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Saturday, 27 July 2013

Interview with business owner Studio 21

Handmade N Beyond spoke with Creator of Studio 21 
Meet Surbhi Mathur the Creator behind Studio 21. Hold a full time Job and creates her passion on the side.

Business: Studio 21        

                                 Name: Surbhi Mathur

How did you get your start?.....

 I love making handmade gifts for my friends and family. Basically I am a finance graduate but my love for crafts was never ending. I joined a handicraft export house and I use to sit for hours with designers and I always use to observe them how they work. Then after 2 years I wanted to do something of my own. I designed few picture frames and put them on social networking sites and guess what they were all SOLD…that inspires me a lot..!! Recently we came up with our brand called “Studio 21”…and it’s doing quite well…

What INSPIRED you and WHEN

I am very active on social networking sites and I have a hobby of liking crafting and creative pages on Facebook. When I look at the pictures and read about women entrepreneurs. It inspires me to work more and more. I started my own venture in 2010 and launched it again in 2013 and now giving my 100% in this.
Do you have formal training? Not at all…it’s all in genus I guess…J I’ll give full credit to my mother for this and of course to my husband who supports me a lot..!!

What is your day job?
I am working in a MNC as a process developer I love both my jobs..:)
What's the best part of having your own business?...Creative ideas all around and yes no boundationsssss and people call u “ENTREPRENEUR ” (sounds exciting        )

How do you plan for the future of your business?  
As of now I am looking

As an Artist, what is your biggest frustration?
Pricing…and yes payments. I do have many payment options but still sometimes I get stuck in getting my payments on time. It feels bad and frustrating..     
Are there any crafters/artists/designers that you particularly look up to? 
I keep on visiting many Facebook pages and by looking at their handwork I feel inspired to work more more more. But personally I am not in touch with anyone.     
What advice can you offer other creative people who are just starting out and following their passions? 
Dream Dream Dream…keep ur mind open and let the creative ideas come in and do ur best. People will definitely going to appreciate ur work one day..thats my personal experience and if u fail, accept it and try again..don’t stop

How can fans purchase your work? Do you take custom orders and special requests?
You can visit our page on facebook,Studio-21 or mail us at and let us know ur requirement. We can customise our products according to your requirement. You are on and indiebazzar also. Visit us there..!! J

Sunday, 21 July 2013

Customer Service For Handmade Selling

This week I am going to talk a little bit like being the customer buying the art.

Do you go that wee bit extra for your customers? We all try to impress our customers who come to our shops, whether online or otherwise,with our shop banners, our carefully pieced together collages, our labels and other methods of getting our names remembered,and the descriptions we write about our beautifully, handcrafted items and of course the items themselves.But it shouldn't stop there! What do you do to make sure your customers become return customers?

Customer Service-its something we are all familiar with and it is a Priority of Practically every company,but some miss the mark and others exceed expectations. It is customer after all who helps your Business Grow.

 With these tips, it will be easier  to serve  the customer in a way that everyone is satisfied.An artist selling their work wants the customer to be pleased with their purchase. They do not want to sell you something faulty or something you do not really want. They put a lot of time and effort into their product, and they want it to find a great home.artists have special skills and work very hard at their craft. More often than not they are trying to put a roof over their family’s heads and food on the table. Some artists will do custom orders. Be clear  regarding what they are looking for. Be prepared to take a significant down payment. A custom order should be treated as a professional transaction with a contract with both parties agreeing to each step of the process. You would not be surprised that a contractor remodeling your house would require down payments, contracts, and confirmation regarding what you are looking for. A custom order is no different when working with a professional artist.

Ask questions. You have the right to know what you are purchasing. Often times art can be expensive and you should be clear about what you have. It can be frustrating for an artist when a customer asks “Did you really make all of this?” However, an artist selling their work is usually looking forward to sharing details of their process with a customer. let them Find a piece or two that they find intriguing and let them ask questions specifically regarding it. How was it made? What is it made of? What inspired you to make it? It is likely to start a lively conversation and you will learn more about something you may decide to buy.

