Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Well!!... Did you think I fell in it!? It's been a little while since I posted on here!! Sorry to disappoint if anyone is a regular reader! :D I have been so busy making custom aprons, I have had no time to just sit and blog!

So now, I have had a bit of a reprieve, and I will try to catch you up a bit. I am very excited to let you know that we are leaving in 6 days to go and see my son who is graduating from ANG bootcamp in TX. He has done well for himself while there. He was made unit leader in less than two weeks of being there. And I just found out that he got a ribbon for his excellent marksmanship. Best in his unit with 49/50. WHOOT!!! I KNOW, it's all those Call of Duty type video games he played growing up!! SEE! They are not turning our kids' brains to mush!! Heehee! Anyway! I cannot WAIT to see him. I miss him SO much!!

In the meantime, I have been busy making a lot of custom aprons! That has been SO fun for me! I love the fact that people trust me to pick out fabric colors and styles for them!! Here are a few that I have made for some customers:

Matching His and Hers Apron Set

Toddler Chef's Apron

Hostess Apron

Full Apron with Mock Collar

Full Apron with Sweetheart Neckline

Matching Woman and Toddler Apron Set

Check out my website at annabelsaprons.com

~~Something that I want to start doing is featuring some of my favorite current items from some of my favorite shops on Etsy! I want to show first an item from a shop that was one of the first people that I met on Etsy back in Feb. who has become a good friend as well! Her name is Kim from AmongTheRuins

She has great items in her shop. This item is what catches my eye when I visit her shop:
Blue Seeds Cross Necklace
Hope you will visit her shop! Hey, maybe YOUR shop will end up on my blog! :D

Stay tuned for another full feature..coming soon!

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Good morning! As promised, I am featuring a fellow Etsy
artist who also happens to be from the great state of Wisconsin,
like myself! I met Michelle of MichellesClayCorner a few months
back in the Etsy chats, and found her to be a most pleasant person!
Funny, fun, and full of personality, just like her clay figurines!
I believe Michelle has a wonderful gift for bringing these little
figurines to life, as she molds and creates them. Each character
has a story to offer its happy owner! Read more about this talented
artist below and be inspired! And make sure to check out her
shop at http://www.etsy.com/shop/MichellesClayCorner

Ann: How long have you been making figurines, Michelle?
Michelle: I’ve always been interested in crafting various things
(floral arrangements, wreaths, painting wood and resin figurines) and
was looking for something else I could do. I picked up an instruction
sheet at the local craft store on how to make a clay figurine in the fall of 2007.
So I bought the supplies and made it.

I was so hooked on it right away! All these ideas started flowing through
my head on what else I could create! So I bought more clay, tools and some
books and kept going. The first ones I made were the gingerbread figurines
ice fishing…and I owe credit to my son who saw me using the toothpick to
create the eyes and mouth and I asked him what he thought the gingerbread
should be doing or holding…he said “fishing with that toothpick as the pole”.
How brilliant was that? So then we just kept coming up with other things
the gingerbreads could be doing and went from there. I still love when my
son will offer up an idea. I made lots of gingerbreads that year as Christmas
gifts for family. They loved them and encouraged me to continue.

Ann: What is your signature characteristic of your clay figurines?
Michelle: On my human figurines it’s the sitting position with the bare
feet and the toes. When I first started making angels, I made one or two
without the toes and it just wasn’t the same! I also think the hair is a
signature characteristic. I do not use any molds to create any part of my
figurines and do not use a clay extruder for the hair either. I cut each strand
and twist it before attaching it to the head. It’s very time consuming but
very natural looking. Each one comes out differently and the hair styles will
vary on each figurine because I create it as I go along.

