Summer School Wrap-Up

I started this blog as a requirement for a summer class, Fundamentals of Digital and Online Media. As it turns out, I really enjoy keeping up with it, and I think I just might maintain Crafts by Ky. I’ve found that it is an excellent way to keep up with all of the crafts I try, what works and what doesn’t, and to document my Etsy orders, as well as my daily life.

My FDOM class taught me a lot about applying social media to the professional world. I learned about using Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook more effectively. And, I learned about building your online reputation. What comes up in a Google search of your name is very important, and I love that you are responsible for what shows up- from your Instagram account to your blog, if you have one (which you should!).

My favorite part about this class was the communication between everyone in the class. Though this was an online class, I feel as if I am friends with every one of my classmates now and I think that’s really neat. I have never communicated so often with anyone in any of my classes before, even with a professor! Honestly, I am a little bit sad that this class is over. It is a relief, sure, to have another three hours completed towards my degree, but I will miss being held accountable for blogging often, as well as having discussions on the class’s Facebook page.

One thing I wish we would have done in this class, however, was learn more about LinkedIn and how to use it. I realize that this was a very short class and that the modules were jam-packed, but I feel as if LinkedIn is one of those things I do not fully understand. I have it because I know I should, but I haven’t a clue how to work it to my advantage. I would have enjoyed learning about how LinkedIn works a little more and how to use my profile so that potential employers will see it and more importantly, be impressed by it.

Though I enjoyed this class, now that I have completed (almost- I just have to take the final exam…) everything required, I can now fully enjoy my summer! Here’s what I’ve been doing in between Etsy orders and FDOM:

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You would think I wouldn’t have had time to work and do school with all of this going on!

Overall, this is in the top 3 of my favorite college classes ever taken. My professor was fabulous and interactive. My classmates were involved and social. I highly recommend Cindy Royal for Fundamentals of Digital and Online Media, and firmly believe that everyone at Texas State should be required to take this course. You learn so much!

Game Changer

After my recent experience with hand-cutting iron on vinyl (you can check out that story here), I became increasingly interested in purchasing a cutting machine. After all, from what I could tell, the possibilities were endless! I had no idea where to begin my research for choosing the right machine for me. Cricut or Silhouette? What model? Is it worth it? After thinking it over for a few days and discussing it with my mom, we decided together that it would be a good investment for my business. So, I dipped into my savings and splurged on this beautiful Cricut Explore Air. image I chose this specific machine because it seemed the most user friendly, and so far it has been wonderful! You can take any image that can be saved as a “.jpg” and have the machine cut it out. You can also add text with any font you have on your computer (there are free font downloads everywhere- I like DaFont) as well as many of Cricut’s own fonts! On almost ANY material! Paper, vinyl (for decals!), iron on transfers (for t shirts!), card stock, poster board. Even fabric! Also, any designs that can be cut, can also be drawn! That’s right, by my Cricut! Isn’t that neat?! My first project was a monogrammed headband for my mom. Now, of course I can embroider monograms on headbands as well. As a matter of fact, I sell them in my shop, but I was amazed at how easy the vinyl was to cut and apply! My Cricut did all of the hard work, and bonus! The iron on vinyl also comes in glittery colors.

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I haven’t had my machine for more than a couple days so I haven’t had much time to really get into making things, but I have a few ideas in mind. Plus, when my creativity is running low, I can count on Cricut’s official Twitter page to give me some inspiration!

They are always posting tips, tricks, and sometimes even free cut files complete with directions.

They also have have my idea of a good Friday night. 😉

Bonus! @OfficialCricut also posts fun facts.

I ordered a ton of vinyl and materials from CraftVinyl and once my package comes in the mail, I will be cutting and crafting like crazy! Stay tuned.

Learning as I go

Coming up next week is Strutter Camp. It is a two week long camp in which we have between 2 and 4 practices PER DAY. This year in Strutters, we are practicing in sports bras and for whatever reason, are required to have one with our name across the front.

Rather than buying mine online, of course I decided to tackle this project myself. My first thought was embroidery- but then I figured that the thread might rip as it was stretched across my body. Then I came across heat press. Fancy people have Cricuts or Silhouettes (I am way jealous) that cut out designs for you. In any material! In my case, I would need vinyl cut out in my name, heat pressed to my sports bra.

I felt S.O.L. considering I don’t have a cutting machine OR a heat press. I wandered aimlessly around JoAnn’s until I found this. Vinyl you could fuse to fabric with an iron rather than a fancy shmancy heat press! Neat. My new idea was to hand cut the vinyl myself and then to iron it on.

Unfortunately for me, I had no previous experience with this so I was kind of lost at first. I messaged some people on Etsy that sold sports bras with vinyl on them asking for help. Lucky me, SweetNolaDesigns replied almost instantly with great advice! I found it incredibly kind of them to reply and explain how to create something that they sell although there wouldn’t be anything in it for their shop.

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Like SweetNolaDesigns described, I stretched the bra over a box that stretched it almost as if I were wearing it.

