Thursday, July 29, 2010

Interview With Rory!!

Many of you have been personally touched by Tools Are For Women Too! and have possibly wondered what is the story of the man behind the blog. Yes Rory is a man!! This came as a bit of a surprise to me too when I was first invited to the Times are Tough Thursdays-Party, and poured over the site and its mission. The first thing I knew was that I wanted to be involved with the great thing Rory had created. So I contacted the French Maid and asked more about Rory. I thought maybe the French Maid was Rory, because I saw her charming birdhouses on the site and Rory was a woman for women, right? Wrong, Rory is a guy, I was told, which happened to be okay with me, because I am used to being wrong and a few other craftswomen, I won't name names, presumed the same thing. This got me thinking, this man who was so giving, is a bit of a mystery and I wanted to figure out a few things out about him. What makes this altruistic man of mystery tick(okay I am laying it on a little thick maybe)? Well read on and see if you can figure him out any better than the man in your life!

T&G: How did you get involved in crafting and what was your first passion?

R:My family was always pretty short of money when I was a kid. We couldn't afford new furniture in those days. So when I was about 12 my parents started dragging me around to garage sales and auctions. We would buy whatever we thought we needed and could fix up. By the time I was 16, I was refinishing furniture as a part time job for a local antiques dealer. I have worked with my hands ever since and I now restore fine antiques for a living. Along with my restoration business, I find myself building and creating things, as well.

T&G: Do you have a store on Etsy?

R: Hmmm.....not really. I work hand in hand with the French Maid. She is the love of my life and we are pretty much joined at the hip. I sometimes post my handmade items in her store and she sometimes helps me with Tools Are For Women Too!

T&G: How much time do you spend blogging per day?

R: Wow! Tons. Some days more than others, but it's a lot. I am often writing posts after midnight. I would hate to guess the average per day. It's a lot though. But here's the deal, there are around 100,000 new blogs starting up every day. If you expect to stand out amongst the crowd, you need to put in the hours it takes to get noticed. I treat my blog as if it is a business and I work it every single day.

T&G: How much time do you dedicate to crafting and what do you design?

R: Since I make my living with my hands, I am usually either doing something crafty, or thinking about it. I think I mumble projects in my sleep at times. Today I spent some time on my wood lathe making wine and cordial glasses out of some reclaimed pine.

T&G: What inspires you when designing?

R: I have an extensive background working with antiques, so I frequent a lot of flea markets and antique stores looking for that next big project. I am notorious for bringing home a piece of old furniture and putting it next to the TV for a few days until I make up my mind which direction I want to go with it.

T&G: What inspires you in general?

R: The French Maid

T&G: Are you involved in any groups, teams, organizations or do any volunteering?

R: Yes, I belong to a local woodworking guild that does a lot of charitable projects. Our goal this year is to provide 2500 wooden toys to needy kids. The guild has also done things like build wheel chair ramps for people, who otherwise could not get in and out of their homes on their own. It is a pretty wonderful organization.

T&G: What are your favorite materials to work with?

R: It has to be wood, but it is not always about sawdust with me. I also weave rush sheets, hand cane chairs, build stained glass windows and a variety of other things.

T&G: What do you want people to remember you for?

R: I think every craftsperson would like to be remembered for 1 terrific thing they were able to create with their hands. I keep trying to build something like that. Maybe one day I will be satisfied that I have done it. Meanwhile I keep trying.

T&G: Walk us through a typical day in Rory's life...

R: That would make this interview wayyy to dull. Lets just say it starts on the computer at about 7am and ends on the computer around midnight, if it's a short day. In between is some woodworking and a lot of craft stuff. Makes me tired thinking about it.

T&G: Tell us the #1 thing you want to complete before you die?

R: I would like to complete at least 1 ultimate project. At this point I'm not even sure what it will be, but I'm sure it must be something great. Stay tuned.

T&G: What would your friends have to say about you where you are the honoree at a party?

