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allora handmade blog: March 2011

Saturday, March 12, 2011

just a reminder!


you may not see me around here for a few days-- the big wordpress switch is happening this weekend, so wish us luck! if you haven't already subscribed to the feed via email, you may want to do that over there---->>
i don't want anyone to be left behind! (please? pretty please??)
please check back on tuesday for updates and to make sure the feed is working properly in your reader... and have a great weekend!

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Friday, March 11, 2011

shop updates!

can you believe it is friday again already? i am sooo ready for the weekend. i may even take a day off ;)
well, it's time for a few shop updates-- wooo hoooooooo!!!

first, yesterday was the most glorious sunny spring day and i just decided it was about time that the whole spring line should come out and play! are you ready for this?
introducing the last 3 of our lovely ladies...

gasp. aren't they purdy?

i hope you love them all as much as i do!
we now offer all products in the following colors:

i can't tell you how happy that makes me to see them all lined up and ready to go! and you all know how much i looooove color. {BIG SMILE.}
am i making it harder for you to choose a color? don't worry. just get one of each ;)

in other news: did you see i've offered to answer your questions? ask away! i think i'm gonna have a lot of fun with this!

and finally... a little announcement. our family is going to be having some big life changes over the next couple months and as such i will be taking a break for a few weeks around the middle of april. before you ask, no, i'm not pregnant! hubs is graduating in a month, and we have decided to seize a wonderful opportunity for him to take an internship. (yay!!) so, we will be moving and i will need to close shop for a few weeks. having said that, if you know you want mother's day gifts, birthday gifts, or a little spring loveliness for yourself, now is the time to order! right now it looks like the last day to order will be april 8th and i will be out until may 16th. (that cutoff date may change as i start packing and getting overwhelmed!) so, you've been fairly warned!

now, go have a good weekend!
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Thursday, March 10, 2011

ask, ask, ask away!

have any burning questions for little old me? ask, ask, ask away!
the first half of next week the blog will be going through a little transition.
(hold me...)
i'll be switching over to wordpress and the site will be down a few days, so what better time to spend preparing a few question and answer posts!? i will answer (almost) anything - and would love to share some of my secrets here with you.

ready, set, go!
keep it classy, eh? mom is reading. (hi mom!)
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oh, audrey...

yes! what she said...
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Wednesday, March 9, 2011

turquoise, meet honeysuckle...

do you know about pantone?
do you ever wonder how certain colors seem to be everywhere and influencing everything? fashion, home decor, even nail polish and makeup... 
did you feel like that about turquoise in 2010? (i still do! loooove turquoise)
well, if you know about pantone, it may not surprise you that in december of 2009, pantone officially named turquoise as the color of the year for 2010. and boy, were they right!
according to their website, pantone " has been the world’s color authority for almost 50 years, providing design professionals with products and services for the colorful exploration and expression of creativity. Always a source for color inspiration, Pantone also offers designer-inspired products and services for consumers. For over a decade, Pantone's Color of the Year declarations have influenced product development and purchasing decisions in multiple industries including fashion, home and industrial design "

now we know!

well, guess what? there's a new color in town.

image image image
i just love how these 2 colors co-exist so happily. don't you?
and while they do look so lovely together, be warned turquoise... hot stuff is movin in! honeysuckle is officially the color of 2011!

let's get to know miss honeysuckle a little better, shall we? she will be our best friend this year afterall!

and we can't forget her:

we call her fuchsia, but she and honeysuckle? twin sisters!

i think this color is perfect for 2011.
full of life.
full of hope.
full of confidence.
full of FUN.
full of courage.
isn't that how you feel 2011 should be?

welcome honeysuckle, i think i loooove you.

and in case you are curious, here is the spring 2011 pantone line-up:

ummm...yes, please!
while my spring colors aren't exactly the same, i am happy to see some familiar shades;)
which is your favorite?

images via pinterest. obsessed.
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Tuesday, March 8, 2011

a new series: women of influence {featuring Rachel Reeves}

i am so excited to introduce you to a new series here on allora handmade! 
i've been thinking about this for months and am thrilled for you to meet some women who have influenced my life over the last year. i hope that this is a place that you can come to feel inspired, and i know that these women will fit the bill. their lives and their stories have made me a better person, and i hope you will feel the same way as they share the kind of women they hope to be. 

our first woman of influence is Rachel from number 17 cherry tree lane.

and she has a beautiful heart.

