Tuesday, July 3, 2012

The Product

The Product

You have a passion for making something, soap, and you know people will it buy because it's the best soap on earth. You make earring and yes there are many earrings to choose from, but everyone will want yours. You made it and they should buy, right?

In order to sell a product a person must want it.  A person does not really need $20 hair tie.  A rubberband will hold hair in place just as good.  So, why do people buy things that they really don't need, but will spend good money for it?  The answer is simple to feel better.  Soap does not need to be shaped like a red rose.  Jewelry really does not serve a purpose.  Yet, we buy it.  That rose shaped soap makes an ordinary bath become a soothing spa.  The beads in the bracelet are your favorite color and they feel good when you turn the bracelet on your arm.  Some people will say it's vanity that makes people spend fortunes on fashions and high dollar common items.  Others want to stay in fashion to prove they are cool.  Another person stays away from trends because following is not cool.  Maybe they have been searching for that special thing you were making just for yourself and you decided others might want it too.  Whatever the reason, make sure your craft will fulfill that void.

Products are already wanted but that does not mean consumers will want yours.  Customers want quality.  If they want a product that looks thrown together using cheap materials, they would DYI.  Use the best quality materials you can afford.  Make sure the description tells them it is made of wool or cotton v/s acrylic yarn.  List the ingredients and why it's good for the skin. People what to be educated about the items they buy, so if your jewelry has a stone that might have special power, let them know it.  

Keep in mind that when selling online photos of the product can make or break the deal.  It's the items first impression.  If the quality of the photo is awful, the customer may feel as if you are not serious about your work.  If you don't care enough to take a decent photo of your passion, then you probably don't care about selling it.  This craft is still a hobby and you're just sharing what you just made.  If you're serious about selling, get a real camera.  If you do detailed work and the photo is fuzzy, then all the intricate design is lost.  There are light tricks, light boxes, types of lighting, and the such, just make sure the item has enough light to see it.  The product should not look like it's in the basement of haunted house.  Stay far away from flash, it overexposes the photo and makes details hard to see.  Get a camera with macro setting and let it be your friend for close-ups.  Sunlight is the best.  Be consistant with your back drop.  Well, I think the backdrop is part of branding.  Personally, the white background is sort of my signature and it also helps when adjusting the photo.  Use a photo editor if need be.  Watermark your photos if possible.

 Your product is the best.  The photo is flawless.  The description sounds like poetry and you want everyone to buy it, right?  No!

Monday, December 22, 2008

The Kitchen Table CEO

This book started in response to the many business books, blogs, and forums that offer valuable information on how to start and market a business. There are business plan templates and market strategies available by the truckloads. I have found and followed the advice of well known business moguls to reading numerous blog posts of internet savvy marketers. What I have yet to see is a collection of advice on how to be a small business owner. In short, how does a crafty survive the day to day pressure of keeping a tiny business growing?

I have pondered many questions such as:
How do I reach my target customers?
How do I connect with them once I find them?
Will they even like my product? If so, will they buy it?
Should I patent my idea?
Should I sell consignment or wholesale?
How do I manage a business with very little money?
How do I market with very little money?
Do I create a website or sell within a market?
Online Ads
Stepping out of the box
Copying v/s being inspired

I will answer these questions and more. Most importantly, I will try to help the forgotten, sole employee of the kitchen table or spare room floor CEO.

The Product
Do you have a product that will sell? Sometimes a crafter will have an item that they think is the best thing on earth. It might not be the best thing on earth or the next best thing to sliced bread, but it is a wanted quality item.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Blue Fingertips Part 1

If you have a romance short-short story, please submit it to Divas on the Prowl

Any and all feedback is welcomed - the good, the bad, and the ugly

And here we go....

Blue Fingertips
I was invited to his home for an art exhibition. Actually, I wasn’t invited, I just happened to be in the right place at the time which was the elevator. My neighbor, the host of this party, who previously inspired me to channel my inner artist, had three canvases propped against the wall as he pressed the down button. When the doors opened, I offered to help him. Just holding the doors open would be good enough he said. All the way to the car, I was commissioned to open a door and just hold it. He said that he would need help when he got there. I looked down at my layered t-shirts, and jeans. I wasn’t dressed for a party, but after looking at him, neither was he. I wasn’t even dressed for the cold, I eyed his Kelly green peacoat and he gave it to me.

