Now with a card reader

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So I went ahead and ordered an iZettle card reader that should arrive in the next week or so. This should allow me to take card payments at craft fairs, so it is a timely purchase as the first of those 8 Christmas Fairs in November is only just over 3 weeks away. Busy, busy is my mode at the moment as I make more Christmas decorations.

Remember these dates:

map-of-fairs1

Hope to see you there.

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Halloween and Christmas, oh my

pumpkins-in-progress-bI continue to work on new stock for Christmas and Halloween. Halloween is now only about 6 weeks away and Christmas is 14 weeks away. Didi Lou Crafts will be attending a number of Christmas Fairs in lead up to Christmas, some in the Reading area, but I am also travelling further afield to fairs in Newbury, Sandhurst and Loughton. Keep an eye on the Events page as more are added or confirmed.

stars-in-progress-2bI am adding to the stock available on Etsy each week. Last week the first of the gold stars above was added. There are lots more Christmas decorations to come, such as the gingerbread men below. I have almost a production line going, multiple items in multiple stages all on the go, so surrounding me right now are 3 decoupage trees, 2 decoupage reindeer, 2 decoupage hearts and the blue star all ready for top coats, 2 stockings and 3 diamond baubles with base coats and part of the detailing done and 2 gold bells, a tree and 2 more stars with their base coats completed so ready for details. There are other bits also in progress, but they are not Christmas related so are on hold for now whilst I build up my Christmas stock ready for November. Come and see me at one of the fairs if you can, if not, most items will go onto Etsy first, giving you the opportunity to purchase them before they are displayed to the wider public. Check out the Etsy store here
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Sad News

Last Monday morning my husband died suddenly from a heart attack. He had been ill for a long time, but a heart attack was certainly not what we expected. I was his carer and we were living on his medical pension whilst I am building up Didi Lou Crafts. This has left me with no income and a lot of paperwork to sort out before I can get access to the bulk of our savings, which is what I will need to live on until the business picks up. My health had suffered somewhat whilst caring for him, eating the wrong foods and not exercising as much as I needed, so I am now making my health a priority along with the business. I will continue with the business as I want to build it up more, but I may have to supplement that with a part time job for a while, although that is a decision I won’t make until the new year.

sportsandstuffxmas baubles

Please, if you do see this, considering buying a homemade gift or card for someone from the Didi Lou Crafts Etsy shop. I also have a lot of Christmas decorations ready and for sale, so maybe consider those. I need to make this work for me as I adjust to my new circumstances.

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Amused by small things

750px ebay

The news today is Didi Lou Cards has been launched on eBay today. For now it is just to sell some of the older card stock that has not been purchased via Etsy. eBay will give a much larger pool of potential buyers, so it does make sense to sell there as well. eBay still seems to be trying to work out how to list all the listing under the seller “didiloucards” so I won’t link it here for now. I still have a lot to learn to ensure the items get found, so I have started with just 3 cards for now to see how it goes.

xmas cards 5xmas stars

It makes good business sense not to have all my eggs in one basket so to speak. I am working on another online sales outlet opportunity, but will keep that under my hat for now until it is finalised. I am also still exploring more craft fairs for the lead up to Christmas.

xmas stockxmas stockings

In the meantime I am sat at my desk working today, on what should be a summery day but in fact it looks dull and grey outside. The Christmas in July event on Etsy has been and gone. Summer is said to be slow on Etsy, so I am using the time to continue listing items that are sitting around in various stages of completion as well as working on new seasonal stock. I am itching to start this year’s Christmas stock, but today I have been painting bronze bats onto pumpkin shaped ceramic tealight holders in preparation for Halloween. I don’t plan to make much Halloween themed stock for Didi Lou Crafts as it isn’t a big holiday celebration here in the UK.

xmas baubles

For now, above are pictures of some of the most recently listed items from the Christmas in July event on Etsy. They can be found on the Didi Lou Crafts Etsy store, but for ease they are divided into 2 sections: Christmas and Christmas Cards

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Product Photography is not so easy

Whilst there are many people who love photography and take it rather seriously, when I was younger I was more a “snap” person, taking photos to have memories of places visited and people seen with a cheap camera. To own a camera that took good quality pictures was definitely an investment when I was young and developing photos an expensive process. Nowadays nearly everyone has a much better camera than back then in their mobile phone and so sites like Instagram, Snapchat, Tumblr and Imgur are very popular for sharing photos.

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Starting up the Didi Lou Crafts business I suddenly realised I needed to get, at a bare minimum, reasonable at photography in order to display the Didi Lou Crafts products online. I looked for short courses locally and only found photography courses for landscapes or portraits, not for objects. An untapped market methinks, although I am not the person to offer it.