Many forms of art have care instructions.Some metals are damaged in certain chemicals. Not all fabrics are washable. The artist selling to you should be familiar with the care needs of their product. Make sure you heed those directions so that you can best enjoy your new acquisition. It is the artist’s responsibility to provide you with a well made product and make certain you are aware of the care needed. It is not the Artist responsibility to replace the item if those directions are ignored!When buying online from sites .keep in mind that while the product should closely resemble the photo the artist provided, that there can be some discrepancies due to the quality of the photograph provided, the browser you are using, and differences in computer monitors. If you require an exact color match, you may be better served purchasing something in person. Let them Read the artist’s policies and ask them  not to be shy contacting the artist through the conversation function.

A customer is not happy for some reasons and if not resolved the potential negative feedback or claim against your store can be bad for business, The one difficult thing selling online is that you don't know who you are dealing with when u have a customer complains filed against you. There are so many ways things can be misunderstood though online communication.lets look at some ways to prevent such misunderstandings resolving these issues when they do arise.

Don't be disrespectful,rude or defensive in the way you handle complaints.

Do not go and post a topic in a public forum of your crazy customer.the point is be respectful, it has more a reflection on you as a seller than it does on anything the customer could have done. what will potential customer's think when they see the way your have handled such a tricky situation?would you want to buy from someone who publicly dis regards their customers concerns as unimportant?

Do not be unprofessional or rude - although the customer may address you in a rude way, don't respond to their rudeness, its easy for people to say whatever they want, when they want, when they can hide behind an online profile and never have to see you face to face. Many times common courtesy is lost online.Even if what they initially say is upsetting or insulting to you, always respond in a professional way and avoid any rude or negative comments back to them. Try to get past their rudeness to see what the real issue or complain is and respond to that

Preventing Misunderstandings

Have clear Policies and Procedures- Sounds boring but it is part of having an online shop.but You have to outline policies in your shop. Think about Potential Situations that Could arise and how you would handle them. What if a customer wants a refund. will you refund if they return the Item? Will you pay for the them to ship it back or will they have to pay for their shipping? will you refund the original shipping? if there a timeline where they must return the items within 15 days or 30 days? the more you think about all the tings that could wrong, the better prepared you will be to handle issues when they Happen. Having clear guidelines and policies will also help back up your responses to customers will appear professional too.

Communication -  
While you get the order Keep the Customer informed about the Process if delays Communicate let them know ,and also after the order has reached the Customer. Responding quickly to any request or concerns about an order can help calm an anxious customer.

Have a system to schedule orders-
Another Challenge for those who have more success at first then they expected, is keeping up with orders. This is a good problem to have, but can be a challenge to keep up good customer service and meet deadlines when you are overwhelmed with more order than you think you can handle. There are a few trips and tools you can use to make sure each customer is getting the level of service you want .

1. Use a spreadsheet to keep track of you open orders and due dates.Being able to sort by due date or having a timeline that outlines the different projects that are open will help keep you organised.

2. Print your open orders and keep them in a folder, as they are finished remove them from the folder.

3. use list, calendar or charts

4. if all else fails increase your prices. this might cause your sales to slow down,but hopefully the ones you do get will make up for the ones you dont. The customer who pays a higher price for your product can also enjoy better customer service from you than if you stretch yourself too thin and cant keep up.

Tips for After you get that first Complaint

Its a certainly a customers right to voice their concerns.Sometimes they will be happy with just a response back. But be calm and kind keep the communication lines open

Think outside the box.
Alternate ways to possible resolving issues. the package did not arrive,but have you contact the post office to verify or have the customer checked . or if its digital email  check spam folder.Etc

Stick with your policies or be Flexible-
 Test the Policies. it is a tough call and one that only you can make. Each situation is as different as there are different products,people and circumstance. Despite all your efforts to resolve an issue, you might get a customer who will never be Pleased,

Just remember one Negative feedback or claim is not the end of the World.

