April Showers Shopping Festival (hosted by Simple Trading Team)

April Showers Shopping Festival

One of the benefits of having an Etsy shop is the community within the platform. Merchants are able to (and encouraged) to share their experiences and to help and encourage others to succeed. One of the ways sellers help sellers is by joining teams. Teams are essentially semi-private forums where sellers (and sometimes buyers) can, among other things, cross-promote merchandise with other sellers.

I am a member of several teams and the captain on one of my teams (Simple Trading Team), a seemingly tireless leader who sells lovely handmade journals in a shop called Indian Journals has organized a Spring Shopping Festival for the team’s benefit.

What’s a “shopping festival”?
Basically, this festival is something like a big, big sale in a co-op marketplace. Members of the team have agreed to post a shop-wide savings coupon for a designated set of days and cross-promote other teamies participating in the event. Of course, I’m participating by joining in with other sellers in offering 20% discount on every item in my shop April 11th through the 15th.

This sale is going to be pretty huge with some sellers offering free worldwide shipping and others offering up to 40% (maybe even 50%?) off every item listed in their shop. The Festival begins in less than 24 hours, so I hope you will come back and get the codes for the discounts and see some of the goodies that we’ll be offering.

Note for STT members participating in the event:
For sellers looking for images to post in your shop banner during the festival, I have these images available. One with a transparent background as well as one on black and one on white. Click through the link to the image you would like to use, then right-click on the image and select “copy image.” Once you have it copied, you can paste it on top of your shop banner in an image editor. Position the umbrella where you want it, then save and upload the banner through your shop controls. Alternatively, you can select to “save image” rather than copy if you don’t have your shop banner open in an editor yet.

You are also welcome to use the promotional banner at the top of this post if you want one that large (it’s actually about 33% bigger than it appears here. If you want to use a smaller promo banner, try this one:

festival promo 400px wide.

festival banner

Champion Your Charity

FREE JEWELRY!!!! Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better. It's not. ~Dr. Seuss

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There’s an interesting discussion taking place in the prototype forums in the Etsy community. The group having the discussion is one focused on exploring a new marketplace feature which will assist sellers in donating portions of their sales to non-profit organizations. The discussion is focused on openly “advertising” charitable contributions spurred by sales of merchandise. Apparently, the topic had come up on another board and it had been stated that some buyers are actually turned off by donation disclosure because it is seen as a marketing ploy rather than true charity. Another perspective expressed in the prototype discussion that not disclosing support of a non-profit forfeits buyers’ right to opt-out of contributing to a cause they don’t support or may even oppose. A third position states that giving shouldn’t be a public act directly tied to sales and that a truly charitable buyer will give to the cause he or she deems worthy independent of the choice to purchase any item sold anywhere.

Of course there is concern about the integrity of sellers who might claim to support this or that organization or cause for the sake of marketing and increased sales but never fulfill their public pledge. There’s also criticism, although not very articulate, for campaigns like the General Mills’ Pink Lids campaigns, stating that contributing to such campaigns should be possible without the necessity of a purchase. For what it’s worth, General Mills does have several options from which would-be contributors may choose that don’t require the purchase of General Mills products. Hopefully, anyone who hopes to get the warm-fuzzies because they’ve saved and redeemed yogurt lids will research the facts of the campaign and understand that General Mills’ pledge to donate 10 cents for each lid redeemed is capped at $1.5M.

This discussion is very interesting to me, but honestly, I don’t think that it’s relevant to my little shop. Maybe someday, but not today. I’m not quite ready to select an organization to which I am willing to tie my business publicly. The notion of charitable giving through my business, however, is appealing to me… But not through proceeds from sales of my merchandise. The better option for my shop’s philanthropic efforts is the donation of actual merchandise to fundraising events like silent (or not-so-silent) auctions, raffles and awards/prizes. The obstacle I’m facing in regards to this kind of charitable donation, because I haven’t selected a single, specific non-profit or cause, is knowing to whom I should make the donation.

So, at this point, I am researching auctioneers who specialize in services for non-profits and looking into what charity events may be up-coming in my community. Although I am interested in supporting a cause or organization that shares my values and conducts its business in a manner I find ethical and constructive, I believe that true giving comes from the heart, so I also hope to give support where I find an emotional bond. Finding that emotional bond may be something that I find directly, but maybe the most meaningful bond I find will come from your experience with an organization committed to service, education, welfare, research or civil rights (man or beast). I hope that if your life has been positively affected by an organization dedicated to helping others you will share your story with me. I promise that your story will remain confidential unless you give me permission to share it. If the group you nominate is one that is compatible to my goals, my first donation to that group will be made in your name, or in the name of the person you choose (unless you wish to remain anonymous).

If you don’t wish to share your story or nomination in the comments, please, use the form below.

Thanks in advance for helping with this important decision.

A Better Year

I often have long debates with myself about this blog. I am at odds with myself over what this blog really is about. Is it about my life and the seemingly constant shift in my own, personal purpose for being? Is it an artist’s blog about how I view my work and where I find inspiration? Inspiration and art is so much a part of my personal life that the two can’t be easily separated. So my feeling is that to share the art, I have to share the artist. That feeling leads to the inner debate over how much of the artist should I share? Where do I draw the line?This internal conflict have caused me to abandon many of the posts I have begun to write over the years and leave the entire blog apparently abandoned. Every time I abandon a post, the next post is harder to start, because I doubt the likelihood that I will actually publish. That sucks.

I guess the biggest hang-up I have regarding what not to post is the fact that in the time since I started this blog it seems as though my household has faced a barrage of tragic events with such small windows of reprieve that to write much about my life may come across as a bit, well… pathetic. And who wants to publish a personal pitty party? Not me.

But I have posted some of our past tragedies and have even put some of our shortcomings on public display. Each of these posts described obstacles faced in 2012.

The overwhelming magnitude of 2013 was so much greater than the prior year that I haven’t found a voice with which to express the catastrophic events we have endured. My pride has kept me from admitting that our own poor judgment and the fact that the most paralyzing of the losses were once again created by the few people we chose to allow into our very isolated lives. When my sweetheart and I were forced to be away from home for several months, the handful of people we believed could be trusted completely managed to deprive us of every last material thing we owned. We returned home to find there was no home, no contents of our home, no vehicles and the inventory of our shop had been stolen as well. By the end of the summer we were left with the clothes on our backs, our chihuahuas and eachother, plus a criminal police report that law enforcement refused to acknowledge because the thieves were people we knew. That’s a bitter pill to swallow, much less publish.

The reason I mention any of it now is to provide a backdrop for the photo I am posting today. My sweetheart came home last month from a short walk through the neighborhood, looking for the good stuff people in the lovely city of Dallas throw out, with a small bounty of goodies. Among the loot, I discovered a 4-compartment for drawer organization and instantly knew that it deserved to be made into something more. I used duct tape to attach a piece of fiberboard to the top of the unit as well as create a hinge which allows the fiberboard to flip up, creating an opening through which access to the compartments can be accessed. The final result is a combination craft box and lapdesk/portable workstation. The final touch was added during the last week of 2013: a Zentangle-inspired reminder that this year doesn’t have to be as tragic as the two before it. I hope that prediction is correct; I can’t take much more adversity this year.

I hope you will leave a comment and let me know what you think of it. Don’t forget to pin it to one of your Pinterest boards, please. I appreciate every single pin you post from this site!

So….. (drum roll)… Here it is: Better Year, by yours-truly:

Better year artwork

“This Year Will Be Better” Zentangle-inspired DIY craft box