Monday, November 30, 2009

Retro Seasame Street

These are the videos that I grew up with as a kid. I LOVED the old school Sesame street and even as I kid I understood that there was something awesome going on with the songs and the writing and the subtle humor. Then Jim Henson left us all and it changed forever. At least we have these classics to remember him and how great it used to be. Gotta love the 80's!







Remember when Sesame street was actually cool and funky?
What happened?





Saturday, November 28, 2009

Simpilfy Your Life, Simplify Your Business

The same principles that are used for simplifying your life can be used for simplifying your business. Yes in a business you can have too much clutter, too much to procrastinate about and feel overwhelmed trying to manage it all.

The last few months I've taken a break from craft fairs and had time to re-evaluate what I was actually selling and what were my issues I needed to deal with. My business is too much all over the place! I'm a crafty chick, I like making things and my business is suffering because I can't focus and I keep going off to the next big thing.
Here are some things I figured out.

You don't have to sell EVERYTHING you make.
Just because I sell handmade and make handmade items doesn't mean I have to sell everything I am good at making. A business needs focus and your customers will get confused. They want to be able to tell people to come to you! But how can they do that if they can't remember exactly what you DO sell? In the next year if I want to make something cool I will make it with the thought that it will be for fun and not for business. These extra projects can be gifts and additions to my decor in my own home. Maybe they will lead into something but I am going to stop myself from adding to my already too large product line. Make these projects gifts for loved ones. Everyone loves getting presents and then you don't have to keep it cluttering up your home!

Are you making what your CUSTOMERS want or what YOU want?
I thought a lot of the things I made were really cool but I don't think the general public thought the same way. I am going to discontinue a lot of products because I need to focus on the ones that are connecting with people and the ones that are duds just have to leave. I want to make bags and toys and coloring books and a whole stationery line. I think those things would hinder me right now. I'm not a one stop shop. I need to SPECIALIZE.

How much work is your display?
My whole setup was taking longer and longer. I had too many elements that were taking tons of labour just to get ready to show. All that time really stresses you out and causes you to not be able to enjoy yourself. I really need to reduce my stress if I'm going to tackle running a whole business by myself. SO that means finding out things that stress me out and ways I can make them easier on me. By simplyfing my product line and taking out products that were too time consuming to display I cut down my workload in the morning significantly. Less stuff to set up also means LESS WEIGHT! You wouldn't beleive how heavy it gets loading your containers of wares back and forth, back and forth. I also had displays that didn't compact into just one container. My garment racks are going because they always fall off my cart and take forever to put together when I get to the show. They also take up extra room. I am eliminating a lot of small items because they take up time to spread out and take up too much room as well. Also when you have a lot of small items you have to sell a lot more to make your quota. It ends up being a lot of work for a small amount of profit in the end. My stickers and buttons will still be around but most items will be giveaways and I'm working on re-packaging them so they are in bundles not just individually. Simplify!

My new display takes up half as much space in my car and weighs significantly less than my other set-up. This will be easier on my car, my loads to my spot, my stress in the morning and tear down at night when I'm tired and grumpy.

Specialize your product
My biggest problem was I was too scattered with what I was selling and making. This lead to so much clutter in my craft room and I was storing so many different materials. Now that I have simplified I can eliminate a lot of my extra materials and pass it on to someone else that needs it. I have been giving away loads of materials and donations to SCRAP. Being focused on a few products also means I can have great quality control and really work on being the best at what I do. I will stand out from the crowds of crafters and not look like a big copy cat, crazy crafter lady.

So at the end of this I have more room in my craft area. I have a simplified business goal and product. I can focus on what I do best and not waste extra time and money on products I shouldn't be selling. I am making my job easier on myself in the long run so I can have more fun at shows and sell a really great product. I am proud of my new display and can't wait to show it off!

I have learned so much this year. There is still so much to do and so much to asorb. I ask a lot of questions. I listen to my customers and I try to be the best at what I do. I also want to be HAPPY and that means less stress when possible. I'm the happiest I've been in years and working my ass off every day. Days like this one remind me that I have grown and I look back and I'm awed at how far I've come. It's always a struggle but at least you can look back and see how far you've climbed up the mountain.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Custom Hats


Introducing Toya and Spoon! My friend Stephen Poon commissioned me to make a hat that looked just like his dog Toya so he could wear it for halloween. This was my first time attempting such a project and I think it came out great. There will be another one on the way that we are going to try to get the fur color closer to the color of Toya's fur and bigger ears.

