Saturday, July 30, 2011

A Blue Treasury

My blue earrings have been included in a lovely treasury on Etsy. Have a look!

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Sandunga Farewell

Saturday night we attended the final performance of Sandunga, a wonderful local Cuban band that we've enjoyed many times in the past. Several band members are moving away and this was the last time they could get together. Unfortunately, we were sitting back a ways because tables had been moved to make room for the dancing and the stage lights were low, so my photos came out too dark.
I did get a flash pic of my dear husband David and our friend Vicki, sitting across from me at the table, however.

The music was absolutely great. All of the performers are amazing musicians: Will Hope on Cuban lute (laud) and guitar and vocals, Julian Norato on guitar and vocals, Tina Hope on percussion sticks and vocals, Eduardo Herrera on bass and vocals, Andy Miller on bongos and percussion, and Adam Walton on congas (later on, Cody Jensen sat in for a while on bongos).

You can check out the archives of Susan's Blog for earlier posts about this group with good photos. As explained in those posts, the "guajira son" music is sung in Spanish and is the music of the mountains and countryside of Cuba. You may know some of this wonderfully infectious sound from the DVD called Buena Vista Social Club.

Champaign-Urbana has an extensive Latino/a community from all over Central and South America and they turn out enthusiastically for Sandunga performances. Many the of the people know each other and they know the songs, often singing along. And there is always DANCING! People of all ages, men, women, and children, are all dancing their feet off the whole time. It is really fun to watch. I do a little in-chair dancing myself, despite the arthritis. It was so crowded because of the dancing that David could hardly get through to the restroom with his walker!

We will certainly miss this group. There's some hope for a reunion next July for a single performance, and fortunately we were at the CD release party recently and have the CD (check their Facebook site if you want to get one too).

Will and Tina will be going to Maine, where Will is going to be teaching anthropology (courses on Cuban culture and music); Andy is going to Columbia on a Fulbright grant; Julian and Eduardo are Columbian and may be going down there in the winter (?). Adam is staying here (he and his wife recently had twins). We wish them all well and thank them for some very enjoyable evenings of great music, singing, and dancing!

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Honey Bee Treasury

Here's another one of those lovely treasuries of photos from Etsy with honey colored items: The Quiet Bee.

The creator has kindly included my citrine stone earrings. Thanks!

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Suggestions for Etsy?

I haven't posted in a while, mainly because it is much too hot to take pics in the garden. Lots of daylilies are in bloom right now, and the annuals are practically bursting out of their containers with color, but the heat index is making it pretty miserable to be outside for more than a short time. We have been to a number of good jazz gigs, but I failed to remember the camera unfortunately. I promise a blog post for next Saturday's final performance of Sandunga, for sure.

So what's been happening on Beaded Jewelry by Susan, my Etsy site?
Well, for one thing, I recently sold and shipped this lovely pair of poppy jasper triangle earrings to a woman far away from Illinois in Blackwood South Australia. I've now had forty-four sales since the site opened at the end of April in 2009. So it's kind of difficult to assess what direction to take. Maybe you readers can offer some suggestions for future planning.

I used to do a number of shows, mainly outdoors, every summer for many years, which gave me an outlet for my earrings and necklaces and an excuse to add to the bead collection and to design and make more jewelry. But it got to be too difficult physically to continue and I sold my tent and other equipment year before last. Last year we tried doing a couple of indoor shows, but even that wasn't easy and we decided to quit doing shows altogether. I miss it, of course, because it was fun as well as being hard work and it was a good way to use up some of my inventory!

I've been maintaining 300 items on the Etsy site. I'm trying to balance the Etsy costs for listing with the sales that trickle in, and that limits the number of items I can keep showing. I probably have about three times that many pairs of earrings in my inventory that aren't yet on Etsy. No way I could even estimate how many beads I have that I'm still yearning to turn into earrings (and necklaces, of course, but they sell even more slowly, so I've temporarily stopped making them).

I am investigating having someone act as a sales representative for me, maybe selling at home parties, farmers market, or shows, but it's slow getting started and she isn't sure yet whether she wants to do it or not. Meanwhile, I lower the inventory a little bit by giving earrings to friends and as "tips" to folks who help us out at the grocery, gas pump, and restaurants. I do enjoy that and so do they--it's a nice way to say "thank you."

But sooner or later I need to make some decisions about the Etsy site. One possibility is to expand it and add more from my inventory or brand-new earrings yet to be designed. What do you think?

I also have a new camera and could take some new photos, but I haven't figured out how to make them small enough (it's a camera with lots of megapixels) to upload properly. Anybody know how to do that? Also, I've got some white foam board for making a little enclosure for better lighting, but haven't got that quite figured out either.

I'm happy that I have had a few more sales this summer and that they seem to be coming in from people and places far and wide, but I need more sales to justify expanding the listings very much. I know that jewelry, maybe especially beaded jewelry, is all over the Internet and so there is a lot of competition for getting people to your website.

Also, lots of stores have started importing inexpensive jewelry, usually made of plastic or poor quality materials that won't last, and selling it more cheaply than I can afford to with the stones, glass, crystal, and so on that I use. It's such a "throw away" society that people don't pay as much attention to quality and the idea of keeping things a long time as they used to, I guess.

In addition, the hobby of making beaded jewelry has exploded over the twenty-plus years during which I've been collecting interesting and unusual beads and designing with them. Everyone can learn to make jewelry, but it isn't always as easy as they think it will be to find the time to actually do it, to come up with a successful design, or to make something that doesn't fall apart the first time it's worn.

I suppose it's also a factor that people want to see jewelry in person, hold earrings up to their ears, etc. rather than shopping online. On the other hand, they do have the leisure online to read a detailed description of materials, view various photos (five for each Etsy item and the option to use the "zoom" for close-up views) of each item, and check through their closets at the same time for clothes that need matching jewelry.

I do mention my site on Facebook and I use Twitter whenever I get a sale. Does anyone have other ideas for promoting my Etsy site or thoughts about what direction I should take? Please comment if you have ideas for me. Thanks.