Tuesday, August 19, 2014

The Blankie BeBe Has Launched!

I have finally been able to get my new design finished and launched.  I wanted to wait until I could have several colors available.  I purchased three different colors of ultra-soft plush material when I was in the US.  I really like this design with their sweet faces and their ultra plush blankie part.


Get your own Blankie BeBe here.

It has been several years since I launched a new design and this time I wanted to think about it very thoughtfully.  As you know I have been trying for some time to get my BeBes into retail stores.  So far it has not been very successful.  I have one store that used to carry my dolls that is interested but recently I was reading a lot about Etsy wholesale and I realized there are some things I need to polish up before I'm ready for stores.  However, I also feel like I need to just do it and stop waiting for everything to be perfect, so here's a list of what I want to complete first.



1.  Pricing

It's not new to me that wholesale pricing is generally 50% or more of the retail price.  I have always been pretty comfortable with my pricing as I feel even though I might not make much on my Bundle BeBe design, I will make up for it by selling a OOAK doll.  However when thinking about Etsy wholesale, and looking around at their information, I started feeling a little insecure about my pricing.  I'm not sure I can compete.  Either I need to raise my prices or not offer every design at wholesale.  That is why the Blankie BeBe has been priced at $35.  I feel comfortable with this price at wholesale and retail.

The other dilemma I am feeling on my pricing is that for the amount of work I do on my dolls I am barely earning anything.  I balance my books every month and when I look at the "net profit" column I feel discouraged nearly every month.  I keep feeling like I'm just not selling enough, and that might be the case, but in general I'm always working, and dolls are going out.  I'm not ready to raise the prices on my dolls across the board yet though, so I'm going to give it some more time, and continue advertising to see if my amount of sales increase.



2.  Photos

Gahhhhhhhhhhhh!!  Why do I struggle so badly with photos!?  I don't know maybe if you look at my photos you think they aren't so bad.  And I know they aren't HORRible.  I just can't find the right balance.  Sometimes I think the photo is perfect.  Other times I see the background darker, grey-ish, tinted, etc.  I don't understand how when I set up photos and the lighting/background are exactly the same, how the photos can come out so differently.  Then my camera battery died right in the middle.  So I will probably be trying other scenarios and re-doing the pictures in the next few days.  I want them to be perfect before contacting retailers.



3.  Packaging

When I was in New York I paid special attention to any stores I saw carrying less mainstream toys just to see how they do their packaging.  I have always put these tags on my dolls:



I thought at the time they would be a cute way to show other designs I make but now I think they aren't quite advertising my brand blatantly enough.  It might be hard to find the name of my dolls with these tags.  Therefore I am going to design some new ones to be attached to any dolls that might be going to shops.

I also need to think more carefully about the packaging of the entire doll.  I cannot afford to buy personalized boxes right now, and normally I send my dolls in little cellophane bags when I ship them, but I don't know if it's appropriate for stores.  I had a nightmare last night that my dolls were in a store and all these kids were drooling on them and the store wouldn't cover the damage.  You know you're losing it when you are dreaming about packaging your product, ha ha.

The reason I am saying all of this is because Etsy wholesale stresses heavily that your entire branding, packaging and look of your product should be cohesive and professional.  I am a little too scared to apply before I have a few of these things worked out.


Overall I'm very excited to release this design.  I hope it's a fast hit!

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Jamie's Dolls in all Their Ghostie Ghoulie Glory!

I was immediately smitten by Jamie's dolls when they popped up in my Facebook feed.  A little bit creepy and a lot cute, her dolls are so original as well as irresistible!  Of course I had to contact her right away to find out more about them.  Turns out she is a super nice lady too and a lot of fun to chat with.

What I was most drawn to are her doll's eyes.  I have never really liked 3D eyes on cloth dolls because, well, usually they look creepy in my opinion.  I think that is why they work so well with Jamie's dolls, because they are not trying to be realistic.  I also love her use of different colored fabrics.  She has made dolls in a rainbow of colors including green, blue, red, purple and more.  The green ones tend to be some of my favorites.  Check out her Flickr page for more photos.



They are just fantastic and I hope you think so too.  Jamie was kind enough to sit down and write a bit about herself so I can share with you.  She mostly sells her dolls on her Facebook page which you can find here.

1. When did you begin making cloth dolls? 

I started making dolls in the late 80's. Pattern dolls and playing with rag dolls. I then turned to bears and animals and started back seriously in 2009 when I lost my job do to downsizing.  



