#MyBestFriendsWedding Chapter 4: She Said YES to The Dress!

Shortest “blog” post ever! Just had to celebrate the fact that after three stores and 16 dresses, my best friend found her wedding dress today! I was ecstatic to be a part of this day for her, and of course I had to make special props for it 🙂

 

Stay tuned to see the pictures of the dress and the process after her big day in late March of 2018!

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Riding Sturdy, Chapter 3: The Big Truck Prop

For the third and final installment of this order (click here for the intro, part 1, and part 2)- the big truck prop/photo booth station for Mateo’s fourth birthday. The inspiration for this craft were this picture and this one too.

If I’m honest, when I initially got this order, I ranked the items in my head in the following categories and order:

Category A: How hard it will be to make – 1. Ramp, 2. Truck Prop, 3. Box Trucks

Category B: Which will be the biggest hit – 1. Ramp, 2. Box Trucks, 3. Truck Prop

But I really didn’t think the truck prop would stump me so hard when it came to making it happen. When I tell people that the problem with creative work is that you need to be in the mood, this is one of the examples of how that can be such a big hurdle to overcome. I can stare at something for three weeks and not know what to do with it, and then an idea strikes and I get it done in no time. That was exactly the case with this truck prop. I thought I’d make this one in a much shorter time-frame and didn’t see the challenge until it was staring me dead in the face. I began by selecting my canvas, when… I LOVE when this happens: I was staring at some big boxes in my garage that I’d purchased forever ago and have used to deliver big local orders, and I said to myself – that’s the truck. I grabbed two of the boxes, stacked them together, cut out the blank space for pictures, spray painted them and BAM! Ready! Looking like a car already (at least in my head)…

But the problem was, after getting to this point, I stared at it for two weeks without knowing where to go next. I originally wanted to make the lower small flaps the wheels, and the center flap would be sort of a (I don’t know the right terminology here so I’ll quit while I’m ahead and just show a picture of what I imagined), but the design didn’t add up in my head. So I walked away and worked on the items I had for other orders, waiting for the idea to hit me. Finally, I decided to do away with my idea of the thing I can’t explain or name, and grabbed my scissors and made a cut.

AHHHH! This was a big deal, but after I did that, I felt like I was going somewhere. Also, notice I rounded off the top part of what would be the hood of the car. Everything was making more sense now, but I was still unhappy with the vision, and I realized what the problem was all along – what’s the one thing that makes the monster truck, a monster truck? Besides the truck itself – the wheels. The way I’d originally envisioned this, I’d end up with some really small wheels and that’s why I kept resisting the process. It wouldn’t have come out right. Once I’d cut the middle flap of the bottom out though, the next move came – use the flaps to build the wheels outwardly. And so, the monster truck prop was officially born.

By this point as you can see, I’d also added my headlights and the top lights to help me envision the rest of the road. I got my black paint and brushes out, and voila! Also, I’d forgotten every car needs a steering wheel so, magic wand wave and –

Now we’re talking! How do you differentiate regular tires from big monster-truck type of wheels? The ridges! One moment please… POOF!

Ok now THAT is looking like a monster truck. I intended to add a grill of some sort (for which I’d bought the most perfect card stock and couldn’t wait to use it), but then came the last big hurdle: this needed to stand on its own. As you may have noticed in the inspiration pieces, those car props used stakes to stand in the grass, something that wouldn’t work in this scenario because the party would take place indoors. I needed something to make it stand. I had a few ideas from the beginning (sticks, wood springs, random things in my brain…) and then I realized the best thing to do would be to use a side panel from a tri-fold board, cut it diagonally, and build it into the back of the car. Basically, this –

OMG. It worked, and it worked SO WELL! The best part was that since it was all cardboard, it was completely lightweight and portable. I’m in love.

So now, all I needed was: final coat of paint, grill, and glue everything (all the lights were taped until I decided I liked the placement). Oh and wait… It’s too blue. It needs a pop of color… wait, I know!

The level of satisfaction I felt when I saw this finished? Can’t explain. After three weeks of no action, I did the bulk of this in 12 hours during the weekend. Also – side note – I decided not to glue the flag because I wasn’t sure it would fit in the car when pick-up time came, and good thing I didn’t! The prop barely fit and the top lights had to be folded a little bit, but no biggie. As long as it fits, it’s all cardboard and card stock and can be folded back into place.

Thank you for checking out the third and final chapter of this Riding Sturdy order! I’ll do one more post with all of the final item pictures, a quick story of the pick-up and – if possible – snapshots of the items in use!