I had to take a step back and really think about what it means to be a
"Woman of Influence".
Those are loaded words, yes? Think about how many woman you have, in your life, that you can truly call a woman of Godly and positive influence.
I'm guessing the number is pretty small.
I had to question, "what is positive influence and where is its birthplace?"
When I dug down into the subject, I realized that, at the core of influence...there is a characteristic that is a requirement.
It's imperative.
If we, as business owners, mothers, wives, church-goers, Christians, friends, sisters, daughters and bloggers desire influence...
We must be authentic.
We were built, shaped and made with pre-set gifts and talents and when we diverge from those, to try and fit into another mold, we are only fooling ourselves...because others can see it from a mile away. It's obvious. Phonies are spottable and certainly not influential {at least not in a positive way}....
Authenticity is difficult. It's hard to be "us" sometimes, isn't it? We see people that have greatness written all over them and we question. What about me? What am I good at? Am I enough? Will my actions result in anything at all, let alone anything of worth?
But I dare you.
Live as yourself. Be confident. Live with purpose and determination to be the best at what YOU are. If you make earrings, make them the best you can. If you sculpt statues, do so with intention and passion. Crafting, mothering, bicycling-whatever!
Be authentic to what it is you love. To what it is you ARE.
To who it is that the Lord beautifully made you to be.
And, without even will be influential.
It will come naturally.

isn't she amazing? thank you rachel!!

what does authenticity mean to you? what makes you 100% you? what do you have to offer that no one else does?

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Monday, March 7, 2011

things to smile about on a monday.

monday, monday.
after going to bed at 10 pm last night, i am ready for you monday!
(my normal bedtime is around 1 am.)

things making me happy today:

owen telling me he is an artist. and he has the skills to back it up!

this was o's first attempt at drawing a person. and i am in love with that tiny little orange person without a body! 

owen wanted to draw his little brother during church yesterday. i can't tell you how much my heart swells with pride...

seriously. i die.
and of course henry wants to do whatever owen wants to do:

so much concentration. this is the longest henry will sit still:

can't draw without your best buddy, ramone.

i know, i know, i'm no mommy blogger... but these pics make some creative parents very happy!

also making me happy this morning:

worked (boo) to get these babies ready to go and on my porch this morning. my queue has gotten a little overwhelming lately (which is awesome! but overwhelming...), so i get really excited to send these babies off to their new homes and begin the next batch. is your package in there?

and a few little happy features to start off the week:


thanks vanessa and natalie!!

what is making you happy on this monday morning?

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Friday, March 4, 2011

shop updates!

happy friday to you!!
a few things to point out to you dears...

first, thanks so much for all of your kind comments about the giveaway posts! so glad to help! and if you missed them go here and here.

second, hop on over to miss rachel's sunny spot of the web for a {little} discount if you're feeling the desperate need to spend your payday check and want to feel a little more justified. (what? that's what i do...)

second, fuchsia is back in the shop! YAY! YAY! I am 99% finished with the switch to all kona cottons and was so happy to see fuchsia in the latest shipment. just waiting on one more silly color and the transformation will be complete!! muaahaahaaa... (that was an evil laugh. don't know why.)

speaking of color? how about another little spring color for your friday? last week coral made a smashing debut! thanks for the great feedback!

if you are new here, you may not already know of my obsession for all things yellow.

"hi, my name is jessica and i am obsessed with yellow."

{phew. glad we got that out of the way.}

and what a crime to just have one shade of yellow in the shop! (even though you know my love for mustard runs deep!)  so, today, the sun is shining, and i introduce to you: 

all products now available in lemon



what color makes you happy?

