Clutch-Me.Com

Learn. Make. Sell. All about clutches.

Sad start to Summer

I hope you all are doing well busy with summer holidays and bustling with activity!  Is it just me or is summer as a grown-up is just not the same as it was as a kid?  So much responsibility and if you have kids, it’s all about them, isn’t it?  Thank GOD for teachers!  It’s this time of the year when you whole-heartedly know that they are underpaid.

With end-of-school events and activities, I have been the busiest I’ve ever been.  Living an expat life means you get to meet amazing people and develop these friendships that are temporary by nature of the situation we are all in.  There have been many goodbye parties and many hopes that I will see these wonderful friends whom I’ve met.  My family and I are still in Viet Nam for perhaps another nine months or so.  Our path ahead is unclear.  On top of that, I’ve been sick.  I don’t know if it was by some Grand Design, but I got dengue fever therefore missing out most of the tearful goodbyes.  It felt like I had the flu for 4 weeks, but with worse headaches and body aches!  The flu would have been a walk in the park.

Then my paternal Grandmother just passed away this week.  No, this is not the maternal Grandmother who raised me and whom I visit weekly and whom I blog about.  My paternal Gram, “Ba Noi”, lived in Da Nang and we visited her twice a year.  Nonetheless, in the short time that we’ve been here and the times my kids got to spend with their Great Gram of Da Nang, she really enjoyed them and they loved her.  They were quite sad to hear she had passed but I had prepped them in the previous visit regarding her condition.  They handled it quite well.  My son Ethan summed it up best, “Well, at least she had a long great life”.

So this afternoon, I will board the plane to attend the funeral for her.  But I will go knowing what Ethan had told me.  I will be with a lot of family, many aunts and uncles and dozens of cousins and nieces and nephews.  So I’m okay.  The beach will have to wait for another time.  And I will be back to blog about clutches soon enough.  🙂

In tribute, here are some pictures of her.  RIP Ba Noi.

Ethan has an amazing love and connection with older people.

Ethan has an amazing love and connection with older people.  Here he is communicating with his Great-Gram.  He doesn’t speak Vietnamese and she doesn’t speak English.  It works somehow.

BN 1 IMG_1284

Since I’m always the one with the camera, I wasn’t able to take a great pic. But this captured the love just as much. Here she is kissing my hand.

From April, 2012.  Hayley, Noah, Great-Gram Khuong, Ethan.

From April, 2012. Hayley, Noah, Great-Gram Khuong, Ethan.

Hope you and yours have a great weekend.

xo Winn

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June 28, 2013 Posted by | WhileBabyNaps General Updates | , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Fabulous Fabric Clutches

That’s the actual description of Catherine’s shop, FabByCab, home to a variety of handmade clutches.  I like Catherine’s roomy clutches and sumptuous linings.  Her linen clutch wristlets are exemplary little pieces of art.

Who doesn’t like this little birdie?

Got an empress on your Christmas list?  This inner lining is a perfect complement.  Just beautiful!

This OOAK clutch features Windsor Castle. Any Kate fans out there? 🙂

Lastly, Catherine just debuted many fabulous plaid clutches that are just in time for the holidays and the winter season.  You don’t have to a Scotsman to love these plaids!  They go well with jeans, red/grey/black sweater and black winter boots!

One of the many plaid clutches new to Catherine’s shop.

Go check Catherine’s shop out!  She’s got many ready to ship to you for holiday gift-giving!

November 29, 2012 Posted by | SALES and PROMOTIONS | , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Clutches from HCMC, Viet Nam

Hi everyone!  It’s been a month since I’ve blogged, but as you all know too well, life happens.  🙂

It’s been a very, very busy time of the year for me and the family.  Two of my kids had their birthdays and that means me making egg-free cakes since my oldest son has an egg allergy.   I love many things about Ho Chi Minh City, my temporary home for another 2 years, but the one thing I detest is the shopping.  😦  It’s terribly inconvenient.  Just finding vanilla extract took trips to three different stores, and after giving up, my dear friend Dutch friend Zita had some to spare for me!  Thank goodness for friends and neighbors in this expat community.  Target and Costco would make a killing in this town.  🙂

Hayley turned 6! She wanted a princess castle cake.

