Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Merry Christmas

This has been an interesting year. I suspect that 2010 will be more of the same however I hold a positive attitude and will pray for peace of the soul and the strength to carry on no matter how things go.
I value you all so much. You have enriched my life and always make me smile. I miss our chatter and hope that we will find more time for each other next year.
Nick and I wish you all a very Merry Christmas and a safe and Happy New Year.
God Bless us one and all and God please continue to bless the United States.
Be well :) Diane

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Email Marketing - Text vs. Images

I receive Email Insider, an e-newsletter on email marketing. I found this article interesting and useful. Some of the articles aren't applicable to small and wahm businesses. But this one discusses the use of text vs images in newsletters. The other interesting point is including in the Subject Line the "bottom line" or discount code so potential customers don't even have to read the newsletter to get the point.

With the amount of email folks will be getting the competition for sales this holiday, I plan on using this advice in promos for Comfy Cozy Glow in the Dark pillowcases.

http://www.mediapost.com/publications/?fa=Articles.showArticle&art_aid=115770&lfe=1

Chad White is the Research Director at Smith-Harmon, an agency focused exclusively on providing email marketing strategy and creative services. Visit his blog at http://www.retailemailblog.com/

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Gayla Bentley Gets What She Needs

Gayla Bentley is a fashion designer based out of Houston, Texas. We are both members of the Houston Area Make Mine Million Meetup. Here she is on Shark Tank getting what she needs to move her company to the next level:

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

What to Include in Your Elevator Pitch

Monday, October 12, 2009

To keep my business or not to keep my business

That seems to be the question I am asking myself these days.

Are any of you asking yourself that same question? Times are tough, nothing any of us don't know. My industry seems to be suffering maybe more than some. The first thing to go for a business is the little extras and embroidery seems to be one of those little extras. Even the local sports teams are having to cut back.

I totally understand but it does beg the question.... can D's stay in business another year. That is a question I never though I would ask myself, especially after 17 1/2 years.

In the back of my mind I continue to ponder opening a different type of business. I think I will always own my own business. I think it is in my blood. Just trying to figure out what that business might be keeps my mind turning.

Hope all is well with everyone. I miss the chatter.

Friday, September 11, 2009

SuperWAHMz member Comfy Cozy, Inc. nominated for Shine a Light

9-11

What a sad day. I know there is not a one of us who do not remember where we were and what we were doing this morning 8 years ago. My heart hurts just as much now as it did then.

My love for my country, family and friends is ever growing. Please know that I value all of you in my life and my life is better because I know you.

Pray for Peace this day.

God Bless America.

Monday, September 7, 2009

It's been a long time

Been so long I almost forgot how to post to our blog. I say that with a sly smile on my face. Sorry for being MIA. Summers in AZ are so hot it is hard to wrap my mind around doing anything but hibernating. ;) Fall is quickly approaching though so there IS a light at the end of this tunnel.

Work has not been so good for D's Stitcheree.
I am hoping that the summer months have been better for all of you running your own business. The economy is tough, we all know that. I do have a question though for anyone who might like to chime in.

How is the economy effecting your OWNING your own business.

I just got a notice from my bank that effective Oct. 1 they will start charging a service charge of $15.00 a month on business accounts that carry under $1,000.00 daily balance. Since moving to AZ I have not had to pay a service charge with my bank and I have never held a daily balance of $1K. It is only $15.00 but in months where I might only make $100.00, that is a lot of money. I will see how the rest of this year goes then I am seriously considering closing my 17 1/2 year old business. I thought I would always work for myself but I may soon join the ever growing number of people unemployed.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

LOVE

Today is my parents anniversary...58th!

It is a bittersweet day this year. The first that my mother isn't here to share it with my father. The first day in 58 years that my dad woke up on this day without my mom by his side.

My heart is heavy. My heart is full. I cried in the Hallmark store looking for a card. I thought it important to send one to my dad but it's very hard to find one that doesn't mention "all the rest of your lives together". Finally found one that celebrated their incredible love and didn't remind you (in the text) that there would be more time for them to be together.

So, today, love the one you're with. Love the ones that you share your life with. Love yourself and make the love you have in your heart meaningful to those around you.

Love lasts. My parents love was/is the strongest love I've ever seen. I thank them for sharing it with me.

Love....

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Lynn's Crackle Piggy Bank

I was checking on my Etsy listings this morning and saw this new piggy bank by our very own Lynn:OMG! It's so cute! I just had to share!