IMG_2409-1Then, I measured out the area where I wanted my name to go and drew my name inside of that space.
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I used double sided tape to stick my paper to the glitter vinyl and then got to work with my new little knife. It was very nerve-racking for me to cut out straight lines like this, and don’t even get me started on the curves of the “a”.

IMG_2412-2 IMG_2413-1After cutting, I peeled off the clear coating of the top of the vinyl and placed the letters inside the box I had drawn with chalk. Next was the iron, and there is no going back after that.

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When I was done, I felt like it needed a little something…more. I decided to sew along the edges of the letters with maroon. At first, I was skeptical and only did parts of each letter-

IMG_2421-1Part of me wishes I had left it like this but I apparently never know when to stop so I wound up outlining each letter entirely.

IMG_2427-1 FullSizeRenderOverall, I am pretty happy with the way it turned out, considering I have never entered the area of cutting vinyl OR sewing on stretchy fabrics. I can’t wait to see how everyone else did theirs at Strutter Camp!

Playing Catch Up

It’s been about a week since I have done anything at all Etsy related, despite my 7 open orders. Because of this, I have spent the better part of the last 24 hours playing catch up.

First, is the very reason I put my sewing aside in the first place. This lady from the Boston Medical Center asked for me to embroider 10 polo style shirts for their Compliance Department. Exciting, right? Sounds like easy money right? Wrong. Every time you think life is going to throw you something easy, it seems to come at you with full force. For me, anyway.

I ordered the shirts and eagerly got to work. Surprise…. My embroidery machine went absolutely crazy. It seemed as if I was ruining shirt after shirt! I had only ordered one extra. Angry and disappointed, I tucked my machine away for a few days.

When end I finally got back to work on them(yesterday), Things went alright…for the most part. It seemed as if things were going to be okay and I would have these shirts shipped out soon. And then, this happened.

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I frantically searched online and called all over town for a shirt of the same brand and size (medium, to be exact) and had zero luck. I needed to ship the shirts out ASAP and didn’t have time to wait for an online order. I found absolutely nothing, so, I finished the rest of the shirts (which all turned out great!!!) and then moved on to my next orders, placing the dilemma out of my mind.

I got to work on two nap mats that had been ordered, and successfully finished them…

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After the nap mat covers, I decided to keep up the productivity and tackle another set of shirts that had been ordered- this time, for a family’s vacation. I got to work, hoping that my embroidery machine would be gracious enough to keep the t-shirts in good condition. Thankfully, it was!

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At this point, it was about 2 am and I was feeling pretty caught up and good about myself. After all, I had completed four orders in one day!

Except…

whoops.

Exhausted, I went to sleep, setting my stress aside.

I woke up early this morning, determined to find a blank navy polo shirt and embroider it, all before the post office closed. On a Saturday.

Desperate, I raced to Walmart, a store of last resort.

Guess what?!

I found a shirt!

And it embroidered perfectly.

I packed up my orders and rushed to the post office, getting there in the nick of time.

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Now my overwhelming number of orders is down to two. Things have a way of working out, don’t they?

Taking a slight detour…

My mom got married last weekend!!! There was a beautiful wedding at The Vineyard at Florence and everyone had a lot of fun. Of course I managed to craft a couple of things for the big day… pictures on that coming soon.

For now, here is a slideshow of the pictures we have so far. I can’t wait to get the professional pictures in from the photographer!

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Check out my new App!

…okay, my new theoretical app.

For my summer class, I am supposed to create an app. Naturally, I wanted to design something that could potentially grow my business and possibly be used for real in the future. When I take my business outside of Etsy alone, I think it would be really neat to have my own website and also my own app. Thanks to this project, I now have a very basic starting point for when I really do create an app!

I decided to design my app based on Apple, which is what I am most familiar with. My “Gifts by Ky” app is set up to most likely be viewed on an iPhone or iPad.

Here’s the main screen:

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It will be separated into categories. When you tap a picture in this screen, it will take you to that category’s products.

App Products

Here are examples of what you might find when you tap “Embroidery” or “Baby Clothes”:

App Embroidery

App Baby Clothes

You will be able to add items into your cart with options for customization.

Lastly, there will be a feature that allows you to check out.

App Checkout

This is a simple starting point but it is very exciting to me that this app could very well be a real thing one day in the future!

Why I don’t sell my products on Facebook

I feel that Facebook is a very powerful tool. Businesses can use Facebook pages to create hype about them. People can view, like, and share business pages. I have always considered broadening my Etsy shop, GiftsbyKy, and taking it to Facebook to gain customers. I think that it would be amazing for every customer to have the chance to see my story, and know more about who I am. However, something seems to keep me continuously hesitant.

Being a 21 year old who sews in her free time is odd. That being said, I don’t mind talking about my sewing to people that I am close to. Facebook is a great way to stay in contact with these people. So, why don’t I use Facebook to sell my handmade items? 

The answer is simple. Facebook isn’t just my close friends. Facebook is 793 of my “close” friends, to be exact.

