Thursday, December 30, 2010

Setting Goals for the New Year

This week has been a behind-the-scenes business kind of week.  I haven’t really done much on the product side – no sewing, no product photography, no listing and promoting.  Instead, I’ve been up to my eyeballs in paperwork and doing A LOT of planning.  I don’t really do the New Year’s Resolution thing, but I thought I’d share with you some of my plans so hopefully you’re inspired to put your goals in writing!

12 30 10 bobaloo! etsy shop

Etsy Shop Goals.  I set a goal of 50 sales for the first quarter of 2011.  I think this may be a little lofty, but I think it’s important to aim high.  I just stumbled across this great Etsy Goal Spreadsheet from Absolutely Small that I think I’ll start using for a little added motivation.

12 30 10 bobaloo! blog

Blog Goals.  I’m planning on posting more often – look out for a new feature coming this Saturday!  Also, I tend to be a passive reader on other people’s blogs, so I’m going to try to come out of the woodwork a little more and make sure to interact with others by commenting on their blogs.  I love to hear from bobaloo! readers, so I know other bloggers feel the same way.

Along the same lines, I’ve installed DISQUS for comments (thanks to some advice from a Crafterminds tweet chat) so you guys will get an email when I respond to a comment here on bobaloo!  This is brand new to me, so if you have any trouble commenting let me know so I can look into it.  One thing I don’t like very much about Blogger is the inability to respond directly to readers’ comments, so hopefully this solves that problem.

12 30 10 bobaloo! facebook

Facebook and Twitter goals.  I know I’m not making the best use of either of these.  I don’t want to be one of those Twitter users that only tweets about products they’ve listed, but I know I can use Twitter to spread the word about my business.  I also feel like I underutilize Facebook – I post about new blog posts and occasionally product listings, but I know I can do more.  Anybody have any reading recommendations about Twitter or Facebook?

12 3 10 tlgbb 2

Local Sales Goals.  bobaloo! is carried in two local stores – the Irvington Iris Tea Room and the Little Green Bean Boutique.  I’d like to add one more store in the next three months.  Ideally I’d like to pick up a wholesale account, but I’m perfectly okay with consignment as well.  I’m going to ask all my mom buddies around my area if they know of any good kids’ shops and start calling buyers.

I have a few smaller goals, like finally setting up my Cargoh shop and reorganizing my sewing room yet again.  I’m planning on reviewing my goals every two weeks to keep myself on track.  This is my first time setting such specific goals, so it will be interesting to see how it turns out.

What about you guys?  Do you have any goals for your business or yourself?  Let’s have some inspiration!

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

The Holiday Aftermath

I don’t know about you guys, but I have had just about enough cookies, treats, and butter-laden foods.  It’s a good thing I decided to take a few days off the business because I’ve been busy digesting!  These have been my main source of nutrition lately – on the left are candy cane marshmallows, and on the right are double chocolate truffles.

12 28 10 candies

As promised, here are pictures of the AWESOME play kitchen that Santa refinished for the kiddos.  Bridget has been making lots of cakes and Graham is so happy to have cabinets he’s actually allowed to open.  Thank goodness they like it because it takes up half of our living room.

12 28 10 oven

We took the doors off, sanded the whole thing, and spray painted it semi-gloss white.  I painted the blue trim on the fridge, the double oven scene, and the cook top with acrylic craft paint and sprayed it down with sealer.  The paper in the hutch is just scrapbook paper I Mod Podged on.

12 28 10 oven and sink

We found most of the stuff at our local Menards that went out of business a few months back.  We even found a sheet of fake granite laminate, so the play kitchen even has swanky countertops!  Kenny cut all the knobs using a hole saw and the hardware was super cheap.  I think we probably spent about $75 total (the play kitchen was given to us when B’s preschool replaced theirs).

12 28 10 ipad 

The kids weren’t the only spoiled ones – my keeper of a husband bought me an iPad!  I was completely shocked and have been glued to the thing for days (except for Christmas day, when my mom hogged it all day to play Angry Birds).  I’ve been playing around with some business apps, so sometime soon I’ll give you guys my recommendations.  If you know of any good ones, let me know!  I’m totally app-downloading-crazy right now!