Friday, May 15, 2009

The Power of Reinventing Yourself

I recently saw a film that just may have been the best movie I’ve ever seen. Better than Lord of the Rings, better than Star Wars, better than, oh dare I say it, The Princess Bride. Inconceivable!

The movie opens with a heart wrenching scene that left tears streaming down my face. I was searching through my purse looking for a tissue to wipe my tears and all I had was this butter stained napkin in my lap. So here I am dabbing the tears trying not to get popcorn salt in my eyes and the next thing I know I’m on the edge of my seat, gripping the handles, teeth gritted, unable to breathe. This movie was exciting. And it kept getting better. It had action, adventure, sword fighting, love, and romance… everything a woman wants in a film.

Any guesses on the movie?

Star Trek

I know what you are thinking. The only people that go see Star Trek are 40 year old men who live in their mother’s basements.

WRONG!

The theater was packed with people of all ages. Sure, there were a few single dudes but there were a lot more couples and even families.

As an aside, the movie is rated PG-13. We took our 10 year old daughter. There were some scenes where I had to cover her face.

When I walked out of Star Trek the first thing I said was: “Let’s see it again. Let’s see it again, now.”

It was that good.

I admit. I am a geek. And a Star Trek fan. My husband likes to tell people that he only married me for my Star Trek Christmas ornament collection. I once dated a man because he had a chirping Star Trek Communicator on his jacket. But I was never a huge fan of the original series. My favorite is Deep Space 9.

Well this new Star Trek movie is based on the characters from the original series: Kirk, Spock, McCoy, Scotty, Chekhov, Sulu and Uhura. And they are on the Enterprise. But that’s about where the similarities to the original television series end.

Director J.J. Abrams and the producers took this 40 year old franchise and turned it into something fresh, current, and new. They set the stage with this film to catapult the Star Trek franchise popularity for another 40 years. In the 2060’s there is going to be a Star Trek Centennial and people who aren’t alive today, are going to attend this big centennial celebration dressed up like Klingons and Romulans.

J.J. Abrams reinvented Star Trek. He gave it new life.

My daughter’s latest thing is tap her imaginary communication device saying “Beam me up Scotty, this planet sucks.”

Does YOUR planet suck?

Think about it, maybe it’s not your planet… maybe it YOU!

Just maybe, it’s time for YOU to reinvent YOURSELF?

You’re probably thinking: I CAN’T do that! I don’t know how.

Well here’s a question: Are you are married?

Think about your spouse the day BEFORE your wedding.

Now, think about your spouse the day AFTER your wedding. Are you married to the same person with whom you walked down the aisle?

No. The very act of getting married, changes a person. You go from being an individual to being half of a couple.

Are you a mother? Did becoming a mother change you? Yes! You went from being a woman, to being a mother.

Have you changed jobs? Did that change you? Probably.

What about joining the military? Does that redefine you? Absolutely!

That reminds me, have you heard the Klingon army motto?

Join the Klingon army.

Visit exotic planets, meet interesting people, and kill them!

Okay, maybe you need to be a Star Trek geek to get that one.

This concept of reinventing yourself is very powerful.

Becoming a mother redefined who I am. Becoming a mother is major life changing experience.

Can you reinvent yourself without a major life changing experience?

Think about J.K. Rowlings, the creator of the Harry Potter franchise. She outlined the series of stories on paper napkins sitting at cafĂ© when she was a single mother living on welfare. She certainly isn’t on welfare today.

She had an idea, she believed in it and she made it real. She reinvented herself.

How do you go about reinventing yourself? According to Napolean Hill, the fist step is to get rid of indecision, doubt and fear. The rest, is up to you!

Here’s a good example:

This string walks into a bar and says: “Bartender, I’d like a drink.”

The bartender replies: “We don’t serve your kind in here.”

Dejected, the string walks outside. Then he decides, he not going to be treated that way. So he gets himself all twisted up and takes his ends and messes them all up. Then he walks back into the bar and demands: “Bartender, give me a drink!”

Bartender says: “Hey, aren’t you string?”

“Nope. Frayed knot.”

The string reinvented himself. And so can you!

Live long & prosper.

Monday, May 4, 2009

Race for the Cure!

This all started in February 2008. The short version of the long story is that I created a glow in the dark pillowcase for the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure®. Specifically, the West Virginia and Northeastern Pennsylvania Affiliates.