I did the bear and animals for several years until a friend talked me in to trying a soft sculpture doll. I started by drawing a round head..sewing it out of knit (after I finally got my machine to accept knit material) and practiced making a nose. I never once looked at how to do it as I feared I wouldn't be able to do it then. I can talk myself out of things if it looks difficult so I try how I think it should be. I played and played until I'm at this point now...almost a year later. Dolls are a passion of mine and I have collected them all my life...I'm in love with them!!

 2. Have you always made cloth dolls or have you made other types of dolls? 

Mostly cloth..I work with fur as well..which is crazy messy. The dolls are simple and fun! I can take them anywhere with me.


3. How did you learn to sew and make dolls? 

I taught myself, but as I say this I have taken classes to teach me to sew. I have sewn all my life. I have to create..if it's not by machine I'm sewing by hand or crocheting. I have to have something in my hands all the time. I look at something and then start messing until I create something out of it. My mother is incredibly creative and my older sister encouraged us to sew all the time. I grew up in a very artistic family. It was a big part of my life to create and design.




4. Do you have any advice for new doll makers? 

Never give up! Think of the project done instead of the process you have to go through to make it. It's overwhelming, and you can talk yourself right out of doing something if it seems daunting. Always think of the end project! Never be discouraged when it looks nothing like what you wanted..some of my best disasters have went on to be fabulous creations. I rarely get something like I envisioned...but I'm getting better all the time. Practice..and patience...and have a Peter Pan mentality. I tend to turn on cartoons when I work...there is joy in cartoons. My heart is joyful and happy watching cartoons..Disney movies...anything that is colorful and joyful!



5. Does anyone help you in the creation of your dolls? 

My life love Jackson. He leaves me alone and lets me do my thing..never complains of the mess in the living room. It's hard to live with a creative person..forgotten dishes and dinners half done while an idea hits me...but he just goes with the flow.

6. Is making dolls just a hobby for you or a serious business? 

It's a serious business. I live and eat from dolls. When you have to be creative to live it's a hard road at times. There is no time for sickness or being fed up with work..it's work and work alone most weeks. I do love it...what other job can you do while watching cartoons and sitting in your pj's?



7. Do you belong to any doll clubs/groups/forums?


I'm a huge fan of all types of dolls. I keep a low profile as much as I can in other artists forums. I do collect Jan Shackelford dolls as well as have a passion for antique and vintage Asian (Chinese) dolls. I love vintage African American dolls as well. Vintage stuffed animals and old doll furniture...suitcases and primitive furniture. I love metal toys and old pull toys.

8. Where do you sell your dolls? Where can people buy them?

I sell from my Facebook page usually. I just make them and say they're available. I offer layaway and holds for my good customers, so they know they can contact me. I love interactive views from collectors. I don't copy what others do, and get a tad irritated when requested of such, but I love creative ideas from folks. A girl once said she had a old Halloween wig, a Frankenstein wig, and sent it to me. That was an opening to a fab new bunch of great dolls with fab wigs! I customize and let people decide how they want the doll to be..and if I do something and they don't like it, they are not obligated to the doll. I don't want someone unhappy with a doll and forced to pay. I take naked pics of each doll so everyone can join in on the fun of the creation. Playing dolls..even via the computer..is still fun!

 9. Do you collect dolls yourself?  

Oh heavens do I have dolls. If I like it and can afford it..I collect it. I like the damaged dolls that no one wants. Perfection is imperfection in my eyes. 

10. Who are your favorite doll artists? 

Yikes I love them all. I'm a huge fan of baby types or very gothic monster types. The lost soul thing really gets to me. Rag dolls mostly. I had Raggedy Anne growing up and it was one of my favorites.


11. What inspires you? How do you come up with ideas/designs?

Tim Burton is a huge inspiration. He takes the ordinary and makes it extraordinary. I find I want to walk in the world he creates. I appreciate beauty..but love old musty rooms full of inspiring objects. Cracked paint...faded materials...ripped lace...that's what makes me tick. 

 12. Anything else you want to share about your dolls?

They were all designed and created by me. I borrowed a pattern from the net to learn to make a 3D head..but changed it because I like BIG CHEEKS! Even if I was forced to return to a 9 to 5 job I can't express what creating has brought to me in the past few years. I have met the most wonderful supportive people and made life long friends. It's a incredible community full of wonderful people. I'm grateful to be included in such a creative world.


Thanks for reading and getting to know my pal Jamie.  If you are a doll or soft toy maker and would like to be included in one of my blog features please email me at bebebabiescom@yahoo.com.


