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The Handmade Highway!

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Happy Holidays

Hey all!

Well things have been interesting around these parts. The kids are just about out of school and it's pouring down rain here in sunny Arizona.

I have decided to take some time off to regain strength and be with my family. I pretty much over did it since May which has me down in the dumps and in need of some major family time. I want to take the time to reform and get healthy - both in mind and soul.

The blog updates will start again January 2nd! Our Tags and Buttons winner is Debbie, congrats Debbie! Please email me with your address and I'll pass it on.

See you soon!

Monday, December 15, 2008

Anja Designs


I saw this shop this morning and I automatically knew that I just had to share all this amazing goodness with you.

Anja Designs is not only special because they have beautiful items in their shop but also because going on right now is a holiday sale and everything is 10-30% off! Can't beat that!

These really neat sterling silver tulip earrings remind me of home and of the many items you'd find in local gift shops at home. I'm from the Skagit Valley which proudly is also the US home of an amazing tulip festival that takes place. I think the earrings are amazingly sweet and a must have for my earring stash.

Hope you are all almost done with your Christmas shopping! I know I am! If you haven't even started, shame on you! I've given you plenty to oogle over!

Knotty Baby Wear



Sometimes I stumble upon baby items and I wish and wish for another baby. Then I remember the diapers and being up all night and I decide that I'm just fine with my nearly all grown up boys. Man, am I ok!

I found some super cute stuff at Knotty Baby Wear. How fun is this nerdy neck tie onesie? For only $10 bucks you can pick this up in a variety of sizes ranging from new born to 24 months. You're little boy will be rockin' in this get up.

This shop is also known for having an extremely large selection of leg warmers for little girls. Now, when I first saw these I really truly thought they were tights for kids but they are actually two seperate pieces and actually look much more user and kid friendly then tights. Knotty Legs will get you compliments and smiles. Let your child be the coolest kid on the block!
There's lots of fun shopping and browsing to be done at Knotty Baby Wear. Go take a peek!

Friday, December 12, 2008

Eve Behar Ceramics


Behar? That sounds familiar.. Behar, hmm trying to place where you've heard that last name? Well, wonder no longer! Eve Behar is the daughter of The View's on air personality Joy Behar! She's on Etsy! How cool is that?

Giving gifts should be joyful and not a burden financially, ideologically or ethically. When buying handmade from artists and craftspeople you know your "footprint" is lessened and your support goes directly to the maker. Giving one of kind, handmade gifts shows your thoughtfulness and individuality. - Eve Behar

It's kinda nice to read isn't it? Makes you feel all warm and fuzzy inside.

You'll find many basic ceramic pieces at Eve Behar Ceramics. Everything from tumblers to sake sets. Purchasing a piece for you or as a gift also makes a great story when you're showing it off or complimented on it. Maybe you even know an extreme Joy Behar lover - what a great way of making that person smile.

Tags and Buttons

Did you guys get a chance to take a look at those fabulous buttons that were attached to the festive hot cocoa that was sent out with 150 November boxes? I love those buttons and when I was sent a sample of them this past summer and I squealed with glee when I saw them. I was surprised because I hadn't asked for them and they just arrived here and when I saw them I knew I had to have them!


Tags and Buttons, is the creator of the buttons and also the sponsor of our giveaway today! Yay! The owner Danielle is sweet as can be and has generously allowed us to give one winner 15 - 1 inch custom buttons. This is a fabulous gift for those businesses out there reading this blog entry who are looking for another way to spread the word about their business!

Also,to make it a little sweeter, take 15% off the purchase price of any order now through December 31st (Not including shipping). To get this sale, mention "LBBlog" in the 'note to seller' section at checkout and either wait for a revised invoice to pay, or be refunded the discount through Paypal.

How would you benefit from this Tags and Buttons giveaway? Take a moment and comment here in order to win this great giveaway! Winner will be picked next Wednesday!

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Re: Stuck

Thank you to everyone who has commented on my Stuck post. I appreciate it. I've even had a few email me personally to tell me their thoughts.

I haven't replied but I have read every single one of them and everyone has such valid points. Please keep your opinions - both good and bad coming. If you have something to say that you think will take heat then please just email me your ideas. If you think it will hurt my feelings and you don't want to say anything then please DO say something. Usually I DO need to hear it.

As for right now I 100% am sure I will not be charging a deposit to participate. I just can't do that. It would hurt my business more then help it grow. I like the contract idea though! That is something worth investigating especially during important months like Oct-December and theme months!

