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Taking a step back, and pausing the Etsy shop.

Wild Fae Leather Headpiece

Friends, I’m going to take a giant step back in hopes that it will get me moving in a better direction.

To start, I’ll be putting my Etsy shop on pause as of March 31st, 2019.

So if you like to shop with me on Etsy, please do so this week before I put the shop in vacation mode! My website will remain open during this Etsy break, but I won’t be adding new work for a bit, and older designs will be retired as they sell out.

Last week I shared that I found counterfeits of my work on Amazon –

What I didn’t share is that this is the 4th time this year that I’ve found my exact photos, designs and/or writing reproduced by other vendors … and it’s only March! While it’s true that this is just an occupational hazard for online sellers, this ©rap is getting out of control. It’s simply unsustainable for my small business and sanity, and I need a minute to regroup.

As awful as that sounds, it’s been a big wake up call. This has forced me to really think about how this current version of my business aligns with my goals.

Somewhere along my Etsy journey (and through the recession years) my focus gradually shifted from creating work that I love and feel challenged by, to worrying too much about making “stuff that will sell”.  And apparently, that stuff is attracting the wrong element. So I’m taking a breather in order to refocus and realign.

As terrifying as it is to just walk away from my primary source of income for a couple of months, I really need to love what I do again. Otherwise, what’s the point?

To get to that, I’m taking this really scary leap of faith and giving myself permission to make the things that my heart really wants to bring forth into the world. Hopefully the world wants those pieces too, and the *right* people will connect to them. Or maybe I’ll just fall. Either way, this has to change.

Thanks so much to everyone who has supported me along the way! And many thanks to my beautiful daughter (pictured) for her insight and encouragement in making this choice.

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Vintage Photos from My Vending Days

Thought I’d share these “vintage” photos from vending days gone by: The first photo is from the Chumash Pow Wow in Ojai, CA, circa 1994. We’d just finished breaking down our vendor booth. By that stage in my life, I’d already been vending at art shows and festivals for about 7 years!

The woman on the left was a sweet friend from England, who used to import my work so that she could sell it in her stall at the Glastonbury Festival! (Does that event still exist?). The babe in my arms is now 26 years old, and in grad school.

The second photo shows some beaded leather bags that I made around that same era. As you can see, my style has changed a bit in the 25 yrs since these pictures were taken. Some things remain constant: my material choices (beads, leather, natural gemstones), a love of color and natural themes, skilled craftsmanship, and passion for my work and the people who inspire me to create.

handcrafted beaded buckskin bags circa 1994

This path has not always been easy, but I love it all the same. I’m grateful for all the lessons behind me, and hopeful for many years ahead. Some of you have been with me through this whole journey (thank you, I love you!) and some are just joining now (thanks, you rock!).

Please know that I genuinely appreciate every bit of support and encouragement along the way. May it come back to you tenfold  ❤

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Competition, Community, and Respect

leather raven feather ponytail holder or shawl pin

Had a rough day today, contemplating an unsavory situation. As luck would have it, I came across these words that I wrote last year. It was a timely reminder of where to focus my energy. While the lame situation still needs resolution, I’d like to pause from my pissed-offedness for just a moment, to acknowledge the good:

I’ve spent a lot of time and energy griping about those unethical competitors who copy, undercut, and just generally slither around the internet. It’s true – they are many. But perhaps I haven’t spent enough time acknowledging the friendly and ethical competitors who have treated me kindly. There are many of you as well. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀                                                                                      ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
Over the years, I’ve had the good fortune to know countless artists who’ve helped me to hone my craft and to learn the ropes as a vendor.

Despite the fact that we’re “competing” in a similar market, you’ve treated me with integrity and respect, helping me to learn and encouraging me to grow. We’ve empathized with each others’ struggles, and celebrated successes.

These positive professional relationships have endured time and trends, and many have grown into genuine friendships that enrich my life. Thank you for this! It proves that “competitor” doesn’t have to be a dirty word. We all choose how we conduct our businesses (and ourselves) and we CAN lift each other up without detracting from our own goals. In this way, we all thrive.
⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
So yeah, the jackasses are out there – but so are the good ones!

I’m grateful for those of you who choose to take the high road (even when it’s not the easy road) and I promise to treat you – and your work – with the same integrity and courtesy that you’ve shown me.

Raven feather ponytail holder © 2010 Andrea Adams/ Beadmask

photo courtesy of Priya Alahan Photography

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2018 Winter Holiday Shipping Dates

2018 winter holiday shipping deadlines

It feels a bit early for this post, but time flies SO quickly!

With that said, here are my 2018 Winter Holiday Shipping Deadlines:

✫ USA:
1st Class Mail – order by December 15th
Priority Mail – order by December 18th
Priority Express Mail – order by December 20th

✫ INTERNATIONAL:
1st Class Mail – order by December 1st
Priority Mail – order by December 5th
Priority Express Mail – order by December 12th

These are my best estimates for probable delivery by 12/25.

