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December 2009 Reclaimed Threads’ Business Update; Current Events, Lessons Learned and Looking Forward

Hello world!

I hope that by reading through what I have been going through the last few weeks. running my small business, that it will help anyone going through the same ordeals! If you have any suggestions, helpful links or words of encouragement never hesitate to leave a comment or email me! I love hearing from people and frankly have a few things I am struggling with and would appreciate all the help I can get!

Well, there has been a lot happening with Reclaimed Threads over the last month or so. While I was still in Pittsburgh (3 months total), I worked my butt off building up a holiday inventory that exceeded my expectations in terms of the amount I was able to produce while maintaining the high quality I demand of myself.  Now the challenge lies in my being able to continue being as productive at home (MA) where there are many more opportunities to socialize. I maintain optimistic though, now that I see what I am capable of!

Currently In The Reclaimed Threads’ Etsy Shop:

So about this holiday inventory I mentioned before… I have lots of Christmas products currently up in my shop (www.reclaimedthreads.ets.com)! I had such a great time creating unique ornaments, gift bags and accessories! Make sure to have a look, grab what you like and let me know what you think!

What Is Coming Soon To The Reclaimed Threads’ Etsy Shop:

I have about 20 bags of all shapes, sizes and colors as well as many (MANY!) more accessories finished a ready to be photographed for my Etsy shop. I was originally holding onto them because I had a few shows lined up and thought I would sell them there. This did not end up being the case (story to be shared under the “Reclaimed Threads Out and About” Section) and I am really looking forward to sharing them with a larger group of like-minded people through my shop! Make sure to stop by while you are finishing up your holiday shopping, you won’t be disappointed! My goal is to have all of these items in my shop by next Tuesday, December 15th.

TIP: I have become such a firm believer in setting deadlines for myself lately! It truly does help and when you tell your friends and family (and Facebook and Twitter followers) about your deadline then you are forced to follow through! If you don’t follow through then there is bound to be at least one person who says, I thought you said that you were going to have “X” done by today? I hate disappointing people and looking like a bad business person so this keeps me in line! I will say, though, that despite all of my planning I am missing a total of THREE Etsy Shopper Features that I had planned for the past two weeks and this week. But Thanksgiving, travel and settling back home really messed things up. I had only set loose deadlines in this case so now I am all about full disclosure and am going to put up some sort of schedule of upcoming posts in this blog so that I am locked in!

Material World:

I am soooooo happy that I found a great fabric supplier! Two actually and they have been right under my nose this whole time and I wasn’t even aware of them! There is a home consignment store in my town called Still Life (http://www.stilllifeconsignmentshop.com/) and they have a lot of fabric samples from stores as well as vintage fabric and yardage that people simply didn’t want. I want it though!! I am so happy that people are bringing these items here instead of just throwing them away!

Upstairs in the same building is a designer fabric store called Zimmans (http://zimmans.com/). NOTE: When you go to this website there is music that I can’t figure out how to turn off so be careful if you are reading this at work! haha but back to what I was saying, I was almost overwhelmed with the bins of remnants and bolt ends available here! I am a huge fan of when products, literally no matter what it is, are color coordinated. I got weak at the knees when I saw the rainbow of colors as I walked through the back of this store!

I am definitely going to become a VERY good customer of both of these businesses!

A family member also stumbled across an estate sale recently and found boxes FULL of vintage buttons!  So I have about 9 or 10 Ball glass jars full of buttons, I’m in heaven!

Reclaimed Threads Out and About:

Okay now to my big blunder of 2009. I had a  few shows the last couple of weeks but none were very fruitful. One was a holiday shopping boutique which was a lot of fun and I met many great people but traffic into the boutique show wasn’t very high so there weren’t a lot of sales. I also was at a flea market for two Sundays in a row but I had a sharp gut feeling when I agree to sign up for this (which is a long story in itself including my brother and his friend and all of us splitting a booth, which didn’t happen, etc) that a fleas market might be the most inappropriate place to try and sell handmade, one of a kind, high-end sustainable products. My gut feeling was right and I did not generate many sales but, again, met some nice people. One thing that I gained from both experiences, which I find indispensable, is face to face feedback on my products. I am thrilled to report that people’s reactions and comments were overwhelmingly positive! It makes me very happy and proud to have people, unsolicited, tell me how impressed they are especially when they are seamstresses and other handmade craftsmen which a few were!

