11 sales from 1200

18 Dec

I remember when I hit the milestone 1000. I was so excited. This past year with the various changes on Etsy & social media it has become more difficult to remind people that I am still here.

There are just 2 online shopping days left. Tomorrow is the last day to shop online. USPS says that if I have all my orders to the PO by Friday night that they will arrive on time next week.

For local friends, you can shop online & have it delivered right to your door. I also have 10 shop local gifts to still giveaway.

All of my items arrive wrapped & ready for gift giving.

Please help me reach this next milestone of 1200 by Christmas. I am just 11 sales away. I know we can do this!MiniToteOfferings

Have a wonderful holiday, no matter what you celebrate!

xoxo, Jen

Handmade Through The Holidays

9 Dec

Shop Small

Running a handmade business through the holidays is hard work. Not that anyone said it would be easy. I was probably invited to 20 or more craft shows this fall/winter. I turned all of them down. This was not an easy decision for me.

I offer custom order work through November. Taking custom orders in December is not possible because a typical custom order can take me 5 times longer to make. So I know a ton of people were expecting to get this work done now but really that needs to happen much earlier on. I did receive quite a few custom order designs this fall & many responded to my Newsletters which provided cut off dates.

In December, I really try to build up my inventory & make sure all of my items are packaged perfectly for gift giving. Getting items out the door quickly is important because I am relying on the USPS to get it to customers on time. I work exclusively on building inventory because there is nothing worse than having someone come to your site & find that you are sold out of everything. In a perfect world, I would build up my inventory during the down season. This is something that I always aim to do but being a one person operation, doesn’t leave me with much downtime to do this.

I decided this year that I wasn’t going to do the “Sales” game that most retailers play. I decided I would mark all of my items just where they need to be. Yes, this doesn’t leave me much room for profit. To make the offers a bit sweeter, I am offering free shipping through the holidays. I want customers to be able to come back multiple times without feeling angst about missing a sale or free shipping. This is my gift to all of you.

Back to my reason for not doing craft shows. They take a considerable amount of time to set up & take down that is physically demanding. I have two young girls & my husbands travel schedule for work is very unpredictable. With all the extra work I need to get done during December, doing shows just takes away from my productivity. So for now…enjoy the coziness of your jammies & you can shop online anytime with Itty Bitty Bag.

Remember, the companies that you support today will be the ones that survive tomorrow. I hope you will share your love with small retailers in addition to your favorite box stores.

xoxo, Jen

Newest Itty Bitty Bag Team Member!

24 Oct

I am very pleased to announce the newest team member (and only additional team member) of the Itty Bitty Bag Company. My 11 year old daughter Abby will be joining me in my studio. All of the money that she earns will go directly into a college savings program. She could not be more excited to take this step and quite frankly, I am glad to have her on board. Her schedule is very limited, so for now it is Fridays after school. I think it is important to establish a day and time. This makes it very real for both of us.

Itty Bitty Bag

Some things you might like to know about Abby. She is in middle school. When she grows up she wants to be a ballerina, artist and writer. She might like to go to fashion school but we are not so sure she will fit into that culture. I could honestly see her as a ballet teacher when she grows up. She is so loving, patient & kind hearted. She really does have the biggest heart of anyone I’ve ever met. This also makes her very sensitive & highly acute to all of her surroundings. Abby is already very tech saavy. She knows her way around the internet & often brings amazing ideas to me about new apps and websites that I should check out. She also knows a bit about saying the right thing. She is very poised & confident with regard to appearance & style. She is highly creative & has a flare for picking fabrics. While Abby will not be sewing for me anytime soon, she will be helping me in so many ways that I can’t even begin to get my mind around right now.

Both of my girls have been known to help me or spend time in my studio before but never consistently and never with a specific purpose. Please give a hearty welcome to my sweet dear Abby.

xoxo, Jen

Five Generations of Sewers

9 Oct

Everyone asks me how I learned to sew. Where did the compulsion come from to sit down at this machine & see what I could do. I thought it was best to tell this story in reverse.

