Friday, May 31, 2013

Friday Feature: Jewelry Embrace

Our featured shop this week is Jewelry Embrace.

Tell us about yourself.
I am a mother of four, one boy and three girls. I am originally from Michigan and now reside in Bowling Green, KY. I am newly married of 2 yrs, my second marriage. My kids are now getting older and wanted a hobby that I enjoy. I am a very creative person who enjoys jewelry making, painting and woodwork.
Tell us about your shop. What do you sell?
In my shop I sell hand crafted jewelry and paintings that I have done My favorite item to work with is raw gem stones. They each are so beautiful and unique. No two are the same.

When did you start creating? Why?
I started creating when I was young, probably about 8 or 9. Always loved making things out of about anything.

What goals do you have for your shop? Is is a hobby, major source of income, or somewhere in between?
The goals for my shop is to see it grow of course, but for share with others my insight and creativity. My shop is a hobby mostly, but wouldn't mind making a few dollars too. I have a full time job also and frequent flea markets and craft events when I can.

How do you balance your business with your family?
Balancing my business with my family is sometimes hard, because I love to create. Of course, I love my family to. Sometimes I have to do a self check and just put things down for a little while. My husband usually will tell me if he thinks I'm been at it to long and we need family time.

How do you keep everything organized? Do you have a workspace?
My work space is crazy at times, I do have a workspace but it gets pretty messy sometimes. I use my personal computer desk as my work space, so I'm right at my computer when I make a new creation.

Do you have any tips for other moms with a small/home business?
My tips for moms with small business is to keep plugging at it, but don't get so caught up you forget whats most important in your life: Family! You have to have balance.The most rewarding thing is knowing that other people share that creativity drive and appreciate my creations.

You can find Chantel at, or send her an email of thoughts and comments at


If you are a mom with a "small" business (or know one) who would like to be featured, please let us know! We would love hearing about your experience! Also, if you would like to share any mom tips, recipes, crafts, DIY, etc., we would love to have you "guest post" on Mondays. Please email us for details!

Monday, May 27, 2013

Time, Inspiration, and Motivation: The Three Main Keys of Running a Craft Business

A few weeks ago I volunteered to write a Monday segment for this blog. At the time it seemed like it would be easy. Mondays are one of my days off and I would have plenty of time to finish it. Boy was I wrong! I work in an industry where there is no such thing as a routine. I lost my Monday for the past two weeks and just couldn't get myself in the mood to create, let alone write a blog article. However, another problem that I ran into was... What do I write about? Then it hit me. Write about the things that I was having the most problem with. They are all keys of running a crafting business.

Time. The elusive concept that everyone is looking for. Either you have too much of it on your hands or you don't have enough. As mommies we never have enough. There are ball games, meetings for work and with teachers, doctors appointments, and the million and one chores that we have to do every day to keep our lives in order. But,... When do we have time to create? 

The key to creating time to craft and run a business is to prioritize. Find little glimpses, seconds if you will, where we can create. If you also work full-time alongside running your business this is even harder to do. You work 40 hours a week at one job, possibly at least 40 hours weekly creating and crafting, And one hundred and 51 hours performing your mommy. The key is to find balance to find every moment that you can where you can create. For myself I work full-time and I craft when I can. I have gone whole seasons of tv show and not been able to tell you what the characters look like because I was busy crocheting. I crochet when the kids are sleep, when I take them to the park, and when we go on trips in the car. The photography aspect of my business is even easier. I take my camera everywhere I go. It is almost hard to miss a shot when you do that. Make every moment count.

Inspiration is often harder to find than the time to create. You can have time to do it but not know what make. Without inspiration the business almost wouldn't be worth it. I find myself lucky. I get my inspiration from my kids who always tell me what they would like for me to make, whether it is a monster that they read about a book or some color combination on a scarf they would like. I also get inspired by my surroundings. I live in the middle of an area covered by vast wetlands, or cypress swamps. These are wonderful places full of beautiful flowers and interesting wildlife. It is often in the swamps that I find my best inspiration for pictures. The trick is just to catch the spark of creativity that is around you.

