Category Archives: Tools of the trade

FYI, that stitch isn’t supposed to stay

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Everyday, walking up the stairs from the El, I notice at least one women (or man) in a super cute coat BUT the stitching is left over the vent keeping it shut.  The tack stitching is put in by the factory at the vent (and sometimes the pockets) to hold shape in storage and shipping before wear.  Not to make a coat fit awkwardly.

If you are one of these ladies, chic enough to get a killer coat, but unaware that the stitch is short-term, its okay, there are many more of you.  But I  want to put it  on your radar: snip those slits and the fit will be a hit.  (ps: I’m a poet and didn’t even know it.)

Easy how to:  Tack stitching is long and easy to slide a pair of scissors under.  Simply snip and pull threads out of the fabric by hand.  Do not leave dangling from the fabric.

Set yourself free and allow yourself a longer stride.

Give your online buyers confidence

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Frequency Vintage is up and running. I currently have 28 killer  items in the shop, with about 10 more to list.  I think they are all really great pieces.  Unique, colorful, amazing vintage condition, priced right…should be flying off the shelves.  BUT, sales have been slow, only 4 since October 31.  So what’s up?

Improve Etsy Shop

One reason is that Frequency Vintage is new to Etsy.  I have read many forums that have said people only buy from shops with a lot of sales and feedback.  I have also read that it doesn’t matter how many sales you have, if someone really wants something from your shop they will buy it.  Not sure where that leaves me.  I am an Etsy and Ebay buyer and have bought from shops with no sales, but always feel much more confident buying from shops with 100s of sales and positive ratings.  And that’s it right there, my biggest problem: giving buyers confidence in what they are buying.

Ways to give online shoppers confidence in your shop
1. Lots of sales and positive feedback.
2. More descriptive listing
      a. Better/eye-catching photos
      b. Clear, specific description
      c. Detailed sizing/measurement
3. Variety and season

I’m actually going to skip #1 for a while, since I’m guess 2 and 3 will have to happen first.  

Let’s be honest, I am not a patient person.  I get so excited when I get a new piece that I will try to get it in the shop before I have all the details together.  Fast photo shoot with a dress form, few quick measurements, 3 sentence description, and booya!  Big mistake. 

2a. Better/eye-catching photos:
I know the piece, I have felt the fabric, seen the stitching, know how vibrant the colors are, but my buyer doesn’t. I need to go back over every one of my listings and take pictures that are full of life and show off more detail. 

Many/most of the pieces in my shop are not my size and have ended up on a dress form.  They look limp and lifeless.  This is the perfect opportunity to show the buyer how to wear a vintage dress in a modern way.  Make it a piece they can’t live without.

Great pictures can also show the texture and movement of fabric.  If the buyer can’t feel the item in person, they need to be shown what they can expect.

Etsy has a great video that gives suggestions on how to improve photos for the beginner.  Check it out.

And they have this great list on their Quick-Start-Guide:

Top 10 tips for perfect product photos:

  1. Shoot against a plain background that will complement your item. Large pieces of drawing or watercolor paper work well.
  2. Use the macro mode (flower icon) on your camera when shooting close-ups or small objects. If the photo is blurry, try adjusting the zoom, or getting closer to or farther from your subject.
  3. If you’re shooting small items like jewelry, simple props can help show scale.
  4. For larger items, look around the inside of your home for good locations. Think interesting architecture, beautiful natural settings, walls with interesting textures, or even plain white walls. Is there a location nearby — perhaps a church, library, or abandoned building — that would capture the mood of your items?
  5. If you sell items that can be worn, always use a live model. Adults, babies, and pets all draw in the shopper and help them imagine these items in use.
  6. Use soft natural lighting. Either morning or early evening light works best. Avoid direct sunlight and harsh mid-day lighting. Set up your shot inside, near a window, or outside (but not in direct sunlight).
  7. Never use flash.
  8. Go beyond the overhead or straight-on shot. Make your photos more dynamic by taking the shot from a variety of angles and distances, and then choosing the one that best complements your item.
  9. Edit your photos to make them brighter, crisper and the colors truer. You’ll also want to crop in interesting places to create movement in the photo. It may allow you to get closer to the item for a detail shot.
  10. Use all 5 spots for photos in your item listings: show the item in use, show your creative packaging, place the item near a complementary prop to show scale.

2b. Clear, specific description
Right now, I don’t think my descriptions are bad, they just aren’t good.  They state the basics and leave much to be desired.  If I was a buyer, I might skip right over the most awesome dress because the photos are okay and so is the description.  This makes the buyer think the pieces is okay.  Gotta sell the piece, make it GREAT!

Here’s Ety’s advice on how to write a GREAT! description.  Check it out.