That's me on the left below, with Rebecca Newhouse, President of the WV Affiliate.

I could ramble on about how this all came about, but it might be easier if you just clicked HERE, to read a recent article from the WV Gazette. The important thing is that I have never been "part" of something like this before. I've donated to children's hospitals, the Hole in the Wall Gang summer camp and other organizations, but this is the first on-going association. In addition to having this motivational and inspiring "I Promise" pillowcase being part of the "Sleep In for the Cure" goody bags, Comfy Cozy® has signed contracts with each Affiliate which enables us to offer the pillowcases for sale on comfycozy.com. For each "I Promise" pillowcase sold, Comfy Cozy® will donate 10% to the selected Affiliate in the race to cure breast cancer. We're hoping to donate quite a bit to each Affiliate and add more in the future.

Click HERE to go directly to the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure® page on our web site.

Before any of this came about, I was always good about having my mammograms. Never whined or put them off:) Then, last June, my "your results are fine" letter said something quite different. It had words like "suspicious" and "second screening" and "biopsy". WHAT! There is no breast cancer in my family, anywhere. This can't be happening.

The short version of that long story is that by the grace of God I'm okay. But the surgical biopsy part was scary, painful and recovery was not fun. The fear was overwhelming. The mixed emotions of being upset for having to go thru it all "for nothing", the guilt for being upset and the joy that I was "ok". I have a new sense of gratitude and dedication to the women that have gone before me, the scientist researching and trying to cure breast cancer, the Komen organization for the voice it has given to survivors and everyone "up for the fight".

I hope this pillowcase brings joy and inspiration to those diagnosed with breast cancer and survivors. Encourage your female friends to have a mammogram. Hold their hands if their letter isn't what they expect and pray for and with them.

Yay!

I made my first Etsy sale this weekend. It's exciting because it's a new area for me. I know, I know, I already have a website, but my Etsy store puts me in direct competition with other piggy bank painters. My piggy banks are different and cost more, so I have kind of been holding my breath.

I have been hard at work redoing my images there. They are getting better, but I still have to get more familiar with photoshop. At least I think they look better.

Also this weekend my Zebra Piggy Bank was featured in an Etsy Treasury.  Thanks to judysnow for picking my piggy bank.

And check out ArtWhims blog where she picked my piggy banks as May Must Haves #1.

So, I have to say it was an exciting weekend for me. Plus I got to see my oldest DD play in 3 different concerts at college. Life is good : )

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Slow and Slower

*sigh* Business is slow. Not entirely odd for this time of year, but a little odd for me. If I work really hard this week, I could get all my orders painted and shipped. And I would see the bottom of my to-paint pile.

And that is a little unnerving to me. And scary. I haven't been without orders for years. Really. Busy has been steadily steady and I have come to rely on that income. Which I suppose I really should not have done.

Now I have bills to pay and a budget I don't know if I will meet this month. I do have some money left from the holidays, but I am now thinking the new car I bought 2 months ago really should have waited. But that's water under the bridge...

While I have some free time, I am starting an Etsy store. Not sure if it will benefit me or not, but it certainly can't hurt. I am thinking I am going to make it my "in stock" shop. Anything posted on Etsy will be available for immediate shipping. What's listed now is NOT ready to ship. But as I paint orders, I am going to paint what I have listed. And get that stock in stock and ready to go : )

I am also going to try and get some stock on hand for the fall. Just having blank piggy banks and plates on hand is a HUGE time saver for me. All I have to do then is paint the design and fire away. It won't pay my bills right now, but it will be a huge stress reliever when I get slammed with holiday orders.

So those are my plans for this slow period.....although I am hoping to still get some orders coming in so I can pay my bills. If not, I guess I'll just have to ask Hubby to take over a few of the household bills that I pay. He can step up for a while : ) How do you spend your time when business is slow? Oh, and have any tips for promoting Etsy shops?  Or taking really great photographs of piggy banks?

Monday, April 13, 2009

National Garden Month!

April is National Garden Month! I love gardening. To me, it truly keeps me sane, calms when I'm stressed and I can never get enough of it. I'm not a great gardener - pretty good, but not and expert by any stretch. I learned my gardening skills from my mother:) It all started when I was younger, but trust me, it wasn't my choice to spend all that time pulling weeds. It was punishment for fighting with my brother or her solution to my saying "I'm bored" one too many times!