Now, the hardest part of all, getting motivated. It is often hard to get motivated when you find yourself exhausted after long days of working. Whether it is a job that you get paid to work or just a job where you get the intrinsic rewards like spending all day driving your kids around from game to game to dance lessons to karate lessons and hearing giggles from the backseat, if you are tired it is often hard to find the drive you need to start or finish a project. We've all been there. We've all experienced it. The key is knowing that the best reward is to see the finished project. It doesn't matter how large the project is or how easy it is, just that it is finished. That's what drives me to create. I have all these plans up in the air but the ones that I finish are always the ones that I want to start again. Those are also the ones that drive me to create something new. I know what I can do. I know what I have done and I want to push myself. That's my motivation. 

So finding the right balance of being motivated, being inspired, and the time to create are all keys to successful business craft business. Sounds easy right? Wrong. These three things are often allusive and it takes a very dedicated person to find the right balance.

 To all of my fellow mommy and business, congratulations! You've done it. You found it, that right balance where you can manage your business, managed to create, and still enjoy the time you have with your family. If you lose any of these three, stop take a breath and remember it's not the destination but the journey that is important. Happy creating.

Friday, May 24, 2013

Friday Feature:The Cute Shop by Rachel Halvaksz

 It's that time of the week again! Welcome to our Friday Feature!

Tell us about yourself.
My name is Rachel Halvaksz. I live in San Antonio, Texas with a precocious seven-year-old girl and very supportive husband who's helped me see parts of the world that I never would have imagined visiting. In addition to being a mom and wife, I also work with the homeless community at a great non-profit agency called Haven for Hope of Bexar County.

About 10+ years ago, I went to a "quarter-life crisis" retreat where a group of us newly college-graduated, recently-employed women tried to figure out what do we do with our lives now. For a weekend, we sat around in a beautiful Wisconsin cabin writing and discussing what we wanted to do with our lives in 5, 10, 15 years from now. One of things I listed was to create a cute shop that sold lovely things at an inexpensive cost. I knew that living on a combined "grassroots-non-profit and graduate-student" budget with the hubby to create a shop from bricks/mortar wasn't going to be in my future anytime soon. Thanks to etsy being in the world and the continual supportive nudging of my husband, I've created my shop, appropriately called "the cute shop".
Tell us about your shop. What do you sell?
I sell handmade items created solely by me with love and patience. I try to use upcycled/recycled materials as much as possible. I love taking something like a stack of magazines and creating a new bowl out of them. Ever since fifth grade when we did a class project on those who waste and those who recycle, I've been a firm believer of the "reduce, reuse, recycle" faith.
I'm also a fan of quotations, which you will find in the quotable art section of my shop. I also love quirky little designs or drawings and trying them out on paper or canvas. I'm still new to the world of etsy and handicrafting regularly so I love exploring new options, trying out new ideas, and posting them. Mainly, if I think it's cute, I'll add it to the shop.
When did you start creating? Why?
I guess you could say that I really started creating when I was in my 20s. First, I wanted to make handsewn quilts because my paternal grandmother had so many of them that she made and I just thought, I really should learn this tradition, so I made a few for friends and family. I also used to make cards with origami designs on them. I sold them to pay for my airline ticket to see my husband while he did his fieldwork overseas in Papua New Guinea. I use to subscribe to Martha Stewart Living magazine and try to challenge myself to create the items that she promoted. I'll admit that I failed at a lot of them but learned some new techniques and ideas. I love to doodle, explore handwriting styles and trying new styles. The most recent items in my shop, the recycled magazine bowls, were a way to reduce the clutter in my house. I got tired of seeing magazines just go into the recycling bin, I wanted them to be something more, so I started exploring options. It's also just become art therapy for me to help relieve daily stressors. It's amazing how tightly you can wind a piece of paper when you're's quite stress-relieving.

What goals do you have for your shop? Is is a hobby, major source of income, or somewhere in between?
My goals for the cute shop this year is more promotion and creative expansion. I just started in my etsy shop in October 2012. It's my "fun-creativity"career that I do on the side of the "pays-the-bills" career. I'm hoping to eventually make it the "pays-the-bills" career but I predict that to be a few years from now since it will take time to build up the business. I've expanding to selling some items internationally, setting up a table at area farmers' markets and craft fairs, getting the shop's facebook page active and by mid-year, I'm hoping to have the cute shop blog up and running.

