Having a Small Business – Social Media Saga; Part 1

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This is a ongoing endeavor to learn about Social Media and how it will help my business.  In my research, it seems that everyone has it figured out and then they post / blog / twitter/ facebook / stumble / tumble / and gain links from it.  This is my story of going from Social Media idiot to (hopefully) figuring it out and being able to share some tips and encouragement along the way. 

I’d like to think I’m a reasonably smart person.  My household touts multiple computers, laptops, tablets, and smartphones.  My husband and I can reasonably get around Microsoft Office Products without intimidation – knowing that if we run into an issue with how to do a query in Excel or how to format something in Word, a Google Search is all that is needed.  Once entered, a YouTube Video, multiple online tutorials, or Microsoft Knowledge Base will pop up with a quick and easy solution.  We have a home server in our house and we (my husband – maybe I’m the weak link here) has hooked our TV’s and computers to it so we can access our photos from any device in our house including the AppleTV box, Sony Box, Xbox and DVD player.

I’m giving you this background so you know we aren’t total fools when it comes to technology… although this may be more telling for you tech savvy gurus out there than I realize.

According to Wikipedia (launched 2001), Facebook started in February of 2004; Twitter in March of 2006; LinkedIn 2003; Instagram 2010; Google+ 2011; Tumblr 2007; StumbleUpon 2002; and my favorite – Pinterest in 2010.

Ten years.  Facebook was launched just a mere ten years ago, and when the world found out that humans love to communicate – constantly – everyone jumped on the bandwagon.  As a small business owner, it seems like a do or die proposition.

In order to get my product out there, it seems that the Internet is saying to get on Social Media and have my voice be heard above the cacophony of voices screaming for the consumer’s attention.  At the same time, it seems as if my message is going out into the black hole of cyberspace, or like throwing money into a deep, dark, bottomless well without being able to hear the ‘plink’ of it hitting the bottom.

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This endeavor is daunting.  I also have a sneaking suspicion that I’m really annoying my friends on Facebook, my past business colleagues on LinkedIn, and (gasp) my kids friends on Twitter.  Add that to the postmodern mindset of “is this really making any difference at all?”  Kind of like the age-old question of “Why do we study Algebra/Trig/Calculus – we never use it in real life!”  that our kids query when asked to do their homework.

Status Quo of my Social Media outlets today:  Etsy, Facebook, Twitter, WordPress, Instagram, StumbleUpon, Pinterest, Tumblr and Google+.

Not that I understand how all these work – yet.  But things will get better!

Please post your comments and feedback!

Large Flap Handbag X 4

I made four large flap handbags this week and had a lot of fun putting the fabrics together.  I love that pop of color and that element of surprise and joy when you open something up and look into a pocket and see that extra pop, that hidden seam, that flash of color.

Maybe it’s just me.  I don’t know, maybe other people don’t get that little tingle up their spine when they run their fingers over a fabric and feel that nap, –that soft crushed velvet feel of the fabric that brings wonderment.

Oh, I think I’m gushing — over fabric.  Ok, here’s the bags that I’ve made this week.  I’ve put them on etsy and you can buy them here.  Or you can click on the pictures and it will take you right to the listing.

The first thing I do is go through my fabrics and figure out what I want to showcase on the front of the flap.  I then add coordinating and contrasting fabrics to go with it and cut out all the pieces.  Here they are all cut out and ready to go.

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Next is the sewing of them, and I do it somewhat assembly line style.  Do the same process for each bag so it kind of streamlines the process.  I will tweak the design as I go and change out fabrics or items as I need to in order to end up with the perfect piece.

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Here they are halfway through assembly – I’ve been listening to David Crowder Band and watching Parks and Recreation while I’ve been working on these items.  I LITERALLY love Parks and Recreation!  (Those of you who watch it will know what I’m talking about!)

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Here they are finished!

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And on my ‘mannequin’, or Dress Form rather.  The local habitat for Humanity was selling them for a steal so I got me one!  I’m going to have my husband take it off the flat base and put it on a skinny stand so I can design dresses and jackets with it!

