Wednesday, September 2, 2009


The great give-away! Smell Goods '98tm is hosting a give-away for Tomoka's Twists. Please stop by her blog and enter to win S. Luxurious or Goldie Locks.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Handle Your Shipping

In efforts to prevent fraud and scams to my customer and myself I have been using a few safe guards, but I'm finding that as business grows, so do problems.

PayPal has a buyer/seller protection program. The guidelines are rather simple and include ship to confirmed addresses and use tracking. I am currently using first class USPS with delivery confirmation and completely blocked orders from unconfirmed address. If a non-receipt of order dispute arises I can provide this information and be awarded as the winner. But, I don't really feel like a winner. I might have the money in my hand, but the poor customer has nothing. I'm an optimistic person and try not to think that customer is trying to get over and that the postal service does deliver packages to their destinations. But I know better than that. I received a neighbors retirement check and hand delivered it myself. Once one of my packages was delivered, but returned to the post office, then delivered again because the package had scribbles on it. Also, dishonest people will scam when they see the opportunity.

After receiving an order of $300+, I decided that delivery confirmation wasn't enough and had it insured. With insured packages of $200+ the recipient has to sign for it. The postage was roughly $5 extra which is well worth the peace of mind that I was protected and a full investigation would be launched if a problem did arise. Since then, I have been insuring orders of $30+ and not even charging extra for it.

I have thought about changing my s/h rates from by number of items to a scale based on the price of the order.

What precautions or measures do you use to safe guard your shipments and insure delivery? If you have any shipping advice please share!

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Pulling Ideas from Odd Places

Sometimes coming up with new designs and ideas can be a job in itself. The goal for selling is to have products to sell. For returning customers I try my best to offer something new and even more creative. It's also a chance to try out a new skill and step out of the box.

I went to a fabric/yarn store with my mother after Thanksgiving. She knits & crochets and needed fabric to line a few purses. I crochet and thought I'd try my hand at some stretchy socks. While going through the isles we both stopped and looked at some spools of curtain/lamp shade dangling things ~ I'm most certain these dangles have a proper name. Mom has decorated lamp shades with them and they do add fashion to the decor. One caught my eye.

From curtain dangle thingies to earring and hair accessories.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

The BigCatTrucker Show -The Interview

Comedian BigCatTrucker

I have had the pleasure of meeting some truly good people on Twitter. I work a 12 hour night shift and I've had some good conversations with several tweeple with insomina. That's how I met BigCatTrucker.

I immediately found BigCatTrucker intreging because he's an go-getter type of guy and in these times, it's easy to let your dreams and goals fall behind. And this young man finds his way through with determination and keeping a positive outlook on life. I found BCT to be funny over twitter and then he hit me with his youtube videos.

I followed his tweets and videos and within a few days BigCatTrucker announced he was coming out with a show too. Let's see what the BigCat comedian has to say in the interview.

Carmen: BigCat, I know where to find you, but tell everyone where we find you on the internet?

BCT: I have a few sites I work with: I also have coming soon and I'm on and as well.

Me: A lot of people are turning to the internet to launch business and shows, how did you get started?

BCT: I'm just a big internet junky, I do all of my business online.

Me: When we tune into the BigCatTrucker Show what should we expect? What does the show offer?

BCT: Just getting your laugh on and I offer some helpful info as well. Basically it's just all about The BigCat

Is this full-time for you or do you have another career?

BCT: Yes and no, I'm starting a new career as a truck driver but I want to take it to the next level and be a "world famous" trucker who is well known online. I am starting my own show on youtube called "The BigCatTrucker Show" I just wanted to do a show so everyone can see how a newbie trucker starts out and hopefully break down the stereotypes about truckers and the truck driving industry.

Carmen: People are still a little scared about launching their endevours online. I've done it and you're doing it too. Can anybody really do this?

BCT: Yes!! Everything nowsdays is on the internet and it is getting more and more advanced everyday. Also, while this medium advances there are new user friendly sites out there that can help you build a site custom made for you!

Carmen: Who inspired you to get started with your business?

BCT: I have a good friend of mine in Houston, TX who I have known for about 12 years now who is a trucker still today and he would always talk to me about getting my CDL and making some real money. So it took me this long to think about it and the way the economy is today made me want to doing more and more.

Carmen: Being successful on the internet is all about networking. Tell me how you get the word out about The BigCat.

BCT: Like I said before I use websites like myspace and facebook just because there are so many people on them and its fast and to the point. I also use, and I do a lot of videos and these sites are a bigtime help for me. I think they all provide results!

Carmen: What advice do you have for others who might want to do what you do?

BCT: Well since I'm just starting my career as a trucker, I can't really say much about that. However, I have learned in life if there is something you want to do just work hard towards it and don't stop just keep on going and going until you get there. A lot of people might try to tell you your dreams are too big or unattainable, but keep at it and it will come to pass. It might not happen overnight but hard work always equals success.

Carmen: Before I stop with the 20/20 is there anything else you would like us to know about you and your business?