But from that, I'm happy to say that I learned a lot. I learned that weeds always come back, so unless I wanted to keep pulling them, my brother and I tried to fight less and we better not ever say we had nothing to do in the summer. My mother taught me that gardening should be a joy, not a chore - and not to take yourself too seriously. She taught me that a garden was more than flowers, it was an ever changing work in progress. If you planted something here and it came up over there, you could either accept it or move it, but don't expect it to stay there forever...maybe it was smarter than you and would grow better where it was!

My favorite advice was her theory on planting. When we moved into our home, I had a clean slate, a huge empty yard to plant in. Where would I put this, where would I plant that? Mom stood in front of my home and said, just put them in and let them grow. I can hear her say "just dig a hole and put it in the dirt". Easy enough. Then there is always the "dig it up and throw it over there" method. Trust me, it works!

It's just getting warm enough here in the northeast for my gardens to start coming alive. This year, that will take on a whole new meaning for me, as my mom passed away in March. She was my gardening inspiration. Most of the perennials in my gardens came all the way from her gardens in WV. The biggest emotional hurdle for me will be when my wysteria blooms. It was started from a seed from the wysteria at my parents home! It bloomed in 3 years when "statistically" wysteria takes at least 7 years to bloom.

We always talked about what was blooming, her plants always before mine. We'd share pictures of flowers and of course, our wysteria's. I'll miss those conversations dearly.

I guess it's fitting that April is Gardening Month - my mother's birthday is April 8th. The beginning of a month that takes us from the cold of winter to the beauty of spring.

Gardening is a 12 months a year hobby though! I created a set of calendars to help both novice and experienced gardeners stay on top of their gardening. Click here to see my entire "gardening" collection.

So, take some time to plant something; vegies, flowers, trees. Teach your kids the joy of gardening - and make them pull weeds every now and then, it builds character! Click here for Gardening with Kids tips.

If you just can't wait til your flowers bloom or want a garden of flowers all year long, order the Comfy Cozy "Magic Garden" glow in the dark Pillowcase. Order one for your mom or granma...trust me, she'll love it!



Happy National Garden Month!

Click on this link (http://www.quamada.com/months.html) to check out the complete list of "months".

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Contest, Zig Ziglar & Interior Design

Short & sweet post... my kid is home sick today. She has been all week. She's got the flu. Poor thing. Really throws a wrench in the works of a WAHM.

I have a contest running over at my Shaka Studios blog... drop on in and play.

Over at my personal blog, I posted a great Zig Ziglar video worth watching.

If you make home decor items, you should consider listing your items on Design Style Guide. It's a great resource that helps interior designers source local, handcrafted items. I write for their interior design blog on the second Thursday of each month. So be sure to visit the blog tomorrow to see my take on Steel.

That's all... don't have much to rant and rave about here. The bluebonnets are blooming and the weather is pleasant.

Thursday, April 2, 2009



Small Business WILL save our economy. The first step is to rethink our buying habits. Skip the big box stores and head on into your local mom and pop. Buy from fellow WAHMs. If it says "Made in China" you don't need it. WE ARE THE CHANGE!

Saturday, February 28, 2009

You CAN Own a Million Dollar Business!


Sunday, February 22, 2009

CPSIA Vent

I do not want this post to be considered fact. While it may be based on fact, it is really just my thoughts and feelings on the CPSIA. I've read and researched until I can't keep my eyes open at night. I read as much about it as I can in between coats of paint. And you know what? I still have NO idea where anything stands.

It is truly frustrating. NOTHING has changed. The so called "stay" is only a stay of enforcement by the CPSC. Not really a stay of testing. Products still need to follow the guidelines of the law. And to find out if they are compliant, you need to, guess....test them! Or know that your suppliers have had the supplies tested.

And even though the CPSC won't enforce the law for one year, that doesn't mean a thing. It is up to each state's attorney general to enforce this law. They can wait a year. Or they can start enforcing now. There is so much double speak in this law and it's so-called "updates", it could drive you to drink.

For instance.....on February 9th, the CPSC published a 13 page document with small business guidelines. However it says this at the beginning, "This information was prepared by CPSC staff, has not been reviewed or approved by, and many not necessarily reflect the views of, the Commission. It may be subject to change based on Commission action."

I'm looking at the word staff, and wondering what the heck I am supposed to make of this document. Is it official or not? Lord only knows.....if even he does.  I'm not putting much faith in it.

