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Shop Update - Dates and Events

Thursday, March 31, 2011

{card from zoetropa}

Hello friends! 

This is turning out to be a busy and exciting spring... with baby arriving in June and lots of other exciting plans going on I'm doing some planning over here to get it all done! Thought I'd share a few of the announcements and updates:

  • I'll be taking custom orders up until April 8th (note: these you-choose-the-prints zipper pouch sets are always a favorite for mother's day & Easter so plan ahead!)
  • My shop will be open, though not quite as full, through most of June
  • My monthly newsletter will share more news & events, sign-up to join the fun- NEWSLETTER
  • If you're in the Portland area, you can find me at Crafty Wonderland on Saturday May 7th {hooray!} 
  • Working on my e-book full of business bits & lots of advice to jumpstart your Etsy shop,  more details soon!
  • Destashing gobs of supplies & fabric in April and May - stay tuned! (part of spring cleaning & nesting)
questions? email me at allisa [dot] jacobs [at] gmail [dot] com

Custom Orders - A Bit of This and That

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

One thing I really enjoy doing is taking custom orders! I love hearing ideas from buyers & working it through to create something new. Many times it's a fabric request or a simple add-on but other times it's a little trickier. I think I enjoy these kind of orders because there's always a bit of a story behind them....whether they're for bridesmaids, a yearly girlfriend get-together, or a treat for themselves, hearing that little window behind the purchase adds a lot of fulfillment to the whole process. Here's a few custom orders I completed this month: 

{ps. will be taking custom orders for the next couple weeks, then I'll need to take a break from the requests to focus on getting ready for baby-  hooray!) 

Hoop Handle Bag in Linen- So happy with this, may need to add another to the shop! I also included a zipper interior pocket- one of my favorite parts of bag-makings...it's like magic ;) 

Custom Bridesmaid Set in Reds & Pinks
Clutch Set- gifts for a girl's weekend away {how fun!}
List Organizer in my new favorite fabric, so glad a customer request this color!

what special projects have you been working on this month? 

Tutorial Tuesday - Candy Pouch from ISLY

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

My heart jumped for joy when I stumbled upon this charming printable candy pouch from ISLY ... it's perfect for all the festivities coming up- think maybe I'll save it for the baby shower!  

check out the ISLY blog for this printable & directions along with gobs more fun & inspiration!

Stellar Customer Service for Brand Building

Monday, March 28, 2011

{image: dingaling}

Picture this: My son's restickable sticker story board stopped sticking after just two days. I emailed the company & asked if there were any sort of magic solutions to make them sticky again. You know what they did? They sent me a super kind personal note and offered a whole new pack. They shipped it the next day along with a handwritten note and additional little goodies. 

The result: A company I had only been vaguely familiar with made a new loyal customer. 

They could've just apologized and told me that rubbing water on the back helps the stickiness (they did)...but they also took the opportunity to permanently "brand" their small business in my mind.  I now know they are kind, reasonable, generous, and believe in their product. Because of that, you can bet that I'll be keeping them in mind with all those birthday parties we have coming up. A situation that could've been sour was made very very sweet. 

I thought this story was important because there's been quite a buzz about 'branding' lately. As in, how to better brand & market your shop. One thing that occurred to me is that customer service is an opportunity to brand your shop.  Branding is establishing your business, creating a niche, telling your story, and connecting with potential buyers. Customer service is a perfect opportunity to do all those things.  

So what makes stellar customer service? Here's a little list I came up with...but please, share your thoughts and I'll add them on the list too! 

1. Be Grateful- staying thankful for each order that comes your way really shines through.  I practically did cartwheels after my very first Etsy sale...I still celebrate these moments!

2. Make It Personal - send a confirmation, write a handwritten message, refer to something a customer mentioned in the notes to seller box, acknowledge repeat buyers...use their names!

3. "Surprise & Delight" - I stole this phrase from my husband, who creates awesome marketing campaigns.... Give people something unexpected...provide something to make them happy.  

4. Erase the notion of "them" - Customers are people too. They make spelling mistakes, they get confused during online checkouts, they have special requests....they're not different than us....they are us. Sadly, I see so many comments that alienate and treat buyers as if it's a separate group of them over there and us over here. No one likes to shop in places where it feels like that. (The Rodeo Drive boutique scene in Pretty Woman may come to mind ;) 

Whew...that's just a little list to get us going...love to hear your thoughts! 

