Posted on

New Online Shop

Anodyne Design has a new online shop!

The shop features handmade items ranging from wristlets to wallets to Little Hootie Owls. If I make it, you can find it here. Many of the things I make include recycled or repurposed materials, like wristlets made with vintage sheets and upcycled linen and push pins made with scraps of fabric saved from other projects, so you can be stylish and environmentally friendly at the same time.

To celebrate opening the new shop, all orders placed in March* will be entered into a drawing for a $25 credit towards your next Anodyne Design order! Please take a peek — I’d love to know what you think of the new shop!

*This offer applies to the new shop at The Etsy shop is still open, but is not part of this promotion.

Posted on

Tiny Buttons

Tiny Buttons

I’ve been making a pile of tiny covered buttons lately.

I have a very hard time parting with even the smallest scraps of fabric. Of course, that means I have a seriously out-of-hand collection of scrap fabric. I’ve starting turning some of it into these tiny buttons, which will ultimately become push pins.

I’ve also used bits of scrap fabric to make appliques. My pile is big enough, though, that I need to come up with some more good projects for scrap fabric. Any ideas?

Also, I’ve been loving this Pandora station lately, built around the Kate Nash’s song “Merry Happy.” You should check it out.

Posted on

Taking Photos

I spent some time this morning taking advantage of the sunlight and taking photos of little hootie owls. After looking at them, though, I think I need to redo the whole thing. I think I set the exposure too high, and everything looks a bit washed out. I did get one lovely photo, though. This little hootie owl hanging in a metal tree I found at Joanne Fabrics last fall.

Now it’s back to the light box, to try to get some truer colors. Wish me luck! or better yet, share some tips with me for getting great photos, because I’m often underwhelmed with my photos. What are your secrets?

UPDATED: I retook all the photos with a lower exposure, and everything looks much better. I listed the whole flock of owls on Etsy.

Posted on

Happy 2011!

2011 already? What happened? And on that note, where have I been? I haven’t posted since September, at which time I promised to get better about blogging. So much for promises from me. But it’s a new year now, and that almost requires making new promises.

So, once again, I’m going to try to be a better blogger. And I’m going to start updating my Etsy shop again. Pop on over now and see all the new things I listed today!

As for where I’ve been, it’s a fairly simple story. Back in July I got a new job that ate up way too many hours. 12 hour days and almost 2 hours a day driving to and from work were not uncommon. So just before Christmas, I started a new job, with shorter days and a much more reasonable commute. And I can already see a difference. Hopefully, blog readers and shop visitors will begin to see one, too!

Posted on

Business Planning…

Yesterday, I announced that Anodyne Design had won a small business grant from the wonderful people at Intuit, and I shared my plans for how I would be using that grant to grow and improve my little business. It was exciting to really think about the my “next move,” and I can’t wait to get started!

But the contest isn’t quite over. This week, the 9 finalists from April, May and June will be judged by Seventh Generation co-founder, Jeffrey Hollender, for a chance to win the grand prize of an additional $25,000 small business grant. The judging criteria are simply to find the business that is “most loved by its customers, vendors, employees, or local community.” I have taken a look at the other finalists, and I think it’s going to be a tough call to make. In the spirit of looking to the future of Anodyne Design, whether I were to win the grand prize or not, I have given some thought to how I might best use $25,000.

In addition to my original plan focused on developing the online side of Anodyne Design, I would also start developing an online indie boutique that would provide a home for small, local businesses engaged in environmentally responsible design. As a maker myself, I am always searching for the most eco-friendly materials, and I particularly like to create items that are designed to be re-used, to last, and to replace something disposable. As a shopper, I am looking for the same sort of items, and I don’t think I am alone. This venture would require a new web presence, branding, and advertising.

An extra $25,000 would also make it possible for Anodyne Design to participate in larger in-person events, such as the Renegade Craft Fair and Strange Folk Festival, which require entry fees, travel, and a significant investment in time. One of the joys of being a small business is in being able to interact one-on-one with individuals who share my love of handmade, and I would love to be able to pursue that beyond the bounds of my small town.

I would also be able to invest in some new equipment that would help me to be more efficient and to create items that so far have just been waiting in the “someday” pile. In particular, I would be adding a new serger and a die cutting machine to my arsenal of tools. I will also be able to continue using top-of-the-line environmentally responsible materials. And perhaps most importantly, $25,000 would definitely make it possible for me to expand the space dedicated to my business, which for the moment is only one-half of a small office I share with my husband. I can just imagine how much more productive and creative I could be if I had a little more space.