How do you balance your business with your family?

It's a difficult task of balancing family, etsy business, and "pays-the-bills" career all together. I normally take one day (or half-day) out of the weekend to work intensely on the shop while doing house chores (wait, is that possible?!?), either creating new items or updating the business side of the shop or working a fair/farmers' market. I also work in the evenings after the kiddo goes to bed while my husband is working on his lecture prep, doing his research, etc. Shipping off items, following up on etsy shop emails happen between going to/from work. I found creating the items is really an therapeutic journey for me and motivates me to keep moving forward on my goals.

What has been the most difficult aspect of being a Mommy with a Small Business?
Letting my kiddo know that she will be completely bored at a farmers' market or craft fair for 5 hours. At seven years of age, they don't sit for long periods of time. Also, when I have a three-day weekend and I'm able to really knock out a lot of items for the shop, it's hard to go back into work the next day. I feel like "Nooo! I'm on a rhythm. I still have so much I want to create!"
What has been the most rewarding?
The most rewarding has been when complete strangers tell me that they love my stuff or when people walk by at a market/fair and say "oh, that's so cute!" Exactly! That's why I named it the cute shop. For the first three months, I didn't tell most of my friends or extended family that I was doing an etsy shop and pursuing this 10+ year dream because I wanted to see if I could do it without '"sympathy purchases" from friends and family. I wanted to just finally jump in and see if I could do it. And I'm pretty pleased with the results so far.

Do you have any tips for other moms with a small/home business?
Start small and build gradually. Remind yourself that you are in control. If you find yourself spiraling out of control, remember you decide the fate of your business. You can say "no!" to any offers. I've learned to say "no" to things that I knew would take away to much time away from my family and work. Networking is also important. I think it's especially important for your kids to see what your goals are in life and how you achieve and fail at things as well.

Thanks, Rachel! If you would like to see more of Rachel's cute creations, visit her on etsy:
or facebook:

Comments and questions are always welcome! Thanks for joining us!

Monday, May 20, 2013

Homemade Laundry Detergent

Want to enjoy using home made, economical detergent? It's quick and easy!

You'll need:
1/2 bar of Fels-Naptha soap
1/2 cup of Arm & Hammer washing soda
1/2 cup of 20 Mule Team borax
3 gallon bucket with lid or old detergent jugs 

Grate soap, add into 10 cups of water in a large pot.
Heat and stir until dissolved. Add washing soda and stir until dissolved. 
Then add borax ( I use 1 cup of each, do not dump them in at the same time) 

In bucket or jugs put 22 cups (1 gallon+6 cups) If you are using jugs you may need to divide the liquid between them. I use a cut-off water bottle for a funnel. Pour in soap mixture, (be careful if using funnel to hold towards the top. The plastic will get very hot when you pour the soap!) Stir (or shake if using jugs) before it sets up until well mixed or you'll have lumps (sometimes I get lumps anyway, just don't overload your washing machine and it should all rinse out). Let set up for 24 hours. Use 1/2 cup per load. Recipe yields 64 loads for pennies of what you'd normally spend on detergent! Don't be worried if it doesn't make suds in your washing machine, it's not supposed to:)

This recipe can also be used for cloth diapers, you just may want to leave the Borax out as it can be hard on the plastic fabric. (I like to make a dry mix of washing soda and whatever leftover soap nubs I have, grated up)

If you have tough grease or food stains, spray with or soak in a diluted Lestoil solution before washing.

To remove milk smell and other odors from baby clothes, soak in vinegar and baking soda solution.

This blog post was brought to you by Trish at ReDream Jean

Friday, May 17, 2013

Friday Feature: Star City Kiddies

Our shop this week is Star City Kiddies.