But for you going through the stress of dealing with a difficult situation can certainly dampen the desire to sell your items .

Never Never Give up Keep moving persistence is the key.

We'd love to know your secrets about packaging, followup and  customer service.

If you Like this Post pleas do Comment and help Grow and Share your Experience.

You can visit our Facebook Page to see some Beautiful work from Various Artist HandmadeNBeyond

Thank you for Taking the time to read 

Monday, 15 July 2013

Interview with Timeless Creazion

Name Christalina Ilett 

How did you get your start?

I began my business way back in 2003 but was just a no show, mostly turned out to be gifts for free and a little of teaching Candle making I quit it for a full time Job. second try was in 2011 again failed attempt but then I gave it my all in 2012 and it has been picking up every since. I used to sit at my work Desk and make gifts and give gifts and endlessly browse.Self thought from patterns to materials to experiment with and finally the Continuous Encouragement from My husband and the first investor My sister . said "make Rs 700 from this 500 I invested in you" :D which I did. And Ideas have kept flowing and things have never been better. I love everyday and look forward to creating one thing everyday at-least.


I was a little girl. Candles making classes, and Mehendi, nothing related to what I do now.But crafting is my passion always wanted to do so since I was a child used to teach candle making for a while back in 2003.Later I got Hooked seeing my sister Crochet she is a Genius she has helped me in all the patterns I have in store till date. Clay work was my inspiration from Etsy while I used to kill time at work on my desk.

Do you have formal training? - Non

What is your day job? 
I recently left a position where I wore many hats. And finally with a lot of Encouragement, I  built all my courage to jump to a long time dream and with 2 failed attempts of having my own business. My third try is a success (never never give-up).

What's the best part of having your own business? 
You work within your own time frame. You design something (work) because you choose to, not because your boss tells you to do so. You are your own boss. And it is such a great reward when you succeed in it. It gives me pride in my own achievements.

How do you plan for the future of your business?
Right now I definitely take opportunities as they come.  Some day I hope to have a more formal business.   I definitely never want a desk job again .

As an Artist, what is your biggest frustration?

People who think Handmade is cheap.

Are there any crafters/artists/designers that you particularly look up to?

Everyone and anyone who work with their own two hands, has an imagination that brings their work to life.

What advice can you offer other creative people who are just starting out and following their passions?

Start by making something easy – jewellery is a good place to start. You should make something you really want to make – that way you won’t give up when it gets difficult. When people compliment you on what you’ve created, it’ll give you a real boost and encourage you to continue. Also – learn little techniques that will help you in lots of different crafts.
There are so many people selling jewellery/bags/shoes/magnets/bookmarks or anything else out there -- it might make you think there isn't room for another one. The most important thing is have your own original and unique style. Once you have a stable production, promote and update your products regularly to magazines, blogs, stores, and wholesalers. Give samples to press. Out of the many places you approach, one or two will be interested, and that's where it counts, so don't get discouraged if promising avenues end up going nowhere.

We live in such a mass-produced, buy-it-now society where everything is either a click or a short drive away. Why should people continue to make things by hand?

When you make something by hand, you’re forced to slow down — to learn the craft, to find inspiration or to take it to another level. It also helps maintain some level of individuality;  I love being able to create things to look how I’d like, in the colors that I like, knowing that no one else may look the same.

How can fans purchase your work? Do you take custom orders and special requests?
Yes I custom order
also Have online shops where my work can be Purchased:

Please do visit us on HandmadeNBeyond to view Artist work featured

Sunday, 14 July 2013

Selling Handmade Packaging Tips

  Selling Handmade a Few Packaging Tips

Packaging is a Vital Element,First impressions are everything.

 I Still call myself new for selling online. I've always been one of those people who struggled to get packages ready to be mailed.  I wanted to make sure I had a plan that was doable for me,and yet was nice for my customers to open, too. And I need to add a few things to my list Take the opportunity to tell buyers about my brand and what makes my products special.