Putting things I have sewn on the internet is a little hard for me. As a young woman who enjoys something that a stereotypical “grandma” usually does, I feel a little vulnerable about my sewing. I know I shouldn’t care what others think, but some things I would just rather keep private.

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When I decide to take my business bigger than Etsy alone, I will definitely consider creating a business Facebook page for my creations. For now, while I am in college, I will stick to solely selling on Etsy.

Following all of this……

Come be my friend on Facebook!

https://www.facebook.com/kyla.cullens

It’s where I post pictures of my social life (I promise that I have one) and where my 793 friends keep up with things like where I go to school, places I visit, and pictures of what I’ve been doing. My Facebook page is almost 0% craft related, and that’s the way I like it. For now.

A very Etsy summer

On Etsy, I sell many different types of things. Hand painted letters, homemade baby clothes, embroidered t-shirts, you name it. However, my main sellers are personalized Kindermat covers.

I work at a Mother’s Day Out program while I am in school at TXST, and when I first started working there, I couldn’t help but notice all of the different types of rest mats kids had for nap time. Typically, kids have a Kindermat (which is a vinyl covered, foam mat that folds up when not being used) and they are covered with different things, from crib sheets or pillowcases, to very cute covers that look like they came straight outta Grandma’s house.

Being the creative person that I am, I felt that every kid was entitled to an incredibly cute nap mat. So, naturally, I started making them myself.

I started out small, simple, and (to be honest) not that great…

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IMG_0210IMG_6983IMG_6985 But then I got better at them…

AB6D9659-1098-4371-B02D-C04CB96370CE 1FBFAD54-95F3-46BD-9D9D-CE3A22FEEFD7 4E8C3C8E-3E4E-4512-9642-97BAC27303CD FullSizeRender-6And better…

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Now, I can whip out about 3 Kindermat covers in a day, with a lot of dedication and a little help from “Friends” on Netflix.

My Etsy shop brings in orders all throughout the year, but nothing racks up the number of orders I have like every July when every kid in America starts school the following month. Last year was my first “very Etsy summer” selling the infamous nap mat covers. I figured I might sell a few covers here and there and maybe make a little extra money. Boy, was I wrong.

In the summer of 2014 alone, I sold FIFTY nap mat covers and raked in about $2,500 in revenue. Talk about a small business exploding before your eyes.

Wrapping up Shark Week

My mom and I are those people. We love Shark Week. I’m talking throw a party, make shark fin cupcakes every year type of love. This year, instead of throwing a party (most of our friends don’t care to actually watch the documentaries), we decided to throw ourselves mini watch parties every night of the week. Just us. And Chad, my mom’s fiancé (the wedding is coming up quick…12 more days!). So, instead of going crazy with shark themed everything all over the place on only the first night of the week, we decided to space it out. And it was pretty dang fun.

Before I go on, I need to explain- This Shark Week madness is not a bandwagon thing. We actually are incredibly fascinated with sharks. We are both SSI (scuba) certified, and we love to dive whenever we get the chance. In 2012, I convinced my mom, “Ging” to sign us up for a shark dive in St. Maarten. We did it, and it was the most terrifying, exhilarating experience. Hands down, diving with sharks is the coolest thing that I’ve ever done. Period. And I’d do it again in a heartbeat.

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Moving on back to this year’s agenda.

We started with a menu. I found different themed drinks and deserts, and wrote them down on our handy dandy chalkboard.

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On Wednesday, we had breakfast for dinner and I attempted to do something a little like this, but with no previous experience whatsoever. They didn’t actually turn out so bad…IMG_2004My [simple] squid.

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Maybe this looks like a shark, if you squint your eyes and tilt your head.

IMG_2006I saved the worst one for last. Hint: It’s supposed to be a seahorse.

Our next psycho Shark Week overkill craft was……….

drumroll………

At-home Painting with a Twist!

This turned out to be my favorite part of the week. I went to Hobby Lobby to collect supplies. Don’t you just love that store?! I know I do. I walked in with zero supplies and $20 & left with the opposite.

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You see, Ging really doesn’t like to be crafty, so getting this one started consisted of a little bit of arm pulling. Of course, after we got started, she had a blast. I set my phone up by her canvas and started my timelapse. Here was the result:

Two episodes into the night’s new Shark Week, and we had ourselves some paintings! I am actually incredibly proud of the way they turned out. I can’t wait to take mine to my apartment!

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My shark.
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Ginger’s shark.

Neat, right?!

My mom and I may be lame and borderline obsessive about this week each year, but it is something we share together and important in our family.

Disclaimer: I know that it seems as if I am a total momma’s girl (okay, I am) and that all I do is hang out with Ging. In my defense, my only friends are out of town all summer and Mason is studying abroad in Spain (7.5 weeks down, ONE more to go! I miss you Mase). In a nutshell, I do have other friends besides my mom. Just not right now.

Don’t forget to come back next year and see us overdo Shark Week 2016!