New Business Cards

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Hooray! My brand new business cards arrived and I just love them! I used my relatively new branding image of the yellow flower with gray linen....this time though I opted for square cards with rounded edges. Does anyone else use square little cuties? I'm going to have to make new card case holders to better accommodate the size. 

Love to hear what you think :)

{ps. thank you so much for all the super sweet words from yesterday's post on why I'm doing what I do. It really means alot}

What and Why I'm Doing What I Do

Friday, March 25, 2011

Insult and opportunity. 
Both occurred this week, making it stressful and emotional time. 
But they also made me answer an important question: 

why am I doing what I'm doing? 

First, the insult: on off-handed remark by a family member really hit a nerve....commenting on my business, they said, "well, it's not like it's rocket science."    {ouch!}

Second, the opportunity: a real-life position came about that seemed to match my qualifications .... would actually put my Master's in special education to use. Plus, it would bring back a bit of that feeling I miss- advocating and working with students with special needs.  

So, hmmmm. 
{print from PaintSquare}

After being a bit torn up by both, I really tried to look inside and answer for myself, what exactly am I doing....and more importantly why. This is my response:

What I'm doing
                        building and running a small business 
                        designing and creating handbags and accessories
                        connecting with a larger community of doers & makers
                        sharing my experience and tips for other's to purse 
                            their handmade journey
         Well, honestly, it started out as a means to make some extra cash.  I really felt it important to stay home with my son and I thought, "hey, what about this?" But it has all really transformed. It's now something bigger and more personal and multidimensional and complex and awesomer than I ever could have expected.  And it's mine. It's something I dreamed and created.  It's not perfect and it's hard and it doesn't make sense to everyone else. True, it's not rocket science. But then again, I didn't choose rocket science.  I don't even want to be a rocket scientist. (so there!) 

My business brings me both challenge & fulfillment. And more importantly, it allows me to stay home and see my child grow.  That is why I do this. 

have you answered these questions? I'd so love to hear your responses too - what & why we're all doing what we're doing.

Dreams and Love

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

{print from Love Sugar}

"Il n'est rien de réel que le rêve et l'amour."
"Nothing is real but dreams and love."
- Anna de Noailles

I really needed this bit of inspiration today. Facing some exciting yet scary decisions this week... part of me wants to crawl in a little hole and hide but then I hear bits like this and I feel ready to embrace it all.  Not too sure what exactly lies ahead, but I'm thankful for this moment. 

Tutorial Tuesday- Peeps Bunting

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

I just fell in love with these little peeps buntings when I first saw them last year. Pure adorableness if you ask me! Dana from MADE shared this charming project tutorial on V and Co. and they're at the top of my spring crafty to-do list.  So sweet & simple and the gorgeous photos really inspire everything spring. 

{want more fun projects? Check out my Tutorials Page!}

Make It Work - Interview at Indie Pretty Projects

Monday, March 21, 2011

I'm thrilled to have my interview featured in the Make It Work series at Indie Pretty Projects today. I share a little bit about my experience in running a small business, being a mom, and a few tips I learned along the way. Come take a peek! It's such a lovely blog filled with beautiful handmade bits all collected by Ashley who also has one of my very favorite paper shops, Ashley Pahl.  So honored & happy to write a post for this series! 


Saturday, March 19, 2011

{meadowlark print from Bee Things}

"The music soars within the little lark, and the lark soars." 

Elizabeth Barrett Browning 

For Japan With Love

Friday, March 18, 2011


Ever Ours has teamed up with Utterly Engaged and handpicked ShelterBox as the organization to donate to, where there are volunteers are already there in Japan helping, so please be assured that your donations are being put to good use. ShelterBox provides emergency shelter and lifesaving supplies for families around the world who are affected by disasters at the time when they need it the most. Each large, green ShelterBox is tailored to a disaster but typically contains a disaster relief tent for an extended family, blankets, water storage and purification equipment, cooking utensils, a stove, a basic tool kit, a children’s activity pack and other vital items.

Also, if you are a blogger, you an also participate.
This Friday, March 18th, my blog will be silent as in no posts in honor and respect for 
what has happened in Japan. If you are interested in participating:
please e-mail: lydia@ever-ours.com or info@utterlyengaged.com for more information.