Monday, August 11, 2014

Vacation

I'm back from vacation and have a lot of planned upcoming blog posts, but for now I would like to share a little of my vacation with you, and the changes happening in my life.  In my last post I talked a little bit about burnout and how this vacation was an attempt to refresh myself.  However what I learned on this trip was that I'm not happy in Mexico.  It isn't exactly Mexico, it is our situation, and no vacation is going to fix it.  I mentioned in previous posts that work for my boyfriend is hard here because he doesn't have a degree.  It's hard for me too because while English schools are paid well, they don't pay their teachers well.  My boyfriend and I will celebrate our two year anniversary in October, and we have never gone anywhere together.  We've never vacationed anywhere, and we've only taken one day trip in all of these two years.  Because of our schedules we rarely see each other and when we do we are sleeping or exhausted.  We don't eat dinner together at night.  We don't have breakfast in the mornings.  We don't go to movies on Sunday, or dinners on Fridays.  We don't even get to do these basic things.  It's depressing, and we both are depressed, and we both feel hopeless.

But this trip gave us both hope, and before I explain why, let me tell you about the first part of my trip.

I missed my flight out of Mexico because there was a protest in Mexico City and all highways into the city were blocked by protesters.  The bus came to a stop about 20 minutes from the airport and didn't move for 3 hours.  It was a little unnerving, and upsetting, but luckily I met a very nice guy who let me use his phone to contact my boyfriend.  My boyfriend contacted my Mom and she rescheduled my flight.   She was a lifesaver because originally they wanted $800 to reschedule but my Mom cried and they gave in (ha ha go Mom!).  The airline would not honor my bus ticket showing it was not my fault, so it was very good she called.  I was desperate that my vacation would be over before it even started.


No body's going anywhere.

I was flying first to New York city to see one of my oldest friends.  I met her when I was 10 years old and we were inseparable for many many years.  She will always be like family to me and I hadn't seen her since she moved to New York three years ago.  The most disappointing thing about the trip was that because I missed my flight I missed an entire day with her that she had taken off work.  She is the head chef at St. Anselm, a really trendy restaurant in New York, and could not take much time off.  I made the best of it though and we ate some great food and I did a lot of shopping.


Gelato might be my favorite thing.  Lavender gelato tops them all.

I did the tourist-y thing alone and trekked to the Statue of Liberty because it was the only thing my boyfriend was sad not to get to see.  I did it for him.  And really all it was was standing in a million long lines alone without anyone to talk to.  I will never do it again ha ha.


I will admit she's pretty and impressive.

Next I took the bus up to Boston where my dear friends Sarah and Adam were picking me up.  They live in Portland, Maine where they have just started their own video game company, Chickadee Games.  Check them out, and play their games, and give them money so they can continue to always be awesome.  


Adam and I making breakfast.  (Well he was making breakfast.  I was drinking mimosas, eating doughnuts, and snapping photos).

Let me explain something about Sarah and Adam.  I met them many many years ago when they were living in Eugene.  They moved back to Maine about 3 years ago and that was the last time I saw them.  When they lived in Eugene it was the happiest I ever was.  We did all kinds of things together.  Friday nights our entire group of friends got together at a local bar and then we would all walk over to a friend's house and play rock band.  I did this with them every Friday for several years.  We BBQ'd, crafted and cooked together.  When they returned to Maine the group kind of broke up.  They really held everyone together.  So it's no surprise that in the last year two pairs of couples from our group of friends have moved to Portland, Maine.  Adam and Sarah are worth moving across the country for.    

I visited Maine several years ago when I was in their wedding but never got a chance to really see it, and this time I fell in love.  I realized very quickly what has been missing in my life for the last year.  Laughter.  I laughed so hard with all my friends in Maine that my face hurt.  I realized that it had been a long, long time since I felt that happy and laughed that hard.  It became clear that I can't go on like I am here in Mexico.


Delicious ramen right around the corner from their apartment.

Here's the big news!  My boyfriend and I are planning to move to Portland Maine within the next year.  Just writing it makes me feel like it's impossible, but once I know what I want I always find a way to do it.  Did I mention that my boyfriend is an amazing artist?  No?  Well he is.  Just look at some of my favorites.





When I showed his work to Adam he was super excited to get my boyfriend enrolled in Maine college of art where he is a professor.  I am my boyfriend Adrian's biggest fan, and have told him for years he should be doing something with his art instead of working such long hours at boring, meaningless jobs.  When Adrian heard Adam's opinion it lit a fire of hope within him that I have never seen before.  So in the next month or two I will be moving back into Adrian's mom's house in order to save money for this new adventure we have planned.  In the meantime Adrian needs to create a portfolio and began looking at ways to finance his education and expenses.  If anyone has any ideas or knowledge of studying abroad in the US, specifically a Mexican, please let me know.
  
