handmade business

This tag is associated with 10 posts

Feathers, Couture Accessories, and Vacuum Cleaner,

Making feathers accessories is a messy and wasteful process. Especially when I’m making this type of feather flower. I can only use the upper part of the feathers because the thicker lower part of the feathers aren’t very bendable. As a result, I have to toss 2/3 of the feathers away.
I also need to toss the imperfect feathers away. I buy my feathers from the best feathers suppliers I know. Most (98%) of their feathers are in perfect condition. But, some of them have irregular shapes. And so, I can’t use them to make this feathers flower as well. But, I don’t toss them because I can trim them and use them to make other kinds of accessories.

Whenever I’m creating feathers accessories, my workspace looks as if it’s attacked by Suigintou, a Rozen Maiden manga (and anime) character. Why? Because the trimmed excess feathers will fly around everywhere . . .
I need to thank Dyson for creating this handheld vacuum cleaner. It’s been a huge help in keeping my workspace clean.

Angelica Brigade‘s Joyce

The Suigintou and Dyson Vacuum Cleaner images seen in this blog post are not mine. If you own the rights to these images and prefer not to see them on this blog post, please let me know. I'll be happy to replace them for you.

Realization, Perseverance, Inventiveness, and Progress

Here are a few things I learned (and re-learned/re-discovered) this week . . .

After 3 weeks of low productivity (in terms of coming up with new designs) . . .
I figured out that I should never go against my natural tendencies & preferences.

  • In my efforts to grow my business (by doing market research, and by creating products that might sell well)
  • Because I thought that as a person who custom-design couture accessories & jewelry for my clients; I should be able to create whatever things my clients want
  • In my attempts to challenge myself and to avoid creative rut, (by learning to create pieces that look different from my usual designs)
  • And because I’d been too harried to evaluate things

I got sidetracked

I ended up creating a few pieces I don’t love . . .
What a waste of time, energy. and resources . . .

Finally, when I had no more energy to make more and more things (which I might not like anyway) . . .
I got that badly needed chance to evaluate my performance & (lack of) progress . . .

I love sleek, minimalistic, well-constructed, geometric, and textured designs . . .
(things with clean, non-fussy lines) . . . and thus, should focus on designing such pieces.
Forcing myself to create ornate, colorful things with organic lines will only lead me to failures and disappointments.

I’m happy to say that I finally heard from some of the modelling agencies I contacted.
I’m organizing 3 different editorial shoots and it had not been easy (you can read more about it here).

Here are some of the principles I live by:

  • Be inventive. If necessary, use (legal) unorthodox method.
    If you can’t enter through the door, try to enter from the roof (Mark 2: 1-5) . . . or dig a tunnel . . . or whatever legal method you think might work.
  • Be persistent. Read this story and you might know what I’m talking about >>> Luke 18:1-5

I’m not a Bible thumper,
And, some people might think I don’t interpret those passages carefully/methodically/etc.
But, I can’t ignore the wisdom of what those men and that widow did . . .

Have an awesome weekend!!!

-joyce @ Angelica Brigade

Some Thoughts About Etsy, Etsy Integrity Team, and Malicious Store Flaggers

Please watch the following video and tell me what you think.

About two weeks ago, someone whose Etsy store was (also) closed by Etsy Integrity Team contacted me. This is what she wrote:

Helen · June 25, 2013 - 6:07 am
Watch this video and pass it explains the Wolf in Sheep’s clothing aka “Etsy” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=53Hwl6Y9UWs 

This is the same story I keep on hearing. Etsy has been getting away with this for years. Now this has to stop and the only way to hurt them is make the Attorney General in their state make them comply to have a real telephone customer service team. Bombard the internet and get the Attorney General in New York to make Etsy comply or shut them down. This company has no telephone service they have thousands of sellers who my law have have the rights to speak to a real person about their livelihood. This company is even acting like a bank where they have their own payment processing and still no telephone customer team where you can ask a question about YOUR business the business you grew. Something sounds very fishy all the stories from sellers Etsy has damaged without a moments thought the so called integrity team asking for the in’s and out’s of a sellers business and then still giving them the big heave ho when all the information has been given. 