I found tips from amazing bloggers on the Internet to make this cake.  I could not find any grocery stores that sold ice cream cones here!  My husband flagged down a street vendor who was selling ice cream and bought them off of him.  I made  fondant out of strawberry flavored marshmallows.   The best thing?  My son could enjoy this cake along with all the kids without fear of an allergic reaction.

Ethan (second from left) turned 10! He had a party at the house and invited 4 of his friends over for a swim party.

He finally outgrew the “theme” cake. Since one of his friends has an allergy to food coloring(?), his egg-free cake was plain with sprinkles to make the number. Simple!

I have also continued to do my weekly visits to my Grandma, who does relatively well for her old age.  I am very thankful for the visits and the many talks that I have with her.  Nothing brings me more joy than to see her smile, like she is in the pic below.  Her eyes absolutely light up when my kids are around.  Sometimes I go by myself, and sometimes I’ll bring one or two of the kids with me.  The bumpy trip in traffic has made my middle child prone to carsickness.  Noah hurled coming home from one trip and when Hayley looked over, she vomited as well.  Lucky for Ethan’s quick reaction, he bolted up and managed to avoid the calamity.  And he was seated in between them!

Ethan taking a nap at his Great Gram’s. 🙂

My Grandma’s health is off-and-on but not as precarious as she was last October.  She has a keen mind and still runs the show.  We try to make her comfortable and happy.  She only asks for visits and a little money to donate to the local temple.  She gives me fruit (mango, pomelo, guava) every time I come and visit.  She also tells me to stay out of the sun, which is quite impossible with three active kids.  Not to worry, I use SPF 50 on them and myself every day.

I had time to go to a trade show where local artisans showcased their talent.  I was most impressed by the emerging rice art displayed there.  Below are artwork made by a local firm that employed disabled people.  The director was a young lady who just recently graduated from university and started her own company!  Her employees use rice that has been roasted to different shades to meticulously create the designs.  The rice is adhered by a proprietary eco-friendly glue.  It was really striking artwork.  I was really impressed with this young visionary who found her passion while at the same create jobs for those who often have a next-to-impossible task of finding suitable employment.

The Mac Daddy – Steve Jobs.

Rice grains close up.

The eternal beauty of Marilyn Monroe.

An aficionado’s item.

Whatever little time I had left, I had to do more errands.  On a trip to get my daughter a toy cell phone for her birthday, I saw some cute clutches sold in local accessories shops in downtown Ho Chi Minh City.  They do not allow photography but I had to break the rule and whip out my point-and-click and snapped some candid shots!

Coin clutches at a local HCMC shop. The owl is too cute!

Fancier evening clutches at another shop.

The Union Jack one was awesome! Would have been great for the Diamond Jubilee.  The pleated navy one was very well made.

Completely adorable!  The owl here was a knitted design.  Genius!

School is out so I will be busy with the kids every day.  My youngest sister is also here visiting for 7 weeks so it’s full at our house.  I can only work once the kids are in bed at 8pm.  Most of you with young kids may be experiencing the same thing that I am:  how to keep the kids busy and how to limit their time on electronics!  We have a couple of trips planned:  South Korea for 5 days and the US (NJ, IL, IN, and WI) for 2 weeks.  I think the travel and jet lag will really age me and test my patience, but traveling is a nice problem to have!

Until next time, I will update the tutorial in some key measurements.  You already know how to adjust the measurements and how to make your own pattern from my bonus tutorial, but I will make a permanent change since I like the fuller look of clutches.  As always, I will let you all know about it here first.  So if you haven’t already done so, subscribe to get the email update when that happens.  The update will be free for all of you who bought the clutch tutorial.  For your convenience, it’s the same password as was sent to you when you bought the tutorial.

Lastly, I’ve had 5 versions of a clutch for the 12×3.5 frame but I haven’t found a way to make it easy to make, so it might entail a new tutorial for that size bag, altogether.  I will give it one more attempt before doing a whole new and different tutorial for that size alone.  I have been working on different patterns and sewing steps to simplify it while making the template printable from your desktop printer without any scaling.  Just print and go like the other tutorials.  I’m not quite there yet.