Ann: How much time do you devote to your craft?
Michelle: It really varies. Although I have a lot of figurines that are
ready to ship, the majority of my sales are for custom orders. I think
people see what I have and get inspired to have me create a one-of-a-kind
figurine for them. I do love the challenge of a custom order! People will
send me photos of their kids and tell me to make a figurine that looks like
them or give me a few features the figurine needs to have like eyeglasses,
a hat, a pet, etc. and have me incorporate that into the figurine. Custom
figurines can take anywhere from 2-5 hours to just sculpt out of clay. Then
I have to bake them in my oven to harden the clay, let them cool, glue
delicate pieces, add accessories, paint on a protective seal, let that dry
and then package them up carefully for shipment. I enjoy the challenge and
even more so the reaction of the customer when they receive their figurine!
I look forward to reading the positive feedback and convos after someone
receives their order. I’ve even had a customer send me a convo after her son
opened one of my figurines as a gift just to tell me how much he loved it!
Making people happy makes ME happy! To know that I created something
unique and special for them pleases me to no end!

Ann: What was the process of you deciding to sell your figurines on Etsy?
Michelle: Well, after all the encouragement to continue making more
figurines, I started making lots of them….and….well…didn’t know what
to do with them all! There are only so many you can display, store away
and give away! So I tried selling them at a craft fair in the winter of 2008.
Unfortunately, there were too many “window shoppers” that year and not
enough buyers. But the compliments kept my spirits up. Then in early 2009
my mom saw an episode of the Martha Stewart show where a lady was
selling her handmade goods on Etsy and she told me I should check it out.
So I logged on to Etsy.com and saw all the fabulous things people were
making and selling. I read all the seller’s tips, do’s and don’ts, and researched
other shops. After careful consideration I thought, “I can do this!” and
started taking photos of all my figurines and coming up with descriptions
for them. I found my old Paypal account and “wah-la!” I was in business baby!

Ann: What are some marketing strategies you have used and
Michelle: I am frequently on my computer so I always answer my
Etsy convos promptly and join the Etsy chat rooms to talk with other
sellers. I also try to stay connected with people through my business
page on Facebook (http://www.Facebook.com/MichellesClayCorner).
I offer periodic discounts to my Facebook fans so that encourages them
to “fan me” and then my page shows up on their Facebook page and their
friends will see it so the advertising potential is great. Some other things I’ve
done include obtaining free business cards through Vista Print
(http://www.vistaprint.com) ... just pay shipping, ordering business cards
from MOO (http://www.moo.com ) with photos of my figurines on the front
of the card and contact info on the back (the cards are high quality and an
excellent selling tool), using an e-mail signature with my Etsy website for all
messages I send out, creating flyers with photos of products and business
cards attached to have friends and relatives display at work, tucking business
cards in magazines on airplanes, doctors offices, salons, placing several
business cards in boxes with each order that gets shipped out, and giving
figurines as gifts to my hair dresser, teachers, coworkers and include several
business cards with it so they can help me advertise.

Ann: What advice could you give to new online artists?
Michelle: Well, I think totally loving what you do is the most important
thing. If you truly love what you create, you will put the time and effort into
the work involved in marketing and selling it. If you’re trying to figure out
what exactly to sell, you’ll need to find a unique niche which can be difficult
to do. Offer personalization or customization if you can. I find that is very
popular with my customers. You have to be a good communicator with your
customers and very prompt with returning e-mails and the turnaround time
from order to shipment needs to be quick. Pay special attention to packaging
your product to insure it arrives in perfect condition and looks appealing
when it arrives. It’s fun for the customer to open a well-packaged item and
see the care that went into it. A nice note and some coupons to return to your
shop or a little extra something is always great too. Be creative and always
add that personal touch. Your customers can’t get that from a big retailer, will
appreciate your efforts and will be back for more or pass the word (and your
business cards) to other people. Also, don’t get discouraged easily. It took
me 3 months after listing my first batch of figurines before I sold one thing!
The more I talked to people and looked at other shops, the more I learned
about what types of figurines I should offer, how to price my items, etc. I
sought the advice of experienced Etsians in chat or in forums who helped
guide me. I also had another Etsian create a professional banner for my shop.

