Friday, December 30, 2011

Business Time: Things I've Learned

I haven't been self-employed for a terribly long time--just under three months--but I'm already having some pretty big lightbulb moments. So for those of you working toward a similar goal, I thought I'd do something a little different today and share my recent discoveries with you.


1. My job doesn't always feel like work. Being a one-person company, I have to do it all myself (which is fine, because my name is Paige and I'm a control freak). This includes the major stuff like making the jewelry and photographing it, but it's also weird little things like researching what kind of shopping bag I want to use in 2012, and whether or not I need logo stickers. Sometimes when it happens I'm like, "Really? This is my job now?! I should go make some earrings." But I can't just stop what I'm doing, because as menial as some of the tasks are, they still need to be done.

So that's an adjustment I haven't quite made yet. It's actually the cause of item #2:


2. I have a hard time NOT working. Because some of the stuff I have to do feels like I'm just filling time, I constantly worry that I'm not doing enough. Whenever I'm home, I'm either working, or thinking about what I should work on next. I get antsy if too many hours go by and I haven't been productive.

This is a brand new problem for me, since my old job wasn't exactly interesting. And speaking of The Day Job, quitting it has led to item #3:


3. My paycheck is smaller--but that's okay! Even though I'm actually making more money now that I'm self-employed, I sure don't get to keep all of it. There's the cost of materials, Etsy and PayPal fees, monthly advertising contracts, booth rentals at craft shows, mileage on my car, shipping fees... Once all of that is taken care of, then I get to pay myself.

But I'm actually fine with it, because now that I'm busier, I don't shop as much. I think it also has something to do with being happier and needing less retail therapy. I'd rather have a slightly smaller paycheck and love my job than let my brain go soft in a cubicle for an extra $1,000 a year.

So there we go! Three things I've learned so far working for myself. For my fellow self-bosses, what's one of the biggest things you realized along the way? And for those of you who are heading this direction, what are some things you're curious about? Feel free to ask in the comments.

P.S. Happy (Early) New Year! I'll see you in 2012.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

New Year's Style

Here's the thing: I like to dress up for New Year's, but I don't necessarily want people thinking I moonlight as a hooker. (I'm sure it's an exciting life, but not one for me.) I kind of feel like New Year's is  turning into Halloween, in that gals wear the tiniest clothing they own and nobody stops them. Which is unfair to my eyeballs, because I've seen enough tights-as-pants to last a lifetime.

Anyhoodle, I have a classier getup in mind:


The most versatile glitter shoes I've ever seen are $89, the gold chandelier earrings are $17, the beaded clutch is $39.99, and the vintage LBD is $35.

See? Glittery shoes, a beaded purse, and a dress with a criss-crossy back. Fun, and all without making me wonder if it's even possible for you to sit down in an outfit that short.

So what are you wearing for New Year's? Anybody else alarmed by the tiny clothes trend emerging for this holiday? I just don't get it (and now I feel old).

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Time to find a calendar.

Greetings and welcome back! Did you have a good holiday? The Hubs and I had a Christmas marathon: three sides of the family in four days. Whew! And now we're trying to figure out what we're doing for New Year's, but that's another story.

Since I'm working again today, I figured it was time to tackle some organization. Lately I've gotten away from using a day planner (I have a weekly to-do list instead), but I still need a wall calendar to keep track of major, off-in-the-future things. Birthdays come to mind--which is ironic because I usually forget them when they happen. Hence the calendar.

Let's look at a few, shall we?


I like the idea of a perpetual calendar, especially if I can find a cute one that I can bust out for a few years in a row. This foliage-themed option is fun, $15.


Or if I feel like I'll still want to know the day of the week, I can do a chalkboard wall calendar. Nice for looking ahead at your entire month, $30.


I also dig the idea of framing each month's page and making a big wall display. I'd need different inserts than these, but the overall plan is great. Via Pinterest.

Have you gotten your new calendar for 2012 yet? What'd you find? Maybe you're a member of the day planner club instead?

