Kentucky Art and Craft Shops Unite for Tornado Relief

Like a lot of you, my thoughts have been with Kentucky’s tornado victims this week.  There has been so much support and help from the surrounding communities that it really makes me proud to be from this state and from such a small area. Kentuckians may be mocked as being ignorant hillbillies (which isn’t entirely true – a few bad apples ruin the bunch) but one thing is for sure- Kentuckians know how to be neighborly.

So neighborly, in fact,  that our local donation centers had to stop accepting food and clothing for tornado victims because they had more clothing than they could store and so much food they are worried it will begin to spoil.

But that doesn’t mean those families are out of the water. Thousands have lost their homes – some have shells remaining that have been condemned, others have only minor displacement issues. But then there are the others- the one’s who’s homes are now in a million pieces scattered across a yard or a field. These people can still use our help.

This weekend we’re partnering with a couple of our fellow Kentuckian artisans to host a flash sale.

So, shop for a good cause this weekend at these great Kentucky shops:

Kym’s Kreations– Winchester’s local jewelry artist Kym Pelfrey makes an amazing assortment of necklaces from all sort of materials. Her shop also includes gorgeous wire-wrapped tree of life pendants and fun button rings. There’s definitely something for everyone at Kym’s Kreations. And starting this weekend Kym will be donating 20% of her sales to tornado relief efforts throughout our commonwealth.

Creative Chocolate Supplies-  If you’re into cake decorating, you’ll love the sweet deal Rhonda Georgian is offering at her cake and candy supply shop this weekend. This weekend only, Creative Chocolate Supplies will be sending 40% of their sales proceeds to Kentucky Tornado Relief. So satisfy your sweet tooth and help out your fellow Kentuckians.

The Fish Jig Lady–  Who ever thought of wearing fishing lures as jewelry? Layla Sutherland – owner of The Fish Jig Lady shop- that’s who. Layla has some nifty earrings made from bass and crappie lures that the outdoorsy woman will adore. Stop by her shop and have a look around.

Hip Earth Designs-  Last, but certainly not least, our shop will be donating 10% of our proceeds to the fund. As an added bonus, we’ll also be donating 10% of any custom orders make this weekend. We’ll be giving our proceeds to the West Liberty Elementary School which was condemned. The school is moving to an old factory in town and they are in need of a temporary playground to bring normal back to the children’s lives.

Help us help them recover!

Happy shopping!

Kentucky’s Tornado Aftermath – How You Can Help

Last week was truly chaotic between Ava’s early arrival and the tornadoes that tore their way through our region.

I still cannot believe this amount of destruction happened so close to our home.

All the following photos were taken from those shared by friends on Facebook. I do not take credit for these photos and will only post credit to these private Facebook users at their request.
Can you imagine your home being demolished in seconds? So. So. Sad.
Continuing the search for victims and survivors using canine officers.
Notice the red car has been completely flattened.
The remains of a local eatery known as "Freezer Fresh" - I've probably ate here 150 times!
This was once the town's H&R Block office.
This is an overturned police car that had responded to the first touchdown.

Another car flipped on it's side.
Even the town cemetery suffered damages.
A destroyed church at the main intersection in town.
The aftermath of a trailer park in the heart of town.
Destroyed homes right off the town's main drag.

Damaged apartments.
And the town's small hospital was also the scene of damage.
But West Liberty was not the only town hit by the twister- many small, rural communities were also devastated by the storms.
And numerous cell phone service towers were flattened.

And finally…

The best image of them all: trucks full of clean, bottled water and other supplies to benefit the amazing workers and the families in need.

I had to ride out the storm at my part time job in Sandy Hook. I was calm the entire time- but it wasn’t until the next day that I realized just how lucky I had been. The map below shows just a few locations where tornado and wind damage occurred – you can sort of map the path of the twister that touched down in West Liberty which passed only a few miles from my location in Sandy Hook. A co-worker and I were both experiencing extreme sinus pressure – which I hear often happens when the barometric pressure drops when a tornado develops.

So scary to think about how close I came to being in the path of destruction.

