I'm so excited about the new leather cuff - I've been wearing mine for a few weeks and have gotten tons of complements. Here are a few reasons I love the new leather cuff and you might as well:
You can wear it year round. In leather, the cozy/cuff SNAP makes the perfect all season accessory. It’s comfortable to wear, even in the summer.
It looks great with everything. The leather cozy/cuff SNAP is the ultimate accessory – it instantly makes any outfit cuter, and looks great on any coffee cup.
It gets better with age. The more you wear and use your leather cozy/cuff, the softer and more supple the leather becomes. (As if you needed another reason to wear it everyday.)
It fits your wrist and your coffee cup perfectly. With two sets of snaps, the leather cozy/cuff is designed to fit both your wrist and your coffee cup. Just snap it on the larger size and slide it on your coffee cup. When you’re done, slip it off and snap it back on your wrist.
It’s eco-friendly. Not only can you feel good about saving trees by replacing disposable cup sleeves with you cozy/cuff, but you can also be happy about that fact that it’s made from vegetable-tanned leather and colored with eco-friendly low-VOC dyes.
The leather cozy/cuff is only available at shopcozycuff.com - so please head over and take a look. (And while you're there, won't you sign up for our mailing list to receive updates on new cozy/cuff products and special promotions.)
There are two things that I've been thinking about lately - the design for my August gift fair booth, and creating a new collection of jewelry. I put together this board with some of the images that are influencing me during this process.
I haven't been sleeping well this week - a combination of allergies and poorly timed allergy medicine.
This morning I was wide awake at 3:30 AM. It wasn't entirely bad, as I found myself brainstorming display ideas for the summer gift fair. On my drive home last night, I had been thinking about product development for the show, so this was clearly my unconscious mind continuing to work through gift fair planning while I slept.
Eventually, I drifted off to sleep, and this is where my mind turned ugly. I had an awful dream where I got to the gift fair to set-up, only to find that the dimensions of my booth had changed. While my location and booth number remained the same, the dimensions of my booth had changed from 10 feet wide by 6 feet deep to 10 feet deep by 2 feet wide! I want you to really picture that - 10 feet deep by 2 feet wide!
How could anyone even walk into that?
Of course, I angrily approached the show organizers, whose solution was to bring me a chair (that wouldn't fit) and some ugly black fabric for draping.
I've learned by now that the occasional ridiculous stress dream is all part of the fun of running your own business. (Or at least it is for me - when I was a waitress in college I used to have dreams about forgetting to wait on a table!)
Anyone else out there have business related stress dreams?
With all the snow we had this winter, I found it difficult to work up the motivation to bike. But now that it's getting warmer, and the days a getter longer, I'm trying to build up miles again. (It doesn't hurt that I've got to get ready for the 42-mile 5 Boro Bike Tour.)
I snapped this pic today at the end of a very windy 16 miler.
Last week I took the bus to New York with my mom, brother, and brother's girlfriend to check out a few exhibits at MOMA and of course, pay a visit to Strand. (I managed to escape after only buying 2 books, but I've got a long list of books I want to download on the Kindle now.)
While my brother was inspired by the Tim Burton exhibit, I was geeking out over the design and architecture area. I recently ordered my first rapid prototyped pieces from Shapeways, so I was really drooling over these laser-sintered textiles.
So, I know I've been neglecting this blog a little bit while focusing on Crafting an MBA, but I'm trying to get back on track. Not only do I love sharing these little bits of my life with my readers, I also like being able to look back and see how my life has evolved. So, I promise, more regular posting, even if it's mainly pictures.
Today was gorgeous! It certainly feels like spring is around the corner - after my run I took off my shoes to enjoy the sunshine in my bare feet. The nice weather also gave me a chance to work in the studio without freezing. I'm experimenting with some new ideas. Here are the first paper models:
When I first designed the cozy/cuff SNAP, I added a pair of snaps at the top and bottom of the band. (Like the picture below.) After some feedback from friends, I decided to try one snap in the center (like the picture above.) I've been making both versions, and I took both versions to the gift fair, where the reaction was about fifty/fifty.
I thought about continuing to make both, but its making keeping inventory on hand difficult. Now I have to keep twice as many styles in stock!
So, I thought I'd ask my wonderful blog readers - which do you like better, one snap or two?
Well, I'm back from the gift fair (you can read my full account over on Crafting an MBA) and I'd be lying if I said I wasn't having a hard time getting back in the swing of things. It takes so much energy to prep for and exhibit at a major show. And when you combine that with the crazy snow we've had this week, I really just wanted to hibernate.
But since I always feel pressure to keep working, I didn't really take any time off. Instead, I've sort of been half-assing my way through work this week - feeling guilty about not getting enough work done AND not taking enough time off.
This has been a really great week for some things. The guest post on Design*Sponge sent a ton of traffic to Crafting an MBA, and I've been overwhelmed by all the positive feedback and kind words I've been getting. It means a lot to me that I'm creating something of value to other people.
I guess I'll end this rambling blog post by saying that hopefully I'm getting back into my regular habits. I just made myself a to-do list for tomorrow, which is a sure sign I'm feeling more motivated. And tops on that list is tracking down a copy of Cooking Light magazine - rumor has it my work is featured in the new issue!
Ultimately, its a summary of some of the lessons I've learned this past week - lessons that your support and positive feedback helped me reach. So thanks for being the best blog readers in the world! I couldn't imagine running my business without you!
But the link also sparked an interesting discussion about the price. More than a few people thought that $32 was an exorbitant amount of money to pay for the cozy/cuff. There were some people who jumped in to defend the price, but there were a lot of people that seemed to think I am making some ridiculous profit on the cozy/cuffs.
