Why Should I Bother with Small Business Saturday?

 (or small businesses any day?)

I'll say up front that I am in on planning a Small Business Event with Peacock's Design & Consign (a local business), and my Etsy Crew, so I'm not completely without agenda as I write this. In fact, I want you to come to this event or one like it if you are not in the Tampa Bay area.



Christmas shopping... either you love it or dread it. I get anxiety when I can't find a parking spot or in crowded places so it's natural for me to do all my Christmas shopping online. Cyber Monday is my friend. I'm also pretty thrifty so I love a good Black Friday deal, but with the lines and frenzied pace, it's less tempting to me. So then we come to Small Business Saturday. 

It's relatively new. American Express started it in 2010. Now why would a credit card company care how you spend their money as long as you keep using that card? Well, they don't. However, getting more small businesses to accept American Express may have been a motivation. After all, they send out a sweet Small Business Saturday kit to businesses that register with them. Let's not dismiss it as a ploy though. Even though this began as a credit card thing, small businesses have championed the call to bring holiday shopping to local shops.


So what are we talking about when we use the term "Small Business"? Legally, a small business is defined as a business employing less than 500 people, so there is a great variety in how they can look and operate. My business is a one person operation that provides supplemental income for a stay at home mom. A friend works for a custom bathroom refit company that employs 300 people in three different states. 65% of new jobs are created by small businesses. They currently employ about half of the working population in the US. 


Interesting, right? But why should I venture out and spend my money at a small business?  I am so glad you asked, let me tell you! First of all, it's community. These businesses are run by your friends, your neighbors. Your money is staying local and supporting your town. A lot of businesses purchase supplies locally as well. Small business donate 250% more to local groups than the national retailers do. Our schools, our charities, our economy all fair better when we spend at local businesses. Small businesses also support a town's identity. It's sad how many strip malls with all the same stores can be found in town after town. We have to support the quaint stores and cute shops if we want them to stay open.

My favorite part of the small business experience is the shopping itself. I love to give unique gifts that are regional or just one of a kind. That's hard to find at the larger stores. And let's talk about customer service. When you deal with the creator of an item, they often feel personally responsible to make sure you're happy with their product. Returns, alterations, custom orders- usually not a problem and you get an answer back quickly.

Inevitably cost comes up whenever "hand crafted" is mentioned. This is another reason to get out and come to Small Business events like the TBEC one. When you talk to the maker and understand the quality you are getting and the time put into it, the costs are really reasonable. Sometimes I've found things even cheaper than in larger stores anyway and many sellers will bargain with you if you purchase several items. 

I think the main reason that people might not support small businesses is the convenience factor. It's true, Walmart is the only place open at 3 am when you have to go get toilet paper, but most of the time when we are shopping for other people or for an event, we know pretty well in advance. It just takes a little planning. Thanks to the magic of the internet it's easy to search for local places and even read reviews of them. The Etsy website has a cool feature where you can have it just show items available from your area. A lot of sellers will let you meet up with them locally so that would save shipping costs too. Shipping is one of the drawbacks of shopping online- the expense, the environmental costs, the time, and hoping it gets delivered to the right address undamaged.

I'll admit that I still plan on getting my son's major electronic Christmas present from a bigger chain, but I also plan on spending just as much, if not more, locally. Maybe, like me, you'll be out of town for Small Business Saturday. Any day can and should be a Small Business day so don't let the day or time of year limit you from getting out there and supporting your local small businesses.

What is your favorite small business? What reasons do you have for shopping locally?

Pinterest Community Boards: Being a Great Contributor


So you're thinking about joining a community board on Pinterest. The pins are great and it's a board theme you are totally into. You glance through it- not too many duplicates and you can already think of pins from your boards that would be terrific additions. You ask to join and are welcomed in. Now what?


Well, first off, go through the entire board if you haven't already. Try to notice what's already on there so you don't post duplicates. Nothing drags a board down quicker than seeing the same pins over and over again. Yes, even if you think your caption is better, resist repining.


Notice the tone of the pins. Is it a humor board? Are the pins primarily rated G or NC-17? Strictly one thing? If you ask to join a board you are telling the person that made that board that you wish to contribute within the parameters and topic they have set up. Stick with that. The board "owner" has the power to kick you off if you stray, but even if they choose not to, pinning off topic or inappropriate pins is rude to every other contributor and follower of that board. Don't do it.

Try to add pins that are linked to their creator or original site. Make sure the pin is not linked to a spam website. If necessary, change the caption to fit the pin. If you're not sure the pin fits the board, use the caption to state why it might. Pins should be of great quality- clear photos, proper spelling and punctuation, working links.


Part of the fun of community boards is that you're able to interact with each other. Leave (appropriate) comments. Like and repin freely. When someone comments on a pin you've added, it can start a great conversation when you reply back.


 Lastly, feel free to leave if the board doesn't live up to your expectations. It only takes one discourteous pinner to change the atmosphere of a board. You don't have to stick around. You can start your own community board! 


