Share The Love – Valentine’s Inspiration

Share The Love – Valentine’s Inspiration

Be inspired by Artisan created Valentine’s Jewelry and Component designs.

If you find something you like, you can click on the image to go to their Instagram page and comment or review their profile for more info or many will be adding their info in the comments below.  Also, you can share an image to your favorite social site by hovering over the picture: Dk Blue = Facebook, Lt Blue = Twitter and Red = Pinterest.


If interested in adding your work, please scroll to the bottom for the details!  Enjoy!

  • Sweet heart earrings  bohostyle bohemian handcrafted handmadeatamazon bandanagirl heartearringshellip
  • Pretty pink and ivory pearl memory wire bracelet with pinkhellip
  • First wave of Heart pairs 30 to start will behellip
  • Amber and Dumorterite Sterling Bracelet httpwwwomisilveretsycom cbcvd valentines handmade
  • AztecaDesignsBoutique hearts hoops argentiumsilver simplyher forher giftideas giftwrapped sweetheart valentinehellip
  • bandanagirl silverjewelry heartjewelry moonstone A sweet new design! cbcvd
  • Sweethearts Forever! Fabricated from copper sheet Argentium wire and lotshellip
  • Unexpected Heart Donut  bobbiejwilsoncomproductunexpectedheartdonut handmade fusedglass cbcvd
Want your Valentine’s items included??  

Excited to share our first INSTAGRAM #hashtag slide show.  If you have a relevant Valentine’s component or jewelry design you would like to be included follow these directions:

  • Go to your INSTAGRAM App and click the Camera Icon
  • Upload a “Valentine’s relevent component, jewelry design or collage. Could be a selfie shot of you or another wearing your design too.  (Remember Instagram uses a “square image”)
  • In the “Add a Caption” Add a description, business name, website link (while it won’t be a live URL, folks can copy and paste to find you)  add any #hashtags you want, but you
  • MUST*** add our CBC # to be auto included in our slideshow.  #cbcvd
  • Click OK…then SHARE.
  • You may also edit a previous Instagram post to add the #cbcvd
  • Check back in an hour to see your product shine!
  • Please limit to maximum of 15 images
  • In comments below: You may add your Instagram Name, Business Name, Website URL  and any other pertinent info you want include.  Please create one Comment for all info.  This way folks can find you easier! Comments must be approved so you may not see them until someone has time to do so.

We hope you’ll share our page with all your friends to inspire them for Valentine’s…It’s all about the love!  Let’s share each others beautiful jewelry and component designs.  Just maybe we’ll all get a little love and find some great new Artisans to connect with! Any ideas for other Instagram feeds?  It’s a great tool and seen by a huge audience!  Let’s build our businesses!

How To Price Your Jewelry Like a Pro

How To Price Your Jewelry Like a Pro

Pricing my handmade jewelry is one area that I seem to take light consideration to.  For many years, I have been practicing new techniques until last fall, I finally committed to taking the leap and work towards a unified jewelry line with hopes to offer wholesale products as well as a bigger platform for my jewelry line.  I’m also continuing my component and supply line on Etsy, which has been my mainstay for these past few learning years.

I’ve come across a few great blog posts that are perfect to reference and build your own calculator that fits your products.

Patina Designs

Silver Designs

Gold Designs

Leather Designs

Read the full article from Launch Grow Joy

How to price your products – handmade, Etsy and beyond

This is the simplest formula you can use:

(Labor + Materials) x 2 = Wholesale price

The x2 takes into account your profit and overhead as well, so you’re covered. As far as what your labor costs should be, think about how much you want to pay yourself per hour or how much you would pay someone per hour to make your products and divide that number by how many products you think you can make per hour. If an hourly wage is not what you want to measure, then think about how much salary would want to pay yourself per month (or per year) and use that number instead of the hourly rate.

If you plan on selling your products to other retail stores, you’ll have to take that into account. Your retailers will usually mark up your wholesale price at least 2 times.

To set your retail price, use this formula:

Wholesale Price x 2 = Retail Price (or MSRP)

So if each set of earrings you make costs you $2 in materials, and you pay yourself $15 for the half hour it takes to make them, then your wholesale price is $34 and your retail price is $68. To figure how you should price your products, download the free pricing worksheet below – simply plug in your own numbers and you’ll have a range of pricing to start with. Please keep in mind that if you plan on working with sales reps or distributors, you will want to factor that in to your pricing.

Andrea from Launch Grow Joy, also offers a downloadable calculator on her blog and offers many business building articles as well as seminars that I’ve attended.

 


Read the entire "How do I price my handmade goods" by Create and Thrive, article here: 

Jess Van Denn of Create and Thrive, offers some terrific insight and steps to implement this pricing. She offers the same calculation as above. 

Cost Price (labour + price of materials) x 2 = Wholesale

Wholesale x 2 = Retail

Now, if you want to make a profit – which is the amount you have to grow and re-invest in your business – you should double this amount for Retail, which equals $60. (By the way, the retail price is what you should be selling for online, and at markets.)

Sounds like a lot, hey?

But, in professional handmade business circles, this is standard practice. It is difficult for those of us who do this as a hobby to look at it like this sometimes – and when you’re competing with people who sell at a price that doesn’t even begin to come near their true costs, you might feel like you’re being greedy.

Remember – hobbyists aren’t trying to make a living out of selling their craft – they’re just trying to cover materials costs and maybe get a little extra on the side. That is how they can afford to charge so little – their livelihood is not relying on this money!