The newest generation…my girls. My girls have been around sewing machines since they were born. My eldest who will turn 11 in just a few short days…had her entire nursery linens handmade by me. Then we moved onto her toddler room & I hand painted a beautiful mural on her walls & also made all the linens for that room. Each milestone in her life has allowed me to sew something special for her. My little one, just turned 7 today. She has been in the mix of my business since pretty much the day she was born. I have pictures of my girls in my studio, helping me out & even learning to sew. My oldest has gone to fashion camp, making her own dress. The little one has done hand embroidery. So my two girls will be able to sew as much or as little as they want. They will & pretty much have the skills to do it.

When did I start? Well you got a little preview with my girls. My mom gave me a sewing machine when I got married. Other than a home economic class that I took in middle school, I hadn’t actually used a sewing machine. In high school, I made my own curtains & sewed them by hand. When I got married, my husband and I couldn’t find the curtains we wanted. So we both got crafty and built window boxes & I sewed panels. For the most part I worked full time after we got married & I only sewed when I needed to. This all changed when I stopped working to be home with the girls. Suddenly I found myself with more time & quite the urge to sew. A business was born thanks to the e-commerce site Etsy.com.

My Mom – Linda   She is such a talented sewer & crafter. I remember so many nights hearing the buzzing of the machine. When she was a teenager she didn’t have a ton of money. She was quite resourceful and made beautiful clothes & matching bags for herself. I imagine she looked a lot like Jackie O. I remember seeing a few pictures of her as a teenager. Not too much later on…my brother and I came along when she was in her 20’s. Again, not blessed with a ton of cash, she made a lot of our clothes. She also made many of our halloween costumes. She would make fun items for craft shows & sell them so that she had extra money to buy us store bought gifts. Then the day I will never forget. Is the day my mom made my prom dress. I really wanted the Jessica McClintock dress in YM magazine. it was pale pink & perfect. How 1990 could you possibly be? Well, we couldn’t afford this dress & quite honestly off the rack probably would have looked terrible. My mom said…I bet we can find the same gunne sax pattern at the store & buy satin fabric. I wasn’t convinced. I had no idea how lucky I was to have a “Seamstress” in my own home. A personal dress maker. Duh, hello. What was I thinking. My mom probably said a few bad words during the dresses making but oh my goodness was this dress the most beautiful thing I had ever set my eyes on. It was so pretty & totally one of a kind. I had no idea how good I had it. This was a strong theme throughout my childhood. Ugh.

My Grandmother – Virginia   I had no idea that Virginia sewed. I just remember that my grandfather died when I was very little. My grandmother always working really hard but never behind a sewing machine. My grandmother grew up in the Marlboro area and worked at various factories as a young woman. It wasn’t until the factories closed down that she went off to find work in other capacities.

My Great Grandmother – Agnes    My sweet Agnes. She held me for the first few months after I was born. I cried a lot. I had acid reflux but they didn’t know that back then so they called it colic. She rocked and held me. Talking to me. My mom, poor thing was on bedrest. I put her through the ringer while she was pregnant & it didn’t get much better after. I was always this hard headed kid. Well, I guess I still am hard headed. Agnes was a stitcher. I had no idea what a stitcher was until talking with my mom recently. A stitcher is a person who does the decorative stitching on leather shoes. Frye Boot company was one of the first shoe manufacturers to industrialize. She worked for Frye Boots & Marlboro Footwear. Many European shoe companies came to America to learn the process. She also spent time working for Bally Shoes & Diamond Shoe Company. You can read more about the industrialization here. I love history, fashion history well that is a no brainer.

What I have come to know is that the beautiful lace work found on many of Bally’s shoes today was a part of my families legacy. That the diamond shoe company, I believe was the first to introduce the diamond cut in loafers which would later become the penny loafer. Frye boots we all know their legacy & I just love the picture on their history website. I wonder if one of those ladies was Agnes. What is sad is that all the shoe manufacturing has left this small town of blue collar workers. The companies moved on to other locations & many are now manufactured overseas. In writing this article I came across many obituaries of people that worked for the various shoe companies that I never knew existed in my small town of Marlborough, Massachusetts.

