Monday, June 29, 2015

BeBe Babies Virtual Baby Shower Game/ Giveaway 2!

Well gosh you guys I really didn't want this to be posted at the very end of the month but I'm trying to learn to go with the flow better seeing as though soon I will have a little one upending everything.  The theme of this month's giveaway is MONSTERS!  I have loved monsters since I was a little girl and decided it was the perfect theme for Nolan.  The reason being that Nolan and I are sharing half of a room and I would like to enjoy my space as much as I would like it to be cute for him.

I have been spending the last couple of months putting most of my energy into making our room cozy, comfortable and cute.  It's coming along but there is still so much I would like to do.  Again I'm trying to remember that a living space is a work in progress and not stress out about it too much.

Well today I finally made some major progress by getting his monster mobile put up.  I still want to make some more strings of stars for it but for now it's almost done and at least it is up.  That's all that counts!


The mobile hangs between his changing table and my rocking chair.  The monsters were made to match a fleece blanket that I also made for him (you can see it in the changing table).  


One of the monsters is on the fat side which is skewing the mobile.  I'm not sure I mind it but I will be adding more stars and maybe try to balance it out a little.


The fatty.


Adrian also put up some shelves which we were able to move Nolan's things too.  Some of these things were given to Nolan by friends and family.  Seeing them makes me very happy.


Now on to the game!  I'm not a huge fan of baby shower games but I remembered one game my family always played that I thought was hilarious and fun.  It's the poopy diaper game!  Normally tiny cloth diapers are made up and one is pinned to each of the baby shower guests.  Inside one of the diapers is a poop!  The person who gets the poopy diaper is the winner.  I thought this game would be really fun for everyone.

One of these diapers is poopy!

How it works: Let me know that you want to be entered into the game.  You have until July 3 to let me know.  On July 4th I will pull a diaper out of the basket for each person and open them.  The person who gets the poopy diaper wins!

But wait there's a catch!  Baby showers are about family/friends and fun so what would a baby shower game be without sharing the love?  Therefore the ONLY way your entry will be accepted is if you share this giveaway on your favorite social media network.  It could be Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter, etc.  All you have to do is share the post and let me know where you shared it with a link or tag.  You can let me know on Facebook, in a comment on this post, or email me at bebebabiescom@yahoo.com.

The prize:  Going with the monster theme the winner of this game will receive one my newest designs in my BeBes for Boys line.  The Monster BeBe!  You will get to choose between green or teal.  Here's what they look like.


Stay tuned, there is still one more game/giveaway left in the BeBe Babies virtual baby shower.  Hopefully I can get it done and posted before Nolan arrives!

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

How to Make a Market Bag with Mexican Oil Cloth

If you have been reading my blog for any amount of time you know that I have another shop called Mexican Fabric and Fashion.  My boyfriend and I run the shop together and it is a passion of ours.  We are hoping some day it will sustain us full time.  The difficulty I have with running two very different shops is that I don't have as much sewing time as I would like to devote to the Mexican shop.  We are in the process of setting up an extra work area as I will be hiring someone very soon to help out with the BeBes, and hopefully the Mexican shop too.

I spent today working on a project that has been sitting here waiting to be done for quite some time.  Mexico has a huge selection of oil cloth that is used here for many different things.  I was smitten immediately by the material because of it's color and variety, but my boyfriend, and his family, balked at the idea.  Apparently it is not considered a very hip or desirable material by Mexicans.  In fact they consider it kind of a poor persons material.  It's so strange how we view our own cultures.



Well despite what they said I bought myself some with the intention to offer it in our shop, as well as make some cool bags from it.  It's sat here for quite some time but today I spent a good part of the day making an extra large market bag.  Tomorrow I will be headed to the supplier to get another contrasting color to make a smaller sized bag with a different pattern.

First of all this bag is huge.  I intended it to be big but didn't really intend it to be this big.  I'm not sure how practical it is but I still really really like it.  If you would like to make your own bag, check out our shop for the materials.  For now here is how I made it...

