...a blog about crafting a business, dancing, traveling, following my bliss & everyday life in cali...

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Where to buy wholesale shirts? Choosing an ethical company

Sloth printed on super soft Bella V-neck shirt :) 
One of the main concerns I have selling screen-printed clothing is choosing a clothing brand to print on.  If you are looking into selling screen-printed clothing and are not sure where to buy wholesale shirts, I hope this post provides you with some helpful info. There are so many clothing companies out there and I want to make sure that I'm buying from a company that has high quality products, sweatshop-free factories and good customer service. I think it's really important that we are mindful of the choices we make and support companies with sound values. I have been printing on American Apparel and Alternative Apparel, and have recently decided to switch to Bella. Here's why:

American Apparel - first of all, I've never been a fan of their advertising and the way they portray women in their ads. I've always felt kinda creeped out by them in the back of my mind, but I liked that they were sweatshop-free and had reasonable prices. Since I started buying from them, I realized that the clothing quality is not very good and their customer service is pretty bad. I've received a couple of shirts that had seams coming undone (one of which was not replaced), I've received the wrong size shirts, and have had slow and unfriendly customer service. Add in the sexual harassment lawsuits against the CEO and you end up with a company with questionable ethics and and products (in my experience). I'd rather not support them.

Alternative Apparel - I enjoy this company's clothing and the fact that they have organic options, however the are a bit pricey and it's unclear whether they use sweatshops because the information on their website is very vague.

Mushroom design printed on Bella tri-blend
tee - my new favorite t-shirt style! It's soft,
medium weight and has the perfect amount
of stretch.
Bella - I've recently made the switch to Bella, which I have had an excellent experience with so far. Their clothing is well made and they have great styles and reasonable prices. Furthermore, when I emailed the company about whether or not they use sweatshops, I promptly received an email from one of their managers explaining the policies of the company and an invitation to contact her to discuss any further concerns I had. I'll paste her email below (I x'ed out her personal info to protect her privacy). If anyone has other suggestions or comments, please feel free to respond!

Hello Julie,

Thank you so much for reaching out to us.  All our factories are sweatshop free.  We produce about 40% of our styles in the USA and the rest are produced overseas.  All our overseas factories follow our ethical policy and we conduct quarterly inspections to make sure all company policies are being up-held.  We have also recently become WRAP certified.  I have included the link below if you would like to learn more about WRAP.  I have also included our GCC for you to view.

I would love to talk with you more about our product and brand.  Please give me a call at your earliest convenience to discuss, my direct line is: xxxxx. I look forward to speaking with you.


Have a great day!

Inside Sales Account Manager/ Wholesale Division

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Urban Air Market - a huge success in so many ways!!!

The Urban Air Market turned out to be a better day than I could've asked for :)       
As I said before, I was a little nervous. But I told myself I'd just do my best and have fun with it, while making products that I really put my thought and care into. So I did. And it was awesome! I had plenty of help from my friends and family (my minions, according to my sissy), I sold a lot of products and I learned so much from this experience. There is a lot that goes into selling at a fair that I hadn't realized until now. For instance, obtaining all the set-up equipment (including a 10x10 tent - thank you Serena), the amount of time it takes to set up (3 hours, even with 3 helpers!) and unexpected glitches (like when my Square credit card reader wouldn't work or when the wind knocked over my picture frame & broke the glass.)

Sissy, Weenies & Chrissy helping me set up at 8am -
now those are good friends!
Hand-pulled linoleum block prints -
I hand-carve the block, ink it, and press it into heavy cotton paper.
Hand-stenciled shirts (and hand-made chalkboard at that!)
My mom made 3 quilts and 3 owl pillows -
they ALL sold except one pillow!
Go mom! This is the first quilt customer
(I made her take a picture with me, hehe).

The day was busy and long, but it went by so fast and I felt like I was running on adrenaline the whole time - I was in this constant state of excitement :) I could barely contain myself when I had my first sale (or when I had any sale for that matter. My sister and I kept high-fiving each other whenever a customer bought something). It was interesting to see what items sold the most and didn't sell at all, and to hear customer's feedback on my designs and displays.

I couldn't have done it alone and was fortunate to have so much support! My sister & friends came out to hustle for me the entire day, my cousin and his bud came to bring us lunch and wine, and my mom, another cousin and a ton of friends came to shop, chat & hang out. The weather was sunny (albeit a little windy!), there were customers galore and overall I was really pleased at how much FUN it was!
My mom, cousins, sister & friends - I'm a lucky gal.