Thursday, March 17, 2011

A bit of luck for you on St. Patrick's Day - adore this charming shamrock embroidery, part of the "Heart a Day" series at Jaros Designs.  As for celebrating, I'm hoping to make some of the green tea vegan cupcakes I shared yesterday, a few shamrocky crafts with the little guy, and nice roasted potatoes for dinner.  How about you? 

.....and....speaking of luck, congrats to Jacqueline from Handmade with Love for winning my $30 shop credit giveaway.  Many thanks to everyone for the sweet comments & kind wishes. xoxo

Green Tea Cupcakes

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Drooling over these gorgeous Green Tea cupcakes from Vegan Bake Sale....perfect for celebrating St. Patrick's Day with natural doses of green! These would be also lovely with all the tea-time goodies I posted about this weekend.  Want to make your own? I found this delicious vegan green tea & almond cupcake recipe and hope to make some tonight.  (never tried vegan cupcakes? oh, you're missing out- so much yummy goodness to be had!)  Personally, I think this photo alone is just adorable & scrumptious! 

Tutorial Tuesday - Roll-Up Baby Changing Mat

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

When my first son was born I really didn't care for the vinyl or plastic changing mats so I whipped up a few fabric ones and loved how I could just throw them in the wash. The snap makes it handy to keep in a bag and they're also super versatile; I used one for his swim class towel, one as an actual travel changing pad, and another to take to the park for picnics and such. Now, with baby number two coming, I thought I'd whip up a few more...this one is for my friend & her new little boy.  I think they make darling gifts and are really pretty easy & fast. Here's a tutorial to make your own: {note: you can easily adjust the size or leave out the band if you prefer...} 

Cotton Fabric:  piece 14" x 24" (for main mat) and 5" x 13" (for ) 
Terry Cloth (or chenille): slightly larger than 14" x 24"
Light Iron- On Interfacing: 5" x 13"
Snap: one set   (or Velcro) 

Step 1: Starting with band-  Iron on interfacing to wrong side of small piece of fabric. Fold in top & side edges approximately 1/4".  Iron firmly. 

Step 2: Fold band over lengthwise to create a long band with all the edges tucked in. Press firmly with iron. Top stitch around the sides & top.  (similar to making a bag handle). 

Step 3: Now for the actual mat - lay main fabric piece right side down on top of terry cloth piece. Pin carefully (terry cloth can be a little shifty :)  

Step 4: Inserting the band- At the end of one short side of the mat (the "top" if your pattern is directional) indicate the midpoint mark, should be 7" in.  Insert the the band inside your little fabric & terry cloth sandwich. Be sure to put the top of your band inside. Pin in place. 

Step 5: Stitch around edge of top fabric with 1/4" to 3/8" seam allowance (needs to be a bit larger to allow for turning right side out later)  leaving a 4-5" opening (backstitch at each end). 
Step 6: Trim the extra terry cloth from the seam allowance and cut the corners diaganolly. 

Step 7: Turn right side out, pulling mat and band through the opening. Push out the corners gently and tuck opening in carefully, try to fold evenly to 'match' the seam.  Press entire mat firmly with an iron. 
Step 8: Top stitch around entire mat. I like to double top-stitch, as it makes it more durable. Top-stitching also securely closes the opening we had folded. 

Step 9:  Attach the snap:  At the top end of the band attach the top snap  following manufacturer's directions (I love an excuse to whip out the hammer :)   Roll up the changing mat as it will be used (not too tightly or too loosely) and mark where the the bottom part of the snap should go.  Attach the the second part of the snap (should look something similar to above). 

Step 10:  Roll up, snap, and put to use! 

Happy to answer any questions...and do let me know if there is a mistake (gasp!) or a step that needs clarifying. Check out my Tutorial Page for other nifty little projects!

4 Ways to Make Your To-Do Lists Work for You

Monday, March 14, 2011

I'd be so lost without my daily to-do list. In fact, it's an obsession really. I've even admitted to the fact that sometimes I've written down tasks after I've completed them, just so I can enjoy the satisfaction of crossing it off.  (please tell me I'm not the only one who does this.....)

