STAMPING PERFECTLY ON COTTON BAGS

stamping on cotton bags besotted blog

Technically you could use my technique to stamp on most fabrics, but for the purpose of this tutorial I will focus on the cotton drawstring bags since this is the fabric I most stamp on in my day-to-day fabric stamping adventures.  Also, with the holidays upon us I think the fabric bags make a great alternative to packaging that will be thrown by the wayside.  These bags tend to be thin and wrinkle quite easily so I always iron prior to stamping as you want to have as flat a surface as possible.  Stamping is not as forgiving as other printing techniques and you do want your substrate (what you are stamping on) as smooth as possible so start with ironed fabric without a lot of texture (so nothing nubby, ribbed, raised, furry, etc.)  My most secret of tools for ironing these tiny bags quickly and without dragging out my ironing board and iron is an old hair straightener, yes a hair straightener.  You don’t need a fancy one, just a cheapy that heats up to a nice temp (mine goes as high as 450 f) that will actually iron out your wrinkles;  I just clamp down on one end and pull it through the iron and it is perfect every time!  The iron is now dedicated for crafting, which I would suggest for yours as well.  Once you have a nice ironed bag you will want to put a piece of thick + stiff cardstock in it.  This serves two purposes 1) it makes for a nice stiff surface to stamp on and 2) it will prevent the ink from bleeding to the other side. I just cut down a piece of scrap cardstock to size and use it over and over (if there’s no ink that has seeped through).Read More

TORRIE ASAI FOR BESOTTED BRAND

Made with love torrie asai for besotted brand

I can’t tell you how proud I am to start introducing Torrie Asai for Besotted Brand! Torrie is a new to lettering and by some twist of fate I have ended up becoming a bit of a mentor to her.  I saw that she had not only talent, but drive; what she lacked was confidence in her role as ‘creative’. I believe everyone has the ability to be creative (one of the main motivations behind this here blog), it just manifest itself in different ways for each individual (some people are great cooks, good with computers or numbers, organizing, even getting dressed, etc.  There’s many variations of creative!), it’s recognizing what you are creative at and working on it that will make your gift shine. I honestly can not believe how far she has come from our first correspondence, she’s worked so hard to develop her lettering practice (note she doesn’t even do this for a living!) and it really shows.  I even tapped Torrie to do the lettering for my last branding client, which is where she developed the style we used on this first offering, we call it ‘Sofia’.  We wanted a feminine, modern flowy hand that was still legible and Torrie nailed it.  We have more offerings coming before holidays, but I was just too excited after I received the sample above that I didn’t want to wait!  A huge congrats to Torrie!

Since I am anxious to show her work off I urge you to tweet and pin it, why?  Well, it would be nice to support a fellow creative but also because I will be giving one away of course!  Just answer the following question by Sunday, October 20, 2012:

What are your creative talents?

I will announce the winner next Monday, October 21, 2012.  Good luck!

P.S. I will be back later today with a tutorial on stamping like a pro on the cotton drawstring bags!

P.P.S. Use the code freeship01 to get free shipping on any of the stamps this week!

P.P.P.S. Torrie just turned me on to this new blog by some powerhouse internet celebs, I think you’ll like!

Author / Miss Tristan B

Miss Tristan B. is the proprietress of Besotted Brand and the writer of this delightful blog. She recently re-located to sunny Seattle with her handsome husband and two pups, they are expecting a baby girl in December (possibly November). Her lofty goal here is to make this a creative resource repository and to inspire you to fall truly, madly, deeply in love with your life.

ETSY VS. YOUR OWN SHOP + BUY YOUR CUSTOM URL!