I love to hear any comments or questions you might have!

Until next time,

Eyeglass Cases

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My friend L. asked me to make her some eyeglass cases for her booth Magrini Girlz, at Boomers Marketplace in Oklahoma City.  You can see more about her booth and the Marketplace here.

I made some and sent them to her – they were similar to these, although not exactly the same because I make every one different, somehow, some way.

 

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But guess what I forgot?  Padding!  They still work fine, but I made some with padding at her request and they turned out so much cuter, substantial feeling and… well just more professional looking!

Here they are as they are being assembled:

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Sitting in a jumble on my cabinet waiting to be boxed and shipped out…

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And here they are with the padding inside them!  Can you tell a difference?  I’ve posted these on my Etsy site, and they are available for purchase, as well as the ones above without padding.

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As you can see, I love a challenge, and to figure out how to make something not only good, but better than what’s out there – that’s what I do!

Using items that are already in circulation rather than buying new is also a great way to help our environment as well!

If you have any ideas of items I can make using scraps of fabric – please let me know!

Bohemian Tote Bag

IMG_4230The town of Williamsburg boasts it’s share of resale shops like Goodwill, Habitat for Humanity, CHKD, the DAV, along with numerous other stores that specialize in authentic Colonial Williamsburg antiques, Auctions and Estate Sales, and Middle to Higher End Furniture Consignment stores.

I love it.  There are some stores that I will hit at least once a week, if not twice.  When I need to get out of the house because I feel like the fabric, thread, sewing machines and notions are going to topple on top of me, I make a trip to a couple resale shops.

My main ones are Goodwill and Habitat for Humanity.  There are so many reasons why to shop at these places rather than at the typical places one thinks of when an item is needed — Everything that is bought at these stores keeps it from being thrown into a dump somewhere.  The money that is used goes for a good purpose – Habitat builds houses, and although I will research Goodwill more and post it in a later post, I DO know that they offer FREE classes on Office products, which you can check out here.

This Bohemian Tote Bag that I am selling on Etsy is made from items that I have found on my ventures out, along with new materials.  It is a HUGE, Sturdy Tote Bag or Diaper Bag which boasts tons of different textures and colors.  At Goodwill, I found this 80′s / 90′s style southwest jacket – Green, Rose Pink, Butter Yellow, and it was trimmed in like a hunter green twill all the way around.

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The front of the bag has two huge pockets that are made from the southwest jacket (of course, I did wash it first!) and used that same southwest jacket to make the flaps on the side pockets.  The side pockets are from an vintage wool sweater from Scotland (also found at goodwill).

wool sweaterIMG_4219I used the hardware from an old handbag, so the shoulder strap can be taken off if you don’t need it.

The blue Ikat fabric on the sides is from some cushions I made – for my swing in my back yard, as well as some cushions for my sister – in – laws kitchen.  The yellow background on the front is fabric from my Parisian Buttercup line, and the purple on the bottom is from my old Plum Crazy line of handbags / accessories.

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Catalog Pictures Spring ’09

RuthMichael Carrier(r), Pink Green Prepster

RuthMichael Carrier(r), Pink Green Prepster

The Carrier, One of our best sellers.  Load this versitile bag up with all your essentials for the day and stick it in the car and go.

RuthMichael Carrier(r), Tropical Bohemian

 Spring ’09 is all about bright colors!  Get ahead of the game with this eye-popping combination!  RuthMichael Carrier(r), Tropical Bohemian

RuthMichael Backpacks!

New Items for Spring, these Backpacks are amazing– there’s even a padded compartment for your laptop– Not to mention all those pockets! RuthMichael Backpacks!

My daughter draped in RuthMichael gear!

My daughter draped in RuthMichael gear!

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It’s a Keychain jumble!  New for Spring– RuthMichael is rolling out ID pouch Key rings as well as Cuff Key Rings!  Take your pick and carry your keys in style.

Check back for more pictures and more descriptions on new RuthMichael items!

All of us at RuthMichael hope that you had a great Holiday Season and that 2009 is just plain Amazin’!

–Ruth