Monday, December 3, 2012

Tired of Competing with China

My dearest reader, I deeply apologize for my absence. I have missed communicating with you, but I have been very busy trying to give my small business a shot in the arm. First, a little history...

In early 2009, I opened my business, Chrysalis Jewelry. This was a side business, giving me a way to sell people my creations from my jewelry studio. Creations that had started as a hobby. It stayed a side business until late last year, when I was let go from my full time job due to my illness (which has now been diagnosed as the autoimmune CREST).  At first I was devastated by the loss. But I had a couple of people mention to me this might be an opportunity to focus on my business full time. As a firm believer in God shutting one door to open another, I decided to give it a shot.

I opened an Etsy shop, something I had drug my heals about up to that point. I started to create items to put in my Etsy shop and I began to market all over social media. I threw myself into my small business heart and soul.

I know it takes a lot of time for a small business to become successful. I did not naively think I would become an over night success (although I sure would take it!!). I knew it would be a lot of hard work and sacrifice.

Late last summer a friend approached me about sharing a booth at a craft fair in late September. It was a $25 investment, so I figured it was worth a shot. About the same time I had a friend tell me of another craft fair that was posted on Craigs list. Once again the booth fee was affordable so I figured I would give that a shot as well. It would give people an opportunity to see my hard work first hand. To pick it up and touch it. I felt it would be a good way to get my name out there.

Long story short, I have seven craft fairs under my belt and I am thoroughly frustrated. I have had ONE craft fair I would deem successful. A couple that were okay and I made a small profit after covering booth fees. Others were a complete bust.

The problem I have run into at these "Craft" fairs is they also allow vendors. Now, I'm cool with people coming in and selling Tupperware, Pampered Chef, and Scentsy. What irks me to no end is being placed next to a booth that also sells jewelry that is imported (which has happened). I make my items by hand, which means this takes time. Not only time to make the items, but time to find (source) materials and buy them. This includes shopping around so I can keep my costs down while still buying quality material.

I'm a good capitalist and I'm all for the free market. However, don't take my booth fee for what is billed as a craft fair and then sit me next to someone who is selling jewelry from China. It's not fair to me, it's not fair to the customers who think they are buying handmade crafts and imported jewelry has no business at a craft fair. I had an acquaintance who was in the same boat at the same craft fair a few weeks ago overhear a conversation between a customer and the imported jewelry vendor. When the vendor was questioned if the items were handmade, the vendor said "not really".

Do you want to help the economy? Do you want to see people in your community get back to work? Then you need to start supporting local merchants, artists, and crafters.  This Christmas I have decided all of my gifts are going to be handmade, either by myself or another crafter. Check out the graphic below:

What do you think? I think shopping local (or at least from someone whose products are made in the USA) is well worth it.

Until Tomorrow

PS - Should you want to see my handmade goods, they can be found at here

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Handmade Wednesday 9/19/12

Handmade Wednesday

by Melissa Creamer, Crafter of Chrysalis Jewelry

Welcome to the first ever Handmade Wednesday. Each Wednesday, I will feature five crafters you should know about! I will pick an item I think is interesting and feature it along with the artist/ crafter. Are you ready to see what I have picked for this week? Let's get started.

First up is an awesome shop called Forgotten Cotton. They feature handmade infinity scarfs, headbands, arm warmers, and vintage jewelry.  The husband and wife team at Forgotten Cotton come up with the most exciting colors of jersey for their scarves.  The selection makes it hard to pick just one! They have recently started to feature "The Basics", a set of three scarves pre-selected and combined for one low price (you save $10 versus buying them separately). 
Scarfs, $50.00

Next we have Miss Ivy Originals. She has a wide assortment of handmade items, like the beautiful crocheted shawl below, craft supplies (ribbon, beads), and handmade cards.  Miss Ivy has a little bit of everything and is definitely worth a visit!  I own the wrap below in a rose color and I can vouch for how comfy it is to wear on a cool evening. Miss Ivy always welcomes custom orders and even has created a coupon code for my readers. Just use coupon code MIO62012 to get 20% off when you check out. This code will expire on 9/30, so hurry over!
Wrap, $45.00
Who doesn't love jewelry? I know I am personally addicted (which is why I started making jewelry in the first place). The best thing about handmade jewelry is it can be personalized and Beadsoul does that in spades!  You have to check out Beadsoul for the variety of items that can be personalized.  You can even order customized guitar picks! How cool is that?
Hand Stamped Rings, $20.00/ea

