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BTRT Patterns (on Etsy)

Tuesday, 31 July 2012
What better way to celebrate 60 years of HRH's reign than a summer afternoon tea party?

We are so blessed to have creative and hospitable neighbours.
Last week, we were invited to attend a tea party to celebrate the 60th Anniversary of Queen Elizabeth's reign (come as you are, but you must wear a hat!).
 While Canadians are generally ambivalent about the monarchy, there is a strong fondness for the Queen.
She has been part of our culture for (many of our) whole lives.
I remember as a girl crowding onto a downtown street to see the Queen pass by and wave her awesomely restrained and regal wave, dreaming about being one of the lucky little girls who got to pass her a bouquet of flowers.
Waking up early to watch Charles and Di's wedding was a childhood highlight.
My Grandmother spoke of Diana's boys as if they were her own grandsons.
We were up early, fascinators on, for last year's Royal Wedding.

We were tickled to see HRH play act with James Bond for the Olympic opening and felt a pang of concern as she looked so worn out and uncomfortable upon her arrival at the event.
The ups and downs of the Royal Family are part of the fabric of our lives.
 As the women gathered for tea, we oohed and aahhhed over the hats and fascinators.
The little girls bounced about excitedly, big eyes on the scones, sponge cake and beautifully delicate tea cups and saucers (a weakness of my own, I'll admit!).
There was an air of properness... something about donning a hat and thinking about the Queen makes one feel terribly polite and polished.

Our hostess did a beautiful job of decorating with fresh flowers from her own amazing gardens.
She added Union Jack's and scattered Royal themed coffee table books about (a staple in many Canadian homes of UK descent!).
There were tarts and preserves, scones and shortbread.
And there was, of course, tea!
(or pink lemonade)
 What a lovely interlude on a summer afternoon.
(Shared by one unhappy dog in a 'hat' and other nature friends)

We raised a tea cup (and our pinkies) to Elizabeth, that lovely, strong and resilient lady.
Proud to call her our Queen. ♥♥
Enjoy these rainy day inspired Waldorf toy picks... all natural fun for a much needed rainy summer day!

Raindrop Dolly, by Fox in the Woods.
Weather Gnome, by Alkelda
Umbrella Teether, by Smiling Tree Toys
Wooden Sailboat, by Tweet Toys
A Drop in the Bucket, by this cosy life.
Shadow Puppet Tutorial, Beneath the Rowan Tree
Weather Play Set, by Things by V
Saturday, 28 July 2012
Oscar Wilde wrote:
I always pass on good advice.  It's the only thing to do with it.  It is never any use to oneself.  ~ An Ideal Husband, 1895
So, with this in mind, and given the number of folks new to online small business (WAHM = Work at Home Mom or WOHM = Work Out of Home Mom) who wonder what it takes to do well, I thought I would pass along advice that has been given to me and the things I have learned in 3+ years.  If it isn't too pretentious, I may even do a series~ as articulating some of these things helps me to be mindful of them as well!

So. Pictures.  Like many people, I didn't start a small business with any intention of being a photographer. But good product photography is essential.

Think about it.  If you walk into a brick & mortar (b&m) store to buy a diaper, say, you pick it up, open it, feel the fabrics, the weight, you inspect the stitching, maybe, the snaps or closure.  You browse through the options in colours and sizes. You see how the large compares to the medium.  You talk to the clerk. So, if I wander into your online shop and I see one photo of a diaper (and heaven forbid it is blurry, over exposed or egads, on your carpet!) I am not about to buy that diaper. Nu-unh.

This is where your photos come in... take that diaper out and give it the supermodel treatment! Front, back, sides, insides. Show me how the gussets fit the thigh (apply this to any product~ how does it work, how is it worn?). Give me close ups of that phenomenal stitching and the special touches you have aded to make it stand out.

Good photos will go hand in hand with good descriptions, but that is another post.

This *may* seem obvious, but given the sheer number of Etsy and Hyena Cart shops that provide only one (and sometimes only a thumbnail sized! one) shot of their product, it needs to be said.  At Etsy you can add five photos/ 4 at HC + a thumbnail + others in the listing itself. USE THEM.  Every one.

For Hyena Cart users: Make your thumbnails on the larger side ~200 px is very nice, and make the thumbnail a nice closely cropped picture, due to the smaller size. Here is a thumbnail and a product shot from Lori of alfabette zoope (who uses a lightbox). Product shots should be large enought o clearly show the details and aspects of your product.
Product Shot:

And make them good.  You don't need a super duper camera, but you will need a decent one. It is a business expense.  I am not a great photographer, and I can't even talk technique, but I have figured out what works for my items, you can, too!
Here are some other thoughts/ suggestions:
  • Backgrounds are a matter of personal taste. For my items I like a clean white background, but yours may be more suited to props etc.  Just make sure the products shines through.
  • Build your own lightbox (google it) ~ I honestly just use two sheets of white bristol board!
  • NATURAL LIGHT.  The best light is on a cloudy or even overcast day so no shadows are cast (if not using a lightbox, of course!)
  • Uniformity.  Create a look and feel~ you are creating a shopping experience! I personally feel a shop looks much more professional if all of their items share a similar style of photography, a uniformity that helps create a sense of branding and personality.  A shope with thumbnails featuring a mish mash of photo styles and backgrounds lack cohesion. Check out Tickety Bu to see how effective similar shots can be.
  • Every angle. Show me the product. Supermodel it!
  • If you have trouble filling all the photo spots then use some stock photos of your items in use, or in a stack or of alternate colours etc.  I often do 3-4 shots of the silk colourway for sale and include one of a variety of pieces to show the range of the line.
  • Models~ the jury is out. Some people like things modelled, some don't. You'll have to decide!  But generally, no one likes to see the EXACT item for sale on a model. So, if you have a pretty red beret for sale, I suggest picturing a model wearing the same style beret in blue, so there is no hint of possibly receiving the one now on your model's head.
  • The carpet. oi. The carpet. I have to say this. Do not photograph anything on your carpet. Or couch. Or bed. Or if you do make darn sure I can't tell it is your bed!  A sheet of bristol board is less than $1. I don't shop in people's bedrooms in real life, so at least give me the illusion of NOT being in yours online!
  • Crop. Crop. Crop.  If you do nothing else, crop tight so I can see your fabulous product!
  • Some simple adjustment of levels/ lightness on photos can make a big difference. Consider investing in a simple editing product, or use those available online if need be (Photobucket etc).
  • Make note of what works. Keep track of the listings that people admire~ when and how you shot them. Your own style will begin to emerge.
  • Take lots of photos. Shoot from different heights and angles. Pick the best.
I think that is all for now... go take some fabulous pictures and rock those listings!
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