This giveaway is open WORLDWIDE. Deadline to enter is Monday, April 28th at Midnight PST.

Be sure to check out the "Friday Features" giveaway from Sheer Whimsy. Also, click on the "Bloggy Carnival" button to the right, to find out what we're giving away at our Rio Oso Designs blog!

Friday, April 18, 2008

Reaching Outside of My Little World

Sometimes I am content to sit in my cozy little comfort zone. I don't want anyone to budge me, to get me to try something new. I'm perfectly fine where I'm at. It's cozy! It's safe. It's not scary.

But alas, the time has come to take a step outside of my little world. I have been doing a lot of Stumbling, and have come upon some amazing sites with handmade products! I have a tendency to stick like glue to Etsy. Not that Etsy is a bad thing; in fact, it's a WONDERFUL thing! But a blogging compadre, Beki of Pampering Beki, challenged me to think outside the box, so here goes.

I have found some cool places that I'd love for you to check out. And then, when you go to comment, please kindly inform about any other places where handmade goodies abound. I'd love to see more!

What I've Stumbled Upon:

So there you have it! Ha! I've stepped outside of the box, thought a little differently, did some extra research (yeah, like Stumbling is hard work!), and came up with some great places for you to check out! What do you think? Will you share your favorite places to find handmade goodies? I hope so!


Friday Features No. 10 -- Featuring Sheer Whimsy

Happy Friday! Aren't you glad it's Friday? So, what do you think of the article on "Selling Tips"? Do you want to see more articles like that, that will help you in your online business? Let me know!

Congratulations to Melissa, who won the jams from Lemonbird! Thanks Amy, for participating in our Friday Feature. Thank you to all of you who commented and are always reading the blog.

If you are a regular reader of this blog, please take the poll to the right. I'd love to find out more about the demographics of my readers.

On to more fun! Today's Friday Feature is featuring Helen of Sheer Whimsy. Helen is a 20 year old college student from Southern California, who finds her inspiration in places like Disneyland. How cool is that?! I found Helen's blog before I found her Etsy shop. Have you heard of Stumble Upon? Well, that's how I found Helen.

I've asked Helen some questions to get to know her better.

TDB: How did you find out about Etsy?
Helen: I heard about the wonderful handmade community called Etsy, last year from a couple of friends, so I satisfied my intrigue by checking it out, and got hooked to the unique and lovely goods created by such talented and friendly artists. I developed a penchant for all arts and craftiness at a young age, so I opened up a shop of my own three weeks ago selling playful yet practical cases for gadgets of all sorts, and I’m having so much fun!

TDB: What is your inspiration behind your creations?
Helen: My four primary inspirations are: all things vintage for the nostalgia they evoke, Disneyland for the whimsical happiness it instills in me, nature for its natural breathtaking beauty, and vibrant colors/patterns that catch my eye.

TDB: What do you want to be when you grow up?
Helen: After I obtain my undergraduate degrees in Mass Communications and Sociology this spring, I’m hoping to work in the communications industry. In the midst of the job-hunting phase, I shall be merrily crafting away to inundate my Etsy shop with loads of whimsies. But ultimately and most importantly, I aspire to be a Proverbs 31 woman by God’s grace.

TDB: Your items are photographed just beautifully. What's your secret?
Helen: Oh my goodness, that is too kind of you! I don’t exactly have a tried-and-true formula for my photos but I do take full advantage of abundance of sunshine and natural backgrounds (e.g. rich greenery) or neutral patterns (e.g. a muted polka-dot swatch) in the photo shoots for my creations. I then experiment with angles of all kinds and choose from the wide array of shots what I feel best embodies the product and the fanciful inspiration(s) behind it.

TDB: What is your favorite thing to make?
Helen: My most favorite thing to make is anything I make for others. Because I’m inclined towards detail, I love presenting people with creations that are carefully thought out down to the last detail, from the patterns of coordinating fabrics, to the texture of ribbons, to the meticulously selected buttons, to the combination of it all to form a creation that is undeniably fun yet practical.

TDB: When you're not in school, and not creating, what do you enjoy doing?
Helen: There is so much I find delightful that it is hard to keep this short! Well, I am definitely a people-person so I enjoy passing time and cultivating bonds with dear chums and new acquaintances. I also love being involved at my church and serving in it. I find that I get into the highest spirits galavanting to Disneyland, especially after scouring thrift stores for vintagewear and aged knick-knacks with tons of character, and then ending the splendid day by taking in the glorious sunset at the beach.