I have been blown away by the creations of Emergent Glass Works. The detail in the octopi they are known for is amazing. I have even seen glow-in-the-dark octopi Emergent Glass.  Never fear, they also have beautiful glass flowers, bugs, and jars if cephalopods aren't your thing.  I personally wish I had an extra $250.00 laying around so I could get my tenticles on the beauty below.
Octopus, $250.00

My last pick for the week is a shop called Rainy Roots Studio. This talented lady makes art out of soda cans. Talk about upcycling! You have to visit her shop to believe it! Who would have thought the beautiful "L" below started life as a can?
Upcycled Letter, $18.50

Sadly, all good things must come to an end, so this concludes this week's Handmade Wednesday. Never fear, I will be back next week with five more handmade picks.  Would you like to be featured in Handmade Wednesday?  Just leave me a comment on this blog or give me a tweet. I always love to meet new tweeps!

Until tomorrow - Melissa

Tuesday, September 18, 2012


Last December, a friend approached me about opening a store in a downtown area. She would need me to help run it. In exchange, I would be given an area where I could display my jewelry.  I was really excited about the opportunity.  I knew it would be hard work and at time things would be lean, but I was excited to start on a new adventure.

Unfortunately my friend could never come to an agreement with the building owner on lease terms.  While this was disappointing, I felt that another opportunity would come down the road.  So far, another opportunity to open a store has not presented itself.  This lack of opportunity does not preclude me from dreaming about it.

Lately I have been thinking about how exciting it would be to open a store to feature local crafters. There is such a store in a small town from not far from here. I have put myself on the waiting list to get in. That was a couple of months ago.  There are so many small business crafters and artisans that need a place to display their items.  Websites like Etsy and Ebay are great, but not everyone is willing to take the on-line leap. Sometimes people want to be able to touch the item, examine it before buying.

The other issue crafters have is getting the word out about their items. Sure, there is a lot of social media out there, but how does one cut above the noise? I know I face this issue myself.  Well, I may not currently be able to open a brick and morter store, but I do have this blog.

I wonder what would happen if I would feature a few artisan/crafters each week.  Would my blog help them get some exposure?  I'm willing to give it a try.

So, I would like to start a series called Handmade Wednesdays. I know it's not terribly catchy, but it gets the point across.  Every Wednesday I will feature 5 people who make items by hand,  I would love not to have to go looking for each one every week.  Therefore, if you are a crafter and would love to be featured, just leave a comment to this blog and where I can find your items.

Be sure to tune in tomorrow for the first Handmade Wednesday!
Until Tomorrow - Melissa

Saturday, September 8, 2012

It's All Fun and Games Until...

I typically find humor in what I see as irony.  So the other night when I viewed a clip from "The Daily Show" with people "reporting" from the Democratic Nation Convention about that party being the party of inclusion, I found it humorous (view clip here).  In this clip there is some mockery of gun owners, which is fine. This is America and people have the First Amendment right to say what they wish.

If you are a regular reader of my blog, you know I LOVE period dramas. Tonight's pick was "The Patriot". If you are unfamiliar with this film, it is set during the Revolutionary War and prominently features the militia. As I thought about the militia that fought against the British, I marveled that farmers with hunting rifles could help take down the world's strongest army of the time.

I then thought back to a conversation I had a few years ago with a friend from India. I remarked how both the United States and India had both been British colonies at one time. I asked why she thought there was almost a 200 year difference in the independence of our countries. She remarked, "You had guns, we did not." My friend's remark chills me to the bone to this day.

As I thought about my friend's remark as I watched "The Patriot", I thought once again of the comments made on "The Daily Show". While I understand that "The Daily Show" is about humor, I began to get angry. Not because of what was said per se, but because there are people who truly believe the premise of their mock report.