BCT: That I'm the next big thing that’s about to blowup the internet, so look out for BigCatTrucker and my new show and much more to come.

Monday, January 12, 2009

And the Award Goes To...

I am the newest recipient of the Lemonade Award. Stormee of The Sewing World. was so kind to present this award to my via the other blog. Since it is business related, I will accept my award here and then list those who will get the prestigious award next.
These are the guidelines that award winners must follow:
#1 You must link back to the person you received the award from.
#2 You have to nominate 10 bloggers who are deserving of this award!

* PK ~ This jewelry artist is a true inspirations. Her items beautiful, creative, bright, unique, and inspiring just like she is! I sincerely appreciate you PK. You're Pretty Kool. Stop by her blog and her store.

Jewels, Etc. ~ This young lady is inspiring because she practices many jewelry skills. I'm a copper fan and she makes items that are show her creativity and imagination beautifully. Please go through her blog to see them.

Itiel ~ Smell Good Spa ~ This bath & body product artists not only has a huge variety of products with even a bigger selection of scents, but she is a true giver. She has a Stay Sweet Collection which she donates part of the sales to help young women. Ain't that Sweet!

* Eddie ~ This lady is a true go getter. She overcomes any obstacle with a positive attitude and she'll even hustle your products as if they're her own. Eddie is the owner of the forum Fabulous Black Woman & the creator of Sweet Nature Hair Care Products. Please join her wonderful group. You know I did.

* Michelle ~ Crochet Passions ~ This lady has been with me from the beginning. She is the first person to buy my products in person. She is also the hostess of natural hair meet-ups in Charlotte. Recently she launched her own store featuring the crocheted wearable art she makes.

* Phyliss ~ Dea's Joy ~ Phyllis and I took the Sisterlock class together. She was so professional and cool as she talked about her jewelry. I was like a scared, wet cat hiding behind chairs trying to pulling out my stuff. Phyllis and I have talked on the phone so much that my bluetooth and phone batteries have gone dead. I plug it up and call back too.

* CozyAromas ~ Is my twitter friend. She has been very supportive of me and I give her a special shout out along with Gina. She offers candles, warmers, and bath/body products. She has her own group on iseecolor and website.

* LelephantRose ~ I like this lady! Not because she tweets with me, lol, but because she has such a great eye for party fun, colorful fashions. I'm sure there's a name for it. 2.0 80's or glamorous life fashions? She also makes jewelry to showcase the style!

* BlossomingTree ~ She's my Facebook/African Safari friend and Etsy Artist of Color Street Team friend. She set up the give-away for me on the EAOC blog and is the new street team leader. Blossoming makes scented facial lotions, balms, and soap.

* Lisa ~ Serah's Soap ~ I have always amired her hair. And now she gives me another reason to admire her, the soap. Lisa makes the cutest cupcake soaps and packages them so they look like parfaits. Everytime I see them I go, "Aww."

* Angelic Gems ~ I bought the cutest necklace from her and did a post and video about it, lol. That's how much I liked it. Then one day I made a bi-weekly trip to the mailbox, and she sent me a matching pair of earrings. SHUT UP!!!

* Cheleski ~ She's the DIY (do-it-yourself) guru of natural hair and locks. Just check out her locks! She is sharing her knowledge in her latest book The Knotty Truth. It will be available in February on Amazon. Mark you calendars and in the meantime stop by her blog for tips.

Wow, this got so good to me, that I didn't stop at 10.

Yarn Coture's Having a Give-Away

Please stop by Yarncoture's Blog to enter a give-away of a items from her spa collection. The set includes pink and white towels, scrubie, soap pouch, and soap too.

Also posted on Carmen's Blog. In the comments, I'm given an award! How cool is that.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Marketplace Shop or Stand Alone Store

I do have an Etsy shop. Right around the same time that was being created, I opened up an Esty merchant account. I get asked about it from time to time and here is my view on Etsy and other marketplaces.

A quick way to set up a shop is to use a marketplace, a hub for many stores. I have found these to be extremely user friend with low or no upfront costs. There are several to chose from and the choice is yours. Often owners will pick more than one to test the waters since listing costs are near nothing.

Which should you pick Ebay, Etsy, Artfire, or one of the others? Once again, it does not matter. It is up to you to bring the people to the site to buy. So even if it is just a blog with buttons, you have to bring them to that spot. If people want your products they will buy them from anywhere that looks decent with paypal buttons. Ebay charges a one time fee that will be billed to you monthly. Etsy charges a small upfront listing fee. Etsy also skims off a little off each purchase and bills at the end of the month. Ebay offers a store option in which you can list several items for a monthly flat fee. Artfire has no fees for the basic shop, that I know of as of the time I am writing. They also offer a complete store for $7.

Once you start seeing that your sells have picked up and remain steady, all these small fees will begin to add up equal to or more than a stand alone website. If this occurs, then it might be cost effective to create an inexpensive websites.