You will need:
-approximately 2 yards of each material (buy it here)
-all the necessary sewing tools (scissors, thread, pins, sewing machine, etc)
-ruler and tracing pen

1.  Cut 4 large rectangles each 20 by 23 inches.  You will have 2 of each material.


2.  Cut 4 strips.  Ideally you would only need two strips of 63 inches by 8 inches, but most likely you will not have 63 inches of uncut material.  So what I did was cut 2 strips, 21 by 8 inches, and 2 strips 43 by 8 inches.  I then sewed the small one to the big one to make two long strips of 63 by 8 inches each.  If you are like me and sometimes you are bad at measuring (I am always bad at measuring) make your strips a little longer because you can easily trim them later.  You can't however add material if they aren't long enough.  


3.  With right sides together take your larger square (the strawberry material) and pin your strip to it.  Make sure you line it up to the seam where you sewed the two strips together.  Sew the strip all the way around the strawberry material on all 3 sides.



4.  Take your other strawberry square of material and sew to the other side of the strip with right sides together.  Turn right side out.



5.  Follow steps 1-4 and do the same with the other large squares and strip.  This will be the inside of the bag.


6.  I took this photo to show you that the two bags are exactly the same, however you will not want to turn the liner bag right side out.  When you finish sewing it put it directly inside the strawberry bag.  Adjust it so that all seams align and then pin it inside, starting at the seams.



7.  Pin all the way around the top, folding the material down approximately 2-3 inches.  



8.  Before sewing the top you need to make the straps.  Cut 4 more strips, 2 of each material  approximately 36 by 5 inches long.  This is a personal preference and you can use your flexible measuring tape to decide your own strap size if you would like.  Again make them longer if you have any doubts because you can always cut them smaller later.


9.  Fold the sides of the straps in until the ends meet and/or the strap measures about 2.5 inches wide.  Pin them carefully, measuring as you go to ensure that the strap is 2.5 inches the whole way.  Pin all 4 strap pieces before sewing.



10.  Once you have them pinned seperately put one strawberry and one gingam wrong sides together.  Sew them about 1/4 an inch from the edge removing the pins as you go.  When you finish sewing both straps lay them on top of each other and trim to the same size.


11.  Pin the straps to the top of the bag.  I pinned mine 4 inches from the first seam on the side of the bag.  You can pin them and try it out to see what you like best.  Just make sure you measure so that you place them in the same position all the way around.  Insert the strap approximately 2 inches inside the bag.  Once you have them pinned measure the straps to make sure they are the same length on both sides.  Adjust them if they are not.  


12.  Sew around the top of the bag.  I sewed over the straps twice to reinforce them.  

And voila!  Your extra large market bag is ready for use!  This bag is so big it was a little difficult to get a photo of however I made several more smaller sized bags that are available now.  If you are interested in making smaller bags just reduce your proportions on the instructions above.  These smaller bags finished are 15x15x4 inches.





Making market bags out of oil cloth means that they can easily be wiped out, as the fabric is waterproof.  The material is flexible and folds up fairly easily.  They are also reversible!  These bags would be great for the beach or pool.  If you are not interested in making your own buy yours in our shop here.  

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

How to Know When to Raise your Prices

Pricing is hard.  I get asked all the time how to price handmade items correctly.  You can find all kinds of different online calculators that can help you get an idea of how to price your items.  Here is a great one on Etsy and here is another one with less explanation.  The problem with these calculators and methods is that they don't take into account the specific market you sell in.  Some may say that doesn't matter but I think it does.

Either way the number one thing you must be doing if you are running your own handmade business is tracking your sales and expenses.  You must know what you are earning.  If you find that you are not earning the wage you want to be earning, or if you find that it has lowered over time, it is time to re-examine your pricing.

I have been watching my profits closely for months and have realized that while my work hours have increased my profit has not increased at an equal rate.  I've come to realize that the cost of importing most of my materials, as well as the artistic evolution of my dolls, have resulted in a lower profit margin.

