Flirting with… Vinyl!

For the most part, crafters and craft shop owners have a little bit of a niche, whether it be paint, paper crafting, glass work, wood burning, etc. I, on the other hand, am all over the place, excited to experiment, trying to soak up and learn as much as I can, and living out my wildest #craftasies. I enjoy this freedom, and though I’ve been working heavily on the paper crafting and painting world, I’m currently dabbing my feet in the unknown waters of Vinyl. The way I feel about working with vinyl is the same feeling you have when you like a guy who has a little bit of a dangerous appeal, and you know that the relationship has potential, but you’re scared of getting hurt… You know?

I have problems. I’m aware.

I never heard about vinyl prior to getting my Cricut Explore, which I planned on using exclusively for my card stock crafts. Then, my friend (who saved my life and taught me how to use my Cricut when I was struggling HARD with YouTube videos, so THANK YOU KATHY!) invited me to join a couple of Facebook groups called Let’s Learn Cricut Explore and Cricut Lovers Guide to Design Space (admin approval is required to join), which she told me would be a great way to get acquainted with the Cricut’s features and I could ask questions to the members – currently over 20,000 in each! So I joined, and realized that the vast majority of the members worked mostly with vinyl (or Heat Transfer Vinyl/HTV) to make decals or clothing accents. It looked cool, but scary.

I was intimidated to try any vinyl projects, because it just looked like a sticky situation (HA! get it?) and like I could mess it up easily. I avoided it at all costs and even though my Cricut brought a sample of vinyl, I refused to open it… Until I had to make an item which I knew would only make sense to be made with HTV. My friend was turning 26, and she mentioned that she wanted a sash that said “26 & Fabulous.” So I mustered up my courage, bought some glittery HTV, followed the instructions I remembered I’d seen in the Facebook groups countless times (mirror the image if necessary, check your settings, use chalk powder to show the lines when weeding, etc.) and got to work! Until I got to my first major roadblock: I couldn’t find an iron in my house. For HTV to work you NEED heat to stick it to the fabric. But fear not, because I tend to get REALLY creative when I’m in a craft jumble… So I figured, since it’s a sash, I could probably pull this off with my Hair Iron!

Ta da! I added a thin border with another ribbon to top it off, and it came out exactly the way my friend said she wanted it! She ended up wearing it all weekend long 🙂 20160108_223607578_iOS

After this, I felt a teensy bit more confident and willing give the permanent vinyl a chance, perhaps even decorate my Cricut machine (a lot of crafters do it!) so I decided to order a stack of sample colors from Amazon to have them handy for whenever I decided to step up to bat… Which didn’t take too long!

First, my mom’s friend asked me if I could make a decal for her car. Like, PERMANENT. And it had to come out right because it doesn’t come off easy and it was for her business. So I got to work, and I even stuck it on her car myself 🙂 She LOVED it!

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Any pro vinyl crafter out there will know that this is cake. The real test of vinyl craftsmanship is layering, i.e. cutting out each component of the image in its respective color, and then layering it appropriately to create the final image. And you know where I’m going with this – someone asked me for something that I knew would look best layered!

My best friend wanted to do something cute for her son’s second birthday at school. She wanted to send some favor bags for his classmates, and she wanted them to be Mickey themed since that’s his favorite character. I came up with a design idea, and she loved it, so now it was time to work! Mickey heads with their names on them? Let’s do it!

AHHHHHHHH I LOVE CRAFTING! And my Cricut!!! For these projects, the most helpful tips I’d seen in the groups included setting the machine to cut “washi tape” because sometimes it’s too rough when you set it to “vinyl,” and to invest in a set of basic dental tools because they’re thinner than the Cricut tools. Also, Cricut Transfer Tape (or basic contact paper if you’re in a bind) is ESSENTIAL to transfer/layer all the pieces 🙂

So now, having done a small scale version of the projects that thousands of people do every day with vinyl, I’m finally comfortable enough to work with the material and hope I can continue to improve my skills and do some great stuff with it! In the meantime, I decided to take my manicure to the next level with some more of that vinyl 😉 20160328_182320868_iOS

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Etsy is Getting a Facelift!

