Saturday, July 30, 2016

Politics versus small business owner

I am an American.  I have strong political beliefs.  I own a needlepoint shop.  I do not discuss religion, politics, or money.  These are my credos.

I have many customers who I love dearly, who subscribe to a different political party than I do.  I try to be noncommittal when political  discussions (in particular) surface.  It took one of my friends over three years to finally discover that I didn't agree with her politically.  That to me is the epitome of a small business owner.  We are small and we need every customer we can get.  Why lose them over a discussion of politics.  I'd rather offend someone over whether they need to do the basketweave or the continental, or stitch with silk rather than wool.  THAT'S my business.  Could we please go to the British system where they only spend 6 weeks on this excruciating experience?  I think about all the money spent on political advertising--and think about how many hungry, homeless people it could feed.  We need to get our priorities right.

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Be Merry, 8

And more creeping of the stitching needle--shipped 13 packages today and another 14 on Friday.  I'm doing gangbusters on NNSE, but all that wrapping is cutting into my shop stitching time.  I managed to get a smidge done.
I also received M samples of two alphabets that Associated Talents has designed.

The bottom one is my favorite because of the round mints, but I plan to stitch both for shop models.  Of course, one wonders what century that might occur?  

Saturday, July 23, 2016

Buying canvases on discount websites

The past few weeks, since it is the off-season in Florida, I have been selling inventory from Needle Nicely that has been on sale in the shop, but my customers have been ignoring.  Five years ago, I tried Ebay, which was disappointing--our sales strategy was obviously wrong and most of our items sold for our initial asking price (which was LOW!).  And the Ebay fees will eat you alive.

This spring I discovered a special group of Facebook--Needlepoint Nation Stash Exchange.  What a discovery!  There are some rules (of course), no fees (hooray!), and if you follow the program, no interference.  The basics are that you take a photograph of the various elements of your entry.  If it is just a canvas, you post one photograph.  If it is a kit or a multi-piece canvas, you post photos of all elements.  Then you describe the canvas (design area; canvas area; mesh; retail price; sale price. your payment preferences, shipping cost).  Easy peasy.  You post and then wait for inquiries.  Sometimes you receive questions; sometimes you are lucky, and they instantly purchase.  You private message them your payment information. I only take check or cc# since I am a retail shop.  Many individual sellers take Paypal since that is easier to monitor for individuals.  As a shopowner, my accounting prefers that I process credit cards myself rather than jobbing them out to Paypal.

As a buyer, there are many "tells" that you should be looking for.  Yes, that is "tell" as in poker playing. Everyone assumes that the canvas is hand-painted on mono canvas.  Kit canvases are silk-screened on interlock canvas (mono canvas is not receptive to the silk-screening process--this is your first clue). I think it takes an educated eye to discern whether the canvas is mono or interlock.  Sometimes you can tell from the design.  Usually, sellers will tell you.  But there are those who are either clueless or misleading.  I can forgive the clueless (and will try to educate them); but I really dislike those who are intentionally misleading.  I apologize for not having photographs to show you the difference--but my shop has very few silk-screened canvases, and I hesitate to "lift" images from other sites without authorization (and who would agree when they are going to be the "bad" example?).  I'm mentioning interlock vs mono because the price should be vastly different. Computers can print to mono, but most of those canvases are small so price isn't as much a factor.  Most of the time a computer-generated design is noticeably not painted, but printed.

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Be Merry, 7

I am still creeping along with the blue background.  I completed the green in the R, I just need to go back and do the white French knots.  The peppermint stick is growing.  And I've stitched the red diagonal mosaic in the bottom stripes, French knots also to follow.  Then I tossed in the yellow continental.

My shop stitching time has been curtailed by my selling of fibers and canvases on Facebook's Needlepoint Nation Stash Exchange.  Yesterday I spent the day invoicing, packing and shipping 15 padded envelopes, boxes, and corrugated tubes.  My friends at the nearby post office were suitably impressed with my diligence.  Last weekend was a wonderful feeding frenzy of people buying my discounted watercolors.  I love them, but my customers were less than lukewarm.  Now I can use that rack space for another fiber (I have 4 racks, 2 large and 2 smaller--I don't have floor space for any more).

Of course, I promised myself that I would use my 3-day weekends working on my closet.  That dream is yet to be realized!  But I have been productive, and that's the important thing.

Saturday, July 16, 2016

Needlepoint sandals

It has been over a year since a West Coast finisher of shoes closed her operation.  About the same time, Elizabeth Turner Finishing stopped making shoes.  Since then many styles of needlepoint shoes are no longer available, such as full shoes.  However, as I was reminded Thursday when a new customer came in Needle Nicely, there are still a few styles available.

One style is the slide.

A word of caution:  Often parts of shoes are manufactured in various European countries.  When you see "Made in Italy"--that means the heel or whatever, not the entire shoe!

The other styles are thong-types.  Our model of the first style has a Cuban heel, though other height heels could be used.

Then there are thong sandals made from belt canvases (or custom-designed monograms in a belt width).

