Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Special Feature: Crafting for Profit Part 2 Making Money and Myths

Last time I highlighted how we ended up making bows and then designing ribbon so I thought today we should talk about money. I wish I would have known a long time ago that money and goals plus common sense is what made millionaires. You don’t even have to start with much money to be a millionaire if you can set goals and use common sense. We will talk about goal setting another day, I think money is enough to make us all hyperventilate.

Before any of you quit reading stop, DON'T GO ANYWHERE! This is the exact spot I got to when I should have paid attention in the past. I am not going to get all preachy. I think it would be neglectful of me to talk about how to make a profit, and avoid that whole sticky mess of finically how you should approach moving in that direction.

Money should have its own paparazzi following 24/7 with as many tabloid false statements that we accept as truth because we hear them all the time. Here’s my favorites:

Myth: Money can’t buy happiness.
Semi true: Having money can’t buy happiness, but it sure can take the sting out of some of the yucky things life deals ya. Money doesn’t buy happiness, it buys options!

Myth: Everyone has debt. I will always have payments.
False: This is a choice like all things in life. Most debt is a result of our wants, not our needs. I want a new sewing machine. I need to buy groceries. If you don't have enough money for groceries then you have another need. You need to figure out how to raise your income. After that, then you can work on your wants.

Myth: The cost of an item is the price on the sticker.
False: When you buy a car, you know it will require gas, repairs and insurance. Your embroidery machine will need thread, stabilizer, and fabric. Look at your long term investment in your purchases.

Myth: No one gets paid for doing what they love.
False: You can. Anyone can. It's your job to figure out how to get there. Seriously, if this was true how could Perez Hilton make a good living off his blog? Some people get paid to scout and rate resort destinations and restaurants... I think they have a better hook up than me and my ribbon! Make sure you choose something you LOVE in big bold capital letters because some days you are still going to hate it.

Myth: You have to spend money to make money.
Semi True: You have to spend a little money to buy supplies. You do not have universal permission to buy out your local craft store. I know… that one disappointed me too

Myth: You have to have credit to successfully fund a new business.
False: You can start small. Mentally write off that $50 or $100 as money you paid yourself to be able to dream and hope. You can invest a small amount of money and make something and sell it and reinvest the profits into buying more products. You can keep doing this forever. If you do this long enough you end up with a real paycheck and this weird thing called profits.

The big message here is that you don’t have to have a lot of money to be able to set yourself up to turn a profit. You can set yourself up to fail quickly if you take on actual debt to start a business, you are setting yourself up for a series of unpleasant things. You have more pressure to make sure your debt is paid when someone else says it has to be. It doesn’t matter to them that it’s January and bow sales are down. You start off in someone else’s pocket owing more than your business assets are worth. I don’t want to be paying someone else. I want the someone else’s of the world to be paying ME!

Just because you hear people saying it can’t be done doesn’t make it true. If everyone you know says that debt is the only way successful businesses get started you need new friends or you need to quit hanging out with bankers.

Make sure what you choose to invest your time and effort is something you love. Expect that some days you won’t love it. Work is work, and that never changes. I love my job 99.5% of the time but I have been overheard muttering once or twice that I never wanted to see ribbon again. It happens. The other thing that happens is I LOVE what I do.

You know those people who say, “You can’t do that. It won’t work. It’s never been done”?

Guess how much fun it is to do it, and see them still standing in the same spot in their life saying “I can’t do that. It won’t work.”

Yup. It feels like that!

Thursday, March 24, 2011

and our WINNER *is*......

Last week we had a suggestion contest for ribbon ideas and thank you so much for every idea we received for the "Next Big Idea". That was so much fun!

We randomly selected our winner from all suggestions here on the blog and our Facebook page and please help me extend big huge congratulations to our winner!
Julianne Keym
Please contact us with your mailing address so we can pop your fabulous goodies in the mail for you!

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Project: The 4 min Glam Nagorie Headband

(I know, that kinda rhymed a bit there didn't it!)

Quickly becoming all the rage in every age group are these very posh feather headbands. They are everywhere and are expensive!

Even if you can't make a thing you can whip this baby out in 4 minutes!

Hot Glue Gun
5 inches of satin double face ribbon- we used 1.5"
Nagorie feather pad
Rhinestone buckle- we used a 5/8" size
Satin covered headband

Weave your satin ribbon through the rhinestone buckle. Next place a small dot of glue in the middle of your feather pad at the narrow end and press your satin with the buckle into the glue.