Anyway, I'm frustrated. The one paint company I thought was going to come through for me, dropped the ball. When I wrote to them after February 10th about the GCC's for their colors, they said "There has been a stay enacted regarding this regulatory law. The stay is one year and will push out the requirement for Certificates of Compliance to February 10, 2010."

Argh. I KNOW that. I'm not dumb. But again, it is a stay of ENFORCEMENT, not compliance. I still have to know that my products comply with the law. DOESN'T ANYBODY GET IT?????

And now I am coming to the end of my vent. I am so fed up with this government, and their lack of ethics.....and apparent reading ability. Since none of them read this law before they agreed to it. Oh, and I hear they didn't have time to read the 1,000+ Stimulus Plan either before they okayed that. I don't know who they are representing in Washington DC, cause it sure ain't me. end of vent.

Friday, February 20, 2009

I should...

post here more often. I should be working. However, I have been fighting a cold for like forever, and the past couple days I think it has gotten the best of me : (

I have no energy, and all I want to do, and have done, is sleep. Doesn't do much for the pile of work on my desk. Or the stack of orders waiting to be painted. I tried working, but I got no where fast.

So, what do you do when you are under the weather? Do you just push through? Or do you take care of yourself and rest and recover? I sure wish I could call in sick...

Monday, February 16, 2009

JPMA and the CPSIA

The following story comes from Earnshaw's (Trade Pub for the Children's Industry).

What I want most folks to understand is that this issue is not over. Some seem to see the delay as meaning that changes have been made. Far from the truth. I call it a "stay of execution". We have to make sure that the bill is modified and that someone, anyone can understand it (can you say "stimulus bill"!). I digress. The news has done some coverage, but the piece on Fox News focused on what this bill means to Toy stores NOT the manufacturers. It didn't address the small businesses, wahms and artists that are making one of a kind products.

We'll keep on this - there are a lot of blogs posting, so stay tuned.


JPMA Requests CPSIA Clarification from CPSC

(2/16/2009)

The Juvenile Products Manufacturers Association (JPMA), a body representing 95 percent of the prenatal to preschool products industry, issued a statement last week requesting that the U.S. Consumer Products Safety Commission (CPSC) clarify its new testing and certification requirements under the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act (CPSIA) to ensure inherently safe products that do not expose children to established health risks are not indiscriminately removed from store shelves.

"JPMA is fully prepared to help our members comply with implementation requirements that are practical and justifiable," said Michael Dwyer, executive director of JPMA. "But the federal requirements must be implemented in an effective and efficient manner or risk chaos in the marketplace and the loss of many safe products."

On Feb. 10, the CPSIA's first deadline regarding manufacturers' adherence to new lead and phthalate levels went into effect. However, many companies have expressed confusion over the requirements and distress that mandated testing will further inhibit their business in what is already a difficult economic time. While the CPSC granted a stay postponing the testing and certification deadline, the JPMA asked for more information regarding compliance.

"JPMA has joined with representatives of a broad range of industries to argue that the arbitrary enforcement date put in the CPSIA should be changed because the very information needed for industry to comply with the Act's requirements will not be available until after the deadline," the statement reads. "CPSC's interpretation of the CPSIA also requires that products already in inventory be compliant with the new standard for lead or they cannot be sold. Billions of dollars worth of inventory that may meet CPSIA requirements might have to be removed from shelves and placed in warehouses until the CPSC clarifies how the testing shall be conducted; only then can the tests be completed and the product back into commerce."

JPMA is urging interim action as soon as possible so that industry has time to gear up to meet any new requirements imposed to demonstrate compliance.

Friday, February 6, 2009

Fantastic Friday: Creating Relationships with Clients

I was decluttering this morning and ran across a half sheet of paper with notes in "my" handwriting that must be from a small business seminar or online class that I took. No clue where or when but the peice of paper was a good reminder to me to double check that I am staying on task. With apologies for not know the sourse, here is what the paper says:

What does our customer need to know about our company?

"Quality" doesn't mean anything instead customers want to know:
  • years of experience
  • testimonials
  • endorsements
  • case studies
How does our customer know they can trust us?

Are we doing anything that makes it difficult for our customers to buy?

And here are MY questions to you:
  1. Do you have on your website how long you have been in business?
  2. Do you have testimonials and endorsements on your website that can be found easily?
  3. Do you have links to case studies involving your products on your website?
  4. Are you doing everything possible to help your customers buy from you?

If the answer is NO to any of those questions, roll up your sleeves and GET TO WORK today to turn that NO into a YES. YES means more sales!