A couple of months ago I created an editorial calendar with topics to write about so that I wouldn’t struggle to keep up with my blogging commitment, and one of the items I wanted to touch on is my love for Etsy. Besides the benefit of the platform over every other e-commerce site out there (in my humble opinion), I truly believe that Etsy is always in touch with its community of sellers, and tries to do right by us as well as by buyers. I’ve participated in multiple surveys and I’ve seen implementation of changes I’ve written to them about (probably along with a few other sellers), and the improvements just keep coming.

Then, two weeks ago, sellers were notified that Etsy shops were getting a makeover, and I was like “HA! Perfect timing!” Let me tell you, I’m apprehensive about change, but this is a GREAT one! The new shop look is much more modern, clean, manageable by sellers, and easy to navigate by buyers. It’s definitely in line with the wave of “power pages” (basically, having the bulk of the information about the website in one single page where you just scroll down instead of figuring out the menu) and I for one can’t wait until it launches for everyone on April 5th. Here’s the detailed breakdown of the most noticeable changes:

Etsy Shop Looks - Before and After

Etsy Shop Looks – Before and After

First of all, the new look will allow sellers to choose between having no banner, a small banner (which will not be mobile-optimized), or a cover photo (mobile optimized!). As you can see, I’ve already gotten a head start on mine, and I’ve chosen to use this set up because I think it’s a great opportunity to showcase my items being used by my customers, which buyers don’t really see unless they’re following me on social media (::cough cough:: Facebook, InstagramTwitter). It’s a little overpowering on the screen, but I really think it does more good than harm (if done right).

Second, hello modernization! I never really noticed how “old-school” the current look is until I saw the new layout. The set up is fresh, and I think they got it right by emphasizing the shop itself over the owner, which is currently reversed.

Third, sellers can choose the order of their listings and OMG THANK YOU SO MUCH ETSY!!! It was so frustrating to feel like my shop was “disorganized” because right now the items show up in the order of “recent purchases,” and to my OCD self, it throws off the vibe. We can also choose to feature certain listings that will show up above the full shop. Where is my ::hands in the air:: emoji when I need it?

Fourth, the listings themselves are bigger, which is a great way to show buyers more in less time.

Fifth, the reviews are right under the listings. This is going to be YUUUUGE for buyers (#Elections2016!). As a frequent shopper myself, I know how much reviews influence my decisions to make a purchase, and having this information so visible is definitely going to make the process much quicker.

Sixth, the Shop Updates. I think I need a separate blog post to explain these, but basically, Etsy is going social on us! Through the use of the “Sell on Etsy” app (which is absolutely necessary if you’re a seller ::ehem:: customer service), Etsy has created a new way to push content through the platform and out onto other channels like text messages and the aforementioned Facebook, Instagram & Twitter, and going as far as Pinterest and even WhatsApp! These updates are going to tip the Etsy algorithms in favor of active sellers, as they’ll showcase more of the shops that use them, and honestly, it’s a great way to post different angles of our products by stepping out of the 5 picture limit. When sellers post these updates to their social media channels, they work as a cute little hooks to bring perspective buyers directly to each listing. In conclusion, if you’re a seller and haven’t posted your first Shop Update yet, get on it!

Seventh (and last one I’ll include here because I’m running out of screen), sellers now have a chance to upload a video of themselves and up to 5 pictures of their work spaces (or whatever they want) to help buyers fall in love with them even more.

Maybe I’ll have to make this post a trilogy or a Harry Potter-sized novel to cover ALL of the great new features Etsy is rolling out, and all the reasons why I already love them, but the point is, April 5th, check out my new swagged out shop and buy something from me 😀 Kidding, but really, SO excited for this. Thank you Etsy for being so awesomesauce! T – 1 week!