Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Discount Coupon for Crafts, Art Supplies, and Gifts

Sometimes Amazon just doesn't have the best prices or selection- I've been finding everything I need for the kids art supplies over at Discount School I stumbled on a great coupon- good through 12/20/12 that gets you 15% off everything in the Gift Guide- just use coupon code GIFTS. Check it out and pick up some gifts for those hard to find-for kids. Everybody loves art supplies. I also love their dramatic play section- lots of dress-up costumes and fun play items. When stuck in on a rainy day we can also pull up thier app and they have loads of kids craft ideas. A great way to use up those 2 gross of pom poms you couldn't pass up ;)

256534_Find educational and unique gifts with the Gift Guide! Hundreds of items for every child on your lis

Monday, March 19, 2012

Rainy Day Activities for Your Toddler

Was going crazy today for some fresh ideas on a rainy windy yucky day-- here is a starter list- feel free to share! My toddler is extremely active with a short attention span- so I think I can get a whole morning out of this...

1. Bath tub + Water Colors = at least 20 minutes of washable fun
2. Lay out a table cloth on the kitchen floor. Put some rice or oats in a cake pan- add a couple of plastic cups and your toddler will happily pour from one cup to another. There- at least another 15 minutes done!
3. Find a spray bottle and a washcloth. Show him how to spray and then "clean up". Seriously- they love it. Let him loose on the tile. Probably worth at least 10 minutes.
4. Make some homeade playdough. Making it is easy and fun (10 minutes) playing is better (20 minutes). Add a rolling pin, plastic fork, popscicle sticks and clothespins-- you may get an extra 10 minutes from it.
5. Build a fort with a sheet and the kitchen table and chairs. Throw some pillow under the table and squeeze in there for a story. (20 minutes)
6. Bubbles! Maybe while taking a bath. (15 minutes)
7. Organize the kitchen so that you have a cabinet of plastic cups and containers that can be stacked. Giggly fun and big crashes. (10 minutes)
8. Turn on the radio to the oldies and do a silly dance together. (5 minutes)
9. Is it nap time yet?? Lunch first- Let him/her help spread PBJ on bread. Messy and yummy. (15 minutes)
10. Stickers! Add markers and paper and you should be able to rest for about 5 minutes.
11. Build a ramp from the couch to the floor out of taped together ceral boxes or a cardboard box. Crash cars down the ramp and repeat (20 minutes)

Well that gets about 3 hours in anyway. Let me know if you have more and maybe I can get a whole day out of it. Now to implement!

This post was authored by Sarah, the principal designer from Sima Design. She runs an Etsy shop focusing on crafts and jewelry design with the help of her trusty  Epilog laser engraver and authors a blog while also working full-time as a mom of two. 

Friday, February 24, 2012

Review O' the Week: Producteev

Are you one of those organized people that feels more alive in the morning by starting a to-do list and then checking it off throughout the day until you feel so accomplished you can sleep without any nagging thoughts of things you forgot to do during the day? I'm envious of such organized Type-A minds. I want to be organized- I really do- I'm just a very abstract thinker. I eventually remember all of the things I need to do but it's in pieces like chunks of a puzzle with each chunck being a different size- some large project level ideas and other small 5-minute to-dos. Wouldn't it be nice to afford a personal assistant to follow you around with notepad at the ready? They could jot down your ideas, organize them and then remind you of things when the time is right.

For a micro-business I'm fairly sure the dream of a personal assistant is out of the budget. I serve as head chef, butler, nanny, personal assistant, maintenance manager, accountant, principal, and janitor of my shop and home. There are many tools out there that are great for larger businesses. I know- I was a program manager for multi-million dollar projects. They stayed organized and the team stayed on task through a full-time project manager that was pulling all of the threads of thought together, managing day to day tasks, and ensuring resources were in place. Tools like that are great but I don't have a full-time slot- I have to be doing the work! Tool suites that make sense for micro-businesses that take just a little time and improve my productivity make my day.

So... I want to do a short preliminary review on a new tool I've been using called Producteev. It's available in the iTunes app store and there are free downloads for Windows, Mac OSX, Android phones, and the Apple iPhone and iPad. Basically it's a platform to consolidate your to-do list with a project schedule and then you can sync between all of those platforms- Bonus! There are "workspaces" that you set up based on your needs. Larger business may need to open a workspace for every project- I just open them for the different roles I fill in my shop. I have one for social media, orders and leads, business administration (books, taxes, supplies), and I have just started using workspaces to collaborate with other small businesses that I supply work for.

I'm calling it a preliminary review because I've only used it a few days but so far I'm impressed. You can tag tasks with a label that helps visually sort to-do items into different categories. You can assign tasks to people and mark notes, subtasks, completions, and deadlines as needed. I have the option on my office computer to open the app from the launchpad or to log in online. Collaboration on tasks with a colleague has been helpful- especially with small business like mine to make sure those leads and ideas don't get dropped in the hustle of the many hats I wear. There's no bonus for me to promote any tool except for the benefit of helping out other businesses. (In other words, I'm not a paid promoter just a general user.) So far Producteev has acted like a virtual personal assistant. I'm actually looking forward to the digest e-mails I have it set up to send at the end of each week to remind me not only of what I need to do but to keep me on task. Breaking up big jobs into small tasks make them able to be accomplished one piece at a time. I didn't want some giant Gantt chart corporate tool. I had enough years of formal project management to know that a tool suite like that would be nothing more than a time waster for a business my size. So far I'm in a free part of the app but can see paying for a workspace or two for when I'm collaborating on a large project with a large team to maybe put on a craft show or develop something new. I'll try and remind myself to post another review in about 6 months or so.... better yet- I'll set up a task in Producteev!

This post was authored by Sarah, the principal designer from Sima Design. She runs an Etsy shop focusing on crafts and jewelry design with the help of her trusty  Epilog laser engraver and authors a blog while also working full-time as a mom of two. 

Thursday, February 2, 2012

The Oft Neglected Customer Feedback

I know what you are thinking- I don't neglect my feedback! I give every customer a great "Thank you, come again!" note.

Well ponder on this- perspective customers aren't just clicking on your product pages. They want to feel they can trust you. My top page according to my stats isn't my shop- it's my profile page. I don't see stats on the feedback page but I'm sure customers are clicking there as well. Seeing positive feedback gives customers a good feeling about your shop and they can get a glimpse into what other customers are saying about you. If it's lukewarm comments they are seeing versus spectacular overjoyed customers it can leave a different impression with your perspective buyer. On the same note- they can also click to see what kind of feedback you leave for your customers. If all they see if a long list of "Thank you, Come Again!" notes with a swirl thing and a bunch of exclamation marks- think about what a better impression it would make if each comment were different. Try and alter your comments or even include a little note if you know how your item is going to be used. Ask for a pic of the results if you sell supplies or send along Happy Birthday Wishes to the recipient of the gift just purchased. Think about what an honor it is to be chosen over the easier in-hand shopping experience of the mall or big box store. They just selected you to give their best friend a gift that is laced with meaning or has just the right personal touch. Don't blow it with a standard "Thank you!" comment- they deserve more than that and you can build a reputation and better shop impression to those perspective buyers hunting down details about your shop in the feedback section. Cover your bases and complete the customer experience!

This post was authored by Sarah, the principal designer from Sima Design. She runs an Etsy shop focusing on crafts and jewelry design with the help of her trusty  Epilog laser engraver and authors a blog while also working full-time as a mom of two.