Stay tuned...big things are coming.  For now, never underestimate the power of laughter.  Never underestimate the dear friends you make in life.  Sometimes you have to not only follow love to the ends of the Earth, but also friendship, because true love and true friendships are rare indeed.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

How to Handle Burnout

My boyfriend calls me a bunny rabbit because I hop from here to there and can never remain still.  Actually that's one of the reasons I make BeBe Babies.  For example, I can't just watch a movie.  I need to be working on something otherwise I feel like I'm wasting time.  So I stuff doll heads or tie knots on scarves while I watch the movie.  I generally only slow down when I'm sick because I literally can't to do anything.  Lately I have been sick a lot but have been keeping mostly the same pace.  I think it's starting to catch up with me, because I realized today that I really really need to start finding a balance in my life.

I feel this enormous pressure to work on my dolls.  I've mentioned many times that I am desperate to turn my two online businesses into a full time job.  Currently I work full-time teaching English as well as managing two Etsy shops.  There is never enough time to accomplish all I want to accomplish in a day.  Running a successful online shop requires so much work on many different fronts.  From blogging, to videos, advertising and also time to create, it's sometimes overwhelming.

I find that I don't take time to enjoy the moment.  I don't take time to nurture friendships, fun and relaxation.  These things are vital to avoid burnout.  And I'll tell you what I'm burnt out.

Next week I'm going to New York.  I'm going to visit my oldest friend who I haven't seen in several years.  I'm very excited, but that nagging need to always be working is pulling at me.  I've reached a point where I realize I can't have it all (at least not right now), and I'm thinking about big changes in the future.  Things that will free me up from this extreme pressure.  I know I can't work at this pace for much longer before my health is going to be seriously affected.

Today instead of sewing I decided to catch up on some online work.  I finished a new Youtube video, added a page to my website, and I'm writing this blog post.  I have found the best way for me to avoid burnout is to not necessarily stop working, but just to work on something different.  So when you find yourself feeling this way my advice is to work on a completely different project.  You will come back to your work refreshed and ready to start again.

Here is the Youtube video I made today.  I wanted to give you a taste of what it is like for me here in Mexico.  I hope you enjoy it.


What do you do to combat burnout? 

Friday, July 18, 2014

How to Increase your Online Sales

Remember my post a while back about finding creative ways to get help for services that you can't afford?  Personally I was looking for help with my photography because 1.  I don't like spending the time on photos and 2.  the photos I take of my miniatures aren't very good.  Several months ago I contacted a Blythe artist on Ebay who makes beautiful dolls which sell for thousands of dollars .  I asked her if she would be willing to include one of my miniatures in one of her listings.  I was really hoping to gain some exposure from a top artist featuring one of my dolls in her auction.  She chose a custom miniature and I sent it out.

For weeks I heard nothing.  Finally I messaged her to see if she had received the doll.  She said that she had, but had been too busy to open it.  I thought it was strange because when someone offers me something for trade I'm generally so excited to get it, I rip it open the second I see it.  But I thought ok, she must be busy.

Another month went by and I still heard nothing.  I messaged again and she said that yes she opened it, and liked it, but hadn't had time to do any photos.  I again gave her the benefit of the doubt.  However, now another month or so has gone by.  At this point I assume that this artist is either kind of a jerk, or just doesn't like the doll.  Either way it was not a good experience.  My advice to anyone who accepts a trade is to follow through on your end or don't accept it.  If I would have known that she would not be able to take any photos for 3 months (or ever), I would have contacted a different artist to work with.  Now, I could ask for the doll back, or message again, but I have decided to consider it a loss and move on.

It took a while for me to feel the desire to work with someone again because of this experience, but I decided that the doll community is overall a very warm and friendly place.  I didn't want one sour experience to ruin my joy.  So when I saw a woman on Facebook who takes beautiful photos of her Blythe dolls I decided to try again.  She turned out to be one of the sweetest ladies I have ever met!

I sent two miniatures to Lindy of Dolldreams, and yesterday she was able to take the first photographs of the monster.  I was thrilled with them!


She even wrote this cute little story: "*~* One never has to fear if they have their own little monster as a friend. Heaven loves her new monster. With the striped ears, Monster can hear even the tiniest whisper. With Monster's tiny nose, Monster can smell things miles away. With Monster's smile, Heaven cannot help but feel safe and very happy. All Monster is, is LOVE. Heaven is one happy little girl to own her very own monster! ♥*~*"


And what were the results?  In only a couple of hours I had 4 sales from these photographs and Lindy's post on Facebook.  I was beyond thrilled as you can imagine!


