Friday, December 23, 2011

Freebie Friday's Review Roundup

I have participated in several Sampler Village boxes and each time I send in 100 samples so I earn a free box.  As a result, I get the joy of trying out and reviewing lots of great samples from several amazing fellow shops.  Here are my thoughts on the products I have tried so far from the Nov/Dec box; all four I will be a repeat customer for:

Farm Hussy
Item: Whipped Soy Glace scented Gift Hog
Seller's Description of scent: "You are sure to be rooting through the gift pile if your snout gets a pre-Xmas whiff of this chewy ooey gooey frosting on butter cookies, candied cherries and fruits, powdered sugar and candy sprinkles."
My Review:  I can't stop raving about Farm Hussy - I just can't get enough of her products!  I was so stoked to get a sample of hers in my box.  Of course, the Glace is just as dreamy as the other lotions I've tried.  I LOVE the scent - it is my MOST FAVORITE now!  It smells like a bubblegum/cotton candy/cherry snowcone on steroids at a crazy carnival.  If it made my arm edible when I put it on, I'd eat my own arm.  It just smells crazy divine and I wish it were a food.

Sebastien's Nook
Facebook and Etsy
Item: Cranberry Chutney Soap Bar sample size.
Seller's Description: "Cranberry Chutney - Yankee Candle Type has to be one of my favorite scents for this season. Fresh cranberries, orange zest, rosemary, raisins, and a touch of golden honey make this a delectable addition to your holiday decorations. Not to mention this bar is chock full of skin loving emollients such as Jojoba oil infused with calendula, Goat's Milk, honey, and Aloe. Its rich lather will keep you coming back for more."
My Review: Considering practically everything in my box was scented Cranberry or colored Cranberry, I'm thinking Cranberry is the scent of the season!  This scent stood above the rest, even if it is a dupe of a non-handmade product. ;)  I was pleasantly surprised by the amount of lather from this little bar - probably the most soapy soap I've ever used.  I am a big fan of goat's milk in products, and this bar doesn't disappoint in its softness.  Even though it may look like a hand-drying plain glycerin bar to the layman, don't be fooled - it is far from that.

Bonny N Clyde aka B n C
Facebook and Etsy
Item: Solid perfume in lip balm tube scented Desire.
Seller's Description of scent: "Blend of citrus, geranium, jasmine, lily of the valley, amber, vanilla, vetiver, botanical musk and ylang ylang."
My Review: Now, I'm really picky about scents so samples are always a must for me because my sniffer can go either way.  I was really pleasantly surprised with this one - while it may seem like a strong heavy scent at first, it really isn't.  I'd say it's more of a winter scent, but I usually just wear whatever scent I want no matter the season.  It comes in a lip balm tube because it's a solid perfume, a genius idea, I think.  Having long fingernails, I don't do solid B&B products in pots.  Besides, gets your fingers all messy.  It was really easy to apply and I love that - just "roll" it on and go!  I could immediately tell it was working off the warmth of my pulse points, and I smelled it all day.

Facebook and Etsy
Item: Snowflake sachet ornament
Seller's Description: "The sachet has been filled with scented Cellulose (corn cob) fibers. The corn cob fibers are a wonderful scent holder and will last for many months.  The sachet smells like a freshly fallen snow on a cold winters day."
My Review: I really thought this was a great idea.  I love the scent, and want to have it up all year round so I hung it up on my front door knob.  My cat apparently thought it was a great product, too, because I came back to a shredded ornament after being gone a couple days. :(  So I'll have to figure out some way to fix it.  I think this is a really cool idea that she could market all year round - I wouldn't mind having it in another scent or two.  Maybe even put one in the car.  The scent is unique and refreshing, and I like that.  It can get old being exposed to the same scents all the time so I'm enjoying this new one. 

{{Each Friday I do a multitude of short reviews to sum up my experiences with free product I used since the last posting.  I am not compensated for my reviews other than the fact that I did not pay for the product.  However, this product was earned through Facebook contests or other free contest means through my own efforts.  The shops are not notified of the review until posted.}}

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Wednesday's Raving Reviews - Have It Sweet


Caramel is harder to make than one would think - temperature plays a huge roll in getting the end product just right.  Heat too little and you have sauce; heat it too much and you have hard candy.  And then there's the matter of using a recipe that you like... getting an end product that makes your taste buds dance.

How do I know this?  I've tried it myself.  And what they say is true: baking and candy making are two different realms.  So far, I've perfected one and not so much the other.

Being a part of Sampler Village, I am exposed to many great handmade shops every day.  I made my first purchase with Have It Sweet this past March when they were running a free shipping coupon code.  I haven't regretted that decision since.

I tried the Fluer de Sel bars because they are their most popular flavor.  When in doubt, I always try the most popular product first from a shop, then go from there after having my own experiences.  After all, stats speak volumes - customers know best (most of the time :D)!