PARCEL_TWINE_BACK_BBI have discussed this subject in detail before and gave my pro’s & con’s on both.  Today, I am going to discuss why I am completely migrating to Etsy versus my own shop (for now). These last 2 months for Besotted Brand have been painfully slow, not working as much as I used to for the last six months because of my condition and  having two dead months doesn’t work for me.  I had to evaluate money going out versus money coming in and carrying two shops–an Etsy shop and a stand alone needed to be addressed.  My stand alone shop had no fees associated with it when a client purchased a product but I did pay a $30 fee each month to run it on the platform that I was using. I also had to pay an outside postage company for all my international shipping which ran $16/month to use their system.  Why would I need an outside postage company?  As of this writing, the U.S. Postal service does not have an option to send international first class mail from home you have to buy Priority mail to send even a single stamp and international priority mail is very expensive! Cutting both the platform and the postage company out I have started saving immediately almost $50/mo. it may seem small but it all adds up and over a year I will have saved $552. I don’t know about you but I could use an extra $500!  I absolutely 100% would not have done the move if I couldn’t have used my own dedicated url.  I did a very easy re-direct, it’s free and I can use my own custom website name on all my packaging and branding.  As much as I adore Etsy I would never put “my shop.etsy” on anything that I used to promote my brand, I think it confuses the potential client, (contrary to popular belief not everyone is familiar with Etsy). This is my word of unsolicited advice, if you have an Etsy shop, run don’t walk to secure your custom URL, what does that even mean?  It means your shop name.com ie. www.besottedbrand.com.  It looks so much more pro and keeps continuity with your brand, especially if you are say selling products that have labels that you want your site name, versus your name + etsy.  You should be securing you URL’s any way you slice it, whether you have an Etsy shop or just a company idea.  This may seem obvious but you should also try to secure your own personal name as a URL, you may want to use it one day and it would be a shame if you couldn’t because someone other than you bought it already.  I am going to segue here for two seconds and tell you to buy your custom URL if you have a blog as well.  Even when I was on the Blogger platform my blog had my custom url www.besottedblog.com versus besottedblog.blogspot,com again for the same reasons, it looks a lot more professional like you are taking this seriously, which are right?

INK_CLASSIC_BBSpeaking of familiar, my Etsy shop was out selling my stand alone shop 3:1, it was no contest, I was getting more exposure on Etsy. The thing I love about the Etsy shop is that I could print shipping labels directly from Etsy and my clients would get automatic shipping notifications upon shipment. I felt that for my International clients especially it is nice for them to have a larger entity (Etsy) to go to if there was a problem, I think it gives clients a sense of security that a stand alone shop would not. The biggest con is not being able to customize my shop as much as I like, but by migrating I can give the Etsy shop extra attention and hopefully generate more steady sales and eventually build a new custom shop!

I get asked about opening a shop every.single.day and I am happy to try to be of assistance via these little posts!  I also get asked where I source my packaging + products, do not email a store/business about this, it’s akin to asking a woman her age or weight, it’s not appropriate and can be construed as offensive.

P.S. I have had a 50% coupon ( 5050sale) on all custom stamps for a bit now, it’s only valid until August 30th so take advantage of it and stock up!

P.P.S. The images are some items that have been out of stock forever that are finally back in!!!!

Author / Miss Tristan B

Miss Tristan B. is the proprietress of Besotted Brand and the writer of this delightful blog. She recently re-located to sunny Seattle with her handsome husband and two pups, they are expecting a baby girl in December. Her lofty goal here is to make this a creative resource repository and to inspire you to fall truly, madly, deeply in love with your life.

NEW FABRIC, WOOD, CLAY INK!

fabric wood clay ink besotted brand

I have some pretty lofty plans for the shop , even though they are temporarily on hold my enthusiasm can’t be dampened. A few months ago one of my suppliers developed an even better ink for fabric (and wood and clay, oh my!) I am always up for testing new products but I am super picky and not all new items get to come on board. This new ink delivered in spades! I am beyond impressed and couldn’t wait until it was available so I could offer it to my clients.  I love the current ink I carry (I think on fabric it gives a nice rustic/worn look) but this new ink works especially well on fabric as you can see from the before and after image above. The stamped impression is so nice, crisp and the color is so concentrated. A little tip here, no matter what ink you use you should put a piece of cardstock behind your fabric so the ink doesn’t bleed to the other side. If you want the stamped impression to last you need to set it with an iron on low heat (no steam). The only current drawback right now is the color options are limited and as mentioned it is concentrated so if you aren’t inking your stamps like I taught you, you could find yourself with an awful mess on your hands (literally). I’ve tried it on wood with great results (use a heat gun to set) and am anxious to try it on clay.  I know that the options of stamp ink can get confusing and the pigment inks I always carry are great for all sorts of uses (fabric included), but sometimes if you find something better it’s just too good not to share.

Author / Miss Tristan B

Miss Tristan B. is the proprietress of Besotted Brand and the writer of this delightful blog. She recently re-located to sunny Seattle with her handsome husband and two pups.