Did you guys get anything ridiculously awesome?  And please tell me I’m not the only one that hasn’t recuperated from Christmas yet!

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Craft Show Recap: Handmade Promenade Last Minute Market

Last Saturday night was the Handmade Promenade Last Minute Market at Pure Eatery in Fountain Square.  It was loads of fun!  Of course I forgot my camera and only have one picture I took with my phone, so forgive the lack of pictures in this post.  I shamelessly stole a few from other vendors (thanks guys!).  Here’s my table – do you guys like the new clothesline set-up?

My table was in the midst of four lovely ladies, so I had plenty of chatting buddies to stay occupied in between customers.  Let me introduce you to my table neighbors!

12 21 10 sunday afternoon housewife

To my left was Martha from Sunday Afternoon Housewife, who organized the event.  She has awesome Scrabble tile necklaces along with lots of other goodies.  I bought a few necklaces for some people on my Christmas list and I know they’ll love them.

12 21 10 eleanormac

Martha was sharing a table with Jen from EleanorMac.  She makes these beaded bookmarks, cute little planet crayons, and she had some adorable little Lego earrings!

12 21 10 mocha tree organics

I couldn’t resist buying myself some body creme from Kimberly, who owns Mocha Tree Organics.  I bought the Lavender Grapefruit scent after trying them all and I loooove it.  Kimberly uses certified organic ingredients, so I think I’m going to try her lotion on my food-allergic, eczema-y baby boy and see if it helps.

Next to Kimberly was Tonya from the CozyRose Boutique.  Tonya’s super cool wrist warmers are sold at the Little Green Bean Boutique, where you can also find bobaloo! goodies.  Since she sells locally, you still have time to pick up a pair for a lucky lady on your list!

I couldn’t resist doing a little shopping at the end of the show.  Besides the lotion and the necklaces, I also bought a ridiculously awesome monster ornament from Mamus, and some beautiful posters from Dan at Mile 44.

12 21 10 green illuminations

Afterward a few of us met up at Dorman Street Saloon.  I met Shan from Green Illuminations – he and his partner JUST started up their business, and whoa am I impressed!  Check out that website – Shan, can I hire you to design mine?!  I also had a nice long chat about fabric lines and designers with Ariane from Mother Tucker Sews.  Car junkies talk about Ford and Ferrari, people who sew talk Patty Young and Nicey Jane.  Rachel from bebito was there too – her toys are so awesome.

All in all, I would totally do this show again for a couple of reasons.  First, although it wasn’t my most successful show money-wise, it was certainly successful enough to make it worth it.  Second, it was just fun.  Nice people, awesome restaurant (the grilled cheese was to die for), good shopping – what’s not to like?  Make sure you check out the full list of people who were there because everything was so great.

I’m working on finishing up some gifts and cleaning my house in preparation for the holiday madness this weekend.  Somehow I have to fit the kids’ four-piece wood play kitchen in our already crammed living room, so send me some puzzle-solving vibes! 

Have a great holiday week, everyone!

Tuesday, December 14, 2010


Since finishing up all my business sewing on Sunday, there hasn’t been much going on around here bobaloo!-wise except for packing up orders and shipping them to lucky kiddos.  But I haven’t been just sitting around watching my stories and eating bon-bons – it’s been Christmas-palooza around here!

We decorated some Christmas tree cookies using an awesome paint-your-own cookie kit from my Aunt…

12 14 10 b decorating cookies

We got some snow (although not NEARLY as much as other parts of the midwest)…

12 14 10 snowy playhouse

We made our annual gingerbread houses, using this cute Gingerbread Village Kit

12 14 10 gingerbread houses

And we cut out and baked some salt dough ornaments, which are now ready to be painted and glittered and entered into the Prudent Baby contest…

12 14 10 salt dough ornaments baking

I hope you all are enjoying the holiday season, too!  Blogging may be a little sporadic ‘round these parts for the next two weeks while I spend some much-needed time with the fam, but I promise I’ll check in at some point.  Saturday is the Handmade Promenade Last Minute Market, so I’m sure I’ll want to fill you guys in on how it went!

