Friday, January 23, 2015

Build a Line Challenge from B'Sue Boutiques, Mitzie Crider of Needful Luxuries, Part One

The handsome young man above is Ivan the Terrible, #3 in my list of favorite four legged house buddies.  That fuzzy afghan in the background reminds me of something I want to tell you...

I'm Mitzie Crider of Needful Luxuries.  Its odd to write that since this isn't a new blog, but of course its new to some readers, especially the other participants in the Build a Line Challenge from B'Sue Boutiques.  Welcome, y'all! (I'm from Texas)

The challenge is a master class that will last three months.  There are 56 participants from different countries, with different levels of experience and different styles.  The variety is exciting; so much to share with and gain from one another!  Each person is creating a cohesive line of jewelry in his/her own style.  We've already learned a lot, from each other and from Brenda Sue Lansdowne, who is graciously teaching the class.  At the end of the challenge (aka "project"), we will reveal a complete line of jewelry with at least five pieces.  This is Part One of three blog hops in the Build a Line Challenge.

I have a full-time job so there is limited time to design and make jewelry (too bad its about all I ever want to do.)  I've got a husband and three cats.  I started designing jewelry about four years ago for a distraction when my youngest went off to college, and because I Love jewelry but can't buy it all.

My design style is to one of a kind pieces that use vintage jewelry and/or found objects combined with modern supplies.  I enjoy repurposing heirloom (not necessarily expensive) jewelry into meaningful, wearable art.  I joined the challenge to learn discipline.  Knowing how to create a cohesive jewelry line should increase sales, improve my time management skills, assist with the eternal question "What do I price this?" and increase the potential for wholesale accounts.  
Here are a few shots of previous work.

I don't have a theme for this challenge, and my pieces will still be one of a kind.  They won't be able to be duplicated, because I use old/found components and because uniqueness is part of my brand.  However, they will be cohesive.  I will make a long necklace with some of my typical bells and whistles, a shorter and simpler necklace, a bracelet, and two pair of earrings.  I'll make more if there's time, but considering the speed at which I work there probably won't be!  I'm using antique silver and bronze, a beautiful sea green blue that I don't have enough of, off white, and some trademark components.  Nothing is finished yet.  And that's ok (she told herself repeatedly.)

Here is a shot of the left side of my work table, piled high with unfinished work.  The magazine is for inspiration (not copying) and the top bead board is covered with the start of the shorter necklace.  This photo is hard to share, like posting a pic of me without make up!  Not showing the right side, oh no.

The photo below shows the color I'm using.  I wish I had more beads that color; I'm in love with it and need them for the challenge!

The next shot is the bead board for the longer necklace with potential components, and piled high with bags of goodies from B'Sue Boutiques.  Those came a couple of days ago. Now its time to get going and have some fun!  (Designing is the best part by far.)

The photo below shows my first draft of the long necklace.  Its hard to show this, too!  Under the old glass pearls hides a strand of rhinestone chain; envision them side by side.  Dangles will hang from the old brass piece, which I think is part of a buckle.  The piece is unbalanced and could use more color.  I need to look at it upside down.  I'm looking forward to B'Sue's critique, but nervous, too.  The last time I took an online course, the farther along we got, the less good the teacher had to say about my work!

I've been struggling with this project.  I typically over-think designs; which reportedly stems from inexperience.  In trying to keep the price point at or below $50 I've worked on the first necklace so long that I've raised the cost above what it should be.  Stop over-thinking my designs; can that be taught?!  If so, can I learn it?!  To find out, come back and see my progress in Part 2 of the blog hop on February 20th.  Cat #2 will be introduced and he's a sweety, so you don't want to miss it.  The last blog hop is on March 20th when the completed, cohesive jewelry line (and favorite cat) will be revealed.

You Must check out the Part 1 blogs of the other challenge participants. There's an incredible amount of talent represented in the names below.  Grab your beverage and pet of choice, settle back, and check them out.  You'll be so glad you did!

Challenge sponsored by:

Brenda Sue Lansdowne, B'sue Boutiques
Marcia Tuzzolino
Jann Tague
Judy King
Linzi Alford
Cynthia Wainscott
Carole Carlson
Lynn Stinten
Marica Zammit
Catherine Shattuck
Michaele Collie
Mary Craig
Lee Koopman
Erin Whitacre
Monica Casady
Leila West
Cindy Peterson
Leila Belcher
Gloria Allen
Pamela Anger
Tammy Adams
Lynda O'Mara
Elizabeth Hildreth
Dana Hickey
Janet Calardo
Maria Clark
Lori Beekman
Jennifer Kroeger
Amy Jorgensen
Robin Reed
Ingrid Anderson
Louise O'Shields
Susan Killam
Mary Katherine Deis
Nike Bottalico
Susan Bowerman
Kristy Le
Jan Peters
Gina Hockett
Linda Anderson
Alexandra Sefton
Melida Boman
Teresa Shurter
Melissa Latimer
Renee Hong
Nadine Edris
Lori Meyer
Jennifer Merrill Williams
Denise Lussier Poirier
Renee Allen
Autumn Adams
Elizabeth Owens
Kat BarronMiller
Sandra Ballard
Coral Law

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Published in Bead Style Magazine

I can't believe that I forgot to tell you I have a piece in the January 2015 Bead Style Magazine!  The necklace is one of my favorites; I use it sometimes as a jury piece when applying to shows.  The real thing is prettier than this; the colors are more subtle.  The shot below is over-saturated.