P.S. The blog is undergoing a small New Year's makeover, so don't be alarmed by the 37 different banners you may see today.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Happy Holidays!

We have some travel coming up this week, so it seemed like a good time to take a bloggy break. I'll still be online for the next few days to chit chat and run the shops, but there won't be anything new here until Tuesday the 27th.


When I get back I'll have a tutorial (shirts!), some outfit inspiration for New Year's Eve (sparkles!), and a preview of an event I'm doing at the end of January (brides!).

Until then, if you're celebrating Christmas have a fabulous day! If not, enjoy the long weekend and I'll catch you next Tuesday.

Friday, December 16, 2011

It's My Birthday!

Well, I'm officially on the other side of 25.


Which means I'm closer to 30. Which is weird to think about because sometimes I still feel like I just turned 21.

Hubsey is working from home today and volunteered to take the car in for an oil change so I don't have to, and later tonight we're going to dinner. There's also a new purse heading my way, but I'll wait to tell you about that until I've taken some pictures. And, you know, unwrapped it.

As a present to myself, I'm going to be a generous boss and declare I only have to work half the day! But since I have a hard time NOT working when I'm home, we'll see what actually happens. I might have to take myself to the bookstore.

So a Happy Birthday to me and Happy Friday to you! Any big plans? Scrambling around for some last-minute shopping? Anybody else enjoying a birthday this time of year?

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Shop Update: Twice the Fun

When people do themes on their blogs, alliteration works best. Make It Monday. What I Wore Wednesday. Friday Finds. Too bad there's not a good way to say Shameless Self Promotion Day. That's Awesome Thursday? Selling It Saturday? Wait, that one's not bad...

Anyway, I've been on a listing frenzy this week, putting a handful of new items in both shops. The biggest addition would have to be the lace jewelry holders in Little White Chapel:


The idea came to me while I was washing my hair. I know that some people do a lot of thinking in the shower, but I usually just turn in circles and wonder if it's time to re-do the grout. So this was a nice surprise.

I also added some earrings, including these:



And taking a peek at Oh Nostalgia (which is now up to 28 items):



It's nice to have some pre-made inventory left now that my holiday shows are over, so more goodies will be coming in the next few days.

What have you been adding to your shop? Anybody else basking in the one-less-thing-to-make glow of extra inventory? I'd forgotten how nice it is...

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

DIY: Men's Shirt Makeover

I have no idea when I'm actually going to get this done, but I found my next sewing project:

Pinterest.

Pinterest.

Re-vamping one of Hubsey's old shirts! He dumped a little pile of them on the floor the other day and asked if I could take them to GoodWill. And I was like, "No, because I'm going to wear them."

That's the plan, anyway. These tutorials SEEM pretty straightforward, but that doesn't necessarily mean anything for me and my cranky sewing machine. At least I'll have five attempts:


Nice colors, right? Their only crime was shrinking and turning into belly shirts. I'm actually glad they're kind of small because it means less fabric to deal with.

Like I said before, time is not on my side, but I really want to give this a shot. Is there any project you're itching to try? Anybody else re-worked a men's shirt?

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Gift Guide: The Rainbow Connection

Guys, I think my computer is nearing the end. I made a pretty collage for today's post, and then my MacBook ate it. Very out of character. Just... poof! Hope it was tasty.

Anyway, I've been embracing color lately. Not so much in my wardrobe (though I DID wear a green scarf yesterday), but generally speaking, I'm all about the bright colors lately. Inspired by Christina's recent post, I put together a gift guide for folks who enjoy a little brightness:






Starting at the top, the succulent garden print is $12, the bright wall clock is $49, the recycled robot crayons are $8, the typography print is $25, and the fun button headband is $20.

Are you feeling the colors? How about that shopping, are you done yet?