Beautiful packaging It shows the recipient that you are passionate about your product, and reinforces the handmade ethos – that your product has been lovingly made and packaged by hand – not by some machine in a factory! Everyone loves receiving beautifully wrapped gifts,
And the best way is in your Packaging.

Some things I tried to keep in mind were:

product size
cost of packaging
looks of the overall package

‘My main aim would be for people to smile when they receive one of my products and that they would want to touch it, pick it up and explore how its been created – getting a sense that it’s not been mass produced but has been individually made and printed for them.’

 Get creative and don’t stress out about it. It’s less about fancy and more about attention to detail.

In the beginning, figuring out shipping was very trial and error. I undercharged quite often until I got the grasp of it. Now all of my items ship in an envelope, unless the order is too large and then it goes into a box.I don't have a standard way of Packing its different all the time. I knew I wanted packaging that was cost-effective with a simple and polished  look that reflected my brand and me.It can be hard to figure shipping costs.  Honestly, sometimes on a new product I take a big hit on the shipping with the first sale.  But then I just go in and adjust the rates before I sell any more.  To figure out what shipping to charge on a new product I take a box and the item and I put them on the scale.  I am pretty familiar by now with what different weights cost to ship.  Then I tweak the shipping price as needed.

 I have also plans on Fixing a Signature Style: soon. My idea is to  simply cut a small rectangle of fabric. tie it on top with my crochet Thread and stamp on the pack my initials or just use fabric paint and stamp a design should keep the cost low on the back.

Always know that Careful and sweet packaging is just another way to show gratitude.Thoughtful packaging doesn’t need to be costly either; a simple handwritten note adds a personal touch. 

For those who are starting off ,You don’t need to break the bank on packaging, I  Googled a youtube video that showed how to neatly wrap a package  like a Coach purse and took it from there

I have made a few points and Tips of things to do and what I have already done :

1. Each of the items can be carefully wrapped in white tissue paper and include a hand written thank you note on the back of your  business card.

2. Coach purse tutorial on you tube are available. It’s polished and pretty and provides a little ‘pocket’ to neatly tuck in a business card, note, and customer appreciation tag.

3.I found this a fabric gift Wrap. I have not tried it yet but I am definitely going to try this

                                                  Furochic & Wrapagami 

    ( Just hop on youtube and do a search for wrapping and packaging. You’ll be there for a while.)

4.I do buy in bulk, which is great because it saves me on shipping fees and I have material around to work with when inspiration strikes. The downside is figuring out where to store everything in a home studio.I have currently got a whole Lot of Boxes custom made for my baby booties and Caps from a Box maker. I also wrap almost everything in bubble wrap. The less weight in the packaging the less shipping cost.

5. At times I chose to wrap my work in lightweight Craft paper and tie with a raffia bow, with a tag attached.  I think it gives a nice “rustic” style of the product.

6. You can also purchased brown craft paper boxes or paper and toilet tissue roll which is what I have been doing for some of my pieces.

7. I always felt like it was more special when a little something was added to the wrapper, whether it was a ribbon to tie the paper closed or a little flower added to the package top.

8. It’s my  goal this year. This will sounds time consuming, but I am hoping to develop it so I can make a huge stock all at once. Hopefully, in the end, those extra shipping Cost paying for my time instead of consuming more generic goods, and I reduce, reuse and recycle, all while cultivating a signature style….  recycled or reused goods but also in a way that is neat, clean, and noteworthy. I need weather-proof mailers for Crochet work, and I’m thinking to fuse plastics, and used reclaimed but unmarked paper (from envelopes, etc) to create my own mailers. Or it it just might be a good idea for one of the Artist who works with recycle to do this Project. and have bulk orders from Artist like me :)

9. Another Plan I have is  brown  paper,Stencil and Screen Print ,Designing and screenprinting my wrappings gives me total control over the final result. I can change colors up or add a new design as I want to..Make a brown paper bag tie up with  twine, and for the Tag a handmade paper or Black Chart Paper cut to a square and write a note. and this can carry as a new brand through to the smallest detail. I have invested in a “Thank You” stamp that I had .and I use it to stamp pieces of cardstock and sign my name below. It only take a few seconds but it makes a big impression on the recipient.