Helen has generously offered one of her fun Gadget Garbs for our giveaway. What's a Gadget Garb, you ask? A Gadget Garb is the must-need for your trusty and beloved technogadget! The great thing about this, is that you get to choose which design you want! So get on over to Sheer Whimsy, and choose which design you would want if you won!

To Enter: Please visit Helen's shop, and then come back here and let us know which Gadget Garb you would want if you won the giveaway. This giveaway is open to everyone, worldwide. Please leave only one comment, and please make sure that we have an easy way to get ahold of you. If we can't get ahold of you, we will choose another winner. Deadline to enter is Thursday, April 24th at midnight PST.
Don't forget to enter to win the $20 Gift Certificate from Sugar Plumkin!

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

"The Secret to Selling -- Etsy Shop Tips"

How many times do you ask yourself "Why am I not selling? What's wrong with my shop?" I must admit that I was asking myself these very questions around a year ago. Funny thing...I started my first Etsy shop in November of 2006, listing about 8-10 pieces of jewelry. Then, I completely forgot that I had an Etsy shop!

One year ago today (April 17, 2007), I got this email saying that I had sold 2 pairs of earrings. I thought, "WHAT?!!?" I thought maybe it was from my actual website, but no, it said "Etsy Transaction". I was SOOOOO excited! So I sent off the earrings, thanking the customer profusely for their wonderful business, and then I proceeded to list about 10 more items. Things stayed pretty slow, although in the past year, I have sold over 30 items from my Ambrosia Delights Etsy shop. I am still trying to figure out what to do with that shop, because I haven't done as well as I have with my Rio Oso Designs shop, where I have had over 400 sales. Of course, my Rio Oso shop sells banners and business card designs, so that could be why I've done so well over there.

I'm pretty sure that one of the reasons that my Ambrosia Delights shop hasn't done as well is because Etsy is over-saturated with jewelry and baby items. What does that mean for me? Do I throw in the towel and change it to a supplies shop, or even quit altogether? No! I just need to try a lot harder to promote that shop. I also need to take better photos. Let me give you an example:

When I first started a website back in the spring of 2005, this is what my photos looked like:

Then, when I first listed on Etsy, I thought I had made some improvements in my photography efforts:

Well, I sold that pair of earrings in that first sale. But I have re-tried taking photos of other earrings, and here is what I have come up with:

What do you think? Which photo would make you want to buy the earrings?

Here's another example. I embellished this pair of overalls to sell online. Here is the first photo:

And the second photo:

I think the biggest thing that I have learned since being on Etsy, is that photos are EVERYTHING! They are your storefront, your first chance to make an excellent impression. Invest in a GOOD digital camera, and a tripod. Take photos in natural light...not direct sunlight, and never with a flash if you can help it. Use the macro setting on your camera, and zoom in so that you can see the wonderful detail.

When I look for products to feature on The Downtown Boutique, I look for awesome photos. Photos that are bright and colorful, well-staged, and clear, and really draw my eye, are the photos of products that I choose to feature on the blog. If a photo is out of focus, dark, dreary, or not well-staged, I'm much less likely to choose to feature that item.

T.S. Lewis of Butterfly Chic Boutique has a great blog with a LOT more fantastic tips for sellers. Here is what she has to say:

Wanna know what it is??? shhhhhhhhhhhh…….don’t tell anybody else……….the secret is………..

……….there is no secret!

I find a lot of people on the Etsy forums asking “why aren’t I making sales?” There is no “secret” to selling and being a successful small business. It’s just know-how and hard work.

Well, part of the reason might be the economy, but there are things you can do to increase your current sales stats.

I plan on making a list in this post, then follow up posts will elaborate on specifics.

..............Yes, there's more to this article....please click here to read the entire article. We will be featuring more great tips in coming weeks. If you would like to share your article or great tip, please email me.


Wordless Wednesday -- Featuring Lollipop Workshop

You might wonder why this box below is all white. Well, for the simple reason that Lollipop Workshop completely SOLD OUT of everything in her shop on the same day I posted this Etsy Mini! WOW!!!!

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Tots on Tuesdays No. 9 -- Featuring Sugar Plumkin

Good morning and Happy Tuesday! I'm happy to announce our two winners of the $10 Gift Certificates from Ambrosia Delights; Eva and Karin. Thank you all for commenting, and congratulations to our winners!

Today's featured seller is Lucy of Sugar Plumkin on Etsy. Lucy hails from Los Angeles, and is a happily married 28 year old nanny to 4 little girls.