I have had the unfortunate dealings with Eliza on Etsy and I totally understand that this person is incompetent she was rude, arrogant and ignorant however the lack of customer service must be coming from the top otherwise this person would not have been allowed to address me the way she did without being reprimanded. I have a right as a customer to speak to a real person and for them to explain what is happening and how to resolve it. But all you get is a email answered whenever they feel like it and a person who is demeaning and not their to help you in any shape or form and not only that puts barriers in the way and makes it hard as possible for you.
Bombard the Attorney General and ask him why he is letting this Multi Million company in his jurisdiction get away with such bad business practices. Name and shame that is the only way these faceless corporations ever learn by denting their pockets. Etsy your time is coming and I will laugh my arse off when you cowards have to face your customers with no more hiding behind your computer screens. 

File reports and ask others to do the same: http://www.ag.ny.gov/internet-bureau-online-complaint-form 

I can describe building a business on Etsy like building a house on sand it will eventually collapse because it’s build on a weak foundation. 


Last February, Etsy Integrity Team shut my store down because I wasn’t willing to show them how I sculpted and knotted my original statement necklace. It took me months to get over the shock, sadness, and bitterness. But I’ve moved on.

I learned from other people whose stores were also closed by the Etsy Integrity Team … it can happen again and again … So, I thought that it’s wiser for me to just stay away from Etsy.

Requiring every Etsy Integrity Team member to face the people whose stores s/he suspended might be a good first step. This can help him/her to see us as people … and to realize that s/he can ruin people’s lives and start avalanches of pain and bitterness with just a clicks of his/her computer mouse.

But … to me, it’s not enough.

I believe that the people who randomly flag and report their fellow sellers in order to get rid of their competitors should face the consequences of the things they’ve done and pay for the losses that are suffered by the people whose lives they ruined. They should realize that what they’ve been doing amount to cyber bullying. Also, because they maliciously make their fellow sellers to loose their businesses, their investments, and perhaps also their livelihoods … these people might have committed several criminal acts as well.

Unless I’m sure that I’m protected against such people, I would never sell anything via Etsy again.

[Updates] It’s gonna take some time, but . . .


Rondo a la Byzantine Chain Maille Necklace with Lurex Ribbon

… wonderful things take a long time to create

I’m still unwilling spill my trade secrets to Etsy; and so, I’m still not authorized to sell anything via Etsy.

These past few days, I’ve been spending most of my “free time” trying to find new ways for me to do the things I love: Creating handmade jewelry and accessories on a daily basis. It’s my goal that – someday – I can do it for a living.

This unexpected change forced me to re-write my business plan which might very well be a blessing in disguise.

One-and-a-quarter year after I started my very first small business, through trials & errors, I’ve become more knowledgeable than I used to be. There are a lot more things for me to learn, but . . . I can definitely write – at least – a slightly better business plan than the one I wrote in 2011 (because . . . back then . . . the only business knowledge I had was the things I learned from my professors & from the books I read).

It’ll take some time for me to launch Angelica Brigade v.02 . . . especially because I’ve also been working on several other projects with several other artists . . . I can’t really talk about them on this blog just yet because I’ve learned not to count my chicken before they hatch . . . and because unexpected things can happen along the way . . . (am I being a bit too negative?)

Well, anyway, there are a few more things I plan to announce quite soon. If you are interested to find out what they might be, you are welcomed to follow my blog or subscribe to my blog posts via e-mail :)

Failure, Perspective, and Resilience

Source: Lifehack

:) Imagine that you are building the largest, most elaborate, and labor intensive sandcastle you ever make so far . . .
:) It’s almost done, and you are rather proud of it . . .
:( You are putting some finishing touches on it when someone – not minding where s/he’s going – stumble and fall on top of your sandcastle . . .


:) Imagine that you are playing a very challenging RPG game on your portable game console
:) You’ve spent countless hours on it
:) You know that – this time – you’re definitely going to get the game’s “true ending”
:( And out of nowhere, a few rowdy children run towards you and knock your portable game console into a pond . . .

How long will it take you to start over?

A similar thing happened to me last week, but in a much larger scale (you can read more about it here).