R: Just the idea of having friends who would do something like that is honor enough for me. No words would need be spoken.

T&G: Can you offer us any advice on how to be more successful bloggers?

R: Yes, my blog grew what I considered to be very slowly until I stopped worrying about followers and started worrying about the needs of others. Don't worry about receiving, just give, give, give. The followers will beat a path to your door.

Well there you have it, Rory is a man, and he is in an exclusive relationship with the French Maid! Okay, I am not writing an Etsy version of Us Weekly, so that is totally a joke!! Rory said that he would like to be remembered for one really awesome thing that he created with his hands and I believe he will be. One could remember him for the start he gave them in their business with the efforts he puts in to help others blogging each week. He may be remembered by a child on Christmas morning when they receive one of the toys he crafted for them. Let's face it Rory is an example to all of us to give more than we take out, because in his life he has set an example of giving back to others. Whether he is building ramps for people in wheel chairs to have access in and out of their homes, giving to children in need, or assisting all of the followers of Tools Are For Women Too!, he is looking for ways to help people besides himself. Rory may be remembered for something he has built, but I think his lasting legacy will be his selfless nature and his simple wish. That we all pay it forward!

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Button It Up!

Summer vacation is quickly coming to a close for those of us who have children at home enjoying every last minute of Summer freedom. And while some of the parents might be counting down the last 30 days or so, until they regain a bit of their freedom, there is still time left to build memories and keep the kids busy with a fun project to do together!
When I am working on jewelry my kids are always popping their heads in the room and needling their way up on my lap to try and "help" mommy. Usually this involves little hands making off with the off-limits gemstones and knocking a project on the floor and my blood pressure increasing! From the outside looking in I suspect it looks a bit like a Monty Python skit, or The Three Stooges and I'm the one getting! The solution was devising a project that they could take part in and with materials I could bear to part with. What I decided on a trip to Joanne's Fabric Store was that I would buy several packs of buttons and let the kids help me make magnets. You only need a few materials to complete the project and you can use several different things for your magnet. This is a great opportunity to let your kid's creativity shine through and their magnets will display artwork, schoolwork, and family schedules on your refrigerator throughout the year!

Materials Needed
  • Buttons, Rhinestones, Seashells, etc. The choice is up to you, let your creativity take over.
  • Glue, I use E-6000 Industrial Strength Adhesive
  • Round Magnets, I bought these in a bag at Wal-Mart but you can get them at any craft store
Okay after you assemble your materials you will want to find a nice flat spot to spread everything out and get to work.

  1. Put down a newspaper or the like to protect the surface you are working on.
  2. Make three stations for your materials, one for buttons, and another for glue, and then finally the magnets.
  3. Pick your button, or rhinestone etc. and begin to apply glue.
  4. When applying glue use paintbrushes or q-tips for application.
  5. If you are only using one button apply the magnet and allow to dry.
  6. If you are applying several layers of buttons allow the glue to dry for 6 hours before applying magnet.
  7. Once the button layers are dry apply the glue to the magnet and allow that to dry also for 6 hours or more.
*Note-You can also purchase magnets with adhesive already applied!

This project is a lot of fun for parents and kids and can be done with children of all ages with close supervision. Crafting is a great opportunity for children to embrace their creativity and unplug from the ipod touches, cell phones and television to spend some time as a family working with their hands to create something! I hope you give this project a try and have fun too!


Sorry I haven't posted in a few days but life sort of got in the way. I wanted to remind you to take part in my July Giveaway! There are only a few more days left to win a great bracelet and only a couple of you have entered. Today I will have some great new information for you so don't forget to tune in because I also have an awesome exclusive interview with a certain popular craftsman!!

