Somebody posted one of my soaps on the etsy facebook fan page, and in the space of 2 hours I sold 12 soaps. Wow! Even more so when you consider I started the day with 13 soaps ready for sale. :)

The timing is pretty good on this - Monday is the first-class shipping deadline, so I have plenty of time to prep the packages to go out, but then I don't feel any pressure to produce more before the holidays.

Lessons learned:
1. Advertising and/or social networking works! I also had a similar, although less dramatic, experience when I had an item on etsy's front page briefly. Definitely adding "get on facebook" to my new year's resolutions.
2. While I'm still finding my niche in general on etsy, the felted soaps are a big hit. I should definitely continue making these while I experiment with other items!
  • Current Mood
    happy happy

Introducing Two Bird Studios; Fremont Sunday Market report

As some of you (all 5 of you who read this :) ) already know, earlier this summer I started a craft business on the online craft marketplace etsy. (Our site is twobirdstudios.etsy.com. Go check it out. In fact, do so repeatedly - we'll be posting a bunch of new stuff over the next couple of weeks.) My partner is Ann, my neighbor, friend and fellow mom. Yesterday, we had our first live, as opposed to online, sales experience: we had a booth at the Fremont Sunday Market.

It was a really interesting experience. We'd decided to do it mostly to get the kind of feedback that you just don't get online. Some thoughts / observations / ideas:

  • We had hopes, but not high expectations, for the financial aspect of the day. And in terms of finances, it was close to utter failure. After subtracting the vendor fee, our net sales for the day totalled $24. Not even going to think in terms of breaking that down into an hourly wage.

  • The feedback we got was really positive. I conceed that the people who spoke to us were a self-selecting group, because folks weren't going to stop by and say our stuff is ugly, but lots of people were enthusiastic and complimentary. Their comments were what kept me smiling and upbeat through the dismal sales.

  • Another positive point, which was a surprise to me, was that we made several business contacts. We made direct or indirect contacts with Tottini, X Marks the Tot, and one other place I can't remember (Ann has our notes). We also met other etsians, including the organizer of Team EtsyRain, who was especially enthusiastic.

The demands of motherhood are calling, so it's time to wrap up for now. I've got lots of other thoughts about this experience and craft entrepeneurship, which I may or may not get around to posting here, including:
  • Our shoplifting false alarm

  • An introvert's thoughts on being a salesperson

  • Plusses and Minuses of doing shows/markets vs. online only sales

  • Crafty entrepeneurship: setting up a real business; mixing business (money) and pleasure (crafting for fun); time and energy commitments vs. business goals

Random musings: the start of an era?

Well, I've decided to start blogging again, mostly in the interests of recording and organizing my thoughts, and getting in the habit of nonfiction writing. I'll probably leave most posts public, but as I expect I have pretty much nobody following my non-existent blog, I'm really writing largely for myself.

The idea behind this is that I want to be working (even in the tiniest of ways) toward a more fulfulling life. That sounds ridiculously overblown. However, as much as you can make the argument that raising children is valuable work, and I'm not disagreeing with it, it leaves me with a lack of intellectual stimulation and a feeling that I'm not contributing to the world. This blog will hopefully allow me to externalize some of my thoughts, which in turn refines them. I may also pursue topics that may evolve into essays that I will share/publish elsewhere. Ultimately, I think I'd like to be a fairly serious science writer, but the best way get there is to write - anything, whether it is scientific or not.

My goal is to write something most days. This blog is a good place for fairly unfocused thoughts, but as time goes on I may also work on more structured essays that I will store locally until I'm ready to release them. I'm hoping that this writing, which may be as little as 15-30 minutes, will be a good wind-down from my day with the kids.

I don't expect to do much diary-style writing, although it may certainly creep in - there really aren't any rules here. I think I'll be talking about whatever has been on my mind lately, including anything from childraising philosophy to progress (or lack thereof) on current projects to stuff I hear on NPR.

Some upcoming topics may include:
    Educational philosophy and choices
    Frugality and bargain hunting
    Science and technology in the US, and my place in it
    Childbirth and parenting choices
    Crafting, with and without kids
    Entrepeneurship and small businesses

That's enough blather for tonight - time to get on with my evening. :)

Wool...lots of it!

A couple of days ago, I ran across a CL ad for free wool fleeces, so I said sure, I'd take a couple. So now I have 2 feed bags full of greasy, dirty wool that smells like sheep. (Actually, I kinda like the smell.) I've never cleaned a fleece, spun yarn, or dyed wool before - heck, I've only been knitting for a year. This should be fun - or at least interesting. :)

It's a new game...explain babyBot's behavior!