I know that I’ll get over it. I know that – this time around – it’ll take me less time to rebuild everything I’ve lost (and I will~). Yet, I wasn’t able to do it the same day it happened to me.  So, I decided to take a mini vacation to get over my fatigue, disappointment, and anger~ I also needed some time to re-evaluate things, to find better ways to grow my small business, etc etc.

But now, I’m ready to start over.

www.angelica-brigade.com‘s online shop will be open for business by the end of this week!

But, some things are going to change.

  • I will share most of my jewelry-making and accessory-making knowledge with my readers & customers.
  • I’m planning to offer plenty of good DIY tutorials on this blog & I won’t prohibit my readers from producing & selling the items.
  • I’m also planning to write ebooks on jewelry-making & accessory-making.
  • I’m not saying that I will stop creating handmade items for my clients & prospective clients . . . but, I’m not planning to take more than a few custom or made-to-order items per month.
  • Instead, I will focus on designing more & more things . . . and offering the tutorials on how to make those jewelry & accessories to my readers (which is also great for me because I don’t enjoy creating one same thing over and over again)

That’s it for now, guys!!!

I will write again in a few days.

Till then,

– joyz*k of AngelicaBrigade

Expose Your Trade Secrets or I Will Shut Your Shop Down : Etsy Suspended My Shop

[ Update: People who follow me on Instagram know that whenever they ask me about the materials & methods I use to create my demi-couture accessories, I always answer their questions to the best of my ability. E.g. I let them know where I purchase my materials, give them links to good video tutorials, etc . . . But, there are a small number of things I want to keep to myself . . . the things I want to make sure that big companies and mass-producers won’t exploit ]

Just because I’m not a billionaire . . . (and) new at this business . . . should I set myself up to loose before I even begin?

(T)he fact that someone can snuff itwith a click of a button wrenches my heart . . .

(W)hoever has the most power wins. And smaller entities like me need to be faster, wiser, and more resilient to survive.

And yet, I’m not giving up. Till the very end. I will protect & nurture my Angelica Brigade till I am no longer able to do it anymore.

Here’s my story:

After hours of extensive research, I’m still certain that to this date (February 10, 2013), I still am the only person in this world who (can) produce this lightweight but sculptural chainmaille necklace.

angelica brigade angelicabrigade company website

And yet, Etsy says that unless I prove to that I am the person who create this necklace, I can no longer sell anything via Etsy.

I invented this style in December 2011, starting with this hand piece  . . .
(You can read about it in this blog post >>> https://angelicabrigade.wordpress.com/2011/12/14/one-of-my-best-works-this-year/ )


It wasn’t perfect, but I thought that the piece was my renaissance as a chainmaille artist. So, I dedicated hundreds of hours to improve and perfect the style.

Then, I thought that a matching necklace might be a good idea. And so, I created these pieces by improving the construction of the hand piece, and extended its length just so to create these necklaces: https://angelicabrigade.wordpress.com/2012/01/15/avant-garde-statement-necklace-by-joyzk-for-angelica-brigade/

avant garde maille necklace by joyz*k for Angelica Brigade

Here are a few pictures of myself and my workspace as I was creating the piece (as seen in that blog post):

IMG_2005 IMG_2034IMG_1990

That necklace, then, evolved into this piece (as written in the following blog post >>> https://angelicabrigade.wordpress.com/2012/01/16/another-avant-garde-maille-necklace/ )

Angelica Brigade avant garde maille necklace

And, as usual, I proudly show my readers that I do create this piece myself . . .


That necklace, then, evolved into a bolder hand piece (you can read more about it in this blog post >>> https://angelicabrigade.wordpress.com/2012/03/02/why-it-takes-me-8-hours-or-more-to-create-my-maille-jewelry/ )

And . . . per usual, I included some pictures of how I created the piece.



And, I kept on perfecting this technique . . .

You can read about them in these blog posts:

Do you notice how similar they look? They are just becoming bolder & better-constructed . . .


And . . . finally, I made this piece (which process I also blog about. You can read it in https://angelicabrigade.wordpress.com/2012/10/06/how-i-create-this-type-of-knotted-chainmaille-swarovski-statement-necklaces/ )

handmade jewelry statement necklace chainmaille jewellery chain maille chain mail chainmail knotted swarovski fancy stone black gold angelica brigade angelicabrigade etsy indie designer bold sculptural unusual unique

I defended myself to the best of my ability using numerous photographic evidence, including this one


And yet . . . they said that unless I show them how I twist the chain, where I connect the chain, et cetera, they will not let me to sell anything via Etsy . . .