Now flip one end under and tack with hot glue on the back side. Do the same for the second side. On the backside of your feather pad trim the ribbon ends off straight across to get a good finished look. Run your lighter across the ends until they are slightly glossy which will prevent fraying. Finish securing the satin ribbon with more hot glue

Decide where you want your finished feather pad to lay on your headband. Add hot glue to your headband and press your finished feather pad, making sure to hold it long enough for the glue to set up.

Posh enough for fancy events. Versatile enough to wear with your everyday casual!
Ok, maybe not mine but not much looks appropriate with sweats, except maybe a scrunchie.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Project: Korker Bows and Power Tools Part 1

I know everyone loves those curly little puffball ribbon bows called korkers!

Sure, there are places that sell already curled ribbon but once you learn how to make it I think you will be a little insulted that you paid for it instead of doing it yourself.

Today we are going to focus on how to make the curly ribbon and next week we will highlight a few easy ways to use it.

1/4 wooden dowel rod
3/8 ribbon
Wooden clothespins
Cordless power drill (no, I am not kidding)

Our goal on this project is to get a nice set curl in your korker ribbon the first time. I know a lot of people will swear by starching your ribbon, or wetting it, but if you do that it is just messy, creates more icky smells, and completely unnecessary. Think of this like curling your hair but for ribbon. We are using heat and tension to change the shape of the ribbon. Ribbon that works best for this are grosgrain ribbons that are synthetics, which simply means they are a type of plastic and will melt every so slightly to help us get a good shape. 

When you purchase the dowel rods they will be longer than your oven is wide. You can look helpless in the aisle at the hardware store and someone will typically offer some help to shorten them for you. You can also take them home, use a hacksaw, or a serrated kitchen knife to trim them to about 16 inches wide. Guess which method we used. That might be why I also got a new knife set for Christmas. And a hacksaw. Be careful with any method you choose. Looking helpless can lead to a date with a faux handyman and the hacksaw/knife method can injure fingers and you need those later in this instructional to make your bows!

Hand method:
Start by positioning your ribbon at a 45 degree angle from the stick as shown pictured below.

Place your clothespin over the ribbon to hold it onto the dowel rod. You may need to twist it around the rod a couple times to get the ribbon positioned under the clothes pin flat. If you don't its ok, but that little end will crimp and need to be trimmed off before using for projects.

Continue wrapping the dowel rod with ribbon until you reach the bottom of your stick.

You need to make sure that there is enough tension as you pull and wrap that the ribbon curves slightly. You can see the ridges in the ribbon start to curve instead of remain straight. Make sure your ribbon does not overlap and I like to leave a small gap between the ribbon edges. At the end of your dowel, cut your ribbon and place another clothespin facing the same way as your first clothespin. This will help when you stack them in the oven for baking.

Drill method:
Use all the above steps until you would hand roll the ribbon on the dowel rod. Now, pull out your power tools. The drill we use is a cordless drill for two reasons. A cord is just one more thing that I can trip on. This drill also has a touchy trigger finger. It’s much easier if your drill allows you to press lightly on the trigger to get it moving slowly and when you let up it stops almost immediately. My corded drill doesn't work that way.

To use your drill to roll the ribbon, place your stick into the chuck of the drill just as you would put a drill bit in. Tighten enough for it to hold the stick in, but do not over tighten because you will split your wood stick. (In other words, you need to do this part, not your husband)

I place my drill down on my leg with the stick pointing to the ceiling, or an ottoman in front of where I am working, and slowly press the trigger on the drill. You will need to use your free hand to guide the ribbon and keep appropriate tension on the ribbon. Going slow will help you to avoid overlapping the edges. Make sure to check if your ribbon ridges are curving slightly which indicates you are getting enough tension as you guide your ribbon down the length of the dowel rod. This step is fascinating to cats and toddlers so take that tidbit into account. Secure with a clothes pin, and cut your ribbon.

To bake:
Finally! A project where I can use my oven, since I rarely cook!

Place your rack on one of the lower positions. If your oven is not super duper "brand new" clean, apply aluminum foil to the rack. I use a cookie sheet instead. This will keep any dirt from getting on your ribbon when you bake it.

Heat your oven to 275 degrees. Bake your ribbon for 25-30 minutes. I do about 50 wrapped dowels at a time. I will remove a top stick, unwrap it, and check to make sure the curl has set before removing all the rods. It will fill your home with the lovely smell of baking ribbon. My husband has come home more than once and said, "Yummy! Korkers for dinner!"

Ok, get cracking on the project, next week... more on how to make pretty hair accessories out of these and another fab installment of our new series "Crafting for Profit".