Also – if you’re selling internationally – and especially if you’re selling in another currency in some places (for example, I still sell in USD on Etsy because I’ve found through experimentation that listing prices in AUD puts off my American customers from buying, but it doesn’t bother Aussies to buy in USD) you need to take exchange rates/paypal fees/paypal currency conversion fees etc into account.

For those of you who want to do a super-serious, completely in-depth calculation to work out your prices, check out this excellent article by Australian Jeweller Simone Walsh.

When you graduate from a hobbyist to a business, you’re going to need to re-think your pricing. Starting with a simple formula like the one above is an excellent start… but it’s not the end of the story. Once you know mathematically what you should be pricing, you need to turn around and look at your price from another perspective.

2. Price with the Heart

There’s more to price than the basic in and out formula. Why do you think Apple has such a huge profit margin compared to other tech companies?

It ain’t because their materials and labour costs are way lower. No, it’s because they’ve built a brand that enables them to charge twice as much for pretty much the exact same technology as their competitor – and their customers are not only happy to pay, they’re ravenous, raving fans, just dying to drop another wad of $$ on the new model eye-phone, even when their ‘old’ one works just fine, thank you very much!

That, my friends, is the power of branding, and that is where pricing with the heart comes in.

Someone who outlines this very issue excellently is my friend Megan Auman. She actually wrote a new post on this recently – but she’s been writing and talking about this issue for a long time now.

You need to start looking at your brand from the outside – through the eyes of your customer. Visit your shop and pretend you have never been there before. That it’s just a shop you’ve stumbled upon while browsing Etsy. Even better, pretend you’ve stumbled across your band on a stand-alone website, or in a retail store! (Etsy can sometimes have the issue of making people expect artificially low prices.)

What does it say to you?

  • Does it say ‘professional artisan’?
  • Does it say ‘high-quality craftsmanship’?
  • Does it say ‘unique, exclusive design’?
  • Does your brand scream ‘cheap’ or does it scream ’boutique’?

I want you to be intentionally blind to the prices – blind to the fact that you make these things. I want you to pretend you’ve never made one of your whatevers, and that you don’t have the skill or the inclination to make it.

What would you expect to pay for it? What would you be willing to pay for it?

Take this to another level. Are you even your target customer? Because hey, maybe your target customer is someone who is willing to pay WAY more for your whatever than you would. What might someone really be willing to pay for your wares?

A good way to research this is to show your product to friends or family. Especially those who are a little bit removed from what you make. Ask them – ‘if you saw this in a shop, what would you expect to pay for it’? You might be surprised.

I’d like to let you in on a little secret.

I actually raised my prices 2 times last year. The first was a small, 10% rise in April. The second was a much more dramatic rise in September (and honestly, I have to thank Megan’s talk at the Artful Biz Con for finally giving me the push I needed to take that step).

For example: at this time last year, I was selling this pair of sterling silver earrings for $22 ($22!! I seriously can’t believe that figure now – SO low!). Then it was $25. Now it is $35, and I’m much more comfortable that I’m on the right track with my pricing. Megan would probably tell me off – tell me I should be charging about $60 retail for them – but I’m not quite there yet! Like I said at the beginning, you’re never ‘done’ with pricing.

In the first 2 months of 2013, I sold around the same volume of jewellery on Etsy as I did this same time last year. (I sold a lot more overall this year because the business on my own website is much, much higher now). However, guess what? My revenue – the money I earnt – from those same volume of sales? It’s DOUBLE what I earnt last year. Therein lies the power in raising your prices to what you and your work is worth.

Not only that? I am much more comfortable with my prices now. I am a professional artisan. This is my livelihood. I have years of skill and practice. I make an excellent, quality product.And my prices reflect that.

Do yours?

Homework:

  1. Visit your shop and do the above ‘I am a stranger’ exercise. I’d love for you to come back here and share your findings!
  2. Take just ONE of your products and work out a price using the formula I gave you above. It is very basic, but it’s a good start. Share with us what you discover – are you pricing way too low?

 

Read the entire article Professional pricing for craft and design, By Simone Walsh here: 

Calculating wages:

Your business should pay you a realistic wage for the amount of time you spend working in it, including covering income tax and other costs.

If this makes you feel uncomfortable, think about how much you would need to pay someone else to do the work that you do. Also think about how much you’d want to be paid if you were employed doing the same work you do in your business.

You are just as entitled to earn a living wage from what you do as anyone – even if you love what you do! Read more about what it means to truly support indie designers.

Calculating non-chargeable wages:

Most makers at least know to incorporate a labour rate into their pricing for the items they make to sell. However, wages shouldn’t end there.

Consider the time you spend in your business over the course of a year which is not chargeable as part of creating an item. This might include time spent photographing, marketing, doing admin work, researching, sourcing materials, packing and posting orders, etc..

Start by estimating the number of hours per week or per month you think are needed for this type of work. Then determine an appropriate hourly rate for this work – what would you need to pay someone else to do it for you?

Then calculate the time and hourly rate into an annual figure based on the number of weeks you operate your business each year. As an example:

  • 10 hours per week x $20 per hour = $200
  • $200 x 48 weeks = $9600 per annum

Set this annual ‘non-chargeable wage’ figure aside for now. It should be included in your overheads calculation as part of your breakeven analysis (see below).

Calculating chargeable wages:

Your chargeable wage is the income generated by the labour rate included in the price of each each item you make to sell.

Every piece you make should have your labour factored into it. It doesn’t have to be timed down to the last second – I make an educated guess as to what a piece will take me to finish on average once I have it in production.

To help work out what your labour rate should be, a great place to start is to calculate the annual personal income (on top of the above non-chargeable figure) you need or would like to be earning from your business.

