Clutch-Me.Com

Learn. Make. Sell. All about clutches.

New SPRING clutches photo album on Facebook

Just posted an album featuring clutches made by my sellers that has a spring feel and flavor.  All made using my fine purse frames.  Here’s a screen shot.  Go check it out!

With spring craftshows and arts festivals happening now and into April and May, be sure to have some that will bring Spring into mind!  It’s not too early to start promoting for Mother’s Day clutches.

Also, I just listed some more sellers on the the Sellers page of my blog.   I’ve had a couple of requests about having a clutch custom-made using my fine frames, so I’ve added a note on the Sellers Page to let them know to contact you sellers directly to inquire about custom orders.

Thank you for your feedback about increased views and sales!  Keep working at your end, and I’ll keep working on my end to promote your clutches and pass on my referrals.

~Winn

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March 30, 2011 Posted by | WhileBabyNaps General Updates | , , , | 2 Comments

Getting back on track …

Thank you, to all of you who sent me messages of concern.  I really appreciate your heartfelt thoughts.  It’s been quite a challenge this week.  And, amazingly, no one canceled their orders.

Just wanted to let you all know that all orders that came in this week have been shipped.  I got back on track working nights to get them all out.

In the next couple of weeks, I will be:

1.  introducing several new purse frame sizes

2.  launching PurseFramesOutlet.Etsy.com

3. introducing a new trademarked finish (if that all works out…)  🙂

So thank you for your enduring support.

BTW, HUGE sale at Joann’s.  March 25-27.  Go stock up!

 

Have a great weekend!  ~ Winn

Joanns 25% on Your Total In-Store Purchase + Free Shipping Online!

 

March 25, 2011 Posted by | SALES and PROMOTIONS, WhileBabyNaps General Updates | , , | 3 Comments

Medical emergency

Hi guys – I don’t have a lot of time right now, but I wanted to let you know that I am tied up due to a family medical emergency.

All orders will be delayed in shipping. I will resume shipping Friday and Sat, and all incoming orders will be out no later than Monday 3/28.  If this delay is unsatisfactory to you, I apologize and I am happy to fully refund any orders for those who purchased today 3/23.   Just convo me.

While I cannot discuss the medical emergency, my kids and husband are fine (thank God).

 

Thank you for understanding!

March 23, 2011 Posted by | WhileBabyNaps General Updates | Leave a comment

Glue bundling update…

I’ve had many requests about the glue bundled with frames.  Just a review, it was my intention to sell the glue ONLY bundled with my frames due to the hassles, expense, and time importing the glue.

However, I’ve been dragging my foot for 2 reasons and I’ve decided against it.  Here’s why:

1.  My goal has been to put women in business by teaching them a skill.   My PDF tutorials do NOT limit clutch-making to just my frames.  Never has.  You can buy any u-channel purse frame from any seller and make your own clutch.  With my bonus tutorial, you can learn how to make a template for any purse frame too.   The basic skill needed to make a clutch is what I wanted to teach women.  I could have done it in a way to restrict it to only my frames, but I wanted to democratize it so the tutorials have always have women how to make a clutch using any frames.

2.  If I sold the glue by bundling it with my frames, that would negate this ideal because that would bar other clutch-makers who buy frames from other sellers but need glue.   I take pride in providing everything to my customers to enable their success.  I’ve thought “why should I sell my glue that I have so much trouble importing to those who will buy frames from someone else?”.  And that’s a struggle since I love (and am admittedly biased towards) my frames. But if I sold glue only bundled with my frames, it goes against my mission of democratizing it and to teach women a skill that won’t limit them to just my goods.

It is because of this that I hope you understand why I’ve changed my mind about bundling the glue with frames.  I am very open about my policies and thoughts, and sometimes, it requires deeper thought before affecting a change.  I know many of you would like the lower cost of the bundled products.  In the next couple of months, I still may offer bundled frames+glue in addition to glue alone.  But I will not restricting the Gutermann glue only to those who buy my frames.  (I wish you would buy from me exclusively, but ….  the choice has always been yours to make and will remain so.)

