How to Make DIY Recycled Business Cards

How to make recycled business cards using a stamp via Ashley Hackshaw / Lil Blue Boo #businesscards #recycled #diy

 

I have a love hate relationship with business cards. I never order them because I can never decide what I want them to look like or how many to order. I haven’t had business cards in so long that I just end up writing my information on napkins and scrap paper for people. I decided to meet myself halfway and just make them as I need them….using things I might throw away anyway:

Upcycled business cards using boxes and mail via Ashley Hackshaw / Lil Blue Boo #businesscards #recycled #diy

I cut bits of scrap paper from boxes, mail and books using a paper cutter (or scissors):

 

All the papers range in size:

Back of recycled business cards via Ashley Hackshaw / Lil Blue Boo #businesscards #recycled #diy

Old book covers, mail boxes, greeting cards, etc:

A variety of my recycled business cards via Ashley Hackshaw / Lil Blue Boo #businesscards #recycled #diy

 

And stamped them with a stamp I ordered from Vistaprint.  It’s the self-inking 3.5″ x 1.5″ stamp. (Note: if you click advanced editing options towards the bottom you can create a custom stamp, you can also just upload a Photoshop file)

Stamping my Recycled Business Cards  via Ashley Hackshaw / Lil Blue Boo #businesscards #recycled #diy

 

I love how eclectic they are:

Recycled Business Cards made from mail and discarded boxes via Ashley Hackshaw / Lil Blue Boo #businesscards #recycled #diy

 

Sometimes I use a bit of decorative tape (or masking/washi tape) to add a little interest: [Read more…]

Photography for Bloggers and Shop Owners

Photography tips and tricks for bloggers and shop owners! Take better photos of your creations, products, recipes and more! via lilblueboo.com

 

Whether you need better product shots for your blog or shop, want to show off your latest recipe, or want those “wow” photos of your kids in the outfits you made for your next blog post; this e-book is for you! Learn how to get great photos of your creations within your own home without having to break the bank.
[Read more…]

How To Add a Photo to Your Blog Comments

 

How to add a profile photo to your blog comments via lilblueboo.com

How do you get your profile picture to show up when commenting on a blog post? Create a gravatar!

Gravatar is a globally recognized avatar. So, every time you comment or post on a blog, your custom avatar (profile picture) will appear!

How to create a gravatar:

1. Register for your free gravatar account. Use the email address you will be commenting or posting from.

2. Upload your pretty profile picture or logo.

3. Start commenting and posting away! Make sure you give your new avatar a little time to show up.

 

I want to see your new profile photos! Leave a comment below to test it!

Chart of the Day: Facebook

Dear Facebook,

Re: the “promote” option on Facebook:


Re: the "promote" option on Facebook via lilblueboo.com

(Hope that makes sense…..I majored in mathematics……I like charts.)

In other words:

[Read more…]

Industrial Fabric Rotary Cutters

The 411 on Industrial Fabric Cutters via lilblueboo.com

I got a ton of questions about the electronic fabric cutter featured in the Evolution of a Dress video yesterday….I figured it would be easier just to write a post about it! So here’s the 411….

I love the small rotary industrial cutters. They are easy to use and pretty darn quiet.  They can cut through about an inch of stacked fabric. You can purchase the smaller industrial cutter that I have for under $100 here. I own several different brands including the Yamata.

The 411 on Industrial Fabric Cutters 1 via lilblueboo.com

 

I love that it is self sharpening….just push the button and the little grinder sharpens your blade. Just be careful of the sparks around fabric!

[Read more…]

Facebook Rules Simplified

First, thank you to those that alerted me that I was breaking a Facebook rule by having my website address in my cover photo! I could have had my Facebook page deleted for this violation. Scary! So, as a part of my Getting Down To Business small business series I decided to provide a summary of Facebook rules for pages.

I’ve taken what I feel are key points* (the rules that are broken most often) from Facebook’s terms and conditions for PAGES and condensed them into more simple terms.

*Please note: as always I recommend that you read the Facebook terms and conditions in full and make your own determination!


Make sure to check out the rest of the small business series below!