Then determine how many weeks a year you will work in your business (allowing time for holidays, illness, etc – 48 weeks works for me).

Finally, estimate how many hours a week you expect to work on making items which you will then sell. Remember to allow time for all of those other business-related things you need to do – and don’t forget you need to have a life, as well!

Divide the annual amount you wish to earn from your labour by the number of weeks you intend to work per year. Then divide that figure by the number of hours per week you estimate you’ll spend actually making work to sell to get your hourly rate.

As a fairly outrageous example, let’s pretend you want to make $500,000 a year in wages and you only intend to work 5 hours a week making what you sell:

  • $500,000 divided by 48 weeks = $10,416 a week
  • $10,416 divided by 5 = $2083 (that’s your hourly labour rate!)

If whatever your hourly figure works out to be looks unreasonably low or high, then take a step back to the big picture and reassess. Keep doing this until you have a figure you’re happy with.

Of course you can always adjust this figure at any point: this is just a method to help you come up with a realistic amount, based on your own life along with your economy (almost every country will be different as to what an appropriate labour rate looks like).

Use your final hourly rate figure to calculate costs for your time for everything you make and include it in your spreadsheet or whatever method you are using to add up your direct cost of sales (such as materials and processes for each piece).

Note that this chargeable wage figure does not get added to your overheads (see below).

Breakeven analysis:

A major step towards professional pricing is to do a ‘breakeven analysis’ for your business. This will give you a big picture view as to the margins you need to add to your work in order to make ends meet – and hopefully make a profit too.

The one thing that so many design/craft pricing methods forget is that your business must cover all of its costs – not just materials and labour. Every tool you use, every advertisement you pay for, every business card you have printed, etc. must ultimately be covered by your business turnover.

Even if your business isn’t doing this as you get established, you need to aim for this to happen in the longer term. To do this you need to know what these costs are and how they at least should be impacting upon your pricing.

There’s much more to complete Simon’s overview.  I’ve just pulled the highlight from his post, please visit the link above to read.

Following the advice from these professionals, will push our hobby businesses into professional businesses.  I believe this is a hard concept to get your head around but, but once we leave our hobby diapers and put on our professional pullups, we will never look back.

I would love for you to link your favorite business strategy posts, comments of what’s worked for you or even questions you may have and I’ll do my best to answer.  Please understand I am still wearing diapers at night…but I’m getting better every day! Haha

How about you?

USPS Announces New Shipping Rates

USPS Announces New Shipping Rates

Rate Increase Highlights

  • The average shipping price rises 9.5% from $5.02 to $5.50.
  • Priority Mail rises an average of 9.8%.
  • Priority Mail Express rises an average of 15.6%.
  • The USPS discontinues Priority Mail Express Flat Rate boxes.
  • First-Class Package Service rises an average of 12.8%. But there is good news after January 17: The maximum weight for First-Class Package increases from 12.99 oz to 15.99 oz. Also, the rate for First-Class Packages under 8 oz. is a flat $2.60, which simplifies lightweight package pricing.
  • Standard Post is now called Retail Ground, with an average increase of 10%.
  • The USPS Click ‘n Ship online label printing service will no longer use Commercial Base Pricing discount.

 

january-2016-rate-change-article---lead-graphic

Effective January 17, 2016, USPS shipping rates increase an average of 9.5%. The January increase does not impact letters, First-Class flats and cards.

Even though shipping rates are rising, the USPS remains a cheap, reliable option for many package mailing scenarios.

FP Mailing Solutions Customers

FP customers may need to take action to update their equipment and/or software to the new rates. For instructions, go to the FP Rates Update Center.

Read on to see what’s changing and how you can cut more mail costs.

Rate Increase Highlights

  • The average shipping price rises 9.5% from $5.02 to $5.50.
  • Priority Mail rises an average of 9.8%.
  • Priority Mail Express rises an average of 15.6%.
  • The USPS discontinues Priority Mail Express Flat Rate boxes.
  • First-Class Package Service rises an average of 12.8%. But there is good news after January 17: The maximum weight for First-Class Package increases from 12.99 oz to 15.99 oz. Also, the rate for First-Class Packages under 8 oz. is a flat $2.60, which simplifies lightweight package pricing.
  • Standard Post is now called Retail Ground, with an average increase of 10%.
  • The USPS Click ‘n Ship online label printing service will no longer use Commercial Base Pricing discount.

Download & Print:
Shipping Rates Increase Infographic:

january-2016-rate-change-infographic

January 2016 Postage Rate Increase (Infographic)

Shipping Rate Average Increases At-a-Glance

Shipping Service INCREASE
Overall
INCREASE
Retail
INCREASE
Commercial Base Pricing (CBP)
New CBP Discount
Priority Mail 9.8% 8.6% 9.4% 13.9%
Priority Mail Express 15.6% 14.4% 17.7% 10.0%
First-Class Package 12.8% N/A N/A N/A
Parcel Select Ground (formerly Select Nonpresort) 3.1% N/A N/A N/A
Retail Ground (formerly Standard Post) 10% 10% N/A N/A

Eliminated Services

The USPS eliminated the following products for the January 2016 rate change:

Commercial Base Pricing (CBP) on USPS Click ‘n Ship (Print & Ship) Online Service
Until January 17, 2016, anyone with internet access could log into usps.com and buy a 4”x6” label at the Commercial Base Pricing discount. After this rate change, the USPS online service charges higher retail rates. To get CBP discounted rates, you need a postage meter or online postage service.