What does Toya think about it? He is still undecided.

Do you have a favorite pet you would like a hat based on? I can totally hook you up.
Also I think Toya should be my new hat model. So cute!

Stephen is also a great glass artist and jewelry designer. You can see his work here: www.unikojewelry.com
Also Toya is a youtube fan and you can see his videos here: www.youtube.com/user/iknowspoon

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Creatures Amongst Us



Beautiful and magical.
Found via flickr by davidwallace.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Crafting for Money or Passion?

I've spent most of my night listening to the podcasts over at Crafty Pod for a night of refocusing and resting. Her podcasts are really inspirational to me. It's a good way to end this week which has had a lot of ups and downs.

This podcast interviews Paul Overton of Dudecraft where they discuss crafting for money or passion. I would recommend a listen! It was also inspired by his post about Soul Motivation.

Over the past year I've been battling this very question. I did a lot of trial and error with different products. Most of it never sold or just took WAY too much time to make. I didn't know what I enjoyed making either. I knew I had a style and I had my art but I didn't want to make a living making 2d paintings. I wanted something physical with personality that could be used in every day life. Just art on a wall didn't appeal to me, I needed more. This journey has led me to learn screenprinting and set up a home studio. It was difficult for me to learn at first and very frustrating but rewarding once I got the hang of it. It never really resonated with me though. I enjoyed making the designs but not the process of printing. So I have started the process of farming out this work so I can concentrate on what I really like to do.. design my illustrations.

Then this year I discovered animal hats. I've always had a curious obsession but never let myself even OWN a cat hat. I thought if I did it would cement the fact that I was a total weirdo and people really wouldn't take me seriously in the least bit. I was embarrassed too, I'll admit that. Then there is the fact that I've seen other people making these hats and I thought there was too much competition. Then a coworker gave me my first hat. That one hat inspired me so much that I spent the weekend sewing like a crazy fiend and the next week I showed up with three more hats of my own. I am a weirdo.. I'm not afraid of that part of me anymore. I embrace it.

The magic of these hats is that I really enjoy making them. It's different than painting or drawing. It's physical, it's personal, it's creating a creature and bringing something to life. I'm already a little animal monster inside and put a hat on me and that part of my personality emerges. I LOVE THESE HATS. I love my monsters. I love making other people turn into monsters and wolves. A animal hat makes you happy, you can't help but feel warm and safe when you wear one. As a hat maker I get to keep all the prototypes and best of the bunch. I have a big collection I can switch out for my different moods and match outfits. It's fun!

I think what was missing before was this magic mojo. To truly succeed you need to be passionate about what you are doing. I was passionate about my artwork but not my shirts. I am SO passionate about my hats. They are totally me! Ask anyone that knows me!

I love making custom orders. I love getting emails with customer photos. I totally am geeking out on this you guys!

I found my mojo. I found the heart of it all. I make people smile, I make people happy. I give them something that will make them feel fabulous and special.

So is it about the money or the passion?

That's a hard one. I do need the money to keep on going. I wouldn't be able to live if I didn't make an income. I think though my business has always been about more than just making some cash. I am trying to connect to something deeper but it also means I have to understand who I am as an artist. What purpose does my art serve? Who is it really benefiting? Is is a bunch of crap no one wants? My art makes me happy and I am expressing my inner light. I've had a lot of crap happen to me in my life and I am a survivor. I learned to laugh and try and smile through it all. My teachers in high school were always commenting on me smiling so much. I was sad inside but I want to be happy so I concentrate on the good not the bad.

My art is a connection to that happy part of me that is still a child. My art is my imagination, my playtime, my Prozac. My hats are the same thing. I want to share that happy playful feeling with my customers.

As I grow my business I need to remind myself that it's about the passion not the cash and concentrate on what really matters. I'm having fun and I finally found something that I really enjoy making. I would be so happy to have a troupe of happy monsters following me around. The new lolly-tots monster pack!

Well now I'm off to listen to more podcasts and dream about the future! Thanks for reading everyone. I enjoy sharing with all of you.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Tough Bull



I just love this photo. Hey cows can be tough right?
Available in my shop here.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Fuzzy Cat Hats

It's almost 2 am in the morning. I have been up all night editing photos and posting new hats to etsy. Today was almost a perfect day even though it started out like total crap. I stayed up WAY too late listening to books on tape and sewed my ass off till the wee hours of the night. I was SO tired the next day I could barely keep my eyes open. I went to my day job for a few hours in the morning to find that there was no work for me. That was good though today because I went home, took a nice hot shower and shook off the dread and started my day all over again. As I dried off the cloudy skies parted and full sunshine filled the window and the whole entire house. It was so beautiful and sunny and I was fresh and clean. TODAY is going to be a good day goddammit!