Business 101 (according to me)

Undertaking this “Getting Down to Business” series might be the hardest thing I’ve ever done! Entire blogs are dedicated to running small business! I have an MBA but more often than not my business decisions come from my gut…..not from analysis.  So that’s how I’ve decided to approach this series….from what comes naturally and what has worked for me.

This is my first official business post and I thought I’d just start off right away with what I think are the 10 most important things for running a successful small handmade business.

 

To me this doesn’t mean make something high quality……it means make the best quality.

I take customer feedback very seriously…..and the goal is to never make the same mistake twice. This means tons of research on fabric quality, ink quality etc. We go to great lengths to hand silk screen every single item with “tagless” tags for comfort. I never mail out something I’m not proud of. If an item doesn’t meet my quality standards we’ll delay shipment….and contact the customer hoping they understand. I am constantly inspecting new things and other lines of clothing to see how we can improve on quality.

(more after the jump)

 

Customers want to know that they are valued and respected.

Put yourself in the customer’s shoes and look at the problem. How would you expect the situation to be resolved if you were from the outside looking in? Make sure your policies are written down and remind your customers about them often. You may have to make exceptions to your policies from time to time and change them as you go along.  It’s hard starting out when you have to take a loss on something because of a mistake you made…..but it’s worth it in the long run.

My personal opinion: Any seller that has a NO RETURN OR EXCHANGE policy is sending a message that they don’t stand behind their product (truly custom items are obviously an exception to this rule). I used to have that policy until I put myself in the customer’s shoes. I had it mostly because I didn’t want to have a bunch of returns at the end of a season because someone didn’t end up using the clothing. Since I have a small handmade business with a short shelf life I made up my own policy that fit my business….the customer has 10 days once they receive the product to decide if it’s for them or not.

 

Even if you are just starting out, pay your taxes and do your homework on permits and licenses…..or it will come back to haunt you.

I pay sales tax, employee/unemployment taxes, and income tax on everything Lil Blue Boo…..and I have ever since my first sale. I use Paycycle.com because it makes my life easier: it handles all taxes, forms, payroll etc. It’s about $40 a month but it’s a business expense that I can write off and it saves me about 10 hours of work (which is worth $4 an hour!). This may seem tedious and unnecessary at first if you are only selling one item here and there…….but as you grow and let the world know through blogging and Facebook that you have more help and employees……it’s basically public record.

 

You don’t need to spend a lot of money to start a business.

I started out with a dinky camera and a $99 sewing machine. I’m very conservative when it comes to investment because I like to spend my time being creative, not worrying about how I’m going to pay off another piece of equipment.

Borrow. Do you have a friend that has a nice camera that could help you take some photos of your product? Does your sister have an extra sewing machine or glue gun you could borrow?

Barter. Find someone that is willing to trade their services for product. Do you know a graphic designer who might design a logo in exchange for some amazing handmade goodies?

 

My rule of thumb? Never write anything in an email or online that I wouldn’t say to someone’s face.

If you post something not nice on your blog or twitter you can never take it back….someone will see it even if you delete it. A few people close to the situation might know what you are talking about but 99% of the world won’t care. Plus, word gets around.  There is also a rare tendency for small groups of sellers to gang up on another seller…..which I’m pretty sure is a form of cyberbullying. Stay off the bandwagon. And there are the touchy subjects:

Legal issues. First of all, make sure you copyright your work (you can use www.myfreecopyright.com) and make sure to register your trademarks to protect yourself (I use www.legalzoom.com).  If you think someone has infringed on a copyright or a trademark, approach them with a nice professional email or certified letter. They might comply immediately having no idea they were infringing in the first place. Take screen shots of everything and save every email.  If they don’t respond have an attorney send them a cease and desist if you think it’s worth the expense.

Copycats: This topic could take an entire blog post so I’ll write more on this later but here’s a summary: if you feel really strongly that someone has directly copied you take the same route as you would with a legal issue. I’ll be honest though, I don’t spend ONE ounce of energy on copycats. If I think someone has copied me…..great, good for them…….as long as they don’t have a website they are calling Lil Blue Boo and selling Boo Blue clothing or using a copyrighted graphic. And my number one rule? NEVER draw attention to the copycat…..otherwise you are giving them free marketing!

