Tag Archives: inspiration

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20 Ways To Nurture Your Creative Spirit

We are dedicating this entire summer of blog posts to creativity.  We’ll share some DIY projects, introduce you to some REALLY cool people who inspire us and tell you what we’ve learned as artists and business owners.

We are all creative in our own way.  Even if you don’t think you are creative you probably have some creative mojo tucked away. Creativity is like a muscle – the more you use it the stronger it gets.   Sometimes you make something U-G-L-Y…embrace it, keep it, have fun with it!  We still laugh about some of our ugliest and most unfortunate creations from our early jewelry making days.  Sometimes you make something beautiful and never want to give it away or sell it.  Creativity is good for the soul.

We thought it would be fun to share a list of ways that we stay creatively energized.  Hopefully some of them will inspire you.

  1. Keep lists of amazing and inspiring people we meet.
  2. Hang out with happy, interesting people.
  3. Ask for feedback from people we respect & admire.
  4. Walk away from a project that’s frustrating us.  Often time and space cures what is going wrong.
  5. We embrace our mistakes – sometimes those end up our favorite creations.  At the very least they give us a good laugh.
  6. Sleep well, eat well and play often.
  7. We do something that makes us happy every day.  Even on crazy days, even if it’s just for a minute or two.
  8. Take risks with our art or projects.  We like to dream BIG and this takes us way out of our comfort zone at times.
  9. Get outside.  Walk, ride a bike, go for a run.
  10. Make lists of all our ideas: possible and impossible.
  11. Clean up our work area.  This is a big one.
  12. Attend a creative class or better yet a conference (our absolute favorite is Craftcation in Ventura, California).  We also love online classes at Craftsy).
  13. Carry a journal or sketchbook.
  14. Go to a museum, craft fair or art show.
  15. Take a trip – even if it’s local, a change of scenery is inspiring.
  16. Join an online creative challenge (ie. #yearofmaking) or create your own challenge.
  17. Embrace quiet – take time away from social media, phones, TV, music and people in general.  Giving ourselves time to think is invaluable.  Even if it’s only for 10 minutes on busy days.
  18. We recommend posting something you’ve made on social media.  The positive feedback may surprise you and will definitely motivate you.
  19. Hand-write a letter to a friend or family member on pretty writing paper.
  20. Turn off electronics for a few hours every day.  Too much time on Facebook or Pinterest take time away from making.

If you are thinking about getting a little more creative we highly recommend the book Make it Mighty Ugly by Kim Werker.    In this fun book Kim offers exercise and advice for getting creative.  We feel very lucky to have met Kim at Craftcation.  Her energy and courage in creativity are infectious!

Now log off and do something fun and creative.  We promise that you won’t regret it!

We Don’t Have Dreams We Have Plans

This is the honest truth.  Our small handmade business has turned a corner in the past year.  We used to dream and now we plan.  Thank you to all of you who inspire us and support us.  We are looking forward another fabulous year!

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Taking Flight with Nicole from Ni-Chern Designs

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When planning this blog series on the entrepreneurial journey of small business owners we immediately knew that we wanted to feature Nicole from Ni-Chern Designs.  Nicole is smart, collaborative and giving…everything that a successful entrepreneur needs to be.  She understands the need for community in the handmade entrepreneurial world and when she couldn’t find a community that fit her she created her own!  How is that for initiative?  Check out this community of talented artists (including Hang Ups in KC) at:  http://handmadeinkc.wix.com/home.

If you are wondering what her company name means, Ni-Chern (Nee-Churn) is Nicole’s Chinese name, meaning little girl.  Nicole does some of the finest work we’ve seen and has an eye for fun, vibrant fabrics.  Her creations have been featured several magazines including This is KC, The Pitch, Vintage KC Magazine and the Better Homes and Gardens Do It Yourself Magazine.

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Check out Ni-Chern’s website at www.nicherndesigns.com.  Here is a peek at a few of her creations:

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Ni-Chern Designs is a part of the Made In Kansas City Initiative (www.localstart.org) and donates 10% of her profits to the non-profit organization Kids TLC (www.kidstlc.org).  We could go on and on about this dynamo handmade entrepreneur but thought it would be more fun quiz her about how she got started, what drives her and what celebrity she would love to see using her products.