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I’m finding my photography is slowly improving, although I do still find some objects challenging. I tend to do a batch of photos and then check them on the computer and go back and take any extras necessary. Having a proper tripod has helped greatly to keep the camera still. I now use a light cube with white lights. The late afternoon sun in the front bedroom seems to be the best for product photos. I’ve tried the kitchen too, under the fluoro lights, but that isn’t as good. I still take some “snaps” on my mobile phone of places and people, and when I have a new item to launch at a craft fair I will often just take one or two photos before the fair and then take a full set later, but for products it is much more involved now.

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What I find particularly hard is photographing glass and china, because the light shines off it. I’ve found closing the curtains is best for painted glass and china, but sandblasted glass is even harder and a coloured background is necessary. I uess you could say I am still working on improving my technique for glass and china.

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I do make use of photo editing software to crop and resize photos. I will sometimes also rotate a photo slightly if necessary. Once in a while I find I need to brighten up a photo, but it is not something I have to do regularly. I have started cleaning up the background on one photo for my “primary” image on Etsy and I think it has made a difference for my sales. All I do is manually paint the whole background pure white using Paint.NET. You can see the difference with the boat below, it is exactly the same photo, just the background is changed in the second one.

boat card 1_tnboat card 1a_tn

This card and the mug and jar shown above are all available on the Didi Lou Crafts Etsy Shop here

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Enter one distraction and quality control inspector

A friend has recently moved overseas. It was all a bit rushed, so I am currently cat sitting her little Princess until all the medical requirements for immigration have been fulfilled and my friend has earnt enough money to pay for the medical procedures and the shipping. With all that needs doing medically, we expect she will have to be with us for at least 2 to 3 months, but it could be longer as my friend is still looking for a job.princessbThis is Princess. She is slowly settling into the house and getting to know us. I had spent time with her before, visiting my friend and also feeding her when my friend was away, but she had never met my husband before and we were unsure how that would go. At first she would run and hide whenever he moved, but we made a point of talking to each other normally when we knew she was close by. Slowly and surely she has got used to him and now will beg him for neck scritches when she wants them. He hasn’t been bold enough yet to pick her up or invite her onto his lap, but that will come.

Things haven’t quite gone to plan though, I put her in a large dog cage at first in a room we don’t particularly use but that we walk through regularly each day, thinking it would give her a safe place for a few days where she would see and hear us, but she managed to slip out of that within 10 minutes. She is a curious little thing, getting into everything, although she is very gentle too, so not too many accidents and we haven’t had to move too much around to “cat-proof” the house. We are slowly teaching her that our expensive computer chairs, the wheelchair and the laptop bags are not scratching posts, everything else we are not too worried about. She is now in heat, so is being difficult, wanting to get out and I’ve had to resort to extreme measures at times to keep her in, like closing doors to rooms, which cats don’t like. Spaying is on the list to be done before she moves overseas, but it is safer for her to wait and have the operation when she is not in heat, so we are being subjected to another week of cat calling and neck scritch demands.

princesshelpingbShe is, however, a bit of distraction from the crafting, wanting to explore everything. I had to shut her out of a room to do some photography of new products for the Didi Lou Crafts Etsy shop as the light cube was something she just couldn’t resist. She does like to curl up on me at the computer and crafting desk, but on my chest rather than my lap, which makes it nearly impossible to move for a while, no crafting and no networking going on when she is like that. The other habit she has developed can be seen above, where she sits in front of the keyboard, on my craft cutting board, resting against the mouse, which again leaves me unable to do much for a little while as it seems to cruel to wake her (and to be honest, best not wake the sleeping dragon while she is in heat, she is a noisy little thing at the moment).

Luckily I am finding time to progress on the crafts for Didi Lou Crafts and I have been busy ordering in stock ready for my Christmas crafting, as well as listing new items on the Didi Lou Crafts Etsy shop, as I have over 30 items ready to go and perhaps another 10 that are close to being ready. I’ve actually just had a delivery of some of that Christmas stock and I can now tell you they are Princess approved, the new box entering the house needed sniffing and checking before I could deal with it. She seems to like boxes, to sleep on during the day.

Right now I am focussing on the fact that English Father’s Day is exactly a month away, June 19th, so listing new cards for that. The picture below shows the new cards, 2 use paper collage and the other 3 are decoupage, all with a sporting theme, which seems to be popular for male cards. I have left them blank, which makes them versatile, suitable not just for Father’s Day but for birthdays and other celebrations. You will find them appearing in the Father’s Day Section of my Etsy shop this week.