To be honest . . . I am more than a little hurt :'(

I also feel more than a little offended.

Being falsely accused by an anonymous person . . . and then being forced to reveal many things I rather keep to myself (e.g. the sizes of the jump rings I used, the places I bought my supplies, etc etc) . . . And then forced to show my closely guarded secret . . .

Well . . . I am an owner of an extremely small business. My knowledge of how I constructed the piece is the only advantage I have. And, if I give that away, what will I have left?

Nothing . . .

An Etsy representative told me that whatever I tell them will remain confidential. And yet . . . if someone who is able to create chainmaille jewelry accidentally see the email . . . I don’t need to spell the consequences out to you, right?

Will Coca Cola & KFC tell other people their secret recipes? Are they allowed to keep their recipes secret?

How about me? Just because I’m not a billionaire . . . just because I’m new at this business . . . should I set myself up to loose before I even begin?

How about some justice? How about the right to not to act in a reckless manner?

And so . . . at this moment, I no longer sell my items via Etsy.

I told Etsy that I am going to need to think about this . . . that nothing but a signed & legalized document from Etsy will reassure me that this act of revealing all the trade secrets I have will never hurt me in the future.

I don’t think they’ll ever do that for me . . . The Etsy Integrity team member who handled my case did not respond to this matter when I brought the topic up.

So, here’s what I learned last week:

Etsy is a huge corporation, and I – a small-time newbie – am not valuable to them

and so . . . they shut me out.

I’m not a big loss to them and the fact that I am no longer sell anything via their online marketplace will not create any dent.

Well . . .

But life goes on . . .

And I will pick up the pieces and try to rebuild my small business which is as dear to me as an infant to his or her own birth mother.

Yes, Angelica Brigade is a very small business that doesn’t generate a lot of money, but it’s still my baby, and I love it so very much. I dedicated many sleepless days for it . . . And the fact that someone can snuff it with a click of a button wrenches my heart so much that even if this person revive it with another click of a button, it will never – ever – be the same again.

But, that’s how the world is I guess . . . whoever has the most power wins. And smaller entities like me need to be faster, wiser, and more resilient to survive.

And yet, I’m not giving up. Till the very end. I will protect & nurture my Angelica Brigade till I am no longer able to do it anymore.

And this is where I stand today.

Clear Goal as a Compass: Got Sidetracked?

Vintage Compass Pendant by BazingaJewellery via Etsy

Begin with the end in mind
– The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People
Stephen Covey

In other words: We should plan everything with clear ultimate goals as our reference points.

Our ultimate goals should serve as a compass with which we set our short-term, mid-term, & long-term goals accordingly. That way, we can be sure that these shorter-term goals will serve as effective building blocks or stepladder that will help us to achieve our ultimate goals.

Personalized Map Compass Necklace by soradesigns via Etsy

Lately, I’ve been so caught up with creating more & more handmade jewelry that I failed to set aside some time to review my plans & schedules so I make sure that they are aligned with my goals.

This online article I read on Handmadeology served as a wake-up call for me: The 12 Biggest Mistakes Jewelry Designers Make in Business by Tracy and Robin from flourishthriveacademy.com (especially point #2).

Steampunk Compass Necklace by JCB Studio via Etsy

I’m an extremely right-brained person who went to a fashion design school & an art school. Though I read a lot of business books & took some business-related classes in college (to fulfill my GE Requirements), I’m not a naturally effective  & organized business mastermind.

Driven by creative impulses, I’ve been designing with no clear vision of who I choose to design for. Blogging-wise, I’ve been writing without any clear vision of who I write for. Which is BAD, bad, BAD!

It’s  like floating in the middle of a sea. Letting my creative impulses to dictate what I do is like swimming to this & that direction without any specific destination in mind. I’ll end up near where I started. Unless I choose a specific destination in mind, it’s just a matter of time before I’ll sink.

