Saturday, July 24, 2010

Vacation - Ashland, WI

Sorry I haven't been posting much this past week. I've been sewing my little fingers numb getting ready for upcoming craft shows. I've also been preparing for my mini-vacation to Ashland, WI to visit my buddy Claire. This is my first vacation away from my husband. Traveling without him should prove interesting.

Here's a teaser photo. I hope to take a few shots while I'm up there.
I hope everyone has a wonderful weekend!

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Out with the old, in with the new!

Today was a difficult day here at the Bartlett-Tetzlaff residence. Tanuki, my beloved foster ferret went home with her new family. It's always hard to say goodbye. I just keep telling myself that if I keep them all I'll have no room for new foster pets. Here's a picture of her with the boy that's going to love her next:
Speaking of new foster pets, I just brought home Ruth, a little 2-3 month old mini-lop. She was found outside at a county park in my area. She needs to be fostered because she currently is spraying to mark her territory, but I have confidence that once she gets spayed she'll stop this behavior.
Good girl. She seems to like her litterbox, she just likes marking things as her property more. :)

Monday, July 12, 2010

One Year Anniversary - New Business Direction Announcement

This month heartfeltwool celebrates it's one year anniversary. There is a part of me that still cannot believe that people (or their animals) enjoy the things I make. Growing up I never thought of myself as creative or even a little bit artistic. This project has been life changing for me.

One of the best parts about starting my shop has been giving back to animals. I have thoroughly enjoyed donating 15% of my sales to my local shelter. The funds have been used to purchase food for the shelter's small mammals, the animals at the shelter most people forget about when they make a donation.

The purpose of this post is to share with my customers a new direction for my business. I sat down to analyze my costs and profits from last year. While it brings me great joy to see the good that my 15% has done for the shelter, I am realizing that I cannot grow my business in meaningful ways while donating this amount.

From here on out, I will be donating a reduced percentage of 5% of sales to the shelter to allow heartfeltwool the opportunity to explore consignment and wholesale opportunities. I believe that I sew a high quality product that pets and owners alike can appreciate. I have been approached about wholesale pricing, but have not been able to offer as competitive a rate as other makers of catnip toys because the amount that I donate constitutes such a large portion of my expenses. I believe that by lowering the amount that I donate to my local shelter, I will be able to greatly increase the number of wholesale opportunities available to me by offering a competitive wholesale rate while still recouping my costs. This could actually end up resulting in the same or an increased amount of money going to the shelter from sales of my toys if I can increase the number of toys being sold through wholesale and consignment, regardless of the decreased percentage donated from each toy.

I hope that my customers will understand this change in business model and will appreciate the fact that it truly is a numbers game. Lower costs will allow me to increase the overall number of sales off of Etsy, and will allow me to donate more in the long run.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Sewing Machines: How Do I Choose?

I'm perplexed. I've decided that I finally want to get a sewing machine, and I've never had one before. The problem is that I've never used one and I'm not sure what to look for. I just picked up Diana Rupp's book Sew Everything Workshop, and I think I've come to the following conclusions:
1. I am thinking that it would be best to purchase a sewing machine from a dealer who can provide a limited warranty on used, refurbished machines or can sell new machines with a warranty. I would also like to be able to take classes from the place that I buy the machine and have the opportunity to ask them follow up questions, and possibly take my machine to them to be fixed if there are any problems.
2. I am leaning towards purchasing an older machine because I want a machine that has metal parts. If I buy a newer machine I will make sure that only the case is made of plastic.
3. I don't care about fancy stitching options. I need a straight stitch and zigzag options. Anything else is just extra.
4. I may want a one-step button hole option on my machine.
5. I definitely want a drop in bobbin loader.

Sewing machine veterans: What other advice do you have for someone looking to purchase a new machine for the first time? What features do you find useful?

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Daily Affirmations

I just saw this video for the first time this week. I thought I would post it on the blog so those of you who haven't seen it (I don't know if this video is viral or not, sometimes I feel out of the loop) can see it.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Some more new stuff!

This has been a very inspiring week! I'm gearing up for a couple of shows, so I wanted to create some new work. Here are the newest items available in my shop:

I made a treasury!

I made a treasury to feature the work of some of my fellow Etsy for Animals team members. For those of you who don't know, members of this etsy team donate a percentage of their sales to a charity that helps animals.

Friday, July 2, 2010

Goodbye, Stanley and Gunther.

Once upon a time you two were little rats, and like all young animals you were ripe with the potential of the animals you could become. You were born blind and hairless, but day by day you could see the world a little clearer and could explore a little further from your litter mates and mom. Your white fur grew in, flecked with just a hint of light brown. Your eyes were a vibrant red.

There were three possible fates for rats like you. Some are fortunate and are born to be pets. Some are raised to feed other pets. But you, Stanley and Gunther, were born into life at a laboratory. Many times I wished I knew what happened to you during your year there, but all that I know is that you most likely were not held or touched very often.

After a year at the lab you went home with a nice man that liked you very much. Gunther, you especially had a fondness for this man. I don't know exactly why you ended up in a humane society two years later, at three years of age, but there you were. When I approached your cage you cowered under a cardboard box. You both shook with fright when I opened the cage door.

Two months later, I grieve you both. You learned to stop fearing the opening of your cage door and the entrance of my hands. You learned that crumpets covered in peanut butter are delicious. You both learned to enjoy the liberating feeling of sleeping out in the open, outside of your wooden hideouts, stretched out or curled up in your soft bedding. You lost a lot of weight, and could turn your exercise wheel three rotations. But at three years old you couldn't learn to behave the way pet rats do. You didn't have enough time to learn to stop biting hands. You didn't have enough time to learn what it takes to be adopted.

I grieve the loss of my two rat friends, Stanley and Gunther, but mostly I grieve the circumstances that necessitate the retelling of this story, over and over, countless times for countless rats.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

New Catnip Toy Designs

I just added two new designs to the shop: a grumpy cupcake and a lightning cloud. I've been very influenced by the Japanese kawaii style lately; it's been very fun making it my own! These two are very fun to make, especially the plump little cupcake.