For the first time that night, my neighbor opened and closed a door for me as I put on the seat belt. Diana Ross’s I’m Coming Out resonated in the SUV twice before the cd player was allowed to play The Boss. He waved his hand announcing we have arrived to Jonathan’s loft apartment that belonged to a friend of a friend of a lover that my neighbor had. Jonathan was the newest protégé of this group. My neighbor made a phone call, told me to stay put, got out, locked the doors, and then made his way to the building. A handsome, lean, young man in knee-torn jeans and a wrinkled white t-shirt came running to the car with a roll of clear plastic. He came over to the driver’s side. I unlocked the doors and got out. His eyes were bright and his frizzy, fluffy, hair flopped all over his head. Other than his hideously wide cartoon smile, we could have been siblings. He told me he was Jonathan laughed as he told me my neighbor’s name. “Tiffany”

The studio/home was decorated with silver ribbons, helium filled aluminum balloons, and frosted white globes adorned the many plants everywhere. White Christmas lights ran seamlessly along the ceiling, floorboards, windows, and doorways. And, then there were the people. Tiffany unwrapped the paintings, put them on easels, and began the show. Jonathan asked me if I liked his paintings and wanted me to be honest.

“I don’t get them.”

He stared at me pulling on a cigarette and replied letting smoke escape with his words, “I don’t like yours either,” his smile stretched for miles before frowning, “Red.”

My face got hot and palms began to itch as I tried to explain, “I didn’t say I didn’t like them. I was just saying that....”

“I’m just picking with you, Red.” He put the cigarette out, picked up bottle of wine, and poured a glass for me as he suggested that I drink it fast, that I’ll need it. I did and before I was done, he had another glass ready for me. “Drink this one as you like.” I downed that one and kept the glass. He found another bottle, tucked it under his arm and grabbed me by the wrist, “Stay with me and learn.”

I tagged along behind him as he entertained the crowd with non-sense riddles and made up stories of his life that received laughter mixed with tears of pity. A few side murmurs were audible to me, “He must be on drugs.” “He is definitely gay.” And then there was one concerning even me, “Who is she?” “Why is she here?” “She must be a relative because he wouldn’t date anything like that!” Immediately, Jonathan took a bow and applauded the little group in the middle of a conversation and walk off, but not without grabbing my wrist.

He closed the door to the bathroom, let down the lid of the toilet, and offered me a seat. With his cigarette, lighter, ashtray, and bottle of wine lined up along the tub ledge, he climbed in, sat down. He looked at me and in a mimicking falsetto, “She must be a relative because he wouldn’t date anything like that.” My eyes widened and then I laughed out of surprise that he heard them. He then continued in his own voice. “Would you date anything like me? I’m not on drugs other than these,” holding out the cigarette and passing the bottle to me. I took a swig while keeping my eyes on him. He looked so innocent with his frown lines and puppy dog eyes. And then he smiled making laugh and spray wine all over myself. It seemed like a proposal, but I decided to take it as a hypothetical question and never answered it.

It was early April and some of the strings of lights were still blinking. Since most of my clothes and work supplies were gathering at Jonathan’s place on his suggestion I didn’t renew my lease. He kicked an etched glass tree ornament and it traveled across the room in my direction. He told me to just leave it. I would have picked it up, but my arms were full. The place was a mess, nothing like my old, neatly organized apartment. Abstract paintings, portraits of random people he just met, more protesting graffiti covered the walls. The splattered, foot printed, hardwood floor began to look like piece of art itself. I looked at the ceiling, no paint. His sticky blue fingertips grabbed my cheeks, pushing my lips to pout. He’s going to paint his Red blue. His whole mouth covered mine as I became another mistaken canvas. After wiping his hands on his jeans, he took the brown paper bag of delivered Chinese food from my arms.

The only thing not touched by paint was his Christmas present to me – bought after I stayed at his house several days after the party. It was a laptop for me to write. The bathroom stayed clean in the sense of no dirt. I scrubbed my cheeks. I looked into the mirror, my face looked was sullen from the blue wash. I rinsed the paint from the sink and paid no attention to the streaks of colors everywhere in what was supposed to be an all white room.

I returned to the vast area that I would have separated into a foyer, dining area, and office. Jonathan made a pallet on the floor with two pillows. The cartons of food and a bottle of wine were on the paper bag he torn open for a table cloth. I took my seat across from him before noticing there were no glasses. One thing Jonathan taught me was not to over complicate things. We could drink out the same bottle. Why waste the effort to get glasses to dirty and later have to clean. We drank from the bottle and recycled it. Perfect.