TIP Through The Lesson I Learned From This Experience: From now on I am going to be photographing products and uploading them to my shop every week. This is no matter what events I have lined up because by hoarding my inventory for these shows instead of uploading them to my Etsy shop as well, resulted in my missing out on all the post-Thanksgiving exposure. This was poor planning, and in my opinion, plain laziness on my part because I was too naive in thinking that everything I made would sell at these three events. I have learned that you can never assume anything when it comes to how your product will do at a show or event.  It is alright to think positive but always utilize every tool you have available! I should have uploaded all of my inventory to my Etsy shop so that they would be there for people looking specifically for high quality, eco-chic handbags AND for people who left the show with my card and could have decided to check out the shop later that night and see if the bag they liked was still available, possibly even buying it then. Even though feedback was very positive, the flea market was not the place to sell my products, so I would have to advise everyone to be very careful as to what sort of places you try to sell your products. If it is obviously the wrong venue then don’t waste your time and money because both are valuable!! Woops! Lesson learned!

Katherine, What Else Have You Learned So Far About Selling Your Kind of Products (handmade, sustainable bags and accessories):

Over the last few months I have learned a few things about selling my products:

-Customers tell me that my Etsy listing photos do not do my products justice! When they receive their bag they are surprised by how nice it really is! I am still working on taking crisper photos that also give the views that replicate how people look at bags in a store: front and back, inside, over their shoulder, etc.

-Even though I am working on my photos in my Etsy shop, there is still nothing better then having people see my products in person. I sell more bags when people ask me to come to their house while they have company over than anything else that I have done. This has sparked two initiatives that I will be working towards in the next few weeks: I want to get my products into handmade and eco-conscious stores in my area and I want to make a game plan for how I would launch a series of Home Trunk Shows (or home bag parties) to decide if it would be “do-able”.

-People are very much into one of a kind bags but they really like to pick out their own fabric and design elements. I played around with the idea of doing custom bags but with my production crew being made up of me, myself and I, I just do not have the capacity to venture into something like this yet. I am considering making this an exclusive offer at house trunk shows as well as these parties acting as a chance to have first dibs on a selection of new products.

-I need to get more Press Coverage for Reclaimed Threads! I would definitely appreciate any suggestions when it comes to this topic! I love seeing my products reviewed by people and would like to continue with this as well as have features written about the company as a whole! Up to this point, I’ve relied on networking with people and them offering to feature me here and there. I appreciate all of this and am now aiming to be featured more often and by a broader range of media (blogs, magazines, newspapers and TV)! Who isn’t aiming for this?!

FUN FACT: I was going to be featured in the Unofficial Etsy Business Blog as a “green business” recently. This turned into Justine (the editor) asking me to become a contributor to the blog instead. So I will be taking the driver’s seat for a “green stories” series on her blog, this is coming soon and will be a monthly feature. I am working on the questions and finding people to feature at the moment. I will be sure to update everyone once the first feature is ready! I am excited for this, it will be a fun to be a part of what I think is a wonderful blog!

Well, this pretty much sums up my last month or so! I’d love to hear your feedback about my products, the progress that I am making and definitely any suggestions that you have about things that I should be doing that I am not! Thanks for sticking with me through this long update! Remember that you can subscribe to my blog and get updates without even having to think about it!

Best Wishes,

Katherine

About Reclaimed Threads: Reclaimed Threads is a sustainable bag company launched by Katherine DeSantis. Katherine is  a 20-something entrepreneur who combined her love of being creative and sustainably conscious to form Reclaimed Threads.  Every item is handmade by Katherine from reclaimed/repurposed, vintage and organic/sustainable materials. There are a variety of bags and products in her shop: www.reclaimedthreads.etsy.com.

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Etsy Shopper – Thanksgiving

Katherine's Apple PieI LOVE THANKSGIVING! There is no way around it! I live in New England where the first Thanksgiving took place  and where we have the most brilliant fall colors that you can imagine! I love how the weather is getting brisk and you can start cozying up in your sweaters, build fires and drink hot cider. While compiling this post, I just kept getting more and more excited! Any excuse to bring family and friends together, give back to the community and …well… eat is GREAT in my book! So. That being out of my system, I will get on with why we have come together today….

Etsy is chok full of talented artisans and vintage collectors. All I can say is that they make putting together these Etsy Shopper posts so easy! You are all so talented and it always such a pleasure to get to know all of you! Anyone out there looking to buy unique items for their home, as a gift or something special for themselves should start their search at Etsy. I know that I am bias because I have an Etsy shop too but I am consistently impressed by the community of people here and how talented they are. WOW, I am really gushy today!