Friday, December 10, 2010

What’s on This Santa’s Handmade Gift List

I mentioned earlier this week that I really want to show you guys what handmade gifts I’m planning on making.  I figured I can share a few without specifying who they’re for and hope most of my family doesn’t read this blog post.  I have almost finished up the business sewing, so next week is going to be a mad frenzy to finish the gifts!

12 10 10 sublime stitching

I’m going to embroider some tea towels using patterns from The Sublime Stitching Craft Pad, which I bought YEARS ago.  I love love love Jenny Hart’s embroidery!  There are some awesome Parisian patterns (plus a unicorn on roller skates!) that I think I may use.

12 10 10 gathered scarf

I’m using this tutorial from Hope Studios and some pink striped knit to make a couple of ruffled scarves.  I’m excited about this one – I think it’s going to be a super quick, super cute project.

12 10 10 trash bag 

A couple of years ago I made a trash bag to hang in my car.  I fused together a couple layers of Target plastic bags (how-to here), used them as a liner for some home dec fabric, and added a webbing strap with a snap.  It hooks around the headrest of the passenger seat.  My husband has been whining since I made it that he wants one for his car.  Guess who this is going to?

12 10 10 laptop sleeve

I’m going to use this tutorial from Sew, Mama, Sew! to make a laptop sleeve.  I have some super awesome turquoise and orange home dec weight fabric that will be PERFECT.  I think I’m going to do a velcro closure and sew on a vintage button from my stash.

12 10 10 gathered clutch

I’m making a couple of these ADORABLE gathered clutches (tutorial here from Noodlehead).  I’m for sure going to take one to my wonderful stylist Claire, who has finally tamed my unruly hair and will forever have my gratitude.  Little does she know I’m bringing her my daughter tomorrow, who was cursed blessed with the same head of hair.

12 10 10 fabric clothespins

I think these fabric covered clothespins from Prudent Baby are going to be my gift tags this year.  I’m probably going to wrap gifts with butcher paper and tie on some red and white twine (which I just ordered here), so I think these little clothespins will look sooooo cute.

12 10 10 doll bedding 

Word on the street is the bobaloo is getting an American Girl doll for Christmas.  This has been top on her list (“I want a ‘merican girl doll with purple stuff and a pink sewing machine and fabric and a sign for my room that says no cats”) so I’m pretty stoked for her.  I made the pillows and quilt using this tutorial from From an Igloo and they turned out awesome (those little pillowcases!  couldn’t you just die?!).  I’m trying to talk the hubs into making the bed from Ana White, but we’ll see.

Our biggest project right now is for the kids – we’re refinishing a play kitchen.  It’s one from B’s preschool, so it’s super sturdy, but it’s got years of kids banging on it under its belt.  When this is done I’m for sure sharing pictures because it’s turning out AWESOME.  Is it wrong to be disappointed that Santa’s getting all the credit for this one?

What are you guys making?

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Keepin’ it Legal

I am determined to get all the legal-y business stuff I’ve had on my to-do list done by the end of this year.  I probably should have started much earlier considering I have another show to prepare for, my Etsy store to keep stocked through the holiday rush, and a silly long list of Christmas gifts I wanted to make for friends and family.  I did cross one thing off my list, so that’s progress, right?