Male cardsb

 

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Now with Instagram and Twitter

instagrambigAs time has moved on, Didi Lou Crafts can now be found on more social media. Over on Pinterest, Didi Lou Crafts now has 448 pins across 15 boards and 90 followers with those numbers slowly increasing. New is a presence on Instagram, where Didi Lou Crafts has 68 posts and 122 followers. Also new is a presence on Twitter, where Didi Lou Crafts has made 276 tweets and has 108 followers. I am slowly getting familiar with Instagram and Twitter and whilst I am not a regular every day, I am adding more photos and tweets over time.twitterbig

So it made sense to add these to the website… on the blog page side bar, you will now see links to each of these social media along with the Etsy store and Facebook. Follow and share options are now showing at the bottom of blog posts where you can choose to follow the Didi Lou Crafts Instagram and Twitter accounts and to share the Didi Lou Crafts Twitter account. Pinterest and Facebook were already there, added back in May last year. The other change was to add all the social media options to the About page.

Don’t forget the Didi Lou Crafts Etsy shop, Etsy have introduced a new layout, so it looks very different to before. Mother’s Day in many countries like the USA, Canada, Australia and New Zealand is only a few weeks away (usually the 2nd Sunday of May), and I still have Mother’s Day items suitable for international shipping listed in the Mother’s Day Section and here in the UK, Father’s Day is about 8 weeks away with plenty of cards and some gifts in the Father’s Day Section.

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Etsy Mini on the Website

The Didi Lou Crafts website now has Etsy Mini installed. What’s that I hear you say? I am glad you asked. It is a feature offered by Etsy to show items from Etsy on your own website.

etsymini1I’ve actually implemented Etsy Mini twice on the website. The first is on the sidebar of the blog (home page) where there are the 4 featured items displayed. It is as easy as 1 click on the product or link below and you will be on the DidiLouCrafts Etsy shop. The second is as a new page, called Etsy shop, which opens up to display the latest 15 items from the Etsy store. Again it is just 1 click on the product or link below and, hey presto, you are on the DidiLouCrafts Etsy shop and can make your purchases there.

etsymini2

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Happy Ostara and Happy Easter

stollenTomorrow is the spring equinox and next weekend is Easter. I’m enjoying seeing all the daffodils out in flower at the moment, we even have a few in the garden. We generally have a quiet weekend with a roast dinner on the Sunday and I often bake a stollen as we both like it (it is a christmas thing really, but I often make it at Easter time). I am going to get the slow cooker out and try cooking lamb shanks on Sunday, so I guess I need to get moving on that, and find an appropriate recipe online so I can get the ingredients in the next few days.
The period of holiday targets for crafting is almost flowerbasket silk card_tnover until Christmas. We’ve had Valentine’s Day, Mothering Sunday and Easter is this week, only Father’s Day to go in terms of more stock although internationally Mother’s Day is not till May, but the stock is already on Etsy for that. I am making more generic items at the moment, for example I have been working on some coasters, some male cards, some storage boxes and jewellery boxes this week. I have a craft fair booked for early April and might do a couple in June, but then the focus will be Christmas Fairs.

aztec eggcup_tnI have some Christmas stock ready, and more supplies sitting ready to start work, although I expect I will leave tackling that till June, as I want to do some silk and fabric painting before starting on the new Christmas stock. This week saw me booking one weekend fair for early November, a Christmas Gift Fair and Food Market. It is a big fair over two days, a very popular one, but with a higher cost too. Speaking with other crafters around Christmas time last year, they recommended it as a good one, so I am hoping it will be a case of higher risk equals higher rewards. I am also in the process of looking for other Christmas Fairs.

There are only a few more days left to get your easter rabbit box_tnpresents and cards. Didi Lou Crafts has hand made cards, some wooden egg cups and some fun Easter character boxes still available on the Etsy store for those last minute purchases. Check out the Easter section at Didi Lou Crafts

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February was not a good month

Don’t get me wrong, Didi Lou Crafts actually had some sales in February, but not of Valentine’s Day or even Mother’s Day items, surprisingly I sold a lot of male cards this month and have been busily working on more.

transport(Some of these have already been sold)

I was to be found mostly at the hospital this last month as my husband had a medical crisis which resulted in him being there for three and a half weeks, not the best of ways to run a small crafting business, but I managed to keep it ticking over. I won’t go into the details, but it was a stressful time for me. Now that he is home again I am starting to get back into the crafting to build up my stock, focusing on some more male cards since they are so popular.

sportsandstuff(New cards, some already available, some to be listed later this week)

To check out the new cards or anything else, go to the Didi Lou Crafts Etsy store

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