Haters: Ignore them and take the high road. Yes, sad as it is, if you experience any type of success there will be haters that love spending their energy trying to bring you down. But just think…..while they are busy trying to bring you down you can work extra hard on your next big thing! Never get involved in the petty drama. It only takes a second, but take screen shots of everything and save every email in case it gets out of control…..there are laws against cyberbullying and libel.  One of my favorite quotes: “Do not disappoint your haters this week. Keep rocking extremely hard!” —Rev Run

 

I’ll admit Pinterest is addicting. It’s fun to look at all those beautiful ideas and crafts in one place…..but a gazillion other people are looking at the same thing. I’ve noticed an amazingly quick cycle on Pinterest:

Day 1: a new idea pops up

Day 2: a new idea is pinned and repinned 4,000 times

Day 3: a new tutorial pops up for that new idea

Day 4: a 2nd tutorial pops up for that new idea

Day 10: 20 new tutorials pop up for that new idea

I look for inspiration in unexpected places: travel magazines, photography websites, home decor magazines, old family photos, vintage books etc. Keep it fresh and find a way to organize your ideas.

 

 

Keep track of all money coming in and all money going out.

Your accounting doesn’t have to be fancy…..to start out you just keep a notebook where you keep track of monthly expenses and monthly income. You’ll be surprised at what adds up and you can find ways to cut out expenses and overhead so you are on track to make a profit!

I do all my accounting in Excel because Quickbooks isn’t as compatible with Paypal as I would like it. I’m also obsessed with ratios and growth rates (so maybe I did learn something from getting my MBA).  If you aren’t numbers oriented find a friend to help you do some analysis on your financials! Put it on your calendar at each month end to finish your P&L (profit and loss statement). 

 

 

 

Eventually it becomes counterproductive to spend your time on certain things.

As your business grows you can’t do everything yourself.  Could you hire someone to help you iron fabric or package your items? What about a part time assistant to help with email? If you want to grow your business you can’t spend countless hours on the minutia.

 

Find ways to get noticed!

Collaborate and cross promote with different people and business lines. Whatever you do….don’t spam other sites and sellers. And if you write someone asking them to collaborate make sure you’ve read their blog and get their name right.

You could write a guest post for someone. You could send out some free product to someone that would love, appreciate it and write about it. You’ll have to brainstorm until the end of time for this one…..it’s all about coming up with a unique idea!

 

If you are running a business, treat it like a business. When you are first starting out you’ll bend over backwards to meet special customer requests….but as you grow this just isn’t feasible anymore.  For me, I know my team’s limits and I know overwhelming them would only move us backwards.

 

 

Hope this helps some of you!  Just remember these aren’t going to work well for everyone…..they are what has worked well for me.  When in doubt always seek out the advice of an accountant and an attorney and do as much research as possible!

Stay tuned for more! I’ll be elaborating on each each of the topics in the future!

Mini Screens and Clothing Labels (A Tutorial)

I’m so excited to launch a small trunk show line this coming spring for my tiny clothing line….but phew, SO much work. My biggest concern with branching out from my online store was that I had to come up with a way to better label my clothing so it meets FTC requirements. I don’t like putting any type of tag in Lil Blue Boo clothing for comfort reasons (Boo is pretty sensitive to anything with tags)…..so I came up with an easy way to silk screen all the information using little handmade “mini” screens:

How to make mini silk screens (to make your own clothing labels or small silk screens) via lilblueboo.com
I found these little $1.00 wood photo frames at my local craft store and knew right away that they would make the perfect little screens. I purchased about 20 frames and I ordered a pack screen printing fabric sheets.

How to make mini silk screens (to make your own clothing labels or small silk screens) via lilblueboo.com
Step 1: I cut the screen printing fabric large enough that it would wrap just around the edges of the frame.

How to make mini silk screens (to make your own clothing labels or small silk screens) via lilblueboo.com
Step 2: I used binder clips to stretch the fabric as tight as I could across two sides of the screen.

How to make mini silk screens (to make your own clothing labels or small silk screens) via lilblueboo.com
Then added 2 more clips on the other sides. It is important to work across and around the frame to get the fabric as tight as possible.

How to make mini silk screens (to make your own clothing labels or small silk screens) via lilblueboo.com
I stretched the opposite corner last to pull out every last bit of slack.

