Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Pretty in Pink

Spring and early summer is a time that calls for a resurgence of pinks which is a timeless color.  Regardless of what the current fashion trends and fads are, pinks are always in style.  Shades may change from year to year or season to season, yet pinks are always in season.

Below are two collections we have been included in that showcase the talent and variety of the artisans that can be found on Art Fire

These two collections really do a good job of showcasing the different shades of pink that can be easily found.   A shade for everyone in  a variety of styles with a wide range of appeal.  Great for gifts or as a gift to yourself.

Artisans on Art Fire create collections to showcase what they find and like.  As well as to assist patrons in finding gift sets.  Collections can be purchased as individual items or as the entire collection of items even though each different artisan will handle the sale for their  own item.

edited to correct links

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Live Entertainment at Portland Saturday Market

Live entertainment is just one more reason to visit Portland Saturday Market.  Varied musical types and groups are scheduled each weekend on both days the market is open.  From Bluegrass to Marimba to Sinatra, the market chooses a variety of talented musicians.

A covered area for people to sit and enjoy a bit of lunch with their entertainment.

For those that like to enjoy an afternoon beer, local company Rogue Brewery is on site.   We hear that there handcrafted beers are a delightful afternoon treat.

The Main stage is set with its back to the waterfront.  It is covered so they are able to play regardless of weather.  Occasionally events like the Rose Festival do necessitate the closure of the stage, however that just means there is more events to enjoy that day.

Saturday 10:00 am to 5:00 pm
Sunday 11:00 am to 4:30 pm

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Simple Update

As I sat down this morning to write today's blog, I realized all I wanted to do was curl up with a good book and ignore the world.  Partly this is due to the spring rains having finally arrived.  We went from 89 degree days to non stop rain in the 50's.  Don't get me wrong I enjoy the rain, however it does make things a bit more challenging.  Stuck inside instead of utilizing my outdoor work area, I would just about always rather be outside than inside.

The last thing I have time for today is curling up with cup of tea and a good book.   Currently working on and need to complete a couple of custom orders.  Photograph some completed pieces, so I can get them listed on our website for your viewing pleasure.  Not to mention the long list of items that never seem to end when yo are running a business.

I also have several large projects going on with the house.  One that needs to be finished today is weeding out my books, gasp.  Weeding out books is hard for me, I would almost rather donate blood or plasma.  Which should tell you something about my book addiction since I have a needle phobia.

I love books, doesn't matter what kind.  I will read or at least attempt to read just about anything.  The only subject I shy from is one I avoid in movies also and that is horror.   Life has enough horrors without purposely reading and watching make believe horror stories.  I know a lot of people like them and they are welcome to them, they just are not something I have ever been able to get into and enjoy.  Give me true life stories, mysteries, history, high end brain candy books, educational (unless it is dry and technical) and I am an admitted self help book junkie.  Being a self help book junkie and a people watcher allows me to indulge in studying the sociology and psychology of people, which has always fascinated me.

Ok, so this is what I have decided to do while writing my blog this morning. Run errands, finish the custom work, finish photographs and start on some new pieces, with breaks in between to finish the book project.  Avoid the computer for the rest of the day in lieu of curling up with a good book.   With the idea of tackling the computer work tomorrow.  Sounds like a plan to me...

Off to implement it, have a great weekend everyone.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

What draws you to a Blog?

Some days, I really do feel like I am talking to myself.  Between all of the social media, that sometimes is and isn't conversed or responded to.  The corporate job, where they never listen to a sound, logical and reasonable idea.  Family, who doesn't hear what you say, yet insist that you are not living life the way you should be and everything would be better if you were doing it a different way.  To friends who listen, yet still interpret what you say incorrectly to fit their ideas, needs and wants.  There really are days it feels like I am talking to just hear myself talk.  Don't get me wrong, I know mis-communication happens, but it does get old after awhile.

This got me to thinking about what people are really looking for when they are reading blogs.  Our statistics show we have a lot more people reading our blogs than we have followers, which is great.  Yet, I keep wondering what it is that they like.  What is missing in our statistics, is the vital part of the equation that would allow me to tailor this blog a little more to what our readers truly want to see.   While I am so enjoying writing randomly and not having a set schedule this year, I also would like to interact with others on topics that would engage our readers.