Monday, December 12, 2011

December Sponsor Spotlight

Not to give you a minor panic attack, but Christmas is less than two weeks away and Hanukkah is even closer than that. So if you still have some gift buying left to do, I suggest you take a peek at my lovely December sponsors! They have some amazing holiday collections to offer:


Miss Meghan Elizabeth - Crafting has always been a hobby of mine. I've dabbled in everything from clay, drawing, mural painting, scrapbooking, woodworking, and beading.  As I've matured I’ve found a niche in jewelry design. My designs have two distinct focuses - timelessness and rustic.  Pearls are my absolute favorite element to work with.  I spent over six months perfecting my flagship design of the pearl cluster before ever opening my Etsy shop.

Currently I'm working on my winter collection which will be made up of jewelry using teal pearls, cracked quartz, and Aveturine.  And new this holiday season I'm offering necklace displays that I've handcrafted myself.  You can see all of that and more in my Etsy shop, and be sure to check out my blog for upcoming sale info!


Shabby Apple - Great dresses that make getting dressed simple. No worrying about flashing accidential skin or finding a coordinating cardi--Shabby dresses are designed to be a one-piece outfit. Check out their brand new vintage inspired collection, featuring looks from the 20s through the early 50s (like the dress above). Plus, a portion of their sales benefit women in Asia and Africa. Cute clothes for a good cause? Yes, please.


Goofing Off Sewing Supplies - GoofingOff Sewing Supplies offers sewing patterns, modern and vintage, Judaic fabrics, and other sewing supplies to enable all people who sew make their ideas come to life. My name is Eileen, and I love supplying that special dress or jacket pattern for a wedding or maybe a blouse pattern like the first thing someone ever sewed or had sewn for him or her. Offering Judaic fabrics is very special to me; I am one of the few suppliers of Judaic fabrics on the web. Be sure to find me on Facebook and Twitter too


Favor Creative - My name is Vicki and I own a handcrafted eco-friendly herb favors and event stationery shop dedicated to all things creative for life's special occasions. I am passionate about using all-natural and eco-friendly choices for event favors as well as my everyday life. My Herbs in a Box Favor was created using 100% biodegradable materials and packed and shipped with a conscious effort to reduce its impact on our earth.


Marilyn P Sushi - is a self-taught jewelry designer and mastermind behind Pulp Sushi. She is what happens when you cross a Retro Secretary with the Bride of Frankenstein. Creating jewelry pieces to help you express just a pinch of your playful, flirty, quirky side. You can find some of my jewelry and accessories (like these bobby pins!) along with items from other great artists at pulpsushi.com. For your readers I would like to offer a 15% discount on their purchase at pulpsushi.com when they use the code FCOBLOG during checkout.


Nic's Button Buds - Nicole creates stunning bouquets, boutonnieres, shoe clips, and brooches out of buttons. Each piece is carefully made by hand and is truly something to treasure for years to come. She also enjoys quilting, and has a selection of fun fabric postcards in her shop.


GoatNotes
 - I'm Julia and my blog was started in October 2010 as a way to chronicle my adventures in motherhood as well as share updates about my Etsy shop, Emory&Olly. Over the past year my goals remain relatively the same with both ventures, however GoatNotes blog has shifted to focus more on intentional living, self sufficiency, celebrating all things handmade and has become a space of inspiration for myself and others.

A big thank you to these ladies for sponsoring Final Clothes-Out this month! Be sure to visit all of their fabulous shops and blogs, and maybe cross those last gift ideas off your list.

If you're interested in advertising on Final Clothes-Out, check out my sponsorship page for more information.

Friday, December 9, 2011

Weekend Plans

I bought myself an early birthday present yesterday! Well, two of them, actually:


Dressy boots! I'd been casually looking for a while without much luck. And then yesterday I had some time to kill before I met with my accountant, so I wandered into a store called Charming Charlie.

Overall, not my favorite place (they sort their merchandise by color to "help you coordinate" when I think sorting by style would be better), but they DID have a lot of boots at a reasonable price. These were $40, and they're so comfy I think I'll wear them at my show this weekend.

How's THAT for a transition?


If you're going to be anywhere near Chicago, you'll want to check this out. A mix of fine art and handmade goodies from 100 vendors, Saturday and Sunday, noon to 5pm both days. I've done this show in the past and it's excellent. You can score a free admission pass right here.