The advantage of having a stand alone is that you have room to grow. You can include pages for testimonies and pictures that customers send. Add a video, a little music, a whole page for useful links. A stand alone can be customized. You can even add a blog to it.

How to Find Friends on Twitter

Twitter can be intimidating and a rather boring at first. So why do I keep talking about it? Because the initial standing at the wall at a party feeling doesn't last long before you are getting request to be followed. As with any party, it takes a little effort to get it started right.

Search for your friends. Pick keywords that are associated with your business. If you crochet/knit/yarn items do a search for those key words. For me it was a bit easier to find friends. I looked for women with natural hair.

Bloggers or business owners are on twitter. See if your favorite bloggers and store owners have links to their twitter ids on there websites. Hopefully they will and you can follow them. But don't let the party end there, mix and mingle with the people they follow and followers by adding them too.

Invite your customers and online/offline friends. I pass the word along through emails that are sent to customers. I include the link in my signature. I have a big follow button on my blogs. groups and forums that are large may have a Twitter thread or sub-group. If it doesn't - start one. I really don't have much to add to this one other than, you can rack up followers in groups like these.

What are some of the ways that you find your Twitter friends?

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Twitter for Marketing

Hello Everyone,
I want to share a free and easy marketing tool called Twitter. (It is also a hangout for social butterflies.) Twitter is a social network in which you can add friends by following them. At first I did not think it would work, until I started adding friends of friends. After two weeks, I was teaching and telling others about Twitter.

I follow marketing guru, Jim Connolly, and read his blog to learn about how to make the most out of Twitter, blogs, and marketing as a whole. Even if you do not join Twitter, his blog is full of useful information.

I have made several sells and met many artists there. Customers like following me because they get to see that the company behind the products is actually a regular person wearing a lot of hats. I like follow other artists because they inspire me, feel my pain, and offer great tips.

How has Twitter helped your marketing?

Africreations & Obama Rock

Handmade crochet Obama caps/hats/and more $20 no s/h!
I got a large size just in case.

Remember that video I did a while back? Someone watched it and bought a Juicybag. I don't know who you are but thank you so much. It really means a lot to me because sometimes I don't think I have fashion sense! Seriously, it does mean a lot, more than words can say

Post taken from Since the post I was featured on Africreations!

How to Promote Your Business On Social Networking Websites

If you are thinking of starting a business or have a business then please join If you have advice or need advice you can find it on this site. You will be able to create your own page to showcase your business as well.

This is one of many business tips videos available from the network owner, LaShanda Henry. She has a channel so please subscribe.

Juicy Bags and Locks

I haven't watched the video, so I hope it goes well. I don't like watching myself.

rmcandlelight asked "Can you do a video showing us your locks?" I did a quick post with a few pictures. I wanted to take some pictures for Angelicgems & Juicybags to show me actually wearing their items. So I thought - I'll just do a video!

I have been looking for a quirky, color laptop tote for a while now. I have a case for it, but for everyday use it's not practical, too bulky and it just screams - steal me. Or when I'm at work when I got my laptop back, I had the case and brought it inside and somebody said, "I see you brought your laptop." The business is mine. Stay out of it!

I just received the sweetest kufi. It's a crochet Obama hat. I'm getting bad at this picture thing. Africreations is your Obama hat store!

People I'm on Twitter hard and I just now noticed that this blog was written in Twitter style. Pitiful I know. I'm addicted to twitter. It's gotten so good to me that I want a large feed of my tweets on my blog. I have the little twitter one liner on my sidebar. I have joined a few groups and I've gotten a few direct messages from somebody famous. How cool is that? Very.

Note: Taken from Since the original post I was featured on Africreations grinning up a storm. Hey Obama won!!!

Ananse Ntontan by Angelicgems


Wearable art speaks to you. You'll see an item and it won't let you go. Then you ponder, if it's the only one and will somebody else buy before you do.

Ananse is a candy-coated superstar, wrapped in copper, with coils. It is absolutely original and adorable.

Please stop by to view all of her lovely pieces.

Note: Taken from

Do You Need to Advertise

I had the chance to meet Denise Bethune of Showcase Magazine and I believe she has a great publication for reaching a vast audience. Denise offers affordable advertisements in her online publication. This is a great hub for businesses to network as well as for consumers to find your products.

Showcase Magazine & Directory is designed to keep you informed of services, information and resources available to you along with helping new entrepreneurs in reaching a wider audience. The goal is to showcase the best and the vigilant. This publication highlights each business or organization with a short bio, pictures, services offered.

The publication with your feature will appear for the first six months of 2009, the next publication will be featured in July of 2009, with new businesses, and maybe some previous ones as well...

Note: Their is still time to be featured in the January - June publication...Contact Denise with any questions..

If you are interested in having your business featured for six months for a one time fee of $52 please contact Denise and visit her publication. That's way less than monthly ads running $20. It's way less than pay per click ads. It's about $8.67 a month. If you find ads cheaper than that then please let me know.

I'm there!!!

Denise/Thomas Bethune
BSB, Brother, Sister, Brother LLC