My brother came over for the day and we took a ton of photos of hats and he was an awesome model for me and took some great photos. It's great having my bro here because we just get each other without having to explain. It's subtle and hard to explain but we are both weirdos and it doesn't take much for me to get a good photo out of him. We also shot some great videos (see below). My friend M stop by and passed on a couple boxes of yarn I had cleaned out of the craft room and she picked up some art and ordered a custom hat! It was such a great way to spend the afternoon. Taking photos, being goofy, meeting with friends, talking shop. Sometimes I get hit with a wake up call that reminds me I'm living life how I wanted. It's a free open schedule and sometimes it's scary because I don't know where my next paycheck will come from but it's MY life and it's full of awesomeness.

So without further ado here are my new hat styles this week! All available in my shop here: http://lollytots.etsy.com



Tuesday, November 17, 2009

New Youtube Channel!

Me and my brother pat made some videos today. It all started with our photo shoot. (I'll be sharing those awesome photos later this week) I've been working on this new channel for a couple days and throwing the idea around. My brothers Jake and Pat used to do a lot of funny videos on ElliottBros and Jake's channel. I'm reviving this idea and bringing it to Portland. They made most of their videos when Jake and Pat were living with my mom and years ago when they were in highschool. So I'm taking that comedy talent and putting a new spin on it! Now I must warn you that we are just having FUN and we are total dorks. This is just another creative outlet and I hope it amuses some people and gets my hats out into the world of the internets. Enjoy!

Oh and you can check out my brother Pat's comic here: www.thedinomytes.com if you want to learn more about him and his kick ass art!





Monday, November 16, 2009

Squirrel and Cow hat!

New hats in my shop today. I am so excited to reveal the cow which I've had around for a while but sold out of and didn't ad to my shop till NOW! I love the cow.. it's sweet and kind. Find it in my shop here.



Also so happy to reveal the Squirrel hat which was requested on etsy by a lovely customer. Find it in my shop here.



The inspiration for this hat was the costume shown on the show "Community" Don't you just love the giant acorn she had? You can watch the full episode here. That episode perked my interst and then conveniently afterwards a customer on etsy messaged me about replicating those ears! yeah! I kinda want to make the giant acorn too..




Yes I realize I'm a complete dork.

You know you love it!!

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Kittenpop Photography


I had the pleasure of meeting Grace this last month through my Foundations class at Mercy Corps NW. She recently started an etsy shop called kittenpop.etsy.com You can find more of her work here.

Beautiful work! Worth a peek.

Friday, November 13, 2009

New Aprons in the shop!


I have had these aprons around for a while and been meaning to put them up in my shop. This pattern was developed by me and my mom when she was visiting me one weekend. I really wanted a button strap that looked big and chunky. The pockets are great and right at arm's length. The ties in the back fit all heads and bodies with no uncomfortable velcro closures.

Available in my shop here and here and here.



They would be great gifts for christmas! I can put together custom designs as well and I've done versions with bears and bunnies. I'm working on getting more into my shop but this is what I have for now.

Grandmas, great for grandkids! Awesome gift for nieces or nephews!

Wolfy Family

This order was by far my favorite this Halloween. I rushed out a whole set of wolfy hats for Mama, Papa and little baby wolf. The arm and leg warmers was an experiment and I think they came out great! I just love getting these photos and it gives me great satisfaction that everything looks great and fits like I thought it would.

Thanks Kristi for sending in the great photos!








Do you have any photos you would like to send me! I would love to post them in my blog and website! Show your lolly-tots pride and be a star.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Black Teal Cat/Wolf Hat

This is my new favorite hat! I love the feel of the fleece it's so warm and comfy like you head is getting hugged all day. I have also been testing out the pull ties and you can wear a hat like a hoddie and pull it off and have it resting on your shoulders. It stays in place pretty well even un-tied but you can tie it in a loose knot for safety.

Available in my shop here: http://www.etsy.com/view_listing.php?listing_id=34357169



This style also looks great on guys too. Johnathon will demonstrate.

John from work tried it on too! Haha your photo is on the internet! I hope this doesn't damage your "reputation".