Tell us about yourself and your shop. What do you sell?
I am a full-time mother, full-time wife, and full-time hospice office manager. I found my love of crafting during my 20 plus years in Girl Scouts, as a Scout, Gold Award Recipient, and Leader. In 2009, I was blessed with my beautiful son, I found that it was hard to find cute little boy clothes, so I decided to make my own. Star City Kiddies was born! As my son has gotten older, I expanded into other handmade baby & toddler items like pacifier holders, crib quilts, and carseat/doll quilts. I have recently added 18 inch Doll Clothes because my niece has fallen in love with a popular 18 inch doll and needed some cute clothes for “Stacy”.

How did you come up with the name?
My hometown is nicknamed "The Star City of the South"... so Star City Kiddies seemed to fit my business perfectly.

What goals do you have for your shop? Is is a hobby, major source of income, or somewhere in between?
My hope for my shop is for it to be successful enough to be able to stay at home with my little man.

How do you balance your business with your family?
Although it is often difficult to balance family, work and a small business, I have always made sure that my little man is my "helper" when creating my shop items. He helps pick out fabrics and even learns his numbers, colors and shapes as we create together.

How do you keep everything organized? Do you have a workspace?
I don't have a designated workspace at this time... just a dining room table and some bins but I am in the process of creating a designated playroom/sewing area in the house so my son and I can “play” together and create together.

What has been the most rewarding aspect of being a mommy with a small business?
I love being able to create items for moms that are having a difficult time finding cute boy stuff. I love being able to create and help support my family.

Do you have any tips for other moms with a small/home business?
My advice to other moms is simple… don’t be afraid to try. You can easily incorporate your own little helper into your creative process. We love the time we spend together.

Thanks, Laura! If you would like to see more, visit Laura at her Etsy shop:

Monday, May 13, 2013

Potty Training....When and How

Potty Training…two words that can fill you with joy or make you feel like a panic attack is about to happen!….and to think about when and how this is going to take place while running a small business…well there is some real concern.

Right off the bat I need to make it clear…I don’t have the answers…but I can assure you it will happen and you will find the time. You are a Mom…right?

I did a little internet research on the subject. Wow was I surprised! I’m a Grandmother so its been a few…well a lot…of years since I was faced with these questions. Holy Cow things have changed! 
Let me tell you what I had going for me…a daddy husband who was sure that potty training was not part of his parenting responsibilities…heck if he kept the kids for an hour or so while I did something else…he called it “babysitting”. Then I had my Mother who swore she had me potty trained at 9 months. I know I’m wonderful…but I never did buy into the 9 months thing. My In-Laws who would ask if I planned on sending my kid to school in diapers…after all he was almost two and still running around in them. The next door neighbors who were old like I am now also tried to help…I guess. They would make comments like “pooey…you’re stinky” to my little guy. Makes me laugh now as he could have cared less…it was summer and he had way more important things on his mind than going potty. When he was tiny he needed changed and pampered very often or developed diaper rash…when it was time to potty train him…he developed a cast iron bottom and couldn’t have cared less if he was wet or stinky. As for any information on the subject, there were a couple…well maybe one.. book at the library with black and white illustrations of little Susie sitting on a potty in her little lace trimmed dress doing what she was suppose to do. Not happening at my house!

During my internet research today, I was informed you can start at a few days old having some kind of potty communication or you can wait till they are much much older and train them in a day???? There are even lots of videos …and not of little Susie in her dress…Is your kid gonna’ love you for that video when he is older? Anyway, there is a lot of information available. Information is good…right? Well yes, but don’t let it bog you down. You know your child and you will know when it is time. If you try and it doesn’t work out…give it some time…and try again. Congrats to Moms who get this accomplished when their little ones are still very little…but every little one is different.

I did get it mastered…twice actually! The first one was harder. He was two and half and like I said “ not interested”. …so I gave him a baby brother…and that changed everything. Older brother decided he didn’t want to be a baby any longer and going potty was cool. Sometime around that time I also came across a reading that helped me relax about it. It questioned why we call it “potty training” and not “potty learning”. According to what they said…a child can not handle all of these functions of knowing when, how to wait, how to tell you and how to go when he’s suppose to until he can actually pedal a tricycle… that is takes all of those same brain functions to get the potty stuff down…well my little guy didn’t pedal…he pushed with his feet…so I was reassured everything was going to be OK. You too will find what works for you and your little one. My second child was easy…cause he just wanted to do whatever his big brother did so off to the potty he went much sooner!