Thoughts?  Comments?  Contact me at any time.

~Winn

March 21, 2011 Posted by | WhileBabyNaps General Updates | , , | Leave a comment

Shop alert: “For the times they are a-changin’…”

During the shop transition that we’ve been undertaking, I’ve kept you all in the loop in the past 2 months.  My goal has been to make it as seamless as possible for you.

But as Bob Dylan has said “For the times they are a-changin'” …

There have been a lot going on behind the scenes.  The business has grown exponentially and we’ve gotten a lot of good exposure for all the handbag makers and artisans.  Many of my handbag makers are now in crafts fairs and other selling venues and have been doing very well!  🙂  I’m so happy to see the success that many of you are having.  Thanks for letting me know about your success and for the kudos that I get from you.  It means a lot to me.

That said, there is a change in the business that is happening that I would like to let you know:  my other sister, Thy (pronounced “T”), has joined the business.  🙂  (Ummm, there are 5 of us girls, so yes, you see why I’m so “pro-women”!)  🙂

I felt this change needed to happen because the business has gotten so large that it needed more hands to handle your orders.  And it continues to grow.  I’ve been blessed with the Etsy business and that continues to be my preferred selling venue;  however, my big orders continue to rise in my webstore which I had before I opened the Etsy shop.

So here’s where it stands.

*I will do the main parts of the business until the foreseeable future:  answering emails and convos, marketing my handbag makers on multiple platforms (Facebook, Twitter, and my blog), product research, product design, product development, business relations, forecasting, and blogging on technical, sales, and marketing tips.

*Thy will be inspecting, packaging, and shipping out all orders from whilebabynaps.etsy.com and whilebabynap.com.

*Y (pronounce “E”) will be running the new business venture for upcycling my frames via my new shop that is to come:  PurseFramesOutlet.etsy.com.

In the meantime, both whilebabynaps shops will be operating at a minimum for 2 weeks.  On Etsy, I’ve de-activated many listings and will be only sending out what I’m able to send out timely.  I do not want to make promises I cannot keep, so I’ve only listed those frames that I have available to ship on time as per usual.  I’ve got all kinds of inventory trucking and in transit all over the country!

I’ve got a lot to do in the next 2 weeks, and your patience is not taken for granted.  Your support is truly appreciated.

In the growth of companies, no matter how small, bumps are likely to occur.  It is my hope that by restructuring it in this manner, it will allow me to keep the highest level of customer service to you.

Please convo me if you have specific frames that you need for custom orders.  I can put those custom orders together for you and let you know when they will be shipped.  I will be very transparent with you, as I’ve always been.

I am truly excited for the new business that I will launch:  PurseFramesOutlet.etsy.com.  This is a truly phenomenal product to add to your line of clutches and one that will enable you to get frames at a greatly discounted price and enables me to meet my company’s goal of up-cycling my frames.  It is an extension of my outreach to help other women who do not have the means to start their business.  I really think you all will be adding this to your line of products on your table, your booth, your online shop, or your local boutique.  The reviews on this product has exceeded my expectations:  it’s easier to make and cheaper in material costs.  🙂

Sneek Peak: the banner!

Talk soon~

Winn

March 20, 2011 Posted by | WhileBabyNaps General Updates | Leave a comment

Testimonials wanted…

Thank you very much for all your emails and convos about my shop!

Because I spend 2-3 hours a day on emails and convos, and 4-6 hours a week researching and blogging, 5-6 hours a week marketing and promoting your shops, I really strive to help you succeed in your business.  I’ve gotten really heartfelt and tremendous feedback that the advice and tips given has really helped.

I have asked many of you “may I use your comment as a testimonial?” to which 100% of you said “Absolutely!” “Sure!”