So, we ended up losing mobile phone reception, Internet connectivity and long-distance calling (some people in the region where totally without phone and electric – even those who managed to survive the destruction) for only a day or two. I am amazed at how quickly both the cell towers and Internet was restored – I was sure it would be weeks before any of those were restored (I should mention that our Internet Service Provider’s main office was located at ground zero on Main Street in West Liberty). It really speaks volumes for how hard all the amazing rescue teams, utility workers, emergency services, the National Guard and countless volunteers have done to restore communications so that families in the region can get word to their families across the nation and the globe.

So many families have lost their homes and vehicles. And even the places that they worked have been virtually wiped off the map. Though some may be able to pick up the pieces, others will never be able to rebuild and many may be displaced to new locations. In the meantime, they can use all the help they can get. You can call 800-RED-CROSS for details on how you can help out.

However, you can also donate clothing and food at many locations throughout the region – if you’re a local. I haven’t got much to give except some clothes that no longer fit. I’m spending my Monday washing the clothes and plan to drop them off before work on Tuesday.

If you would like to donate clothing or food- or anything else- please email us at hipearthdesigns@gmail.com and I’ll do my best to direct you to your nearest donation center. My Uncle is also a member of the West Liberty/Morgan County Emergency Response Team so I’ll post additional updates here or on the Facebook page to let you know how you can help.

Handmade Spotlight: Artist Valri Peyser

Glassware art by Valri Peyser

If Valri Peyser’s amazing glassware doesn’t inspire you to upcycle your wine, soda and beer bottles, then nothing will.

By Valri Peyser

In fact, Valri has an ongoing relationship commissioning bottle art for a local winery – Hillcrest Vineyards in the Santa Cruz mountains of sunny Cali. (Hmm, anyone noticing a trend forming with our spotlighted artisans?)

But, wine bottles are not Valri’s only specialty- she also creates amazing wall art paintings in varying styles. She creates bold abstract art as well as stunning, vibrant portraits.

Make sure you stop by her website and check out the rest of her work.

What’s your favorite?

Welcoming a New Addition to Our Family

Last night at 8:02pm our family welcomed an adorable new addition – Miss Ava Grace.

new addition to the family
Born February 29, 2012

Ava wasn’t due until April 5th, but she decided she wanted to be a Leap Day baby.

She weighs 4 lbs 5 ounces and measures 18-inches long. She will be spending a few days in NICU, but aside from being small she’s doing just fine. Breathing well and her heart rate is perfect. Mommy and Daddy are all smiles!

I’m heart-broken over the no-Aunts-in-the-nursery-rule, but I understand and I’m going to love every minute of watching her grow up.

Also- she has my dimple chin!

We’re all so proud and happy that – despite coming so early – Ava and her mommy are doing so well.

The Crafty Entrepreneur’s Guide to Marketing Your Creative Business on Pinterest

marketing your creative business with pinterest
Image by Hip Earth Designs

Dear Creative Business Owner,

Meet your newest marketing tool- the groovy little place known as Pinterest.

What is Pinterest?

Pinterest is – as “it” describes itself – a virtual, visual pinboard. (Think StumbleUpon, only with larger picture thumbnails and more easily customizable “pin boards” – or folders.) It’s as easy to use as Facebook – maybe even a little easier – and it’s rapidly becoming one of the Internet’s hottest spots for marketing handmade products. If you haven’t jumped on board yet, you need to – and not just because it’s a great way to market but because it’s a fun way to market, or just collect ideas for your next home remodeling project, or upcoming wedding, or party decorating ideas, or ideas for your garden…or, or, or…Well, you get the idea – you can make a pinboard for ANYTHING.

How To Join Pinterest

There are two ways to join Pinterest.

  1. Visit Pinterest.com and sign up – This seems like a logical solution, except that if you use this method, you’ll have to wait 2 to 3 days to actually get started.
  2. Ask a friend to send you an invite to Pinterest- this seems to grant you access to Pinterest a bit quicker than signing up yourself. We’d be happy to send you an invite if you want to email us your email address or leave it in a comment at the end of this post. – You can send emails to us at hipearthdesigns@gmail.com

Pinterest Etiquette – For Crafters and for All

Pinterest has a few rules they want you to follow, whether you’re there for work or leisure.