Anyhow, as much as I think lists are important in being efficient & focused, I know that sometimes the lists can lose their way and become more of a trivial habit or simply avoided all together. Because of that, I've brainstormed ways we can put our to-do lists back to work....essentially making them work for us again.
{notepad from modern emotive}

1. Make it Meaningful:  A list can serve many different purposes, it's helpful to identify which one(s) works for each of us. A list can help plan out the day, clear your mind, make it easier to sleep before going to bed, provide motivation, help refocus during the day....deciding this will make it easier how you'll make your list.  I think recognizing a to-do list isn't a one size fits all approach is really helpful. I write my list very first thing in the morning, this helps me prepare for the day. Then when I get side-tracked throughout the day, I check my list to refocus.  For me, it's also a bit of motivation....crossing off a task off is a little bit of celebration!

2. Make it a Habit: After we figure out how we're going to use our list, let's make it a habit to follow through. For example, I know some people create a list right before bed to clear their mind and prepare for the morning...so setting the notepad someplace that would make it easy to accomplish this, ensuring it gets done.  Sometimes we avoid the easiest most obvious changes! 

3. Make it Manageable: Creating a list with tasks that you both need & hope to get done can easily become a super long assortment of various activities that even superwoman couldn't complete in a day. Instead, include the most important items...or perhaps delineate your list by priority or topic.  When lists become unmanageable we're more than likely to avoid or start to detest them. 

4. Make Multiples: If you're someone who struggles with separating life from work or some other aspect, than making several different lists can be helpful. Obviously, for some this would be too much...but it can offer an important distinction between which types of tasks you're hoping to achieve. I have many lists going at one time; a daily shop list, a separate monthly page, a blog post list, weekly house list, and on the weekends I create a plan for our family (it's not as controlling as it sounds, but helps us all be one the same page and ensures we spend quality time together, really!) 

Do you have any suggestions to add? 
{ps. I also know there are non-list takers out there who get it all done fabulously....I am intrigued by this bunch, tell me if this is you!}

Make + Print + Adore: It's Tea Time

Saturday, March 12, 2011

A tea-time inspired collection for spring: 

PRINT + PAINT: Printable tea time card to paint from Creature Comforts

PRINT:  Greeting card from Susy Jack

ADORE + BUY: Ceramic Teapot from Dahlhaus

ps. I'd love you to stop by my anniversary giveaway if you haven't already! 

Hooray a Giveaway!

Thursday, March 10, 2011

{3/17/11 - giveaway winner announced! Many thanks to everyone with their happy wishes, xo}

I can hardly believe that three years ago this week I not only had a newborn son, but the blossoming idea for my Etsy shop. Though the shop didn't really begin until a few months later, March 15th marks my official three years of having my wee little shop! 

To celebrate this anniversary, I'd like to share a bit of merriment - 

DISCOUNT: enter code HOORAY to receive 20% off all orders

GIVEAWAY:  giving away $30 to be used in my shop to one reader...just leave a little hello to enter! 

{ps. discount & giveaway ends March 16th...$30 credited towards any shop purchase, including shipping. Party banner image credit, Martha Stewart. Lovely birds a la MellowMint}

Tutorial Tuesday - Strawberry Pincushion a la V and Co.

Tuesday, March 08, 2011

Today the sun made an appearance. I ditched my scarf and opened the windows.  With thoughts of lemonade & twirly skirts, I stumbled upon this tutorial for an adorable little fabric strawberries (plus, you can turn them into charming pin cushions!). It's from one of my favorite blogs, V and Co....just a ray of happiness & inspiration over there!

5 Simple Ways to Balance Work and Life

Monday, March 07, 2011

{print from Love Sugar}

a few thoughts on keeping a happy balance of work & life......

1. Reframe Your Thoughts: Work and life are often described as a battle, one duking out the other. But it doesn't have to be this way. Try rethinking the situation...and how you see yourself in it. Sometimes, when things feel really chaotic over here, I remind myself how lucky I am to be able to stay home to raise my child and work at something I really love. Everything else is just logistics.  

2. Separate To-Do Lists: I'm a big fan of to-do lists but even if you don't use them it's important to keep priorities separate for work & home. Finishing up your spring collection and paying the auto insurance are both pretty darn important...keeping them separate can free up your mind a bit to make sure they both get accomplished. 

3. Designate Work Space:  Whether it's an actual studio or a corner of a room or a little closet....designating a place to create signals that 'this is the place where I make things happen.' It allows you to make that mental switch from work to not working. 