After the market, I calculated my sales & expenses and was initially disappointed that I had only profited a couple hundred dollars (and even less after I paid my mom for her sales) - until I was reminded that oftentimes people don't even break even at these events (flashback to the last market I did 2 years ago!) So I stopped beating myself up and instead gave myself props for all the time, work & passion I put into this market. Furthermore, I'm donating 10% of my profits to Women for Women International, a non-profit that provides support to women survivors of war. Hopefully for my next market, I'll be able to donate an amount in triple digits!

Cannot WAIT for the next one!

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Exciting Etsy sales & Urban Air Market countdown!

Custom stamp with
my logo :)
First things first. 

I'm totally geekin' out over a custom stamp I ordered at City Stamp & Sign in SF. I created my logo using Illustrator (just started taking an Illustrator class at a community college and that pen tool is really coming in handy!) and took it to the store to have a 2x2 stamp made. It was done in a day, cost me $33 and I am stoked. Look look look! ->->->

Secondly, I'm super excited to say I've had 6 Etsy sales in the last week and a half! For you Etsy vets, maybe this doesn't sound like a biggie. But this was the first time I had several sales from the same transaction, and I couldn't stop smiling :) I packed them off yesterday and am looking forward to building up my Etsy store a lot more once the Urban Market craziness has settled...

Included a sloth print as a gift for this Etsy customer -
 my biggest sale yet :)
That being said, T minus 4 days til the Urban Air Market! Eep! I've been printing up a storm and I need to finish printing my clothing by tomorrow so they can dry for a few days before I heat-set them. I'm updating my to-do list so I can stay on top of things...

SF skyline hand-pulled blockprint

- create 'Ripple design' screen
- finish printing clothes! 20 pieces
- create tags for clothing in MS Word
- print tags for clothing & stamp with logo

- heat-set clothes
- attach tags to clothes
- make sign already!
- print 15-20 block prints
- make more business cards

- set up practice display
- get more frames if needed
- make signs: for prices, clothing sizes, blockprints, screenprints, gift-wrap
- books/vases for display
- pack everything up!

Sunday: Urban Air Market
- have an awesome time :)

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Preparing for the Urban Air Market... and some new sloth designs!

Hi friends!

Well, it's been quite a long while since I've written. I took a break from screen-printing for awhile.  I had gotten a little discouraged because selling on Etsy was harder than I thought it would be! But I've realized that giving up is not the way to go, rather I need to work harder and find ways to keep my passion alive!

Carving sloth design into a lino block
That being said, I'm back and printing more than ever, both screen-printing and block-printing! I'm selling at a huge event in SF this month, the Urban Air Market, and I'm super excited (and a little nervous, hehe). I have a bunch of new designs and have been working like crazy getting things ready! Besides screen-printed clothing, I'll have some block-printed art, cards, adorable owl pillows & quilts (my mom's contribution!) and lavender-filled sachets. (I visited the sloth sanctuary in Costa Rica this summer, hence the abundance of sloth designs, hehe!)

As I said, I'm a bit nervous about this show, because the designers that sell here are soooo, well, good! Maybe I feel my items won't measure up, but all I know is that I have to try, and I have to give it my best. Also, the last time I sold at a craft fair, the turn-out was really low and I didn't sell a single item! Womp womp womp :/ That's ok though, you win some, you lose some, and you just have to figure out what you can improve on and go from there. I have a lot to do in a short amount of time, and I'll share my 'to-do' list below so you can join me on this journey, and also to serve as a guide for other people preparing for a market or craft fair. If you have anything to add, please comment!

To do:  9/2-9/8
Business cards!
Screen-printed sloth burnout tank
Print remaining shirts
Sew scarves
Print 60 5x7 prints
Buy safety pins
Create email sign-up sheet
Make lavender sachets
Make sign and table cloths
Pick up stamp (having my logo made into a stamp!)

To do: 9/9-9/14
Attach tags/business cards to all items
Print 50 more blockprints
Pick up clothing rack, folding chairs & tables
Set up pretend 'booth' in room, observe anything I still need
Order any extra things
Create raffle tickets (I'm holding a raffle for a free art print!)