So what are you up to this weekend? Buying shoes? Going to a craft fair? Something totally different?

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Tiny Tim... I mean, Tables

The holidays have made things pretty busy over here at Casa Ronchetti, so we haven't figured out our entertainment center situation yet, but we did make a different change to the living room.

As you'll see in a second, our end tables were nothing special. When I moved in with the Hubs, he didn't have end tables at all (he'd just put his glass on the floor if he wasn't near the coffee table), so I pranced over to IKEA and bought some cheap thing that was "good enough" for the time being.

The baskets were added later for storage.

Yeah... dark, boxy, and that glass top is a crumb magnet. Super attractive when I forget to clean underneath it (which is all the time). They've been on my list of updates for a while.

Thankfully, I found a couple of things that are more interesting:





(I apologize for the blown out and/or dark pictures. It's hard to get a good shot when you only have one window in an 18'x12' room.)

The white table, which Mr. Shabby Chic is very excited about, was $38 from the last craft show I did, and the metal "school table," as we're calling it, was $15 from the Habitat for Humanity ReStore.

Not only did they free us from the matchy-matchy tables we had before, but they're several inches taller, which means the light is better over there. Plus, I didn't have to paint either of them! I just scooted the old ones out of the way and plopped these down. Love it.

Have you done any furniture upgrades lately? Or found anything sweet at a thrift store? Is furniture the last thing on your mind this time of year?

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Handmade Gift Guide 2011

Thanks to my BFF Pinterest (not to be confused with my other BFF Kate Middleton) I've found a ton, and I mean a TON, of great handmade gift ideas. For those of you who like to make a few gifties each year, I rounded up my favorites into a little collection for your viewing pleasure.


Ten affordable, easy, and relatively quick DIY gift ideas to cover most people on your list.

Numero uno, update a plain tote bag with iron-on silhouette cutouts. A similar result could be had using a bleach pen or a paint marker:


Map coasters could feature a favorite vacation spot or somebody's hometown:


A food kit would be a great idea for a hostess or any person addicted to the Food Network (like myself):


Turn old newspapers, magazines, or even greeting cards into glittery Christmas trees:


Instead of sticking 20 bucks in a card, give cash gifts in a candy box:


For the bookworm in your life, make custom bookmarks using ribbon and single earrings:


Perfect for everybody, because who doesn't like s'mores?


Use canvas or leftover wood to make tone-on-tone wall art featuring names, anniversaries, or birthdays (full disclosure, this one is mine):


Simple felt ornaments can be made in any shape:


And finally, a use a small mason jar to make a sewing kit and pincushion:


Are you making any of your gifts this year? Maybe you're doing an entirely handmade holiday? What did you whip up? (I've made some jewelry and a cocoa kit so far.)

Monday, December 5, 2011

One Of A Kind Show

Last Thursday, the Hubs and I went to the One Of A Kind Show in Chicago. It was easily the biggest art/craft/food fair I've ever been to, and even though we were there for 3.5 hours, I still don't think we saw everything.

Of course, we loaded up on cool stuff while we were there. Here's what tickled our fancy:


A couple of things are gifts, but one of them is for Hubsey and since he was with me when I bought it... And the other is just our plan to bring the spicy popcorn to my parents' house for Christmas (act surprised, Mom!).

Anyway, let's break it down with some websites, shall we?


Adorable sewn letter cutouts from Circle Street.


Chicago love embroidered wall art from White Nest.


Delicious heirloom tomato salsa from River Valley Kitchens, hot pepper infused popcorn from Sonoma Farm (for my folks), and bison salami from North Prairie (for the Hubs).


Eco-friendly/chemical-free soap and deodorant from the Duggan Sisters. This stuff is also available on Amazon and at Whole Foods, for those interested.


And finally, a set of silver stack rings for me from the Hubs, made by Taber Studios.

Has anybody else been one OOAK? I believe they have them in other cities, too, but I'm not sure where. How was your weekend? Do anything fun?