The rules are pretty easy to remember:

  • Give credit where it’s due. Whether you’re pinning something new to Pinterest or sharing a pin on your blog, Facebook or in group or team forums, be sure to provide a direct link back to the original source of the pin. You want to retain credit for pins you or others make of your physical or intellectual property, so do your fellow crafters, artists, photographers, graphi designers or writers a favor and give them credit for their work- this will help them draw more traffic to their site and it’s the respectful, pay-it-forward thing to do.
  • Be nice – if you can’t type something nice when leaving a comment or making a new pin, then don’t type at all.
  • Don’t overly self-promote. – A little self-promotion is okay, just make sure you share stuff from others too. Remember, this keeps you from seeming too salesy and helps you gain trust and establish yourself as an expert in your field.
  • Report pins that are not suitable for young users or pins that violate the Pinterest Terms of Service.
  • And give your feedback on ways Pinterest can be improved.

How to Use Pinterest to Market Your Creative Business

Pinterest is a really popular place these days – attracting users of all ages. Members of your target market are likely using Pinterest, so you should be too.

So how can you use Pinterest to market and advocate your business? There’s a few ways:

  • Pin your products. Try creating a board specifically for your business products. This way your followers can stop following only that specific board if your products don’t interest them. But, don’t be afraid to pin your products to different boards, as long as they are appropriate. For example, feel free to pin your handmade jewelry to both you business pinboard as well as your “fashion” or “style” board as applicable.
  • Pin photographs or images of products that inspire you.
  • Pin things your target market will find useful. Did you just find a new website, blog, book, article or an individual blog post that will be useful to your followers? Pin it!
  • Pin useful posts from your own blog. Try creating a special board for this one too, to allow your followers to unsubscribe from your blog updates so they don’t have to see pins that are irrelevant to them.
  • Connect with others and make new friends – especially those in your target market or users who may benefit from following your pins. Connect with other crafters and artists so you can repin each other’s pins and help each other make the most of Pinterest as a marketing tool. If you use Etsy, join the Pinterest teams and find crafters to connect with on Pinterest.
  • Create and fill as many pinboards as you like. Create pinboards for anything you want-  this helps to showcase your personality and gives your followers an insight into your personality, what inspires you, what drives you and what you’re up to outside of marketing your business. All of that helps you build relationships with your followers and customers, which can help you appear trustworthy and knowledgeable. But, please, please please remember to keep your boards neatly organized. Personally, if I start following someone and they can’t keep their boards organized so that I can unfollow the boards that are not relevant to me- then I’ll just stop following them completely. You don’t want that- so keep your boards organized!

But that’s not even a fraction of the ways you can use or optimize Pinterest for use in your business marketing arsenal. To really optimize Pinterest for marketing your business- be sure to check out 56 Ways to Market Your Business on Pinterest by Beth Hayden at Copyblogger.com.

And make sure you follow my Craft Advice & Blogs board to see other useful blog posts and articles I pin related to the business of owning, marketing and managing a craft business.

See the rest of my Pinterest boards and connect with me on Pinterest at: Hip Earth Designs on Pinterest

 

Have any additional tips for making the most of Pinterest? Please share them by leaving a comment.

DIY: Upcycle Wine Bottle into Decorative Vase

I found myself in a pinch last Wednesday. It was my mom’s birthday and I was a little strapped for cash – and I’ve always thought handmade gifts were much more heartfelt than their store-bought counterparts. So, being the procrastinator that I am, I spent a couple rushed  hours Wednesday afternoon making a handmade gift for my mom.

This alluring vase made from an empty wine bottle covered in pale blue, green and clear glass gems.

wine bottle crafts
Crafty wine-bottle recycling.

But wait, I’ve got to give credit where it’s due…

My inspiration for this craft/diy project came from a similar project I found on Pinterest a few days ago…

Bling Storage for the Bathroom by Creative in Chicago

We used similar processes – you can read hers here.

She covered her container with paper and Mod Podge before attaching the glass gems- which probably helped prevent the gems from popping loose once the hot glue cooled completely.

I, however, glued the gems directly to my wine bottle and several fell loose later- but I thought the gaps where gems were missing added to the character of the finished piece. And if the gems continue to fall off, we can always stash them and use them for a future craft project. Ha!

