Wednesday, August 31, 2011


I think what a lot of us on Etsy try to do is to take something we like and (hopefully) bring the joy of that creation/product into the lives of other people. But, how do you take something that makes your life more difficult, more of a challenge, and turn that into a booming business?

Brand Channel has a great career profile going on of Rachel Coleman from Signing Time. She is an inspiring woman who took her daughter's deafness and made it into a positive to help parents all over the world, and to help her daughter have more people to communicate with.

Here are just a few of the questions from the Brand Channel article, and please click here if you would like to read the rest.



Tell me a little bit about Signing Time.

My sister Emilie Brown and I created Signing Time ten years ago. We didn’t realize my daughter, Leah was deaf until she was one-year-old because back then they weren’t doing the hearing test at birth. At 14 months we started signing with her and by 18 months she had over 50 signs. Of course we were signing because she was deaf, but we soon realized there are benefits to any child even if they’re not deaf. With sign language, kids can give clear, concise, brilliant information before they have the ability to speak.

My sister taught her son Alex signs so he could communicate with his deaf cousin Leah. Both kids were using finger spelling and they were reading words before they were two, but I was frustrated with how few people could communicate effectively with Leah. I hated to see her isolated because people didn’t know sign language. So when my sister called me and asked me if we could make a video that teaches children music, I told her I’d rather make a video that teaches kids sign language. We started out with one little video, a VHS tape that took us a year to make. We did it on credit cards and favors from friends and family. We didn’t have investors and we were busy moms.

How does social media play a role in marketing and publicizing your brand?

It takes out the middleman, and that‘s good and bad. It’s cool to be that in touch with the people who love what you do. People seem genuinely surprised that I actually respond. I don’t know what that’s a symptom of. I have a Facebook fan page and a Twitter account. When I’m traveling, I let people know where I am performing and where to buy tickets. My Twitter account also has personal stuff too, like when my youngest, Lucy was in her spelling bee and people were cheering her on, virtually of course. My accounts are really me, it’s real interaction. Once someone suggested I hire someone to manage those accounts, pretending they are me. I would never do that. I think the reason is that when I was seventeen I wrote to my favorite band. They wrote back and invited me to shows and they even ended up having my band as their opening act when they came through town. I was so moved by that and thought that if I’m ever in a position like that, I’m going to be generous. I think it’s silly when celebrities act resentful of the people who house and clothe them. Social media keeps everything fresh. It helps me keep a finger on the pulse of what our consumers, fans and friends really want.

How did you grow your brand from a small family venture to a large-scale enterprise that services people across the nation and around the world?

Emilie has always had a marketing mind. We bought the website and put our videos on it. We quickly saw how word of mouth really made a difference in selling our product. Our brand grew because speech therapists told their clients to buy our videos, pediatricians wrote down our website on prescription pads for patients to browse, and friends told friends. We have enjoyed some great publicity because our company story is the personal story of our family. We’ve hardly invested in advertising in all ten years. It’s been a real grassroots effort. And I know that we still have a lot of room to grow.

We’re on public television and we also have music videos airing on Nick Jr. We now have 26 DVDs in the Signing Time series, and 4 Baby Signing Time DVDs. About a year and a half ago, we launched The Signing Time Academy, so that people who are passionate about Signing Time, and about sign language, can become certified to offer Signing Time and Baby Signing Time classes in their communities. We now have over 700 instructors in the U.S., Canada, China, Brazil, and Australia. We have them all around the globe. We started Signing Time 10 years ago, and I love that there are still avenues for us to reach people we would never have otherwise reached.

I think in the next five years sign language will get the recognition it deserves as an essential part of parenting. Ten years ago, when someone would see someone else signing with a child, they would ask if that child was deaf. Now, when people see someone signing, they often ask, do you have Signing Time? I think that‘s great.

How does Signing Time make its unique mark in the business world?

I think it’s coming. We’re in the process of creating some amazing things. We’re looking at ways of educating children that haven’t been done before. Signing Time was a great idea, but it may not be the best idea we’ve had yet. Emilie and I come up with new ideas for new products all the time and we have a couple of things brewing that we think will be revolutionary. Signing Time gave us credibility through exposure on public TV as well as cable, and the Emmy nomination, people see that we know what we’re doing. Our audience will always be children and their families and teachers, and we are really good at creating music with heart that’s catchy or inspiring. We have some ideas that aren’t focused on sign language. Most of our little fans are zero to four and we’re looking at what’s next for them. We have a number of really cool things on the horizon. So far, we have a track record of surprising others, and ourselves. We intend to keep that up.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

The Ins and Outs of "Treasure Hunting"

Hi everyone! It’s Danielle again. Going to garage sales, estate sales, and flea markets is a big part of my job. I go out and look for treasure, photograph it, list it, and sell it to others that enjoy the convenience of shopping from their computers. Over the past year I feel like I have gotten so much better at treasure hunting than I was when I initially began. In this post I want to quickly share a few of the main things I have learned.