Have a FANTASTIC FRIDAY!

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Unbelievable


Waxman, Rush, Rockefeller and Pryor Ask Obama to Fire Nord


This is a really good post at The Common Room. My new favorite blog on keeping up with the CPSIA. Read it and be sure to click the links.....they are important.  The whole post is important.  Read it.  The fight is NOT over.

CPSIA - One year stay

I never would have thought of myself as an "activist"! The term conjures up images of crowds of people picketing and carrying signs, screaming across the street and other misc. activities. I guess you could say "that was then, this is now". The word now means paying attention, being informed and making your opinions known to those that can do something about it...in a way that is productive and constructive.

It seems that all of "us" small business owners, artists, crafters and WAHM's across the USA came together - albeit thru several groups - and stood up for our rights and effectively got Washington to pay attention to what we were saying. Good for us!

On January 30th, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission voted to issue a one-year stay of enforcement for certain testing and certification requirements for manufacturers and importers of regulated products. Now, that doesn't mean we're free and clear, but it does mean that we don't have to throw out our inventory and/or shut our doors.

We must continue to be diligent on this issue and stay on top of changes. For now though, I can focus on my glow in the dark pillowcases, creating new designs and forging ahead w/ growing my business. We'll keep posting new developments.

Click here to read the CPSC news release.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

CPSIA BLOG IN!

We've come a long way baby!  The good news for those of us in the snowy northeast, is that technology has taken the "sit-in" to literally mean sitting in your house letting our computers be our voice on issues.  Today has been designated as CPSIA Blog-in Day.  With so many small manufacturers and artists' livelihoods (and passions) being potentially squashed with this new law, it is impressive how we have come together and are keeping a bright light shining on this issue.  

At comfycozy.com, I've updated my FAQ's page to include a pdf that customers can download to learn more than they probably ever wanted to know about screen printing ink!  I called my supplier and after explaining to the woman that answered WHY I was calling, she put me on hold, with a puzzling "let me ask".  The owner of the company was great, he agreed to letting me post the pdf on his products.  This information should put an end to MY having to test my products again.   But, alas, until the powers that be make changes to this law, I'm still on pins and needles, on wether or not I have to find the money to test my products.  

Wouldn't it be a grand if Washington showed us a little love this Valentine's Day and settled this issue immediately!  I'll send them all one of our glow in the dark pillowcases so they can get a good nights sleep!

If you are a consumer, manufacturer or artist, please share this blog, contact your congressman and senators and be part of the new "sit-in"!

You might want to read an article in Forbes by Paul Rubin, former chief economist at the CPSC, in which he explains why the CPSIA would flunk any imaginable cost-benefit test.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Chinese New Year

Localcolorist sells her handmade peace cranes on Etys. She posted the following information with an Etsy Treasury today:

"January 26th 2009 the new moon will turn over and we will move from the year of the rat to the year of the Earthen ox. The year of the ox happens every 12 years and the year of the Brown or Earth Ox happens once every 60 years with the last occurence being in 1949. Year 4707 in the Chinese calendar, the year of the Ox is generally considered prosperous and hard working."

Here's to a prosperous Year of the Ox filled with lots of hard work!

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Be Something New update





Just finished some of the photos that will soon be featured on my new website besomethingnew.com It will take a little while longer to get everything up and running on the site, but I thought you might like a sneak peak of my new line. Be Something New will have pieces for the bride, for everyday and also one of a kind things made from vintage items.




Tuesday, January 20, 2009

More CPSIA

This is an excellent post at Fashion Incubator stating where things stand in the fight to revise the CPSIA.  Be sure to click the links in the post for even more info.

Don't give up the fight!

Monday, January 19, 2009

Comfy Cozy owner interviewed for CPSIA article

A few days ago, Caryn Gresham, my sister and PR guru, got a lead from a journalist looking for WAHMs that own small businesses that will be effected by the CPSIA. I said "yes" and she contacted me earlier today. The article can be seen on upscalebaby.com. Susan Maphis is writing a series of posts on the impact of the CPSIA. You can also sign up for her CPSIA Alerts Newsletter. I plan on forwarding the post to my legislators and news media. With the Innaugaration of Barack Obama taking place tomorrow, there will be room in the media for this topic.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Forever and Ever?

Yep, it's been a long time since I posted here.  I bet it was just at the start of my Christmas rush.....and that seems like a long time and a lot of piggy banks ago.  So a belated Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to everyone!