The recipe is utterly indescribable.  I have never tasted dreamier caramel in my whole life.  Plus, what they say is true - sweet and salty DO make a great combo.  This stuff is ADDICTING.  The flavors linger on your tongue for several minutes afterward so you can't get the yumminess out of your head.  It's a psychological mind game, trying to stop eating.  And it's a losing game at that.  I always tell myself I'm going to be good, that I'm only going to eat a little bit at a time.  Sometimes I stick it in the freezer to help stop myself.  IT NEVER WORKS.  I'd rather break a tooth than stop eating.  I have never eaten anything in my life that has such a tantalizing aftertaste that it messes with my will power.  My waistline may hate me later, but those minutes are heaven.  The worst part is when it is all gone.  That yumminess I cannot have is torturous.

Part of the listing describes how it is a secret recipe perfected over many trials and tribulations.  I don't blame them for keeping it a well guarded secret because they would be out of business if we all knew how to make it.  And probably four hundred pounds heavier.  I would make this every day if I knew how.  I think it is probably for the better that I don't. ;)

Since then, I have gotten to know Beth, one half of the dynamic husband/wife duo, through various correspondence on Etsy and Facebook.  She is so wonderful to talk to, very sweet, and very giving.  I was so grateful and ecstatic when she donated to my Animal Charity Auction back in Oct.  Her stuff was a big hit - no shocker there!

I have made several more purchases since then.  I always intend to try something new, but I always go back to tantalizing Fluer de Sel.  I can't get enough of it!  Some of my purchases contained samples of other caramels and they are just as addicting as well.  Marzipan is my second most favorite.  But Fluer de Sel will always be the caramel that stole my heart.

Check out Have It Sweet's delicious selection today - there's sure to be something for you!  And you definitely won't be disappointed in the quality of products and customer service.  Let Have It Sweet know that BKD Signature sent you!

{{Each Wednesday I review a business that I thought gave me a superior customer service experience and offers amazing products.  These are opinions only, for which I was not paid.  I'm simply sharing with the world about this awesome shop I discovered! :) }}

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Wednesday's Raving Reviews - Farm Hussy


I made my first purchase with Farm Hussy at the beginning of this month, a purchase I wish I could've made so much sooner.  I had been trying to deplete my massive handmade B&B stockpile before purchasing more (let me tell you, that's a difficult task for someone addicted to handmade!).  I heard about Farm Hussy through Sampler Village, an amazing sampler box that I've contributed to multiple times and that I am a team member of on Etsy.  I also became a Facebook group member as soon I discovered that they had one (in lieu of a fan page) and have been reading all the rave reviews of the products posted in the group.  I couldn't wait to try it for myself!

Farm Hussy is run by the amazingly creative and quirky Julie and her Bored of(ten) Directors, as the website creatively claims.  Her fantastically awesome skills at naming and creating stories for her products is a talent that I am supremely jealous of.  I'd love to have (or hire!) her skills!  Julie claims it's a gift that can sometimes curse her at 3 am with new ideas. :)

It being my first purchase, I didn't know what scents I wanted so I tried to get a random assortment and utilize reviews in the group from avid customers.  I bought two Udderly Ticked Lotions on their Item of the Month sale: one in Cherries, Berries, & Blossoms and the other was the monthly Grab Bag scent, which turned out to be Punkin Maple Hot Toddy.  I also bought the Recession Special, a great value for getting a "grab bag" of products, so to speak: I chose the Devine Bovine Butyere in Ex's Make Good Mulch and the Goat Milk n Honey Lotion in Oh MySor Raspberries (it also includes a perfume bottle, bath melt, and and lip balm).

I won't comment too much on the scents because I know everyone has different tastes when it comes to scents.  What I will say, as a very picky scent connoisseur, that I am VERY happy with all the scents I chose.  They are really strong and last long - perfect if you love your scent and don't want to worry about putting on perfume.  If you ever want opinions on scents before purchasing, posting in the Facebook group is a great way to learn from other customers about what they think.

What I really want to emphasize is the superior customer service Julie has.  First off, the communication is great.  She sends you an e-mail when you place your order, including cute little graphics and information about Farm Hussy products.  Then, she follows up with both an e-mail and a tracking number when your order has shipped.  You can't complain about that! :)

When your order arrives, it is CHOCK full of samples.  I swear, I got just as many samples as products I bought.  To me, this shows care and attention for my order.  My order was carefully packaged with love and I'm a HUGE fan of lots of samples!  Especially since I don't know what scents I want, this was a great and helpful way to try more.  I had already expressed my concerns about what to buy, and Julie truly delivered on her promise to include lots of samples - now THAT'S some quality customer service!  And these aren't dinky little half ounce samples - these could potentially be full-blown products.  That's what's so amazing about Julie: she's so generous of heart!  If you're buying from someone based on how many samples you get in your purchase, Farm Hussy's your new destination!