Why am I telling you this?  Well because I've decided to raise the prices of my dolls.  I want my customers to know why, as some have followed me for many years, and have become accustomed to my pricing.

The evolution of my dolls has resulted in spending more time per doll.  When I started out my dolls were pretty basic.  Here are a couple of examples.



I still love these older dolls for their simplicity but today my dolls are much more detailed.  I spend much more time researching expressions as well as painting details that are just right.  Here are some recent dolls.



The problem is my pricing has not changed in the last nearly 8 years.  In addition to the extra time I am putting into the dolls, I also am now importing most of my supplies from the US.  This has increased my expenses quite a bit, and while I do need to look into lower cost supply options, the reality is that right now it's not possible.  

So as of today my new pricing scale for one of a kind dolls will be:

1”-5” $70 
6”-10” $80
11”-21” $145
22-26” $170
27”-32” $195

This of course is a rough estimate and is subject to change with custom orders or extra details.  Also this only applies to one of a kind dolls as my pricing on my play dolls will not change at this time.

The other topic I want to mention that I eluded to above, is that many online pricing calculators do not take into account the market you are in.  While the calculators can give you a great starting point you also need to take into consideration what others in your market are doing.  Especially pay close attention to other makers who have as much time and experience as you do in your market.  While you shouldn't base your pricing on other people, if you see that a similar maker is way over or way under your pricing you might take that into consideration.

For example I feel that in the one of a kind doll market my prices are on the lower end.  I see very similar sized dolls, with similar work involved, starting at $200 and up.  I would like my prices to be a little more comparable.

Anyway I hope this advice has been helpful and I hope all you loyal BeBe fans will understand the reasons for the increase.  


Friday, May 29, 2015

And the Winners are...

The first winners in the BeBe Baby virtual baby shower giveaway are Angelica and Thalita.  Congrats ladies!


Stay tuned for next month's game and giveaway.  Below is a work in progress shot of what I will be revealing...


Wednesday, May 20, 2015

The BeBe Babies Virtual Baby Shower Starts Now- Giveaway!

As I announced last month I'm expecting a real BeBe of my very own.  I really wanted to do something fun for my fans during this special time so I decided to do a virtual baby shower.  How it will work is that each month until my little guy is born (May, June and July) I will be posting a fun contest/game in conjunction with a giveaway.  Each giveaway is going to be something new and unique to BeBe Babies.  I have been working on this month's giveaway for quite some time and it took longer to prepare than I had wished.  I wanted it to be perfect though and I'm pretty satisfied that it is.



The game:
This month's game is a simple name guess.  We have chosen the name for our little guy and I invite you to make your guess as to what we have chosen.  Anyone who guesses the name correctly will be entered into a drawing.  PLEASE NOTE: If you are friends with me on Facebook or in real life you might already know his name.  That does not mean you can't participate.  There will be a separate drawing for you.  So if you know his name, instead of entering a guess, just write "I already know his name :)" and I will enter you in the separate drawing.  The hint for his name is in the photo above.

The prize:
This prize was inspired by receiving blankets.  When I was in the states shopping for my little one I felt that there weren't many options for receiving blankets.  In fact I think there were only two different packs/patterns at Target/Walmart.  I decided it would be a lot cuter, and more fun, to make my own.

Ready for baby.

So I went to Joann Fabrics and picked out a few different patterns that I liked.  I had looked at the normal receiving blanket size on a pack of them at Walmart.  However after a little research when I got home I read that several moms recommend a larger size.  Because of this I was only able to make one blanket out of each of the fabrics I bought for him.  There was some material left over and I figured I would use it to make a few Bundle BeBes.





But then I got an idea.  How cute would it be to make a receiving/swaddling blanket that have their very own matching Bundle BeBe?  I got to work sewing up a few different styles...