Ann: What is your goal for your business or yourself in the next 10 yrs?
Michelle: Wow…a whole 10 years hey?!? I love clay sculpting so think
that I will continue to do this for many years to come. I hope to find a
local shop that will sell my products and possibly start up my own website
as well…and, of course, to continue selling on Etsy. I would like for my son
to get involved and create clay characters to sell with me one day. I want to
be putting smiles on people’s faces for a very long time and hope to be
immensely happy with whatever life brings me.

Thanks so much for doing this, Michelle!
I wish you well in your business!


Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Good morning! Hope you all are doing well! :D

I have really grown to appreciate the handmade market! Before I joined Etsy, I was mostly a big box store shopper (hanging head in shame). But now that I have seen the light, I have made a commitment to buy as much handmade as possible, for my self and for gifts! I am going to try to feature other handmade artists so we all can enjoy their work and hopefully expand the market together. My first featured artist will be a local here in my own state. So, be watching for her soon! (It's a surprise, so stop asking) ;)

In the meantime, please look at a few of my new aprons! I have been very busy as of late. With that big order and a lot of custom orders, my Etsy shop has gone from 70 items for sale, down to 40. So, I have been trying replenish my inventory. I have a craft fair this weekend too, so I am trying to stock up for that. Yikes!

Stay tuned...

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Good Day! Hope you are doing well!

Well as promised, I am going to blog a spot about my dear daughter, Syd! She is my model for my aprons. I am so lucky!! Not only is she beautiful, but she has absolutely the best personality and disposition ever! I have never met a more contented, and assured person in the world! She is my gift from God!! (I think that way about all my kids)...ok, I'll stop! hehe!

So, I have had a remarkable week! Not only did I get 6 custom apron orders, (pausing to glory in that)...but I got an order of 15 aprons for a fund raiser in California. Here is a spot about it:

"Banteay Srei is a youth development, asset building organization that is non-judgmental of young Southeast Asian women who are at risk of or engaged in the underground sex trade. We seek to provide the resources that support their healthy development through self empowerment and self determination."

So, every year they do this fund raiser selling aprons and including recipes to complete a sweet package for the recipient. I am very honored to be participating in a fund raiser like this. If you would like to contribute, just let me know, I can get you hooked up.

I'm excited that my business is growing! Thank you, God!

Here are some pics of a couple new aprons~

Stop by annabelsaprons.com or annabelsaprons@etsy.com

So, after posting my blog, my daughter, who I DID mention was the most contented person in the world, informed me that this blog was unfair!!...for my son, there were pics. And yes, I do have pics of her, but she wanted one of her NOT modeling aprons. And she also stated that I wrote much more about my friend Moranda than I wrote about her....
So, I am here to edit my blog post!

A very wise person told me that you should say 20 nice things to help build someone up!
Syd, this is for you! I love you, dear!! You know I love you more! You are amazingly smart! And thoughtful! And generous!! And SWEET! And welcoming to strangers! And very stylish! And a BIG help in the kitchen! And a great companion! And a wonderful encourager! And oh so funny! And fun to chill and watch movies with! And a graceful dancer! And you have a pure heart! And you have a heart for your friends! And you have the most beautiful HAIR! And your skin is like the most beautiful bronze tan! (ARE YOU MINE?) And you are a great fish caretaker! And you are the best chocolate cake baker! And you are fun to talk to! (love your imagination~dragons and magic mushrooms)! And you are my best friend!

And best friends are always there for each other!! They never get mad! Even when one posts a pic like this:

Love you, Babe! muah!! xoxo!

Friday, November 13, 2009

Ok!!! I am so excited, I can hardly stand it!! I wonder if this will wear off?! But for now... I'M SO EXCITED!! LOL!

Anywho, I am finally finished...well almost, with my very own website!! I made it myself, and I am very proud of it! I'm sure it's not the most eye catching or has the most "wow" factor, but I guess I don't care! It is "me". So, if you have some time, I would love for you to check it out!