“I’m quitting my job,” I interrupted his story on how he would steal art supplies. He never told me about it, but I heard twice before from his fans.

I followed his eyes as the tried to seek out my facial expression before they finally met my eyes, “You’re dead serious this time.”

“Yes, I’m putting in my two weeks notice.”

“Putting in…Why not ‘ I put in’? When are you putting in your resignation?”

I took a deep breath and let it go slowly, “Tomorrow.”

He mumbled, “Good,” as he pushed noodles into his mouth with chopsticks.

“Do you really think I can make it?”

“It doesn’t matter what I think, it’s about what you know. Do you know that you can make it?” Jonathan stared at me chewing and waiting for an answer.

“I really don’t know.”

“Well, if you don’t believe in yourself don’t expect anyone else to. If you’re not sure about it, then stay at your job and let them drive you crazy.”

I let the thought go and ate. Another lesson I learned from Jonathan was worry equated to failure. If I had a dream, a plan, and the drive, then I should worry. He finished telling his story. From the way his fans told it he was a poor little kid who couldn’t afford supplies to creatively express himself. I interpreted the tale as a kid from a well-off family who joined a gang. They went into superstores stealing electronics and he would happen to pick up some spray paint to tag buildings with gang signs. By the end of the story I was full and I sat there with a Mona Lisa grin.

Jonathan stood up and got the trash and I put the pillows away He went back to his canvas and I sat Indian style on the bed before the laptop. I played with the Jamaican colored beaded anklet he gave me. I always assumed that he was from there from the accent, dreadlocks, and after dark soccer games. He was a Marley relative for sure; at least he favored him. Four months and I never thought to ask where he was from. For all I knew he could have been from Virginia. I checked my emails, groups, and the normal sites.

“Jonathan, where are you from?”

“Jamaica,” he answered before coming into the room, “Queens.”

I shook my head and smiled at him. He had to be playing with me. “Seriously, where are you from?” My lips were pressed, nose flared, and eyes wide.

“I was born in Jamaica Queens, but my parents are from Negril.” I was about to search it and asked him how to spell it, but he closed the laptop and put it on the floor, “I’ll take you there one day.” Jonathan lay down with his head at the foot of the bed. I stretched out a little, my feet near his chest.

“Do you get to go there often?”

He began turning the anklet, “I used to go each summer when I was in school. Sometimes during Christmas break. But now I go once every two years. How often do you go home?”

“Not often enough.” I had not been home since I met him. I called them for Christmas since they were traveling. I was going to call them then, but ended up falling asleep once Jonathan got in the bed the right way.

His skin was always tanned. The only time the sun saw his skin was if he woke up late to go running. That would also be the only time I jogged. He would jog with me until I panted and sat on the steps. I would cheer him on each lap around the block. Then he would drag me on the last lap. His skin was just reddish. He should have been the one nicknamed Red. It was weird that in the wee hours of the dawn I would be analyzing our skin tones and come to the conclusion that I was pale and jaundice in comparison to him. I was comparing our skin as if I was testing samples at my job. Yesterday was my last day of comparing liquid color on an intensity scale. It was an hour and twenty-six minutes before snooze time. I pushed the switch on the alarm clock to off and kissed Jonathan between his shoulder blades. He rolled over and his lips touched mine. --- JettLove

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Chapter One

There I was sitting in the backseat of my parents’ vehicle watching my world of the past four years get farther and farther away. With the back of my hand pressed to the window and my head resting in my hand, I sat there trying not to think about it. I was leaving my beloved Richmond and going to Danville, VA. I tried not to think about the research job, my friends, and definitely not my parents. My one-bedroom apartment full of second-hand furniture was now gone. The only things left were my TV and a heap of clothes piled beside me, I could not help but wonder if these were the only meaningful things I had collected over the past four years. Once I arrived to my parent’s home, I would search for a solution. . I was hoping that the faint music would to carry me to a live club or a romantic scene but instead the station played R&B oldies and gospel that only carried me closer to the house and childhood memories that I did not want to return to. However, I could barely make out the melody being that my parents had begun to talk over the song; I leaned forward and tried to turn up the music from the backseat volume control button. Not being able to turn up the radio foreshadowed the lack of freedom and happiness I would have living in Danville in my parents’ house. “See what I mean?” I mumbled under my breath. “I can’t even turn up the music.” This only foreshadowed the lack of freedom and happiness that I would have while living with my parents. I leaned back pushing and kneading the stiff new leather but still could not find a comfortable position. All that hard work in high school to get a scholarship really did pay off in the end, a new SUV for my parents. I looked out of the window to observe any changes since the last time I took this trip. I began to feel nauseous and short of breath while staring at the bobbing green rolling hills. I pressed the button for the window for some fresh air, but it was a vain attempt. There I was, a twenty-two year old adult, sitting in the back of my parent’s childproof ride. And on top of that this trip never took three and a half hours when I drove.