Q:  When did you start your sewing business and why?

A:  I started my business back in 2005. At first it was the lack of handmade items out there and I needed to pay off my student loans. As we all know when we starting out with handmade business, there is no income in any of this!  So I refocused and went with my desire to help out by donating 10% of my proceeds to preventcancer.org for the first few years.

Q:  What has been the single best thing you’ve done for your business?

A:  Connecting with fellow handmakers. I think a lot of times when we start out, all we can think about is how to make money, but the best thing that I’ve done for my business is to make friends and connect with other people. There is a difference between connecting professionally and just making friends. I always hope that the connections made will turn into a lasting friendships!

Q:  What is your favorite business book or blog that inspires you?

A:  The business blog that has caught my eye recently is Create and Thrive.

Q:  If you could have a celebrity use your products who would it be?

A:  Oh man, I really like Jennifer Lawrence, Emma Stone, and Rachel McAdams. So, I guess any of those ladies would be great!

We would like to thank Nicole for participating in this blog series and for including us in her circle of handmade friend-preneurs!  Find Ni-Chern Designs on Facebook at www.facebook.com/nicherndesigns, follow her on Twitter @nicherndesigns and on Instagram at www.instagram.com/ni_chern.

We are always looking for tips, tricks and feedback.  If you have a fabulous entrepreneurial story please share it with us in the comments section!

Best wishes to all of you!

Kristi & Carolyn

Top 5 Ways to Take Your Handmade Business to the Next Level

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We thought that featuring a Q&A with ourselves as part of our Taking Flight series might be a little odd so we’ve assembled a list of our advice on the Top 5 Ways to Take Your Handmade Business to the Next Level.  None of these tips require significant financial commitment.  What they do require is courage and initiative – something all entrepreneurs have whether we know it or not.

1.  Read books written by the Guru’s of the Handmade World.  Our favorite author is Kari Chapin-Nixon.  Her books The Handmade Marketplace and Grow Your Handmade Business are available at www.karichapin.com or www.storey.com.  They helped us immensely in our early days and still act as an excellent reference guide as we continue our journey.

2.  Create an online presence.  Ideally this would be in the form of a website but if you aren’t there yet open an Etsy Shop.  Opening an Etsy Shop is quick, simple and VERY cost effective.  You need a place to display your goods and refer people to when you aren’t out on the Arts & Craft Show circuit.  Think of your Etsy store or website as your portfolio.  Check out our Etsy Shop at www.hangupsinkc.etsy.com for ideas on store policies, shipping costs, etc.   With the help of Kristi’s very computer savvy husband Matt, we were able to build our own website (www.hangupsinkc.com) on the OpenCart platform.  We’ve been live for 6 months now and are thrilled with our increase in visibility and sales.

3.  Start a blog.  This was advice that we received last year at the Craftcation Conference (see point #4) and we grudgingly took the plunge.  We were nervous and had no idea where to start so we asked an expert – Kari Chapin-Nixon (see point #1).  She recommended the book Blogging For Creatives by Robin Houghten (find it on amazon.com).   The book changed our whole outlook on blogging and made the process much less intimidating.  Within a month or so of the conference we launched our brand new blog using the WordPress platform and have worked hard to publish blogs consistently since then.  Here’s the surprising thing – it’s kind of fun.  You should try it!   It has been proven that blogs build traffic to your business and increase the credibility of your expertise and your business.

4.  Network with other Creatives who are willing to share and learn with you.  We attended a conference called Craftcation (www.craftcationconference.com) in Ventura California last April that literally rocked our small business.  We spent 3 intense days attending seminars on how to grow our business.  We networked, took notes, exchanged ideas and then created our plan of action for 2013.  Since Craftcation we have created our blog, our website, newsletter, created Instagram & Twitter accounts, moved into more stores, joined the Made in Kansas City Initiative (www.localstart.org)  and created a wonderful partnership with Literacy Kansas City.   With all of this growth came an increase in credibility and visibility which led to our One Million Cups (www.1millioncups.com) presentation in January.  Craftcation 2014 is less than 6 weeks away – we can’t wait!  If you can’t attend a conference how about checking into local networking groups such as local Etsy teams?