PS – my original ranking was so dead wrong. This was the hardest to bring from brain to life, and also made the biggest impression on almost everyone, both in social media and in person. You think you know, but you really never do…

Copyright Infringement, Plagiarism, and ‘Imitation is the Most Sincere Form of Flattery’

Creating something brand new or finding truly original content/products is very hard these days. For example, think about current TV executive board meetings… In my head, they go a little something like this:

  • TV Guy 1: Hey guys, let’s talk about ideas for a new show for next fall
  • TV Guy 2: How about we remake/reunite Friends/Full House/Charmed/Sabrina the Teenage Witch/Gilmore Girls/literally any 90s show ever made?
  • All the TV Guys in unison: SOUNDS LIKE A PLAN!

Whatever happened to predictability? Ha, had to! No, but seriously, they really need to stop bringing back everyone and everything, especially when the shows had perfect closures – except Friends. They can bring back Friends forever until every cast member dies.

Anywho… The point is, a lot of times it can feel like everything has already been created/thought of, and it’s hard to think about something from scratch. After all, we have Pinterest!

I completely understand the struggle. As an Etsy seller, it’s my ultimate goal to have fresh and new items that my customers can only find at my shop, that keep them coming back, and that provide me with a stable income. I’ve tried from day 1 to make things people want, and because I’ve taken enough business classes, I know the key is to look for a market void and try to fill it.

The whole “photo booth props” niche was a very happy accident, but an accident nonetheless. I know there are plenty of providers of photo booth props in both digital and physical format, and I know they’ll continue to come up. I for one have tried very hard to create designs that are 100% authentic, different from what’s already out there, of good quality, and fun. Even though the bulk of my items are inspired by Disney, every single prop has been hand drawn, cut and put together by me – just like I make 4th of July, graduation, or wedding sets. The ideas/events/institutions have been around forever, but the designs themselves are mine.

So you can imagine, it’s disheartening/frustrating (to say the least) when you find that your designs have been copied by other sellers, right under your nose. And that’s what inspired this blog post. Is imitation REALLY the most sincere form of flattery? I’m not sure.

Yesterday, I was doing my routine SEO self-check, where I search random keywords associated with my items and I see in which pages they land, so I can make sure I’m staying relevant and top-sided in Etsy’s algorithms. As I start scanning for my props, on the very first page my eyes pick up on some familiar shapes, and I’m confused for a moment. Wait… Is that… Did I… No that’s not… Who… Woah. That’s my design, but that’s NOT my picture, or my shop.

As you all should know by now, I’m obsessed with everything Disney. So when the Descendants Movie came out, I was front row (to my TV) ready to watch it and fall in love with yet another new classic. It worked. I did. I died. And then, a customer saw my standard set of Villain-inspired props, and asked if I could make her some Descendants villain props. I already had 3 out of the 4 parents (Evil Queen, Jafar & Maleficent) designed from prior sets, so I got to work and drew out the last parent (Cruella), plus the 4 children: Evie, Jay, Mal & Carlos. I’m pretty proud of how they turned out, and I’ve already received a few orders for the set. So you can imagine, that when I see someone copied my design to the T, I’m a little bit flabbergasted. Let me show you what I mean:

I’ve checked for Descendants props on Etsy before, but there were none. Mine were the very first set of Villain parents and children on the marketplace. Until, quite literally, last week. On March 14th, another shop posted a set of Descendants props that looks like this:

Quite honestly, I couldn’t believe it! So eerie to notice the ends of the hair on the girls, Carlos’ (black and white hair) spikes, Jay’s hairstyle… They literally copied my design inch by inch. On the side of the parents, I think most of those props had been done before, but again, I hand drew my designs based off of the original cartoons, not other people’s interpretation of them.

Do you know what I did when I saw this? Wild guess? I laughed. I was in shock, but I try to avoid going crazy over things I cannot change, because ultimately, it only affects me. So I just laughed and, tried to figure out what I should do next. These were my options:

  1. Let it go (whaddup Frozen reference?! Whaddup iiSuperwomanii reference within the reference? #inception): be the bigger person, not care that my work was copied, move on…
  2. Report the listing: Etsy has an option to report listings. I’ve never done this before so I’m not sure under what grounds you may report something (probably over graphic or offensive content?). But, I really don’t want to start drama with another shop. I’ve been on the receiving side of crazy before, and it’s not fun.
  3. Send the shop a direct message: should I let them know I know? I would crap my pants if another shop messaged me telling me I plagiarized their item. I would for sure take it down, possibly apologize, but that’s just me. I’m not sure how the other shop will react.
  4. Write a blog about it to open up a dialogue and hear different perspectives on the matter? Sounds like a plan 🙂