YOUR OWN SHOP SITE VERSUS ETSY

OldStockPhoto-French-Shop-Sophie-GraphicsFairyBefore I do the big reveal of the city we chose I should keep my promises and discuss having your own shop versus utilizing a platform like an Etsy.  There are a ton of Pro’s & Con’s that might be better for me to go over to better illustrate my thoughts.  My first pro for having your own shop is to be able to have a dedicated url, ie. besottedbrand.com rather than besottedbrand.etsy.com.  For traditional branding purposes it looks much better to have a dedicated url.  Now the cons (or the price you pay for that dedicated url).  I knew when I launched Besotted Brand that I wanted to have a dedicated url and design my site the way I envisioned it.  I didn’t have a huge budget for the site but I knew that I might have a better chance of getting a price that I could afford if I worked with someone that would be willing to code and allow me to design.  Be prepared if you go this route to get clipped emails back. I contacted a fairly popular web development company and emailed that I would be willing to design but needed coding, they wrote back and asked my budget I told them and they told me to go somewhere else. Ouch. I eventually found a great coder, super professional and when I told him my budget he told me what he could do it for and we met in the middle. Now for the cons of that dedicated url besides the initial investment, you need to think fast on your feet of how the heck are people going to find your shop in the sea of other shops out there on the interwebs?  Now that you are out thousands of dollars and have no budget for PR you need to figure out a plan for exposure.  I being the genius that I am did not have a formal marketing plan in place (I do not suggest this). I find promoting myself extraordinarily difficult. What I did have prior to launch was a mailing list, it was a list that I had up for a few years. I sent an email to that list letting them know that I had launched. It had a pretty even across the board response about 50% were thrilled and shopped shortly thereafter and the other 50% forgot they signed up for the list and reported me as spam thus I got banned from my email campaign carrier. Ouch. I don’t like getting too many emails from companies so I am not a huge fan of the email campaign. I do send one out about once a quarter and I try to make it worth the recipients while. There was no Pinterest or Instagram when I launched but those are great ways to get your brand noticed, as are places like Facebook. I read that’s how the wildly popular Mae Mae Paperie got her start by networking via Facebook and contacting fellow alumni about her newly launched company.

Now let’s get into Etsy shall we?  With Etsy you could pretty much have your shop up and running in an afternoon, hooray! That’s a huge pro in my book. The other pro is having the potential to have millions of eyes on your brand each day without ever lifting a marketing finger! The flipside/con of that is those millions of potential consumers also have millions of competing brands in your same category to eyeball as well.  You are going to have to work extra, extra hard to make yourself stand out from the crowd.  Your photos will need to be first rate, as will your copy and once you get a sale you are going to have to jump through hoops to make sure that customer is thoroughly satisfied so you don’t receive any negative feedback which can adversely effect your shop status. Another thing I need to address are the fees.  When I answer emails about Etsy people are always irritated by the fees. That is indeed a pro for running your own site–no fees (but remember the bigger upfront cost). The way I look at it for a new business is 0% of 0 is zero. Meaning, if you don’t make a sale at all you have a big fat goose egg of nothing, but if you do and you have to pay a small fee it is worth it in my humble estimation. More eyes on your brand may mean more potential sales, you will have to decide what that is worth to you. Or do you have to decide?  I eventually opened an Etsy shop as well because potential clients were asking me if I had one. I  asked why and was told that they would feel safer buying from a place like Etsy. I ship a lot of international orders so I can see where having a big corporation like Etsy behind a shop would feel a bit more safe. I gladly pay my fees and consider it the price of running my business.  One last con for Etsy and it’s super unfortunate–there is a proliferation of copy cat shops and under cutting on pricing. My advice?  Ignore them. What? Don’t allow the negative to takeover what you created. If you priced your items accordingly + fairly than trying to meet the price of your lower priced copy cat is going to negatively impact your business model. Don’t get into sacrificing your quality because you are now trying to compete with a company that is copying you. Another sound piece of advice? Get some press, getting your brand in print will hopefully ensure that clients will want the original rather than a lower quality, lower priced counterfeit. In summary, they both have their pro’s & con’s, you will need to weigh both and find out what will work best for your current situation.

If you have anything you would like to add to this conversation please do so. And if you have any other questions I didn’t answer above let me know!

P.S. If you are wanting a huge does of ‘get yourself on the right track and follow your dreams’, this girl will be sure to administer it.

photo via the graphics fairy

Author / Miss Tristan B

Miss Tristan B. is the proprietress of Besotted Brand and the writer of this delightful blog. She recently re-located to the country with her handsome husband and two pups and will be re-locating back to the city in the very near future.