Since my webstore is private, my pro’s go in and order and leave without a whisper.  However, with my Etsy shop, the number one way I get business to stay in business is via feedback.  So I appreciate those of you who have left me private feedback about the products and/or customer service.

And here’s where I’m asking for your input and help: I get questions daily about shipping and other aspects of my shop.  Many of these are new to Etsy and have not worked with me yet, let alone any sellers on Etsy, and so I’ve not earned their trust.  However, through working with me, you all know I refund any Etsy shipping overcharge that over $1.  I back up my frames 100%.  I answer all your convos promptly.  I ship promptly.  We package your orders professionally.  I wouldn’t have the repeat customers that I do if it wasn’t for:

1) having the finest, highest quality frames that you can trust on the market

2) having the best, most transparent, consistent, and honest customer service

…. So, if you have would like to help me out, please submit your quick testimonial via the Convo/Contact feature at my Etsy shop. (I used to put my company’s email on here, and then those ‘bots’ started spamming my mailbox … *groan*).  If you’ve ordered from me, then you already have my company’s email, so you can send it there as well.

I would like to have a page of testimonials that I can refer those who have a doubt about whether or not I will refund their shipping Etsy overcharge, whether the PDF tutorial is easy to download, whether the frames are really the bee’s knees…

Find out how this phrase came about at http://lsned.com/facts/bees-knees/

Thank you to those of you who will spend the 5 minutes to send in your testimonials.  Your loyalty, your support, and your business, is truly appreciated!

March 17, 2011 Posted by | WhileBabyNaps General Updates | Leave a comment

How to turn your $100 of donation into $3500 worth of humanitarian aid!

In light of the horrendous disaster in Japan, I wanted to let you know of a great organization that my husband and I donate to for International tragedies and disasters.

Anyone looking for a great charity?

Here’s the top 3 reasons why you should consider AmeriCares and what I think makes them great:

1.  An astounding 98% of their overall expenses go to support their programs.  Only 2% is for adminstration and fundraising.  –> Your donations are well spent where it belongs!

2. They are an international disaster relief non-profit organization that focuses on providing, first and foremost, the medical care after a disaster strikes.

3.  For every $100 that you donate, AmeriCares is able to provide $3500 worth of humanitarian aid due to in-kind and matching donations from pharmaceutical and medical supplies companies.

So well before other worthy charities are on the ground with food and clothing, AmeriCares has already been there providing emergency medical aid.  They work with many other local organizations to coordinate their efforts as well.

Please go to AmeriCares.org to donate!

Interestingly, this great non-profit was founded in 1975 when a jet carrying Vietnamese orphans crashed and burned in the jungle.  While many perished, there were still survivors but the Pentagon would not have been unable to reach them for another 10 days.  Robert C. Macauley from Connecticut stepped in, chartered a plane, and rescued the young survivors who were safe in California after 48 hours.  He and his wife mortgaged their homes to pay the bills, but this was how AmeriCares was “borne”.

I love a non-profit organization that can run lean and I know that my donation will go directly to help those in need, and not towards paying for a swanky dinner for Hollywood starlets.  And I love that it gets our country’s name exposed positively to many during their times of crisis — it lets people know that Americans care through AmeriCares!  The name is genius!

Please consider this worthy organization for your charitable donation and see your $100 turn into $3500 worth of medical and humanitarian aid!

March 16, 2011 Posted by | WhileBabyNaps General Updates | , | Leave a comment

OSU Buckeyes

I just had to give a shout out to the Ohio State Buckeyes basketball team – the #1 seed in the March Madness that’s going on.  (And a shout out to my Ohio customers as well, especially those in Columbus, Ohio!)

