Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Hidow Fiber Farm

I stumbled upon a truly amazing shop while on the Etsy Forums. Veronica Dowling is the owner of Hidow Fiber Farm, a gorgeous shop that truly exemplifies the finest in handcrafted excellence. The following is excerpted from the shop profile for Hidow Fiber Farm:

"Hidow Fiber Farm is located on over 100 acres in the Thumb area of Michigan. Our farm has been in the Hirons family for over 125 years. Grandma and Grandpa Hirons only had girls, so when we bought the farm the name changed to Dowling. The name of Hidow was thought up by Grandma, it was her way of combining the family names to represent the farm, we have kept it in her honor.

"Currently on the farm we have Huacaya and Suri Alpacas and a flock of Shetland sheep. Our animals are organically raised with love and care.

"I am currently trying to clear out the fiber stash in my closets, fiber is an addiction! you can NEVER have enough. But shearing season is coming soon and I need to make room. Not only do I have fibers from my own animals, but over the past year I have also picked up some interesting fleeces from other places. If you are looking for something in particular, let me know, I may have it in the closet.

"Each step in the process adds to the value of the fibers so I price accordingly. If you are on a budget, try buying unwashed raw fleece, I will be happy to tell you how to wash it. If you don't want to bother washing it yourself, then look to my washed fleeces and if you don't want to card, let me know and I will be happy to hand card a few ounces for a special order."
This amazing needle felted Sheltie figure is a one of a kind work of art, which Veronica created using alpaca from her own animals with a bit of Icelandic Sheep fiber for accents. Since Veronica also breeds and shows Shelties, you can be sure it's an accurate depiction of this most adorable breed of dog. Veronica has a lovely selection of needle felted animals, including a cuddly bunny, just perfect for Easter! She is also a talented photographer, and has some gorgeous fine art photo prints in her shop. The Burgundy Lily at the start of this post is just one of Veronica's prints. Be sure to click on the link and read the beautiful story behind this stunning photograph.

Hidow Fiber Farm is a wonderful source for wool -- all you knitters and crocheters be sure to enjoy the woolen eye candy at Veronica's store. Just imagine the lovely things you could make from this marvelous wool.
For those of us who are looking for goods all ready to wear, Veronica has a cute hat, felted from fiber from one of her own alpaca, Sid. Here's the beautiful Needle Felt Woman's Hat, and also a picture of Sid. How cool is that?

For the ultimate in handcrafted goods, just stop by Hidow Fiber Farm!

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Promoting Your Shop Via Facebook

Facebook is a useful social networking site for promoting your online shop. I've had a Facebook business page for about 7 months, and found it to be an effective and cost effective (free!) way to get the word out about Dalkullan Jewelry.

After I set up my FB business page (it's also called a fan page, it's the same thing) I fanned myself. Yes, I know, a bit pathetic, but then I can see everything that the future fans are receiving, which I find helpful. I like to know what my fans are getting on their personal page about my shop. And at least I had one fan, lol.

The next step was letting all my Facebook friends know about my business page, so they could fan me if they liked. I actually set up a new personal page to use to create my business page from, instead of using my Facebook page I'd set up a couple years earlier to keep in touch with family and friends. I want to keep my personal and business doings separate, but that's just me. And I like to use a picture of my jewelry for my profile picture on my business page.

I started putting up a link to my FB fan page on the promo section in the Etsy Forum, and got some fans that way. I also have a link in my profile at my Etsy shop. Having a contest, in which each fan who got a friend to become a fan could each win a pair of earrings, was a successful way to add fans.

Gradually people will start fanning because they see your work on a friend's page, and it appeals to them. Also mentioning the fan page on your blog and using twitter to promote it are good ways to garner new fans.

So, now you have some fans, what's next? Here's my list of FB does and don'ts. This is just my opinion, please comment and add your own!

1.) Try to post only once or twice a day. People are following other businesses, and their friends and family, and don't want you to monopolize their news feed.

2.) Try to read and comment a few times a week on the businesses you are following. Nobody likes to feel ignored. :) It's fun to see what others are doing, and being an encourager is always a happy thing!

3.) Remember, it's very easy to block someone, so it looks like you're following them, but you actually don't receive any updates from their page. The more spammy stuff you post, the more likely this unhappy event will occur.

4.) Your page is promoting your business, keep it professional. There are those who are offended by swearing, off-color comments, etc.

How effective is FB on getting sales? I don't have a lot of sales, so I've got a pretty small data pool to extrapolate from. But I have made sales to my Facebook Fans, and I've made purchases from businesses I'm a fan of. Businesses I heard of only because they had fanned me, and I fanned them back.

Facebook is free, it doesn't take a lot of time, and it is a useful marketing tool. I would certainly recommend it to anyone looking to increase their online sales.

Thanks so much for stopping by. Wishing you happy crafting!