Until next time, I hope you all are having an enjoyable summer.  Remember to wear sunscreen!  🙂  ~Winn

June 17, 2012 Posted by | WhileBabyNaps General Updates | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Tips for your digital camera

I get asked questions about how to improve many shop’s listings and product photos.  I have helped several shops make improvements on their photos and their sales have increased.  While my talent in photography lies in close-ups of jewelry, I continually work on developing my other skills.

One of my favorite shots from my jewelry shop. So sparkly.

However, I currently only use a simple point-and-click digital camera that is about 7 years old.  It’s a little dented and is not fancy but does the trick.   It’s not doing justice to my wide shots, in low-light conditions, or shots with any movement since I have no shutter speed to work with but for a straightforward, non-moving target, I get a lot out of an old cheap camera.

Sometimes I can time it right and get an "action" shot.

I use iPhoto on my Mac to straighten, sharpen, brighten the shadows and the overall exposure.  Sometimes, all I need to do is hit the “Enhance” button and instant improvements are done!  However, if I start with an out-of-focus, badly lit shot, there’s not much I can do.  But here’s a sample of where a little straightening (ok, a lot), cropping and better exposure can improve a terrible photo.

Before. I was laying on my side trying to snap the view. Makes you kinda dizzy...

After

For your clutch shop, I recommend taking time to set up the shot before you snap.  In fact, the majority of your effort should be spent on setting up the shot with the right lighting, backdrop, and positioning.  Here’s one of my favorite shots of my clutch kits.

I sell a lot of these kits because it's a good clutch, but also due to the photo. It's a good angle and shows off the clutch well with good focus on the subject. You can even see the texture of the fabric.

I just ran across an article on camera tips so click on the pic below to get to that article.  I hope it’ll help you in your picture taking!

Click to read full article.

If you’ve got any good tips, I would love to hear them!

~Winn

May 2, 2012 Posted by | Helpful Tips | , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Big changes coming for consumers and retailers…

I swear Jack Dorsey doesn’t need the additional press, but I just love where he and the team at Square are headed.  It’s going to revolutionize the transactions between retailers and consumers.

Over a year ago, I blogged about how you can easily and without any upfront costs accept credit cards via SquareUp.  Read this post to refresh.  I further expanded on that with crucial business tips for you at this post.  I then updated you with SquareUp’s changes allowing you to accept more than $500/month.  (This was my sticking point.)

So now comes an industry changer.  Square is coming to replace registers nationwide.  (Click on image to get to full article.)

This will change customer's expectations, and therefore, behaviors.

Why does this matter to you?  Because:

1. The majority of merchants in the US will buy and use a tablet or a mobile Point of Service device.  This means you, the consumer will start to see this in stores like bookstores, coffee shops, boutiques, bridal salons, nail salons and the like.  You, the consumer will become acquainted and trust this new way of paying for your goods and services.  The old register will be seen as antiquated because of the ease and flexibility of a mobile point of service device.  It’s like that kitchen phone that hung on the wall with the spiral cord that always got twisted and you had to untwist it (that was kinda fun, though).  It was the central location to make your calls but you were tethered to it.  Even house phones of today are cordless.  We wouldn’t even think of buying a phone with a cord.  Not sure if they sell them anymore….   If you have been to an Apple(R) store lately, you will see that they use a mobile POS.  It’s really amazing how easy and consumer-friendly it is.  You no longer feel like cattle at the trough.

2.  Because you, the consumer, don’t have to carry that amount of cash (who wants a Constanza wallet? 🙂 ) you can buy more knowing that merchant at the crafts fair will accept your credit card.  The average transaction is $75!!!  Research has shown that transactions are larger (ie people buy more) when they use a credit card vs. cash.  So a mobile POS device can also increase your dollars collected.

So because of Square coming into shops in this year to replace the register, you can expect that the adoption of the SquareUp device will ramp up quickly.  If you are showing your clutches at an Arts Fair or Craft Show, I highly recommend getting a SquareUp device.  It’s free, it’s easy and you start accepting credit cards with your mobile phone.  You will have an advantage over other sellers if you accept credit cards and they don’t.  What’s more?  You don’t have to shell thousands of dollars for the upkeep of those machines, buy ink, buy paper, etc…  You don’t have to spend anything to start accepting credit cards.

Good luck and if you’ve tried it, convo me and let me know how it has worked for you.  If you haven’t, then why not?