Cyberoptix TieLab

Cyberoptix TieLab - Another business at risk of cutting thier children's items because of CPSIA.

Bellflower Textiles

Bellflower Textiles - Another shop being forced to close because of CPSIA.

Ruth's Creations

Ruth's Creations - Another shop being forced to close because of CPSIA

Klarson

Klarson - Another shop being forced to close because of CPSIA

Lillipops Deigns

Lillipop Designs - Another shop being forced to close because of CPSIA

Ravenhill

Ravenhill - Another shop being forced to close because of CPSIA

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

We need your help to save handmade toys in the US, Europe and Canada from the CPSIA

Just pulled this article from Cool Mom Picks. I'm sad!

We interrupt the tidings of comfort and joy to bring you some heartbreaking news.

Of course we're all for strengthening the safety standards of mass-produced toys made in China, and banning toxins like phthalates and lead. But this year, the CPSC passed the ill-conceived Consumer Products Safety Improvement Act which goes into effect in two months and will absolutely decimate the small toy manufacturers, independent artisans, and crafters who have already earned the public trust. The very same ones that we often feature here and in our Safer Toy Guide.

They will all go out of business. Period.

Moms who sew beautiful handmade waldorf dolls out of home, artists who have spent decades hand-carving trucks and cars out of natural woods, that guy at the craft show who sold you the cute handmade puzzle--even larger US companies who employ local workers and have not once had any sort of safety issue will no longer be able to sell their toys. Not without investing tens of thousands of dollars into third-party testing and labeling, just to prove that toys that never had a single chemical in them still don't have a single chemical in them.

In other words, handmade toys will now be illegal.

So many of our past reviewees are pleading for your help. Here's what you can do:

-Find your congress person and senators and write a letter like the sample here, particularly if they serve on the consumer protection subcommittee.
-Send a letter directly to the CPSC.
-Join the Handmade Toy Alliance and check out their proposed changes to the act which make a whole lot of sense.
-Spread the word to everyone you know who cares about helping the little guy, particular in today's economy.
Thanks mamas. We know we can help make a difference and preserve this important cottage industry, keep good honest people in business, and protect the playthings we all love best of all.

Edited to add: It would seem this act impacts not just toys, but all children's products (thanks, Diana) including clothing, hair accessories, shoes - pretty much everything we feature here. Please please, if you do one thing today, shoot off an email or two, will you?

Stuck!


It's brainstorming day.

I'm sitting here in a completely quiet house trying to figure out what sort of changes need to be made for The Little Black Box in 2009.

Lots of changes.

Most importantly I need to drive more and more new traffic to the site. I need new connections and new online friends. Networking is key. One of my most favorite blogs right now is Momdot.com and I'd love to do something special with them. I'm also a big fan of Tip Junkie and I'd love to work with them as well. Any other suggestions?

I need to figure out a way to prevent businesses from signing up and then not following through with their commitment. This is a major one. I had 100 businesses signed up for October, November and December. I even turned businesses away in December because I was feeling overwhelmed. October and November were great! I had just about everyone follow through and I wasn't disappointed one bit. I knew that the box buyers would be extremely happy with the contents of the boxes and that the feedback emails I would get would be great. I LOVE happy box buyers because then I know that in return they'll support the businesses in the boxes leaving me with happy box contributers.

Our December due date rolled around and I was just about having a heart attack. 37/100 businesses had followed through with their commitment to the boxes that month. Bless the hearts of those that pulled it out during this busy season. I paid money for extra advertising for December expecting 80+ businesses to follow through and only 37 businesses sent in items. So I beat myself up a little and ask myself what I did wrong. Was it the holiday in the middle that caused people to lose track of time? Is it the economy and businesses couldn't afford to create their promos? Did those that signed up in August for a spot forget about their commitment? Nah, I send out reminder emails each week and didn't hear from anyone backing out. Or did businesses just not care that they had committed and didn't even care to take the time to let me know they weren't contributing? I really hope that wasn't the case.

Now, yes a handful of businesses did take the time to let me know. I'm forever grateful for their professionalism and very understanding too but as for the rest I'm pretty disappointed. It really truly makes you wonder how they treat their customers if they can't even take a second to send someone an email. It's a common courtesy! I can never let something like this happen again. I work my behind off to spread the news about handmade and the businesses participating because I love what I do but I expect to be treated fairly in return. I normally have enough items to make 300 boxes and we sell out each and every month but this month I was lucky enough to make 100. Not great!

