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 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...






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.."