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Take a Chance on Doing What you Love!

Sweet sarsaparilla! I love this old speech! Jim Carrey expresses the key reason why I’m still holding out to spread more of my handmade sparkles online even though the bead store dream I previously envisioned had too many risky overhead pitfalls.

do what you love orange

The Struggle is Real

I’ve always been a responsible person, working multiple jobs at one time for many years while simultaneously earning my business degrees. Many of my jobs have been in the administrative and accounting fields where using my creativity would do nothing but get me into trouble. lol.

I have FINALLY been able to focus on my new jewelry website launch and re-branding. Transitioning from a hobby to a business is scary with lots of steps involved! I sometimes let my guilt get the better of me at taking this time off from working a full time job, but then I remind myself of exactly what Jim says here.

For those people who do not know me, I was raised by my grandparents after both parents left my little sis and I for their drug addictions. We were saved by our grandparents. The reality was that we were a very real burden for them to contend with, which made anything we asked for seem selfish in our situation when compared to the basic necessities and a safe environment. A fact that is lost on most kids, especially those today that think they all need iPads by the age of 4! (To be fair though, in my day “it” was a radio that could play cassette tapes and I was about 11 then. I’m old). I do not share this background for pity; I say this to explain why I have previously chosen “fear disguised as practicality” the way that Jim describes it.

It has taken almost 43 years for me to be brave enough and to have achieved a small measure of security to pursue this creative opportunity. My husband has also been an extremely hard worker and has pursued his career goals to help bring us to where we are today. While I’m usually comfortable in the background of my own life, it is thankfully my opportunity to shine.

The timing has never been right before. We have always struggled financially, especially after moving cross country, huge remodeling costs and experiencing the housing crash with the economy. Employment is difficult to find. With our recent change of state and my graduation, the timing has finally aligned with my ever growing bead collection.

Sparkling Ahead

So, for the first time EVER in my adult life, I am allowing myself the chance to do something unexpected, something that I LOVE and fills my heart with happiness. I want to CREATE themed handmade jewelry designs that are uniquely reflective of people and helps them to recognize their sparkle! The world can be so frustrating, full of misery and uncaring. I can relate to the need for some elation and tranquility. Bringing out your inner sparkle thrills my soul! Win win for us both! lol

home made bead jewellery making as a hobby

 

Things may not work out, but at least I can FINALLY say that I am pursuing a creative path that I am passionate about after ignoring the dreams of my youth! This sparkly jewelry venture may seem small to most people, but it is HUGE to me!

Buy Handmade and Spread the Sparkle!

I am thankful for your support in my handmade business, as it is helping to feed my cats right now and elevating my confidence! Eventually I hope it grows enough to feed the hubby and I, but the cats do eat a lot already! lol.

Pursue your passion, everyone! Whatever it is, as long as it’s not life threatening and brings you joy! Life is too short to always feel left out of the fun! (A sparkle-tastic lesson learned from my Twilight party planning days). And if a creative path is not for you, please help support your friends and family in their passions. Buy handmade and shop locally. Each time you support a person in their entrepreneurial venture, you are helping someone achieve their dreams while taking some of the loot away from big box stores.

support artists

Now back to work on my website launch coming soon May 10th! Have a sparkle-riffic day!

Reading and Relaxing with my Kindle Fire

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I have experienced a hiatus this past year from full time employment. After our move to Texas, we have been dealing with home remodeling disasters and my hubby had a few surprise surgeries. There have also been many small business startup projects involved in transitioning my handmade jewelry from a hobby to a business.

Sometimes these obstacles have become so overwhelming, that I had to force myself to take a breather and revisit a relaxation technique from my youth. Reading!

Peace Love Books Frame

Instead of hitting the library or begging friends for a book exchange “like in the olden days”, I went all modern and decided to investigate more of what my Kindle Fire could offer. (I still love hard copy books! I have 2 enormous bookcases full, even after recently donating several).