I really enjoyed researching the story behind the companies. It would be amazing if I could find pictures of my family working in the factories. I guess I’ll save that for another day.

Thanks for walking down memory lane with me.

xo, Jen

New Website on Squarespace

15 Jun

I am so excited to bring to you the new and improved Itty Bitty Bag dot com.

I am so very thankful to my husband for creating my first website but as the technology was changing, my business was growing and changing, I needed updates faster than he could make them. I needed to be able to have full control of my website and able to make edits or updates whenever necessary.

The world of selling handmade is also changing. You might ask why two websites. If you’ve ever attended one of my classes then you should know that you should always have your own dot com. What if Etsy vanished tomorrow…what would become of your business? How quickly could you respond?

For me, my business is a divided between to specific areas: Custom Made & Ready to Ship. I’ve found that the newer visitors to Etsy.com are not the same as the first visitors. In the beginning I received many convo’s asking me to do custom work and now the visitors seem to think that what they see is what they will get despite the text below the images saying that the items can be customized.

I’ve launched my new site with the hopes of making the custom order process easier and my website is now mobile friendly.

 

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Thanks so much for all of your continued support. If you have any suggestions, changes or items you think I left out of my site that customers would want to know, please don’t hesitate to share them in the comments below.

Notes: If you are seeing the old site, then clear your browser history & that should refresh what you are seeing.

xo, Jen

Nails Magazine Summer Issue Features Itty Bitty Bag

1 Jun

I am always humbled when a magazine reaches out to me and requests for me to send in one of my products to be reviewed & featured in their magazine. It is even better when their are no strings attached. My little hand embroidered “bride” pouch was featured in Nails Magazine’s Summer (June 2014) Issue.

This bag is available on my website and custom orders & colors are always accepted. I love doing sweet keepsake bags for brides & their party. It is a gift that will last and last unlike so many traditional presents. After the wedding these bags can be used as a makeup bag, clutch or purse organizer.

I offer several different types of monograms and really I have no limits because they are done by hand not machine. I can do any font, any size or color. I can do one large initial or smaller three letter initials.

nails magazine

June 2014 feature!!

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Quest for 1000 Sales!

25 Oct

2013 has been a rough year for sales for me.  Last quarter, I had a total of 5 sales. I had more than that in my first week on Etsy.

I need your help more than ever. I am on a quest for 1000 sales. I know it doesn’t seem like far to go but if I continue at the rate I had last quarter then I may not make it this year.

I’d like to blame my health but honestly every Etsy seller I know that is a true handmade artist is struggling.

While we are struggling….Etsy is reporting record profits. Something isn’t right here. I am continuing to make items and we’ve all been doing some wholesale work on the side to try cover business expenses.

How can you help?

If all of my followers were to buy just one item in my shop as a gift for someone this year would be amazing!! I know many of you have done this especially with my keyfobs. It makes it hard to give out the same gifts each year. No worries. I am going to be offering something new very soon.

I have many items in different price ranges. And I am offering Free Worldwide Shipping through the holidays. So if you forget something…that is ok. You can come back and buy as often as you need without worry of paying more shipping charges.

I often have seasonal promotions that you can share with one person that might appreciate a good recommendation. One friend took office orders on my keyfobs and I am eternally grateful for this.

I make my items to last and so I don’t expect repeat business but telling one person about me is better than me spending $1000 in marketing. Another friend had tweeted about how much she loved her baskets, which resulted in three more sales in my shop. That simple.

I appreciate all of your support. So even if you don’t find that you can do one of these…you should know that I am still so thankful for all that I have and for our friendship. Thank you all so much for getting me to this point.

Let’s bring it home!! 1000 sales.

Here is a quick link to my shop.

xo, Jen

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