So to sum up, don’t make it such a big deal. You know what is best and yes as a Mom you will get it done. There are so many hurdles to jump being a parent and this is just one. I think it would be really nice if you young Mommies trying to do it all would share your feelings on this subject and perhaps something you have to say could help another Mom “relax” about POTTY TRAINING! 

Good Luck to you all!

Friday, May 10, 2013

Friday Feature: Love Bubs

Our featured Mom for the week is Melissa of "Love Bubs".

Tell us about yourself.
My name is Melissa. I'm a wife, mom of 3 and a couple of mornings a week, I'm a school psychologist. I am an Internet addict and spend way too much time looking up information about random thoughts. I love to cook and blog about it. I also am a wannabe runner and photographer.

Tell us about your shop. What do you sell?
My shop is Love Bubs and I sell scented play dough.

How did you come up with the name?
The name came quite quickly to me. I call my son Bubby and I wanted a shop name that said Loves Bub. Etsy wouldn't let me take it for a reason I can't remember, so I switched it to Love Bubs. My little ones are my love bubs, so it fit.

When did you start creating? Why?
I'm very new to the craft world and I still laugh to myself that I'm even here. I call myself the Accidental Dough Maker. I am one of the most uncrafty people I know. I can't draw, sew, paint or decorate. I was secretly relieved when my son didn't seem interested in my half-hearted attempts at crafts I'd put in front of him. So, imagine my surprise when I found myself raising my hand to make play dough for my son's preschool class when the teacher asked for volunteers last September. Even my husband looked at me funny. But I did it and found it fun. The seed was planted and I found myself wondering if I could make it scented. And Love Bubs was born.

What goals do you have for your shop? Is is a hobby, major source of income, or somewhere in between?
It's somewhere in between and I'm still trying to figure that out. First I wanted to see if I could sell it at all. Now I'm trying to add more types of products, like play dough kits, and expand my party favor line. This summer I will start selling at the local farmer market with a friend. I'm also always trying to find more brick and mortar stores to partner up with. Love Bubs currently in 4 local stores.

How do you balance your business with your family?
That can be tricky, but I can chat with my children when I'm making dough. My 2 year old will see me at the stove and will ask "Mommy make play dough? Me watch." and will pull up her chair to watch. My 4 year old thinks I go to school for my school psychologist job to make play dough. I think my husband wishes I did most of my work for the business when he's at work so I can relax in the evening with him, but that's not always possible.

How do you keep everything organized? Do you have a workspace?
Well, I used to have a dining room table, but it got taken over (as well as the top of my dryer). I have plastic bins with dough, labels, kit supplies and packing materials. I make my dough in the kitchen and pack it up wherever it's the quietest or in front of the television when I'm home alone (and little fingers aren't likely to get in the dough!).

What has been the most difficult aspect of being a Mommy with a Small Business?
Feeling that I can be a bit distracted at times. It's like that when I do work for my day job. Even though the kids are happy playing, I find the business from home can take up time I would be using to play with the kids or do housework. Balancing it all can be stressful during busy times.

What has been the most rewarding?
The feeling of pride and accomplishment that I get when I see I have an order and from the glowing feedback my buyers leave about my product.

Do you have any tips for other moms with a small/home business?
Don't let work slip. Don't put off orders or work thinking you'll catch up later. I find it so stressful when I have orders due the next day and the family need me to or I have responsibilities for my day job. Then I'm rushing through my order and grumpy with the family. No fun. Have a good work flow with redundant tasks eliminated to be efficient and have more time for yourself and your family.

 If you like what you see, you can find Melissa and her creative dough at the following sites:

Thanks and have a great weekend!

Monday, May 6, 2013

Entering The Craft Fair World

My Aunt got me hooked on my first craft fair last year. She has been selling her Goat's Milk Soap at events for years. So I spent a few weeks sewing and painting little wooden signs so I could give one a try. I was hooked! I didn't even sell a single item! But the fact that others were looking at my items and saying how pretty and making a fuss over them, got me so excited! After doing a few more, I started selling my items! Then I decided it was time to create a whole side job with my craft items. There for, XOXO's by Sherry Rene was created! I am no where near the pro level, but I have learned several things that I would like to pass on to others that are getting into the craft fair world.