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Special Feature: Crafting for Profit Part 1

Some of us craft for fun as a hobby, but a lot of us craft for profit. Personally speaking, profit is fun. A lot of fun!

This topic is what I get asked most often from friends and customers. How about we pick this apart piece by piece? Frankly, if I can succeed of absolutely anyone can! This is going to be an ongoing feature so make sure to check for new additions to it.

This entire little operation we run here started with a modest investment of $150 of ribbon and a lot of anxiety. That was a huge amount of money for us and was carefully discussed before starting on this amazing road. I didn't know how to make a bow. I knew we had to solve an upcoming finical shortfall, and it had to be solved in a hurry!

Four years ago we got the blessed news that we were expecting again. Our first child was 11 months old at the time. Wrapped in my baby bliss and financial ignorance I inquired how much our new daycare bill was going to be. The answer made those old cartoon signs pop up in my head "KABOOM" "POW" and my heart sank. Our joy was going to be more than a small burden. Daycare was already expensive but I didn't expect that the new and improved baby bill was going to leave me with less than $700 a month after taxes and daycare to work at a job I hated. Long hours, high stress, mandatory overtime... and people working at McDonald's were going to have more spending money than me slaving at my fortune 500 corporate job. Something had to change and the nine month clock was ticking.

I looked at a lot of the big name work for yourself type companies. Avon. Homemade Gourmet. Reselling items on eBay for profit. None of the options I came up with seemed like a good fit for me. I needed something I could do at home at midnight, on my terms, with a decent profit margin that I could set.

The voice in my head said, "Bows. We're going to make bows. We don't even have a girl but bows seem the most direct route to not working for peanuts at the source of all evil and possibly still affording food. If it doesn't work out... we can always work at McDonald’s midnights and not have to pay daycare... and still be ahead."

I bought some instructions. I found some free instructions. I used my $150 of ribbon products and listed bows on Ebay with a goal of replacing the income I would lose if I quit my job. I took all the money I made in those 8 months and dumped it back into more pretty ribbon, and listed more bows. By maternity leave I was making over $1000 a month selling hair bows. I could legitimately afford to not go back to my job and not pay daycare!

Now overtime I left selling bows on Ebay, to selling locally at craft shows, http://www.etsy.com/ and children's boutiques. It worked better for our family's schedule. My ribbon obsession created the ribbon company we run www.AllAboutRibbon.com because there was ribbon that we HAD to have that I couldn’t find anywhere.

We have truly been blessed as a family to wander down this path. Our second child was a beautiful little girl for a hair bow model. Ok, that was dumb luck. She could have been a boy and I would still have been a bow making momma. Four years and $150 has grown to freedom to do what we want, when we want to. We love ribbon and bows! We have a business that has no debt that is growing by leaps and bounds. We can afford to eat! Most importantly, it has given me the gift to see my children every day and care for them. I can pay for special therapy for our first child that has since been diagnosed at autistic. I can take him to his appointment which seems like such a simple thing, but with my previous job would have been impossible.

I hope you enjoy taking this little journey with me as we pick apart crafting for profit. From finding shows, to set up, to tips you can learn from to grow your business we want everyone to be able to succeed! Here is to ALL of our blessings! Cheers!

CONTEST: The next BIG thing

Help us come up with the next BIG thing!

We want to hear from you! What ribbon do you want that you just CAN NOT find?
Your ideas and demands is what drives us to find new and exciting designs that are available no where else.

Submit your ideas via a reply on this blog post or through our facebook page to win! We got a bag full of goodies that include one of a kind productions and sneak peaks of our next big release of new prints for the winner.

All you have to do to win speak your mind! Copy written image suggestions will not be counted. We can not produce an image that we do not lawfully own the artwork for.

One winner will be selected Monday March 21, 2011 and announced right here on the AAR blog.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Project: Crazy 8 Ribbon Daisy

Is it spring yet?
What a long cold winter it's been!

How cute is this little flower? Change the ribbon color and your embellishments and this will be a match made in heaven for any outfit for the first spring breeze.

3/8 ribbon
Hot glue gun
Hair clip
Any variety of center embellishment

Cut your first color of 3/8 ribbon into four 10 inch strips. Seal ends by running your lighters flame across the ends. This process melts the ribbon slightly and will prevent any fraying.

Shape ribbon strip into a figure 8. I can already hear the groans echoing "I can't do that!" Here's the pro tip master cheat. Fold your ribbon in half, bring the top half of the ribbon strip towards you and twist at a slight angle then tack with hot glue. Bring the bottom half of the ribbon strip back and twist at a slight angle to match the top half then tack with hot glue. Repeat with all remaining strips.