...and voila!  Here are the completed sets.  The two on top are just examples.  They will actually be my baby's blankets.  The Bundle BeBes however are available alone in my shop here.  I think these sets would make the perfect baby shower gift or an anytime baby gift.  They also would be great for reborns or other collectible dolls.  The only down side is that making the blanket uses a lot of material.  I'm not sure if I will be making any sets for my shop yet because I don't want to use up all of my material.  The blankets are about 43 by 41 inches.

The bottom two are going to be the giveaways in this month's contest!

Here is the first one.  It is pink with little white buttons printed on it.  





And this one is blue with orange mushrooms.





How to enter:
There are several ways for you to enter as well as earn additional entries.  But FIRST you must not forget to guess my baby's name.  Here's how to enter your guess:

-Post a comment here on this blog with your guess.
-Post a comment with your guess on the Facebook giveaway post here.
-Email me at (bebebabiescom@yahoo.com) or message me on Facebook with your guess.
-Basically find a way to send me your guess!

If you want to earn an additional 5 entries here is how (earn an additional 5 for each task completed):
-Post a link to this blog post on your Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest or other social networking site.
-Share the BeBe Babies and Friends Facebook page on your personal Facebook.
-Check out either of the two BeBe Babies shops and tell me which is your favorite BeBe Baby listed.  BeBe Babies Mexico is here and BeBe Babies USA is here.
-Share one of the BeBe Baby Etsy shops on your Facebook or other social networking site.
-Share the BeBe Babies website on your Facebook or other social networking site.

The Rules:
If you do one of the additional tasks please let me know somehow (tag me on the post, email me the link, etc).  I need to verify that it was actually done.

You can only guess ONE time.  If you send me multiple names I will only count the first one you send.  

The contest will run for 1 week, starting today May 20 and ending May 27.  I will draw the winners on Thursday May 28. 

I hope you have fun sharing with me this special time in my life.  I can't wait to plan next month's event!  Be sure to stay tuned...



Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Facebook's Boost Post Promote Feature Review

If you own a business it is imperative that you have a Facebook page dedicated to it.  You can find the BeBe Babies and Friends Facebook page here in case you are unfamiliar with what I'm talking about.  Some artists use a Facebook personal page as their business page, but I wouldn't recommend it.  The reason is because Facebook offers many tools that you can utilize on your business page that you can't on a personal page.

Right now I only pay attention to my "likes" statistics page, as well as how many people each of my posts reach.  I also pay attention to comments and likes of each post of course.  I am hoping to do some research over the following weeks to find out how I can use the Facebook statistics in a more productive way.  Because while I understand that more "likes" and more people "reached" means something, I don't really know how to analyze the data to tell me something useful.  I'll let you know what I discover along the way.

For today though I would like to share with you my experience and results using the Facebook promote tool for the first time.  While I was in the US I was working hard to re-open and stock the BeBe Babies USA shop as well as get the word out that the shop had re-opened.  I had noticed that when I posted on Facebook in the past it would ask me if I would like to "boost my post".  I had clicked on it previously but realized that it was a paid service, and I generally don't like to pay for things I'm not sure will produce profitable results.

However seeing as I wouldn't be in the US long, and not very often at that, I decided to give it a go.  There are several options you can chose to target your audience as well as limit the cost and days your "boost" is running.  I chose to target people who like my page and their friends, as well as the countries USA, United Kingdom and Australia, because that is where the majority of my customers live.


It looks like this.

Next you chose your price.  I went with $20 for 2 days.



Each selection that you change tells you the amount of people you should reach with that configuration.  I believe my reach was estimated at 3,500-9,200 people.  The post I chose to "boost" was a group of photos of brand new and available dolls.  I had four different dolls available.  The important thing to note here is that you are paying to promote one post, not your entire page.  Here are the statistical results of my boost via Facebook.



I "reached" 5,466 people which is pretty amazing considering on average I reach about 300 people per post.  I also had 141 likes on the post, and, while it varies, I have never had more than 100.  I also added nearly 100 new page likes in 2 days.

Now who cares about all these statistics?  Like me you are probably thinking, did anything sell as a result of this advertisement?  Did you make any money??