Its funny how the piece got into the magazine.  One of my too-many goals for 2014 was to send six (!) pieces to magazines in hopes of being published.  I sent two or three, but this wasn't one of them and none were accepted.  I did, however, enter a design contest with six pieces, of which the necklace was one.  None of them won though, and I forgot all about it.

Months later I received an email from a someone at Kalmbach Publishing saying her team had seen this necklace in the contest entries and wanted to publish it in the January 2015 edition, if I was willing. Uhhh, yeah...

Its a good thing my niece Leslie owns it, and was willing to give it up for several months, as I had to send the necklace to the editor.  I thought they'd just take a photo or two and send it back, but no! They took the necklace apart and reconstructed it over two pages of the magazine.  Yay!

The payment was not large, but it was gratifying, and more than I sell in 90% of the shows I do any given year.  Or did.  I won't be doing those kinds of shows anymore, but that's another story.

Dan was so supportive, he posted each and every page on Facebook, like His friends are the jewelry makers.  I passed the magazine around to my Bunco group and Monday night bible study group, embarrassed about it but proud, too.  Posted it on my Facebook page, too.  Hard to blow that horn, but I'm learning, gosh darn it.

I'll be submitting more pieces to magazines in 2015 if I can get my act together.  Entries are due many, many months before publish date, which I haven't seemed to grasp.  Wish me good fortune!

Here is a better shot of the Leslie's necklace, as to the true color, anyway.  This is a little washed out, but much closer to the real color than the magazine shot.  Dan took the photo and needs to learn some things about photographing jewelry, LOL.  (He's already improved since then, and I'm happy he helps!)  The briolettes are apatite from  I've not been able to find them again, darn it.

My next blog post will be my first about the Build a Line Challenge from B'Sue Boutiques, where Brenda Sue is helping me and 56 other designers learn how to build a jewelry line.  Stay tuned!

Thursday, January 8, 2015

I'm Back!

After a Long hiatus from blogging, I'm back and will Dare to do better this year.  Here's what's new:

Word of the Year:  I don't believe in New Year's Resolutions and didn't before it was cool.  (Me a trend setter?  Ha.)  When I did make resolutions I'd either forget them within a week, or put so much pressure on myself that they became another stressor.  No more.  So in 2014 I chose a word for the year, to guide my journey, so to speak.  The word is Grow.  I exhibited at more shows in 2014, learned new techniques, and developed more confidence in my work.  I did grow in 2014, but mainly in bead inventory and clothing size.  Oops.

In 2015 the word is Dare.  I will Dare to step out of my craft show comfort zone to find And create a better way to market and sell my jewelry.  I will Dare to get control of my bead hoarding habit (somehow.)  What does this mean?  I will create and promote a business Facebook page (too bad Facebook made it harder to do business there), be more discerning about the shows I work, and seek (that means promote, take work days off to solicit, etc.) a retail venue where I can wholesale my work.  I will also either commit to actually use my Etsy site or drop it.  I also Dare to lose a chunk of the physical changes derived during Grow, LOL.

Therein lies one of my continuing struggles.  My work is too high a price point to attract impulse buyers at typical craft shows and events that include crafts as entertainment.  And that's when I'm under pricing my work.  I know I do, considering the time put into designing and constructing pieces. Its a labor of love, certainly, but it shouldn't be a losing proposition, right?

I would sell more at art shows, but they have very expensive entry fees.  Hmmm.  What to do...

Is it possible to create lower priced work that is Also satisfying to design and make? Satisfying my internal creative monster is more important than sales, after all.  Presently, anyway.  So far I've been less than successful on that front.  Why oh why would anyone want to wear handmade jewelry that looks like its mass produced?  Mass produced items can be purchased more cheaply, too.  Hello, China.

Here's where I am So far:

1.  Looking for a way to get my Dare on without spending hundreds on a bunch of motivational or small business creation classes.  That includes blogging more often and utilizing social media.

2.  Wondering how to banish the hoarding monster.  Suggestions are welcome. (BTW, finishing my first 2015 destash event this weekend.  Buy, don't use, sell and hopefully don't lose coinage.)

3.  Started dieting today, 1/8/2015.  If you are what you eat I am sweet chocolate.  I absolutely refuse to be this size a year from now.  Gotta do it right so I don't lose heart and binge.  Or get sloppy and gain it all back, or more.  In other words, eat responsibly  Be an adult.  Yuck.

4.  Determine, no manage, to use my studio time smarter.  Going to buy a planner that could/should help with this and 1. above.  Now, to use it rather than fear it!

5.  Either (1) find my niche for creating lower priced jewelry that satisfies both the creative monster and impulse buyers' wallets, or (2) successfully banish the idea of (1).  One of the ways I'm working on this goal is to participate in the B'Sue Creative Group Line Challenge.  I was accepted today, just as I am, without one plea. More about that in my next post, which will be in a few days, yay!

God wants us to Dare, as reflected in below:

The LORD himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.  Deuteronomy 31:8

Thanks for reading.  TTYS