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Archive for February, 2010

I read an interesting article on the Storque blog this morning. It was called Three Tips for Using Wholesale or Trade Shows to Boost your Biz, written by Megan Auman and Tara Gentile of  Crafting an MBA and Scoutie Girl .

Now I am no where close to be doing trade shows but I think they hit some very interesting points in their article that could be applied to building your business in general.

One of the points they made was “If you can’t show interest in the people who are perusing your booth, you should reconsider doing shows.” Which basically comes down to customer service. You can have the most beautiful, original product in the world but if customers hate buying from you because of your poor customer service they won’t come back.  Good customer service leads to repeat orders and new orders from word of mouth. That is free advertising.

It’s not hard to have good customer service. It boils down to listening to your customers. Even if you can’t do or don’t have what they want but let them know you heard what they needed they will have a positive experience. You can always do a custom order or maybe add to your produce line if they had a great idea. But first and foremost people want to know they were heard. This applies to everything by the way. In my day job I work with people with disabilities and some have brain injuries. They sometimes will go on a rant about their situation or something that happened. More often than not you can’t do anything to make that situation not happen again but they are frustrated. Just listening and acknowledging their situation will make them feel better and feel heard.

In the article the first main tip was about building your brand. I know as a buyer when I look at sites and stores that have cohesive design I stay to look at more. As well I feel more comfortable buying from someone whose site flows well and looks professional than someone’s who isn’t.

An example of this is a few months ago I ordered mineral make up samples from two stores on etsy. One had their store and branding done really well, ie: great clear photos, logo on everything, etc. The other didn’t have great photos or a clear brand on their site. The branded store was a little more expensive than the poorly. When I received the items, the branded store had sturdy packaging and professional labels on the samples. The poorly branded store shipped the items in a flimsy paper envelope with tape all over it and hand written labels on the baggies. All of this made me want to try the well branded product first which I really liked. I didn’t even bother with the other products once I found the colours that suited me from the first store. I’m sure the second store had great products as well but as a buyer I feel more comfortable buying from the first.

The second tip was about using the “two-foot rule”. When I was studying retail design in my interior design program they taught us store the front windows and the facade was what drew people into the store and the most interesting design elements should be there. Once they are in you want to keep their attention but getting them into the store is the biggest challenge. You want to draw people to your store so your most interesting products should be the ones in your banner, avatar, displayed on top in your blog and featured in your store. Those are the ones that make the buyers stay to look at the rest of the stuff you have. If your current items you are featuring are not working for you, maybe you should change them. If you notice the store fronts in the malls, you will notice that they change the products in their store fronts often. Think about doing the same for your online stores.

The third tip in the article was to ask people to visit your booth prior to the show. This can be applied to your online store by e-mailing or sending a newsletter to your past customers when you have a new line of products they may be interested in. I don’t think sending out an e-mail every time you have one new item is advisable though. That can be looked on as spam. When I’m on twitter I notice that a lot of people post about each new item in their store. Personally I find that annoying. More often than not they don’t even say what the product is. I’m a very new twitter user and still trying to figure everything out so I’m not sure how this falls as online etiquette but that how I feel. Let me know what you think.

Be sure to read both Megan Auman’s and Tara Gentile’s blogs. They are very interesting reads with lots of interesting information and points of view. You can find them at Crafting an MBA and Scoutie Girl .

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I love dyeing fibre. I get to putter around the kitchen and mix things and get something beautiful at the end.

When I started dyeing I started with weak acid dyes. They work really well and you get great colours.  When I was studying Interior Design we had a colour theory class where we were given a colour sample and we had to get the same shade through mixing primaries and white and black. It was lots of fun and I always got the shade.  Dyeing with acid dyes was similar, you could pretty much apply the same theories to get the colour you wanted. Not exactly because there is no white but you could play with the concentration to get the tint you wanted.

Then I started to read about natural dyes. I loved how the colour of the dye did not necessarily give the same finished colour. Also depending on what you mordanted with, you would get a different colour. You could change the colour again after with a different treatment. It opened up a whole new world. One dye giving material could produce many different colours.

It also appealed to me that this is the method that has been used to dye fabric for thousands of years.  The colours are more earthy and not as pure as synthetic dyes but they also don’t look as fake. They are truly more natural.

Up until now I have not been documenting my dye experiments. I have been thinking that I need to have a recorded sample book of the different colours I produce. If I want my products to be repeatable I need to have dye formulas. So I have designed a dye experiment.

I have 10 dyes materials in my cupboard: henna, cutch, lac, alkanet, osage, cochineal, logwood, madder, marigold and indigo. The wool will first be split in half, half will be mordanted with alum, the other with iron. Each mordanted wool sample will be dyed with each dye except indigo. Indigo does not need mordanting and follows a different procedure. Each dye sample will be blended with the other dye samples. For example, alum + henna will be blended with alum + cutch, an other alum + henna sample will be blended with iron + lac, etc. Each sample will also be overdyed with indigo.

So for each dye there will be a pure sample each mordanted with alum and iron, a sample overdyed with indigo and a sample blended with each of the other dye samples. At the end I should have a huge range of colours.

Later I can redo the experiment with different concentrations of the dyes but this will be a great starting point. It will take many dyeing days but it will be fun. I will of course be posting about each one and the final finished colour binder.

So stay tuned for the great natural dye experiment!

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Hello everyone!

I have thought about starting a blog lately. I’m in the concept and development stage of starting a small business so I thought I would write  about it. The business would be called Naturally Woven and I would be making handspun, handwoven items and accessories out of naturally dyed natural fibers.

I will mainly be writing about interesting articles I come across in my  research, natural dye experiments and ideas for my products, lists of things I still need to figure out and whatever else I think might be related.

This will be a journey. I think it will be exciting and fun and I know I will be learning a lot.

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