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Thursday, March 3, 2011

on giveaways (parte dos)

do you have a shop that might benefit from a giveaway? do you have questions about how to use giveaways to your best advantage? this discussion is mostly geared towards those who want to work with other blogs to promote their own products through giveaways. just tuning in? see questions 1-3 here! 

so yesterday we talked about the why, the where, and the what with giveaways. 
let's focus on the hows today:

4) how often do you do giveaways?
rather than making yourself crazy trying to do every single thing that comes your way and spending more money on giving things away than you are actually making, can i suggest one little thing?

a budget.

before my handy dandy assistant came along, i didn't have time to keep track of when i'd last taken a shower, much less how many giveaways i had going on at any given time. (don't judge.) i wouldn't recommend that system. (ahem.) if you can be intentional about where you are doing giveaways, they will be more fun for you and they will be more effective. tips:

1. a giveaway budget is a set dollar amount of product at retail price set aside in your monthly budget to be used specifically for giveaways.
2.  you don't have to do every single giveaway you are asked to do!
3. having a budget for a giveaway is a great way to ensure that you are not overwhelmed  or overextended.
4. i am much more careful about where that money is going when i know there is a dollar limit for the month.
5. once i've "spent" or committed the budget, i don't do any more for that month. period. (which helps eliminate the guilt when i have to say no.... the budget made me do it!)
6. on the other hand if the month is cruising along and i still have some money left in the budget, i go and find a blogger i am interested in sharing my product with and ask if they would be willing to do a giveaway for me. don't be afraid to take control of where your product is seen!
(and p.s. if you are nervous about asking someone to do a giveaway for you, don't be. bloggers are very nice people. the worst thing they could say is no. and more often than not they are even really super nice about that.)

giveaway budgets rule. amen.

5) do you ever offer a discount with a giveaway?
when you are exposing your product to a new audience, offering a discount will often times push a potential customer over the edge to make the purchase and become a loyal customer. but here are a few things to remember:

1. some readers won't buy while a giveaway is going on because of the *chance* they may actually win. so, a discount code may not convince them just yet.  if you are going to offer a discount, i would recommend that you extend it at least a day past the close of the giveaway. you know, for the losers ;)
2. someone pointed out on monday's chat that sometimes free shipping is more of an incentive (psychologically) than a discount...i've never tried that, but i do love me some free shipping!
3. when deciding how much of a discount to give, put yourself in their shoes. would (fill in the blank) % off of ANY product be enough to convince you to buy if you were on the fence?
4. one great bonus about a discount code is it gives you the ability to see sales that came from that specific giveaway. (more about that in #7 down below)

6) how do you get more people to enter giveaways?
you are giving away free stuff, right? and your stuff is awesome, right? so there shouldn't be a problem getting people to sign up for AWESOME FREE STUFF, right? if there is, you may want to evaluate the following:

1. is this the right place to do a giveaway? is my product new to this audience or have they seen it before? are the readers typically excited about entering giveaways? does my product fit in here? 
2. am i giving away the right item from my shop? is it too specific for a general audience (i.e. a specific color or print can sometimes deter entries) or is it not exciting enough? if i saw the giveaway, would i want to take the time to enter?
3. are there too many hoops to jump through to enter? between word verifications and tweeting/facebooking/following to enter, am i asking too much of these readers? is there a way i can simplify and make it easier? (i am totally fine with doing any of those things for EXTRA entries, but not as a requirement to enter - just to clarify).
4. have i done my part to spread the word? have i put the giveaway on facebook, on my blog, on twitter? more than likely people who follow you any of those places would love to know you are giving something away and would love to enter.

7) how can i track actual sales referred by a giveaway?
does all this giveaway stuff really pay off? it's really difficult to see exactly where sales come from. here are some ideas to help me judge whether or not a giveaway was successful:

1. if you have analytics of any sort, you should notice a jump in visits from the specific giveaway blog and hopefully a jump in sales. you can assume that some of those sales are directly related to the exposure. BUT, it's not an exact science.
2. as mentioned above, if you do a discount with a giveaway, i would recommend using a code unique to that giveaway (i.e.  i would code a giveaway on 30 days with a discount of 15% as 30DAYSROCKS15). again-  you will see where sales come from through the use of the code.
3.another trick, just because i like you: did you know you can ask one multiple choice question at checkout in paypal? mine says: "How did you find Allora Handmade?" and gives 5 options to choose from, one of which is "giveaway/review". here's how:

1. Login to your PayPal account

2. Under "my account" click "profile" and then "more options"

3. Click on "my selling tools" and then next to "custom payment pages", then click "update"
4. Click the "options" tab
5. Scroll down to "merchant service options"
6. Check "add a customer service survey" and fill in the blanks
7. Make sure you click "SAVE" before you exit
8. Say thank you Jess, you're amaaaaazing. (jk. maybe.)

the survey is optional, so they don't have to answer. but a good majority will.