Here is a great group of items to spice up your Thanksgiving. Make sure to check out each shop because there is always more where this great stuff came from!

Remember that you need to scroll past the pictures to get a product description and link to each seller’s shop, just match the numbers from the pictures to the descriptions…

1. This is a great custom made dress set for your little one this Thanksgiving! The colors and little appliqued turkey are just perfect for the occasion! http://www.etsy.com/view_listing.php?listing_id=33118499

2. This slumped glass bottle is a great addition to any hors d’œuvres spread you have planned for the holidays! It is perfect for cheese and crackers or any other small finger food. There are small rubber feet attached too, so it will stay in place and not slide all over! http://www.etsy.com/view_listing.php?listing_id=33182259

3. This adorable turkey hair bow is made to order! It will look SO great with any child’s Thanksgiving outfit! http://www.etsy.com/view_listing.php?ref=vt_related_1&listing_id=33806663

4. Want to keep the kid’s entertained before and after dinner? Why not give them a big sheet of recycled paper and this Tom Turkey Crayon Puzzle. Its fun to take apart and put back together as well as draw with. Best of all, it is made from recycled crayons! Bring it as a gift if you are not hosting this year! http://www.etsy.com/view_listing.php?listing_id=33148353

5. I love this! It is a vintage New York Trade School News, “Thanksgiving Issue”. There 12 pages full of fun text and illustrations, all Thanksgiving themed. This would be a lot of fun to look through with family and friends! http://www.etsy.com/view_listing.php?listing_id=30984018

6. This vintage pleaded apron will help you look cute and stay neat while helping to make Thanksgiving dinner! It is 27” long and light weight, so you won get hot while you are working! The colors are great for the occasion too! http://www.etsy.com/view_listing.php?listing_id=33078489

7. Ooooh Adorable. This little Tom Turkey is made from an upcycled, 100% wool sweater and stuffed with wool fleece. He is just so cute and would make a great decoration, and toy for the kids, at Thanksgiving dinner! http://www.etsy.com/view_listing.php?listing_id=33047969

8. I love candles! This 8oz Pumpkin Pie soy candle has hints of clove, nutmeg, vanilla and just the right amount of spice. It’s in a 100% recycled aluminum container. Great gift for someone hosting Thanksgiving or for yourself! http://www.etsy.com/view_listing.php?listing_id=33317116

9.This silky brown dress will help  you look great while you are cooking Thanksgiving dinner! Very cute dress and it’s at an unbeatable price. Snatch it up before someone else does! http://www.etsy.com/view_listing.php?listing_id=31903513

10. Looking for a vintage tablecloth!? Look no further. This great Fall themed piece will be a welcomed addition to any Thanksgiving table! http://www.etsy.com/view_listing.php?listing_id=33302396

11. This unique piece can be used for gravy or soup. It will sit proudly on your Thanksgiving table waiting to serve. It is at least twenty years old and looks great! http://www.etsy.com/view_listing.php?listing_id=33092411

12. This lovely apron is made from an upcycled pillowcase! Perfect for preparing dinner and is definitely a unique item that no one else will have! My favorite part is the ruffle at the bottom. Nicely done! http://www.etsy.com/view_listing.php?listing_id=30752065

13. Could this garland be any cuter?! It was hand cut from upcycled wool sweaters! Such a wonderful decoration for around your dining room this Thanksgiving! http://www.etsy.com/view_listing.php?listing_id=33296744

14. This is such a cute T-shirt! Custom-made and in a variety of children’s sizes, it will be a hit at your Thanksgiving dinner! http://www.etsy.com/view_listing.php?ref=vt_related_1&listing_id=33777411

15. My family used to have a serving dish that looked similar to this. This serving plate encompasses the image that comes to mind while thinking about Thanksgiving. It’s beautiful, ornate and deserves to have the most important part of the meal upon it! I just love this piece! http://www.etsy.com/view_listing.php?listing_id=33288450

16. Serve yourself something delish using this art deco style serving spoon (say that 3 times fast!)! Look at the fun details on the end and picture using this spoon year after year during your Thanksgiving feasts! Great piece with a great price to go along with it! http://www.etsy.com/view_listing.php?listing_id=33512877

17. I’ve always wanted to know how to make pot-holders like this. This autumn colored pot-holder is crocheted from a recycled tablecloth. Great addition to your Thanksgiving cooking arsenal. http://www.etsy.com/view_listing.php?listing_id=33384903