I won’t do anything other than #4 right now. I really just wanted to put this out there for two reasons:

  1. For aspiring or existing Etsy owners – I know of one owner in particular who went through this recently. She was devastated that her design was plagiarized and I believe she reported it, but I’m not sure how much she could do about it or how the case turned out. I just know that it tortured her and stole her peace for weeks. We all work hard to make our shops stand out, hoping for stable sales and happy customers eager to leave reviews. It’s not an easy process trying to make a shop grow and go from hobby or side gig to a business, and this is potentially a roadblock. It’s not a “fair” competition. It’s a dirty play. It sucks but it’s not a make or break situation, so I really just wanted to showcase the story and hopefully have it serve as a “everything will be alright” reassurance, which I’ll need to confirm in the future. But I really think it will.
  2. Trying to honor my #WCBBloggingTuesdays commitment, and always #KeepingItReal (also, please help #KeepInstagramChronological)

In any case, as shocked and surprised as I was, this hasn’t really affected me the way other events have (I’m an ultra sensitive person), so I’m proud of myself for that. At the same time, I know social media makes it seem like everything is peachy 100% of the time, and I don’t tend to share the down moments, but I think it’s an important part of my journey, and in every moment, there’s a lesson to be learned.

Please share your thoughts below, and any personal stories of dealing with plagiarism or copycats are a plus!!

Christmas & New Years Without My Craft Room :(

Lately, when I leave my house I feel a little bit of anxiety… for being away from my craft room, out of fear I’ll need a tool or something else I may have in there while I’m away. Or if I have an order in progress, I’m afraid of my house catching on fire, not because of my house, but because of the order. I know, I need a therapist lol, I’ve just really grown fond of being there and all my crafty possessions.

With this in mind, you can imagine when I go on an actual trip out of town, I may or may not go as far as caressing the walls on the way out, a little bit like this…

So when I left to Colombia for my prince’s birthday and to spend the holidays with the family, I took some coloring pencils, all my sketch books, some photo booth props I pre-made (for the birthday, Christmas Eve & New Year’s Eve), and that was it. Basically, anxiety to the MAX.

Then, my family decided that Christmas Eve would be celebrated at my grandma’s house, where we barely have some lights here and there, but no tree, or nativity, or garlands, or pretty much anything to make it feel like the season. With very little time and zero knowledge of places where I could get supplies, all while trying to not spend much money, my mom asked me to transform the house into a Christmas town. Want to guess how long I had to make this happen? SIX hours. Want to guess how much I missed my craft room and supplies? Manic depressive mode FULLY ON.

So… I ransacked my grandma’s closets and boudoirs looking for possible decor, grabbed my coloring pencils and my agenda, ripped out some pages, and tried to make a semi-cute garland. On ruled paper. I died a little inside. But hey, true creativity comes not exclusively while in the optimal environment. On the contrary, the true test of creativity is when you “make do” with what you have. Chopped style!

Here’s a little gallery of the transformation I was able to pull off for Christmas at my grandma’s!

So all in all, thanks to some last minute rentals, my foresight to bring the props and some bibbidi bobbidi boop magic, the Christmas town transformation was successfully pulled off! But just imagine what I could’ve done with a tenth of my supplies?

Moving on to December 31st… For New Year’s Eve, we were going to my grandma’s sister’s house, so thankfully I wasn’t in charge of decorating, but I still wanted to pitch in for the festivities, so besides making props (which everyone really enjoyed!) I wanted to make a garland I had seen… where do you think? Pinterest, of course. I don’t know what possessed me to make the props yellow and black, but they seemed like a good color palette for NYE, and so I wanted to also make the garland in that combination so that it seemed orchestrated. I got some tissue paper and got to work (toggle over the pictures to see instructions in each caption!)

So that’s it! Even though I missed my craft room and supplies TERRIBLY and I wish I could carry my entire stash on me, Mary Poppins style, I’m still happy with what I was able to accomplish on the fly 🙂

HAPPY 2016 EVERYONE!!!!

 

Fly in? Check. Props? Check. Unexpected decor request? Oh boy…

I don’t know if I’ve said it enough, but I’m absolutely, irrevocably, head-over-heels in love with my nephew. My little piece of heaven, David Alejandro, is a ball of smiles that melts me into oblivion and when he says “I yo yu” (I love you) the paramedics need to be called to resuscitate me, only for me to die right back.