Antique Sundial Compass via ANTIQUEDECORS on Etsy

Some books & articles told me that my ideal customers are a group of people who are very similar to me. So,with that assumption, I decided to create the kinds of things I’d love to wear. This is one the merchandising plans I need to explore further / re-evaluate.

As for blogging . . . I’ve been doing it because handmade business books & online articles say that every craft seller & online retailer need to do it (to increase one’s online presence, and make it possible for one’s customers & potential customers to get to know one).

So, writing whatever I like (such as tons of business-related posts) is probably not a good idea. [Because the people who might want to read my business-related articles are probably my fellow small business owners & craft sellers, not my customers & potential customers].

If I want my customers & potential customers to get to know me better, I should write about the things that inspire me, my working process, tips on inspecting whether a piece is well made or not, and the likes instead.

However, I still want to write business-related posts. But, I might need to write it on a different blog. I’m going to think this over & let you know before the end of this year (next week!)

Wow! How time flies~

$0 marketing that’s more effective (for me) than social media marketing

AngelicaBrigade Angelica Brigade joyz joyz*k Independent Designer Small Business Owner Artist Etsy Seller

$0 marketing that’s more effective (for me) than social media marketing:

  • Wearing my own designs everywhere I go
  • Going out to many places where my target customers usually go on a regular basis
  • Never leaving the house without  bringing a stack of well-designed / eye-catching / memorable business cards

Angelica Brigade AngelicaBrigade moo business card moo.com

I ordered my double-sided business cards from Moo.com

Here’s a better version of the photograph you can see on on one of the sides of the business card

angelica brigade chainmaille chain maille handmade jewelry jewellery angelicabrigade moo business card moo.com

The benefit of using a high quality double-sided business card:

  • People are less likely to throw the card away
  • The photograph people can see on one of the sides of the card will remind them how awesome your works are
  • The photograph can also persuade them to visit your website / online shop more than once


I chose eight of my best photographs … the ones that represent each type of jewelry & accessories I designed

People who stopped me to ask me about my knotted chain maille necklace got the card with a similar necklace they were interested in. The people who inquire about my hair accessory receive this card instead:

handmade floral clip anywhere clip silk organza flower

And, the people who wanted to know whether I also create bridal headpieces … received cards that feature a bridal headpiece.

And so on …


Why this $0 marketing is better (for me) than social media marketing:

  • It gives me a chance to meet, interact, get to know my potential customers.
  • It’s easier for me to find out who my potential customers are. They are the people who stopped me to ask me about my designs.
  • It gives those potential customers chances to see my products with their own eyes. That way, when they see my designs in my online shop, they will know what to expect: That my works look as good as their photographs and that I don’t Photoshop those pictures to death.
  • They don’t live a few thousand of miles away from me … so, I don’t have to worry about shipping costs and potential problems with customs. Firstly, expensive shipping cost(s) might cause some potential customers to purchase similar items elsewhere. For that reason, I usually foot a part of my overseas customers’ shipping fee. Obviously, this do cause me to earn less revenue. Also, from time to time, some packages might get held at customs … so, when they need some items fast, they might prefer to order the items from local stores or artists instead.
  • Some potential customers who prefer to conduct offline transactions can pay for the items they order when they receive those items.


P.S: I personally think that social media marketing do not give small business owners (especially Etsy sellers) more sales. You can read my reasoning here: https://angelicabrigade.wordpress.com/2012/09/14/social-media-marketing-for-etsy-sellers-useles

Any thought / question ? Please don’t hesitate to write a comment :)

Social Media Marketing For Etsy Sellers: Useless?

Update 04/17/2016: I no longer sell my pieces via Etsy

It seems that many Etsy sellers say that social media do not give them more sales.

(Source: The comments portion of this Social Media Marketing Survey >>> http://promotesy.com/home/handmade-survey-an-etsy-seller-social-media-marketing-survey/ )

This fact does not surprise me much.

Consider this … many Etsy sellers’ Twitter followers & Facebook “fans” are their fellow Etsy sellers.

Though some Etsy sellers (including me) do (from time to time) purchase some things via Etsy, they are there – mainlyto sell things, and not to shop. They become other Etsy sellers’ Twitter followers & Facebook fans to show their solidarity ( or to get “follow backs” &/or more Facebook fans )… not because they are interested to become other sellers’ loyal customers.