I am here to tell you that is just not true.
Here is just a small sampling of the cost factors that go into the cozy/cuff:
1. The Etsy costs are retail costs. When I wholesale the cozy/cuff, I have to cut the price in half. Which means I still need to build in profit for a wholesale price. And let me tell you, the profit margin on my wholesale price is pretty slim.
2. The cozy/cuff is made in small batches in the US. (If you read my original post - the cost of the cozy/cuff - you already know this.) And when you are buying materials and making products in small batches, the price is always going to be higher.
3. Not only do I not make the cozy/cuff in China - but I don't live in China either. And you have to factor cost of living (not to mention cost of working) into the price of the objects. (Or the workers wages.) And while I don't live in the most expensive part of the US, I certainly don't live in the one of the cheapest places in the world. And I think its only fair that I pay myself a living wage. (And if you don't believe that workers should be paid a living wage, please stop reading my blog. We cannot be friends.)
4. You also need to take into consideration the fact that the cozy/cuff is a bracelet. Here's a little math for you: today I had a cozy/cuff on my person for approximately 9 hours. For 8 of those hours, it was on my wrist. It was on my coffee cup for about an hour. (Probably a little less than that, but its easier to round.) So given those numbers, 89% of the time, the cozy/cuff functioned as a bracelet. And $32 is a pretty reasonable price for a cuff bracelet. (Its actually fairly consistent with the pricing of other cuff bracelets.)
After all this, its pretty clear to me that I should do a better job marketing it as a bracelet first - one with the added bonus of being a coffee cup cozy. Hopefully that will help justify the cost in some people's minds.
I should also probably stop reading internet discussions of my work.
I've been working on lots of new promotional materials to get ready for the gift fair - postcards, and catalogs, and the new website - but I keep getting stuck every time I try to write the copy.
At this point, I'm just a little too close to the product. So I need your help!
If you were writing about the cozy/cuff, what would you say? How would you describe it? What are its benefits? Can you describe its style and function in one short sentence? What aspects about it do you like best?
Leave your thoughts in the comments, and I'll pick one winner to send your very own cozy/cuff!
Its seems long overdue that I would start a blog focused on business thinking - its something I always love to talk about. Over at craftMBA, I'll be sharing useful tips on running a business, marketing, pricing, social media and more, my recommended and currents reads (which are sure to triple since I got a Kindle for Christmas!) and my thoughts on trends in the craft and business world.
Its only because of the support I've received on my business related posts here that I had the courage to start crafting an MBA, so thank you! Won't you join me in my new space? The new year seems like the perfect time to focus and get our businesses into shape!
(No worries, I'll still be blogging here as well.)
The Personal MBA has a really great post up about taking some time to review your accomplishments at the end of the year. Its likely that you've reached the end of the year feeling disappointed at what you haven't accomplished (which is how I feel all the time) but by taking the time to list out what you've done, you should realize that you've accomplished a lot.
(I sure hope that's the case, because reading the list of Josh's accomplishments at the Personal MBA has just made me feel more inadequate.) So here's my list:
In 2009, I:
launched a new line of home decor goods at the New York International Gift Fair.
traveled to Arizona, Ohio, and New York to speak to students at Arizona State, Kent State, and FIT.
traveled to San Francisco to participate in the SFMOMA trunk show for the second year in a row.
taught 5 classes at Towson University (including integrating new assignments and processes into the curriculum).
exhibited at the Museum Store Association Show and NYIGF.
designed and launched the cozy/cuff!
completed 2 triathlons.
coached middle and high school cross country.
traveled to Washington, DC to advocate for bicycling.
organized a fundraising bike ride.
launched a new website dedicated to business thinking for designers and makers. (This one's so new I haven't even posted about it on this blog yet.)
And since its the end of the decade, Josh recommends looking back at what you've accomplished in the last 10 years as well.
In the last decade, I:
graduated from Syracuse University with a BFA in metalsmithing (and with honors).
designed and implemented a program with my Residence Hall Association that won National Program of the Year.
received an MFA in jewelry/metals from Kent State.
was awarded a SNAG Student Scholarship.
was a Searchlight Artist at the American Craft Council Baltimore Show.
was a Visiting Assistant Professor at Towson University my first year out of grad school.
have continued to teach at Towson, where I helped redesign the intro metals and jewelry class.
presented "Navigating the Web 2.0" at the SNAG Professional Development Seminar in Savannah.
traveled to Santa Fe to consult with Patina Gallery on using web 2.0 technologies.
started this blog and launched my Etsy shop.
participated in many retail craft shows.
bought a house.
adopted a dog.
ran a 1/2 marathon, a lot of 5ks, and completed 3 triathlons.
won a 5k.
coached middle and high school cross-country for 3 seasons.
After making my list, I'm still not completely satisfied. Perhaps I'm too much of a perfectionist, or need a serious self-esteem boost. Or perhaps I should take my own advice and do some big picture goal setting so that I can look back on the next decade with more satisfaction.
So I guess I wished everyone happy holidays a little early, because I still haven't started my Christmas vacation yet.
I've been working on some new "packaging" for the cozy/cuffs. While they've been selling really well online, I'm having a little trouble with them in retail venues. Online, I can totally communicate all the product uses with a few good photos, but in person they are hard to understand.
Ok, that's not entirely true - if you see one being worn or used on a coffee cup, they make perfect sense. Its just in a retail display, they are a little tricky. And with the gift fair right around the corner, I really need to resolve that.
So I'm trying to work on a tag that clearly displays the dual function of the cozy/cuff, without bogging it down with excess packaging. And since I took some new product shots that I'm totally loving, I'm working on incorporating those into the "packaging."