Here's what Lucy had to say: "My husband and I have been married for two years and we hope to start a family of our own in a couple of years. I have a bachelors in Humanities and Italian and I am a certified Forensic Technician. After doing a one year internship at the Los Angeles County Coroner's Office, I decided that I love working with children way more than anything!
A few years ago, I made a blanket to give to my friend after she had her first child. I got a lot of nice compliments and people started asking for them, that's when I decided to start my own company. I started selling them at Farmer's Markets and at School Holiday Events. Eventually I heard about Etsy, and I'm so glad I did, because now more people can enjoy my blankies. I love it when I bump into people that have bought a blanket from me and say "You know that blanket I bought from you?, It's my kid's favorite!" That tells me that I'm doing something right so I better keep doing it!"

For today's "Tots on Tuesdays" giveaway, Lucy is offering up a $20 Gift Certificate for her shop, Sugar Plumkin.

To Enter: Please visit Lucy's shop, and then come back here and let us know what you would buy if you won the $20 Gift Certificate. Please only leave one comment per person, with an EASY way to get ahold of you if you win. This giveaway is open WORLDWIDE. Deadline to enter is Monday, April 21st at Midnight PST.

Don't forget to scroll down to enter to win some delicious jams from Lemonbird! Open to US contestants only, due to postal regulations.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Friday Features No. 9 -- Featuring Lemonbird

Happy Friday! Boy, it has been a long week! I am so grateful for all of you who have emailed me or left a comment about how much you enjoy the blog. I feel it is very time-consuming, but I really enjoy doing it.

I want to start by congratulating Sylvia P, who won "Orion", the Shark Monster, from Karen's Monsters. We had 128 comments, and her name was randomly chosen through Thank you all for commenting and entering!

Todays Friday Feature is really in a jam. Well, at least Amy, the owner of Lemonbird is up to her elbows in jam. Amy and her husband own and operate Lemonbird out of southern California. They started the business after a trip to France, which you can read about in her shop. Let's see what else we can find out about Amy and her yummy business.

TDB: I read that you started making jams after a visit in France, and finding some wonderful jams. Did you have any jam-making experience before that, or was this a brand new venture for you?
Amy: I love to cook and I have been making jams for years. I was always experimenting with cooking and giving friends and family gifts of all kinds of foods. A couple of weeks ago, friends actually opened jars that I had made for them a few years ago before I started selling the jams.

TDB: You have some very different combinations in your jams. What's the inspiration behind those combinations?
Amy: I love all kinds of fruits and vegetables at the local farmers markets. I was telling a friend yesterday that weekly visits to the market are my "joie de vie". I get inspired by tasting the fruits I use, a walk through the garden, a smell, a season I want people to feel when they taste the jam, a place near or far. . . And my imagination is nonstop when someone brings me fresh fruit from their garden!

TDB: Have there been times when you've thought something sounded wonderful, and it ended up being a complete flop?
Amy: (I am smiling as I write this one!) I've learned the hard way to make test batches of any kind of new jam I think will be wonderful, especially when learning to work with a fruit I've never cooked with before. I made a mix of blood orange last spring with some fresh herbs and after cooking and canning all day long - it tasted medicinal and I had to throw out every jar.

TDB: Where else do you sell your jams?
Amy: My jams are for sale at Artisan Cheese Gallery in Studio City, California and Fiore in Montrose, California. Both of these shops are in the LA area. We've actually had requests from other shops across the country in the past couple of weeks and we're hoping to expand to more places this year.

TDB: Who helps you create these wonderful jams?
Amy: My husband! He's been there helping me with everything I make from start to finish. I've also had a lot of help from friends and family who have all volunteered to help in some way.

TDB: What is your favorite jam that you make?
Amy: Wow, tough one - I think as I finish each type of jam it becomes my new favorite!

TDB: When you're not "jamming", what do you enjoy doing?
Amy: We love camping and hiking and the outdoors. We're also planning the start of an orchard and garden right now.

TDB: What advice can you give to new shops on Etsy?
Amy: Etsy is a wonderful place with so much talent and kind people. I think the handmade movement is truly affecting how we make purchases and who we are purchasing our goods and services from. Find your niche, have great photos, and a professional looking shop. There are many services on the site itself that can help you get started!

Thanks Amy! Now we get to talk about what Amy is offering for the Friday Features giveaway. Amy is giving the winner a choice of either a 2 jam gift basket with a Lemon & Lavender and Apple & Thyme jam, OR 3 individual jams, including Kumquat & Tangerine with Vanilla, Blood Orange and Apple & Thyme. Items will shipped anywhere in the US.