Arrange in a well spaced order that seems pleasing to you then glue all of the centers of the 8's in your stack together.

You could stop here and add your center but we really liked the look of a contrasting color. The additional layer also gives your flower some more depth... and let’s face it... more ribbon is... well... MORE!

For the second layer we used 3 strips cut to 8 inches and repeated the steps above. Glue both of your Crazy 8 daisies together, and then add your choice of center embellishment. You could use a bottle cap, acrylic rhinestones, beads, blingy buttons, marabou or anything else you have laying around.

Now, all we have to do is wait for spring. It's coming... right? It has to be! I just has to!

Project: Quicky Ponytail Streamers

You know its spring when everyone starts gearing up for spring sports!
From baseball, fast pitch softball, to soccer or lacrosse these hair bows work for lil' ladies on the fast track. (all available at http://www.allaboutribbon.com/)  Most sports require hair accessories to be metal free for safety and these dress up those same old uniforms.

6 strips of ribbon 10-15 inches long
Non metal Pony O
Hot glue gun

Cut your ribbon to your desired length. We didn't heat seal the ends yet but we promise we will before we finish! You can vary the width of the ribbon using more than one size. I actually like it better that way because I think it adds more visual interest to the bow. You can use just about anything else in these bows as well so get creative!
Line up your strips of ribbon in an order you like. The ribbon strips will all layer on top of each other so the order isn't terribly important. Finding the center of your strips take your needle and start to weave it in and out of the strips in order.
Once all your ribbon strips are on your needle and thread, scrunch all of them together and knot. We used upholstery thread and doubled it up for extra super mega hold.
 Place your pony o underneath your bunched tied ribbon and then start wrapping it around the ribbon and pony o to bind them together. Secure with a few stitches and cut thread.

Using a shorter strip of 7/8 ribbon, fold in half lengthwise then knot. Place a glue dot on top of the bow and place the knot there to center. Wrap the ends around the underside, securing with hot glue and heat sealing those ends before securing. To heat seal, simply run your lighter across the ribbon ends until gloss to prevent any fraying.

We're nearly done! To finish hold your pony streamer up and snip the ends and heat seal. We wait to do this last so we can even up anything that may have gotten slightly off center while sewing. I prefer to do a 45 degree angle and alternate which direction they go for a whimsical look. You can cut them straight across or "v" the ends for a different style.

These are fantastic for sporty girls, or ones that are a little hyper that never... ever... stop... moving!

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Project: Flip Flop Shop

It's finally starting to warm up! Our gang here is already gearing for warming weather with the latest round of swimming lessons. We will be ready for opening day as soon as the outdoor pools are set up!

These are basically just a fast refashion of blah humbug flip flops. We purchased ours from a random dollar store. Little price comparison here for you for some incentive:

Plastic flip flops
Your favorite color of 3/8 glitter ribbon available HERE
Clips (any kind, we used hair clips)
Bows or embellishments

Our flip flop bands had some texture to them which helps the glue and ribbon adhere. If your flip flops are smooth plastic bands take a coarse nail file to them so they rough up a little bit.

Cut your glitter ribbon to the length that fits your shoes bands. Use your lighter to heat seal the ends by running the flame carefully across the ends. Some of the glitter ribbon may catch the flame but easily blow right out. We cut two pieces and then overlapped them at the middle point where they intersect.

Using your E6000 glue, dab glue dots along one side of your band a few inches at a time. Overlay your glitter ribbon on the band, and pin in place using your clips. Pay special attention to make sure you have glue at the ends of each ribbon strip. These are on shoes so you don’t want anything bouncing up and down there wiggling free as a kiddo takes off running.

Leave the clips in place for at least an hour so that it can start to set up. In a few areas where I was a little heavier on the glue than others the clips would have bonded if I hadn't removed them early in the set up process.

During this time we made our bows to add to the flip flops. Once they were made we use alternating dots of hot glue and E6000 to bond them to the ribbon covered flip flops. We clipped the bows in place. The glue does take 24 hrs to fully set up so we put them up where short people couldn't nab them, but tomorrow they are ready to wear!

All together our flip flops were $1 for the solids, $3 for the printed pair. Ribbon and glue cost were under $3.00 per pair. If we sold these we would make a about $35 profit for 3 pairs and an hours worth of time. Since we aren't selling them to avoid screaming protests from our kiddo with a shoe addiction... we spent less than $14 for 3 pairs of awesome summer shoes instead of the mid range boutique price of 3 for $51!

Pretty sweet summer gear eh?