So on to your opinion - What do you think I should do? As a box buyer what sort of changes to the boxes do you want to be seen made in 2009 and as a box contributer what do you want changed? I'm all ears! I value opinons! Customer service is key! I'm ready and willing and open to anything that sounds like it'd work.

Oh, and if you tend to follow blogs or other website you think The Little Black Box would fit in on you should link me so I can check it out. You never know where you might see us show up!

Thanks to Jelene for coming to the rescue last week when I was in a panic. She sent in the bestest promos as an addition to the December boxes. I'm adding her stuff in on top of all remaining bags. She's awesome!

December boxes have been marked down to 20 dollars! Get one quick!

Vegan Boxes!


Lucinda's Charms


I know how much owl's are in right now so it's only appropriate to write about this cool owl necklace I found awhile ago from Lucinda's Charms.

In this shop you will find beautiful and affordable necklaces and earrings made from vintage toolings, brass, copper and pewter pendants as well as some sterling silver pendants. The owner is always looking for the deeper meaning in life, she have researched and included symbolic meanings for many of the jewelry pieces in her store. Some jewelry pieces don't have a symbolic meaning behind them, they are just simply beautiful and I must agree.

When I saw this owl is just screamed to be shared. The owl has symbolic significance across many cultures. It is said to be associated with wisdom, mystery, transition, intelligence, mysticism, and protection. In Native American culture it is seen as the keeper of sacred knowledge. The owl has also been honored as the keeper of spirits who have passed from one plane to another.

This own in particular is antiqued and slightly domed which emphasizes the lovely details. The pendant is silver plated and measures about 1 3/4 inches in length by 1 inch in width. It hangs from an antiqued silver plated chain and lobster clasp. The chain is approximately 18 inches long. You can pick it up for only $17 dollars which seems like an amazing deal.

Dirty Ass Soaps

Do you love hand made soaps, resin jewelry & magnets, hand sculpted jewelry, zip pouches, armwarmers and duct tape wallets? If you're looking for something out of the ordinary that will make you smile, have a look around Dirty Ass Soaps!

It was of course the crazy soaps that got my attention. Check out this Super Breakfast Set! This set of soaps comes with fried eggs (scented coconut lime verbena) and two golden waffles with butter (scented cinnamon cassia). Also included are FOUR strips of soap bacon! (scented root beer) This breakfast is sure to knock your socks off!

I also think this Super Bacon Cheeseburger set is pretty clever! Who would have thought? The super bacon burger comes complete with 2 halves of a bun, a burger, cheese, four slices of bacon, and a puddle of ketchup! It also comes with two pickles and four "french fries" which are also soap. They are even crinkle cut!

There's a ton of goofy soaps in this shop to clean your "Dirty Ass". Lots would make wonderful stocking stuffers and gifts. You gotta pick yourself up a set of soaps!

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Whiff and Sniff Candles


As some of you may or may not know I'm the owner of Whiff and Sniff Candles. About 3 or 4 months ago - August - I decided to put the website for sale. At this time I had many parties interested but one in particular wanted the website and paid a deposit for it at that time.

Things fell through and the interested party at the time told me that they didn't want the stuff on the website only the domain, mailing list, scent list, blends and the recognition of being the new owner of Whiff and Sniff Candles. No problem! Because she didn't want the stuff on the back end of the site I closed my account with Merchant Moms and everything was erased - everything I worked hours and hours on.

I'm listing the site for sale again. For sale is the domain - WhiffandSniff.com, the scent list and recipes, and my mailing list. I am willing to help you put your own site together if you need it.

Honestly, I want the business to go to someone established and professional. I'm already out a ton of money because of the issue I had with the other party and I just want this to go as quickly as possible. I will only accept a money order for the site and I will mail you documents to sign for the sale. I wish it didn't have to be so strange and it could be laided back and easy but I've learned some important lessons in this whole process.

Because I no longer have a website you'll have to have your own created. That's the biggest mess of this whole thing! If you already have a candle site you can also just build Whiff and Sniff into your website directing the domain to your domain. Easy as pie!

Any interested parties please contact me for more info.