Well let me tell you friends I most certainly did.  I sold every doll in the post as well as added 4 orders on top of that.  For me that was several hundred dollars profit.  Well worth the $20 investment.

Now obviously this tool could get expensive if you wanted to use it all the time.  Also there might be different configurations to try to maximize the results.  I would recommend only boosting posts that could lead to direct sales.  For example, posts of available dolls, preferably when you have more than one doll.  I am hoping to try this tool again in the near future, once I have something really good to share.  

Another thing on my mind is the results after the boost.  I have noticed that my traffic has increased overall, but only slightly.  For the most part my stats have returned to their normal rate.  I haven't noticed an increase in sales since the boost, and posts after the boost haven't increased much in likes or "reaches".  So while I'm thrilled with the results of the paid advertisement, I would like to see a much larger sustained increase.  This will be something to seriously consider before making the decision to pay for this service again.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Etsy Wholesale Review Update and Pricing Your Products for Wholesale

Remember my last update on my Etsy wholesale account?  Well I got a lovely message from a lady on Etsy who said she found my blog when she googled "etsy wholesale reviews".  See, I told you there wasn't a lot of real info out there.  Also it feels so great that people are finding and reading my blog!  Well her and I got into quite a long conversation as she had a bunch of questions, so I thought it might be nice to give you a little update as well as address her questions publicly.  I figured some of you might have the same questions.  But please keep in mind that I am no expert.  I am just sharing with you my results and what I have been doing so far.  I know there is a lot more for me to learn as well.

Ok first my results...

I was accepted by Etsy wholesale in November 2014.  I immediately had a sale and a total of 4 wholesale purchases in November.  I averaged one a week in November.  I was very happy with the immediate results.  However I was a little suspicious that these sales were probably a result of the Christmas holiday that was coming up.

December I had no wholesale orders but on January 1 I got one order as well as one more in that month.  February I had no sales and in March I had one.  This month I have had nothing so far.  To summarize:

November: 4
December: 0
January: 2
February: 0
March: 1

Now I can't say that I am unhappy.  I think these are good sales, and one was a repeat buyer, so that is great.  However I need a lot more than this to turn this into a full-time job.  I did a lot of fabric buying while I was in the US so I will be working over the next few weeks to update my wholesale line sheet with new patterns and hopefully new designs as well.  I will keep you posted.  But for now I will share with you the questions and answers by the lovely lady on Etsy who contacted me.  I am going to post parts of the actual conversation to make it easier to follow along.

Hi Casie! 
I just read your blog post from back in 2014. I've also been looking into etsy wholesale and haven't been able to find "real" reviews! Do you still recommend it? I opened my shop back in November and have been turning it into a full time gig. I am very interested, but want to hear first hand from an etsy seller. 
Thank you sooo much for your time! Im sure you are beyond busy!
E.

Hi E!
Awesome to hear someone reads my blog other than my Mom ha ha. 
It definitely was worth it for me at first. You have to pay a $100 one-time membership fee and I earned that back pretty quickly. However I think because I joined right before Christmas I received quite a few orders right away(average one a week for 2 months). Since the first of the year, however, I have only had a handful (I would have to check but I think it's only been 2-3). 
I still would say it's definitely worth it, but I haven't exactly figured out the formula for consistent sales yet. I actually was in the US recently and bought a lot of new fabrics. Now that I'm home I'm hoping to get my wholesale page updated and refreshed.
Anyway feel free to ask me anything you like! I hope it helps. :)
Casie

Casie,
Thank you sooo much for replying! So I've been making a wholesale sheet to take to local boutiques and I think the lowest I can do is between 25-30%.  Is that low enough that you think wholesale buyers will purchase?
What kind of buyers are buying from you? Boutiques? Conpanies? Local shops? I'm just so curious! 
Last question, is there a lot of competition or have a lot of shops not joined? 
Thank you thank you!
E.