~Winn

March 6, 2012 Posted by | Helpful Tips | , , , , , , , , , , | 9 Comments

Coming this week: PDF revision for the clutch tutorial – free update with your password

I like to think I’m ahead of the guys over at Rovio who make Angry Birds.  Do you know how they give you free updates such as “Ham ‘O Ween” as long as you purchased the original Angry Birds?  Except when it’s completely new and different, like Angry Birds Rio, then you have to buy that new game.

So where am I going with this, other than you all now know that I play Angry Birds?  Well, I just updated the clutch tutorial and wanted to let you all know first!  I’ll be back with a post when it’s updated on this blog, but it’s coming out this week.  PLEASE wait until I say “go” to download.  It’s not up yet so I don’t want you to waste your time.  🙂

The hard copies will not be available for another week.  We have to send it to our guy, a professional printer.  He uses 70# ultra-white paper.  His ink is incredible.  The booklet is so thick that we have to use a commercial stapler to staple it together!  Yes, every booklet is cut and assembled by hand.  As always, the tutorial and templates are formatted to be printed on regular 8.5×11 without any need for you to rescale.  You just click on the links, download and print.

I have been working really hard to incorporate some of the hints that I have blogged about here.  I have rewritten almost 80% of the entire tutorial and I have 95% new pictures that are bigger and more detailed.   What I’ve written in the new updated tutorial are basically the shortcuts and time-saving tips that I employ in making clutches myself.  I think they will help you.

What you will get with this update:

*Tips to improve your craftsmanship and productivity.

*2 options on how to make a clutch:  with a bottom seam (my favorite way), and without a bottom seam (makes for quick work and good for smaller clutches)

*A shortcut that will minimize the wrinkling of the fabric and allows for easier insertion into the frame

*Pictures on how to insert the frame

*Tips on what interface to use

Take a peek:

More pics, more tips, and learn how to make a clutch in 2 ways!

The new updated tutorial has also been formatted as a booklet as was before.  This was designed so that it will allow you to flip each page per step and not take up a lot of space at your sewing table.

How do you get this update?  If you bought the PDF tutorial, you were sent the password with your order.  It’s a really detailed (some say long-winded) email saying “Keep your password” as all updates to this tutorial and templates are free as long as you have your password and if you don’t have your password for any reason, it will cost you $5 to resend it.  So I hope you heeded it.

If your laptop was stolen (yes, that happened to a customer last week), it crashed and you didn’t back it up (PCs all the time…), you lost it or for any other reason, then order this listing shown here:

This is only for previous buyers who need their password.

These updates, revisions, and new templates are always free to you as long as you keep your password!  I am working on a template for the 12×3.5 size frame.  It’ll be a big bag – perfect for winter and overnights – and I’m trying to make sure the template can be printed out without any scaling on regular desktop 8.5×11 printer paper.  Quite the task since the 10×3 required splitting it into 2!  🙂

So be on the lookout and I’ll be back to give you all the “go”.

Warmly-

Winn

February 20, 2012 Posted by | WhileBabyNaps General Updates | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Valentine’s Day and Etsy Treasury Lists

Anyone else notice the home page of Etsy with the top bar for Valentine’s Day suggestions?  Have you got your Valentine’s day promotions out?  Do you have clutches that can be given as gifts for Valentine’s Day?

Here’s a treasury that recently made it on the front page of Etsy that I really liked.

Blush pink is just beautiful!

There are lots of treasuries being made for Valentine’s Day and I will be making one featuring only clutches.  As you know, many items featured in treasuries that make the front get sold!   It will feature clutches from some of the clutch makers on the Sellers page.  I’ll give instructions and let’s try to get it noticed and in the hands of many!

February 3, 2012 Posted by | WhileBabyNaps General Updates | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Facebook fanpage new album

Check out the new album of clutches.  As usual, I will be promoting these on Twitter @PurseFrames as well.

One quick note:  Valentine’s Day is fast approaching.  I am targeting the male audience for clutch makers via the Facebook fanpage and Twitter.  (The majority of readers of my blog are female so I’ve got to spread the love and get some guys to look at clutches as an option for gift giving to the lucky girls!)  So post your clutches or sales aimed at Valentine’s Day at the fan page.  Think reds and pinks!

