Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Wildflowers are the Inspiration for May’s New Products

What's New in May?

Volume 10 Issue 5, May 2013

The warm sun is starting to spend more time with us during the late afternoon hours. The water is starting to warm up in the pond, and the ducks are will clip_image002be showing off their newborns in no time at all. The robins have been singing in the morning, and the red winged blackbird has been talking to me during the day.


All these signs of spring are exciting and now, I am waiting on the mountain wildflowers to start their journey up from the ground. The wildflowers have been on my mind lately as I have designed a lot of new beads. I love the wild irises that  are scattered all over the sides of the paths, and I have used that color combination in more than one new piece of jewelry.


These lovely little irises were taken a couple of springs ago, but I know that they will be spreading more color across the side of the Bridger trails in the days to come. I have not had a chance to get out and do any real hiking yet this spring, but we are having a nice warm spring day today, so I might just head out to a trail.

I have been enjoying the creation of a lot of smaller beads lately, and these little beads made their  way into this chacha bracelet design.I also used these beads in a three strand necklace that would be perfect for Mother’s Day.




New Beads: Bright colored flowers and some crazy geometric shapes are

showing up in my flower canes these days. They have made their way into

some of my newest beads.

Pushpins: New product in a variety of fun shapes and designs.

Necklaces: Lots of new necklaces are making their way into my studio just

in time for Mother’s Day! Lots of color and splash!

My website has been the focus of my attention and it is newly updated with all my latest beads and canes. Newsletter readers can take 30 percent off by using coupon code 30PERCENT

I have them in my Artfire studio, my Etsy shop and my



Until next month,

Julie & Blu


New Products:

New Watches—I have designed several new watches with my spring flower


New Bracelets— I have a few new bracelets and more on the way.

Thimbles—These thimbles are only available through Simply Montana, but

I will be creating more for the website shortly.

Friday, April 26, 2013

Mother's Day Countdown Week 11

get the InLinkz code <---- use this code to post the blog hop to your blog page. This will not work on Artfire blogs. Sorry.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

How to Turn Your Unhappy Customers Around

As part of a blog assignment for a client, I was working on an online article on how a company can handle complaints in the age of social media. Turing an unhappy customer around in any situation is a daunting task, never mind what happens on the social media frontier. One unhappy person can make you want to change the name of your business and start over if you do not handle them well.

A recent incident at Applebee’s blew up in their faces and became a social media nightmare. At this time, I suppose the kerfluffle has died down, but for days and weeks, there were more than one boycott of Applebees’s as an entire company.

It started between a disgruntled pastor and a waitress regarding the mandatory tipping that Applebee’s requires for parties over a set number of folks. The pastor made a comment on the ticket that she gave 10 percent to God and why should she give “you” 18 percent. The “you” that was on the note did not appear to be actually directed at the waitress, but rather it appeared to be a collective “you” directed towards Applebee’s since it printed on the bill that included an 18 percent gratuity.

None the less, the pastor did not pay it, a co-worker used her phone to photo the bill with the scathing comment and uploaded it to the web. The pastor was recognized by her signature. She demanded the firing of the waitress and Applebee’s complied.

This is where it went from bad to worse for Applebee’s. The masses took to Applebee’s Facebook page and proceeded to throw rotten fruit and vegetables at them. The management of the Facebook page came out swinging. They cited company policy regarding the release of personal information of their guests. While they were blasting the waitress for divulging guest information, they were posting a positive review that was from a copy of a receipt that a guest wrote on. Thus, breaking the rule they were citing as an excuse for firing the waitress.

So it went. Applebee’s stood by the firing, they tore up their fan base on Facebook, they argued with fans, 19,000 fan posts and the pastor was given a black eye in the community and blamed the waitress.
As I was researching this story and others, I realized how quickly things can escalate out of control when there is a problem. Particularly if you are trying to establish a fan base on Facebook or any other social media. Applebee’s has 3,962,960 fans. I have over 400. My problems will probably NOT escalate to a wholesale madness atmosphere, but that does not mean that I do not do what I need to do to keep my customers happy.