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Another needlepoint market

In June was the summer TNNA market.  This year it was being held in Washington, DC.  Summer market attendance, both by vendors and shop owners, has been declining in the past few years.  I assume that is why TNNA selected Washington, DC, hoping to capitalize on attendees wanting to combine business with pleasure.  I was slightly tempted since my home town is 90 miles north of Washington in Cecil County, MD.  However, since most of my relatives are deceased or living elsewhere, I decided against the trip.

I am, however, attending the September Destination Dallas show.  When attending markets, I always purchase my plane tickets with a personal Capital One account (even though it is a business expense).  That account allows me to deduct the cost of the ticket by using the same number of miles as the monetary cost ($350 equals 35,000 miles).  My business Capital One account has a set fee based on the cost of the ticket which always comes out higher.  I purchased my ticket four months ago after I had made my hotel reservations (last year I waited too long for my hotel reservation and I had to stay at an ancillary hotel--bummer).

Then, last month I had an illuminating moment.  I have been a Delta frequent flyer for over 30 years and have an American Express Skymiles credit card.  With it I have financed 4 round-trip business class tickets to  Europe, and I have been accumulating miles for another visit.  Recently, I have realized that my usual pattern of traveling through European cities (on foot or by London underground), could be a problem since I have developed asthma along with some other bothersome ailments.  I can't envisage taking taxis where I want to go, though I could afford it.   I like experiencing the city by walking.  ( and why did my font change?)  Anyway, I decided to use my Delta miles as upgrades for the next few markets I attend.  That's why last month, I called Delta, got a wonderful young man (I'm assuming this from the sound of his voice), and booked an upgrade to my ticket to Dallas.  I really only wanted one from Atlanta to Dallas, Love Field and back to Atlanta, since the plane from Melbourne to Atlanta is smaller and only one cabin with no demarcation by class (or service?).  

Now I am entitled to spending time in Delta's first class lounge (woo hoo!) while waiting for connections.  I also get to check two bags free (luxury).  Coming home I can use it for the cardboard box I always bring (broken down) to cash-and-carry markets,  so I can ship things home (markets always have a shipping facility set up so non-exhibitors can ship home their purchases).  This time I will be able to check them and they will arrive home with me.  Bliss!

What this means is that I have eliminated an expense for travel from my market experience.  What makes that nicer is that the show hotel has a shuttle so I only need tips for the driver.  That's wonderful and means I now only need to pay for my transport to and from the Melbourne, FL, airport, my hotel room (Wyndham--I have no reward points, sigh) and my food and drink and the additional classes I might sign up for (one at Dallas is complimentary).  I can't wait for the market!

As an afterthought, I realized I should show the apparatus that I carry with me to convert a cardboard box to a suitcase.  I first saw one of these at Inge Wooley's house (Creative Needle) when she loaned me one that she had from Sweden.  I took the concept to Italy on one of the trips when Trubey and I went to Florence.  There I found a company that sold me a dozen chrome (I assume) handles.  Not quite as nice as the leather handle that Inge had, but definitely serviceable.  I had a friend in Vero make me the board with metal risers where I could insert straps for fastening. The whole package works magnificently.  It adds a degree of elegance to having a cardboard box for your luggage!  And adds new meaning to a matched set of luggage!

Saturday, July 9, 2016

Noel, XIII

Slow, but steady wins the race--or finishes a needlepoint canvas.  I'm about half-way through the gold ornament and would be further if the slippery metallic would just stay threaded!  And I've accomplished another inch of the white central area.

I keep looking at the two ornaments that are green trees on white metallic.  I'm toying with the idea of outlining them because I think their white metallic tends to merge with the white Stardust I'm using for the background.  Any thoughts?

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Golfing, anyone?

My husband, Arthur, has lost interest in his own golf game.  He still delights in watching televised European, PGA and LPGA tournaments.  Over 20 years ago, I had Needle Nicely design these golf club covers for him while he was still playing. I like the simplicity of the design (and so did he--he's a minimalist!).  Alphabets on the diagonal are difficult to design, but I think these are quite attractive.

Well, I shouldn't complain.  I managed to bully two side-by-side.  But the third just refused to cooperate.  And I kept messing with it.  That's enough.
We had these finished by Elizabeth Turner Collection (now The Meredith Collection) with naughahyde.  The clubs did not include any "Big Bertha" types, which offer more challenges in the finishing.  The three covers were tied together by strips of rawhide.  I didn't photograph them, but they are still usable.

Saturday, July 2, 2016

Another use for a belt canvas

Macy fell in love with the baskets that I purchased in the spring.  She liked that the ribbon could be removed and a strip of needlepoint inserted.  She loves Peeps, so what better subject to go on a purse/Easter basket?

This is how the basket arrives, with different colors of ribbon.

Macy didn't take the time to finish/finish the back of her Peeps strip.  She just slipped it through the
openings.  To cover the unfinished back, she put the ribbon behind.
 This is the inside, showing the ribbon back.
And the best thing is that Macy has left it at Needle Nicely for the summer, so I can use it as a shop model.