Hope this helps. There are so many social media outlets and the "rules" are often unspoken and vary greatly from site to site. Best rule of thumb though- treat others how you want to be treated!

What to do with all those pins!

I've got a fairly decent amount of vintage pins. Some I inherited, some are lucky thrift finds and a few were hard won on eBay. I hardly ever think to use them though. When I do remember though, I don't always want to put a hole in my clothing and sometimes I just can't figure out where to put it so it looks right. Occasionally I'll get it right, but mostly I just don't have the time to mess with it. 

My hair is super long right now and I find myself "bunning" it a lot. It's not my best look, but it's easy and cool and surprisingly in style this summer. I get a little bored with this look though, so I've been utilizing my pin collection to add a little interest to the look. 


Photo from my Instagram account, follow at http://instagram.com/thericharmedlife

So what do you think? Is this something you'd try out? If so, my only advice is to make sure the brooch is attached to both a pinch of hair and the hair tie, otherwise, it can slide out.

Here are some of my favorite pins on Etsy that I think would work well for this. All are under $50! (Just click the shop name in the caption and it will take you to the shop each brooch is in.)

Available at Neatstuff Antiques

Available at Moddities

Available at Lorenzo Mele

Available at Richarme

Available at The Vintage Curve

Available at Zeppola

Available at Sanibelsands Jewelry
Available at Jeanies Place

Online Group Etiquette


Congrats, how fun, you've decided to join a new online group! You have similar interests, you're networking, you're learning new things- the internet is amazing and full of new friends. Maybe the last group didn't work out so well or you've never joined a group before. Here are some tips for being a polite and considerate group member while you're jumping in.

1. Look before you speak. Scroll through the threads, see what topics have already been covered. If it's on Facebook, look at the Files tab. A lot of groups will have their page policies posted in there. It's good to know up front what the expectations of group members are. It's not a good first impression to start with a post that's not allowed in the group.

2. Notice the tone of the board. Is it playful? Is it strictly business? Take that into account when you start posting. Often posts that are not in step with the rest of the page get ignored. No matter what the tone, when you are new, you must be careful not to come on too strong. A first impression is hard to break, especially online. I'm not saying don't be yourself, just be your best self. In time, when you've made connections and aren't just a random poster, you'll know what's appropriate and how accepting the group will be of your inner freak. Give it a little time though!

3. Introduce yourself! We all lurk a bit, but don't go too long without introducing yourself. When you comment, people want to know who you are and if you know what you are talking about. A nice introduction will help with that. You want to include the name you like to go by and what has brought you to the group. People will not read more than  4-5 sentences, so keep it short. No one cares about your life story... yet. Here's an example:

 Hey all, newbie here! My name is Julia and I'm really excited to be part of this group. I have an Etsy shop that I sell vintage in. I've been dealing in antiques for almost a decade so I hope I can help others who have questions and also learn more about selling on Etsy.

Friendly, informative, readable- that's all you need.

4. Don't drop and run. I'm in a handful of Facebook groups and a moderator for two. It's really annoying when people only post when they want or need something. If you want the group to help you, you have to be around and an active part of the group. Even if you have nothing to say, you can like posts and comments. 

5. Look before you plan. So you've got a great idea- a project or an event. Look around, look at the event tab, and then ask if something's being, or been, done. It really steps on people's toes if they've been working on something and a newbie comes in and tries to take over or get people to jump to their idea instead. Most group leaders are thrilled when people take the initiative to plan things, but just check to see if it's not already being done.

6. Be nice and be positive. In my favorite group, we vent. It's sales and that can be frustrating. Our closed group is a supportive place to vent. However, if it was all venting, the negativity would be overwhelming, so we also use a lot of humor and encouragement as well as useful tools. It works. When you are new to a group, don't post only negative posts and definitely don't make antagonistic comments on other people's posts. You don't have to be Suzy Sunshine if you are naturally more of a Debbie Downer, just think before you post and try to imagine how it will come across to other group members. It's a great practice in diplomacy and self control. Later, once you've proven you are not a whack job, you'll be able to make more off the cuff comments, but in general, the internet would be a better place if we all used a little more tact anyway.

So what are some other helpful tips you'd give a group newbie? Made any rookie errors that are funny or that we can learn from?

Summer Daytrip

Took the kiddos to The Florida Aquarium for the day. We had a great time. We've been before, but the last time it was super crowded and I somehow forgot Jane's stroller, so I had to schlep her all over the place. This time, she was on wheels and that was a game changer. We got there right when it opened and almost had the place to ourselves. Here's some of the better photos we took:

The Florida Aquarium at Channelside in Tampa
 Julian loves all the hands on stuff
Crazy about sea dragons.
Lining up a great shot

Even baby girl had a wonderful time
Glowing moon jellies
Momma's got to have some fun too!

Right now Tampa Bay area McDonald's have coupons- "Buy an adult ticket, get a kid ticket free". LivingSocial is also running a deal right now. You can always save a couple bucks by buying your tickets online. To visit the official aquarium website go to http://www.flaquarium.org/

Nice Oyster

That is, nice SPINY oyster! What are you visualizing? If it's a clam type shell covered in long spikes, you correct. Here's one I have in my collection of shells.