5.  Get organized!  Create an inventory system.  There are systems that you can purchase but Kristi and I find that our system using a shared Excel spreadsheet works for us.  Each piece of jewelry that we make is logged on this spreadsheet and given an identifying number.  The number is written on the price tag and store inventory lists.  We have several hundred pieces of jewelry active at any given time so we need to be able to easily track the price, who made it and where it is located at any given time.  All small business owners should also be tracking expenses in order to effectively manage their business.  We use Quicken but QuickBooks is also a great system.  Finally, one of the greatest tools we used to increase sales this year was to sign up for Intuit’s GoPayment Program (www.intuit.com).  Accepting credit cards while at Arts & Craft Shows or other events dramatically increases sales.  Trust us on this one.  It costs only a small percentage per transaction and it is totally worth it!

Please share this list with anyone who you think will find it helpful.  Having a successful handmade business dependent on being open to new ideas and sharing information.  We wish all handmade businesses the best of luck in 2014!

Kristi & Carolyn (www.hangupsinkc.com)

 

The True Entrepreneur is a Doer, Not a Dreamer

Isn’t this the truth?  Entrepreneurship isn’t for the faint of heart.  Kristi & I are getting ready to make another exciting announcement but first comes the hard work!  Stay tuned for the announcement coming in a few weeks….

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Yes, we caught the spelling mistake on this post but it struck a cord with us so we posted anyway.   Have a great week Friends!

Taking Flight with Jenny & Skip from Ugly Glass & Company

Kristi and I are very excited to launch our Taking Flight series by introducing Jenny & Skip, owners of a gorgeous store called Ugly Glass & Company located in Independence Missouri.  This series will focus on the entrepreneurial journey of several small business owners.  If you are thinking about starting your own “handmade” business or own a small business we invite you to become an active participant in this blog series.

That is Jenny (below), we are pretty sure she was excited because we’d just dropped off (check the counter below her) a brand new batch of Hang Ups in KC creations.  Or maybe she was just happy to see us?

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Q.  How long have you been in business?

A. Skip and I started creating jewelry in 2002 and opened our store front in 2012.  We created our store front as way to showcase our work and the works of other creative souls from the USA.  Currently we have over 70 artists and fine crafters on 2 floors from all over the USA, a lot from the Kansas City metro area.  We are much like an eclectic gift show! 

Q. What made you want to start your own business?

A.  I found a love of beads while creating stretchy bracelets with my friend Amie for Family Literacy Centers; “Bracelets for Literacy”.  It was a fundraising project.  After that I was addicted and started making for others.  Amie got me started on doing craft shows too…so it is all Amie’s fault I guess!!!! I think opening our store front came from a need to have a year round selling venue, instead lugging our things from craft show to craft show on the weekends.  We wanted to give that opportunity to other artists and crafters too.

Q. What is a mistake that you’ve made that you would like to share to help others avoid it?

A.  Save lots of money!  We had been looking off and on for an amazing store front for 5 or 6 years, but had not saved a penny. So everything we had on hand when the “right” space became available went into the space and it was used very quickly!  I suggest having enough saved up at home too.  If you are quitting your day job to start your business, you need bill money for a couple of years, because it might take that long or longer before you are making a profit on your business.

Q.  What is the best thing you’ve ever done for your business?

A.  I started it…I dove in and started it.  I am shy so it took a lot to put myself out there and just do it.  If I let my shyness run my life, I would not have started my business nor opened a store front.

Q.   Advice for anyone thinking of starting their own business.

A.  Network…networking is hard for a shy person.  But don’t be shy about sharing with the world that you have a business.  Always have business cards on hand to give to someone as you are telling them about your amazing business!  Create that Facebook page too!  I cannot believe how many come into the shop because they found us on Facebook!  Social media is very important now.