To Enter: Please go visit Amy's shop, and come back here and comment on your favorite item in her shop. Unfortunately, we can only open this contest to readers in the United States, due to postal regulations on food items. Deadline to enter is Thursday, April 17th at midnight PST. Please be sure to leave only ONE comment with a valid email or other way to get ahold of you. I had to re-draw twice on the last giveaway, because I had no way to get ahold of the person whose name I drew!

Don't forget to enter to win the $10 gift certificates from Ambrosia Delights. We will be drawing TWO winners who will each receive the $10 gift certificate! Deadline is Monday, April 14th at Midnight PST.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Smashing Darling -- Your House for Indie Fashion

Do you Stumble? I do! Probably too much. I was just Stumbling, when I found this cool site. Check out Smashing Darling for yourself. Here are a few of the things you can find on Smashing Darling.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Wordless Wednesday -- Featuring Karingrow

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Tots on Tuesdays No. 8 -- Featuring OsoBaby (Ambrosia Delights)

Good morning and happy Tuesday! Congratulations to Susan, who won the $20 gift certificate from Bella Symphony! Thank you all for entering.

Today, I'm doing something a little different. I didn't get someone lined up to do today's feature, so I will be featuring my own shop, Ambrosia Delights. While I have jewelry, children's clothing, and baby items in the shop, I will be focusing on the latter two items.

I have been sewing since I was 6 years old, so just over 10 years now...just kidding! I have a passion for creating cute things for little ones, but I have no little ones...only a teenage son. I have tubs and tubs of fabrics, and just love taking them out and looking at them occasionally. I started sewing to sell in August of 2005, and I started OsoBaby, as a division of Ambrosia Delights, back last fall.

Here are some of my things:


As our weekly Tots on Tuesdays giveaway, I am giving away

TWO $10 gift certificates to our Ambrosia Delights shop.

To Enter: Please go to our Ambrosia Delights Shop, take a look around, come back here and tell us what your favorite thing is in the shop (it doesn't have to be a baby or children's item). One comment per person please. Please make sure you have given us an easy way to get ahold of you (like a valid email address). This giveaway is open worldwide.

Deadline to enter is Monday, April 14th at Midnight PST.

Monday, April 7, 2008

Ways to Advertise on The Downtown Boutique

It's been awhile since I've let you know about advertising here on The Downtown Boutique. I've come up with a few ways to get a lot of people a lot of exposure.

One of the ways I'm exposing the world to some fabulous handmade creations, is through the EtsyMinis on the right hand side of the blog. I have three of them, where I change the content on a daily basis, except on weekends. On weekends, they tend to stay up a little longer, because that's family time for us. I try to stay off of the computer on weekends.

I am going to start offering EtsyMini ad space this week. We have MORE than enough room for them, so I figure we can put in five EtsyMinis with 6 products each. Those spots will go for $20 each. They will stay up for a whole month. They will change as long as you sell and re-list items. If you're interested in purchasing one of these ad spots, please email me.

The other ways you can advertise can be found on our Rio Oso Designs blog.

***Please remember: All advertising is subject to our approval. We reserve the right to refuse service to any shop or website that contains vulgar, obscene, or or otherwise offensive items in it. The Downtown Boutique is a family-friendly environment, and we would like to keep it that way.

Friday, April 4, 2008

Friday Features No. 8 -- Featuring Karen's Monsters

Congratulations to Tatjana, who won the $20 gift certificate from Karen Marie Designs. Thank you all for entering, and thank you Karen for participating in Friday Features.

In today's segment, we are featuring another Karen, but with a completely different type of product. Today we are featuring MONSTERS from Karen's Monsters on!!! But don't worry, they are very kid-friendly monsters.

Here's a little more about Karen and her monsters.
TDB: How old were you when you started sewing, and who taught you to sew?
Karen: My mom attempted to teach me to sew when I was 6 or 7 and I hated it. It wasn't until high school and especially college that I really learned to love sewing and then it was all by hand. It was only in the last few years that I started sewing on the sewing machine again and in fact had to relearn everything my mother had taught me about the sewing machine.

TDB: Why monsters?
Karen: One of my roommates became obsessed with Sock Monsters. He started making them like crazy. I was telling my sister about them and she not so casually asked about Bunny Monsters. So I had some fleece and felt lying around and made my sister the first Bunny Monster. Afterwards I made them for friends who encouraged me to sell them.I decided to make more monsters specifically because I think they represent the other. I think we're all attracted to things outside of our own world, and perhaps a little afraid of it too. My monsters are a safe other that helps us broaden our world view. I think it's especially important for children to be exposed to things that they're unfamiliar with, which is why I make all of my monsters kid-safe and friendly. But I find so many people of all ages are attracted to my monsters that it's gratifying to know that I'm not the only adult that loves playing with fascinating toys.