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Accessories Challenge

"At school my boobs were bigger than all my friends' and I was afraid to show them. Now, I feel they make my outfits look better. They're like an accessory". -Jessica Simpson

Never did I think I would be quoting Jessica Simpson about her breasts of all things! But she makes a valid point, accessories improve an otherwise ordinary outfit. They make you smile a little brighter and feel more polished. Take a plain t-shirt and jeans and throw on some great heels, some glitzy jewels and your best handbag and you are ready to face the world!
This seasons embellished sandals are by far my favorite accessory! I pair them with my skinny jeans, shorts and sundresses. So my challenge for all of you is to take a fun pic of yourself with your most rockin outfit enhancer and post it right here or email it to me and I will post it for you.
You definitely will love the rewards of this challenge! More details to follow....

News from the Store

Sunset & Vine had a item featured in a treasury titled Whats Your Favorite Stone?. Fellow etsy artisan Red Green Queen created this smokin, awesome treasury. No kidding the level of talent in this cool little gem collection is intimidating, I don't know how I ended up being picked but I feel quite honored! Many thanks to Red who hails from Manchester across the pond. Take some time to visit her site, she is quite new to Etsy and has a lovely rock collection of jewels.

In other news it is once again Thursday but I am sure you all knew time to join in the Times are Tough Thursday#3-Christmas in July Edition. Rory is allowing everyone to post up to 5 items for the special July holiday!!! Thank you Tool Are For Women Too!

Have a great Friday Everyone!!

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Rhonda Jewelry-Featured Store of the Week

About a month ago I was browsing the Etsy front page when my eyes were instantly caught by a series of necklaces under the recent listings category. Quickly I clicked on one and entered Rhonda Michaels Jewelry, open since May 31, 2010, a newborn in the Etsy world. First of all let me say that I was so overwhelmed by the wonderment of the collection, the bold colorful pieces and the obvious style present in each design that I instantly contacted the store owner! I had to compliment her on her amazing store and the immense creativity and unique quality that was evident in every item listed and if I am being completely honest I was a tad bit curious about her. How did she put together such a great store and collection with such a defined style in two short weeks? Was she finding the Etsy experience easy to navigate and gratifying? Well I got my answers and a great new friend and now I am going to share her story with you!

Rhonda is a married mother of three wonderful, active boys between the ages of 8 and 14. Her background is in art and interior design and she is one of the lucky ones that works in her chosen profession, she is an interior designer. Rhonda says that in her spare time she loves to work with jewelry and has also been busy painting and has another Etsy store, Rhonda Michaels, with some of her canvases listed. She loves to spend time with her family and friends. Rhonda and I had a little chat about her jewelry designs and some other tidbits so read on for the interview:

S&V: In your jewelry designs what is your favorite material to use?

RM: Anything that has great depth and color!! I tend to use mother of pearl the most because of the great colors it comes in, but I truly can't resist a great glass bead, pearl, or stone.

S&V: Do you have a certain time of day or a particular place that you design?

RM: Since making jewelry is my creative passion (and not my day job) I tend to design pieces on the weekend and sometimes in the evening.

S&V: When you design do you watch T.V. or listen to music, etc.?

RM: I love to put on pandora radio and listen to music... usually pop music...I am 37, am I too old to rock out to a little Taylor Swift?!? In the winter I watch Hulu and catch up on Desperate Housewives or The Biggest Loser!

S&V:Where do you draw inspiration from and does your background in interior design ever lend inspiration to your jewelry designs?

RM: Generally my inspiration comes from the beads (though I should admit that I was scribbling necklace designs during church last week)! I usually put together strands with color combinations I love and twist the strands to see if I can envision a necklace...if I like it the design ideas jut flow from there. I think this is where being an interior designer helps me. I combine colors, textures and finishes for a living so doing it in jewelry comes pretty natural.

S&V: Are you involved in any groups in your hometown?