The other person I contacted about photos was my dear customer and friend Lee of Lee Sutton Photography.  She is a professional photographer and also has a super cute daughter.  I was hoping to get some photos of my play dolls in their "natural environment" (in a child's bedroom, or with her sweet daughter).  I have a new design called the Blankie BeBe that will be released soon and I especially wanted photos of it for promotional purposes.  

Blankie BeBe

So I sent it off to Lee, along with a BeBe pet bear, and she has been taking the most amazing photos for me.  I almost died when I saw her photos.  They exceeded my expectations a million fold!  Here are a couple of my favorites.  Look for these photos soon in BeBe Baby advertising and on my promotional items.





I hope the success of my photography campaign motivates you to also think creatively when advertising your products.  

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Lizzie Gibson's Sugary Sweet Babies

I was first attracted to Lizzie's dolls because I really admired the mouths on her babies.  She inspired me to do more detailed work on some of my own dolls, including the new mouths I have been working on.  The other thing I admire about Lizzie is her dedication to her work.  After becoming aware of her dolls, I started seeing her pop up all over the internet.  She also has personally sent me messages asking for my advice.  This tells me that Lizzie is someone who knows how to market her work, and when she doesn't, she is the first to put herself out there and ask questions.  I admire that because I'm somewhat similar, as you know.  I hope you will take a minute to get to know her and her babies!  Notes in italics are my comments.

Gummy Baby

1.  When did you begin making cloth dolls?

My love of baby making started back in 2007 when I needed a special birthday gift for my youngest daughter. I had an old doll bed that I painted and made all the bedding for. Then I tackled making a doll. I found a pattern in an old magazine I had. I had never made a soft sculptured doll before. The doll was about the ugliest thing I'd ever seen after I'd finished, but my daughter loved it (she still has it and wouldn't take anything in the world for it.)



Lizzie's first doll


2.  Have you always made cloth dolls or have you made other types of dolls?

I have always made cloth dolls. I do appreciate other forms of doll making like reborning and vinyl just to name a couple, but I love cloth. I love the way I can manipulate fabric with a needle and thread to make features and creases.

3.  How did you learn to sew and make dolls?

I learned to sew from my mother and grandmother as a child. Later, in high school, I did take a sewing class. One of the projects we had was making a rag style doll that was about 8 inches tall.


Tootsie Roll Babies

4.  Do you have any advice for new doll makers?

Most people think you can just make the perfect doll on your first try. That's not the case at all. Doll making is a learning experience. You are learning with each doll you complete. Even the most experienced and talented doll artists are still learning new techniques. I would advise anyone to not give up. It's practice practice practice.

(I concur with Lizzie here. I am always learning and perfecting my skills, which is what I think is part of the fun.)

5.  Does anyone help you in the creation of your dolls?

My sewing studio is my domain. I am a one woman show. I do everything myself from start to finish.

6.  Is making dolls just a hobby for you or a serious business?

My Lollipops are a serious business for me. Just about everything I do or say revolves around them. I promote my babies every chance I get. No matter if I'm in the dollar store, the post office, grocery store or wherever, I hand out business cards and tell people about my babies.

(What a great idea! I'm a little too shy to talk about my babies but I think we can learn something from Lizzie's outgoing strategy.)


Goo Goo Cluster Baby


7.  Do you belong to any clubs/groups/forums?

I belong to a number of groups and doll pages on facebook and also on flickr and etsy. Check out Cloth Doll Creations, a group that Lizzie administers, Spam a Doll, Handmade Dolls Addicts Anonymous, and OOAK Artists and Collectors.

8.  Where do you sell your dolls?  Where can people buy them?

I mostly sell my babies off of facebook and etsy. I also have a website. I recently was invited to share a booth in our local flea market in which I did fairly well, so I will most likely in the near future rent a booth to show my dolls locally on the weekends.

9.  Do you collect dolls yourself?

I'm not a collector, but I am a big admirer of other artist work.

10.  Who are your favorite doll artists?

There is so many doll artists from yesteryear and today that have so much talent. It's really hard to just name one. I love all doll types and each style of doll making.


Cotton Candy Baby


11.  Anything else you want to share about your dolls?

I have been doing this for so long, I can't even remember how I came up with a name of Lollipop Babies. But since then, I have created different sets of babies and each set had to have its own unique name. Each set is mostly named after a sweet; like BubbleGum Babies, TootsieRoll Babies, Biscuit Babies, CottonCandy Babies and so on and so forth. I love creating new lines, and the more sets I have, the more variety I have to offer my followers and customers.