How to make mini silk screens (to make your own clothing labels or small silk screens) via lilblueboo.com
Step 3: Using waterproof wood glue……

How to make mini silk screens (to make your own clothing labels or small silk screens) via lilblueboo.com
……I used a brush to apply a thick layer of glue all the way around the wood screen, using pressure to work the glue through the fabric.

How to make mini silk screens (to make your own clothing labels or small silk screens) via lilblueboo.com
After the glue was COMPLETELY dry, I removed the clips and applied glue to the spaces where the clips had been and then once the glue was dry I trimmed all the excess fabric off using a razorblade.

How to make mini silk screens (to make your own clothing labels or small silk screens) via lilblueboo.com
Step 4: I applied emulsion to each frame using a tiny squeegee (the one I am using is from the Yudu line).

How to make mini silk screens (to make your own clothing labels or small silk screens) via lilblueboo.com
…and stuck push pins into the bottom for the screen to rest on as it dried in the dark.

How to make mini silk screens (to make your own clothing labels or small silk screens) via lilblueboo.com
NOTE: You can find my entire photo emulsion silk screening tutorial here for all the details of this process because I am kind of glossing over a few details:

How to make mini silk screens (to make your own clothing labels or small silk screens) via lilblueboo.com
Step 5: I set up my registered trademark, sizes, and clothing information for each label and printed it onto transparency film:

How to make mini silk screens (to make your own clothing labels or small silk screens) via lilblueboo.com
Each label was exposed onto a screen. I made one screen for every clothing size that I regularly produce:

How to make mini silk screens (to make your own clothing labels or small silk screens) via lilblueboo.com
Washing out the emulsion after exposure:

How to make mini silk screens (to make your own clothing labels or small silk screens) via lilblueboo.com

Now with a little ink and a tiny squeegee I can easily add my logo, size, Made in USA and all the care instructions to every piece of clothing!

How to make mini silk screens (to make your own clothing labels or small silk screens) via lilblueboo.com
Very professional looking!

How to make mini silk screens (to make your own clothing labels or small silk screens) via lilblueboo.com
It might seem daunting to make so many screens, but if you do it in an assembly line manner it isn’t as much work as you think. It took me one Nanny McPhee movie with Boo to stretch and glue all of these screens!

How to make mini silk screens (to make your own clothing labels or small silk screens) via lilblueboo.com
Total cost for 20 screens? $47

Easy DIY Tagless Clothing Labels (& Hangtags)

I can’t stand tags. Neither can my daughter. I have to carefully cut them out of everything. Most tagless labeled clothing you see in the store is silk screened. An easy substitute is the super soft transfer paper from Dharma Trading. The labels look and feel like they are part of the fabric!

First you have to create the text for your labels. I create the text in Adobe Photoshop or Word and save it as a picture. Then reverse it (you have to print it in reverse). I actually pull the graphic into Powerpoint, resize it small and then paste it over and over and over so it fills up a whole page. Then print it out using your ink jet printer:


Care labels and fiber content (Note: it is close to impossible to come up with a fiber content label for upcycled clothing. Technically you are supposed to say: “fiber content unavailable” or something to that effect if you don’t know). Here is a link to the FTC’s requirements.

Photobucket
I precut all my sizes, brand, and care instructions and store them in containers like the one below:

Photobucket
I print everything separately and mix and match them depending on the garment:

Photobucket
Place them face down onto the fabric…

Photobucket
……and iron as the directions say. You are supposed to use a harder surface for transfer paper than an ironing board, but it works fine for me when I’m using the perfect heat setting and I use enough pressure:

Photobucket

Before the fabric cools I peel off the backing:

Photobucket

Tagless clothing labels!

Photobucket
You can also easily make your own hang tags. I use a heavy glossy cardstock and have Mr. LBB print them at work on his laser printer. (I’m scared of ink jet for hang tags….the ink will bleed onto the clothing if the tag were to get damp).

Photobucket
I just cut them out with my rotary cutter, punch a hole and add a string! Some people just use a business card for the same idea.

Photobucket
Now when people peek inside your kiddos handmade clothing they’ll know YOU made it!

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...