12 7 10 dba

  1. File my “Doing Business As” paperwork.  This is technically titled the “Certificate of Firm or Partnership Engaged in Business
    Under Name Other Than Their Own” here in Marion County (whew, what a mouthful).  This is basically just officially stating that I am doing business under the name bobaloo!, and it serves as a link between the business name and my name.  This has been on my to-do list on the left sidebar since I started this blog way back in July.  All I had to do was print out the paper, write a check for $14.50, and stick it in the mail to the Marion County Recorder’s Office.  Why did it take me so long?  Oh, this is the one that’s actually done as of yesterday morning.
  2. Get my license to collect sales tax.  I really tried to knock this one out yesterday.  Evidently you can do this online here in Indiana, but I ran into a problem with the online system and didn’t have time to call an actual person today.  I swear I’ll try again soon.  12 7 10 business manager
  3. Find an accounting system.  I’m using a spreadsheet I bought on Etsy, which has been working pretty well for me.  I’d definitely recommend it – I use it to manage both my inventory and sales, plus it generates reports.  I think I’d like to try out something that will help me out at tax time.  Has anyone used Quick Books?  I tell you what, if someone out there made software for Etsy sellers, they’d make a fortune!
  4. Meet with an actual accountant.  I’ve always done our taxes (I’m the money manager in our house), but I feel like I may be in over my head with business income on top of our regular stuff.  My friend Lisa’s mom is an accountant, so I really need to give her a call, too.

This tax and legal stuff honestly makes my head spin.  Hopefully meeting with the accountant will help me at least sort the tax stuff out.

On an unrelated note, I really really want to tell you guys about the handmade gifts I have planned, but a bunch of the recipients probably read my blog and I don’t want to ruin any surprises.  I hope I have time for it all – I’ve already switched my plan around a couple of times and settled for gifts handmade by someone else.  Anybody else feel like they'll never finish their Christmas gifts?  I hope your holiday planning is going better than mine!

Friday, December 3, 2010

Let’s Talk Shop

I’ve got shopping on the brain since I’m woefully behind on Christmas shopping, so today we’re gonna talk shop.

12 3 10 tlgbb 1

For you locals, you need to go check out the Little Green Bean Boutique right here on the East side of Indy.  I may be a little biased since she carries bobaloo! products, but I think Heather’s store is just awesome.  It’s a mix of children’s resale and items from local handmade artists.  Take a look around!

12 3 10 tlgbb 2

Had I been thinking ahead, I would have posted this earlier in the week because she hosted a wine-and-shopping ladies night event last night.  I was with the original bobaloo at the Nutcracker last night so I missed it, but a little birdie named Martha told me it was awesome.

It has come to my attention that a few of you lovely readers have shops of your own.  First up, my blog buddies Emily and Hannah have a great Etsy shop featuring bags, clutches, and totes, plus they run a blog.  Make sure you check out both!

12 3 10 Fly Chicks

Also, Patty has a brand spanking new Etsy shop with the coolest handmade stuff that would make great stocking stuffers.  Plaid Cupcake Design’s only been open a few weeks and Patty already has 11 sales!!  Holy moly girl, we all need lessons from you!  Do you have a blog to share your secrets yet?

12 3 10 Plaid Cupcake Designs

Here are a few of my very favorite Etsy shops:

  • Milk and Cookies – awesome paper goods!
  • Lil’ Doodlers – adorable shaped crayons.  This girl has only had her shop open a few months, and she already has over 200 sales!  How great is that?!
  • AN Original Jewelry – the cutest silver jewelry ever.  I want one of everything.
  • My Paper Crane – I love love love Heidi Kenney’s stuff.  You should check out her blog, too.

I could go on and on, really.  I love to shop on Etsy.  Do you guys have any favorite places to buy handmade?  And do you have your own shop?  Let us all know in the comments!

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

My Fancy Woven Labels are Finally Here!

When I first decided to set up shop on Etsy, I knew I needed to order labels for all my goodies.  I think they make everything look more professional, plus the more people see the name bobaloo! the better.  However, my startup capital was probably about $7, so I knew I needed to find the most inexpensive option.  I ordered some labels from Mommie Made It on Etsy (twice, actually – I ran out of the first set pretty fast) and have been perfectly happy with them.

11 30 10 label shipment

However, I knew at some point I’d want to order some super-fancy woven labels like you see in ready-to-wear.  So about a month ago I sucked it up and spent the money on custom woven labels.  And they are AWESOME.

11 30 10 labels in bag

Ladies, meet my labels.  Aren’t they great?  They just came yesterday all the way from Hong Kong.  I ordered from Fancyweaver and they were so fast and helpful.  They have an Etsy shop, too, but the ordering instructions on the website were more clear so that’s where I ordered.  It was super easy.  I designed them in Photoshop, sent Fancyweaver a .jpeg, and they emailed me a proof in a day or so.