First-Class Package—Commercial Plus Pricing
Commercial Plus Pricing (bulk package price discount) for First-Class Package Service (FCPS) is going away, leaving mailers with Commercial Base Pricing (single-piece price discount) for FCPS.

Regional Rate Box C for Priority Mail and Priority Mail International
This large box (up to 25 lbs) had flat rate pricing, depending on origin & destination (zones). Regional Rate Boxes A (15 lbs) and B (20 lbs) remain.

Flat Rate Box for Priority Mail Express and Priority Mail International Express
After January 17, 2016, mailers will price Priority Mail Express by weight & zone.

Critical Mail
Critical Mail was a service for high-volume mailers that offered tracking and more security for important documents. Commercial Plus Flat Rate Envelopes and Signature Confirmation services replace Critical Mail.

Adapting to the New Rates

Here’s what you can do to adjust your business shipping practices to the new rates:

  • Consider flat rate envelopes and boxes. With the new price structures, flat rate will more often cost less than your own packaging.
  • Consider USPS more often for packages under five pounds.
  • Run some calculations at the USPS Postage Calculator for your typical shipping practices. You may find less expensive alternatives that will save your business a lot of money.
  • Get on the Commercial Base Pricing (CBP) bandwagon. As of January 17, CBP is no longer on the USPS Print ‘n Ship website. Plus, all USPS package shipments must be IMPB (Intelligent Mail Package Barcode) compliant. To get IMPB barcodes, you could go to the local post office and pay higher retail rates. Why not use a postage meter or online postage service to get Commercial Base Pricing?
  • For lightweight packages, consider shifting to First-Class Package Service. It’s a flat $2.60 for packages under 9 ounces.

First Class Package Service Rates

Typically 1-3 Days Delivery, includes tracking

Prices are for lightweight single-piece (up to 15.99 oz) commercial rates, which requires a postage meter or online postage service.

**Don’t confuse this with First Class Retail Parcels, which is intended for residential or one-off shipping of lightweight (up to 13 oz) through the local post office. First Class Retail Parcel service is part of the Dominant (non-competitive) mail classes and is not part of the January 17 rate change.

Weight (up to) Before Jan. 17 After Jan. 17 Price Increase Percent Increase
0.99 oz $2.04 $2.60 $0.56 27.5%
1.99 oz $2.04 $2.60 $0.56 27.5%
2.99 oz $2.04 $2.60 $0.56 27.5%
3.99 oz $2.13 $2.60 $0.47 22.1%
4.99 oz $2.22 $2.60 $0.38 17.1%
5.99 oz $2.35 $2.60 $0.25 10.6%
6.99 oz $2.53 $2.60 $0.07 2.8%
7.99 oz $2.71 $2.60 -$0.11 -4.1%
8.99 oz $2.89 $3.30 $0.41 14.2%
9.99 oz $3.07 $3.35 $0.28 9.1%
10.99 oz $3.25 $3.40 $0.15 4.6%
11.99 oz $3.44 $3.45 $0.01 0.3%
12.99 oz $3.63 $3.50 -$0.13 -3.6%
13.99 oz Varies $3.55 N/A N/A
14.99 oz Varies $3.60 N/A N/A
15.99 oz Varies $3.65 N/A N/A

Priority Mail Rates

1-3 Days Delivery, includes tracking

Priority Mail Commercial Base Pricing
Your Packaging (5lb Package)
ZONE
1 & 2
ZONE
3
ZONE
4
ZONE
5
ZONE
6
ZONE
7
ZONE
8
ZONE
9
Before Jan. 17 $6.78 $7.33 $8.42 $11.26 $15.22 $16.58 $18.87 $22.64
After Jan. 17 $7.39 $7.99 $9.01 $11.26 $15.22 $17.41 $19.81 $28.30
Price Increase $0.61 $0.66 $0.59 $0.00 $0.00 $0.83 $0.94 $5.66
Percent Increase 9.0% 9.0% 7.0% 0.0% 0.0% 5.0% 5.0% 25.0%

 

Priority Mail Retail Pricing
Your Packaging (5lb Package)
ZONE
1 & 2
ZONE
1 & 2
ZONE
1 & 2
ZONE
1 & 2
ZONE
1 & 2
ZONE
1 & 2
ZONE
1 & 2
ZONE
1 & 2
Before Jan. 17 $8.95 $9.95 $11.30 $16.20 $17.80 $19.20 $21.55 $25.20
After Jan. 17 $9.85 $10.95 $12.45 $17.00 $18.70 $20.65 $23.15 $30.25
Price Increase $0.90 $1.00 $1.15 $0.80 $0.90 $1.45 $1.60 $5.05
Percent Increase 10.1% 10.1% 10.2% 4.9% 5.1% 7.6% 7.4% 20.0%

 

Priority Mail Commercial Base Pricing
Flat Rate
Envelope Legal Envelope Padded Envelope Small Box Medium Box Large Box
Before Jan. 17 $5.05 $5.25 $5.70 $5.25 $11.30 $15.80
After Jan. 17 $5.75 $5.75 $6.10 $6.10 $11.95 $16.35
Price Increase $0.70 $0.50 $0.40 $0.85 $0.65 $0.55
Percent Increase 13.9% 9.5% 7.0% 16.2% 5.8% 3.5%

 

Priority Mail Retail Pricing
Flat Rate
Envelope Legal Envelope Padded Envelope Small Box Medium Box Large Box
Before Jan. 17 $5.75 $5.90 $6.10 $5.95 $12.65 $17.90
After Jan. 17 $6.45 $6.45 $6.80 $6.80 $13.45 $18.75
Price Increase $0.70 $0.55 $0.70 $0.85 $0.80 $0.85
Percent Increase 12.2% 9.3% 11.5% 14.3% 6.3% 4.7%