4. keep in mind, that giveaways may bring new readers, new followers, new fans before it ever translates into sales. and that's ok too. it is worth it to me to spend $35 on a giveaway and have 50 new people bookmark my site for a future purchase. of course 50 sales would be nice too, but think of it as an investment in a new audience.

in the end, giveaways can be a very powerful tool to gain momentum for your product and get people excited about your work. i hope this information was helpful and that it gave you a chance to reevaluate how you use giveaways to help grow your business!

do you have any other tips/best practices you'd like to share about giveaways?

all images found here.
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Wednesday, March 2, 2011

on giveaways (parte uno)

do you have a shop that might benefit from a giveaway? do you have questions about how to use giveaways to your best advantage? this discussion is mostly geared towards those who want to work with other blogs to promote their own products through giveaways. there's more to come! see part two tomorrow! 

moday night  i hopped on twitter to find a great chat going on amongst the crafty kids.
sidenote: if you are not on twitter, it may seem like a foreign language, but it is all kinds of awesome. promise.
the set up shop chat (#setupshop ) run by gina is a great place for those who run or are thinking of running a handmade business and would like to brainstorm with others in the same boat. monday was my first chance to get on the chat, and it was so fun!
i thought i would take a minute to share a few things with you inspired by the topic: giveaways!
don't we all love a good giveaway?

image here

if you are a shop owner wondering about how to do giveaways here are some FAQ's and a few things to consider:

when i started on this post it got a little on the long side, so i split it into two parts. check back tomorrow for more tips!
ON with the lessoonnn...

1) why should i do a giveaway?
i first launched my business with a little giveaway on my sister's blog. in that first year or so, whenever i felt like i wasn't sure where sales were going to come from, i did another giveaway. it is a great a way to get your product out there in front of a new audience or to remind customers to keep coming back for more.

2)where is the best place to do a giveaway? 
well, it depends on who you ask. I would recommend seeking out a variety of blogs in different niches to ensure you are reaching different types of customers. having said that, keep their audience in mind. make sure the audience is a good match for your product. seek out photographers if your product would make a good prop, fashion bloggers, mommy bloggers, crafty bloggers, etc. i don't do a lot of my own giveaways here since i know people who stop here are aware of my product, but would rather offer promotions or discounts to my readers. i really love ruthanne's genius idea to do giveaways for facebook fans and twitter followers. so much fun!

3)what should i giveaway?
here's my preference: i love to offer a particular product (like a mini-modern pearl, for example) and let the winner choose a color. the reason this has worked well for me is i know exactly the investment (of my time, money etc.) but the winner still feels like they have a choice in the matter. store credit is a popular option, but april made a good point on the chat the other day - some products are much more involved and have a smaller profit margin. so, if you giveaway store credit, you lose a little bit of control in that aspect.

tomorrow i will address the following:
how do i get more people to enter my giveaways?
how often should i do giveaways?
should i offer a discount with a giveaway?
and how can i track if sales come from giveaways?

anything else we should address? let me know!
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Tuesday, March 1, 2011

march for the win!

image here

happy tuesday all! AND happy march! 
not that i don't like february, but i am sooo ready for spring!
can you believe it is already march? the 3rd month of 2011? the month my BABY turns 2?
let's not talk about that...

i have so many hopes for spring. there is something about the rebirth of the frozen world that just makes me feel like anything is possible. i am looking forward to some exciting changes for my family and my business and can almost feel the warm sun on my face.

speaking of sunshine and other happy things, we have winner!
congrats to Jana , the winner of the aPearantly sew giveaway! have fun with that $20 credit ;)

i also have a little giveaway going on over here. how about a little mini modern pearl to start off the month of march?

what hopes does spring time bring for you?

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