My work station :)
rope/twine for hanging things
duct tape (who knows!?)
"Square" for cc transactions
S hooks

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Raising $20,000 in 33 days for HIV prevention in South Africa

hello friends!

i've started a new blog about my latest challenge: Raising $20,000 for HIV prevention and to support AIDS orphans in South Africa. please visit my blog to see if i can do this by Dec. 15th! comments, ideas and donations are welcome!

Monday, October 25, 2010

My New Archnemeses...

bed bugs are my archnemeses.

i wish they didn't like me so much. they seem to have stopped biting tania and all of her bugs are now turning to me. i've resorted to sleeping in long pants tucked into thick, long socks and on top of my towel crouched in fetal position so i don't touch the bedsheets. this doesn't seem to help. i've come to the conclusion that you just can't beat em. i've tried everything. they're worse than mosquitoes, or any other biting bug for many, many reasons.

1) they're microscopic, so you can't find them to get rid of them, or see them when they're biting you. they also don't make noise like mosquitoes, so you don't know when they're near.
2) they develop resistance to 100% Deet after about a day or 2.
3) they're bites are 5x itchier and longer lasting than your average mosquito. maybe 6x.
4) their bites are unrelieved by Benadryl spray, Tiger's Balm AND Hydrocortisone.
5) their bites aren't just itchy, but also painful after the 2nd day.
6) bedbugs are so small that they can crawl through thick long yoga pants so they can bite you on your butt. (the same pants that you wore, even in they heat of the Indonesian nights, to
prevent them from biting you)
7) they like to bite not just once, but maybe 5 - 8 times per attack, so they leave a lovely little trail of itchy redness on your skin.
8) they follow you to your next destination (in your clothes) if you don't properly get rid of them.
9) they are invincible.
10) they are pure evil.

tomorrow we are leaving Yogyakarta :( and heading for Bromo & Bali :) please use the power of attraction to wish for clean, bug-free beds for us when we arrive. thank you.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Gettin' our culture on in Yogyakarta!

life is good here in Yogyakarta.

a few days ago we took a short bus ride with some other travelers from the Netherlands and France to visit Prambanan, a beautiful set of Hindu temples near Yogyakarta. after the temple, we sat down for some traditional dance & music at the Ramayana ballet. it was an open air show with colorful costumes and intricate dance moves that told the epic love story of Rama (one of the forms of the Hindu god, Vishnu) and his wife, Sita.

yesterday, we got some more culture on and took a day trip to Borabudur, a Buddhist temple surrounded by a landscape of mountains and lush greenery. it was pretty amazing, with large stupas scattered throughout the top of the temple, and Buddha statues inside each one! the temple was crowded with other tourists and Indonesian teens on school field tripsthe Hindu temples of Prambanan
the Hindu temples of Prambanan
. they were very entertained by nips and the other white-skinned foreigners, eager to take pictures with them and gushing over the German boys, heehee.

we've also made friends with some fellow travelers from France. had dinner with them last night, and it was quite entertaining hearing their opinions on American culture and people. i especially like how one of them asked if we ate fast food everyday (yes, they have seen Super Size Me) and then inquired as to whether or not we eat fruits and vegetables. haha, reallY? hilarious. we had fun telling them what stereotypes Americans hold towards the French ;) we will be joining forces tomorrow and traveling with the Frenchies to the Mt. Bromo volcano, before catching a ferry to Bali. we've been here in Yogyakarta for about a week now, and i've really taken a liking to this place! but alas, more adventures await us in Bali....until next time!

Friday, September 10, 2010

Bed bugs, belly aches, batik & Borabudur!

that's a lot of b's!

we've spent the last 6 days or so in Yogyakarta, a lovely city & the culture capital of Java (if you've been to Chiang Mai in Thailand, this is a good comparison). it's a very tourist friendly town, as the main sites, shopping, hotels & restaurants are all within walking distance, or a short becak (tuk-tuk) ride away. the city is full of great little markets selling handmade jewelry, batik clothing, shoes, slippers, fruits, food, bags, etc. in the area we're staying (Sosrowijayan) the stone streets are small with tiny alleys leading every which way, and the neighborhood is full of murals and beautiful graffiti on the walls, food vendors, becak drivers, friendly locals and wandering travelers.