Priority Mail Express Rates

Overnight delivery

Priority Mail Express Commercial Base Pricing
Your Packaging (1lb Package)
ZONE
1 & 2
ZONE
3
ZONE
4
ZONE
5
ZONE
6
ZONE
7
ZONE
8
ZONE
9
Before Jan. 17 $15.13 $17.58 $22.21 $25.21 $27.54 $29.10 $30.00 $36.60
After Jan. 17 $20.66 $21.56 $25.97 $29.07 $30.11 $31.95 $32.94 $40.19
Price Increase $5.53 $3.98 $3.76 $3.86 $2.57 $2.85 $2.94 $3.59
Percent Increase 36.5% 22.6% 16.9% 15.3% 9.3% 9.8% 9.8% 9.8%

 

Priority Mail Express Retail Pricing
Your Packaging (1lb Package)
ZONE
1 & 2
ZONE
1 & 2
ZONE
1 & 2
ZONE
1 & 2
ZONE
1 & 2
ZONE
1 & 2
ZONE
1 & 2
ZONE
1 & 2
Before Jan. 17 $17.95 $23.95 $28.85 $32.30 $33.45 $35.50 $36.60 $44.65
After Jan. 17 $22.95 $23.95 $28.85 $32.30 $33.45 $35.50 $36.60 $44.65
Price Increase $5.00 $0.00 $0.00 $0.00 $0.00 $0.00 $0.00 $0.00
Percent Increase 27.9% 0.0% 0.0% 0.0% 0.0% 0.0% 0.0% 0.0%

 

Priority Mail Express Commercial Base Pricing
Flat Rate
Envelopes Flat Rate Boxes
Before Jan. 17 $18.11 $44.95
After Jan. 17 $20.66 Discontinued
Price Increase $2.55 N/A
Percent Increase 14.1% N/A

 

Priority Mail Express Retail Pricing
Flat Rate
Envelopes Flat Rate Boxes
Before Jan. 17 $19.99 $44.95
After Jan. 17 $22.95 Discontinued
Price Increase $2.96 N/A
Percent Increase 14.8% N/A

International Shipping

International shippers will also see an increase in postage rates starting January 17, 2016.  Below are some highlights on the upcoming rate changes for international mail classes:

Global Express Guaranteed postage rates are expected to rise by an average of 7.1%.

Priority Mail Express International postage rates will increase by an average of 11.6% next year.  Flat Rate Boxes for this international service will be discontinued in 2016.  In addition, prices for Priority Mail Express International Flat Rate Envelopes and Boxes will be further separated into additional country groups.

Priority Mail International postage rates will see an overall increase of 10.2% in 2016.  Commercial Base and Commercial Plus pricing for this service will be the same next year.

First Class Package International Service postage rates will increase by an average of 21.6% in 2016, however Commercial Base and Plus prices will remain the same next year.  The average price increases by pound are:

– Up to 1 lb. – Average Increase of $5.17
– Up to 2 lbs. – Average Increase of ($1.77)
– Up to 3 lbs. – Average Increase of $1.63
– Up to 4 lbs. – Average Increase of $11.58

First Class International: 

Title Prices
Global Express Guaranteed® From $59.95 at the Post Office™

From $56.95 for Commercial Base®

From $56.95 for Commercial Plus®

Priority Mail Express International® From $40.95 at the Post Office™

From $38.90 for Commercial Base

From $38.90 for Commercial Plus™

Priority Mail Express International Flat Rate™ Envelopes

From $41.50 at the Post Office

$39.45 for all other countries

$39.45 for all other countries

Priority Mail International® From $31.75 at the Post Office

From $30.16 for Commercial Base

From $30.16 for Commercial Plus

Priority Mail International Flat Rate™ Envelopes

From $23.95 at Post Office

From $22.75 for Commercial Base

From $22.75 for Commercial Plus

Small Flat Rate Priced Boxes

From $24.95 at Post Office

From $23.70 for Commercial Base

From $23.70 for Commercial Plus

Medium Flate Rate Priced Boxes

From $45.95 at Post Office

From $43.65 for Commercial Base

From $43.65 for Commercial Plus

Large Flat Rate Priced Boxes

From $59.95 at Post Office

From $56.95 for Commercial Base

From $56.95 for Commercial Plus

First-Class Mail International® Letters and postcards from $1.20 for all countries

Large Envelopes (Flats) from $2.38 for all countries

First-Class Package International Service® From $9.50 at the Post Office

From $9.03 for Commercial Base

From $9.03 for Commercial Plus

Airmail M-Bags™ From $44.00
International Priority Airmail® Varies
International Surface Air Lift® Varies
International Business Reply® Service From $1.35 per piece

 

For those of you printing your postage online, here is the direct link to USPS pricing for Domestic & International https://www.usps.com/business/prices.htm

 

 

Soldering – Discussed

Soldering – Discussed

 

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I started making jewelry full-time two years ago. I have always been an artist/maker of things…I love Native American beadwork, leather work, leather braiding, saddlery, chap making, …..the list goes on. I’ve tried my hand at many things, and will not stop now! But two years ago, we relocated for hubby’s job, and there were no job opportunities for me. Not one to sit around and twiddle my thumbs, I got busy creating! I picked up my beads, leather, and reclaimed copper wire (thanks dad) and things snowballed from there. I am now passionately in LOVE with metalsmithing/silversmithing! I never soldered a thing before two years ago, and now it’s all I can think about!! Soldering is so much fun, and will open so many new doors for you creatively!