Online selling is hard. I do not get to see my customers face to face. I also know that the burden of trust is on them, and I must do everything within my power to maintain and nurture that trust.

They give me money based on my photos and hope I send them what is in the photo. Like you, I am sure we have all had hundreds and hundreds of online purchases over the years that we did based on the trust of the website or profile. I am sure that you, like me, stopped a few times and thought maybe this was not going to go well. We either turned away or we went forward.

What happens when a customer is not happy with a product?

First, that customer must come to you for resolution. If they cannot get it resolved by coming to you, they will take it to the card processor or the credit card. This is their legal right to get resolution. The seller – you and me – is responsible to get a package to a customer no matter what crazy thing happens at the shipping company. This is our obligation. If a customer is not happy, you can bet they are going to do what they can to let everyone know they are not happy. I have seen this happen to a few sellers I know. It is not pretty and it was not handled well. It can get stinky fast.

The first place many unhappy customers go to is the vendor’s website if they are a part of a market place like Artfire, Etsy or any of the others. They file complaints there after they have tried to get you to resolve the problem. Independent website owners like myself may find that our merchant account processor will let us know of a problem.

After that, they are headed for the social network tsunami. As much as we like to use the social networks to get our products out, people who feel they are being ignored or wronged like to use them to take you to task for your negligence.

If you find yourself in this situation, there are several steps you can take to calm the situation down and turn it around.

First of all, no matter what the customer’s complaint, there should have been a resolution from the minute they yelled foul regarding the item. Regardless of who they first complained to, the first time you heard the complaint, you should have handled it. That keeps it from becoming a social media smack down.

If for whatever reason you find yourself being blasted on social media or complaint websites or reputation websites, you must handle it.

1- Acknowledge the customer.

Let the customer know that you are there and that you hear them. They want to be acknowledged. This does not have to be public, but if you can, it does help your brand and reputation if you can acknowledge publically. This shows the many lurkers that you care and will engage in a civil conversation to rectify the situation.

- Hi, Jane, I heard you were having a problem with my widget. Can you let me know what exactly is the problem, because I am not sure I understand what has happened here.

Open and friendly.

2- Understand the customer’s problem.

It is not enough to just acknowledge the customer, but you must understand the customer’s problem. Until you can understand it, you cannot fix it. If you make your own widgets, you know what needs to be done to either meet their expectation or refund their purchase.

- Your widget does not fit my widget holder. I want you to fix that.

Again, if you can do all this publically on your Facebook page or blog site, the more, the better. You can engage all the participants in the group in a discussion on how to resolve the problem. Maybe the widget will never fit because the two pieces are not compatible. You will want to refund and pay for return shipping.
Maybe Jane is trying to fit the wrong end of the widgets together. Help her to make this work for her.

3- Sympathize with the customer.

You do not need to be disingenuous. Surely, you as a consumer, can find a place to meet the customer where you understand their frustration and anger. If you have ever had to call the cable company or any other big business that really does not care about you, you know how frustrating that is.

You can understand where your customer may be disappointed in the product. It’s not the end of the world, and your ego will survive an unhappy customer. This is about your customer, not you.

- Jane, I can see where you might think that those two widget ends would go together. Do you have Model 374747? If so, you new widget will not fit without an adaptor.

4- Gather information to help the customer.

In fact, Jane does have Model 374747, so her new widget will not fit properly without an adaptor.

Once the customer tells you what they want you to do to help them, prepare to do that.

If the customer tells you they want their money back, then it is okay to tell them you would be happy to do that once your receive your product back. DO NOT make this an issue. If you want the product back, especially if it is expensive or can be resold, then send them the postage to get it back to you. A public fight with a customer is not worth the price of postage.

In order for the customer to send the package back to you, create a postage label to yourself from the customer using whatever postage software you use. Then email a PDF file to the customer that they can print out and tape to the return box. This is the best way to get the product back with the least amount of trouble.
Send the postage with delivery confirmation and insurance. Do not leave this in the hands of the customer or make it their responsibility to get the product back. Help them to get it done, and explain to them how to attach the label and anything else they need to know. You are the professional; they are not.