18. Wine charms are one of the best inventions! This particular set is just perfect in color and texture for Thanksgiving. Made with beach stones from Lake Michigan, you will not only have nice pieces to mark your glasses with but  they will be a wonderful conversation starter! http://www.etsy.com/view_listing.php?listing_id=32445637

19. oooooh my goodness! How cute is this! The first thing I think when I look at this hat is that it must have taken a long time to make! It is so cute, love the colors! I can see some of my younger cousins wearing this to Thanksgiving! They might even get away with leaving on their hat for awhile inside! But of course the best part is that its made from 100% cotton yarn and stuffed with recycled clothing!! http://www.etsy.com/view_listing.php?listing_id=32683527

20. Soooooo beautiful! I almost don’t want to see it covered! Perfect Thanksgiving colors. The edges are just lovely and this would be a great accent on top of another red or white table cloth, creating a real festive table! Oh I am getting excited about Thanksgiving while writing this! http://www.etsy.com/view_listing.php?listing_id=27287063

21. These are the most beautiful place cards that I’ve seen in a long time! They are made from recycled post consumer paper and have threads of gold embedded into them. I love the gold tree that finishes the cards off perfectly. These are the wonderful place cards for any holiday meal, so lets start with Thanksgiving! http://www.etsy.com/view_listing.php?listing_id=29486954

22. Wow, talk about statement pieces! This wine/whiskey rack will have everyone that visits your house impressed! You can even get a personalized carved plaque to finish it off. Each piece is unique, I think the price is extremely reasonable and I can’t wait to get my own!! http://www.etsy.com/view_listing.php?listing_id=32040910

About Reclaimed Threads: Reclaimed Threads is a sustainable bag company launched by Katherine DeSantis. Katherine is  a 20-something entrepreneur who combined her love of being creative and sustainably conscious to form this company.  Every item is handmade by Katherine from reclaimed, vintage and organic/sustainable materials. There are a variety of bags and products in her shop: www.reclaimedthreads.etsy.com.

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Find me on my new Facebook account!

I am now on WordPress, Twitter and FACEBOOK!

I have created both a User Profile and Page under the business’s name, “Reclaimed Threads”, on Facebook. To become a “fan” of Reclaimed Threads’ Page, as well as befriend it’s user profile, simply search for Reclaimed Threads while logged into Facebook and you will find it!!  (if you are not familar with Pages on Facebook, you need to click on the box that says “Become a Fan” near the top of the page). I would love to have you all as fans and have another fantastic way to convey all that is going on with the shop and products!! I cannot wait for our grand opening tomorrow, September 2 after 12PM to be able to offer up my products for your enjoyment. So make sure to stop by, tell your friends and come back regularly to see what’s new!

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So tomorrow is the big Grand Opening…

I have everything ready to go for tomorrow’s  Reclaimed Threads Grand Opening! The only thing that is giving me a hard time is finalizing the pricing  for shipping and handling. I am looking all over for the best price for you! I am leaning towards using the US Postal service but am now going back and forth between flat rate boxes or my own packaging. We will have an answer by the morning and I promise the result will be the best price I can manage as a small business! I hope everyone is out there telling their friends and family about the opening being tomorrow and to stop by and browse through the shop!! I am working on the Reclaimed Threads Facebook Page now and will update about that later here.

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Clutches

These two clutches were little side projects while I was putting together the tote bags. They were fun to make and I hope that they bring someone lots of joy and compliments. The white and pink clutch is made from reclaimed table napkins, The dimensions are H: 6”; W: 12”. Price $32. The floral clutch was started years ago and I found it recently. I completed it by sewing in a liner and adding on the leather roping taken from an old broken bag. The dimensions are 12” diagonally from corner to corner and the opening is 7”. Price $35


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The Diana Tote

These are examples of the “Diana” tote bag. These great bags are lots of fun. The straps on each side cinch the top of the bag together when it is not full. When the tote is nice and full, the straps can easily be unbuttoned and tucked into their loops on each side of the bag. The dimensions H: 13.5”; W: 14”; Deep: 4”; with 23” straps and a pocket inside. Price $32.

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The Muriel Tote

These are examples of the “Muriel” tote bag. This is a nice bag, again, for the school or work bound but in addition the wide bottom lends itself as a perfect market tote. The dimensions for these bags are H: 11.5”; Top Width: 17” ; Bottom Width: 11”; Bottom of bag is 6 X 11” with 24” straps and a pocket inside. Price: $32


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