So this is my plan of action, whether I jump into the fast lane with the grand prize grant, or whether I take it slowly. Either way, it’s going to be awesome. What do you think? Did I miss something, should I being paying more attention to one part of this than another? Like I wrote in my last post, Anodyne Design isn’t much without you, so your input is really important to me as I grow. Let me know what you think!

Posted on

Love A Local Business

One of my strongest memories from elementary school was a school-wide presentation we were all herded to the gym to attend. On stage, a man and a woman taught us about cold pricklies and warm fuzzies. Obviously, warm fuzzies were good things to share with other people and cold pricklies were not. One of my favorite things about owning my own business and selling handmade is all the warm fuzzies people freely give me. I love hearing what you think about my work, whether you buy it or not, and I really love getting feedback from buyers. One of my favorite things I’ve heard a few times recently is, “I bought something from you awhile ago, and I love it and use it all the time.” Seriously, this sort of comment makes my day. It’s warm fuzzies for me, and I really hope that I’m giving warm fuzzies back to you, too.

We're Loved - Anodyne Design on Love A Local BusinessLast month, I signed up to participate in Intuit’s Love a Local Business contest. Small, local businesses sign up and then their fans leave comments about the business. Each comment counts as a vote, and at the end of the month, 3 comments are selected and the businesses win a small business grant. Amazingly, and thanks to your kind and generous comments, Anodyne Design was one of the June winners! Thank you to everyone who left a little love for Anodyne Design, and to Intuit for having such a cool program!

I have been thinking hard about how to best use the grant to grow Anodyne Design, and I have a few ideas. But I would also really love to hear from you about how you would like to see Anodyne Design grow and improve, because it if weren’t for all the wonderful people who support me with their love, nice words, and occasional purchases, there would be no point to Anodyne Design. So I’ll share my plan with you, and I’d love it if you would share your ideas in a comment.

In the past month, I have been thinking about the best direction for Anodyne Design. I have been wanting to focus more on developing the business online. In particular, I have been working behind the scenes to create an online shop. I think the small business grant will provide the perfect resource for improving the online end of business. In particular, I am planning to use the grant to:

  • Invest in a higher quality camera to improve product photos
  • Invest in a proper lightbox (and lights), also to improve my product photography
  • Hire a web designer to help me with my online shopping cart
  • Develop a comprehensive online marketing/advertising campaign

All of this will help me to launch a lovely new online shop that should provide the best possible shopping experience, and also help me to help spread the word of Anodyne Design and handmade accessories in general.

I am also planning on using the grant to engage in a few less-exciting, but important tasks, including repaying a small business loan and hiring someone to help me make sure all my taxes are nice and orderly. And finally, this grant should help me to start working with more environmentally friendly (and sometimes more costly) materials, such as organic cotton. I always try to make the environmentally responsible choice for Anodyne Design when I can, and a little more capital is going to make that a little easier to do.

So that’s my plan… what do you think– is it a good one? Would you do something different? What do you want to see from Anodyne Design? Please let me know!

Posted on

Rhapsody in Bloom

Butterfly at Luthy Botanical Garden

This weekend was Rhapsody in Bloom, so I got to spend both days enjoying art and nature in the Luthy Botanical Garden. The predicted rain did not materialize, the garden plants and creatures were lovely, the art was lovely, and it was wonderful to see so many people come out to visit the garden and check out the art.

Blue Sky seen from Luthy Botanical Garden

I loved meeting so many new people, and seeing some familiar faces from the RiverFront Market and the Peoria Heights Art Fair. I keep trying to make new things, to keep things fresh and interesting, and this weekend was no different. I stayed up way too late on Friday night making new straight-sided cosmetic pouches. I broke out some of the fabric I have been saving for “just the right project,” and each one was embellished with fancy French velvet ribbon or ric-rac.

Cosmetic Pouches

Three of the pouches in this picture are gone, but I have a few more in the works, and hopefully I’ll be getting a few listed online in the next two days. And they will definitely be putting in an appearance at this weekends’ RiverFront Market. (I loved doing Rhapsody in Bloom this weekend, but I did miss my weekly market time, especially the tomato man and the lettuce guy. I’ll be happy to see them this Saturday!) I hope you had a wonderful weekend, too, and that this week shapes up to be a good one!

Posted on

Some Market Observations

This weekend was busy (and it’s only Saturday night)! Friday afternoon I drove to the next town over to set up for First Fridays. They shut down the main downtown street, and local restaurants set up some outdoor seating and do a bit of cooking in the street. There was a band (whose cover of Sarah, by Hall & Oates, I thoroughly enjoyed), and local artists set up their tents along the street. The street was full and lively all night long, and the forecast rain never appeared, which was marvelous.