on our first day we visited the Kraton (sultan's palace - yes there is still a sultan here!) and walked around the water castle, galleries & shops. our becak driver
our becak driver
we even got a free (and pretty thorough) tour of the area by a friendly local who eventually led us into a batik store (they get a commission for bringing tourists to the shops.) i didn't mind this tho, as i needed to buy some batik for my mom and bargained some pretty good prices for some lovely, handmade batik. ;) later that day, we wandered around Kote Gede, a neighborhood known for it's silver jewelry & crafts. another local tried to lead us into shops for a commission, but was left empty-handed as we didn't end up buying anything (he didn't give us a good tour either, like the 1st guy). we had to kill some time in that area since we were taking a silver jewelry-making workshop that evening, so we chilled in an open-air cafe on the side of the street and people watched while playing the celebrity game (one person names a celebrity and the next person names another celebrity that starts with the initial of that person's last name). we were confused as to why our guide stayed with us that whole time (literally like 2 hours) when we weren't shopping anymore, but i think he maybe just wanted some company.

the jewelry class was awesome! we cut strips of silver to our ring size, and each of us (4 total in the class) hammered and crafted various styles of rings with the help of our teacher. he showed us how to cut, shape, heat, set, polish & buff the silver. the power went out within the 1st half hour too, so we crafted our rings by the light of a kerosene lamp graffiti on the walls
graffiti on the walls
. this made us really feel like silversmiths, working as we imagine they did in the old days, hehe.

the next day we took a batik painting class! i now have such a greater appreciation for this form of art, as it took 7 hours to make a square of batik about 3' x 3'. we started out by drawing our designs with pencil onto paper, then onto our blank batik material. nips drew a couple of lotus flowers & leaves, and i made a hummingbird and flower. the next step was to dip a small tool into hot beeswax, then gently trace the pencil lines with the tip of the tool. this was pretty time-consuming, and i accidently spilt the hot wax on my fingers in the process :( no worries tho, since our teacher broke a piece of aloe vera off the plant and covered the burn with it. after dying our batik, covering the design with more wax, and then dying the background of the material, our cloth was then boiled to remove the wax and set out to dry. and that was it! our very own hand made batik. i'm so proud :)

the next few days all kinda blurred together. we both got pretty sick (we believe the culprit to be the cream sauce in our pasta dinner that night) and the 1st day of our sickness we literally spent 24 hours in bed, only getting up to use the bathroom. to make matters worse, the bed bugs just
LOVE us here horse carriage
horse carriage
. we tried to escape them by switching rooms in our hotel, but the next room had them too. then we tried changing the sheets, and spraying the sheets and ourselves with 100% Deet. still, no improvement. finally last night, we coated ourselves in Deet, sprayed the sheets, blankets, pillows before AND after dinner. this finally seemed to do the trick! ha! i counted about 22 bites on just one arm, so adding the bites from my other arm, legs, tummy, back & neck, i'm thinking i've got well over 100 bites! i'm SOO itchy! it's taking all my will power NOT to scratch. sometimes i try that trick where you scratch around the bite and not on the bite, but that doesn't work since all my bites are surrounded by other bites. i curse you bed bugs! all of you! (fist shaking in air).

today we are feeling much better and are taking a trip to Borabudur, a large Buddhist temple about an hour from here. catcha later dudes!
underground tunnel in the water castle underground tunnel in the water castle don't we look like real silversmiths? don't we look like real silversmiths? my ring :) my ring :) handmade batik handmade batik
dying my batik dying my batik sleepy becak driver sleepy becak driver fish mural fish mural mmm noodle soup! mmm noodle soup!
posing with locals at the Kraton posing with locals at the Kraton how awesome is this? how awesome is this? pools at the water castle pools at the water castle me & nips at the water castle me & nips at the water castle
my 1st refreshing Bintang beer..

Friday, September 3, 2010

21 hours of travel later, and we're in Indonesia!!

goodness gracious, where to begin?!

it's been an action packed 5 days here in indonesia so far. tania (aka nips) and i started off in jakarta where our plane landed on Java island. big city, lotsa traffic, few sights to see, but not somewhere you'd spend a week in. after arguing with our taxi driver who tried insistently to rip us off (i've never heard nips talk so sternly with someone before), we finally made it to our hotel. actually, we stayed at a great little bed & breakfast, which was highlighted by our flamboyant, friendly, blue contact lens wearing host named Sonny. we explored the city a bit, played cards in a cafe, braved public transportation, had our first Indonensian meals & almost got run over a couple times by the crazy traffic. we have a pretty good system down now for crossing the street. basically, we wait for some local people to cross the street so we can walk next to them, or we just look for any clearing in the traffic and cross as quickly as we can (still walking, not running, so we dont look like dorksor maybe we look more like dorks b/c of that).

and the best part is, we didn't even get lost in all that madness! nips has the most amazing sense of direction. i'm used to travelling alone, wandering aimlessly, getting lost and asking for directions. travelling w/ tan, i don't end up doing any of that. i just follow her around like a puppy and let her figure out where we are. it's great.