Lizzie with a Cotton Candy Baby

As always if you are interested in being included on my blog please send me a message. Thanks for reading!

Friday, July 11, 2014

And the Winner is....

This was a very close race between two different photos but the winner by only 2 votes is......  #2!!!  Congrats to Danielle for her super cute photo and thank you to everyone who participated.  As promised the next contest will invite all BeBe fans to join in, even those who have not adopted their first BeBe yet.  I haven't planned the contest yet but it will be coming up soon so be sure to "like" BeBe Babies on Facebook or join the fan club to be updated on all the goings on here at BeBe Babies.


Friday, July 4, 2014

Happy 4th of July BeBe Baby Photo Contest

Hi everyone!  Happy 4th of July to you and your family.  4th of July doesn't mean much around here in Mexico so it just seems like another day to me, but I'm still dreaming of BBQs and fireworks.  I decided to do a 4th of July contest on the fan club and I must say that the entries are awesome!

Voting is going to work a little different this time.  For the Easter contest I used a free account on Survey Monkey to calculate the votes.  However when the votes reached over a hundred Survey Monkey required me to pay for an account to get the results.  Now, I wouldn't ordinarily mind but it was over $20, and that was the charge PER month for their services.  Well I don't need their services every month and it's really not even worth the one time charge.  Soooo I'm going to try something different and we will see how it goes.  Each photo has a number.  Choose your favorite photo and then email me at bebebabiescom@yahoo.com with your vote OR comment with your vote on this post.  You can vote one time per day so help your friends win!  Voting is open until July 11.

The winner will receive 50% off their BeBe order from my Etsy shop OR a free BeBe of my choice.  If you would like to receive special discounts on BeBe Babies please join the fan club or "like" BeBe Babies on Facebook.  I had a sweet email from a lady this morning who wanted to enter, but hasn't adopted her first BeBe Baby yet.  Therefore my next contest will be for my customers AND fans who might not have a BeBe yet.  So please keep in touch!  Now on to the entries...

#1




#2



#3



#4



#5


Good luck to all!!!

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Making Videos for Youtube and Life in Mexico

Well I am home sick today and it really stinks.  I haven't shared a lot about what is going on with my health but it isn't good.  Let me give you the short story.  A little over a year ago I had a urinary tract infection.  There are doctors here in Mexico that are free and sit in little offices alongside the pharmacy.  They don't do much except listen to your symptoms and prescribe you medicine.  Last year I went there for the first infection but after the it returned a month later I made an appointment with a "real" doctor, as we say here.  It was expensive (not as expensive as the US, but for the amount of money I make, it was a hardship).  After a bunch of labs I was diagnosed with anemia and an e.coli infection.  I was loaded up with antibiotics and iron pills.  After checking the labs a month later I seemed to be cured.


However this infection has continued to rear it's ugly head every 2-3 months for the last year.  To avoid paying for the doctor, I went back to seeing the free doctors and taking the same antibiotic every 2-3 months.  Well about two weeks ago the infection was back.  I went to the free doctor like usual, and she prescribed a medicine I had never taken.  I knew right away that it wasn't working.  I took the medicine 4 days as prescribed, and while I felt better (e.i. I wasn't in excruciating pain) I knew the infection wasn't gone.

I decided to see another "real" doctor but this time my friend pointed me to her doctor, who is English.  It is very difficult to see a Mexican doctor even if they speak English.  There is always something lost in translation I feel.  This new doctor was much cheaper than the first, and he has re-ordered lab tests.  He believes I have never fully recovered from the first infection or that I have some sort of malfunction with my bladder/urinary system.  I was hoping I could hold off the infection until the labs came back so I wouldn't have to miss work, but of course it struck again in the middle of last night.



I'm having a lot of new symptoms that I wasn't having last year and this has me very concerned.  I'm also very worried about my job as it isn't the most convenient place to call in sick at, and besides I don't like being an inconvenience to my employer.  I have resigned to realizing it is what it is, and it will be what it will be, although my anxiety about it flares up periodically.

Because I have been stuck home in bed I decided it might be a good time to work on a Youtube channel.  I have a Youtube account but I only used it in the past for personal reasons.  Recently a customer of mine suggested I start making videos of my dolls and I thought that was a pretty clever idea.  So I made a video of my newest BeBe Rebekah and I set out to edit the video.