About 2 years ago, shortly before relocating, a college professor required a text in a business course which was no longer in print and only available via Amazon Kindle. I checked out Amazon’s $99 deal. I ultimately decided on the pricier Kindle Fire HDX 8.9″ 64 MB so that I could access WiFi and use it as a tablet. We are tech slow at my house and have never had a tablet before. No, not even an iPad!

Choosing between the iPad and Kindle was difficult. Almost everyone that I knew at that time all had the iPad. Only one friend had a Kindle. In researching the internet, and polling friends and colleagues about their devices, I opted for Kindle mainly because it was more economical and at that time, had a larger screen (8.9″ HDX touchscreen display, with 2560 x 1600 resolution at 339 ppi, 100% sRGB color accuracy, video playback up to 1080p, max brightness over 400 nits, Dynamic Image Contrast, reduced glare and advanced polarizing filter). I also didn’t want to have to install an Amazon Kindle app for an iPad to read my college textbook (the main reason for this purchase). This was at a time where I was clueless about the great menagerie of apps and my perception that process would be complicated.

This seems like such a lifetime ago, because both my husband and I now use the Kindle Fire for so much!

  • We like to play the free versions of the admittedly addictive Tetris, Candy Crush and Soda Saga games, as well as my personal favorite game…Disney’s Frozen Free Fall.
  • I have rediscovered my passion for reading, thanks to several great series referrals from a sparkle-tastic repeat jewelry shopper and bestie. Shout out to, Lindsey!
  • As a result of reading and leaving Amazon feedback, I have been sent a few book review requests from new authors or their marketing firms. That opened up a whole new genre to me that I never realized I might enjoy as a 42 year old hag, uh, I mean woman. Can you believe….young adult fiction? Me neither, but give it a try!
  • We figured out how to “fling” movies from my Kindle onto the TV via our existing Amazon Fire TV box . It syncs beautifully. (I did feel as crazy as Gary Busey initially figuring this feature out- lol).
  • Sometimes when I want to remember story time as a child, I like to be lazy and switch over to the text-to-speech feature which lets my Kindle read my book to me.  (You don’t have to buy the expensive Audible versions of books. The Kindle voice isn’t as animated as a paid narrator, but it gets the job done).
  • The camera is front and rear facing with tremendous clarity, so snapping photos or videos is easy and a handy alternative to my iPhone camera.
  • When it is time to do a little work, I can even do marketing research and YouTube video training for my handmade jewelry business.

So, not only do I now thank the college professor for suggesting an out-of-print textbook (which I wasn’t so happy with at that time), but I also thank Amazon for creating this miracle device at an agreeable price (about $600 less than iPad in 2014). My Kindle has most of the same functionality as the ridiculously expensive and possibly overrated iPad. Eventually I will probably write a more informed comparison of the Kindle Fire HD  vs. iPad; as I may still purchase an iPad later to use as a register for selling my jewelry at craft fairs in addition to my iPhone.

If you’re interested to know what books I have read on my Kindle, please leave a comment and I will post a blog list for you.

Have a sparkle-riffic day, everyone!

Disclosure: Some of the links contained in this blog post are my Amazon Associates affiliate links. I may receive a small affiliate compensation should you click through and purchase at Amazon’s website. Thank you in advance for helping to support small businesses that utilize various affiliate revenue sources such as this Amazon Associates program.

DIY Gifts for Pilots: Candy Airplanes

IMG_3760My husband got his pilot’s license about 2 years ago and loves to fly when he’s not tied down to a home remodeling project. So, this Valentine’s Day after seeing a friend’s Facebook post, I decided to make him a little “sweet fleet” of planes complete with a sparkly runway, of course (my jewelry biz is called A Touch of Sparkle by Monica after all)!