11 30 10 label front 11 30 10 label back

They are folded in half, so they’re two sided.  I’m working really hard on being compliant with FTC and CPSIA labeling regulations, so I added some tracking information on the back (at some point I will post about all these confusing label requirements, I promise).  I followed Faye Malone Designs’ advice in this Etsy post for the back.  The line of letters and numbers at the bottom is a code for the date of manufacture – the years at either end, plus the first initial of each month.  I’m marking a little dot on the appropriate year and month for each item.  Also, I changed the little blurb under my logo to “cool stuff for cool kids” instead of my Etsy shop url since I’m selling in more places now.

11 30 10 old label on burp cloth 11 30 10 label on burp cloth

I’ve only used them on a couple of items so far.  They are just sewn into a seam instead of stitched on all four sides like the old ones so they save me time.  And they are actually cheaper than my old ones – about $80 for 600 of them.  The only drawback is how long they take to arrive (patience is not a virtue I possess).

What are you guys doing for labeling?  I’ve seen some DIY label tutorials out there, but I’ve never tried that method.  I’m probably going to need to add another label to cover all those children’s product labeling requirements, so I’d love to hear ideas!

Friday, November 26, 2010

Giveaway Winner, Take Two!

We have a new winner in the CSN Stores and bobaloo! product giveaway!

Congrats Emily!!  Now wasn't that the easiest Black Friday shoppping EVER?  Email me your address, Emily, and which bunting or print you want from my Etsy store and I'll ship it on out!  The gift certificate code will be emailed to you straight from the lovely folks at CSN Stores.

I'll be enjoying some time with the family and recuperating from too much eating and shopping for the next couple of days, so I'll see y'all next week!

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Come out, come out, wherever you are!

Just a quick post - the winner of the $20 CSN gift card and product giveaway hasn't claimed her prize.  If I don't hear from the winner by Thursday, I'll draw a new one from the original giveaway post and post the new winner here on Friday.

Have a great Thanksgiving, everyone!

Craft Show Recap – Ben Davis Homespun Holiday

So it finally happened.  I had a big letdown of a craft show experience.  Intellectually, I knew it would happen at some point, but it still stunk.  I didn’t even get to play with my dongle, for heaven’s sake!

11 23 10 ben davis table detail 

Let me preface this by saying the show itself was run BEAUTIFULLY.  It was organized so well – the band kids helped unload my stuff, they had free coffee and bagels, the tables and chairs were all set up when I got there.  They even delivered lunch to my booth!  Sadly, this does not translate to people fighting each other to buy Crayon Aprons and Necktie Bibs.

I got there at 7:30-ish (the show started at 9) and set up my table.  It was kind of a challenge to fit everything onto 10 feet of table space, so I put out one of each design and kept extra stock under the table.  Here’s my first indoor setup:

11 23 10 ben davis show table 

My husband had the awesome idea of making the clothesline.  It’s just two blocks of wood clamped to the table – he drilled holes in each to hold the dowels, then cut a slit in the top of each dowel to hold the clothesline.  I think it adds lots of height and makes my table stand out.  I had to ransack my house to find display props.  That’s the stand I usually keep my produce on with the burp cloths on it, and the white boxes are usually scrap fabric storage.

I had a couple people come by right away and buy a few things (all with twenties, I might add – I had my sister bring me extra change, thinking the day would go on that way).  Then nothing.  Nada.  A couple browsers, mostly of the “Oh, I sew!  I can make all of this!” type.  I sat there for six hours, staring at the bejeweled Colts gear across the hall from me, making small talk with the very nice cupcake lady next to me.

11 23 10 ben davis clothesline 

I think this show just wasn’t the right one for me.  There were a LOT of old-school crafts like crochet doilies and glittery plastic Christmas decorations.  There was also a lot of food-mix stuff and baked goods.  There's nothing wrong with any of those things, but I guess the people that shop at those booths don't necessarily shop at mine.