Last year was a mixed bag in that I was blogging on a set schedule for each day.  Yet, not one of my many varied topics struck a solid resonate cord that I could identify with as a peak interest for my readers. Topics were varied, they ranged from the controversial to the educational to the latest color trends in fashion, nothing is  off limits.  

For myself, I tend to follow blogs that interest me.  Be they educational, or keeping up with authors I enjoy reading.  However, I am not drawn to any of the gossipy blogs about celebrities.  Obviously, I follow a couple of business blogs and of course gardening and food blogs, those are a must.

So what is it that you look for in a blog, that grabs your attention to follow it on a regular basis?

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Portland Saturday Market 5-19-2012

Portland Saturday Market provides a lot of time to people watch.  People watching is a favorite past time I learned to appreciate from my grandmother when I was a kid.  It is something that I still enjoy to this day.  You can learn a lot from watching people and how they interact in both large and small groups.

There are all types of people who come down to Portland Saturday Market.  

You have your serious shoppers, those that wander through and are just browsing with nothing specific in mind.  Then you have those who wander into the market as they enjoy a day at the park next door.

Portland Saturday Market is a great place to visit no matter what your intentions.  

Hours of the market:
Saturday 10:00 am to 5:00 pm
Sundays 11:00 am to 4:30 pm

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Tell us what you think?

Ok, we have been blogging for quite awhile now.  While our stats show we have lots of visitors, we would like a bit more interaction with our readers.  In that regards today I am mostly going to be asking questions that we would love to hear your thoughts on.

What would you like to see more written about?
                       Business practices
                       Other --  tell us what you would like to see added

What would you like to see less of?

Would you follow a business blog that randomly writes about other subjects?

If yes, which subjects would interest you the most?

Looking forward to reading your thoughts and ideas.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Nachtrab Glass Studio Portland Saturday Market

I love stained glass, have since I was a kid and did my first piece with the kits you bake in the oven.  Oh I knew what real stained glass was, even then.  While I haven't created my own stained glass, it is on my life long education and to do list; I enjoy seeing others work in stained glass.  Nachtrab Glass Studio's, owned and operated by Susan and Jim Nachtrab does some beautiful work.

They are easy to find down at Portland Saturday Market.  Located on  middle corner in the vendor row closest to the food court this year.  Allows their work to sparkle in the sun and provides a view of how pretty it is on cloudy and rainy days also.

Small pieces that work well in any window.

A more traditional design with some beveling adds a three dimensional look.

The vairety of looks they offer is amazing.  This contemporary geometric piece in classic colors is astounding.

Repurposed frames lend another element to their designs.  This piece reminds me of the sea shore.

Stained glass wind chimes are always a delight.

Portland Saturday Market hours are:
Saturday 10:00 am to 5:00 pm
Sunday 11:00 am to 4:30 pm

Thursday, May 10, 2012

The Many Hats of Small Business Owners!

People amaze me!  Here in the United States not only do I find that they amaze me, it is also the expectations.  Here we expect to be paid top dollar for our work if we work in the corporate world, yet the majority of people expect to pay low dollar for everything.  So low that if would not even cover turning the lights on in most businesses.

How is that as a society the United States does not expect to have to pay a small business owner for the work they do?  Take artisans we all are small business owners do people really not understand how many hats a small business owner wears?  Have we gotten so far away from being self sufficient that we have lost that fundamental understanding of what it takes to create something much less run a small business?

Let's break it down shall we?  on just how many hats small artisan business owner's wear....

1.)  Designing  -- coming up with and sketching out what we want to create in each and every piece.

2.)  Creating  --  the actual creation of each and every piece.

3.)  Branding  -- designing and then working on getting a recognizable visual recognition.

4.)  Marketing -- both our brand and our art.

5.)  Promotion --  making sure we are getting our art out in front of people and drawing them in to our venues.  In our case that means traffic to our website as well as promoting our in person events.

6.)  Accounting --  WE ARE RUNNING a BUSINESS, not giving away our pieces.  Tracking expenses, inventory, material costs and making sure our prices cover both while leaving us a small profit margin to live on is a must.

