Tools of the Trade

Crafters are people who like to work with their hands. I wasn’t aware that I was one until digital photography came along and I gave up processing and printing my own photos. In a matter of weeks I went from the nice, relaxed me I had always been to a fidgety, irritable curmudgeon yelling at my friends to “pipe down”. I wish I was exaggerating.            

It became apparent that I needed to fill the void. I tried a variety of new crafts from knitting, to baking, to candlestick making. (Hahaha! Not really, I just wanted to rhyme.) Seriously though, I even tried welding. None of them were for me. Something was always wrong with the way it felt in my hands. I’d turned into freaking Goldilocks.

These knitting needles are to long. This rolling pin is to short. This acetylene torch keeps catching my pants on fire.

The swivel head that started me down the paper cutting path

So, that is why, two years ago, I was wandering aimlessly around a crafts store hoping to find something, anything that felt right when I came across the single coolest object I’d ever seen; the fingertip swivel head knife by Fiskars. I took it home and put it to work. I didn’t have a plan; I just wanted to make stuff with my new tool. Today it is how I make my living. I’m a paper cutter. I didn’t even know this was a thing when I started. I just liked the way the blade felt in my hand.

Natasha from Wink and Flip found her soul mate tool early, “As a teen, I didn't know if it was easy to find T-pins, so I treated mine like a rare diamond, always pinning it in a secret place so I could find it again. I would have been lost without it.”

The T-pin and a piece from the curated line sold at Wink and Flip

Not every tool we come across changes our lives, but all of them have a way of making us better at what we do. Aziza from Aziza Jewelry uses hers to perfect her craft. “My favorite tool at the moment is my hammer. I use it to stamp my name on my name tags (…) if I hit my stamp right on; the stamps come out perfect...or sometimes not so perfect. I get to keep learning what works and what doesn’t work.” and Martin from Adornments NYC uses his to explore new materials. “My favorite tool lately is FIRE!  I've been doing a lot of fire polishing of vintage (and new) metals and I love it!  Each piece of metal is a little adventure, as you never know exactly how it will turn out…”

Lola's Bodkin and thread snippers accompany one of her handmade bags

Even the simplest tools can be indispensable. Lola of Lola Falk Designs points out that her thread nippers and bodkins are, “two of the cheapest tools in my arsenal, but definitely the two I can't live without.”

I realize most people start with a craft and then acquire the tools, but no matter how you go about it there is no denying that the right one can make your life easier and your craft better. Thanks for all your responses! It made my first blog here a lot of fun! Until next time.  

Jessica Alpern

And the winner is....YOU!

The Oscars are this weekend! Can you imagine sitting on your couch, watching the red carpet interviews, when suddenly an A-Lister appears wearing one of your designs? That's just what happened to New York artist Betina from WickedWorld, when she spotted Mickey Rourke talking about a necklace she had made for him on last year's Oscar telecast. Betina is a huge dog lover, and when she heard about the death of the actor's beloved pet dog Loki, she felt compelled to honor his loss with a gift. After a great deal of research, she was able to locate Rourke's publicist's E-mail and wrote to ask if she could send a pendant. The publicist responded and asked her to get the piece to them asap-as they were leaving for California the next day. Betina's husband rushed into the city to drop it off, and the rest has become part of Etsy Lore & Legend. She had no idea the actor would choose to wear it to last year's Oscar event, and says she nearly fell off the sofa when she saw it. Rourke called her personally to thank her for her lovely gesture, and the pendant continues to drive tons of traffic to her Etsy shop which features unique jewelry and art.

Betina says " It was never about the money or the sales...just about trying to do something nice for a fellow dog lover."

But what about the money and the sales? Does getting your product into the hands or around the neck of a famous celeb translate into increased sales for your handmade crafts business?

Yania, from Yania Creations says Yes. She targeted a special kind of celebrity--the ones we feel we know and trust...newscasters. Yania used to work for TruTV(formerly CourtTV) and had the opportunity to have her jewelry shown on camera on many occasions. Lisa Bloom and Ashleigh Bandfield are only 2 of many anchors that wore (and still wear at other networks) her creations. Yania says that she would get tons of emails from viewers in the control room and very often they would want to know the designer that made the anchor's jewelry. Having her pieces appear on camera brought her tons of sales and many new clients. Her business benefited even more when Ashleigh Bandfield was interviewed by PINK magazine and mentioned Yania's jewelry as one of the top ten things she couldn't live without!

Yania says: "Targeting newscast anchors is the best promotion, since people have a special bond with them and trust them and their judgement." She admits, however, that it can be hard to penetrate this celebrity circle.

So what can you do if you think that a celebrity endorsement would boost your sales? The website Contact Any Celebrity is a good start for people trying to locate specific celebs, but many professionals in the industry discourage small businesses from sending unsolicited items to their famous clients. Cautioned one industry insider: " Sending things to celebrities unsolicited is a great way to gift their Personal Assistants. Most stars get so much free stuff they give it away."

For a more targeted approach, the website Who Represents provides a list of celebrity representatives and their contacts- but requires a subscription fee.

How about inclusion in one of those fancy swag bags given at events like the Oscars and Golden Globes? While PR professionals agree that this is one way to generate "buzz" around your product, they caution that the expense of this type of marketing tactic may be prohobitive. In addition to furnishing often hundreds of free products, you are required to pay an inclusion fee-which for an event like the Golden Globes can run as high as $5,000. Even then, there are numerous events and parties around an awards show and you can't be sure that your swag bag will go to a Julia Roberts instead of someone voted off of Survivor two years ago. However: one tactic to take would be to contact the PR firms that organize smaller parties for athletes and celebrities, and approach them as a small business owner.

One NewNewer takes an unusual approach to celebrity endorsements: she creates her own. Picses Are Dreamers, who makes handpainted purses and shoes, feels that given the fact that her products are on the cusp of the hottest trends like "green" & "eco friendly" that she may have a better chance of getting endorsements from craze-following celebs. While she plans to send out as many freebies as she can afford to celebs like Lady Gaga (she plans to send them products that relate to their astrological signs) in the meantime she creates her own endorsements courtesy of the magic of photo shop.

Which brings us to our own NewNew celebrity. Martin from the Etsy shop Adornments NYC provides today's giveaway! Martin had his own brush with greatness when several of his items appeared on the Grammy telecast.

Martin says: " Some of my jewelry was worn onstage at the Grammy Awards by members of the cast of American Idiot in a performance with Grammy nominees Green Day.

“American Idiot” is a new musical written by Green Day based on their album of the same name. At the Grammy awards the band performed with the cast of the show. Several ladies in the cast were wearing my jewelry, including several custom pieces that were commissioned by the costume designer of the musical, Andrea Lauer, who is a colleague/friend. I was very excited to see my jewelry onstage at the Grammy Awards, onstage with Green Day. With the rock and roll lighting and microphones in the way it was sort of difficult to see it, but it was a thrill nonetheless!"

Wanna know what else is THRILLING? the chance to win this stunning piece from Adornments NYC.

You can win this beautiful chandelier crystal and tropical leaf necklace with freshwater pearl just by doing the following:
1. Make sure you are a follower of this blog
2. Visit Adornments NYC Here
3. Take some time to look at all of Martin's beautiful work! Then come back here and post a comment letting us know what your favorite was!
4. One entry per person, but if you tweet,blog or facebook about this giveaway it gets you additional entries- please note it in your comment.
5. Winner picked at random and announced March 12th. Winner must ship to USA address only (sorry!) The New New is offering giveaways for the entire month of March- so please read older posts to enter our other contests. Good Luck! You are all winners!