Friday, July 29, 2011

Autumn Pretties!

It's no secret that my favorite season is autumn.  The brightly colored leave raining down.  The pumpkin patches.  The apple cider, mmmmm....

Here are some fall themed items from my shop!

A lovely bridal rose fascinator in orange and yellow.  Like falling leaves!  Very happy with how this one turned out!

A handtied double bow with pumpkin print.  So cute!

My "spider" Halloween korker bow, made of super skinny grosgrain ribbon in orange, black and green

Autumn daisy trio in alligator clips...

...or skinny headband

Antique gold double bow with tails.

And fall means FOOTBALL!  My favorite team, Pittsburgh Steelers Korker Bow. 
Hope you enjoyed my little gallery of fall items.  Feel free to share a link to your fall items below!

--Molly H.

Monday, July 25, 2011

School of Hard Knocks - Shipping & Handling

There's a lot to be learned in the scary world of shipping, and a lot to screw up.  I have to admit that when I first started selling on eBay nearly ten years ago, I did a lot of screwing up.  It's a lot more complicated than just throwing something in an envelope and slapping a few stamps on when you're selling items online. 

1.  Tracking.  ALWAYS ALWAYS ALWAYS use a tracking number!  I don't CARE that it costs an extra dollar -- use it!  This is probably the one thing that will always come back to bite you.  Just when you think it's safe to send that teddy bear to a buyer with no tracking number, that will be the unsavory buyer that says, "Hmm...  no tracking number?  PAYPAL DISPUTE!"  A hard lesson I've learned more than one time that it is absolutely playing Russian Roulette shipping out an item without a tracking number.  I have had all sorts of buyers on all sorts of selling venues dispute receiving the item, and without that tracking number, you, as the seller, will LOSE every single time.  Do you really want to be refunding someone their full purchase price because you didn't feel like spending an extra buck?  Trust me, this is one thing you don't want to skip!

YAY Delivery Confirmation!!!

2.  A Scale!  If you ship from home, like I do, or even if you don't, an invaluable tool is a good, accurate digital scale.  In the early days of my eBay selling, I would "guess-timate" the weight of an item, and stick all sorts of stamps and send the item away.  Not only was I not getting a tracking number, but I was also either overpaying on shipping or underpaying.  Overpay by a dollar a hundred times, and well, you're out a hundred dollars.  Underpay, and you have items being returned or the buyer needing to pay more money to get their item.  Both ways are horrible ways of losing money, either directly or indirectly through angry customers.  I bought my scale off of eBay many moons ago.  I think I spent $20 on it.  It measures up to 30 pounds, and shows pounds and ounces, even fractions of ounces. I can't imagine how much money my little scale has saved me over the years!

My little powerhouse digital scale!  Might not be pretty, but he's a good worker!

3.  Good quality tape.  Sure you can use the cheapo clear tape that's meant for packing up boxes when you move, but do you really want to waste your time like that?  I used to use the real cheap tape.  After wasting about a roll of it because it rips down the middle every single time you try to get a piece off, I realized that I wasn't really saving any money!  I highly recommend Duck brand and Scotch.  They both work really well, and don't stick to everything but what I'm trying to package up!

Duck Crystal Clear High Performance, Scotch Mailing and Storage Tape, USPS Priority Mail Tape.  Good stuff.

4.  United State Postal Service.  I do all my shipping through USPS.  There's a lot of good reasons for this.  PayPal and both allow you to mail from home, using your scale and printer to print labels right at home.  If you print your labels at home, Delivery Confirmation (tracking) on Priority Mail items is FREE.  It costs $.19 for First Class and Parcel Post, versus something like $.80 at the post office.'s store allows you to order tons of Priority Mail shipping supplies FOR FREE delivered FOR FREE.  I have a closet full of flat rate envelopes, boxes, packing tape and stickers.  It's so convenient always having the right box or envelope to ship my items, and since the Priority Mail items are free, it saves my other supplies for when I don't need to ship Priority.  The postman will pick up what you're mailing FOR FREE!  If it's over 13 ounces, you have to run your items down to the post office.  But, it sure beats having the post office guy having to weigh all your items and print labels!

5.  Priority Mail Flat Rate.  Hand in hand with number 4, USPS's flat rate shipping supplies are INVALUABLE!  I highly recommend the flat rate bubble mailers and small boxes.  For $5, you ship whatever you can stuff in there up to 4 pounds.  It might not seem like a lot to actually look at the boxes and envelopes....  I've had items that I would have had to charge $15 for shipping, and I shipped for $5 due to flat rate supplies.  They also offer larger boxes, and their new game board box looks like a winner, too!