1.) Consider the Booth Rental fee before signing up.
Craft fairs can arrange from free up too over $100. I always do the free ones as along as they are within a reasonable distance. With the free ones, all you have to make back is your gas money and everything else is profit! When you have to pay to be in a fair, you have to factor in the cost of the space, plus gas before you make a profit. If you are worried about making your money back, don't stress yourself out and put yourself in a hole. There are always cheaper and free ones to come!

2.) Social networking
You are not going to sell out at every craft event. (That would be awesome though!) At every event comes the chance to mingle and spread the word about your business. At almost every event I have attended, I have left with information about one or more new events to sign up for. That is another chance to sell more items and practice social networking even more! And the cycle goes on!

3.) Talk with the craft fair pros!
Those sweet Grandma looking ladies have seen it all through the years! And they have the best tips and advice! Go around your event and introduce yourself. Ask them for advice on how to make your items more sell-able and what they have done over the years to make others want to buy their products. I have learned several things from the pros from how to sew an item better to which credit card app to get to accept debit/credit cards! 

There are lots more tips I have learned and could go on and on, but those are my top three tips I give to those just starting out. It can be very exciting and overwhelming at the same time. But craft fairs are a wonderful way to grow your business!

Sherry Horrell- owner of XOXO's by Sherry Rene

Jackson, MO

On Facebook and Etsy!

Friday, May 3, 2013

Friday Feature: ValerieDaisy

It's Friday again! Our featured shop of the week is Valeriedaisy. Enjoy!

Tell us about yourself and your shop. What do you sell?
Valeriedaisy came about because of my need for a creative outlet. I'm a full-time mom of three. I sew (mostly for girls - I have all boys and needed a girlie outlet) crochet and just recently started to make hair accessories.
I started to really focus on my shop this past year. I had a newborn and wasn't really taking any time for myself (like most moms). Creating is a way for me tune out the buzz of everything else and relieve some stress. Don't get me wrong, while I am creating, I'm making adorable things for my boys (you can't really turn off being a mom - and I wouldn't want to).


When did you start creating? Why?
My mom taught me to sew at our kitchen table when I was ten. I made a dress - it fit like a glove and I wore it everywhere! I was so proud of my dress. It's a great feeling knowing that you made something, which is a huge reason on why I do what I do. It is quite satisfying seeing what you made on someone else.

What inspires you?
I am inspired by simplicity. There has to be a function and a rational, would I buy this? Why would I buy this, will this improve my life? While my items don't improve anyone's life, it does make it more colorful and exciting. I take an everyday item - in my house, it's a onesie, and appliqué a cute comic book hero onto it. It transforms the whole outfit, brightens up the otherwise drab outfit, because, let's face it, there are not a lot of cute baby clothes for boys.

How do you balance your business with your family?
Balancing my business and family can be a bit hectic. Once I see the older boys off to school, I'll start my cleaning and folding (there's always folding!). Once the cleanings done, I'll start the crockpot (LOVE the crockpot). I usually start my sewing when my baby is napping (which is hardly ever). Once my older boys are home from school, it's all about family. We do homework, eat dinner, spend time with my husband. It's not until everyone's asleep that I can continue working on whatever project I'm working on. It's a great help that I have a sewing room and am able to leave projects out. On some days, I'm unable to even get in an hour sewing time. It gets a bit tricky, sometimes, but I manage.

What has been the most difficult aspect of being a Mommy with a Small Business?
The most difficult aspect of being a mommy with a small business would be time management. When you say yes to something, you're saying no to something else. That always bugs me. I've been doing quite a few local craft shows and it's exhausting, especially when you've taken hours away from your family and sales are poor. That's a lousy feeling, - all that time essentially wasted.

What has been the most rewarding?
The most rewarding feeling is when your out and about somewhere and someone asks where you got the bag you're carrying and you're able to tell them "I made it".

You can follow Valerie on Facebook - and on etsy -

Thanks for joining us! Questions and comments are always appreciated.