RM: Not at this point in my life. My husband and I lived overseas for 7 years while my husband played professional basketball (Turkey 1 year, Australia 7 years) and our life was full of ministry. When we moved back we started a Fellowship of Christian Athletes group for teens and we would regularly get 60-70 kids in our home each week. After five years we "retired" from that role. We have 3 boys aged between 9-14 (our eldest just got his learners permit last week...eek!!) who are very into sports, so if I'm not working or designing jewelry, my rear is usually stuck on a bleacher somewhere! :) lol!!!

S&V: Do you purchase your supplies from a local bead store or the Internet, or both?

RM: I LOVE shopping on Etsy for supplies, but I shop anywhere I can find great beads, from the Internet to my local bead stores.

S&V: Is there a signature item in your collection?

RM: Why yes, it is my Bloom design! 1 or more flowers on a necklace or bracelet.

S&V: Of all the designs you have made do you have a favorite ?

RM: Yes and I just sold it to a good friend this week! (picture below)

S&V: Do you have a most accomplished moment in your jewelry business?

RM: No, not really. Many of the people who have bought from me will tell me of the compliments they receive and that gives me so much joy! I try to create unique and feminine pieces because I think something as simple as a piece of jewelry can really transform the way you carry yourself...when you feel pretty your confidence shows!


Thanks Rhonda! I know that when someone wears your jewelry they couldn't help but feel pretty! Rhonda is offering a special to those who sign up for her facebook page. Between now and the end of July if you become a fan of Rhonda Michaels Jewelry facebook page you are automatically entered to win a $30.00 gift certificate for her Etsy store!!!

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Finding Success on Etsy

By no way am I the expert on mega sales and views on my humble little store but I have gone from virtually 0 sales to a steady flow of site traffic and a few sales that I am so thankful for. I can't guarantee you the same results if you try my methods but I can tell you that I have made a lot of great friends and contacts and I have learned valuable information along the way.
The number one thing that helped me was putting myself out there and introducing myself to fellow etsians that I admired. I favorited their shops, read their profiles, and started conversing with them about their etsy experiences. You will probably find 99% of these interactions will be awesome , helpful and ongoing relationships but there will occasionally be the 1% that leaves you feeling not so warm and gooey inside.
After you have favorited some artisans start making treasuries! They are a lot of fun to create, they showcase your favorite etsians talent, and they show another side of your creativity but most importantly they are a form of networking with other artists. If you have ever been picked for a treasury you know how thankful and honored you feel to be selected and in time someone may return the favor to you!
The one thing that I should have done in my first month but didn't do for one year was to read the seller handbook. Had I have done this back then I could have turned my store around sooner. If you are looking for ways to improve anything about your store and you haven't checked this out too please do! Looking for ways to improve your photos? There is an entire section. How about marketing and advertising? Of course that is there too. What about shipping tips, revamping your site, customer service 101? Basically everything you need to know about selling on Etsy is presented in the handbook so take advantage of this valuable tool!
After you have the basics nailed down start getting your presence out there more. Start a facebook page for your business and link back to your store often and invite all your friends. Also leave a link on your store page and invite customers. Mail out a newsletter and offer customers something fun for signing up. I use Mailchimp because it is free up to 500 email addresses and is easy to navigate. Many etsians also have a blog and they link their addresses on all their sites! On my blog and facebook I often feature my favorite designers and than they bring in fans too!
Miscellaneous tips include renewing items every few days, especially if you are not listing new items every day. Make sure that you are using all of your tags and that they are coming up in searches!!Of course I give beaucoup credit to blog Tools Are For Women Too!, as far as I know it is the only one of its kind and is so valuable in connecting wonderful designers and showcasing talent! In an earlier post I mentioned Micromentor and the help that they give for free!! The site matches you with a business mentor that guides you in the entrepreneur process and is tailored specifically to your needs!
I will keep looking for unique ways to grow your stores and if I find anything I will definitely share the info with you. On that note I have been praying for God's guidance in my business and help and I can say that I believe this has helped. With all these things combined and jumping backwards three times...just kidding;) Hopefully this helps in some small way and I wish all of you huge success in your businesses and your lives!!!