5- Offer the customer a solution.

- Hi Jane, I am sorry, but that widget will not fit that model. However, I can help you with that by either sending you an adaptor free of charge, or you can return the widget for your money back.

Remember, this entire conversation and exchange is taking place in real time in front of an audience. It is imperative that you maintain a professional and courteous demeanor.

By using these steps in a calm and friendly way, you gain the trust of a lot of people, and that means a lot in the world of online retail.

If for whatever reason, this goes Applebee’s on you, you must never do what they did and argue with the fans.

If it should get so far out of hand that you want to cry, just set up a section of your blog or Facebook where there can be a discussion out of the public front page. You can add a group or make a place to go and talk these things out without a flame war. I am sure that everyone has seen a flame war, and they accomplish nothing. You are not trying to hide the fact that there is a problem, but you do deserve a chance to discuss this with the customer in a less hostile environment.

The bottom line is that a resolved issue is going to go a longer way to gaining you popularity and more business than a fight on Facebook and a boycott from your fans.

If you find that there are complaints against you on reputation sites, then by all means, go to the site and find out what the problem is. You only have your reputation and a few photos to gain the trust of your prospective customers. You should work just as hard on your reputation as you do your photos.

This is not a matter of who is right and who is wrong. This is about business. It is about YOUR business, and what you may need to do to keep growing. You can write off postage and products if you have to, but you cannot buy a good reputation.

This scenario is assuming that the customer is a civilized individual without a vendetta or a mission to destroy you and your reputation as a seller. We all know that there are just some people who cannot be helped and we should part ways as soon as we recognize this. It is okay to stand your ground with an unreasonable customer.

All I am saying here is, that if you get into a shouting match with a customer in public, just understand that it will not go in your favor regardless of who is right or wrong. Additionally, if there is a breach of your policy regarding returns or other technicalities, your policy will be trumped by their card processor or your merchant account.

Hope this helps and none of us ever need to use this.

Julie and Blu

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Gentle Decadence

Gourmet food and fine wine.

Over-indulgence on any level.

Blooming crocus.

Sometimes, lavender gets a bad rap, especially when used as a derogatory slam against people. However, lavender was simply the flower for many years and not associated with a true color in the box of 64 crayons until much later. It was not until 1705 that people used the words floral lavender for anything other than the actual flower. Floral lavender is the true medium purple of the flower. The flower has many shades of lavender radiating from the center.

The lavender flower symbolizes love and devotion. They are pure, they are serene and they symbolize caution. A gift of lavender signifies a great adventure.

Lavender is the color of femininity, and it represents grace, elegance and the art of romance. It is healing and tranquil.

Because it is a not so distant cousin of the royal purple, it has spiritual and wealthy connotations as well. It is refined and luxurious.

The use of lavender acts as a trigger for nostalgia rather than the deeper mystery associated with purple.

Lavender is perfectly paired with mint or pale pink when used in a design. It is warmed by reds and cooled by blues. It is made earthy by the use of browns.

Lavender is shy and introspective.

You will find shades of lavender in Periwinkles, Wisteria and Lilacs. All very feminine flowers. Lavender flowers are considered delicate and precious.

An amethyst is considered lavender.

The lavender plant promotes healing and well-being. It is used in cooking and makes wonderful scones and cookies. It is a great tea for relaxing and meditating. It works equally well in salad dressing and anti-dandruff shampoo. It’s a moth repellant and a great bath soak. I presume not at the same time. It is calming and has a disinfectant property that makes it perfect for cleaning.

It is a sleep aid and a sinus remedy.

Give someone you love a bundle of lavender or make your soap or sachet with lavender. These are some of the uses for the plants.

Lavender is lovely and when added to a gift basket, makes someone feel very unique and special, just like the color lavender is.

These designers have used lavender throughout their designs to give that “specialness” to the recipient.