I believe that our Constitution is an awesome document that gives us freedoms and opportunities that no one else has.  Over 200 years later, people still flock to our shores because of the freedoms and liberties it grants. The First Amendment gives you the right to say what ever you wish. No matter how disgusting or vile your comment is, I will defend it, as it is your right. I do not have to agree with you to defend your right to free speech.

Please understand however, that your First Amendment rights are backed up by the Second Amendment (the right to bear arms).  When America declared her independence, she did not have a standing army to go up against the British. She only had militia. Our founding fathers knew this lesson well, which is why we have the Second Amendment. Let's look at what a few founding fathers said in their own words.

Thomas Jefferson who is credited as being one of the authors of The Declaration of Independence said:
"No Free man shall ever be debarred the use of arms."

James Madison, along with Jefferson, is credited in the writing of our Constitution. He said: 
"A well regulated militia, composed of the body of the people, trained in arms, is the best, most natural defense of a free country."

James Madison also said:
"Americans have the right and advantage of being armed - unlike the citizens of other countries whose governments are afraid to trust the people with arms." 

You don't have to like guns. I'm not trying to convert anyone. However, if you are one of my fellow Americans who does not like them, please respect the right of others to bear them. It's not funny, it's not something to be made fun of. The right to bear arms is what keeps tyranny at bay. I'm all for making jokes and being silly, but freedom is no laughing matter. It's all fun and games until someone takes your rights away.

Until Tomorrow - Melissa


Wednesday, September 5, 2012

An Open Letter To Both Political Parties

Dear Democrats and Republicans,

First, I would like to remind you of something our first President and the only President that did not belong to ANY political party, George Washington, said.

"However [political parties] may now and then answer popular ends, they are likely in the course of time and things, to become potent engines, by which cunning, ambitious, and unprincipled men will be enabled to subvert the power of the people and to usurp for themselves the reins of government, destroying afterwards the very engines which have lifted them to unjust dominion".
GEORGE WASHINGTON, Farewell Address, September 17, 1796

In this election year, I hear both of you leveling charges against one another.  It reminds me of small children fighting. Normally I would not care, but you are spending a lot of money to do this bickering in public. Exorbitant amounts of money, millions if not billions of dollars between the two of you.  Since there isn't a citizen in the country that needs a single thing, this is fine. Oh wait, this country is hurting, badly.

You both claim to "care" about a number of issues (your platforms).  I'm sorry y'all, but I just don't buy it.  If you truly cared, you could take all this money you are spending to educate us on who the "better man" is, and help those you claim to care about.

To the Democrats - I wonder how many medical bills you could pay for what you are spending on your convention and political ads (on all levels for all offices). How many tuition bills could you pay this fall for college students? I wonder what the millions you are spending would do to help the middle class or poor people of America.

To the Republicans - I pose the same questions to you. What could the millions you are spending to get elected or re-elected do toward decreasing the national debt? What could the millions do to bolster national defense?  Better yet, since you care about the economy and business, what could all the money do for small businesses if it was invested there? How many jobs could it create?

Instead of helping your fellow Americans you care so much about (and make campaign promises to), you spend an obscene amount of money to fight each other. As best I can tell, all it does is make the decision this upcoming November a choice between evil and marginally less evil (you, Dear Reader, get to decide who is who on that charge).

As far as I'm concerned, you both need to be sent to time out while responsible, common-sense Americans sort this mess out. A mess you BOTH created. Go ahead, keep pointing fingers at each other, because in the end pointing fingers solves all of our problems.

I realize this blog will probably not shame either party into changing.  It is my hope that the "adults", my fellow Americans, will read this and see the truth in what you are doing. You are dividing us and not uniting us.  My fellow Americans, let's unite against the real enemy here, the politicians.  Let whoever you vote for this November know you are on to them. Let them know that you are tired of the childish shenanigans and you expect some adult problem solving and some adult compromises. My name is Melissa Creamer and I approve this message.