And with this new year comes new hoops to jump through. Last fall brought me PCI compliance. That's having your website scanned to make sure it is completely secure when taking credit card information. This is not a government thing....this was put out there by the credit card companies to combat fraud. Which is a great idea. It really is.....

So my site was moved to a new secure server and should pass all the scans and guidelines as set forth by the credit card companies. BUT the company that scans websites, keeps scanning my old IP address and not the new one. So, that is kind of in limbo there. I think I have a fine to pay if I don't pass the scans. I am in the process of switching merchant account providers, and they will have a different scanning company and so forth. I should be hope everything is okay then.

And with 2009 comes the CPSIA. And that's enough to make your head spin. I guess I will know in the next couple weeks exactly what I have to do to stay in business. The act is so vague, it is hard to figure out who needs to do what. Hopefully the legislators will hear all the voices shouting at them and they will amend and clarify this bill so we small businesses know what's going on and aren't forced out of business. It really is a hard read....and can be interpreted many different ways. I don't want to get into that though.....google CPSIA and you will find many sites and opinions on this.

What I wanted to blog about was, wow, what if I have to close my business. I never ever thought of that possibility. Unless business was so slow I had no choice. Being self employed, I thought I had the advantage over others who were being laid off. I would always have a job....until I chose not to.

This CPSIA has scared me. I really have no other skills. I did not complete college. I haven't worked for anyone else in 20 some years. I've been self employed forever and this business is a huge part of me and my life. I paint, and I paint well.  I love what I do and am blessed to be able to make money doing it.

This business is supposed to last forever. It is supposed to be here when hubby retires. Then he can either help me, or give me my space and leave me alone : ) It's my "piggy bank" so to speak, because it helps me pay quite a few bills here at home. Plus I can save some money for a vacation if I want. I don't want to be done yet.

Life without piggy banks, and me without a paint brush, just seems very, very wrong. I hope the legislators pay attention to us little people out here and correct things so we can stay in business. I plan to be painting a long, long time yet.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

CPSIA - Contacting your representatives in Washington

I forgot to add this to my list w/ my Congressman.  Click to find the contact information for your representatives - Congress  and Senate.  

Interestingly enough, I've been contacting mine a lot lately.  The past 6 months have really changed my attitude on being a citizen.  I love our country.  I'm proud to be an American, not just when I sing the song, but every day.  We fly our flag proudly, not just "because".  I've decided to make my voice heard on lots of issues, from Drill Here, Drill Now to Small Business issues and local education issues.  

I'm letting my children know what I am doing and why.  How it impacts them and our family, our safety and our country.  It's important that we stop sitting around complaining, but letting OUR officials know what we think about what they are doing.  Regardless of what political party you are part of, Sarah Palin was right - they work for US!  

Trust me, I feel better every time I write a letter or make a phone call!

Friday, January 9, 2009

CPSIA - Update and Testing Costs for comfycozy.com

Well, as if a small business owner has NOTHING better to do with her time than spend hours on the new CPSIA, I have just completed todays research.  Thought it would be interesting to share with you what I've done and NO, none of these things were on my "to-do list" for January 9th!

1)  Emailed Joe Pitts, my PA Congressman
2)  Emailed John Kerry - my small biz advisor suggested I ask him about effects on small businesses
3)  Read more info on CPSIA - good source for info is Fashion-Incubator site
4)  Emailed links and info to my small biz advisor at the Kutztown Small Business Development Center.  
5)  Talked to a neighbor that is also a WAHM and makes kids products.
6)  Called a  CPSC approved testing company here in PA.  More on that conversation below.  Find one in your area at the CPSC site here.  
7)  Ok, I haven't done this yet, but I will after I get some orders out and make some money, I'm going to contact my local paper.

So, more on my conversation with my new friend at the testing company.  First off, even the testing companies aren't totally clear on what the act requires and are working their way thru this as well.  Apparently, we should all be going to get a job at a testing company or open up a new one!  Since my products do use paint, he says they'll need to get tested.  Yes, even if the manufacturer of the inks has already had them tested and certified.  Now the fun question - how much will that cost Comfy Cozy,inc?  It seems that EVERY color ink will have to be tested.  Now, that may not sound so bad, until you add up all the different colors of inks I use in my designs - there's around 60!  OK, so I like to change things up, use different shades.  Get ready folks because the Comfy Cozy line of glow in the dark pillowcases is going to be down to 6 colors!  Cost of testing - PER COLOR - between $60-90!  I'm going to need to sell alot of personalized pillowcases, toddler pillows and keepsake calendars to come up with the $5000 tab on the testing. 