Lavender and Purple Bracelet with Glass Pearls



Women's Plus Size Half Apron Daisies with gold Made in the USA


Sugilite Amethyst Gemstone Copper Wire Wrap Long Earrings



Rainbow Fluorite Amethyst Handmade Necklace Purple Gemstone OOAK Beads


Chunky Purple Stripe Interchangable Watch Band


Hand Knit Lovely Lavender Beautiful Bunny Dish Cloth or Wash Cloth


Lavender Flower Beaded Watch with Pale Blue Trumpet Flowers Polymer


Dice earrings light purple lavender lilac gambler casino jewelry


Ladies Violet Embroidered Sweatshirt Jacket. Sizes 2X-5X.


Bridesmaid pearl beaded purple dangle earrings



Purple Lavender Flower Fairy Swarovski Crystals Round Glass Necklace



Set of Vintage Hoop Earrings - Pierced - Small - Pale Lavender and White


Purple Handmade Dichroic Fused Glass Pendant Dappled w Silver



Amethyst Gemstone Nugget Necklace


Golden Nephrite Jade and Vivid Rose Quartz Gemstone Beaded Bracelet


3D Lightning Strike Art Earrings in Lavender and Purple Polymer Clay with Gold Leaf


Wine and Plum Window Curtains Floor Length Custom Handmade Ruffle Ties


Lavender Flower Post Earrings, Sterling Silver Ear Studs, Handmade



Handmade Crochet Purple Hues Crochet Bracelet


Vintage Postcard The Rose Co - Purple Violet Horseshoe Best Wishes 1908 Wilmington Delaware Cancel



Bright Yellow and Lavender Scrabble Style Pendant



Set of 3 Lavender, Turquoise, and White Fancy Mum Flower Hair Pins



Handmade Lampwork Bead Etched Glass Color Changing Dark Lavender Focal


Pink Opalite and White Baroque Freshwater Pearl 17 inch Necklace


Copper Earring with Blue Tree Agate Earring


Handmade Snowflake Christmas Ornament Baltic Birch Craft Plywood Purple Any Age Unisex


Black crystal and fresh water pearl dangle earrings



Pure Natural Lavender Handmade Artisan Soap Aromatherapy Essential Oil



Lavender Crystal Pendant Clear and Swarovski Crystal Necklace Earrings


Pink and Black Spotted Rhodonite Stone Beaded Silver Wire Wrapped Ring


With all these lovely lavender choices, some lucky lady is bound to receive lavender this Mother’s Day.

If you would like to see what else these talented designers have to offer, visit the Mother’s Day Countdown post and explore their studios for other gift giving ideas.

Grab a cup of lavender tea, curl up in a lavender bathrobe and read an old Janet Daily Harlequin Romance book. Now, that is decadence.

Enjoy and happy sales

Julie and Blu

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

5-Star Accommodations

By today’s standards, 5-Star accommodations can include things like complimentary chocolate and wine, bathrobes, hot tubs and Jacuzzis. These things are not a necessity, but they make your stay at the hotel much more pleasurable and comfortable. The mini bar is open and there is no worry about a bottle count on your exit from the hotel. You get free movies, not just the ones that are being shown on HBO that are a year old either.

Our hotel stays and expectations are much higher than they were a decade ago. Now, we expect nice beds, nice meals and other amenities that we are ultimately paying for by staying there. Since most hotels are part of a chain, the same amenities are available no matter where you see their sign.

Luxury hotels, like those you may find in Vegas on the strip, will have an entirely different view on amenities and what constitutes luxury.

In the movie, 21, Kevin Spacey and his group of rowdies had comped rooms that were filled with luxuries that most of us will not find in the local Super 8.


Vegas skylines, plush interiors and all the room you would need if you were a cheat and planning on stealing the house. Good movie, if you enjoy a bit of suspense, drama and of course, the wildly entertaining Vegas nightlife.

Hotels and motels were made popular as the Interstate was developed in the United States. The ever popular Route 66 was the home of many motels that used all types of tricks to entice visitors in, like rooms designed as teepees. This was seen in the movie Cars when Lightning McQueen came to town. Here is a wonderful link to the Route 66 that the movie visited and those who were the inspiration for the movie characters in Radiator Springs.

Wigwam Motel, Holbrook, Ariz.