Now that I got that out of my system…

My little scrumptious “little lung” or “pulmonsito” as I like to call him, (because I want him and I to breathe through the same respiratory system) turned the big number TWO this December. The theme for his party is absolutely no surprise, because it’s been making the rounds for a while now like a virus – Minions. These lovely yellow creatures bring out some great smiles out of David, and the way he says Minions is just AW-DOOR-AH-BLE.

David lives in Colombia, and I live in the US, and this long distance relationship kills me. I count down the days until I get to travel and hold him again, and we FaceTime to keep me alive in the meantime. We planned to fly in the day before his birthday, and of course, I wouldn’t show up empty-handed, so I decided to create some custom props that I’d bring with me from SoFla. I couldn’t wait to see his reaction and see him wearing them!

I pulled out the props from my suitcase upon my arrival, and placed them in the bed so I wouldn’t forget them the next day. David was walking around, and as the curious creature he is, the yellow caught his attention, and he immediately said “Minio” – and. I. Died. I showed him how to put it on his face, he walked over to the mirror, stared at himself, and started dancing and singing “Minio Minio Minio” and I had to receive CPR for 3 hours straight. Then I had to take the prop away from him because he got too excited and started banging it on the wall… After all, he is 2.

As I continue unpacking, my brother asks “soooo… at what time are you coming to decorate?” and I was like “hmm what?!” My family is well aware of my capabilities and love for the craft of event planning, and so it’s an unspoken expectation that I’ll show up to decorate every event ever. Even if I have to go straight from the airport and I don’t even know what decor items are available. So I said 10 am.

My #1 go-to piece of decor that is CHEAP, easy to make, versatile and makes a big pop are streamer paper garlands. I learned to make these when I was 5 in my after school care, and I’ve used them ever since.

Once everything was set up, it was time to party, and whip out the props! I’ve been making photo booth props for a while now and I’ve been present while they’re used at adult parties, but I’ve never seen children using them. Oh. My. Gosh. What an amazing feeling. The props became the ice breaker between all the kids, they didn’t let them go for one second, and at the end of the night, they all took one home as a favor. I didn’t even get to say goodbye lol! And my little prince would just stare at them and put them on his face (even if they weren’t face props) and all my dreams came true.

And that’s all folks! The party was awesome, David had a blast eating sweets and running around with his friends, and the WCB Craft Studio Photo Booth Props made it to Santa Marta, Colombia!!!

A Double Golden Birthday!

Turning 25 was a big deal to me, and I definitely celebrated it as such. I had a blast planning the party, although I felt like two months was too much time, and I drove myself a little crazy coming up with ideas and spending all my monies on Amazon (in Prime we trust!). So when my 26th was getting closer, besides having a total panic attack about the actual number, I found myself at a loss for what to do. Nothing could top my 25th, and I didn’t want to either, but I do believe in celebrating birthdays and that every year we get on earth should be acknowledged and appreciated (regardless of whatever quarter-life crisis may be coming along with it…)

Because I was born on the 26th, this would actually be my one and only golden birthday. A golden birthday is when the age you’re turning coincides with the date of your birth. This was my main reason for definitely not letting my day go under the table (even though it fell on a Monday, so that wasn’t helping much). Within my thinking process, I remembered that my mom’s birthday (which is 4 days after mine) was a big one as well… the big SIX-OH. If I spell it out she won’t get mad I put her out there, right? Right…

So I did some research to see if there was any symbolism around turning SIXTY, and turns out I have to thank our friends in China for giving it one! According to the site Synonym, “The Chinese people believe that when a person reaches the age of 60, he or she has completed a full cycle of life, which calls for a grand celebration. The history of the 60th birthday is based on Chinese astrology. Twelve animals symbolize astrological signs. The Chinese calendar is based on 12 signs and the five natural elements: metal, fire, water, earth and wood. This results in a 60-year cycle. Following the 60th birthday, the person begins a new life.” This resonated a lot with me, and I knew my mom would appreciate it as well. My mom (unlike me) is not crazy about celebrating birthdays, so I knew that in order to get her on board with celebrating her big day, I’d have to sell it to her as a double birthday. It worked like a charm 😉

It’s worth mentioning, for my 25th, I had a job and a couple of months to plan and spread my expenses… But for this golden party, I’d quit my job a good 6 months before, and I had waited until about two weeks before to put it all together, which meant, I was on a very serious budget and would have to get very creative with very little. Also, sometimes it’s awkward trying to figure out what type of party certain celebrations are… This wasn’t a music/dance party deal… It wasn’t a dinner either. I’d have to provide food obviously but I wanted it to be casual yet as cute as possible. So this is what came out of it:

  • Photo Booth Props: I mean, these are a given. I tried to get creative with the occasion, so I threw in some cute/punny quotes like “25 + Shipping & Handling,” and “Aging like wine.”
  • Backdrop: I’ve seen this backdrop on Pinterest 1,000 times before, and I’d been wanting to recreate it. I’m not sure how other people do it, but I just whipped out my 527 glue, cut the strips and braided away… It came out just fine 🙂
  • Cake Table: I love the fact that plastic linens are just $2, but I wanted to add a little spunk to the table, and I had purchased some pretty white and gold glitter card stock when it was on sale (I knew I’d use it, just didn’t know how. HA! Thank you past Kathy for thinking ahead…) So I taped them together and used them as a table runner. I really like how that turned out, and it gave the table a little class and sass.

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  • Golden Birthday and SIXTIETH Birthday Explanations: not everyone knows about the golden birthday thing and I also wanted to cheer my mom up with the “new cycle of life” stuff, so I printed out a mini essay on what both our days meant and used them as decor. My mom LOVED the explanation for hers, and everyone else was jealous when they realized they missed their golden birthdays because most happened when they were kids lol.
  • The cake: even though I had no idea what I was going to do for my mom’s birthday, I had decided on the cake since February. My mom is one picky human, and I wanted to get her something that she hadn’t tried but hopefully would like. One of my best friends is Brazilian, and she introduced me to Brigadeiros… If you haven’t tried them, get up, run to your car, do not pass go, do not collect $200, and go straight to any Brazilian pastry shop and buy an assorted box of this magical truffle style dessert. My friend had made my mom a batch of pistachio brigadeiros a few months back, and she inhaled them in one sitting. So I went to THE best brigadeiro cake maker in South Florida, Made With Love Brigadeiros, and asked the lovely owner, Larissa for a pistachio brigadeiro cake with lady fingers and plain brigadeiro filling (it’s condensed milk heaven). No one at the party had had this kind of cake before, and EVERYONE was asking me for the contact information once they tried it. It was DELICIOUS!

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  • The food: like I said, this wasn’t a formal dinner but feeding people is a must. I wanted something simple, not too expensive… and I thought Arroz Imperial would do the trick, since it includes the carbs and protein in one serving. Since I live in SoFla, you can find a place that makes it in every corner, and I went with Romeu’s Cuban Restaurant. It was SO GOOD. Everyone loved it, it was quick and easy to serve, filling, and it kind of matched the theme with its rich gold color and baked cheese top. Accompanied by a Caesar salad and some bread rolls, we were set!
  • The drinks: I kept it super simple and budget friendly: Jose Cuervo pre-mixed Margaritas. $13 at BJ’s. The end.

That’s pretty much it! It was a nice, cozy, intimate gathering, I managed to pull it together in two weeks and everything looked cute and themed. My mom was happy and we had the most delicious cake on earth. Couldn’t have asked for more!

 

Wedding Props – Karyn & Samuel

There’s no greater feeling than working on the things you love to do, but when you get a chance to have your work be a part of the special day for a family member, it just makes everything 10 times better. When my sister got engaged, it was a very special time since she’s the first of the kids to get married, and we knew she would go all out! I loved having a chance to help her brainstorm on some stuff, and I sent her a copy of The Wedding Book by Mindy Weiss, which to this day is one of the best event-planning guides and especially helpful for brides everywhere. Highly recommend! Mindy is a renowned luxury event planner, and the book is great for any type of wedding regardless of budget, denomination or location.

When it came down to thinking of something I could physically make for the reception, I thought nothing would be more appropriate than photo booth props because I knew my sister was getting a ton of fun masks and hats and all other kinds of items for the “hora loca” (crazy hour) part of the reception. Since we are originally Venezuelan and there were a lot of people flying in for the wedding, my sister wanted to have a mix of English and Spanish props, and since she’s Jewish, I wanted to add a reference to that as well. At the time, I didn’t have my Cricut, so all of these was done printed and cut by hand!

The props were used a lot for pictures all over the reception, I lost track of them because I was having a lot of fun myself, but I did manage to get a few pictures of them!

Photo booth props always bring out the humor in everyone at any kind of event, and I really loved to be a part of the fun for my sister’s big day through my crafting 🙂 #MazelTov