A selection of well-crafted handmade clutches from various sellers. Available NOW for purchase.

I am trying a new image capture in order to garner you more viewers for your clutches at your shop.  By cropping in your photos, I am able to give a better view of your clutches at the same tantalizing the viewer to see more by clicking on the photo.  The hyperlink will take them to the home page of your Etsy shop where they can take a look at ALL your shop’s offerings!

I hope you will see increased views of your Etsy shop from my efforts.  Each bag will be promoted individually via Twitter.  I am really focusing on well-crafted clutches (and clutch wallets and Reversible Patchwork bags, too).

Be back soon!

~Winn

January 15, 2012 Posted by | WhileBabyNaps General Updates | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Arts and Crafts Fairs info for Fall 2011.

I know many of you have heeded my advice and have registered to show and sell your clutches at local/regional arts and crafts fairs.  I wanted to update you on some good information that my sister Y, who helps run PurseFramesOutlet.Etsy.com, has provided.  As you know, PurseFramesOutlet is literally our sister shop where we sell upcycled purse frames that did not meet our QC process.

Here is a great article on the pro’s and con’s between juried and non-juried arts and crafts show.  This author does a superb job explaining the difference and  offering you great tips to get your clutches ready for a juried show.  Personally, I prefer juried shows because:

*It’s a good bang for your buck!  In addition to selling some merchandise there, you can advertise and promote your clutches as having been accepted to show at XY juried show.  That is a great plus!

*The quality is built in.  Juries have screened all vendors and have a good mix there.  As a jeweler as well, I’ve been to shows where I would be up against 25 other jewelers!  Juried shows balance out the type of vendors showing providing the right mix.

*Juried shows typically have higher-priced goods sold.  (Their entry/table fees are typically higher so that weeds out many.)  This allows you to sell your clutches at very competitive prices.  You will also see that you are often the only 1 of 2 handmade clutch makers there.  This is still in its infancy.

“Juried” shows just means that a jury of people (2 or more judges comprised of other artists or people who know about the crafts) pick out who they let in to be a seller/vendor at their show.  They have to balance the types of vendors at their venue, pick out the best vendors, and weed out any suppliers who do not meet their criteria.  ALL shows that I’ve been to have had a plethora of jewelry vendors.  Seeing a clutch handbag maker at a show is like seeing a panda:  there’s just not that many of them and you have to be at the right place.  So your chances of being accepted into a juried show is great!

Here is a list of the Editor’s Picks on the best Juried Crafts Fairs in the country.  Click on the hyperlink or pic to see if there is one near you.  Dates are also listed.

Is there one near you?

This is also another good source.  The Art Fair Calendar and the Artist Galleries do not require a paid subscription to view.

The following are links to the top 3 places to find an art/craft festival near you.

1.  http://festivalnet.com/ – We like this because it also lists Puerto Rico, Canada, and the Virgin Islands.  Who’s going???  🙂

2. http://www.artfaircalendar.com/

3. http://www.fairsandfestivals.net/ – Click on the map to find one in your state.  This also has awesome resources and articles such as “What Makes a Crafts Show Successful?”

There are also many of you who sell specifically to the bridal market.  Here are two resources for bridal shows!

1. http://afwpi.com/shows/index.html – This is the big kahuna.  You can find bridal shows all over the world!  Asia, Australia, Europe, Africa …  (I’m name-dropping for my international customers!)  🙂

2. http://www.herecomestheguide.com/fair/ – This is limited to California, Chicago, and Washington DC.  California is HUGE for the bridal market!

I always love a good arts and crafts fair.  Nothing like wearing a pair of comfy shoes, cold iced coffee in hand, and walking from booth to booth.  I LOVE talking to the vendors and artists.  Love hearing their vision, passion, and knowledge of their craft.  Here is one of my favorite purchases, bought 8 years+ ago at an arts fair in New Jersey.

Handmade by 2 great ladies. Made from scraps of upholstery fabric. The fringe is luscious. This thing weighs a ton and keeps me toasty!

I hope the links provided are helpful to you.  Have some fun on a Sunday afternoon by going to your local crafts fair!  Bring cash  🙂

September 14, 2011 Posted by | Helpful Tips | , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

   

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