So-follow my method or hers, whichever works best for what’s available in your craft supplies.

I started by removing the label from my wine bottle.

upcycling wine bottles
Boone's Farm- low-cost and so yummy.

I got the sticky label off by rubbing it down with a dime-size drop of dish detergent and soaking the wine bottle in water for approximately 5 minutes. (Hint: To save water, fill the wine bottle half-full of water and then sit it inside a deep bowl or pitcher, instead of running a sink-full of water to soak the bottle.

wine bottle upcycle

Then, I started at the bottom of the bottle and worked my way up, placing the glass gems.

decorating wine bottles

Then, I just continued until the majority of the bottle was covered. A few gems fell off, so I picked off any hot glue that remained in the gaps and then stole some huge, blue, faux roses from a vase in my bathroom.

I’d love to see some photos if anyone else tries this- by using different containers and different gem colors and backings, there are hundreds of designs you could create to match the decor in any home.

And if this upcycling project isn’t your style- check back on Friday for this week’s addition of “Handmade Spotlight” where we’ll be featuring an artist who creates amazing works of art on used and discarded wine bottles.

Have other wine bottle upcycling crafts or tutorials you’d like to share? Leave us a comment!

This Week At Hip Earth Designs

Remember that last weekend before semester started or the new school year began?  Or that last weekend before you started your first or latest job?

That weekend that sort of felt like your last free one for a while?

That was this weekend for me.

It was quiet a busy weekend for my last full weekend “off”- we had family in from Ohio and we played host at my little sister’s baby shower.

I even spent a few hours Saturday night making a special candle-holder to giveaway at the shower Sunday afternoon.

baby shower giveaway
Glass candleholder covered with a one-of-a-kind polymer clay filigree design. Hip Earth Designs 2012.

Plus, I had to finish up the nursery letters I made for my future niece.

nusery wall art diy
There will be a tutorial for this one on the blog later this week. Hopefully, i can nab a new shot of these when they are in the nursery!

There wasn’t as much time to relax as I would have liked…

Because today, I start my new part time job. I’m a little nervous. But mostly excited. I’ve spent a long time working from home (approximately 3 years to be exact), so I’m more than anxious to get out and see real people again (aside from those I see on my usual quick trips to Hobby Lobby and the grocery store, that is).

It’s going to be a tough adjustment. I’ve put so many hours into marketing our shop and products over the last month – sleepless nights, and nearly every waking hour has been spent marketing, reading, researching, and – of course – creating.

It hurts to know that I won’t have as much time to devote to my new love- our business. It feels a little like how I imagine a new mother feels when she’s got to return from maternity leave and cannot spend as much time cultivating and watching her little one grow.

But, you never know – this new job could be just what I’ve been needing to motivate me to work a little faster and get more done in my marketing time. And maybe the time spent away from the business, out observing the world, will give me better insight into what direction to take our marketing efforts next. And also a little extra cash for some upcoming marketing tactics I have in store (like flyers and the ebook I started writing last week).

So even though things may be slow at Hip Earth for a while- it’s really a win-win situation.

But don’t worry, you may not even notice any changes. I’ll still be updating the blog nearly every day and I even have a couple of free craft tutorials planned for you later this week.

A fun and simple way to upcycle an old wine bottle.

wine bottle crafts
I made this for my mom's birthday last week- I'll tell you how to make your own later this week.

As well as a tutorial on those nursery letters above.

So stay tuned and be sure to share those tutorials with your friends or give them a try and send us some pictures!

What’s going on in your life or shop this week?

Handmade Spotlight: Stefan Fromme at Bohemian Hollow

One of the first, amazing crafters I encountered a month ago when I started networking on Etsy was the creative soul behind these amazing pieces.

His name is Stefan Fromme- and he’s that handsome fellow above wearing the sunny, yellow, slouchy beanie. Stefan is a man of many talents, dabbling both in photography as well as his gorgeous macramé bracelets, barefoot sandals, beanies and scarves. You can see what else he’s up to by visiting his shop – Bohemian Hollow – or his Facebook page.

You can also click on any of the photos above to be linked directly to that item in his shop.