Can you imagine stepping on one of these at the beach? Fortunately in modern times they inhabit the waters of the Pacific Ocean and not the Gulf of Mexico. These are actually in the scallop family and are sometimes called Spondylus, which is Latin for "spines on it's back".  Historically, these were used as currency in the early Andean culture. Now they are mainly found in southwestern, Native American type jewelries. Let's end this natural history lesson with a fun little fact. These often are born male and then change to female when they are older! 

I put together a treasury on Etsy that shows the range in jewelry that is currently available. View it here. Below are some of my favorites from it. 

From Navajo master silversmith Albert Jake, available at the Bugz Store

By Ecuadorian artists, La Perla, available at Organic Jewelry by Allie

Scott Grady ring available at Classic Southwest Jewelry Design

Spondylus more commonly called the Thorny Oyster

Read more : http://www.ehow.com/facts_5728030_spiny-oyster_.html
Spondylus more commonly called the Thorny Oyster

Read more : http://www.ehow.com/facts_5728030_spiny-oyster_.htmlS
Spondylus more commonly called the Thorny Oyster

Read more : http://www.ehow.com/facts_5728030_spiny-oyster_.html
Spondylus more commonly called the Thorny Oyster

Read more : http://www.ehow.com/facts_5728030_spiny-oyster_.html
Spondylus more commonly called the Thorny Oyster

Read more : http://www.ehow.com/facts_5728030_spiny-oyster_.html
Spondylus more commonly called the Thorny Oyster

Read more : http://www.ehow.com/facts_5728030_spiny-oyster_.html

India on my Mind

It is hot. Florida mostly is so this is no surprise. Still, my mind always goes to India when it's hot like this. It's the hottest place I've ever been. While I definitely remember the sweat, I can't help but also think about how bright and beautiful it can be. 

At a wedding in Bangalore
I've created an Etsy treasury of some of my favorite Indian pieces. Click here to see it. 

This awesome bag is from Seven Billion Buddhas.

Gorgeous photograph by LK Phipps available at their Etsy Shop
Isn't this mirrored and embroidered wall hanging versatile?! From Hunter Gatherer

Etsy Craft Party 2014 Recap

The big day went well! I'm not for outdoor events in the Florida summer, but even despite that I think everyone had fun. I did anyway. Here's some photos I snapped. My phone is pretty wretched for taking pictures, but I'm just glad I managed to snap a few. For more, better quality ones, go to the Tampa Bay Etsy Crew's Facebook page.


We had a nice variety of vendors- everything homemade or vintage!

The crafting area was most popular.

The craft demos were well received. I loved Crystal's yarn spinning one.

Packing it up at Built.
I was up at the Welcome area for most of the event so I got to meet a lot of TBEC members and tell interested guests about our group. I just hate that it was so hot and the second I get warm I go full sweaty tomato- not attractive! Anyway, after the success of this event, there's talk about adding a fall one and we're definitely already thinking about our Holiday Market.

Tampa Bay Etsy Crew's 2014 Craft Party




Can't believe this is just a few days away! I'm looking forward to it so much. I love getting to meet my Crew members and see their wares. One of my favorite roles as a TBEC team member is matching up sellers and customers so these events let me check out a lot of stuff in person. It makes me feel more confident when I give a recommendation.


I also love meeting up with the friends I've already made in the Crew. When I started TBEC, I never, ever would have dreamed it would be something that would so impact my life, but I've made real friends and learned so much about leadership and event planning and marketing and much, much more.


For more info or if you have questions about the Craft Party, click HERE.

St. Patrick's Day... and all

(Whenever I don't post for a long time, I feel the need to apologize for my absence. So sorry, all two of you who read. =p)

It's St. Patrick's Day! We'll all wear green, but what we really get happy about today is it's my dad's birthday. Wish he was here to celebrate it with us. (No, he's not departed, he just lives on the other side of the world.)

Some other random green musings:

  •  I made a fun treasury for my Etsy team. Click on this link to view it.
  • There will be no green beer for us today. I'm watching my sugar and my awesome hubs shared a shamrock shake with me yesterday, so I'm trying to recalibrate things today. Not to mention, green beer is just gross.  
  • I'm a big fan of Marvillosa Jewelry and this is my favorite piece in that shop right now. It's not Irish, but I'm more into the Scot thing anyway.

https://www.etsy.com/listing/118549337/scottish-thistle-sterling-silver?ref=sr_gallery_17&ga_search_query=tbec+celtic&ga_ship_to=US&ga_search_type=all&ga_view_type=gallery

  • St. Patrick’s Day is observed on March 17 because that is the feast day of St. Patrick, the patron saint of Ireland. It is believed that he died on March 17 in the year 461 AD.
  • Legend says that each leaf of the clover means something: the first is for hope, the second for faith, the third for love and the fourth for luck.
And that's all I got. Hope it's a good day and you don't get pinched or leprechauned on.

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