Q.  What is your favorite business book or blog? If you don’t have one – what inspires you?

A.  I don’t read – I like pictures!!!  Many times we are creating what we have been challenged to create.  If a customer says “hey can you make a starfish?”  we shrug and say “we can give it a go.”  Sometimes it is amazing and sometimes it is just plain ugly.  We wake up thinking about color combinations and designs. Our materials inspire us as well. We have huge amounts of beads and glass.  We just start pulling things out and putting things together, sometimes it is everything we dreamed of, others aren’t.  Ya win some and ya lose some!

You can visit Ugly Glass & Company at 206 N Liberty St, Independence, MO.  They are located right on the square in the heart of historic Independence, Missouri.  If you visit Wednesdays between 11am-4pm you can see Skip going live glass demonstrations. You can find Ugly Glass & Company online at www.uglyglass.com or on their facebook page at www.facebook.com/UglyGlassCo.

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If you have any questions for Jenny & Skip or for us you can comment on this blog post and we’ll get back to you as soon as possible.

Thank you Jenny & Skip for sharing your story with us!

 

 

What is Creativity?

Sometimes snowy days are the best days for creativity.  For our friends in the Mid-West, we hope that you are keeping warm and staying off the roads.  For our friends in Eastern Canada, our snow is coming your way!  Enjoy by taking a little time to be creative.

 

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Taking Flight – A “Handmade” Entrepreneurial Advice Series

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Kristi & I are very excited to announce our new blog series – Taking Flight.  This series will focus on the entrepreneurial journey of several small business owners.  If you are thinking about starting your own “handmade” business or own a small business we invite you to become an active participant in this blog series.

Here is our call to action:  send us your questions, your fears and any advice you have to Carolyn@hangupsinkc.com.  If you want us to keep your questions/ feedback anonymous just let us know.

Our goal is to share knowledge and strength as well as to inspire small business owners and people who are thinking about starting their own business.  It doesn’t matter who you are or where you are, geographically, as entrepreneurs we are all travelling a similar path.

Starting next week and continuing for the next several weeks we will feature a small business owner on a weekly basis.  Send us your questions and we will ask our entrepreneurial friends to share their wisdom.

 “Breathe in inspiration and trust yourself.  The answer is YES you can.”

Hang Ups in KC Joins Made In Kansas City Initiative

We have all heard of the Shop Small initiative.  There are frequent reminders on Facebook and other social media to shop at small businesses.  The creation of Small Business Saturday in November of every year was a brilliant move in the right direction to remind us to celebrate and support small businesses and all they do for their communities.  A group in Kansas City is taking this idea a few steps further.

Hang Ups in KC is excited and proud to join the Made In Kansas City initiative.  The Made in Kansas City initiators are Local Start.org,  a not for profit organization focused on strengthening the local economy of the greater Kansas City and surrounding areas.   In the words of the folks at Local Start.org “This marks a deeper step on our part to strengthen the local economy by creating an environment where KC products are the first choice, where they are displayed with pride in our establishments and where you can find those products quickly and easily. We know that by providing people with the tools to choose local products, we empower them to build a smarter and stronger Kansas City.”

Keep an eye out online and in local establishments for this logo to know that you are buying products produced in Kansas City:

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For more information or to get involved visit www.localstart.org, email questions@localstart.org or call them at 913-730-0164.  Please check out the list participants by clicking on meet the locals on the main page of www.localstart.org.  The next time you are shopping please consider purchasing from a business who features products made in Kansas City.

Kristi & I are grateful for this amazing journey we are on and for your continued support!  If you haven’t had a chance to check out our recent presentation at 1 Million Cups you can find it at: http://kansascity.sites.1millioncups.com/~/link.aspx?_id=A54B3D9609EA4DD28512233AD2A82A21&_z=z.  Have a wonderful day!

Great Advice: Blur the Line Between Work and Play.

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This is pretty much our motto at Hang Ups in KC.  We are grateful everyday for the people who support us and make this dream of ours a reality!