OK, now take a deep breath everyone.  I'm not panicking and am not going to overreact to this.  I have between February and August to get this done.  My contact thinks that the CPSC will have to revise this act to let companies do spot testing instead of every color, so long as all the paints are the "same".  Now, he isn't saying the will, just due to all the hubabaloo going on, like most of us, he foresees changes coming down the pike.  

For now, I'm going back to doing "my job" and selling some glow in the dark pillowcases, toddler pillows and keepsake calendars.  Stay tuned, superwahmz will stay on top of this issue.



Thursday, January 8, 2009

CPSIA - Consumer Products Safety Improvement Act

Small businesses have had a tough time lately.  2008 wasn't so terrific for a lot of small companies and the last thing small business owners need, namely those of us that are work at home moms that are designing and making products for children, is the long arm of the government breathing down our necks.  I'm talking about the CPSIA - the new Consumer Products Safety Improvement Act that was signed into law in August 2008. 

While the act was created to address the unacceptable and dangerous levels of lead that was showing up in children's products (mainly imports), no one in our government seemed to realize how it would affect small businesses, designers and crafters.  It's one thing to demand testing and certification by large multi-million dollar manufacturers of products that use materials that could contain lead.  It is a completely different one to demand small, very small businesses such as many WAHM companies, like mine, Comfy Cozy,inc., to spend thousands, possibly hundreds of thousands of dollars we don't have, to have our products tested and certified or we can't sell them.  Many of thesse products don't even use materials that could possibly include lead, but that doesn't matter. 

For my pillowcases, I know there isn't lead in the inks we use.  If the manufacturer of the ink has already had the ink tested, why do I have to do it again?  It's not like the screen printing process will magically (or chemically) create lead in the designs.  One thing that gets me is that waaay back in 1994 when I came up with this crazy idea to create glow in the dark pillowcases, I wanted to be able to assure my customers that they were safe for kids.  So, I had them tested for flammability and durability.  Mind you that the company I had do the testing told me that I didn't HAVE to do this testing.  It wasn't required by law and that it was expensive.  None of that mattered, I wanted my customers to know that their kids safety mattered to Comfy Cozy,inc. 

Under the new Consumer Products Safety Improvement Act, ANY company that produces products that are made for children under the edge of 12 must comply.   The first deadline is February 10 - yikes!  This will effect hundreds of WAHMS and small business owners.  Many of the cute, adorable, original products that consumers like may be ripped off shelves, web sites will shut down and we'll be forced to sit around all day watching General Hospital and eating bon bons!  OK, we all needed a little levity here!  

During a time when products MADE IN USA should be shouted from the roof tops, when those of us that are using domestic materials and domestic labor should be heralded for even trying to compete with imports, we are staring down the barrel of a gun being aimed at us by our own government.  Don't get me wrong, I'm the mom of 2 young boys, I have 16 nieces and nephews and countless friends with children - I'm all for safety, rules and regulations.  But forcing small American companies to pay for the sins of large foreign companies that really don't care about the well being of my children or yours, doesn't seem like the best solution.

So, please forward this post to your friends, family and all the WAHMS you know.  If you love the cool items you can find on Etsy, contact your senators and congressmen.  Ask them if they read the legislation and understand what it's effects will be.  Maybe they'll earmark some of that trillion bucks for us to pay for the testing and certification!  For details on the CPSIA, please click here.  

I know this was a long post and I thank you for reading it:)

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Happy New Year

2009, I can hardly believe it. This year I will turn 57, I will celebrate 40 awesome years of marriage to my best friend and I will have owned D's Stitcheree for 17 years. I would have never thought that I would do anything for 17 years. LOLOL

2008 was hard on my business as I am sure it was for many businesses. I am a positive person though so I believe that 2009 will be better. I will be making some changes to my business but I am positive that they will be for the best.

I wish for you all (anyone reading this blog) best wishes for the new year. Stay positive and keep positive people around you. THAT is my resolution (which I NEVER make) for this year. Out with negative energy sucking people and in with the positive. Not that I have a lot of negative people around me but there are some so............

Here is to 2009, raise a glass and toast all that is good in the world and Thank God that we live in the United States of America and for all our blessings. SW'z, I love you. :)