Twice in the last week, babyBot has walked over to me, carrying his music cube, and started crying. The first time I thought it was because the batteries were starting to wear down. (I couldn't get any batteries but the originals to work - but that's another story.) Today I ended up holding him in my lap while he played with the cube.

Could it be...
  • The batteries are running down, and it's bothering his sensitive ears?

  • He wants more music, classical or otherwise, to be played?

  • He wants to make music?

  • This has nothing to do with music - he just wants more attention?

There's a pocket universe in my kitchen...

...that only babyBot can access.

On Monday afternoon, I'd set his sneakers on the stepstool in the kitchen in preparation for a walk. As it turned out, he needed a nap instead, and I left the shoes there. Monday evening, I saw babyBot playing with them as I prepared dinner. Wednesday morning, they were nowhere to be found.

This perplexed me greatly over the following days. On Friday, I took him out for an exceedingly frustrating morning of shoe shopping. (He needed to have his feet measured anyway. FYI: If you're not up for either buying expensive shoes or fending off moderately aggressive salespeople, don't get your child's feet measured at Nordstrom's.) Friday evening, armed with the hard-won information of babyBot's shoe size, I found a real deal on some sandals and slip-on shoes online at Land's End overstocks, and I ordered them this morning.

As I was washing the dishes before lunch, I turned around and saw babyBot playing with the missing sneakers in the middle of the kitchen floor. I have no idea where he retrieved them from, and I swear that we had thoroughly searched the kitchen. Therefore, he must have hidden them in a pocket universe. QED.

The more things change...

This weekend, irrationalrobot and I started watching Smallville. As is typical with high-school dramas, multiple characters were struggling with who they here and what they want to do with their lives in a teenage-angsty kinda way. Along the way, however, I realized that I've got lots of the same issues (although hopefully less angst).

The existential questions of "Who am I?" and "What is my life for?" have been on my mind quite a lot lately, albeit frequently in a more general, third-person sense. [Side note: The fact that I have been thinking about these questions is a clear indication that I have too much time on my hands, or at least too much free brain capacity.]

Let's tackle the fist question first: How do people define themselves? (Which is not really the same question as "Who am I?", but humor me here.) I think most people define themselves in terms of externalities:
  • relationships (mom/wife/daughter/friend)

  • vocation (homemaker/writer/scientific something-or-other)

  • avocation (knitter, reader, gardener)

  • political and/or religions affiliations

It is of course, also possible to describe oneself in terms of one's traits: introverted, introspective, loyal, trusting. Interestingly, however, most of those adjectives actually describe how a person relates to other people. So while I'd love to say that I should be able to define myself in terms of myself, and not the people and world around me, that seems to be difficult, if not impossible. This actually does make sense, in a way - when defining anything, you must describe its relationships with other things. To do otherwise is nothing but self-referential

[>1 hr later]
Well, while I was musing about this existential crap, my darling son knocked over the diaper bucket, flooding the carpet with oxiclean- and pee-infused water. That should answer some of these questions for a while, at least on a practical level! (Thank goodness I'd washed his diapers yesterday afternoon - this could have been a LOT worse.)

Identity Crisis

This morning, I got an automated fraud alert call from my credit card company, saying that there was suspicious activity on my accouht. After verifying that I wasn't being phished (wouldn't that be ironic!), I reviewed the charges on my accound and found that indeed, I didn't remember a bunch of charges.

This really disturbed me (possibly more than it should have) for a couple of reasons. First, I was completely unsure of myself when verifying the charges. A bunch didn't ring a bell, but what if I'd just forgotten about them, or didn't recognize the merchant identifier? Or maybe I've been sleep-surfing? In an odd sort of way, I was doubting the reality of my spending habits.

This unease was resolved when I looked at my last statement and found a charge that resembled the fradulent charges - and a phone number connected to it. Turned out that it was Yahoo billing, and apparently there were web hosting services charged to my credit number. Much to my relief, Yahoo had independently suspected fraud and had already deactivated the services, although the refunds had not yet all go through. This made me feel less crazy - it was proof that there really was something bad going on, as opposed to me losing my memory.

That, however, brings up my other source of unease. This was a relatively minor case of credit card fraud, easily resolved, but it brings up the question of identity, particularly online. I don't think I do anything particularly foolish, but I do shop online. I tear up snail mail with identifying info on it before I toss it (although now I'm getting the shredder back out). How was someone able to impersonate me, even if only briefly? How vulnerable is my identity, and how do I make sure someone doesn't steal me from me again? When I talk to companies to resolve the fraud, how do they know that I'm the real me and not the fake me, and that I'm telling the truth? (It seems like it would be easy to deny a few real charges while identifying the fake ones.) And will they still believe me if this happens again?

P.S. As I was writing the last paragraph, I realize that I may be influenced somewhat by Nowhere Man.