1. Going with a friend or family member is extremely helpful. The cost of gas is the biggest expense in going to garage sales, so by taking turns driving, it can lighten the load on everyone involved, and allow for greater profits.

2. Antique stores can often be a waste of time. Although once in a great while it is possible to find good deals, it happens very rarely and is not the always most effective use time. Most often the items are already priced at what they are worth, which doesn’t leave much room for Etsy sellers to make a profit.

3. A small town in the country’s city-wide garage sale can be amazing. I went to Newcastle’s city-wide garage sale in April not expecting much, but I found so many good deals. It seemed like there were older things and a lot of items with more character than I have found in big cities.

4. It is also a good idea to pack snacks and cold drinks. Almost every time I spend the day going to sales I end up spending more on food and drinks than I do on the items I buy for resale.

5. Finally, my last piece of advice is if you are looking for estate sales (which is where you can usually find more vintage than garage sales) it is super, super helpful to use a newspaper to locate them. I only started doing this recently, but it makes such a huge difference. My strategy before was always to look for and follow signs on the road or to look up a few on Craigslist and print off a map, but that was a huge waste of time and gas. Anyone can say anything on Craigslist, but if someone is willing to pay for a newspaper ad, their sale is usually legitimate.

I hope this helps!

- Danielle

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Help the Plaza District Festival

Clean out your craft closet! The Plaza District Festival is in need of items for the kids area during the Festival as well as volunteers. All items can be dropped off at Collected Thread (OKC), 1705A NW 16th Street, Tuesdays – Saturdays 11-7

Items needed:
600 paper sacks
Glue (sticks and tubes)
Safety scissors
Scrap fabric ( and anything else that could decorate puppets)
Yarn needles
Face paints
Paint brushes
2 reams of paper (scavenger hunt)
Baby wipes
Paper towels
Paper plates
Old mens button shirts for smocks
Sidewalk chalk
Volunteers needed for kids area prep day!
Need volunteers to get ready for Kids Area, Sep. 17th 2 p.m. at the Plaza District office.
Projects include:
Painting/priming mural panels
Organizing supplies.
and Other prep work
E-mail us if you can volunteer at

Friday, August 12, 2011

Hi! It’s Danielle again. One of my last posts was about the Treasure Boat Antique Thrift Shop up by Tulsa. This week I want to share with you one of my favorite places close to where I live now, in Oklahoma City.

Mary’s Swap Meet is a large flea market that takes place outside every Saturday and Sunday morning, year round. It is located at the corner of Midwest Blvd and NE 23rd St. It’s so good because it’s like fifty little garage sales all crammed into one place, and you can find all kinds of things there.

The trick with Mary’s though, in my experience, is that to get the good stuff you have to be there right when they open – which is at dawn. There’s still a lot of stuff there later, but for the really good deals it helps to get there as they’re opening.

They also have a fake old western town built where you can walk around for free and take pictures! Overall, it’s a pretty cool experience, and it’s worth waking yourself up before dawn to check it out at least once.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

OkEtsy Featured Seller: BearyCreative

BearyCreative, please introduce yourself.
Jeri Hall, Tulsa, Whimsically-Dark Artist

What is/was your inspiration?

I have been inspired by the work of: Tim Burton and Edward Gorey. There is also a woman on Etsy I have purchased from who makes amazing art dolls (which I now have 4 of :) who's work has really inspired me to grow and be a better artist.

What is your favorite media and why?
My favorite media is painting (with acrylics). I love to paint. It's very theraputic and relaxing.

What has been your favorite project?
My favorite project would be when I was preparing for the 2011 BlueDome Arts Festival in Tulsa. I decided I wanted to showcase my art there within 3 weeks of the Festival and had to make like 20 paintings in that time. It was crazy, but I did it and think it has been some of my best work!

Where would you like to see yourself 5/10 years from now in this project?
I'd still like to be taking part in local shows- but have grown as an Artist and become better and have had a billion sales :)

Do you have any keys of success to share?