7.)   Education --  as with anything in life there is always something new to learn.  Weather it be honing our artistic techniques, learning a new technique, honing our photography skills or learning a new software program.  Small business owners are constantly educating themselves.

8.)  Social Media  -- is a job unto itself, that never seems to have enough hours in the day for.  Is one of the things I am struggling with right now in fact.  What seems like an unimportant and way to easy to ignore aspect of business can make or break a small business, especially one that is online and does not have a brick and mortar store.

9.)  Photographer ---  Selling online requires product photography.  We do it all ourselves and it is a constant struggle to improve the photos and find the right set up that appeals to everyone.

10.)  Sales Person --  whether online or in person, selling is a big part of what we do.

11.)  Analyst --  We have to track and due comparisons on different statistics from sales to social media.  This is how and what determines what changes should, could and will be made in the direction of any business moving forward.  It may seem pointless at first, yet it is a very important part of the process.

12.)  Writer -- writing is a big part of business.  Not just the obvious of our blogs and other social media venues.  This also includes product descriptions,  business plans, contracts, advertising and promotion verbiage, to name a few.

13.)  SEO experts --  Selling online requires you to be able to write search engine friendly content.  One must become an expert in order to survive.  Not only what is current, but be able to adapt to the constantly changing algorithms of the search engines and now social searching.

14.)  Graphics expert -- in order to brand yourself you need to choose an image and be able to work with that image in a variety of different adaptations.  For use on business cards, promo sites and their different size requirements, banners, etc.

15.)  Cleaning crew --  we clean our own work-space, office and booth space at the Portland Saturday Market.

16.)  Purchasing Agent --  supplies do not magically appear on our work tables.  There is time spent looking for the best quality and prices.  Time spent purchasing the items be they on line or in person.  Putting them away, organizing them, labeling them, etc...

In the list above, are the main 16 easily definable job descriptions of a small artisan business.  There are so many little jobs that small business owners do each and every day and some of them we do not even think about they are so automatic it would take me several weeks of constant tracking of every minute of the day to cover them all.   Support your local small business owners and remember they are doing all of these jobs for a fraction of what one job in the corporate world would pay.

We do it for the love of our art form and the personal feeling of satisfaction of working for ourselves and the freedom that comes with that.  Most importantly we find great satisfaction watching a person light up when they find the right piece or we receive emails from online customers telling us how much they are enjoying their pieces.  Yet, with all that we never allow ourselves to lose sight of the fact that we are running a business for profit.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Sunny Days

Sunny days are a challenge for me.  I love them, however all I want to do is play in the garden.  Which makes it challenging when I come in late and realize I have not even thought about what to write for my blog post.

Oh well, sometimes life is just like that.  Although evenings with the last 2 hours of sun and creativity done sitting out on the deck have been fantastic.  I am so looking forward to more.  Even though with the unusually warm and dry spring we are likely in for a scorching hot dry summer.  If that happens drought protocol will likely be implemented.  While we Pacific Northwesters like our sunny weather when we can get it.  We also tend to be a bit whiny if our greens do not stay green and the lushness starts to wither, go figure.

I on the other hand am happy with the sunny days while we have them and embrace the rains when they come.  Mother nature knows best when it comes to the weather and nurturing the earth.  Everything in life has a cycle of ups and downs for a reason.  Some to ensure rest and rejuvenation, others ebb and flow for lessons to be learned and still others for no apparent reason at all, yet there always is one.

Enjoy the sunny days, embrace the changes of harsher weather and most importantly love and appreciate those who stick around for both! 

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Children and Portland Saturday Market

Portland Saturday Market is a family friendly outdoor shopping experience.  While we cannot compare ourselves to over seas markets, they haggle, we do no haggling (it violates our TOS to do so), it is still a fair comparison.  With a wide range of food vendors, including options for those needing Gluten Free, a wide array of artistic vendors, music and activities for the children.  It is a fabulous way to spend a weekend.

Activities for the children is something the market has been focusing on.  However, nothing with entertain children quicker than water.  With an unusual boon of warm spring days this year, we have already been enjoying watching the little's frolic in the fountain.