Until tomorrow - Melissa

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Sheldon Logic

Dearest Reader, I am a fan of the Big Bang Theory, the CBS sitcom whose plot revolves around four "nerds" and the attractive neighbor girl (and in later seasons, all the girlfriends).  I find it is a very clever show that is very funny.  One of the main characters (in case you don't follow the show) is Dr. Sheldon Cooper.  Sheldon is a genius but can have issues with everyday situations (which leads to the show's hilarious plots).  One if his famous quotes is:

Today, I had a situation where I could identify with Sheldon.  I assist a friend at her antique shop a couple of days a week.  While I certainly don't expect people to know as much as I do about certain topics, I would expect people who collect antiques to have a basic understanding of history.  Allow me to set the situation up for you.

On Monday, I assisted my friend in moving a matched three piece bedroom set (bed, dresser, and washstand) that is about 150 years old into the shop.  If you aren't versed in antiques, you need to understand how rare this is.  First of all, a family would need to be quite well off to afford three pieces all at once.  It was much more common for a bedroom to be pieced together as the family could afford it.  Secondly, these three pieces have remained together for 150 years.

Today we had a gentleman come in and look at the bedroom set. He was so blown away by its beauty and rarity, he called his wife and told her she needed to come look at it. This couple have been customers of my friends for many years (so they aren't novice collectors). When his wife came in my friend was busy helping another customer so I answered her questions about it. The conversation went like this:

Customer: "About how old is this set?"
Me: "It's Civil War Era."
Customer: "I'm sorry, I don't know when this was."
Me: "1860-1865."

It took everything I had to remain polite.  It was right then I had my "Sheldon" moment. How is it possible to not know when the Civil War was, especially if you collect antiques? I almost had to look around for cameras to make sure I wasn't on Candid Camera or Jay-Walking.  I don't mean to sound like a pompous know-it-all, but come on! That would almost like being an English teacher then asking a co-worker who Shakespeare was.

On the upside, it did give me something to blog about...

Until Tomorrow - Melissa

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

The Nail Obsession That Is Sweeping The Nation

I was blessed with my mother's nail genes, which means I have always been able to grow nice long nails.  For most of my life, I wore them just the way nature gave them to me.  I would only paint them on very special occasions (like when I got married).

Then this thing called Pinterest came along and I saw all the colorful nail polishes that are being made now. Not to mention all the sparkle polishes, which called to my sparkle gene (Thank you Grandma Mizell).
They also have glow nail polishes!

Being inspired by all the new nail polishes I see on Pinterest, I started my own nail polish collection.  I would experiment with a dark base coat and a sparkle top coat.  It is also fun to see what happens with a dark base coat and a semi-transparent top coat. I have mixed up some pretty funky colors.

Yesterday I was in Target and I walked by an E.L.F endcap.  They had a nail polish set with four trendy colors in it for $5.00. How brilliant is that?  The set includes Nude, Smokey Brown, Party Purple and Dark Navy.  I tried on the Party Purple last night and I am LOVING it!
Elf set, $5.00

Maybe you haven't jumped on the nail polish bandwagon yet.  Well, to inspire you, here are a few of my favorite nail pics from Pinterest.
Pretty swirls

Subtle Stripes
Fun design

What is your favorite nail color?  Have your tried any designs you have seen on Pinterest? I'd love to hear what you are doing dear reader.  Happy Painting!

Until Tomorrow - Melissa

Monday, July 23, 2012

Mr. Holstein Guest Blogs

Hello Humans! I am Mr. Holstein.  Mom left her computer open so I have decided to take over her blog today.  You may wonder how I am able to type, I ask you to suspend your disbelief during the duration of this blog.

You may wonder what a cat has to blog about.  Life is not just about catnaps and kitty treats (although those are quite important).  We felines are concerned about social topics just as you Homo sapiens are.  You just don't realize it because so very few of you speak cat.

I am very concerned about the genocide you humans are waging on my kind.  Some of you humans are responsible owners and get us spayed and neutered.  Some of you humans don't, which leads us to breed uncontrollably.  According to statistics I found on the cater-net just two feral cats (the wild offspring of domestic cats) can quickly become 2,000. In fact, the feline reproduction statistics are staggering. Two uncontrolled breeding cats produce: Two litters a year, at a survival rate of 2.8 kittens per litter. Continued breeding will produce 12 cats the first year, 66 cats the second year, 2,201 cats in the third year, 3,822 cats in the fourth year, 12,680 cats in the fifth year, and on and on . . .