And I should preface it by saying this has nothing to do with making clutches, and I’m not a ball fan of any sort.  I fall in that “mom-demographic” of gymnastics and ice skating … 🙂

But I would be remiss if I didn’t say anything about the #1 team in the country.  Having grown up a large chunk of my life in Columbus, Ohio, you are brain-washed and get an extra credit point for wearing “scarlet and grey” on game days – mainly football.  But with the infractions for Tressel (the high and mighty always fall … how disappointing), this basketball team is really something to root for!

This is a very good article about their #1 player, Jared Sullinger.

And the reasons I am posting this is because of the wonderful family he comes from.  I should know because his father, a life-long teacher, was one of my middle school teachers in Columbus, Ohio!  They are a great example of a tight-knit family who support each other and are just great models in our community.  Mr. Sullinger, the father, was a great teacher:  warm, inviting, kept us kids engaged on learning.

Another tidbit about why I am supporting my home team, and this goes wayyyyy back in the 1980s (Hello, BIG hair!  Hello, mall perms!), is that the former coach of OSU Buckeyes men’s basketball team, Eldon Miller, was my best friend’s dad.  We were in 7th grade and she and I just bonded and she was my best friend for years until she moved to Iowa.  Coincidentally, I would later go to Iowa for college!

GO Sullingers! GO OSU Buckeye basketball!

So as March Madness gets under way, I will be rooting for my “home” team!  And having been to 35 states for business and personal trips, I can’t even list the ones that I’ve been to and which ones I haven’t been to anymore …  But my husband’s been to all 50 states, and our family goal is to take the kids to all 50 states before they head off to college visiting as many family and friends as we can.  We have to shelve that for when we live abroad, but it remains a great goal to strive for, nonetheless.

Along with growing up in middle America of Columbus, Ohio, here are some of my favorites:

*falling asleep reading Glamour on the beach on Amelia Island,

*driving in my Suburban by rolling acres of hay in the Nebraska sunset,

*swimming in the warm natural springs and breathing in the cool mountain air of Colorado Springs,

*listening to Simon & Garfunkel while at the Roosevelt State Park in North Dakota,

*walking among the giant sequoias in California,

*visiting Elvis’s home in Tupelo, Mississippi

*having the experience of the worst motel in the US — the Curve Motel in Oklahoma panhandle — where I was dirtier getting out of the shower than going in!

… These experiences, and many more, were all done on my own … solo.  And I loved it.  I was building my corporate career but made time to enjoy the sites.  I met some amazing people!  I’ve seen gorgeous sunsets and vistas and have had many unforgettable experiences!

If you haven’t made it very far out of your home town or state, I would highly recommend spending your money on experiences, and not on “things”.  You will find that people are people everywhere.  (By that I mean, none of the rhetoric about “small town/big city”, “main street”, etc…  Every town has a main street and all parents want their kids to go to a good school!  Everyone wants their community to be the type of place where they leave their cars unlocked and they have BBQs with their neighbors.)

And you will see that the United States is. simply. amazing.

Enjoy your day!

March 15, 2011 Posted by | WhileBabyNaps General Updates | , , , | 2 Comments

Empowering Women: Why it should matter to you!

International Women’s Day – March 8th.  As someone whose company’s motto is “Putting Women in Business!”, this day of recognition of women on a world-wide level is one I wanted to take time to express my thoughts about.

I have found that by supporting women (from stay-at-home moms, work-at-home moms, unemployed women, college students, part-time graduates, retired grandmas, fully employed women with an corporate job/career, military wives, single moms, and many other women in all kinds as aspects in their personal and professional lives…) I have gained much more in return.  You will never lose by supporting another woman.

I have long advocated and tried to foster this camaraderie.  Instead of seeing other clutch makers as your competition, I have shown you scientific proof that by banding together and taking advantage of consumer behavior of “taste uncertainty”, you will increase your chances of making a sale.  It has been to my heart’s fulfillment that the Facebook fan page for WhileBabyNaps.Etsy.com has been filled with you leaving positive and congratulatory comments about each other’s work.