In my experience, social media marketing gives my products more “views” and “admirers.” Since higher numbers of admirers can be one of the factors that might persuade a prospective customer to purchase my handmade accessories & jewelry, social media marketing is not completely useless.

But … here’s the interesting part:

The people who actually purchased my handmade hair accessories and jewelry are not my Facebook fans, Twitter followers, or my Etsy shop’s or merchandise’s “admirers” .

Plus, even though they gave me positive feedbacks on Etsy, they do not follow me on Twitter or “Like” my Facebook page.


I also read that many Etsy sellers find that advertising their items on Etsy does not give them more sales either.

This doesn’t surprise me much either.

In my opinion, theoretically, advertising on Etsy gives sellers better chances to get their prospective customers to notice their products. But … here is the twist: Are the people who search for the kinds of item they sell are their prospective customers … or their fellow sellers trying to curate Etsy Treasuries or research their “competitors”

In other words:

  • The people who search for statement necklace on Etsy might not search for them to buy them.
  • Some of them are looking for statement necklaces to feature in their Etsy Treasuries.
  • Some others, on the other hand, are looking at other sellers’ statement necklaces to find out how the other sellers price their items, or to find out the keywords they use to tag their items, etc etc.

The question is, how many percent of the people who search for the items are your prospective customers?

This, we cannot know for sure.


Anyway, all those facts get me thinking …

And … here are my conclusions:

  1. Etsy is an online craft fair.
    When people rent a booth at a craft fair, what they get is merely a space for them to display & sell their wares. Likewise, Etsy sellers shouldn’t expect Etsy to provide anything more than a platform for them to display & sell their goods.
  2. Etsy is a gigantic craft fair, with more than 2,000,000 new items listed per month and more than 700,000 new members per month (Source: http://www.etsy.com/blog/news/2012/etsy-statistics-july-2012-weather-report/ ) … Etsy sellers who merely sit around and wait for the customers to notice their merchandise will be sorely disappointed.
    To make more sales, they need to find ways to catch (and keep!!!) prospective customers’ attention.
  3. Social media marketing can help Etsy sellers to enhance their image, reputation, and online presence, but all those do not guarantee that they’ll get more sales.
  4. And, lastly, and most importantly, to get more sales, Etsy sellers need to advertise outside of Etsy and / or get featured in influential blogs whose readers are the kinds of people who not merely admire, but purchase the kinds of items you sell and in the price range you sell them.

I have not advertise outside of Etsy …

That’s the next step I need to take.

Finding a number of influential blogs whose readers are my potential customers is another one.


  • Any comment / feedback / stories to tell? I’d love to hear them :)
  • Are you a fellow Etsy Seller?
  • Have you advertise in Etsy? If so, did it give you more sales?
  • Does social media marketing give you more sales?
  • Are many of your Twitter followers and Facebook fans your loyal customers?

– joyz*k (a.k.a. Miu Vermillion) of AngelicaBrigade




At the end of the day, what really counts is what works best for each one of us.

Everyone has one’s own strengths, weaknesses, tendencies, and preferences.

I’ve tried to work against the grains more times than I should have; and guess what, those efforts were more trouble than they worth.

Working against the grain is not an easy feat. Plus, often, the result isn’t very good. For that reason, I’ve decided that I’ll no longer do things in the usual or prescribed ways. Instead, I will do things in ways that are natural and easy for me … in ways that will enable me to reach my goals with the least amount of unnecessary pains and troubles.

I call this Ethical Pragmatism

It requires me to spend more hours to define my goals and (through trials & errors) find the best ways for me to accomplish those goals … but it’s  worth the effort. This first step is not unlike plowing the soil: a necessary step to make sure that whatever it is we try to accomplish (in my case, growing my small handmade business) to happen.

As a [ newbie ] independent designer / handmade seller, I make it my habit to read as many small business articles/advices (and sometimes  books) as I can. There are so many business advices that are geared for small handmade businesses. Some of them are useful and thought provoking, but to me, they are not enough because there are so many things that are still left unanswered.

So, this is what I’m going to do: I’ll embark on trial & error processes, do tons of researches, and (through this blog) will share my experiences with you. Stay tuned~

– joyz*k of Angelica Brigade


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