My Handbound Book

Do you have a loved one or know someone in your life that is super busy? Does their head spin due to be pulled in all sorts of directions because of appointments and work? I found the nicest hand bound leather 2009 weekly planner that would make the nicest gift for someone. It's not too late to pick this up and have it arrive to you in time for your holiday events!

This planner, by My Handbound Book, contains a 2009 calendar with a 2-page spread for each week. It also has other standard pages for personal info, phone numbers, addresses, important dates, 2010 at a glance, etc. Also a set of pocket pages at the back, made of olive green card stock. 100 creamy blank pages (half lined, and half unlined) make it easy to jot down notes and an attached ribbon bookmark helps you mark what day it is for better accessibility.

You won't just find planners in this shop's inventory - there's a little bit of everything! How about a leather bound journal, sketchbook, notebook, or photo album? There's something for everyone and everything would make an absolute great gift idea.

Cake Box Cookies


Beware! This shop will totally make you want to shop. After seeing this yummy treats I can almost best that you'll want to order some goodies for a holiday party you might be attending.

Cake Box Cookies is the home of the gourmet, iced shortbread sugar cookies. You have got to have some talent in order to make cookies look this good! When checking out, put the date you would like to receive the cookies in the "note to seller" and they'll bake, decorate, package and ship accordingly. Are you purchasing as a gift? Cake Box Cookies can ship directly to the recipient and add a gift note at no charge. Just let them know in the "note to seller" what you'd like to say and they will take care of the rest.

The item that caught my eye the most and actually introduced me to this particular shop was the Vintage Christmas Light Cookies. A full two dozen (24) cookies is plenty to fill your dessert platter or make an impressive gift. The stars measure 1.5 inches and the light bulbs 2.5. You will receive 12 of each. Net weight - 1-1/2 pounds. They are the bomb diggity and I want some for myself!

Monday, December 8, 2008

Dance With Silver


Silver jewelry makes me happy. I think it's aesthetically pleasing. It's simple and clean and overall my number one preference when it comes browsing for handmade jewelry.
Dance With Silver prides itself with creating jewelry that is 99.9% fine silver unless noted. Because silver is such a precious metal something made of nearly pure fine silver can be an important investment.

I found some great pendants that I want to share with you. I'm sure that if I love them you will too. There is some super unique designs and some not so unique but sure to be favorites. I've added a few to my favorites list over on Etsy. Hopefully you will too.

On to my list of favorites at Dance With Silver!

This cute tie is made of 99.9% pure silver and was sculptured to have a soft fabric look! The carved stripes design gives it a classic yet modern feel. Suitable for everyday wear! I think this is crazy cool. It's different and I like different. You won't see anyone else in your office or local grocery store with a pendant like this - that's for sure!

I also think the anchor pendant is pretty sweet. It is also made from 99.9% pure silver and comes with a beautiful matte finish. Either pendant would make a great gift for a loved one. You won't go wrong with either and you're supporting the handmade community in the process.

Michima

Back in the saddle again. Phew, man that cold really knocked this household out. I have been down and out since last Tuesday evening and that was NOT fun. Thankfully I'm over the hump and I'm just about better. From now until Christmas expect fun fun fun! That includes answering 100's of emails over the next couple days.

Let's start with a little bit of goodness from Michima. There's still a few days to order from this business in order for your items to arrive before Christmas. Make sure you read the shop notes throughly if anything catches your eye.

I'm absolutely floored by these felt letter sets. Do you need to buy for a child this season but don't know what to get them and want to get something useful? This is the gift then! No joke! Children ages 3-7 will adore these. My boys are at the age now where they are spelling everything and having these would be totally useful. They do not come with a magnet but you could even purchase a package of magnets and attach your own so that they can be used on a fridge.

The other item I adore at Michima is this I've Been Framed personalized wood frame with felt letters. All you gotta do at checkout notes is tell the shop owner the name for the letters and the color you want the frame. It's pretty easy! This would make a great gift for a grandparent!

What a great shop!

Friday, December 5, 2008

Still down and out..


This cold or whatever it is hasn't gotten any better. It's in my head now and I feel like I'm under water. Disgusting. I'm trying to hang in there and getting a little work done here and there. I'm massively behind on email. I'm going to try to get everything caught up by Monday. I'm taking it VERY easy since I don't want to get worse.

Just wanted to update that I'll be back strong on Monday (crosses fingers). I've been laying in bed looking for new finds. My mother in law came over yesterday and pulled me out of bed and we packed 100 boxes to get us going which allowed me to have the boxes stay on schedule. We're going to pack the rest tomorrow.