I want to open this up for discussion because there are SO MANY people out there who are WAYYYYY more talented and experienced than myself!! People who we all can learn so much from. This is my little DISCLAIMER: This blog post is a culmination of my opinions, my experience, and written in the hopes of encouraging you to try something new! I do not in any way claim to be a professional on the subject.

Please feel free to ask questions in the comments section and I will try and get back to you!

When I first began researching the process of soldering, I was very overwhelmed. It seemed that there were so many things you needed to purchase, so many wrong ways to proceed that I shied away from giving it a try for quite some time. I began my ‘torch’ journey with Argentium silver. My hubby brought me a great little torch from work – he figured if I didn’t like it, well, no harm done! Well, I still have that torch, haha!! (Ain’t nobody prying it from my hot little hands! 😉 Argentium silver is a breeze to work with – it fuses wonderfully, and was a great way for me to get my feet wet with using a torch, and practicing some fabricating. After a while, I became bored with my limitations…I was ready to jump headlong into soldering. I got some paste solder  – syringe style – from Rio Grande, figuring, hey, paste may be messy, but it eliminates the flux step so it’s got to be a great way to start! And for me, yes, it was a great way to start. I love paste for smaller projects especially. A dab of paste, stick your embellishment on, heat to flow, done. Love it! I ended up springing for Rio’s cute little pickle pot, and some of their  Rio Pickle, too,which works AWESOME!

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A good torch is essential to successful soldering

 

My number one frustration and limitation now is the heat/size of my torch. Although it’s about the best butane torch, and is hotter than most, it is still not hot enough for larger projects. It works great for earrings, small pendants, bangles, small rings and bands. I’m ready to upgrade my torch to something with more heat!! I am still in the process of researching possible choices, so ‘Torch Options’ will be another blog title for another day!

I will tell you right now, if you are a beginner, start with a SMALL project. You will encounter less frustration, and be more successful right away, which will encourage you to continue practicing! 😉 Also, although many of us dislike the idea of practicing on silver, (I know, we would rather practice on copper) silver is much easier to solder. Copper is a heat sink, and if you’re just learning what your torch can and can’t handle, copper may be a challenge. If you do start with copper, start SMALL!!! 🙂 The one frustration most beginners have/encounter is that they didn’t get their piece hot enough. Don’t be shy with the torch, friends, your piece needs HEAT! 😉

Sheet Metal:

I most frequently use 24 and 22 gauge sheet metal for my back plates/bases. These gauges work great for small pieces, and especially earrings – the lighter gauge keeps the earrings lightweight, which is always important.

Bezel Wire:

I have a stash of a variety of bezel wire – I like the 26/28 gauge wire best, as it is easier to work with for most projects, but keeping a variety of styles (scalloped edge, serrated edge, etc), gauges, and heights on hand is recommended. You never know what size that next cab you fall in love with will be! 😉

Soldering Base:

Using a heat reflective base is so very important. I love my soft charcoal blocks personally, but everyone has their preference. A charcoal block is a cost effective way to begin, and you can branch out as you feel more comfortable. I use a charcoal block as my base, then set up a charcoal block at the back and sides to help reflect heat back at the project. If I’m working on a very small piece, the back and side blocks are not necessary.

 

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Charcoal block set up

 

Soldering a project:

I love paste solder for this – I set up my entire piece using paste solder. I will apply the paste around the bezel, add the embellishments, etc, all at one time, on my charcoal block. When everything is where I want it, I will apply heat gradually, over the entire piece, then increase temperature/flame to flow the solder. This process works for small projects. Larger projects take more steps and different hardness of solders. If you have a multiple step project, start with hard or medium solder, then work your way up to easy. This prevents the first pieces that you soldered from re flowing and falling off of your project!  Due to my torch limitations, I limit the size and steps of my projects.

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Soldering paste replaces the need for flux

When you see the solder turn liquid and flow, remove the heat. Quench, pickle, neutralize.

I use a titanium solder pick to direct solder flow on my more difficult and stubborn pieces. I heat up the pick at the same time I am heating up my project. Then I use the pick (while in the flame) to push down a bezel, or other bit that I’m trying to get soldered on. The titanium gets super hot, and solder flows towards heat….so, it will flow towards the place you add more heat to, i.e. where I put the pick.

Tools/Shopping:

I primarily shop www.riogrande.com. I find that their quality and customer service are exceptional. I enjoy their huge variety of supplies, and can find almost everything I need  – one stop shop.

I frequent www.magpiegemstones.com for most of my gemstones, although I’ve been lucky to find several people through facebook who practice lapidary and offer quality, unique cabs!

Well, this has been a ginormous and long post! I hope I haven’t overwhelmed or confused you…my thoughts are more organized in my head, but they don’t translate well to paper. Yikes! Anyhow, Leave me some feedback here, if you have a moment! If you’re trying to get set up for soldering, and have any questions, I would love to help if I can!!

Stay creative, be inspired,

~Heidi @ Azteca Designs Boutique 

Creative Journey Artisan Component to Art Jewelry Challenge Winners

Creative Journey Artisan Component to Art Jewelry Challenge Winners

 

collage of winning jewelry designsThe theme on Creative Bead Chat this year is “Creative Journey.” It’s about telling the stories of how we became jewelry artists.  And the stories of the artisan components we use in our jewelry designs, why we chose them, and how they inspire us.

We challenged CBC readers and members of the CBC group on Facebook to show us how they took artisan components and used them to create art jewelry. We received over two dozen entries that included earrings, bracelets and necklaces in a variety of styles and techniques. The artisan components used included lampwork glass beads, ceramic connectors and pendants, and distressed and enameled metal charms and clasps.

