Thursday, August 27, 2009


I am going to start featuring some on-line shops again on this site. This is a site on Etsy. I would like you to meet

Here is our interview with the artist, Leslie!

Briefly describe what you make?

Illustrated greeting cards, pocket mirrors and recipe cards with friendly, happy animals and creatures.

What mediums do you enjoy working in most?

I love Adobe Illustrator - the program I use to illustrate. I also love the 100% recycled brown bag envelopes I provide with my cards.

How long have you been creating craft?

Since October 2008.

How did you get started?

A co-worker turned me on to Etsy, and I decided I wanted to have my own shop. I'm a graphic designer, so it seemed like items with my own illustrations was a pretty good idea. I started with my beaver illustration, and many of the other animals and critters just kind of flowed from there.

Where does the name of your shop come from?

It was just a silly nickname I used for my boyfriend - not even sure where it came from. It was just one of those goofy things that stuck, and it seemed like a good name for a shop containing mostly animals!

6. What would you most want people to know about your work?
That I love it! I just really love illustrating and coming up with new ideas - it makes me feel, errr, sparkly! I think that's so important. When you love what you do, it really shows. And it also gets you through the hard times.

What words of advice do you have for other artists?

Find something you love, and do it! When there is passion and love behind your art, you will succeed.


Great shop and great cards. Be sure to check out the mirrors! Please do visit Leslie at her shop!

Friday, August 21, 2009

Selling at Shelf Rental Stores

In the 1980's shelf rental craft shops were opening all over. It was a popular way to sell crafts as an alternative to craft shows and this was when the Internet was in its infancy and there were no sites like Etsy, etc. There are still shelf rental shops, but many fewer than there once were.

So what is a shelf rental craft shop? This is a store that will rent you space on a shelf - or the entire shelf - or several shelves - in the store to sell your crafts. The store handles all of the business transaction of the sale. Some retail stores set aside a part of their store and rent shelf space to craft artists or there are stores that are completely shelf rental.

Does this work for the craft artist? In our experience, No! We tried a number of shelf rental shops. We made very few sales in most. Only in one shelf rental location did we do well and this was in a large indoor flea market store. I will relate that disaster story later in this article.

The problem with shelf rental is that the shop owner has no advantage as to whether your work is selling or its not. Most shelf rental shops just charge a monthly fee for the shelf space with no commission on top of that. Some do tag on a commission - and actually, though it is more of an expense to the craft artist this is a good thing for the artist. The management (or owner) attitude we encountered at all of the shelf rental shops we were involved in was "if your work does not sell and you leave I can quickly rent your space to someone else". All these shops did was display your work and IF someone found the work and purchased it they would act as the cashier, hold your money, and settle up with you on a schedule. None had salespeople who would work at "selling" the various crafts on the variety of shelves. Now, in the shops that had a commission taken on each sale, the shop had a reason to work at selling what was on the shelves.

To want to try shelf rental you want to only rent at shops that are local to you. A number of shops will seek renters across the country. The problem with this is you must ship your items to that shop - at your expense. If you never walk into the shop, you will never really know if your items actually ever were put onto a shelf. I am not saying that all shelf rental shops are dishonest or unethical - but I have heard of this happening.

When you rent the shelf space, you go to the shop and put your items out on display. You need to check in regularly to see if work has sold and if items need to be replaced. You then come in - at a time arranged with the shop (to not be disruptive to business) and restock your inventory.

The shop is making the sale, collecting the money, and collecting the sales tax. If the shop is giving you the purchase price and the sales tax and you are sending that tax into your State, fine. If the shop is collecting the sales tax and submitting it to the State for the shop - which is what usually happens, you MUST get the shop to completer your state's sales tax resale form, signed with their number to collect state sales tax - just as if you were selling to them for a wholesale sale. The shop should not object to this. It is standard operating procedure for retail stores. If they make a fuss, move on because something is wrong there.

So what happened at that successful shelf rental shop. At the time we were selling baby quilts. We actually were renting a wall that had hooks that would hold bagged baby quilts with room at the side for display of what each looked like. These quilts sold well. They sold so well in fact that the shelf rental owner of this shop inside the indoor flea market decided that his wife could make these quilts too and he would then get all of the income from this hot selling item. He told us to leave. We were told that we took up too much space. I offered to pay him more for the space and he said no. About a month later we were walking through the flea market and and there on the same wall were a "variation" of our quilts, not quite as well made. Such is the problem with shelf rental.

Should you absolutely not do shelf rental to sell your work? Not necessarily. Visit the shop a few times to check it out before even talking to the manager/owner. When you are ready, don't agree to any long term commitments. Rent one month to see what happens. Make sure your work is on the shelf and stop by unexpectedly to see what is happening in the store. See what happens. If you make sales well above the amount of rent you are paying, then rent another month and go along from there. Remember, this rent is an expense that you need to cover in the prices of your items. If you don't you might as well be just giving your work away.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

A New Concern for Wholesaling Your Work

In my last article I provided links for the new CPSIA law that effects anyone creating items for use by children 12 and under in the United States. This law includes specific labeling requirements - which you will see a link about in that article.

Many retail shops that buy wholesale will often remove the label that the craft artist placed on the item. They do this for a variety of reason - the most common of which seems to be not wanting to identify the source of the item to their customers for fear that the customer will go directly to the artist/craftsperson to buy directly. This has happened to my work at several stores I have sold to in the past. I had not concern about this because I already made my sale to the retailer. Under CPSIA this becomes a problem. Now, the manufacturer's label (YOU) must remain on the item - and that label must be permanent. A retailer clipping that label off will place you liable under the law.

This is something that you must discuss with any retailer you are selling wholesale to. You may need to have the retailer sign in your wholesale agreement that the retailer will under no circumstances remove the label that you permanently attach to the item being sold to them, in compliance with the Federal law, C.P.S.I.A.

The idea of what happens to it after it leaves my hands no longer apply under this law. Of course, this only applies to items intended or marketed to children of the age 12 and under.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

CPSIA - Links You Need to Know

The Consumer Protection Safety Improvement Act, CPSIA, a law passed by Congress and signed into law by President Bush in August 2009 effects any artist or craftsman creating things that are intended for, used by, or appeal to CHILDREN under the age of 12. This law has wrecked havoc on the craft community. This law is currently in effect. The law covers everything for children that will be sold, donated to charity, or given away, with the exception of personal gifts to family or direct friends. The law is enforced by both the C.P.S.C. and each State's Attorney General. Violation is a Federal Offense punishable by very large fines and imprisonment.

To learn what you need to know about CPSIA here are some links to give you all of the information that you need -

Consumer Product Safety Commission


Guidelines for Small Businesses and Crafters