1st Indonesian meal in Jakarta
1st Indonesian meal in Jakarta
the people here are incredibly friendly and helpful. i feel really safe, and i blend right in with the locals. everyone thinks i'm Indonesian until i open my big mouth and my broken Bahasa Indonesian dialect comes out. we've been doing pretty good learning common phrases and numbers. there are a lot of similar sounding words from Tagalog and Spanish, so it's not too hard to learn some basics.

on our 3rd day, we hopped on a 10 hour train ride headed for Yogyakarta, the culture capital of Java. the train ride was beautiful and surprisingly comfy! we passed green rice paddies, corn fields, swaying palm trees, and little towns, all against a backdrop of a volcanic mountain and blue skies. we've been here in Yokoyakarta for a few days and are really enjoying exploring this area. more on that later, i've gotta get back to my batik painting class.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Island hopping, volcanoes, art, dance & adventures in Indonesia!

I'm currently traveling in Indonesia for 5 weeks, returning at the end of August. If you'd like to follow along my trip, please visit my travel blog, full of pictures, travel stories & funny insights from my journey...

Friday, July 2, 2010

Pricing Your Work: What's Your Formula?

A tricky part of selling your handmade goods is figuring out how to price your work. Everyone always has different formulas for pricing, different reasoning, different opinions, etc. I must say I've changed the prices in my etsy store a few times, questioning whether something seemed too cheap or expensive. I looked at other clothing stores with similar styles and noticed such a range in pricing, all from very successful sellers. So I finally decided, it doesn't matter much what other sellers are doing. I'm just going to price my items as I value them.

Mainly, I price on how much time and care it takes me to print a shirt. Some of my items have up to 6 separate prints on them, some have multiple colors, and some are very basic, one color designs. So I price my items taking all these factors into account (and of course I also consider the price of the garment itself). The most important thing I think is to not underprice your work. If you spend 45 minutes on a piece and you sell it for $15 with materials costing $5, you're really not being fair to yourself. People do this all the time. If you value your work and time, other people will too. Also, it's much easier to lower your prices than to increase them.

I'd love any comments on your pricing formulas!

Friday, June 25, 2010

Reiki Session Keepin Me on Track..

I won't do my 'goals update' right now because I've been slacking on them and don't have much to report! So on to the next topic..

I realized on Monday that I'd been feelin kinda blibby-blobby lately (that means "blah," "unmotivated,", etc.) I went to a reiki session after teaching yoga that day and it was just what I needed to clear my head. I realized I'd become focused on really wanting to sell on Etsy, and getting impatient with the way things are going. I sold the item I donated to 'Hearts for Haiti' on Sunday, and I was so focused on wanting to sell more that I didn't even appreciate what that sale meant; that something I made and donated is going to help the relief efforts in a country that desperately needs it. I must say, I was kind of disappointed in myself, though I'm not going to beat myself up about it. I just need to keep doing what makes me happy, enjoy the process of creating, and trust myself.

When I first opened my shop, I was super excited just to be learning, creating, connecting with other Etsians... I was having fun with it! At times when this doesn't feel fun anymore, I know it's a sign for me to take a step back and evaluate what my intentions and goals are. Ultimately, I want to express my thoughts & share inspiration with people through my designs. I want to make a living doing things that I love, and positively influence the people and world around me. I want to let go of any inhibitions that I felt growing up, when I thought my artwork and crazy ideas weren't good enough, or weren't 'right.' There's no such thing as artwork that isn't 'good' or worthy. Art is a medium for self expression and beauty, however you define beauty. And you really can't go wrong when expressing your true self.

I created this ripple design with the idea in mind that everyone's actions have a ripple effect in the lives of themselves and others. Everything we do and say can positively or negatively affect another. I know I 'm not perfect and I have a lot of things that I'm working on. I do hope that ultimately I have a positive ripple effect in this world.