Expedited shipping options (such as Priority Mail and Priority Express Mail) are available at checkout.

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A Small Shop Update

Upon returning from the Thanksgiving holiday, I promptly came down with an epic flu. Two weeks later, I am finally moving and functioning again – albeit slowly. Last night I managed to list most of the goodies that I’d been working on before we left.

This includes a variety of handcrafted wooden hair sticks in natural hardwoods and colorful laminates. I’ve been pleasantly surprised to learn that I really enjoy woodworking! These hair sticks reflect some of my simpler early efforts, though I hope to offer a much wider variety in the year ahead. I’ve been experimenting with different types of wood, different lengths, and of course, different shapes. I think that these will make a great addition to my existing line of hair accessories.

But before I get ahead of myself by talking about what I hope to make next, let me tell you a little more about today’s offering: these are small to medium sized hair stick pairs, measure between 5.5″ and 5.75″ long. The shape is a graceful wave that slides easily into a small bun or half up.

The laminated birch options include 3 color variations: burgundy/grey/violet striped, autumn stripes, and summer stripes. The natural hardwoods include walnut, paduk, and cherry. All have been hand sanded down to 600 grit, and finished with a blend of mineral oil and beeswax so the rich color comes through without being too shiny or shellacked.

I’m excited about this new direction, and eager to hear your feedback!

 

Also included in this update are a handful of my jeweled leather feather pendants. There’s a beautiful mixed media barn owl feather pendant necklace with faceted Botswana agate teardrops and a large copper circle, a barred feather in rich earth tones with dark titanium quartz crystal and semiprecious stones, and six of my classic leather peacock feathers.

Each peacock feather is unique, and they range from about 3″ long on up to 4.5″. Some are low key with simple wire work spirals, while others are more ornate with faceted cobalt beads and Swarovski crystal dangles.  For the neckline, you have your choice of an antique copper chain, a glass bead and Swarovski crystal necklace, or a hand dyed ribbon neckline. As always, a portion of every peacock feather sale will be donated to cancer research, in memory of my friend who inspired this series.

These little feather pendants are simple and affordable, but they’re definitely statement pieces! Every time I wear one, it sparks conversation (and compliments).  They are striking worn alone, and you can also layer them for a more dramatic look.

 

Last but not least, I’ve added a smattering of leather and semiprecious stone earrings. There are a couple of new designs, and I’ve also restocked several of my popular favorites.

There are more semiprecious stone briolettes and quartz crystals, along with some blue jays (in three sizes!), green oak leaves, peacock feathers, red rose vines, and owl feathers.

It’s a small sampling, to be sure. If I’m up to it, I may trickle in a few more pieces before the weekend – but I’m not going to push myself. I hope you’ll enjoy these offerings, and thanks so much for your support this season and always!

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Down the Laser Rabbit Hole (pew pew)

I know, I’ve been super quiet lately. Two months ago I was given the (incredible!) opportunity to test a pre-release unit of the new Glowforge hobby laser. Since then, I’ve fallen down the rabbit hole of lasering all the things.

Here are a few examples of my early experiments. I’m still learning, and still figuring out how I want to use this amazing tool, but one thing’s for sure… it’s a huge game changer. This is the first time in many years that I have been able to work without pain. I’d become so accustomed to working through the aches and pains that I didn’t even realize how much it was holding me back. I am so excited about the possibilities ahead!

Again, these images reflect early experiments and drafts. They’re not final projects, and they’re probably not significant indicators of how I will ultimately use this tool in my work. For the time being, I’m just learning slowly and translating all of my existing leatherwork patterns to digital files.

1st attempts at engraving glass.files.

It’ll be a while before I’m 100% confident of the direction that I want to go, and begin designing new work with the laser. For today I’m giving myself time to go slowly, take risks, make mistakes, and just enjoy the learning process. I’m having a lot of fun with it, and looking forward to creating some larger, more elaborate works.

laser engraved leather mandalas

Glowforge production units are starting to ship now and based on my experience with the pre-release unit, I can heartily recommend this product. If you’d like to order one, please consider using this referral code for a $100 discount off your purchase. In the spirit of full disclosure – I’m not being paid for this endorsement (I am a very satisfied user) but if you do use the referral code that I just linked, it’ll give me a bit of a discount on my order too. Win-win.

laser engraved bone beads
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A word (or three) about my pricing…

handcrafted leather hair accessories

I was recently asked why the prices of my hair accessories are higher than those of a copycat competitor. It’s difficult to find a polite answer that doesn’t sound defensive or snarky, but I’ll give it my best attempt … First off, I can’t tell you why another artist charges as much – or as little – as they do. What I can tell you is why I charge what I do:

My original designs have evolved over many years of trial and error – so my work is not only beautiful, it’s functional. I actually use these products in my own (thick, waist length) hair, so I have a good sense of sizing, comfort and durability. My designs have been refined by my own experience, and the knowledge that has been shared by my customers over the years. As such, my work is the evolution of many years of experimentation and experience.