Her lotions are so thick and creamy.  Over the years, I have bought from several handmade bath and body vendors, and quickly determined my two favorites.  To my pleasant surprise, Farm Hussy trumped them both!  Being in CA, dry feet from flip flops is easy to acquire.  I've always felt handmade lotions are superior, and thicker, than commercial lotions, but I have never found one thick "enough".  The Bovine Buteyre is now my new go-to thick lotion and I'm so excited about it!  I'm definitely only buying this from now on for those tough dry skin areas.  I absolutely LOVE it.

Check out Farm Hussy's massive scent selection today - there's sure to be something for you!  And you definitely won't be disappointed in the quality of products and customer service.  Let Farm Hussy know that BKD Signature sent you!

{{Each Wednesday I review a business that I thought gave me a superior customer service experience and offers amazing products.  These are opinions only, for which I was not paid.  I'm simply sharing with the world about this awesome shop I discovered! :) }}

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

How To Think Like A Customer As A Seller

{{This was a blog post I did on my old blog.  This will give you a sneak peek of my intentions on my new blog.  I have not re-edited it so some information may be irrelevant or outdated.  Enjoy!}}

Not only am I a seller on Etsy, but I’m also an avid buyer.  In fact, I’m probably more of a buyer than seller – Etsy is just too cool.  As a result, I feel like I have an interesting perspective when buying items.  Not only am I seeing the shops and purchases from a buyer’s perspective to see what I want, but also from a seller’s perspective in that I can think about how the seller can improve my buying experience.

When I was a newbie on Etsy, I had no idea what I was getting myself into.  People can’t mind-read – they don’t know what you’re thinking or doing about your shop.  I didn’t really think about what I needed to do to my shop until I got tips on the Forums and such.  Having good pictures and shop policies certainly weren’t things I was thinking about.  Now, having been on Etsy for almost a year and a half, I’ve gained some insight from the buyer’s perspective on what I want to see in a shop and its products when I’m interested in purchasing.  I never thought about analyzing these until recently, but it has proven to be a fortuitous move because I found I myself can follow my own advice.

Here are some of my tips from a buyer’s perspective.

1. Clearly outline your shipping time and other shop policies.  While having a longer shipping time doesn’t necessarily affect my purchasing decision, it is certainly nice to know when I should expect my package.  I’m excited about it so I want it right away.  However, I realize not everyone can afford immediate shipping due to other commitments, etc.  All I want is COMMUNICATION.  Let me know your policies so I can be an informed consumer – I am less likely to get irritable when something doesn’t go as planned.  Also, if you don’t have clear shop policies, you’re not protected as a seller.  If a buyer leaves negative feedback or complains to Etsy, you have no evidence to back up your claims.  Etsy doesn’t run your shop, YOU run your shop.  Communication with your clients can go a long way – when things go wrong, they may feel more inclined to understand, or at least be less upset, because they feel they know your shop well enough because of your clear policies.  Yes, I DO read them so please let me know what they are! 

2. Good packaging.  Now, I’m not asking for it to be professionally wrapped and done all up with bells and whistles.  But a little effort would be nice.  This is something I had to learn as a newbie, and have seen other newbies do since.  It’s the seasoned sellers I’m confused about.  As one UWIBer remarked many moons ago, it’s nice to see a seller put some fuss into it – it’s like opening a present.  Which, one could argue, in a way it is.  It’s like a present to yourself (if it’s for yourself, that is).  Packaging is another thing I never thought about as a newbie, but have come to understand the importance of since.  Simple packaging is nice – sometimes it’s annoying to undo a lot of stuffs.  I simply wrap mine in tissue and seal with a sticker with my logo on it.  OH, DON’T forget a “Thank You” note.  I’ve learned the value of this as well.  It shows that you appreciate the buyer is supporting your little shop.  It’s nice to be acknowledged, and a simple, two line note can accomplish that.  My argument as a newbie was, “But Amazon and the bigger online retailers don’t do that so why should I?”  BECAUSE… the HANDMADE experience is a lot different than the RETAILER experience.  While I could debate all day about the many frustrations as a seller being put to higher standards and more expectations than a retailer, going that extra step puts you apart from the competition and encourages repeat buyers.

3. Think “safety” when packaging.  We all know it: USPS does not handle our packages with care.  Why?  It’s one of the great unanswered questions of our time.  In the meantime, bubble wrap that sucker like no other!  I cannot tell you how many times my purchases have come damaged or (thankfully) only the wrapping was damaged in transit.  These causalities could have been avoided with the aid of some well placed bubble wrap.  No one likes a broken purchase – it benefits no one.  The buyer is out of their purchase, and the seller is out money and product (because, let’s face it, the right thing to do is refund or replace it).  Not only think pretty wrapping, but how you can protect the package if it got caught in a nuclear blast.  Believe me, sometimes I wonder if my purchases traveled through a war zone.