Anodyne Design at First Friday in Galesburg, IL
Anodyne Design at First Friday in Galesburg, IL

This morning was not quite so nice, weather-wise. But a little rain is no reason to miss the first farmers’ market of the season, so we braved the weather and set up downtown. It was clear the rain kept quite a few people away, but I think that just speaks more to the awesomeness of those who did come out. It was nice to see some familiar faces and to make some new friends.

One of my favorite things to do at a farmers’ market or other event is to people watch. It’s endlessly interesting to see the variety of people in this world. (And to see their pets. There were definitely some cute dogs out at the market today.) Some of my favorite observations from this weekend:

Stilts at First Friday in Galesburg, IL
Stilts at First Friday in Galesburg, IL

– watching an older woman dance un-self-consciously to the First Friday band, while everyone else just stood around. It was absolutely refreshing to see someone so much enjoying herself regardless of what anyone else was doing or thinking.

– witnessing a Walk of Shame. The parking lot for the farmers’ market has signs clearly stating that no one is allowed to park in it overnight on Fridays, because we need it for the market early Saturday morning. Not everyone always follows the signs though, and sometimes we have to work around the cars. There was one such car right next to my space today. About halfway through the market, we watched a young woman enter the lot in some fabulous heels that were clearly too fancy for a rainy morning of produce shopping. She quickly walked straight to the car next to us, and drove out of the lot with her hand over her face. But she did have awesome shoes.

– watching a man on stilts gently hold his companion’s (who was not on stilts) hand. And then watching that man on stilts be “stalked” by a gaggle of little boys, who would scream and run with delight whenever he turned and saw them.

– I also met a man with a laugh just like Amadeus today. It was marvelous.

Tomorrow, I plan on checking out the Junction City Art Fair. Some artists who are there that I love: Joan Furilla (fine silver jewelry), Razorberries (quirky watercolor illustrations), and metalME (more pretty jewelry!). And perhaps best of all, it should be sunny, or at least not raining. Hooray!
P.S. Help Anodyne Design grow a little, by nominating it to win a small business grant on Love a Local Business. All you need to do is click the link and leave a comment describing why you love Anodyne Design. If love is too much commitment for you, I’d happily settle for “like a lot.” I love being a small, local (and online) business (although you don’t have to be local to vote!), and it will be easier for me to keep doing that, and doing it well, with a little love from you. Thanks. 🙂

Posted on

The Urban Art Co-op

Urban Art Co-opThe Urban Art Co-op is a shop in Collinsville, Illinois that features work by local Illinois artists of both the “traditional-painted-on-canvas” sort and the more crafty, handmade bags and furniture sort. The shop also has an event space and hosts regular art-focused events, such as Wine and Watercolor, which sounds like a fabulous way to spend an evening. If I lived closer to Collinsville, I would definitely be signed up for that.

Ali McCarthy, who runs Urban Art, was kind enough to send me a few photos of my handmade items in her shop. Currently, you can find Anodyne Design wristlets and card wallets, fabric covered journals, keychain pouches, gift tags, and magnets in the shop. Oh, and of course, Little Hootie Owls.

Anodyne Design at Urban Art
Photo by Ali McCarthy
Anodyne Design at Urban Art Co-op
Photo by Ali McCarthy

If you are near Collinsville, which is right by St. Louis, you should really stop in and check Urban Art out. There’s lots more to see there than just what’s in these pictures, and the frequent classes they offer sound very cool. You can find out more about Urban Art on their blog or Facebook.

Posted on

Action Shots of a Different Sort

You may have noticed by now that I’m a fan of photos of Anodyne Design items in “action.” Most of these photos come after someone has purchased the item, but it has recently come to my attention that there is whole other realm of possibility for action shots: wandering photographers at craft show and farmers’ markets. Farmers’ markets in particular seem to be especially appealing to the itinerant photographer, and apparently even photographers cannot resist the cuteness of the Little Hootie Owl.

This photo of the Little Hooties recently appeared in the Bloomington Farmers’ Market weekly newsletter:

Little Hootie Owls at the Bloomington Farmers' Market
Photo by Gemma Billings

And this one was taken at the recent craft fair at the FRC:

Photo of Little Hootie Owls by Natural Habitat
Photo by Natural Habitat

Thanks for taking, and sharing, such lovely photos! Oh, and if you happen to be the sort of photographer who’s drawn to farmers’ markets, check out the flickr pool I created for photos taken at the Peoria RiverFront Market. The Market starts up again the first Saturday in June. Bring your camera.