Friday, August 29, 2014

How to Get More Likes on Facebook GIVEAWAY

Last night I was watching the movie Chef, and I was thinking a lot about social networking afterwards.  I didn't particularly like the movie much, but it basically shows how social networking can open many many doors that aren't available through regular advertising.  However the key to social networking is participation.

I've never been much of a participator.  I'm more of a fly on the wall and less of a social butterfly.  This doesn't work so well when trying to sell a product which I found out when I was 19 and tried selling Mary Kay.  The Internet makes it slightly easier because you don't actually have to face anyone in real life (for the most part).

My likes on Facebook have been rising dramatically in the last few months.  It started out when a Portuguese (or Brazilian, I'm not sure) web page featured my dolls on their Facebook page.  Within a day I had a hundred more likes.  Since then my likes haven't increased quite so dramatically, but compared to a year ago they are increasing significantly every day.  When that happened I thought "wow I only need a couple sites to do that for me and my likes will be huge!"

My boyfriend made the comment once "who cares about likes if people don't actually buy anything".  This might be your attitude too and I completely understand.  When I see a jump in my likes I eagerly run to check my email hoping to see Paypal notifications alerting me that someone has paid me $.  Most days I hear crickets in my inbox.

What you have to remember is; likes equal visibility.  The more a person sees a product, the more likely they are to buy it in the future.  Sales generally tend to come later in the form of direct sales or partnerships with stores.  This is why it is important to keep your page active and vibrant.  I've talked about this before but want to remind you, don't over do it.  If you are posting something more than once a day you risk irritating your fans to the point they will unfollow, unlike and/or block your posts.  I was noticing recently that I every now and then have an "unlike".  I always wonder why, but I don't think it's possible to know.  It's something to contemplate though.

Here's a secret I recently realized.  Likes are not as important as shares.  And shares are much harder to get.  It's easy for someone to click like and move on.  Sometimes people don't want to share things they like for fear of how their friends might respond to it.  For example I see political, religious, sensitive things I like all the time on Facebook, but I don't share them because I don't want to start an argument on the Internet.  I will admit this is the problem with making dolls.  Some people think they are creepy and they don't want flack from their friends for "liking" them.  Ba-humbug I say to that.

Sometimes when I sit staring at my Facebook page contemplating how to reach more potential customers I wish that more people would share my page instead of just clicking like.  My potential customers are nearly everyone because I sell toys for children.  Everyone (almost) knows a child that needs a birthday gift, shower gift, Christmas gift, etc.  Recently I did an experiment and asked my friends on Facebook to please share my other Facebook page Mexican Fabric and Fashion.  Only one friend did, and my likes on that page went up by 7.  That's not dramatic but it's pretty good for 1 share.  Imagine if all 404 of my friends shared it.  

Now I'm not asking anyone to share anything they don't actually like.  If you don't like the product, don't share it, in my opinion.  There are so many groups on Etsy, created for the sole purpose of promoting each other's products indiscriminately.  I don't think this is a good practice, and I surely don't want to be asked to share something I don't particularly like.  To me this only breeds insincerity which in turn cheapens the product or brand.

However, if you like something, if you want to help your friend grow their business, then remember to share.  I didn't even think about it much until I had my own business.  Now I share what my friends make because I know how much it helps me when others share mine.

Recently someone posted this article on Facebook and when I saw it I cringed.  I can understand her premise but the view is very narrow.  Those of us that make something, or have our own business, rely on people liking and sharing our posts.  Without them it is very hard for us to spread the word about our business.  One thing that she points out in the article though is that instead of clicking like she makes a comment.  I think that is great too.

So why am I talking about all this?  Because I'm starting a sharing campaign today in the form of a giveaway!  Before I left for New York I had a custom request but I needed to buy the right color fabric in the US.  I also needed to make a prototype in order to get the pattern size right.  The custom order was for a tiny bunny in fleece with a floppy ear and his hands up by his mouth.  This is the completed custom that was sent to the customer.

But now I have the prototype here.  He's not a bunny but a little 3.5 inch bear.  I thought he would make a great little giveaway prize.  I'm hoping to make more of these little guys for my shop in the near future.  Here he is:

If you would like to win him here is how you can enter.  This is a Facebook sharing campaign so therefore you must share BeBe Babies and Friends on your personal or business Facebook page.  It is totally up to you what you share.  

You can share:
 -my Flickr

The rules are:
 1.  You can only share on your page once, HOWEVER, for every friend of yours that shares BeBe Babies as well, you will receive an additional entry.  So tell your friends to share the post to get their own entry as well as give you an additional one!  Make sure they tag you and me in the post so I can find it easily.

2.  In order to verify your share, you must tag BeBe Babies and Friends, or me Casie Brabham, in your post.  

3.  This campaign starts now and will last one week, closing on September 5th.  I will announce the winner on Saturday September 6th.

Here are some stats for you.  In 2013 I had an increase of 224 likes in the entire year.  Currently I have had an increase of 429 likes in 2014 alone.  At the beginning of 2014 I was averaging 22.4 likes per month.  At this time I'm averaging 85.5 likes per month. What can we do in one week?  I'm not sure, but the goal is to reach 2,000 likes by the end of the week.  That means I need 902 likes in only one week.  I need an average of 128 likes every day.   Yikes I don't think it's possible but let's see what happens.  Will you help me?

If you have any questions let me know!  Thanks in advance for your efforts and good luck!   

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'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 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

Monday, August 11, 2014


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.