What has been your biggest challenge in developing your shop?
Getting people to know about your shop. There's sooo many wonderful and talented Artist on Etsy that sometimes it's hard to stand out! So, the way I get noticed is to carry business cards everywhere I go and I wear my artwork on t-shirts just about everyday :)

Tell us one thing crazy about yourself.
This is gonna sound weird, but it's true... I have 2 toes the same size on my left foot ha :) TMI

What is something you would love to learn how to do?
Make art dolls out of paper mache. I admire those on Etsy who make beautiful dolls. I've tried, and it's harder than what you'd think!

What is one thing you love about Oklahoma?
My family is all in Oklahoma.

Check out this week's featured seller, BearyCreative, at the following places:
fb: "bearycreative"
personal site:

Thanks, Jeri!

Thursday, August 4, 2011

OkEtsy Featured Seller: BrittaniFlowers

Name- Oh, honey child
Location- Elk City, Oklahoma
Type of craft- Plush, Embroidery, and Accessories

1. What is/was your inspiration?
I get inspired by vintage material, when I go to the thrift store and find a piece of fabric I instantly know what I want to make with it.

2. What is your favorite media and why?
Embroidery thread, or at the moment I am using pretty punch, I like to draw something and then bring it to life stitch by stitch.

3. What has been your favorite project?
One day I was doodling and I drew a picture of my bearded husband, I took that picture and stitched onto a pillow and added "Beards are Sexy", apparently I am not the only one that thinks so! Every time I sell one or make one it makes me giggle knowing its all because of my hairy man.

4. Where would you like to see yourself 5/10 years from now in this project?
I want to open a handmade store sooooooo bad, so I hope thats going down.

5. Do you have any keys of success to share?
Be persistent.

6. What has been your biggest challenge in developing your shop?
Keeping my Etsy updated! I do shows and I sell items in several shops, so keeping fresh items up is a challenge, but I have made it a priority.

7. Tell us one thing crazy about yourself.
hmmmmm crazy? I shaved my head once, just because...

8. What is something you would love to learn how to do?
I would love to learn how to throw pottery, or do screen printing, or wood work, or welding, or glass blowing, or.....

9. What is one thing you love about Oklahoma?
The support handmade artist get and give.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Tutorial: Easy Peasy Rosette Headband

You know all of those cool flowery headbands you see little girls wearing anymore? I'm sure you have especially if you frequent any craft blogs that feature children's items. And I'm sure you've noticed that there are about 6,000 different ways to make all of those flowers. While the thought of making one doesn't frighten me at all I just haven't gotten around to it. Until I saw a way to cheat with rosette ribbon (by the yard) at Hobby Lobby. It was so great. A satin row of rosettes stitched onto tulle. And they had it in multiple colors. So, my brain went to work and I took my kids all over Hobby Lobby gathering supplies.

Supplies: Rosette ribbon (I got 1/2 yd. = 18 in., but didn't use all of it. To use all of it would cover the entire headband if you want to go that route), a headband, thread that matches your rosettes, beads (I bought green tear drop shaped ones for leaves and crystal ones to add a little pizzazz), needle, and hot glue gun/sticks

Begin by taking a single strand of thread and knotting it at one end. Then pass your needle and thread through the tulle and grab a bit of the satin as well, to anchor it, a few times. Make sure to keep all of your knot at the back of the ribbon.
Once you have your thread anchored decide how frequently you want your green "leafy" gems and stitch them on. I did mine at the top right and bottom left of each flower. Make sure to anchor your gems on with a few stitches so that they don't come off easily and become a choking hazard for your little one if they should pull it off. If you will notice this ribbon is all stretched out and in-between each rosette there is some extra satin (it's in the shape of a heart but you can't really tell that). I wanted more fullness so...
I gathered the rosettes together on the back by stitching a few times from the top of one flower to the next and pulling tightly to make it gather. I did this at the top of each rosette pair and at the bottom.
Now when you flip it over it looks like this. Much fuller and more attractive don't you think?
I went back and added a bit more bling since this is basically a photo prop. Use the same technique as you did for the tear drop "petals" to secure each bead. I grouped mine in threes but each bead is secured individually.
After you have your beads all secured and everything as you like it secure the ribbon to the headband using hot glue. And then once it has cooled off try it on your kiddo to see how it looks:
Pardon the drool. She's teething. lol I would change the headband to a light pink if I could do it again. Just so it blended more. But, the outfit she will be wearing this with is a dirndl from Germany that her Grandparents bought her, and it is pink, green, and white. Hence the creamy white headband. And while she looks all rosey posey above...
Yeah...little miss teether didn't think it was all fun and games like mom did.

Happy crafting!