4Set Work Aside: I really believe you have to find what works best for you. But it helps to have some sort of system/habit/method of putting work down aside so you can enjoy other aspects of your life.  Checking off a to-do list, putting up post-it notes to address next time, sending yourself an email reminder, jotting down your last ideas in a journal, setting a timer.....these are all ways to help make that transition. 

5. Adjust Expectations: I am not superwoman. Nor do I think I should be. Work and life will undoubtedly overlap a bit- embrace it.  For example, my husband & son traveled with me across town to drop off a wholesale order last weekend, we made a day of it- visiting a new art gallery, grabbing a bite to eat, and walking around the neighborhood.

what can you add to this list? how do you maintain a happy balance?

Guest Post - Yoga for a Blissful Life

Sunday, March 06, 2011

{so happy to introduce my dear friend Kelly, who started a blog, Calming the Spirit to share her journey towards a blissful life. Kelly & I met while teaching in Boston and have become fantastic cyber-friends now that we're across country. I really admire her tenacity & passion for wellness.  I asked her to share a bit on stress relief...something that comes up a lot-  with all of us juggling businesses, family, and pursuit of our dreams.  Thanks to Kelly for being so candid & providing all these awesome links....she inspired me to complete my yoga pregnancy video today!}

{yoga mat bag courtesy effiehandmade}

Stress can be a real killer, especially when you do not feel you have the tools to manage the little bugger! It's important for us to take time for ourselves to combat this force in our lives. Women, especially mothers, tend to not make time for themselves, or feel guilty about it when they do. However, time spent bettering your mind, body and spirit will only enhance your relationships with your spouse, children, family, friends, co-workers and ultimately yourself!

My main source of stress relief is yoga and meditation, however this was not always the case. I dabbled in this lifestyle over the course of 6 years until about 9 months ago when I was recovering from cancer surgery. I needed something to manage my out of control fear, anxiety and helplessness. Yoga was my joy, salvation, and dear friend during this very scary time. Now that I am well (yay!) I continue to reap the benefits of a consistent yoga practice. 

Yoga combines several techniques used for stress reduction, it can be said to provide the combined benefits of breathing exercises, stretching exercises, fitness programs, meditation practice, and guided imagery, in one technique. A common concern among people is flexibility. One does not need to be flexible to do yoga! Balance, strength, and flexibility are obtained through consistency. It works pretty fast too! I was surprised to see that after about a month I could touch my toes and after a few months I was able to reach my palms to the floor. 

Some of the postures can be done anywhere you wish and can go on for hours or minutes, depending on your own schedule. But whether you practice yoga for stress management and physical well-being, or for spiritual transformation the benefits are endless.

Yoga’s Effects On the Body:
  • reduced stress
  • sound sleep
  • reduced cortisol levels
  • improvement of many medical conditions
  • allergy and asthma symptom relief
  • lower blood pressure
  • smoking cessation help
  • lower heart rate
  • spiritual growth
  • sense of well-being
  • reduced anxiety and muscle tension
  • increased strength and flexibility
  • slowed aging process
After you begin practicing these results will show up fairly soon. I remember being shocked that after 4 yoga classes I wasn't as anxious about my test results as before. One particularly interesting moment was in November during an intense posture. I was trying my hardest at dancer's pose and to get myself through it I began swearing at cancer over and over.  What a sense of empowerment that brought me! 

{necklace courtesy justjaynes}

This video by the Mayo Clinic shows a few basic poses to get you started. 

A DVD I recommend is Yoga For Stress Relief (With the Dalai Lama) 
great written resource is Yoga for Stress Relief: A Simple and Unique Three-Month Program for De-Stressing and Stress Prevention by Swami Shivapremananda 

Happy stretching, breathing, decompressing and letting go!

Perfect Palette - Pink + Gray

Saturday, March 05, 2011

Just look at this lovely bit of pinky grayness! A bit of a spring fling....Many thanks to Chrissy from the Perfect Palette for including my clutch in this lovely collection.  

{have you seen her site? If not, it's a burst of color inspiration - she focuses on weddings, but her combinations easily inspire other goodness as well.}

happy weekend everyone! 


Friday, March 04, 2011

Masterpieces completed by Jack. 
For a friend to make her happy.