They really do look like they are having so much fun.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Dream and Goal Boards

There has bee a lot of discussion lately in my circles about dreams and goals.  Some of it positive, some of it not given the current state of our economy.  Yet, the one thing that remained constant is the need for them regardless of how big or small they are.   I whole heartedly agree, to a point, but that is a whole different conversation.  Today, I am sharing my Dream and Goal Board with you as I recently upgraded and have another upgrade in progress.

Now I am one of those people who have always had goals and dreams written down on a piece of paper.  I think I came out of the womb already setting goals, really I do.  Not sure where I picked up the habit from, but have been doing it for as long as I can remember.    Usually it is kept with my calendar and daily to do lists.  Through out the years I have done the occasional dream board, yet they were very short lived.  The only constant is the list itself and the quote you see below.

Now, some people will argue that dreams and goals are the exact same thing, I disagree, big surprise there, right?   ...lol

The reason I disagree is practicalities.  Practical things are not dreams they are goals. Taking a month long vacation to walk The Great Wall of China, from one end to the other is a dream.  Paying off a debt is a goal.  Yes, there is a lot of grey area in between.  Not all dreams have to be extremely expensive or huge.  One of my dreams is to be able to read one book a week without guilt that I am neglecting something else.  That is a dream, right this second, in my life anyway.   

My first draft, which you are seeing the top half above, of creating a true dream board, was basically just expanding my list to being larger so it is easily readable.  Also so I could post it somewhere very visible to see everyday.  One of the things I chose to do was add color and create cloud sections for different areas, especially since this particular board includes not only dreams, but also goals as well.  

The one thing that has come up repeatedly in discussion is the fact that most have abandoned or lost sight of what they were working towards.  It is too easy to become bogged down in the daily grind of surviving from one day to the next and lose sight of not only what's important, that would be the people in our lives, but also what we were originally working towards.  That is why a dream and goal board, no matter how large or small is so important.

Do you have a dream or goal board?

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Computers, Time, & Relationships

Computers are suppose to make our lives easier, right?   So why is it that we work more and play less even though the selling point of computers was to streamline work to take less time?

Ok, anyone who follows my blog knows that occasionally I go on a tangent about my love hate relationship with computers.  They are easy and in some ways make life in general way easier.  Yet, I have come to realize that besides the fact they like to give me the finger and do not always do what I tell them to, we also seem to lose a lot of time working on them.  If doesn't matter if it's for work in the corporate world, our business of running Entwined Vines Jewelry, or managing our personal lives, computers have gone from being a useful tool to a vast time vacuum.  That is not to say I want to get rid of them, as they are vitally important, especially to small business's like ours.

However, after being down for so long with computer issues, here are some observations and adjustments I have made in managing my computer time.

I have had my computer back for a little over a week know and I have been finding that I am spending less time on it.  Some of that time is letting things go, like my email.  Really there are only a couple of things that need to be handled the same day they come in, so why do we feel the need to clear our email completely everyday.  A little bit of a backlog isn't the end of the world is it?

My social media time was an area I concisely restricted for both work and personal.  Ok after a week I know I  restricted it way to much for our business.  It feels like I have missed out on connecting with people and those connections are the lifeblood of any business.  That I am adjusting ASAP and will keep adjusting until I find that perfect balance. On the totally personal aspect I think I have it at just the right mix of keeping up with those that I want without being obnoxious in my posts or feeling like a stalker in following whats going on in others lives.

I have also been assessing what in my personal life really needs to be managed online.  This is an area I am actually finding difficult to decide what truly needs to be tracked and what doesn't.  Hence, it is not an area that I have made a lot of adjustments to as of yet.

The great experiment of limiting time on my computer has actually led to an increase in my accomplishing goals and meeting deadlines.  More importantly I am starting to get that creative bug again, which has been absent for a while now.

While I cannot say with certainty that limiting computer time is a good thing for a small business owner or good for personal lives.  I do know that I find the statistic that 1 in 5 of all types of relationships start online disturbing.  Really?  What happened to actually interacting with people, that human connection?  Have we become so attached to our electronics that we no longer know how to communicate face to face?  Humans are not solitary creatures by nature, we need the interaction with other people to live a well rounded healthy life.  Yes, some people require less interaction than other people, but all of us need a certain level of human interaction.

What are your thoughts on the subject?   Have we lost that basic human connection with each other?