Here are a few recent ones:

So other than it positively affecting your pocketbook, why else should you support other women?  Because when we help women succeed, all of humanity succeeds.

Some things that bear this out:

1) Educating a girl one year beyond the national average boosts her earning power between 10 and 20 percent.

2) Countries with higher levels of female secondary-school enrollment have lower infant mortality, lower rates of HIV and AIDS infection, and better child nutrition.

3) According to the WEF, the US could boost its GDP by as much as 9 percent by putting more women in leadership positions in business and government and working harder to correct pay inequities.

4) Women still earn 33 cents less per dollar than men.

5) When women earn their own money, they spend on their families at more than twice the rate of men.

6) Worldwide, companies perform better and produce better ides when their highest ranks have gender diversity.

*Source: Newsweek, March 14, 2011. The Gender Metric.

Speaking of women, check out the issue of Newsweek on your newsstand featuring Hillary Clinton on the cover – politics aside – a trailblazer.  It was edited by who else?  Tina Brown!  Go Tina!  I like where Newsweek is headed under your direction.

I want to go back to point #5 above:  When women earn their own money, they spend on their families at more than twice the rate of men.

When women earn their own money …

When women earn their own money …

When women earn their own money …

This is where they can get their power and have control in their lives.

But I know that it takes money to make money.

It takes money to make money.

It takes money to make money.

You cannot start your own business unless you have cash (either a microloan, bank loan, angel investors, family loans or you happen to have a load a cash under your mattress) to buy your materials.  You can have all the bright ideas in the world and not get anything off the ground.

I have helped several women through my Etsy shop by donating frames and greatly discounting slightly marred frames so that they can make clutches for a church sale.    I have not promoted this because I simply cannot do it on a great scale.

Until now …

In the next two weeks, you will be hearing from me about a new launch helping all women.  Over a year of thought has gone into this new arena, tugging at my heartstrings, and I have come up with something that will:

*Give you another product to add to your line of clutches.

*Lower part of your materials cost.

*Lower start-up cost overall.

*Upcycles my slightly marred frames thereby reducing waste and energy by re-melting and re-making them.

*Allows women to start a business at their local school fair, weekend craft shows, church fundraisers and other community initiatives for a much lower cost.

*Easier to make and requires a lower level of skill than my classic clutches.

I am extremely excited about this new venture.  I hope you will be too!  I’ve got a lot to do still before it’s launched, but stay tuned!

Peace and Joy to all you wonderful women ~ Winn and Y.

March 12, 2011 Posted by | WhileBabyNaps General Updates | , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

Time saver: International shipping from your desktop printer!

When I started my business years ago, it was truly doing my home-based businesses “while the babies were napping”.  Hence … the name!

But with 3 kids within 4 years apart, it was a drag to go anywhere, especially for errands like the post office.  At one point, I had an baby in an infant carseat/carrier, and 2 boys in carseats.  It took 5 minutes just to buckle and un-buckle …  Now I’m down to 1 carseat and 1 booster!  🙂

So I figured that I could save time and my aching back by printing labels from my desktop printer for shipping most of my packages.  I spend $tens of thousands a year on shipping alone, so this one area has saved me hundreds of hours:  no standing in line, no guessing the shipping cost, no need to run to the post office!  Your mail carrier will pick them up daily when he/she delivers your mail.

For me, my oldest boy can now bring the packages and put them right on the counter while I’m in the minivan with the other two!  The kind folks at my local post office, (Glenn, Maggie and Nalani) sweetly refer to it as “cheap child labor”  🙂  but I think of it as “responsibility”.

The key to being able to do this is having a postal scale. I got mine years ago for about $20:  a desktop 35lb. max postal scale.  Here’s a better version of what I have that weighs packages up to 75lbs. for ~$23 on Amazon:

Postal scale is needed for International shipping and domestic US First Class shipping.