So after subtracting my booth fee, my hotdog lunch, and the cute earrings I bought from the girl next to me, I made a whopping $27.  I shut down my Etsy shop during shows, so had I kept that open I probably would have made that much anyway.  Oh, well.  It’s a learning process, right?

Anybody else had a bummer of a show before?  I can’t wait for the Handmade Promenade show in a few weeks so I can go back to feeling happy about shows.  I just know it’s gonna be a good one!

Friday, November 19, 2010

Tutorial! Crayon Apron

crayon apronJaime at Prudent Baby invited me over for a guest post yesterday, so I wrote up this Crayon Apron Tutorial.  I thought you guys might like to see it in case you didn't catch it over there (but you really need to go over to Prudent Baby, it's one of my favorite blogs).  Crayon aprons are also available in my Etsy store – stop by and take a look! 

Here’s what you’ll need:
  • 1/4 yard main fabric (a fat quarter works, too)
  • 1/8 yard contrast fabric (for the waistband)
  • thread, scissors, and pins
  • a marking pencil or pen with water soluble ink
  • ruler
CA step 1 

1. First, cut two rectangles from your main fabric - one that measures 20” x 6” for the body of the apron and another that measures 20” x 3.5” for the pocket.  For the waistband, cut a 4” x 40” strip of your contrasting fabric.

CA step 2

2. Finish one long edge of your pocket.  I usually use my serger, but you can also just zigzag it on your regular machine.  Turn the finished edge under about 1/4” and press.  Topstitch close to the folded edge.

CA step 3A CA step 3B

3. Lay your finished pocket right side down on the wrong side of the main apron piece, matching up the long unfinished edges.  Serge (or stitch a 1/4” seam) the bottom edges together, open the pieces up, and press the whole thing flat.  Flip the pocket piece to the right side of the main apron piece and press again, enclosing the bottom seam.

CA step 4

4. Serge or stitch the short sides of the main apron piece, joining the pocket and main piece together.  Turn both short edges under 3/8” or so to the back side of the apron and topstitch close to the folded edge.

CA step 5

5. Now for the fun part – the little crayon pockets!  Starting in the middle and working your way out to both sides, use your ruler to make little marks at the top of the pocket every 3/4”.  If you’re worried about stitching straight lines, you can also mark the bottom of the pocket (and even draw in the whole stitching line if you’d like).

CA step 6

6. Moving top to bottom, stitch straight down the pocket through both the pocket and main piece of fabric, making 24 individual pockets (you’ll have a little space left at each end).  Don’t forget to backstitch a few stitches at the top and bottom of each line of stitching to keep the pockets nice and secure.  I usually don’t bother snipping the threads until the very end – it’s faster that way and easier to just lift the needle and move to the next line.

CA step 7

7. After trimming all those little threads, gather the top edge of the apron.  I usually set my machine to the highest tension (9 on my Brother machine) and longest stitch length (5.0), but you may have to fiddle with your machine settings a little.  Run a line of stitching about 1/4” from the top unfinished edge of the apron.  It should gather up quite a bit on its own.  Pull the bobbin thread to gather the fabric tighter if you need to – the top edge should measure about 11” once it’s all gathered up.

CA step 8 

8. Match up the center of the apron piece and the center of one long edge of the waistband right sides together with the raw edges even.  Stitch the apron piece onto the waistband with a 1/2” seam.

CA step 9A
CA step 9B

9. Now we’ll finish the ends of the waistband.  Turn under both long edges of the waistband 1/2” and press flat.  Fold the waistband in half lengthwise, right sides together, and stitch a 1/2” seam at each short end.  Clip the corners and flip right side out, so the waistband is folded in half lengthwise, wrong sides together, and the pressed-under edges are sandwiched inside.

CA step 10

10. Match up the long folded edges of the waistband and pin together, aligning the folded edge with the row of stitching on the apron piece.  Stitch 1/4” away from the long edge of the waistband to join the two layers.  Iron the waistband flat.

crayon apron on bridget 

Now load that crayon apron up with a fresh box of Crayolas and put it on your favorite kiddo!

Please use this tutorial to make adorable little aprons for your own kiddos or as gifts, not to sell.  Thanks!
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