Thanks, in advance! And btw, I am gonna be making a blog post soon about my darling daughter, so...watch out world!! haha!! Hey, I wonder if you are able to tell I am just a little nutty!

Here is the web address:

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Good evening everyone! Hope everybody is doing great! I don't have any aprons to post, but I wanted to introduce you to my very, very, favorite....well almost favorite girl in the world!! My daughter is my favorite! But this girl is my second favorite girl in the world!

Her name is Moranda! But she goes by Mory, Mo, Noramba, M, and more I suppose, but I call her Mory...so endearing!

I met her on a mission's trip last year, and we have been best buds ever since. We talk EVERY day, multiple times a day, even though she is going to school in Florida!! :( ..so far away!!
Thank God for unlimited texting..and yes, we got that package after me and Mory met, because she is a textaholic. Which by the way is how she got to know my son. :D, who also is a textaholic! haha!

So, now Mory and my son, the one who went into the air national guard, are "good friends" ..lol!! *wink! and my hope, upon hope is that one day...well, i better not go there...hehe!

So, here is a pic of my friend, Mory!! And in this way, you just got to know just a smidgen more about me! More to come!

Talk soon!

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Good Sunday Evening to you! I thought I would take a few moments to let you all know what's going on in my world.

On Tuesday, our third son, left the nest and started a new chapter in his life...in the military! When he left for boot camp, we knew we would not hear from him for a couple days, and when we did, it would be from a scripted phone message, basically just to let us know he was safe, and to give us his address. After two days of not hearing from him, I was becoming ever so slightly concerned. (understatement!) Because, on Thursday, news broke of the mass killings at a military base in TX, which is where he is stationed. Thank the Lord, he is NOT on that base, but is not far from it. I am assuming all bases were on lock down after the incident. So, on Friday, bright and early, he DID finally call, and he is safe, and sound! Now that we have his address, letters from us and his gf are shooting out to him. I guess you could say there might be a little contest to see whose he gets first. He will be gone until June of next year. Oh we will miss him!! But we get to see him in Dec. at his graduation! I'm told that if I think I cried a lot at him leaving, just wait until his graduation!! Oh boy!! *buying stock in Kleenex now*

Here is a before and after pic of him...
I think I like HAIR better...sorry, Trey! ;)

So, life goes on, I suppose! I have been sewing along, and getting ready for a show in Dec. Here are a couple of new half aprons. These sweet aprons are for sale on Etsy for $28. Check 'em out!

I'm really super excited to let you know, I am making my own Annabel's Aprons website. I have been hard at work creating it. I spent all day last week re-shooting pictures of my headbands that will be available for purchase on there. Here are a few of them.

Long Tie Headband

Expandable Headband

Twist Tie Headband

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Oh what a beautiful morning! Oh what a beautiful day!..etc... *singing*

I figured that will help me out just a bit. I need to deter my mind! I just sent my 18 yr. old son to boot camp on Tuesday! :( Cried just a lil'.....fine! I CRIED A LOT, OK?!

Hopefully I get to hear from him today, to let me know he made it ok, and to give me the address to write and send things. But it is a scripted message. I can't talk to him at all! So, I have to make sure I carry a pen and pad of paper with me at all times to write it when he calls. Anyways, I AM so very proud of him, and his decision to do this! I know it is a huge character growth time...probably for all of us!

On the productive side of things, I have made a couple of custom craft aprons for some customers, and wanted to show you how they turned out.

This vendor apron is for a customer who sent me the fabric, and that is all. It was fun to design it. The back is lined with the red fabric too, just to give more sturdiness. I think it turned out pretty cute.

This one is for a customer in Sweden. My first overseas customer! Yeah! She also bought a smock shirt using the red flowery fabric.

Check out my shop for more from Annabel's Aprons! And thanks for following!!

Friday, October 30, 2009

Good morning to all you wonderful people! Wonderful, in that you manage to follow my blog, even though I neglect it terribly! I just can't seem to come up with anything creative to say! I'm not a writer, so I struggle with feeling like I need to keep your interest! But if you have time, and can manage the slightest interest in what my world is like, then continue on!