Monday, July 19, 2010

New Bling!!

So excited!! Today I received new glass beads and sterling findings for the store and I will be incorporating them into designs that will be rolling into the store everyday this week. But that isn't the best part. The best news is that I ordered some awesome gems, the beautiful faceted briolette kind and they already shipped. I feel like a kid in a candy store when I get new goodies and I have some of my favorites coming, some really rocking rocks! Turquoise and green amethyst, peridot, etc., etc. Make sure you visit Sunset & Vine for the new designs!

Also a reminder that Tools Are For Women Too! is having the Modern Craftswoman Monday Party so stop by!!

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Tools Are For Women Too! & Sunset & Vine Jewelry Giveaway

I have partnered with my friend and very inspiring person, Rory, from Tools Are For Women Too! to do a giveaway of some very awesome earrings from my store Sunset & Vine Jewelry! Please stop by Tools Are For Women Too! to get the information on entering the giveaway (super easy). You will be glad you did these earrings are very glitzy and glam in a natural goddess way! While you are here take a little time to enter my July giveaway posted too!

Monday, July 12, 2010

Featured Blog

Tools Are for Women Too! is one of most rocking blogs !! With the Times are Tough Thursdays and now a Modern Craftswoman Monday giving credit to Etsy artists that handcraft their wares and sell them for a profit, the blogs creator, Rory, is spotlighting these artists and there talents. He does this for no charge, no pay per click or pay per impression, he just asks that you pass along the word. When times are tough it is awesome to know that there is someone like him to support his fellow artisans and take his time to put this together and I am honored to be a part of the party and I will gladly do my part, pay it forward and pass it along. To view some really great handcrafted and vintage items follow this link:

Monthly Contest-July Contest

Enter to win the bracelet pictured for July's contest by following the most simple 2 step process:
1. Go to Sunset & Vine Jewelry and browse
the store items and pick your most fav!
2. Come back to tidbits & glitz blog and
post your fav link in the comments section of
this posting!
Super easy right and one lucky winner will
receive the featured bracelet! The bracelet is
sterling silver and freshwater pearls with
the gemstone iolite also included for a truly beautiful piece!
This is the first monthly contest.For a bonus enter your email in the link at the side to be sent our quarterly newsletter!

Sunday, July 11, 2010


Everybody loves a free product so I have wised up and will be sending out a quarterly newsletter with updates on the store, exclusive sales, contests and a drawing every quarter for recipients of the newsletter. I will not be spamming my fans and they will get much in return for signing up!!

Saturday, July 10, 2010


Boy have I been busy in a good way. My store is taking off slowly but surely...knock on wood, ha ha! So far I think I should credit God, I have done tons of praying, the "please God just give me one sell and I promise I will be good" kind.
Let me credit my fellow etsians for their help with advice and for being kind enough to put me in some treasuries and reading lots to Storque blog entries (the Etsy blog). I tried Google Adwords and so far nothing really great has come of it but I have tracked my page with their web analytics and I can't believe I didn't start sooner. This great site shows you all your stats and tag info and even treasuries you are included in, and a site called gives you all of your page views ever!
By far the greatest thing I have to tell you about if you are starting your own business is a site I stumbled upon a month ago when I was looking for volunteering opportunities. is a site that matches proven and effective business professionals with entrepreneurs that are looking for someone to mentor them through the ins and outs of business enterprise. As a mentored you fill out a profile of your business and what your needs are for your business and what you would like a mentor to focus on for developing your business. The program than sends out your profile and you begin to get mentor matches sent to you with their profile and you choose who would suit your needs best. This is really a great free program.
My mentor has been in the jewelry business for 55 years and is working with me on advertising and community exposure. We have a list of goals and we talk on the phone once a week until we cover everything. Being a mother of three and trying to juggle a business and the house can be hard but it feels more attainable when you realize there are programs out there like MicroMentor to help all you have to do is take a little time and do some research.