6.  Getting it to the post office.  Don't believe for a minute that just because you value your online business and feedback rating that others around you do the same.  I have negative feedback on my eBay account because a long time ago, I trusted a couple people to simply drop things off at the post office when I couldn't.  It didn't happen, I didn't know it for WEEKS, and I had to refund money and face the brunt of negative feedback.  I have a rare jewel now in my husband who has run to the post office numerous times so that I can continue working on my online shops.  If you don't have someone you can trust, do it yourself.  Even if it's out a day later than you wanted because you couldn't get to the post office, it's better than putting it in the hands of someone who just doesn't care, and then dealing with the aftermath.

This is not a reliable way to get your mail sent out.
7.  International shippinglooong number on it, and a postmark from the post office.  KEEP IT!  This is your insurance against a PayPal dispute!

8.  Supplies.  Don't feel that you need the fanciest bubble mailers and brand new boxes around.  The best things I've found that work for me are a variety pack of bubble mailers I bought from eBay, buying a large number of a mid range bubble mailers in bulk, and brown mailing kraft paper.  Just about every shipping supply that comes into my home I reuse in shipping other items out.  I cut apart bubble mailers to wrap around items, I reuse boxes in good shape.  If I have a box with a lot of writing on it, or one that was part of retail packaging, I wrap it up in the brown shipping paper.  Reusing packing supplies is not only good for your wallet, but good for the environment, too!

Can you tell what household item came in this box?  Nope!  Brown shipping paper to the rescue!
In short, don't cut corners when it comes to shipping, and it'll be smooth sailing.  Good luck!

--Molly H. (and Vienna, too!)

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

10 Thrifty Things I Learned From DIY-ing My Wedding

I got married on May 7, 2011.  When I got engaged on August 19, 2010, I immediately formed a hurricane of DIY "want to dos" in my head.  I wanted to DIY everything, and I wanted to save a ton of money.  I did manage to do quite a bit - it was fairly impressive.  We were able to do our wedding for far less than we'd originally planned because I did quite a bit myself.  But I also lost a lot of time and money when I could have saved both because there were things I didn't know going into planning a wedding because I didn't think to research and plan before buying!  There were also some projects that never happened because I simply ran out of time and motivation.  I'd like to share some of these things in the hopes that it will help someone's DIY wedding go a little smoother.

Our ceremony location - Fellows Riverside Gardens. 

1.  Buy used.  There were not many things that we bought "new" for our wedding, but one of them was my wedding gown.  It was an Alfred Angelo.  It was ivory.  And it was also red, a lot of red (or any other color you wanted).  It ended up costing about $800.  Which was nearly 1/5 of what our wedding ended up costing total.  That's a lot, considering my dress was not our "thing".  Our ceremony and reception ended up being our "things".  Had I known better, I would have scoured Recycled Bride or the classified boards on The Knot.  Take advantage of these types of sites, your budget will thank you!

2.  Shop around.  This is part of that research thing I mentioned before.  Buy in bulk if you can.  Compare prices.  If you're buying online, don't forget to factor in shipping costs.  Don't balk at the idea of buying supplies from places like eBay.   

3.  Coupons.  Take advantage of the dozens of coupons that are available to you each week through your local craft stores.  You can sign up for them to be delivered right to your e-mail.  Michael's always has a huge coupon in the Sunday paper, it might be worth subscribing for a few months just for that coupon!  I bought $40 worth of stuff at Hobby Lobby for $10 because of a great online coupon and being a choosy shopper.  I can't even imagine how much I saved at Michael's alone because they ALWAYS have coupons!

This handmade bridesmaid brought to you by heavily discounted Hobby Lobby material through clever use of coupons!

4. Sales.  If your wedding is a little bit away, think sales, especially Memorial Day, 4th of July, etc.  I bought a ton of stuff from JoAnn's around Labor Day, and WOW did I save a ton!  This requires a little bit of patience, but it's so worth it!

5. Think re-sale!  I've been selling on eBay for 10 years, it's like my online garage sale.  When the wedding was over, I knew what I was going to sell, and it was basically all of it.  I sold the extra envelopes from the invitations and RSVP cards on Etsy, I've been selling the vintage hardback books and teacups I bought from Goodwill for the centerpieces through Half. com, eBay and Etsy, I even sold the half burnt votives from the reception on eBay.  And I've been repurposing the silk flowers I used in the centerpieces into floral haircombs to sell through my Etsy shop and at craft shows.  Of the three sites, it's hardest to sell on Etsy because you have to have a presence, but it's ridiculously easy to sell on eBay and  Even if you don't get full price back, you're still getting a little back, and clearing out your home! 

6. Thrift stores.  I had a vision in my head of centerpieces made of hardback books piled up, with floral arrangements in teacups.  Goodwill made this vision happen.  I was able to buy a ton of hardback books and the teacups all for about $100.  A little bit of hot glue, floral foam and spanish moss held together the silk flowers in the cups.  I bought a bulk case of white votives off the web, and voila, centerpieces for WAAAY less than a florist would have done it.  It also looked wonderful, and the books were a conversation starter for guests.  Thrift stores are chock full of things that can be totally transformed with some paint or ribbon.  You just need an open mind! 