Going back before Interstate travel, we find that many people traveled the country by stagecoach. They would arrive in a town and then stay in a boarding house if the were staying for any length of time, or they could get a hotel room at places along the way. These hotels were situated along the routes of the stagecoach, much like the motels along Route 66. Like the motels along Route 66, as the modes of travel changed, so did the need for the hotels.

Those old hotels did not have indoor plumbing, so everyone had to trek out to the outhouse when they needed to relieve themselves. 5 Stars may have meant that you could dine in the local saloon or use a community bathtub, but it did not mean indoor plumbing.

You could tell it was a 5 Star hotel by how many outhouses it had. If those outhouses were double decker, you were staying in the Ritz!

Nevada City, Montana is home to many old frontier homes, businesses and other buildings that have been delivered to the town. It is registered as a ghost town, and it still has a deluxe hotel that you can stay in while you are in town. This mining city consists of one stretch of highway, a train depot, the scene of the greatest placer mining event in history of Montana and a group of rental cabins from the 1800s. Much of the city still has the original buildings that were part of the downtown in it’s heyday. There are also a large collection of rescued buildings from around the state that were delivered to Nevada City and set up to preserve the history of the state.

The hotel in Nevada City is still in operation during the season.



It is quite a grand old hotel. When I was there in the fall, they were taking down the signs and closing up for the season, but it did not keep me from exploring the old gal. There are wonderful old rooms that you can stay in and a lot of different sights to take in within Nevada City and the twin city, Virginia City.


Here are the rental cabins. You might notice the thatched roofs on these little bungalos.

You know you are in a 5 Star hotel because it has the outhouse to end all outhouses.


It’s a four holer double decker, which for some reason was most amusing to all of us in the family.

Gravity. If you are asking.

Now, you know you are in fine 5 Star Accommodations – Old West Style.

For those who are really interested in seeing both towns, here is a website that will help you find your way around. It is well worth the trip, and great fun for all, especially those who love history. http://www.aldergulchaccommodations.com/NC_Accommodations.htm


Julie and Blu

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Wax Lips and Fingertips

What is creepier than clowns? Wax people.
Wax fruit is weird too.
Wax Museums traditionally depict famous people and they apparently all wish to present a Chamber of Horrors.
Vincent Price creeps around in the 1953 movie, House of Wax creating his own special artwork. Between fires that melt the exhibits and newly created exhibits that depict horror scenes, this movie is filled with enough unpleasant scenes to have your date melting into your arms in an effort to stop watching it.
Not to be outdone, 2005 brought us the normal group of unwitting teenagers who are trying hard to not become an exhibit in another creepy wax museum.
I am not certain how any teenagers have ever reached adulthood since most are dumb enough to answer the phone in the middle of the night, step into televisions, fall asleep and dream, rent a cabin in the woods, become stranded in cars, motels, wax museums and other isolated places. Not to mention they are always being chased by hockey players, chainsaw wielding woodsmen, leprechauns and Chucky dolls.

On a trip to San Francisco, I got the chance to see the Wax Museum at Fisherman’s Wharf. I am not a fan of wax museums, and I am amazingly cheap at times, so when I saw the museum, I knew I was not going to pay money to see wax fruit. Grandma had some of that in a bowl.
However, that did not stop me from taking a lot of photos of the front entrance, and I will admit, those figures were a bit too lifelike for my tastes.
P1010062 P1010061

See, wax is creepy.
Buy your tickets to the wax museum at Fisherman’s Wharf here http://www.waxmuseum.com/
While it is probably not a Madam Tussauds’ in New York, I will venture a guess that the inside statues are very well done and displayed. Just watch out for crazy people with matches, do not take a long a bus full of teenagers and stay away from becoming an exhibit yourself and you will probably have a great time.
Madam Tussaud has displayed this handsome rascal. For some reason, a stinky pirate with spiders in his hair is somehow attractive. The same cannot be said for Keith Richards.

The Hollywood Wax Museum is also a place to see a lot of celebrities coated in wax other than the kind that removes hair.

If you cannot stalk a celebrity at a place to eat, stand by one in this museum and get your photo taken. http://www.hollywoodwaxmuseum.com/hollywood/

Julie and Blu