I was a free spirit among my peers. We went to class, worked part time gigs on campus, and partied when not doing the previous two. I could go as I pleased and take a cab in the middle of the night to the diner with six friends. I could come and go as I pleased. Take a cab in the middle of the night to the diner with six friends if I wanted to. I could have company as often or as late as I wanted. I was living the life of a grown-up.
A few days before I ran around town from the lab on the undergraduate campus to the employment office and finally ended up in the new lab with new computers and about thirty heads typing frantically. I spotted Jahar, whose birth name was Robert Marley. Two months ago he was my fake reggae Rasta love interest, his pink lips stretched wide and his small green eyes squinted to acknowledge my presence. I winked. I could see the cheese eating Wanda a/k/a Brown Mouse waving at me out of the corner of my eye. She grinned softly as if it hurt her to move her facial muscles. The effects of hate on my face wouldn’t be enjoyed since a fake smile sneaked its way from my tight jaws. I had rehearsed in the hot car and sticky walk here exactly what I wanted to say to her, “So, how did everything go? Did you get the apartment?”
“As a matter of fact, no, I didn’t.” I was shocked that my voice and words came out so coldly and to my surprise loudly too, because all foreheads looked up and the clicking of nails on the keyboard ceased.
“Oh, well, what happened?”
“The raise that you promised that you gave me two weeks ago didn’t happen. I just came from Human Resources and no one had any authorization from you for a pay increase.”
Well, umm, see…,” Brown Mouse was trying to explain.
“There’s nothing you can say huh? You lied.”
The rows of faces waited for anxiously to here the reason why because this affected them too. I held the information that they wanted and I was going to give it too. Since they deserved some kind of compensation and I was more than willing to give it to them good while laying Brown Mouse out. All of sudden I became an ambassador for all typing peons. They deserved much more compensation that they were receiving and I was going to gladly rally for them while I gave Brown Mouse a piece of my mind.
“Look, Wanda, I graduated along with a few others in here ad we were promised this significant raise after we graduated.
“Come with me. I can see that you’re upset,” Wanda said. My body shivered involuntary. There was pressure on my tricep and then before I knew it this heifer was pulling me. I jerked my arm from her grasp and went off. “Yes I’m upset! I’m mad as hell! And you better not touch me again!”
“You need to—,” she stammered.
“I need to stay black and die! And I’m tired of wasting my breath on a lying, trifling, so-called woman. I quit!” I yelled and stormed outside. I decided to go out with a bang. I put my folder down on the steps in front of the building and sat down. I dug blindly into the tiny side pocket of my purse and fiddled for the cigarette I had been saving all day. Keys, chapstick, wallet, checkbook, a lifesaver now where was my damn lighter?
“What you looking for?” It was my tall lanky Rasta man, Jahar.
“My lighter.”
“Hugh.” He sat down closely beside me and lit my cigarette. He pulled out a beanie and lit it for himself.
“So you leaving?”
The roll of my eyes synchronized with the roll of my neck answered him more than any words could ever explain.
“I’m sorry things turned out this way. I was counting on getting that raise too.” He put his head down on his bent knees and looked at me with a blank face.
I nodded and pulled hard on the cigarette.
“You want to get something to eat? We can go to the Jamaican House. It’s on me.”
“Don’t you have to go back in?”
“Ok, then I’ll go.”
I wondered if he’d taken the rest of the day off or quit. What did it matter? I would have gone regardless if he paid or not. The gig was a stupid, tedious job entering survey data entry for AIDS/HIV testers for the State Health Department We would all announce when we got a positive HIV tester. We looked at the demographics and the sexual history and pitied the anonymous person in a silent prayer.
Well, I said a silent prayer for them.