This is where I nearly gave up.  I have a Mac which has a program called imovie.  In my opinion it is not very user friendly, but after 5 hours of watching Youtube videos about imovie, as well as trial and error, I have finally finished my first practice video.



The next task is to get all my BeBe graphics and things uploaded on Youtube.  This is causing me the next big headache.  All of my BeBe graphics are always designed for certain sites like Etsy or my website.  Of course this means every time I try to use them on another site they aren't the right size.  I hate photo editing.  I don't think there is anything I hate more, so it is driving me batty trying to figure out how to create "channel art" as Youtube calls it.  If anyone has any ideas or wants to help me let me know.  For now I'm too exhausted, and in too much pain to continue trying to figure it out.

I wanted this post to be empowering.  I wanted it to be about learning to do things yourself.  But I get it, it sucks.  It sucks trying to keep up with all these new social media outlets.  It sucks spending one whole day trying to make a video that isn't even all that good.  I know though that if I keep up with practicing at making videos, I will get very fast and look back and think it was not so hard.  So that's my motivation for you today.  It's hard for all of us but we have to all keep trying and learning.  As Dory says, "Just keep swimming, swimming, swimming.."

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

New Series: My First Doll

As you know I have been working hard to come up with a variety of content for my blog, as well as my Facebook page.  I had an idea!  I thought it would be fun to share some personal stories about first dolls.  If you would like to be included in this series please email me at bebebabiescom@yahoo.com.  I will let you know what I need you to send me.  To get the ball rolling, I am going to share with you my first doll.  I must admit to you this one was hard for me to write without tears...

As soon as I was able to choose my own toys, I was immediately smitten by Cabbage Patch Kids.  I remember being around 5 or 6 when my Mom put the Toys R' Us Christmas catalog into my hands and instructed me to look for Christmas ideas.  I surveyed the Cabbage Patch dolls carefully.  There was one that I thought was the cutest doll of the bunch.  Her name was Nessy.


One time my ex-boyfriend's Mom told me that my ex had a Cabbage Patch Doll when he was a little boy that looked like him.  I said my first doll was also a Cabbage Patch Kid.  She then asked "oh did your doll look like you?".  "No," I said.  "She was black."  

I remember people making comments about my doll when I was a kid.  I remember not really understanding what they were saying when I was a little girl, but I was aware enough to know that it wasn't nice.  As an adult I know exactly what they were saying.  I think it was pretty cool that my parents let me choose my own doll, as well as stand the negative comments and looks.  But there was probably another reason I chose the doll.

My first memories are of a sweet round face that looked down on me with the light of an angel.  Her name was Miss Vicky.  She had a small daycare in Anchorage, Alaska where my family lived at the time.  She lived simply, without any luxuries.  She poured her love into children, who often she cared for with no payment because their families couldn't pay.  She never turned any child away.  Once she told my Mom that if we did not pay her, she could not pay her rent or eat.  When we moved back to Oregon my Mom left her nearly everything we owned including our bed pillows.  

I could tell you so many stories about the things she taught me.  All of my earliest memories are of her, and I remember so much about her, especially her smile.  I think there are true saints that walk among us and that she was one of them.  A few years after we returned to Oregon one of my cousins moved to Anchorage and was also put in her care.  My cousin was touched in much the same way we were.

My brother and I with Miss Vicky approx. 1987.
  
Once back in Oregon, Miss Vicky would send us packages every year on our birthdays and Christmas.  The last package she sent me was a graduation present when I graduated high school.  It was a special edition Barbie dressed for graduation.  Miss Vicky died shortly after that.  I never had the chance to see her again.  It's something I will always regret.  Some day I want to visit Anchorage, find her grave, and bring her some beautiful poppies that she loved so much.  I want to thank her for everything she did for me.  I want to thank her for influencing my life in the beautiful way that she did.

Children are taught to hate or they are taught to love.  Children don't see color, they see kindness.

Nessy and I

I imagine my 5-year-old self being asked the same question "does your doll look like you?" to which I would answer "yes she does".

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Why Sell on Etsy

I have been an Etsy seller since 2007 when I began selling my BeBe Babies.  Before that I used Ebay, as it was the main online marketplace for art dolls.  I had become wary of Ebay for some time because their site's look was ugly in my opinion, and their fees were high.  However I remember feeling very nervous about switching to Etsy because I worried that no one would find my shop and my sales would decline.  Now 7 years later I highly recommend having your shop on Etsy and here's why.

Truly some of the first BeBes ever made.  This was the first doll show I did with the BeBes back in 2006.  I had just started making larger dolls.