My pieces are made using top quality supplies, because I can see the difference and the results are worth it. I strive to create heirloom quality work that will make you feel beautiful and elicit compliments whenever you wear it. So when you compare my pricing to those of other artisans, please be sure that you’re comparing cost and value. My work uses premium tooling leather and high quality dyes, as well as artisan quality acrylic paints and sealer. Color is applied in many layers, and sealed to be water resistant; this process takes more time and materials than a quick dye job, but it also results in richer, more complex color that won’t bleed if it gets wet.

Similarly, I like to collaborate with artisan woodworkers and wireworkers who create high quality, handcrafted sticks. While their work is pricier than some of the simple sticks out there, it’s also sturdier and more attractive. Even my low end hair toys use well made commercially crafted wooden sticks, which work nicely for fine hair, partial updo’s and/or ponytail holders. Please consider this when comparing my hair slides to those that simply use sharpened pieces of dowel or flimsy metal sticks from China, which are not sturdy or good for your hair.

Last but not least: in order to keep producing high quality craftsmanship, I must pay myself a livable wage. This is not a hobby for me, it’s my livelihood. If I want to be able to continue creating this caliber of work, I have to pay myself a fair wage that reflects my time, expenses and skill level.

With that said, I understand that my prices are higher than some of my competitors’. Please trust that you get what you pay for! When you purchase my work, you are empowering me to keep creating and expanding my craft; in return, you’ll receive a well made item that is beautiful, functional, and worth every penny.

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Caring and Sharing

As an independent artist, here are a few things that I really appreciate. While some points are admittedly ranty (my apologies, it needs to be said) this is a sincere attempt to educate. Much of it is basic netiquette, but the last one is an extra bit of kindness that just rocks my world:

1) If you share my work on pinterest, facebook, online forums, etc, please retain my links. To do so, simply share the link rather than downloading the image from my site and uploading it elsewhere. This way, when people discover my work through your posting, it leads them back to my site. I can’t tell you how many customers have found me via social media. Those links really help IF they retain the artist credit and contact info!

2) If you do share my work, please don’t alter my images or remove my watermark, logo or copyright information.

3) If you’d like to use images of my work in your workshop, tutorial, flyer, character description, or anything else … please ask first. And again with the credit. Really, it matters.

4) At this time, I don’t sell kits, patterns, tutorials or DIY components. If I change that practice, I’ll be sure to let everyone know. Until then, please do not disassemble, alter, reverse engineer, spin, fold or mutilate my work.

5) Please don’t reproduce my stuff. If you insist on doing so, please contact me to discuss a design fee. If you’re unwilling to compensate me for creative design or writing services, I suggest that time spent studying or duplicating my efforts would be better spent at your own workbench, developing your own style.

6) If you enjoy my work, please SHARE it and tell them where you found it! This helps to make my work visible to a wider audience, which is a HUGE help. Even if you can’t afford to buy anything, respectful sharing is an awesome way to support artists that you like!

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10 Things not to say to an artist or crafter…

10 things not to say to an artist

10. “I’ll just get my friend to make me one of those.”

9. “You know what you should make . . . ”

8. “Do I get a price break if I buy two?”

7. “I can make that myself.”

6. “Why does it cost so much?”

5. “How do you make this?”

4. “Will you donate your artwork to our event? We can’t pay you, but it will be great exposure.”

3. “My nine-year-old makes this kind of stuff too.”

2. “Kids, this is what happens if you don’t go to college.”

1. “I can buy that at Walmart for $3.99.”

via the California Arts Council

 

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Do your own work…

Copycats have become increasingly problematic for me in recent years. I try to ignore it and stay focused on my own thing, but the problem is getting really out of hand. Last night, I encountered two more of them in a span of 30 minutes (one small biz, one large scale manufacturer). I’m still furious, so I’ll hold off on saying much more until I’m capable of being civil. In the meantime, I’d like to offer this food for thought:

1) Here’s an excellent lecture for online artists and crafters of all skill levels. It’s 45 minutes long, and WORTH EVERY SECOND. If you’re teaching, offering tutorials, selling your work online, or even just thinking of selling your work online, please listen to this and consider the author’s points.
wicked leather bird mask by Beadmask
© 2006 Beadmask
2)  If you’re selling copies and/or derivatives of my work, please stop. It’s not my job to design your products, or to write your product descriptions or policies. I have my own family to take care of, and I never signed on to do free product development (or marketing copy, SEO, or branding) for your new business. If you want to be an independent artist on any level – hobbyist, pro, or something in between – you’ll need to spend the time, take the risks, and do your own work.