4. Delivery confirmation.  I’m on the edge of my seat waiting for my new goodies.  It bugs me to no end when I don’t get delivery confirmation, especially when it’s so easy to do.  It benefits BOTH parties.  Not only does it confirm your package is on the move (which proves beneficial if it gets lost), but I’m not here dying wondering where my package is.  Or when you sent it.  I used to get the little green sheets at the P.O.  Then I discovered PayPal shipping *insert Hallelujah music here*.  This tool is SO easy, SO convenient, and SO cheap!  You fill out one page with the details and press print.  It’s that easy.  AND it not only sends YOU the tracking code, but an e-mail to your BUYER, too!  SO COOL.  Another form of great communication, but PP does the awesome work for you.

5. Think about how many pieces of paper you’re enclosing.  I myself am guilty of this one and I needed an epiphany to realize it.  It’s kind of annoying to get five (or more) pieces of paper/biz cards in my orders unless they’re instructions.  The millions of biz cards from your friends just doesn’t work for me.  BUT that’s a personal preference and other buyers might not agree.  So take that as you will.
6. Good photos.  Yes, the dreaded tip; the one that everyone knows, but doesn’t know how to address.  I am constantly working on mine and I admit I still don’t have the formula.  But when I’m looking on Etsy, I don’t care about the FANCINESS about the photos – the frills and fancy angles.  Nope.  I want to see pictures that aren’t blurry and that aren’t dark and I can see most of the product, if not all.  Yep, 3 things.  That simple.  I know how hard it is to come up with good photos.  Believe me.  The long hours and many tears prove it.  However, I know what things are the easiest to control so that’s what I think are the basics of a good photo.  Time and experimenting will get you the fanciness part of the photo, and teaching can only take you so far on that level – some of it ya just gotta figure it out and see what works best.  Again: 1) no blurriness, 2) not dark, 3) can see whole product.  Remember, I can’t see your product in person so your photos have to simulate the store experience.  Which, unfortunately, is easier said than done….

7. Shorten that shop announcement.  We’ve probably all heard the tips from Etsy Admin about too long of shop announcements.  While each person may disagree what too long of an announcement is, I think most would agree too long of one is annoying.  I’ve heard that it’s deterred some buyers from purchasing from a shop.  I *know* how much you want to tell the world about your cool shop, and I *know* we all know no one reads it if it’s in the Profile section, believe me – been there, done that … but it still belongs there.  Yes, I’ve had that struggle myself, but have had to come to terms with the valid point.  So I put the *most* important things in my announcement, the rest in my Profile and Shop Policies.  It is a little irksome when you have to scroll a billion times to get to the items.  There have been some shops that I’ve been tempted to leave because of it.  A good Rule of Thumb, I think: if you have to scroll, it’s too long.

8.  Keep it appropriate.  Many shop owners, myself included, want to boast or be truthful about the quality of their product.  The owner is being honest or explanatory.  However, whatever the intentions, it just comes off as rude and vain.  I don’t need to know how much you spent on the materials and that you think it’s worth it.  Just say it’s the highest quality – it doesn’t sound rude and actually makes me more compelled to buy.  It’s ok to tell me how much time you spent on the product, but even then, be tactful.  Make sure that you don’t sound rude and over-the-top when explaining your methodology and product.  That turns away buyers – it becomes TMI.  There’s been several shops that I have decided not to purchase from because of the tone and attitude in their explanations.  So have a friend proofread before you post into your shop announcement or product descriptions.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011


Welcome to my new blog!  In contrast to my previous (now closed) blog, I have created this blog to fuel my passion of helping other handmade sellers, and trying to find answers to those obvious topics that seem to go unanswered (and even if they ARE answered, the answers aren't free).  The purpose of this blog is not to solely focus on my Etsy business, but to focus on helping create success in all handmade businesses by providing advice about the obvious and not-so-obvious.  While I don't claim to be an "expert" as I could be considered by some to still be a newbie in the Etsy world at 2 1/2 years selling, I do enjoy the art of observation and analyzing (thus the degree in psychology).  While my experience lies in Etsy (as will also be the focus of this blog), I do hope what I have to say will translate to help all sellers of handmade.

In addition to my advice columns, I will be creating weekly blog posts dedicated to featuring shops I have had stellar shopping experiences with, and also featuring those shops that have worked hard for so many years but the Etsy gods seem to overlook.

I intend to create a positive atmosphere here so negativity will not be tolerated.  Not everyone will agree with what I and other readers have to comment on here and I want everyone to accept that - healthy debate creates open minds and great ideas.

Happy creating to you!