Tada!  Centerpieces!

7. Ask for discounts.  Tying in with Goodwill, my husband and I recently learned that Goodwill has a 10% military discount, double on Tuesdays.  Guess who's in the military?  Yub, my hubby.  We would have saved that much more on our centerpieces!  Don't be afraid to ask for discounts for military, AAA card holders, teachers, firefighters, police officers, whatever.  A lot of places offer discounts, but they don't advertise them.  Take advantage of these discounts, it's that much more you can put towards you and your fiance's "thing".

8.  DIY what's most important.  I wanted to DIY everything.  I had to eventually decide what was important.  My important things were beading the edge of my mom's veil, doing the blue rhinestone "I Do" on the bottom of my shoes, making all the wedding party's flowers, making the bridesmaid's jewelry and cufflinks for the guys, assembling the centerpieces, and a few other minor projects.  If you don't know how to do a project you've dreamed up, go to the library, and get out some books to get inspired and get instruction.  The DIY Bride and The DIY Bride Crafty Countdown are great books if you're looking for ideas, and so is Martha Stewart Weddings and the picture galleries on The Knot.  Look up YouTube videos.  Hunt down instructional blogs.  The information is there if the will to learn is also there!  Of all the projects listed above, none of them were terribly difficult.  Some were time consuming, but you'll have that with DIY. 

These were the earrings I made for my flowergirls.  That I now sell on Etsy!

9.  Support handmade if you can't or don't want to DIY.  I didn't ever use this option, but I kinda wish I would have taken advantage of sites like Etsy and other handmade sites for some parts of my wedding.  They're there for a reason and there's tons of people willing to take the time and effort to make something special for you. 

10.  Don't feel bad about not being able to DIY everything.  There were a couple projects that I didn't get done right before the wedding, and I was seriously bent out of shape about it.  About a week after the wedding I realized that everything I didn't get done didn't matter.  What mattered was what I did get done, and that the wedding and reception went really well and everyone loved all of my projects.  So don't worry if you have to drop one or two projects.  If you can't live without it, see #9 above.   

I had the wedding I wanted because I was willing to work for what I wanted instead of flat out spending for what I wanted.  Because of my DIY hurricane, I was able to rekindle a dormant love of crafting, and have now started working for myself with an Etsy shop OrionOctober, and I'm looking forward to the world of craft shows very soon!  All this because I allowed myself to play craftmaker for my own wedding.  I suggest you let yourself have fun with your own wedding and do the same!

Good luck, see you next time! 


OrionOctober on Etsy
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Friday, July 15, 2011

Shinies. I Haz Dem.

Hello blog land.  My name is Molly.  I run a little Etsy shop called OrionOctober.  I make jewelry and accessories of all sorts.  I have a wonderful supportive husband and a terrific little boy ("Orion").  I have run a small eBay business for the last ten years which has taught me the ins and outs of internet business, sometimes the hard way.  I have worked several retail jobs since high school, which has taught me the value of good customer service.  I am returning to college this fall, but my degree is undecided.  The problem is that I never really figured out what I wanted to be when I grew up.  But I always wanted to have my own small business, one where I could have a cat where I work.  Now, I just work at home with my three cats!

Laya will pwn your face.  Don't be disillusioned by her cuddly nature and lack of opposable thumbs.

Seems like my favorite things to play with are Swarovski Crystals (shinies), freshwater pearls, and ribbons:  lots and lots of ribbons in all sorts of obnoxious colors and patterns.  Most of these items took up residence inside my head as a child, thanks mostly to my maternal grandmother who had a habit of giving me pretty things just because I told her I thought they were pretty.  Case in point being a set of incredible vintage Swarovski Crystal jewelry (she called them Aurora Borealis Austrian Crystal), and a rosary made of said crystals.  It seems that a lot of the things I've been creating are inspired by items I had as a child.  And why not?!

I caught the crafting bug as a fairly small child.  My prized possession was always the biggest box of Crayola Crayons I could afford.  I still have a 96 box stored in my desk that's only occasionally used.  The fire was fueled in Girl Scouts -- we did loads of crafts in Scouts, it was great.  I took art classes all through middle and high school.  I am kicking around the idea of minoring in art in college -- it's great fun!

Aside from all that, I enjoy going to car shows, tinkering with photography, playing video games, gardening, and shopping for shoes I usually can't wear anyway!

Water lilies picture I took last September at Fellows Riverside Gardens.  Not bad for an obsolete point and shoot camera!

Well, I suppose that's good for an introduction.  Good to get the "boring" stuff out of the way so we can move onto better things!  Take care until next time!

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