CBC Admin Choice Winning Designs

The CBC admin selected jewelry designs that best showcased the artisan components. It was not an easy decision. The diversity of styles, techniques, and components used made comparison challenging. In the end, we selected the jewelry designs that best told the stories of the component and the supporting elements.

Artisan Focal: Orange You Sweet by Marlene Quigley

Artisan Bead: Sunrise by Heidi Williams

Artisan Clasp: A Princess Story by Betsy Groff Boyko

These three winners will each receive a free CBC Directory Page, a Meet the Maker Interview, and a Gift Pack of Artisan Components. The gift packs include artisan components by Sheila Davis, Billie Hackett, Cathleen Zaring, Linda Younkman, Val Garber, and Bay Moon Design.

Artisan component prize package

The prize packages for the three admin choice winners include beads and focals from various artisans.

Popular Vote Winning Design

The CBC readers voted for their favorite art jewelry designs by commenting on the entries. The design with the most fan comments was:

Jeanne by Janine Lucas

Janine will receive a jewelry tool kit to use in making even more awesome art jewelry.

jewelry tools prize

Random Winning Designs

We used Random.org to select winning designs in each of the three categories. Each of these winners will receive a free CBC Directory Page.

Artisan Focal: Lynn Ferro

Artisan Bead: Kristi Bowman

Artisan Clasp: Lynn Carling

Random Fan Winner

We also used Random.org to choose a winner from among those who left comments on the designs. The randomly chosen winner, who will receive a jewelry tool kit is:

Marc

Component Artisan Winners

The top 3 “most chosen” component designers used in the challenge will receive a free “Directory Page” here on the website as well as a featured “Meet the Maker” interview.

Michelle McCarthy, Firefly Design Studio

Julie DeFeo, Julie DeFeo Designs

Julie Wong Sontag, UgliBeads

Honorable Mention: Petra Carpreau, Scortched Earth.

Meet Melissa Camilleri – Author of the 21 Day Insta-course

Meet Melissa Camilleri – Author of the 21 Day Insta-course

 
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melissa camilleri headerHi~ Melinda here::

I was excited to to partake in this excellent course last month. The 21 Day Insta-course with Melissa Camilleri.   I rarely spend my hard earned money on lessons & classes. I always think,

“I can do this myself!”

How many of you feel this way??   Honestly , if you’re older than 30, then you are likely lost with Instagram as I was.  I’m lucky enough to have “under 25” daughters & son that have kept me in the loop of new online social engagement.  Instagram is BIG…really BIG!    What I’m seeing is that the under 30 crowd is there…not facebook…  Young  professionals are connecting on Instagram.  It’s slowly building to the over 30 crowd.   This is a big market that shouldn’t be ignored.  I felt I needed to understand it better to help  me make informed choices for my budgeted time and adverstising.

instagram buttonI loved Melissa’s down to earth and “real” approach to understanding the how’s and whys of Instagram.  I got it…it really made sense and was easy to implement.  Honestly the daily email is broken down into “very” do-able steps of getting to the core of your business concept and getting that message across to your customers.  I will be retaking the course “as a veteran” this time around with you all and would love to connect with you as we explore and build our sales with Instagram.  I hope you’ll consider joining in and learning with me!

Early Bird price ends THIS FRIDAY..

so don’t delay on getting signed up.  It’s worth every penny I spent and I’m 100% happy with the in depth knowledge I’ve achieved and have begun to implement.  I will continue to learn as part of the 21 day Facebook team that shares all their ideas, questions etc., just like we do on our own CBC Facebook group.  It’s a wonderful group ready to connect with new members!

I believe you’ll love this course and I’ve invited Melissa Camilleri to guest post and tell us a little about it.

Her new class starts August 21st and will be the last until 2016, as she is also a jewelry designer and runs her business as well as offering this great course!  So she really gets us & she’s one of us!

melissa camilleri headerGuest  post  by  Melissa  Camilleri,   Founder  of  Compliment,  Inc.  and  the   21-­‐Day  Insta-­‐course

As  long  as  you  haven’t  been  living   under  a  rock  the  past  couple  years,   you’ll  know  that  Instagram  should  be   a  key  component  to  your  online   marketing  strategy,  especially  as  a   product-­‐based  business,  where  what   we  do  is  so  visual!
Likely,  you  already  have  a  presence   on  Instagram.    If  you’re  anything  like  I   was  when  I  first  started  using  the   platform,  your  growth  has  been  slow   going  and  your  reach  not  quite   multiplying  in  the  way  you  see  it   happening  for  other  businesses.    It’s   frustrating  to  be  in  this  space.

It  took  me  one  full  year  to  grow  to   1000  followers  on  Instagram.    But   knowing  how  important  the  platform   was  to  my  overall  marketing  strategy,   I  was  determined  and  focused.    I   observed  and  took  action.  I  put  in   place  some  key  strategies  that  took   my  Instagram  (@shopcompliment)   from  1000  to  17,000  the  following   year.    These  days,  I’m  adding  an   average  of  1500  new  followers  per   month,  have  a  following  of  over  30K   and  get  70%  of  my  website  traffic  and   conversions  from  Instagram.    I’m   selling  five-­‐figures  month  after   month,  and  my  Instagram  strategy  is   a  large  part  of  that.

I  have  no  special  photography  or  tech   training  under  my  belt.    Just  sheer   will,  an  iPhone,  plus  the  mindset  that   where  my  attention  goes,  grows.