So here’s my step-by-step guide for saving you time for printing labels for International (non-US) shipments.

Step 1: Go to your Paypal account to start the process.  Click “Print Shipping Label”.

Note: I've blacked out a real customer's info. to keep it private, but all screens are actual.

Step 2: Here is the next screen.  Instructions are…

a) Select your service type:  Priority Mail International is the most economical and fastest for International customers.

b) Select package type:  I’m using “small flat rate” for this new customer.

c) Enter the weight of your package.  Even though it is a flat rate, international shipping requires a weight measurement.  Round up:  if it’s 12.5 oz, round up to 13 oz.

d) Select the mailing date that you are shipping – usually that day’s date.

e) Optional: type in a message to your customer if you wish.

f) Click “Continue”

Follow the steps...

This is what appears below once I have made my selections.  Notice the envelope that is required.  You can click on this hyperlink to order or skip if you already have it.  You can also pick one up at your local post office.  (I’ll come back to this at the end of this post.)

Same screen when finished - alerts you about the required envelope.

Step 3: Next screen

a) Enter a description ex. “Clutch handbag”

b) Enter quantity: 1 (*I always enter “1” because the total weight here in “d” has to match the weight that you entered on the previous screen.  Even if you are shipping 2 clutches, you do not need to enter 2 and figure out how much they weigh separately in order to add up to the same weight as the package.  Enter ‘1’ for quantity for the entire package.)

c) Enter value that customer paid for.

d) Re-enter the item weight as you entered on the previous screen.

e) Select Country of Origin.

f) Select your Category of Item as “Commercial Sample”.

g)  Check this box.

h) Click “Continue”.

Only do the lettered steps. Everything else is either not applicable or are optional.

Step 4: Click “Pay and Continue”

Next screen confirms your inputs.

Step 5: My Mac gets this alert pop-up.  If you get it, click “allow”.

You may or may not get this pop-up.

Step 6: Click “Print Label”.  System alerts you to the number of pages that will be printed.

NOTE:  Small flat rate Priority Mail International will always have only 1 page to print.

Medium and large flat rate Priority Mail International will have 2 pages.

If you've never printed a label from your desktop before, you may choose to print a sample label first.

Step 7: Next pop-up.  Click OK when done!

Click only after it has printed out successfully.

Additional hints: This screen appears after everything is done.

If you have any problems with the label not printing, click on the hyperlink “Reprint your label”.  Note there is no charge to reprint your label for up to 24 hours.

You can also void the label via the hyperlink contained below.

You can order FREE shipping supplies including the 2976-E envelope needed to finish your shipping.

Where to order the envelopes needed for international shipping.

When I clicked on the lower hyperlink for “Order free U.S. Postal Service(R) shipping supplies online” in the screen above, it led me directly to usps.com.

I entered in “2976-E in the “Store Search” and got them!

FREE supplies!

Proof that it's FREE!

Step 8: Sign your name and write in the date.

Printed label as it appears.

Step 9: Open your envelope and place in your printed label as such.

Put your printed label in first!

Make sure that it is centered.

Voila!

Step 10:  Remove the strips in the back.

Remove both strips.

Step 11:  Place on package with the label centered on your box.

Label is centered. Overhang of sticky back envelope shown is ideal.

Step 12:  Fold down stick back envelope onto your box.

Fold down the long sides first.

Step 13:  Finish with the other 2 sides.  You’re done!

If under 13 oz., you can drop these packages off in the blue drop boxes. Over 13oz. can be picked up by mail carrier or brought into the counter - no need to stand in line!

Regarding medium and large flat rate Priority Mail International packages:  the steps are the same, except you will have 2 pages printed out.  You will see that there will be 4 “half-pages” that look similar to the one above.  Sign all 4 copies and keep the “Sender’s Copy” for your files.

Hope this helps everyone!

March 10, 2011 Posted by | Helpful Tips | , , , , , , | 2 Comments

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