Blue Billy Goat Hat


New hat today! I'm so excited to finally get some photos of this design. I was going for more of a general monster look but it ended up looking like a billy goat or cow.
Available in my shop here: http://www.etsy.com/view_listing.php?ref=vl_other_2&listing_id=34355722


Some people said it looks like Paul Bunyan's Babe. What do you think?


Fun around the office!


Great on kids too!

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

More Tiny houses

Now I'm obsessed!

From my hometown of Portland, Oregon




Watching these videos inspires the builder in me. It's like building a fort except you can live in it all the time! I know it's not a simple thing and it would take a lot of planning and work. I just love the idea of using and spending less. It would be worth it in the long run.

I have something to save for now. Seriously this has really inspired me.

Tumbleweed Tiny House company is based here in Portland, Oregon. See the website here: www.tumbleweedhouses.com and his cool blog here: www.tumbleweedhouses.com/blog

Tiny Houses


At the boom of this housing bubble I was feeling very frustrated that I would never be able to own a home. There was no way I could afford to pay 300,000 for a run down home that would still need money put into it. I have a limited income and I don't want to have to push myself that much just so I could afford something. If I worked all the time I wouldn't be able to enjoy it anyways! My goal in life is to work LESS and enjoy life MORE. I want to be around my family, be able to work in the garden, have leisure time to enjoy nature, have time to work on crafts and build my business. I don't want to be stuck in a office to afford things I don't need anyways.

Now that the housing bubble has burst I started to think again that maybe it was possible I could afford a house. Then I saw the work that went into fixing up a house that would be in my price range.. it's still a LOT. What I really want in a dwelling is not just a house but I want land and a farm and a place away from the pressures of the city. I want an escape.

Have you ever heard about tiny houses? After reading about this housing movement I have been re-inspired. Home ownership may be a simpler thing than we once thought.
Check out the tiny house blog



I already live in a tiny space and I follow the practice of simple living and try and keep my personal items to a minimum. I could see myself easily transitioning into a dwelling like this. Perhaps home ownership is not that far from my grasp?

I'm thinking saving up enough for a downpayment.. say around 20,000 - 30,000 could be used to buy land and have one of these houses built. It that a real possibility? Mix that with what I've been watching with homes built from from recycled materials and I may have my dream home full paid for in the same amount that someone would just use as a downpayment.

Now this might work for me because I'm a single person with simple needs. I don't need lots of space and I don't have kids or animals to think of. That would all increase the space requirements. Then there is my business. I would LOVE to make a nice compact studio with tons of storage. It could work right? With the right kind of modifications for my needs..

It gets one thinking!

Check out these other videos I found about using recycled materials to build homes for low income families! Wouldn't it be great if no one had to be homeless anymore?





Friday, November 06, 2009

Buying Local - Bread!

This month I'm attempting to buy local and keep within the 100 mile diet guidelines. I'm doing it one item at a time and trying to switch out my regular items with more local sources.

My second item was bread! I am still searching and exploring a really LOCAL place that makes bread from wheat GROWN in Oregon. Is there such a company? I was under the gun this week and needed bread fast but I knew I was trying to do this challenge so I thought I might slide and get something that I usually get just to be cheap and convenient. I was pleasantly surprised to find this bread at my local bread shop! It was only $3.00 and full of healthy goodness.


The company that makes it is based in Portland, Oregon and practices green farming and is fully organic. I couldn't find where the wheat comes from but the rest of it sounds good! Check out their site here: www.greenearthbaking.com Further research found that this company was actually owned by Franz bakery. I know most of you don't live here so you wouldn't know of this wonderful place. Their bakery is a landmark of Portland and when they are in full baking mode you can smell the sweet bread for miles. They have a HUGE loaf of bread that rotates above the factory and is lit at night. You can walk by the factory and they have HUGE windows where you can watch the bread being made from beginning to end as it rolls by you on a conveyor belt. They also own the company "Oregon Bread" which supports local farmers. This bread has been available to me right in my neighborhood and I didn't even realize I was already buying local! Check that one off my list.


I have also become a new fan of Dave's Killer Bread! It's made in Milwaukie, OR and it's REALLY tasty. You can even meet Dave! He's an actual person and his story is really inspirational. Check out more info here: www.daveskillerbread.com

Monday, November 02, 2009

Dino-crazy







Dinooooomyte!!!

Spotted at the Saturday Market too.

This costume was so much fun! I can't wait to make more. I have lots and lots of ideas for everyday wear that involves looking like a monster or furry animal. Halloween every day!