This prolific breeding lands millions of my fellow felines in animal shelters.  My friends, the canines, also end up in animal shelters as well.  It is estimated only half of us get adopted (check out the stats).  Why do you do this to us?  We are all good kitties (the jury is still out on the dogs, though).  We just want a home where we can be petted, fed, and given the occasional kitty treat. Is that too much to ask?

I plead with you, please stop killing my fellow cats. Get your cats fixed.  If you don't have a cat and can responsibly bring one of us home, would you please consider it?  You will save a life and gain a great furry purry friend.

I think I hear Mom coming - I better go.
Mr. Holstein

Sunday, July 22, 2012

In case you're feeling crafty...

I don't know about you, but I love to keep a running list of projects I would like to do.  Today I'd like to share with you a few projects that are on my list.  These are projects that look fun and sometimes upcycle/ recycle old items.

The first project idea comes from Country Home. I have so many crafting projects around the house I am always looking for cute ways to organize.  Country Home suggests printing vintage can labels from online, glue onto "modern" cans, fill with craft supplies, hang like this! Too sweet!

The next idea comes from Craftster.Org.  Don't throw those old worn jeans away!  I use the better pieces for craft projects but I never know what to do with the hems.  Here is a great idea, make coasters out of them.  I love that I can now recycle all the useable parts of old jeans!

This next idea recycles old chair backs.  Thanks to Something Salvaged for great ideas! Sometime my antique dealer runs across furniture that is broken. This is a great way to repurpose furniture that is beyond repair! I love the idea of turning old broken chairs into cork boards or magnetic boards.

Here is a great way to reuse old bottles and spice up your homes decor! This idea comes from Shanty 2 Chic.  It is such a simple yet elegant way to repurpose old bottles.  I would love to try this in my home, but I'm afraid I have run out of wall space!

I hope these ideas help get your creative crafty juices flowing! As always, if you have a great craft/repurpose/upcycle idea, I would LOVE to hear about it! I love to see what my readers are doing.

Until Tomorrow - Melissa

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Another Life Lesson

Do you ever have one of those days where you learn something about yourself?  Where something happens and you have an epiphany?  I had one of those days today.  You would think by now I would know myself pretty well.  It is said you learn something new every day.  Today the light bulb came on about me.

I am FANTASTIC at starting projects.  I see something, think it's a great idea and start on it.  What I learned today is I might not be the best at finishing projects.  The following is a tale of how I learned this fact...

My day started innocently enough.  I had plans to meet a local Twitter pal (who is a friend of a friend) and go to a specialty yarn store.  I held myself in check and only bought a few skeins of yarn (I was actually proud of myself).  When I got home, I was so excited to try out my new yarn.  It had been a few months since I had knitted (I also crochet, which is what I have been doing as of late), so I first had to locate the appropriate sized needles.  That should be easy, RIGHT?

Hardy har har.  First of all, I am the poster child for disorganization.  I had knitting needles stored in four different areas of the house.  Secondly, I do not lack knitting needles (or crochet hooks); I have every size known to man and I typically have between two and four in each size.  I was looking for either size 11 or 13.  It turns out I have six sets of needles in those sizes (that I found).  It also turns out there was a partially done project on each one.  When you are knitting, you leave the needle in the project until you finish it, otherwise all of the stitches will collapse and all of your hard work will disappear as the project unravels.

At this discovery, I had two choices. I could either go to Hobby Lobby and purchase more needles (which actually crossed my mind) or finish the projects I had started.  I would like to say I chose the finish projects option because that is the logical thing to do.  The real reason I went with option two is because it was 106 degrees in Dallas today and I could not bear the thought of going back outside.

As a gazed at six partially done knitting projects, I realized I have a problem. One of the projects is at LEAST six years old.  Who leaves a project laying around for six years partially done?  I resolved to do two things this afternoon:  One - make a single place to put all of my crochet hooks and knitting needles when not in use (an antique sewing cabinet would be nice) and two - to work at being better about finishing projects that I start.

Hopefully with my second resolution in place, I won't have any more projects sitting around for six years...

Until Tomorrow - Melissa