10.Another in my to do list for packing is .Taking the opportunity to tell buyers about my brand and what makes my products special.And  to Encourage feedback .Here is a Sample of the Note I Plan to add to my packages Besides the Visiting Card and the Thank you Note/Tag. .This can act as an envelope or cover for my thank you note inside . or just simply write a nice note on the back. :)

11. When packaging my larger products:Large cellophane bags.add my business card, and "Thank you for your purchase" card. And  choosing the cellophane bag, I am allowing my product to speak for itself.  If your product looks good, then the packaging looks good!  I simply fold the top of the bag over once and close it with add a Bow Different ways are there.

12.Jewelry items, I prefer to use a drawstring organza bag, Available easy in the market.The packaged item then nestles into a bed of tissue paper for cushion inside it's shipping box.

13. To help aid in costs as well as staying "green", I also do my best to reuse boxes!

14. Make it Customer Friendly, Not a nightmare fighting through the packaging to see their Gift.

15. It’s always nice to pop in a free sample if you can – I usually include one of my handmade gift tags or, for a larger order, a couple of extra cards. I’ve received lots of cool extras in the past when I buy handmade – little stickers, sweets, samples or cards. It’s always nice to get a little unexpected treat!

And to Summarize this all :

1.Think about how you want to buyer to feel when they receive their item – a good start is to say ‘thank you’.Figure out who your audience is, how much you can afford to spend on packaging, and whether you want to use handmade packaging or outsource the making of it.

2. Take the opportunity to tell buyers about yourself, your brand and what makes your products special.

3. Carry your signature style through to your packaging to create a more memorable brand

4. Differentiate yourself from the mass produced market by adding personal touches

5. Be creative – thoughtful and environmentally friendly packaging doesn’t need to cost the earth

6. Encourage feedback – if you’re doing something right (or wrong) it’s always good to know

7. Consider the weight and size of your package – inflated postage costs can put some buyers off

8. Leave your mark on your item so in years to come buyers will still know who made the item, or where it’s from.

So, what about you?  What's your favorite way to package your products?  I am always on the lookout for more ideas so please, Post a photograph of your packaged product on our Facebook page HandmadeNBeyond or comment here with what you do. 

This post about packaging was requested by Evita Seema D'Cunha   you can visit her Blog: amateurcrafts

Hope you all had a wonderful weekend!

Sunday, 7 July 2013

Benchmark for Made-to-order / Custom Orders

Benchmark when making customs Made-to-order 

Made-to-order means once an order is placed it needs to be made from start to finish. Once that is complete the item can be packaged.

Tips that I am going to share that I am learning to a bench mark for Custom orders.
Are you still getting sucked into the traps at times.Are your ready to stick to your own guns on your own policies – and add a few new ones.

I’ve been doing custom work pretty much since the beginning of selling online.Nothing says you put time, thought and effort into a gift like personalization. I mean creating something unique for that special individual. and I’ve learned a lot over that time. Mostly I’ve learned The Hard Way. I used to hesitant about charging too much, wanting so badly to get something sold. Then I decided that I needed to make at least some money and bumped my prices up. It really hasn’t hurt me at all in terms of number of sales. Also I, too, was hesitant about being paid up front.

And I’ve learned the hard way on that. Don’t ever think you can trust someone who has paid you regularly in the past and who gives you a new order without payment ahead of time.  I just got stiffed recently that got me to write this article.  Even the most honest, best intentioned people can run into money problems, and if they’re choosing between food on the table and paying you, I think we all know what they’re going to choose. Hopefully this list will help others here.

Lets start: {custom questionnaire}

please take the time to ask these questions.