TDB: From where does your inspiration for the monsters come?
Karen: Since I was very very little, I've loved going to the fabric store. All the colors and textures. It was the only place where I was allowed to run my little hands over everything. My inspiration often starts in the store looking at new fabrics and imagining how they'll feel all stuffed with poly-fill. If I'm making monster types that I've made before, I just start pulling out fabric and laying pieces across each other until I find the combinations I like best. I keep a stash of eyes, mustaches, hearts, etc in a drawer that I pull out as I'm cutting fabric.My husband is my best inspiration for new designs. He says at the most unexpected times, what if you made a ... and then I find myself sketching that idea until I have a design that I have to make. I also love hearing suggestions from customers and friends. And custom orders are always fun and often lead to a new design. Inspiration may come at the most random times, but it's always transformed by my sketches and all of my designs are created and recreated in my sketchbook.

TDB: You've been on Etsy for 6 months now. What have you learned?
Karen: Sometimes I feel like I'm learning something new every day. I started selling at local markets about a week before I opened my etsy shop. I love the strength of crafting community both at markets and on etsy and have found such great resources there. I've recently joined the NewNew Street Team, which is amazing. For the nuts and bolts, I think I finally have my shipping prices adjusted correctly and a system worked out so that I don't stress when I need to ship anything. The pictures are so important, but sometimes it takes up an incredible amount of time. I wish that someone had told me in the beginning to get a tripod as it would have saved me so much time in figuring things out. Right now I'm trying to figure out advertising. How much money and time to spend on it and the most effective approach. So far I like Project Wonderful Ads , my blog , and plug boards.

TDB: What's your favorite monster to make?
Karen: Whichever one I'm working on at the moment. Though seriously, I think my frog monsters and shark monsters tie for that honor.

TDB: What do you do when you're not creating monsters?
Karen: I work part-time as an accountant. But the more interesting things: I play capoeira I draw, I read comics and lots and lots of books, and I play with my adorable cat. My husband and I love to eat sushi and we spend a lot of time outdoors when it's warm out. We also travel a lot, mostly to visit family and friends, but last year we went to Chicago, North Carolina, California and Hawaii, so it takes us all over the place exploring. This year we hope to visit England and Portland, OR too.


Now for the fun. If you want to win "Orion" the Shark Monster (shown here), take a look in Karen's shop, and let us know which monster is your favorite. Please leave only one comment per person, with a valid email address. If we can't get ahold of you, we will draw a new winner.

This giveaway is open worldwide. Deadline to enter is Thursday, April 10th at midnight PST.

Don't forget to scroll down and read the other posts. You can enter to win a $20 gift certificate from Bella Symphony. And you can check out our new promo style on our other blog!

Have a great day!


Thursday, April 3, 2008

I Love EtsyMini!

Now that I know how to incorporate the EtsyMini into my blog posts, I've been having a little fun. Check out my other blog:

I just started a new feature called "Thursday Thumbnails", so for the sake of alliteration, I will be featuring Three Thursday Thumbnails.

Have fun!


Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Wordless Wednesdays -- Featuring Moppets Closets

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Tots on Tuesdays No. 7 -- Featuring Bella Symphony

Congratulations to Danette of Hawaii, who won the zippered coin purse from Jacqui over at Ramsden Designs! Thanks to all of you who entered.

Today's featured seller/artist/crafter is Becky from Bella Symphony. Here's what Becky says about herself and her business:
I am a wife to the man of my dreams, and a SAHmama to two little girls. During the day I have several ideas pop into my head about different ideas and fabric combinations, and wait 'til everyone is asleep to start working out my ideas. The combination of different fabrics and their texture are my downfall. I am always wanting to buy more to create something new! I hope you enjoy what you see and hope you would give my creations a new owner and home!

The giveaway: Becky is generously offering a $20 gift certificate to her shop.

To enter: Please visit Bella Symphony or Bella Symphony's Etsy shop and come back here to comment about your favorite item from her shop. If you don't follow directions, I can't put your name in the hat to be drawn as the winner. One comment per person please, including a valid email or a really good way to get ahold of you if you win. This giveaway is open worldwide, and the deadline is Monday, April 7th at midnight PST.

Don't forget to scroll down and enter to win a $20 gift certificate from Karen Marie Designs!!!

Oh, and if you are enjoying reading The Downtown Boutique blog, please tell someone else about us!

Have a great day!