There are many ways to make these with Smarties, Lifesavers and gum, however, I opted to use up some leftover candy canes (from my 1st pink and blue Christmas Tree), Valentine Sixlets, gum, Dum-Dum lollipops (from one of my many candy bouquet projects) and “lumps of coal” Christmas chocolates.

Airplane label

You’re open to design these little planes with whatever you have on hand as long as you can secure them together to look like a plane. Since I used glue for my planes, I would not suggest allowing these as edible gifts for kids, but just as show treats. For edible gifts to take to school or for kids to dismantle and eat, please opt for a no glue method such as The Frugal Female’s linked blog post above using Smarties.

To see how I assembled the blue candy cane plane, please watch my video tutorial. The Sixlet plane is verbally explained in the vlog as well.

In addition to making the planes, I made an airplane themed Valentine card using Microsoft Publisher (is usually cheaper and included in an Office Suite) and a small sparkly runway out of brown card stock paper, a metallic silver Sharpie, some rhinestone heart stickers bought at the Dollar Tree, heart themed pink washi tape and double stick tape. I also created a “couple” of pilot owls from felt stickers purchased at Michaels, folded brown card stock and pink washi tape scraps.

Card and Runway collage

Very easy and cute project for kids and adults. Pilots will fall in love with this Valentine idea as well. Use up some left over candy to make a sweet gift for the pilot of your heart! Be sure to tag me #SparkleByMonica on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest or Instagram if you make these so I can see your crafty planes!

 

 

DIY Storage Gift for Crafters: Bead & Embellishment Tin Video Tutorial

Bead Tin Canva YouTube Thumbnail - final slideAfter taking a beading class several years ago, I wanted to share the sparkles about this little gem of a gift. A now dear friend of mine who taught the class, gave me a bead tin and even included a little pair of scissors with a darling bead dangle on it. I still use that bead tin and scissors to this day! I have also now made several more bead tins for myself, as functional gifts for friends and my own jewelry students. So, special thanks to Gloria for giving me this great gift idea!

Special tips:

  1. Using E-6000 jewelry glue instead of hot glue reduces your chance of lumps underneath the felt or beading mat (hot glue cools VERY quickly on the metal lid).
  2. For bead weavers, felt may snag on your thin beading needles. A better alternative is to cut your circle piece from a bead mat made of velvet, velour or foam.
  3. Lovely gift giving idea is to include a small pair of beading scissors and/or a few strands of beads for the recipient.
  4. Reuse, reduce and recycle by using up some of those clanky tins you’ve got cluttering up your kitchen cabinets!
  5. This is also a great gift idea for scrapbookers that attend scrap parties and swap embellishments.

Please watch the video tutorial over at my YouTube channel, give me a thumb’s up there if you like it and please SUBSCRIBE for more crafty content.

If you make this for yourself or as a gift for fellow beading or scrapbooking enthusiasts, please hashtag your photo #SparkleByMonica at Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest or Instagram so that I can see your designs! Have a sparkle-riffic Valentine’s Day and happy beading!

A Sparkletale…The Sparkly Beader

So…as usual…I’m late to the technical guru partay, but I have now officially tried my hand at iMovie via my lovely Rose Gold Apple iPhone 6S Plus. I must say that I think this little sparkly fairytale a.k.a. sparkletale turned out to be pretty cute.

Sparkly Beader Circle of Beads- 2I included a mix of current projects and past designs with a little help from some friends and maybe a cat or two. So, grab a frosty beverage and prepare to be sparkle-fied, my speeps (that’s sparkly peeps)! lol

Special thanks to my friends and family for allowing me to showcase some jewelry designs I made using their photos, as well as my previous models Joan, Amanda, Linda and Troop Tritapoe.

If you’ve previously received items from me as a gift or purchased them directly and would like to be included in future showcases, please hashtag #sparklebymonica at Facebook, Twitter or Instagram on a photo of you wearing the piece(s). Have a sparkle-riffic day, everyone!