The number one reason I recommend using Etsy is because of all the information they offer to help you become a better seller- FOR FREE.  There is a wealth of information for everyone, whether you are just starting out on Etsy, or are a long time member, and it is all free.  There are many people who sell this advice on Etsy.  A lot of new and old sellers fall into the trap of shelling out money for information that they can get for free.  I am highly against paying for information.  The internet is full of free resources and you should never have to pay for advice in my opinion.  This is one reason I changed the direction of my blog.  I want to offer everyone the information I have learned over the years from practice and a ton of reading.  It might take a little longer to find the resources but it will save you a lot of money in the long run.

These are some of the first BeBe Babies ever made!  I believe this is from Halloween 2007.  

The Esty newsletter has been the most valuable for me.  You can subscribe to it here.  The other day I received one of their emails and it contained a seller seminar.  This seminar is geared towards advanced sellers, but I would still recommend it for beginners, as it might get you ahead of the game faster.  You can find the seminar here.  Now, because I have been a long time seller there were many things that were not of use to me in the packet, but there were many other things that were.  Remember, not everything will be of value to you, but it's important to find the pieces that are, and apply them to your business.  I added about 5 new things to my to-do list from this seminar and that is what I want to talk about.  

There are three things I am focusing on right now in my business; photos, social networking and pitching to companies.  From the seminar I got these ideas:

1.  Take photos of your items in their natural habitat.  I never really thought about this but it makes sense.  I would love to have some professional pictures of my play dolls in a child's bedroom or in the arms of a child.  I have a lot of fan photos but I need some professional quality ones for promotional purposes.  Think magazine editorials.

If you are like me you are thinking "I can't afford to hire a professional photographer".  This is where you need to get creative.  I have a friend and customer, who has an adorable daughter and also happens to be a beautiful photographer.  I have sent her an email asking if she could do some photos for me in exchange for a couple free BeBes.  If you are a seller without the funds to invest much in your business you have to get creative.  Start thinking how you can get services free or at a discount by offering your work or something in exchange.  Now maybe my friend will decline, and if that happens I will offer the same pitch to other photographers until I can find one who says yes.

I have also been struggling with the sales of my miniatures, mainly because I haven't sold any lol.  Ok that's not true, I have sold about 20, but all to the same customer.  The problem is mainly that I don't have the time to photograph them in a very professional way with my Blythe doll.  So I have reached out to some Blythe collectors who take beautiful photographs.  I am offering them a free mini in exchange for photographs with their Blythe dolls.  I am excited to be working with someone at this time and will be making her miniatures this weekend.  I can't wait to see her photos and share them with you.  I am hoping this will create more sales for my minis.

This photo is by my dear customer Lane of Reallusion Photography.  Mini pig BeBe available to order here.

2.  Social networking is difficult.  It takes a lot of time and planning.  Don't think social networking is just about posting all willy nilly.  You must strike a balance in order to not alienate your followers, but you must also keep them engaged.  When I first started my BeBe Babies Facebook page I really didn't use it much.  Now that I have been using it significantly more I'm mad at myself for not doing it sooner.  After reading page 20 of the Etsy seminar I have a clearer understanding of the mistakes I am making.  If you don't read any other parts of the seminar, read the social networking part starting on page 18.

New design that I am working on and very excited about!

They give you an exercise to do which is to analyze your Facebook posts to see which ones are getting the most likes and shares.  This will help you determine what your audience is responding to.  What I realized from the exercise is that I am posting way too much about new listings in my shop.  The seminar advises creating a posting schedule that includes new items (product features), a behind the scenes look at your work (backstage pass), and expertise/inspiration you possess (be an expert or inspire).  So get ready because I am going to start posting photos of BeBe Babies in progress as well as other things I find inspirational or beneficial.

Special project coming soon.

3.  As you know I have been complaining, I mean working, really hard at trying to get my dolls into stores so I can eventually do BeBe Babies full time.  I've been writing a lot of emails to stores and online publications and I am still hearing crickets in my inbox.  I have began to wonder if my emails are not looking or sounding professional enough.  There is so much advice out there about pitching to companies it's hard to know whose advice to follow.  This article on Etsy is the advice I have been following except I was forgetting one little thing.  I have not been embedding small photos into the email.  Actually the more I look at the article there are a few little things I haven't been doing; like following up or expressing why BeBe Babies are so special.  I am going to polish my email pitching and try again with more shops and blogs.  Hopefully when I get some professional photos I can make the emails look even better.  

For more information head over to the Etsy blog and/or the Etsy Seller Handbook.