Thanks for your warm emails during my down time. I apprecaite your consideration. Being sick is NO fun!

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Sick

I'm sicker then sick. Husband started coming down with it about 2 weeks ago and then last Saturday Dylan had it and it finally nailed me yesterday. I'm trying to get website stuff done but I'm not feeling so hot so I'm not going to update the blog today. Dang, I'm so mad that it finally caught me.

Boxes are supposed to go on sale Friday. They might get post poned until Saturday or Sunday because of this. :(

Stay tuned..

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Promos In A Snap


Promos In A Snap is one of my personal favorite promotional material businesses. I know and trust that if I want something done right and quickly that the owner Crystal will get it done with plenty of time to spare.

We teamed up a few months ago to create the the stickers that go on the front of the Little Black Box bags. The first time we created the stickers they were a tad too small because I wasn't sure of the correct size but most recently we designed a brand new sticker for the bags and they turned out awesome! These new stickers will be unveiled on our December bags. They are larger and have a brand new design to match the new look of the website. I was thrilled with how they turned out and highly suggest you contact Promos In A Snap if you are looking to have your own stickers or promo materials created. I should also add that my business cards were also created by Crystal and they are gorgeous.
One of the best things about using Promos In A Snap for your promo materials is that if you find any items in her shop cheaper somewhere else, she will price match that seller plus take 10% off!(except during a sale). They won't be undersold! Highly recommended!

WHITEMETAL

I found this amazing shop yesterday after some drama over at Etsy. Whitemetal has a beautiful sterling silver gernade necklace that had many people up in arms after it was placed on the front page in a treasury yesterday afternoon. Many Etsy members felt it was very tasteless that Etsy allowed this necklace to be part of a treasury for the front page after all the tragedy which has recently happened in India and actually started attacked the shop owner.

I felt terrible for the shop owner. She didn't create the treasury and was also surprised that it was on the front page to begin with and also didn't deserve the attacks and harassment she was given because of her shop item.

Personally I would have never taken offense to this but I can see why some did. Still it was sad to see someone's craft being attacked like that. That's why I decided to give Whitemetal a platform today to show off her craft and skill instead of being known as the shop with that gernade necklace. Show this shop some love. Tis the season!

Giveaway Winners

Here's a list of all the recent giveaways we've had on the blog and their winners. Please contact me at kim@thelittleblackboxes.com if you see your name here so that I can forward your info onto the businesses who donated items.

Thanks!

Jaime B Designs winner is Mistress Meeyee
Bijoutful winner is Laura
Chic-Covers winner is Chelle
Always Amy winner is Sweet Lollipop Shop
SStargell Designs winner is Lucie39
Congrats!

Monday, December 1, 2008

Feingold Jewelry


You know your buying quality jewelry when you pick up a piece of jewelry designed by the winner of the 2006 America's Ugliest Necklace contest. I don't know about you but that pretty much sells me right there!

Feingold Jewelry specializes in simple clean lines. Each piece is bright, beautiful, and sure to be noticed. You can count on standing out with something from this line. The owner, Sarah, is also Etsy's own attorney which I just discovered while writing this. How neat is that?

You'll find a variety of Jewish star necklaces available for purchase for all of my Jewish readers who are looking for a family heirloom in the making. This particular unique and contemporary sterling silver Jewish star pendant took Sarah over 3 years to design, and I think the time she spent on it was worth every minute.

Great shop!

QueenVanna Creations


Queen Vanna Creations participated in our 2nd annual Black Friday Bonanza this past weekend and I did a little bit of shopping in her store during the event because there was just some items that I couldn't refuse.

I picked myself up one of her amazing perpetual wooden block calenders. Each set comes with 6 parts include - base, three month blocks, and two date blocks. Pieces are meticulously crafted by her husband, then a patterned paper is attached by the owner! It measures approx 3 by 5.5 inches and would look great in your cubicle, on your desk at home, on a shelf or on your mantle. Overall this would make a great gift!

Or perhaps you like these perpetual block calendars but think "I could do that, if I had the pieces."? Now you can! You can purchase undressed wooden block calendars. You decorate it any way you'd like!

I adore these calenders and think you'll love them too!

Weekend Giveaways

I've decided to let people keep entering through today and all winners from the giveaways over the weekend will be picked tomorrow morning instead of this morning to allow more sign ups!

Thanks for tuning in!