Here  are  four  things  you  can  start   doing  today  to  give  you  the   foundation  to  start  actually  getting   seen,  building  relationships,  and   making  money  on  Instagram:

Show  up  consistently.
It  is  essential  that  if  you  have  an   Instagram  account,  you  are  posting  at   least  once  a  day  to  show  up  in  the  the   conversation  that’s  happening  on  IG.     Posting  consistently  will  keep  you  top   of  mind  in  your  customer’s  heads.     Did  you  know  that  studies  show  that   a  potential  customer  has  to  interact   with  a  brand  a  minimum  of  7  times   before  ever  taking  action?    The  more   you  post,  the  quicker  this  will  happen.   That  said,  you  don’t  want  to  overload   your  followers’  feeds,  so  I  suggest   posting  no  more  than  3  times  per  day,   with  at  least  4  hours  between  posts.

Get  social.
Interact  with  the  people  who   comment  on  your  photos.    @Mention   them  back.    Ask  them  questions.     Share your  gratitude.    And  don’t  be   afraid  to  leave  comments  on  other   people’s  pictures,  too.  Be  generous   with  your  likes.    Follow  back  people   who  are  consistently  interacting  with   you.    It’s  called  a  social  network  for  a   reason!    Let  people  get  to  know  you,   and  seek  ways  to  get  to  know  your   followers.

Post  with  your  ideal  customer  in   mind.
What  does  she  like  about    your   brand?    What  is  on  her  mind  at  the   time  of  the  day you’re  posting?    What   does  she  talk  about  with  her  friends?     Where  is  she  when  she buys  from   you?    What  are  her  dreams?    What   are  her  problems  and  how  does  your   product  solve  them?    When  you  write   the  captions  of  your  photos,  keep  her   in  mind.   Write  directly  to  her.    You’ll   find  that  your  engagement  will  grow   authentically  with people  who  are   excited  about  what  you’re  putting  out   into  the  world.

Understand  that  your  numbers  are   less  important  than  engagement.
The  number  of  followers  you  have  is   definitely  important.    Followers  act   like  little  votes  of  confidence  and  give   your  brand  credibility.    And  because   people  do  what  they  see  other  people   do,  the  more  followers  you  have,  the   more  followers  you  will  get.  But,  what  good  is  a  bunch  of   followers  who  don’t  ever  buy  your   stuff?    (I’ll  give  you  a  hint:  NO  GOOD   AT  ALL.)    Numbers  aren’t  everything.   Engagement  is  what  matters  most.

By  putting  these  strategies  into  place   you  will  be  taking  major  leaps  in   building  trust  with  your  followers  and   turning  those  followers  you  do  have   into  raving  fans  and  life-­‐long   customers.


 

Melissa  Camilleri  is  the  Founder  +   Creative  Director  of  Compliment-­‐-­‐a   gift  brand  she  launched  in  2011  while   she  was  a  full-­‐time  high  school  English   and  AVID  teacher.    She  credits   Instagram  for  helping  her  grow  her   business  from  a  production  line  on   her  dining  room  table  to  the  socially-­‐ responsible  corporation  it  is  now.    At   the  urging  of  her  business-­‐owner   friends  who  wanted  to  replicate  her   marketing  success,  Melissa  dusted  off   her  teaching  hat  and  created  the  21-­‐ Day  Insta-­‐course  to  help  others   market  their  products,  services,  and   brick  and  mortar  shops.    Tens  of   thousands  have  attended  her  virtual   courses,  participated  in  her   workshops,  and  studied  under  her   guidance.    She  believes  we  rise  by   lifting  others.    She  lives  and  loves  in   Northern  California.
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Say  hello  to  Melissa  on  Instagram   @shopcompliment.

Want  more  ways  to  leverage   Instagram  for  your  product-­‐based   business?
Register  now  for  the  21-­‐Day  Insta-­‐ course  with  Melissa  Camilleri  of  @shopcompliment.

The  course  is  delivered  daily,  straight   to  your  inbox,  and  gives  you   actionable  tasks  each  day  to  grow   your  following  of  authentic,  engaged   customers.

You’ll  learn:
-How  to  craft  your  bio  so  that  people   want  to  buy.
-How  to  communicate  your  brand   values  through  images.
-How  to  engage  your  following   through  hashtags,  direct  messaging,   comments,  and  geotags.
-What  and  when  to  post.
-How  to  find  and  collaborate  with  key influencers.
-How  to  find  your  ideal  customer  on Instagram.
-How  to  present  your  company  in  the best,  most  aesthetic  way  online.
-How  to  manage  your  time  on  social media. &  much,  much  more.

You’ll  also  get:

-Lifetime  access  to  the  21  lessons  and   action  steps  that  you  can  implement   with  the  group  or  go-­‐at-­‐your-­‐own-­‐ pace,  taught  by  an  actual  teacher  who   is  an  expert  in  adult  learning  practices.
-An  audio  of  each  lesson  so  you  can   learn  on  the  go.
-Downloadable  PDFs  to  accompany   the  lessons.
-A  directory  of  course  participants  so   you  can  connect  on  Instagram  and   elsewhere  online.
-Access  to  our  private  Facebook   community  where  hundreds  of  other   business  owners  gather  to   collaborate,  share  insights,  and  cheer   one  another  on.
-FREE  group  coaching  and  collaboration  with  Melissa  during  the   course.  (value  $499)

(*Early  bird  price  of  $127  goes  up  to   $177  on  Aug  1,  2015.

Join up for the 21 Day Instagram Course

SIgn up!

Do you have an Instagram account? Please post it here!
You can follow me @bandanagirl_

What are your Instagram questions? Please post in the comments below!

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