Have you heard the statement, "necessity is the mother of invention"? Well, because of the economy fallout, our construction business, of 22 years, has gone into the drink. Not ONE call since last Oct. '08. Ah, necessity! We still found it necessary to eat, to pay for our dwelling,...etc. Our lack of income did not change that very simple fact!

So, my mind has been wheeling, my thoughts have been churning! What can "I" do to help with this grave situation? I have always been creative, (a God thing I think) and throughout the years I have been drawn to color, whether in the form of custom art, painting, interior house design,...whatever...now, more recently, with textile. Oh, I LOVE textile!! This has sparked something in me, that I am now thinking, what can I do with textile that could possibly turn into being a viable contributing factor in our finances?

My invention? I developed these "Lucy" Bands, I call them. Headbands that are encased with wire, so you can twist them on, kinda like what Lucille Ball wore back in her day. So, they are a little retro in style, while using coordinating fabrics for a reversible feature. I'm not sure that I am the originator of the idea, but I certainly have not seen them anywhere else.

You can wear them twisted up at the top of your head for the full "Lucy" look. Or you can twist them at the base of your head and conceal the twist tie, for a more modern, sophisticated look. Either way, they are super comfortable, and add style to your wardrobe!

The look? Fun or Sophisticated!

I'm really hoping this idea will take off, and many people will find this little invention something they must have! "Necessary", if you will! Sold for $10, they are quite a deal! Being reversible, it's like having two headbands in one!

Check out my store on Etsy for more fabric choices! Don't forget, I can custom make them with ANY fabric choice. Just let me know!

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Yes, I have been busy yet again, sewing some cute novelty aprons! Sometimes I can't stop myself! I get so excited about the possibilities when I first see the fabric in the store, I have to buy it, and get home and make it right away! Nothing stops me until I have it in my etsy store. Someday, I'm gonna chronicle my adventures, and show pics of the process! I'm pretty sure you will feel the same excitement that I feel after you see how it all goes down! ;) In the meantime, here are my newest aprons! Check out my store for more from annabelsaprons@etsy.com

Vintage Christmas fabric, with checked pockets and lining

Chicken and egg fabric

Fall Charlie Brown fabric

Beautiful multi colored circle fabric
with black and white accent color

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

New Items and Some Custom work

Hey there! Wow! I have made ANOTHER entry in my bloggie! I'm so proud of myself.

It seems as of late, I am making quite a few custom orders! YEAH! I wanted to show you what I have been doing...

This apron is for a very petite woman looking for a classic style. She loves black and white, with a splash of red. I felt I needed to stay with the black and white fabric, while adding red buttons, giving it just enough accent. I think it turned out pretty nice!

I thought this was the cutest.... A customer had bought the little girl's chef's apron for her daughter for Christmas, and was wondering if I could make a matching apron for her American Girl doll. I was so happy to find I had just enough of the fabric in my own stash to make it. They no longer make the fabric anymore. So here is the cutest matching apron set in the WORLD! Hahah..ok..I'm not sure about that...but in MY world it is! :D

Here is my model in the new hostess apron. I think she fills it out well! It is now listed on Etsy. Take a look!

I have also been making some sweet headbands. The very popular twist tie headband in some new fabric choices...

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Custom Orders

My new hostess apron! Could this be my new signature apron?

Ok, so I have been making some more custom aprons! It's been very fun picking out fabric based on what people are looking for! Here are some things that I have been doing:

This apron was made a few months back and I was getting concerned it wouldn't find a home, even though it had many hits and quite a few hearts. So, along comes a potential buyer who had asked if she could get pockets on it, and walla, my sweet apron was sold.

Another Custom for Cootiepants. She wanted one to match her store banner, consisting of these colors, and stripes and polkadots.

This one was made for a teacher who wanted something fun to wear during school! I think it fit the bill.