2016 Planner Reviews and DIY Paper Clips

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I have FINALLY completed my 2016 planner review and DIY paper clip tutorial! This is my first vlog on this topic. I must admit to being a stationery addict, so planner and do it yourself (DIY) planner/ office supplies are favorites of mine. I missed Lilly’s August agenda notifications, so I’m once again only using mine Jan-Dec and missing those first few months of the academic year. It’s all good though.

This year, in addition to a new Lilly Pulitzer Wild Confetti Jumbo Agenda, I also snagged a copy of the Lisa Jacobs planner. 2016 Your Best Year is really more of a workbook for creative artisans and entrepreneurs looking to motivate yourself and accelerate your craft business. There have been some great inspirational tips so far in the workbook. I am already putting some of those planning strategies to good use as I re-vamp my handmade jewelry hobby into a full time business.

I’ve seen so many peeps making cute little paper clips for their planners and such. Since I make hair bows and also have a ton of ribbons and buttons for scrapbooking and jewelry making, I decided to include a few paper clip options that I made. Using glue and wire to attach lovely sparkles to the clips, I also tied lovely ribbon pieces and scraps to make those cute tails that will wave at me each day I open my planners.

Enjoy the stationery nerdfest by watching my video review and tutorial. Please remember to like and comment directly on my YouTube channel so I get correct stats in Google! Also, if you know anyone that might enjoy planning and paper clips, please feel free to share my video. Have a sparkle-riffic year, everyone!

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Sparkly website: http://www.sparklebymonica.com/

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Twitter: https://twitter.com/SparkleByMonica

Ten Things You Shouldn’t Say When Pricing Handmade Items| Re-blogged & Expanded

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I loved this article about handmade pricing issues. I make handmade jewelry and know that I have under priced many items. I began making jewelry for some party favors that quickly turned into a new hobby, which has now developed into a full time job and beading obsession!

Because I have mainly sold on Etsy until recently, my low pricing was a necessity because there is too much competition and dilution regarding jewelry items. For instance when I began, there were a gazillion Twilight charm bracelets. Today’s search only yields 223, of which only 1 of my designs shows on page 5 of 6. This is because I removed “Twilight” from my tags and titles to avoid trademark violations with that term (a topic for another blog post). Therefore a person searching for “Twilight charm bracelet” won’t see me in the search results because mine are tagged “vampire charm bracelets” or some other derivative.

Now that I’m transitioning from a hobby to a full time business and putting eCommerce directly onto my website, I am adjusting the pricing at my site. My new price formula will more accurately reflect a desirable hourly pay rate when factoring in my time. I will keep the same pricing of previously listed items at Etsy, but it will be the fresh pricing model for brand new items and collections directly on my site.

I think those of us that make handmade items get suckered into the feeling of offering “friends and family” pricing. We keep a hobbyist mentality, instead of using our business sense the same way that we do regarding regular hourly employment. This is either because of our own uncertainty due to inexperience and confidence or because customers complain about our items being too expensive. (This much chagrined statement comes to mind: “I can get this for $5 at Wal-Mart” – admit it…you’ve heard this one before). 

If you work for a business for more than a year, you generally expect some sort of raise in salary. In the handmade realm, however, you are responsible for pricing to include increases for cost of living, supplies, shipping, packaging, breakage, liability, overhead (if you sell at craft fairs or have a store front), etc. Too often we try to be the nice guy or maybe we’re just assuming a value (you know what they say about that)…and we undercut ourselves to the point of not making a genuine income. 

Research your industry, be vigilant about your SEO keywords, join handmade groups and communities to see what your peers are doing, read trade magazines and invest in training to increase your skills. By making yourself more skillful and knowledgeable, you can build your confidence to more accurately price your products, which in turn validates your authority to create a respectable income for yourself.

Have a sparkle-riffic day, everyone!

Source: Ten things you shouldn’t say when pricing handmade items | Life’s Big Canvas