E,
No problem!
I totally understand your pricing dilemma. In general you should be offering 50% off your retail price to wholesale accounts. I have offered 40% for consignment in the past although I don't do consignment anymore because in my opinion there is too much risk and too much work to follow up on.
Even though nearly every site or business model you see will tell you 50% minimum, I believe there is always leeway for handmade businesses. And also it is your business so you can determine your pricing any way you want. The business will accept or they won't. One thing to consider though is that I believe Etsy wholesale requires it to be at least 50% so if you apply to sell with them you won't be able to use your %20-30 pricing.
Also remember a couple of other things:
1. You pricing might work for local stores because they don't have to worry about shipping. However that isn't a very big margin for a shop that has to pay for shipping on top of the cost of your items. They might not be able to make enough for it to be worth it for them to buy.
2. If you have different pricing for different situations you might run into future problems. For example if you only give a local store a %20 discount and the store goes online and finds they can get %50 off from you through Etsy they might not like that. In general the advice is to always keep your pricing consistent in all venues. 
So what can you do? You have some options. You can go with the pricing you want and see what happens, or you can raise your prices so that you can bear a %50 wholesale price. Don't be scared to raise your prices to a reasonable price. Most people who are scared to do this find that after they do, they don't lose business and in most cases increase their sales.
All of my wholesale accounts have been small independent shops/boutiques in the USA and Australia.
There are a lot of shops on Etsy wholesale but the competition depends on your market. For example I make dolls for children and the market is really small which is a big benefit for me. If your market is something like jewelry supplies you will have a lot more competition. As I said I haven't figured Etsy wholesale out that well and I still need to do some more research on how to get noticed and stand out.
Casie

Casie Ohmgsh! Thank you for all of the wonderful advice!! I truly appreciate it! Many blessings to you, your shop, & blog!!! :)
E.

If you have any of your own questions feel free to message me on Etsy, Facebook or send me an email at bebebabiescom@yahoo.com  I will continue to post updates as I learn more as well as all the other advice I can think of.  Thanks for reading!

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Big Announcements

I have a lot of blog posts coming up I promise.  I know I have been neglecting the blog and that really must stop.  So on my real last night in the US before I return to my home in Mexico, I thought I would make the big announcement as well as tell you what's been happening.

Remember when I said I didn't know when I was going to be a mommy and I would sometimes panic about it?  Well my boyfriend and I are expecting!!  I am a little over 5 months pregnant and we are so excited.  There is going to be a real BeBe in the house very soon.  And it's a boy!  I have a new line of dolls coming up soon that I'm so excited to work on.  The line will be called BeBe Boys, or BeBes for Boys, I haven't decided yet.  I'm very inspired by my upcoming arrival.

I'm not the type of person who thinks boys can't have dolls, but most of my dolls are very girly or in very girly colors, and I don't want his life saturated with that.  Plus I love monsters and superheros which will be some of the BeBe Boys themes.

I'm in the US right now visiting my family and friends for the last time before the baby arrives.  We had my baby shower last weekend.  It was awesome!  Here's a little look at the food and festivities.

Homemade monster cupcakes


Pretty spring snack table


Onesie decorating


The shower was a family party because most of my friends are men.  Everyone brought their partners and children.  My Mom and I bought cheap outdoor toys for the kids and everyone had a blast.  It was perfect.

One of my nephews



The other big announcement is that the BeBe Babies USA shop has been reopened.  You can find it here.  I decided to reopen the USA shop because shipping from Mexico takes about 4 weeks and that can be very difficult for my customers.  I'm hoping to restock the USA shop periodically throughout the year, either when I visit, or by shipping large groups of dolls to my Mom.  She handles all of the shipping as the dolls sell, and she does a great job.  I've been working on a few dolls while I've been here but all of them have been adopted from Facebook.  Be sure to like BeBe Babies on Facebook to have first choice of available BeBes before they are listed on Etsy.  Many of my dolls are adopted on Facebook before they even get to my shop.



Just yesterday I bought a Facebook ad as I've been contemplating if it would be successful or not.  I can't wait to share the results with you in my next post...