1. Who is this for, you or a gift?
2. What occasion is it for birthday/wedding ( photography in my case a propt)
3.When do you need it?
4.What is your budget?
5.How old is the recipient?
6.Do you or the recipient need custom sizing

{custom timeline & prices}  this is for your personal 

Initial free telephone consultation. Agree or decline to proceed.
Agreement to proceed with design ideas.
Pictures, sketches or fabric swatches are sent by customer.

1. Always require payment up front

 When you give a customer a price quote, leave room for “estimates”Made-to-order is always (estimated price)

for Eg: If you do custom work in which the customer gets to choose the fabric and buys the material then, it’s the perfect place to indicate that the cost of fabric is ESTIMATED, and that certain materials or customization may change the price.
shopping for fabric/materials/travel/ (value your own time) time taken to shop
You only need to buy the bare basics to keep things running smoothly. buy only what you need.
made-to-order comes higher expenses. They may be safer purchases, less-frequent purchases, but they cost more. You aren’t able to buy in the exact quantity you need so you pay more to buy less.Retail verses Wholesale. Made-to-order verses pre-made. You get the idea :)

Take a day to decide do homework to find out before quoting .

your not a bargain basement good.If you value your worth, value your time Please don not bargain  Also remember the customer could  return and will always want to bargain a price on every product

Many will ask for a copy of a big box store item or designer couture, saying it's way out of their budget,

There seems to be a misconception that handmade = cheap. cost of labor is going to be higher for handmade goods.Handmade is worth more. It's made by one artist, with two hands. We are not able to take advantage of true wholesale prices when buying supplies for our creations because we're just small indie companies and cannot afford to buy huge bulk orders."handmade education" is not very widespread. To know more please do read my post on why-is-handmade-so-expensive.

Cost of goods + cost of time (value your own time) + cost of overhead + desired profit = product price

Shipping costs can be calculated by adding the cost of shipping goods to the cost of time.

2. Don’t take on orders that are out of your comfort zone.

A lot of us crafty people get strange requests. People assume that since I make different products and work on various materials and projects that interest me. they think I can make anything. And given enough time, maybe I could.And yet somehow, I often find myself pulling my hair out working on a custom order I was dubious about in the first place.Being a small business person makes it difficult to tell a customer “no.”  The customer is always right, they say. But sometimes it’s okay to say, “I just can’t do that.” Do it for your sanity’s sake.

3. Don’t do custom work for friends and family for free

I’m not talking about gifts either. If you’ve got a friend that’s been hankering over your stuff for months and their birthday is coming up, by all means, gift them one of your awesome crafts.
The second reason is that if you don’t value your own time, other people will follow suit. 

4.Design and prices are approved by customer in writing (email okay).

5. Deposit is paid by customer.

6. Give your customer a timeline for you and them

It’s probably a no-brainer for most sellers to give their customer a time frame for expecting the order to be finished. Some might give a hard date – Your item will be shipped by X date. Others, like myself, might give a more general time frame – Custom orders take 1- 2 weeks to complete. You’ll figure out what works for you.

If you’ve got a custom order with a tight schedule, give the customer their own deadline.When I get a custom order like that, I explain exactly what I need from my customer and when I need it. Give them a hard date.“I must have your payment, ideas, and choice by X date.” “If I don’t receive it by then, I can’t guarantee your order will arrive in time, unless you upgrade to a rush order.”

Yes Rush Hour (remember most of us artist work alone not a lot of helping hands) (value your own time, you will be leaving all your other work to do this order on first priority adding extra working hours / time.right out of your comfort zone dont you value your time your effort ).

here is an example of what you could do.If you need to receive your order within one week or less, there is a fee of Rs Xamount.oo per item in addition to the rush order charges . If expedited shipping is required that charge will be additional to the rush order charges.

7. Completion date is agreed upon between customer and designer.

8. Design work begins after payment ONLY

I hope this helps you out there. I am open to more comments and tips of how you handle custom orders dont forget to leave a feedback

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