And it looks like he’s offering 20% OFF through the month of February to celebrate his Etsy-versary. To get that discount, you’ll just need to enter the coupon code: BUBBLES at checkout.

I think his bracelets would make a great addition to a boho summer wardrobe, what do you think?

2 Steps to Manage Your Marketing Time and Get An Extra Hour In Your Day

save time marketing online, quicker and easier marketingIf you’re like me, all the work you’re doing to market and maintain your creative business is probably making you feel a little overwhelmed. You’ve likely got Twitter, Facebook, your email, Flickr, Pinterest and a hundred blog posts open on your Internet browser at all times. And you’re probably flipping between then endlessly, anxiously waiting for your first sale and ready to pounce on the first question you get from a potential buyer. You’re likely flipping back and forth between social media outlets, trying to spread out your marketing messages so you can reach a larger audience. And you may be starting to wonder if you could save time by streamlining your process a bit.

At least, that’s what I was wondering.

Then I found two great posts over at Meagan Visser.com:

After reading, I realized how much time I’m really wasting flipping between tabs and checking constantly for messages from potential customers.  And when you’re feeling like there’s no time for all you need to do, then the first thing you need to do is look at how you’re spending your time and how you might carve some extra time out of your schedule.

So, let’s look at some things you can do to get that extra hour in the day that you’re always wishing you had.

1. Stop Checking Your Email and Social Media Constantly

Think about it for a moment, how many minutes do you lose every day from those two distractions?

I check my email and social media constantly throughout the day, anxious to see what folks are saying about my shop and eager to promptly answer any questions a potential buyer may have about a product. Each time I check in on email I waste time trying to clear my inbox or get lost going to another social media site. I check my Facebook constantly, especially since I get notifications on my phone if I’m not active at the computer when something happens there. But, then, I get lost looking at photos of kids of the “kids” I went to high school with while pondering if in fact there is a cult coming to get me soon. To get that joke, see the following image.

To avoid those two major distractions, Meagan suggests checking in on social media and email only 3 times per day- freeing you up to spend more time on those other, super-important tasks like updating your blog, reading and commenting on other blogs, tweaking your shop or actually making some new products.

I know how tempting it is to check everything each time a little notification dings or pops up on your screen- and I’m going to have a hard time training myself not to do it this week. So first, let’s consider those dings and pops our ultimate distraction and turn them off right now.

Seriously.

If you want to get an extra hour in your day, stop reading right now and go turn them off or at least put them on silent so you can check them at a designated time.

Then, check both email and social media when you start your day. Then again at mid-day and then again in the evening. And set different time constraints for each check. If you have to go over a little to finish responding to messages, then give yourself the extra time.

Personally, I plan on spending 30 minutes in the morning checking only emails pertaining to customer questions or messages on social media. I’ll check for the same emails at mid-day. Then for my final social media check of the day, I’ll be messing around for an hour or two, during the hours that most of my target market is online- when they are home from school, not in class and home from their evening jobs. I may end up spending a little more time in the evenings if there’s nothing else to do around the house or in the office/workshop and if there’s a lot of conversation going on online. But I’m going to cut down on the time I’m wasting checking social media and email for conversations and I’m certain I’ll find that I gain at least an extra hour in my day. I’m likely to gain more time if I don’t put the Big Bang Theory on in the background or start singing aloud to some classic rock or new-age indie and acoustic while dancing with my furry, four-legged love child, Cinnamon. (If those last three words didn’t scream “hippie”, I don’t know what will.)

2. Concentrate On One Task At A Time And Create a Schedule or To-Do List

Meagan’s Biz Challenge: Create Some “White Space” post offers amazingly simple instructions on how to literally cut your to-do list in half and make the most of your time.

Using her instructions, I’m going to cut my duties into blocks of time and work on one task at-a-time, until it is finished for the day. And instead of staring at a never-ending to-do list everyday, I’ll break my to-do list down every night into the top 4 things I need to finish the next day. I’ll also schedule time for other tasks that I need to work on every day or every other day, such as writing a batch of blogs, taking product photos and for reading, commenting and responding to comments on other blogs and blog posts.

Do you have any other tips for managing your time and chipping away steadily at your to-do list?

-Sarah