2c. Detailed sizing/measurement
This could be grouped with 2b, but I am separating it out because it is a very important step that I often sweep under the rug.  Measurements are especially important in selling vintage.  A size 6 from 1940 is not the same as a modern size 6.

Since the buyer does not have a chance to try the piece on, being clear on the measurements gives the buyer confidence.  An example: Many people won’t know their jacket size, but they can grab a tape measure to see how long their arms are or the distance across their shoulders.  This will help them visualize the fit and feel of the piece. Beyond typical bust, waist and hip measurements, letting the buyer know the size of the buttons, or distance between belt holes will help make the product more 3D in their mind. 

3. Variety and season
I am a summer girl, I am drawn to dresses and bright colors.  Half of the products in my shop are that exactly.  Which is awesome for those lucky enough to be headed somewhere warm on vacation, or live in a tropical environment year round.  But for the rest of us, some cold weather options might be nice. 

Variety in a shop is a search engine bonus on Etsy.  Someone searching for a clutch might be driven to your shop and end up seeing a brooch they can’t live without.

So there you have it.  Great advice to improve an Etsy shop, which will boost your sales and feedback, which will boost your sales and feedback, and so on.  Success!  Now, I just have to take the advice myself. 

Goal for 2012: All new listings must be complete: great pictures, description and measurements.  Improve currently listings, at least 3 per week.

Any buyers or sellers have any recommendations for improving Etsy listings?

Back on Track: Business Plan Day 1

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Starting this blog has been fun.  It’s great to spend time putting together graphics and themes based on the clothes and designers I love, but with the new year approaching, I realized I need to be pushing towards the ultimate goal of opening that shop, right? 

So here we are, back on track and trying to find some footing.  Over the past three months I have done a lot of research on how to open a physical store front.  What it really comes down to is having the ability to stay afloat for a year(or longer) before turning any profit.  I originally thought it would take around $40,000.00 to open the doors, but it’s looking to be more around $100,000.00 (or more).  Scary at first, but all this does is add another step to the journey: online vintage store on Etsy, to an e-commerce online boutique, to a physical store front.

The first step of opening an online vintage store has been taken.  Frequency Vintage is on Etsy.  It’s been slow going, but a great learning experience.  I will be commenting more on how I plan on making improvements to the shop in tomorrow’s post, but today I would like to talk about the next step in the process: e-commerce online boutique.

Frequency Vintage took only a small financial investment to start, so although a business plan would surely make the shop more successful, I thought it was something I could skip.  An online boutique on the other hand takes a much larger investment which has led me to the first my first goals of 2012: Writing a business plan.

Ever hear the saying “I went to art school and all I got was this attitude”?  Well, I went to art school and as far as business goes, it is very true.  Luckily, there is a wonderful website for all us beginning our path to owning a small business: www.SBA.gov.  This is a really great reference site.  The following is their outline for a business plan, and my jumping off point:

Elements of a Business Plan

  1. Cover sheet
  2. Executive summary (statement of the business purpose)
  3. Table of contents
  4. Body of the document
    1. Business
      1. Description of business
      2. Marketing
      3. Competition
      4. Operating procedures
      5. Personnel
      6. Business insurance
    2. Financial data
      1. Loan applications
      2. Capital equipment and supply list
      3. Balance sheet
      4. Breakeven analysis
      5. Profit and loss statements
      6. Three-year summary
      7. Detail by month, first year
      8. Detail by quarters, second and third year
      9. Assumptions upon which projections were based
      10. Pro-forma cash flow
    3. Supporting documents
      1. Tax returns of principals (partners in the business) for last three years, personal financial statements (all banks have these forms)
      2. Copy of franchise contract and all supporting documents provided by the franchisor (for franchise businesses)
      3. Copy of proposed lease or purchase agreement for building space
      4. Copy of licenses and other legal documents
      5. Copy of resumes of all principals
      6. Copies of letters of intent from suppliers, etc.

As I start to write my plan, I will breakdown what I learned about each section and give you an inside to what to look forward to yourself. 

Now for a cup of coffee and diving into finding a niche.  Check out this little blurb from the SBA on finding your niche market: Finding a Niche

Steps to the Shop & Frequency Vintage on Twitter

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Never tweeted before, never thought I would, but here I am with two accounts. Something else to get hooked on. Twitter here I come!

Steps to the Shop: https://twitter.com/#!/stepstotheshop

Frequency Vintage: https://twitter.com/#!/FreqVintage

So let the following begin!

A friend of mine sent me a little user guide on Twitter terms: http://www.greeblemonkey.com/2011/12/twitter-glossary-top-terms-used-on-our.html  I’m sure I’ll be referencing it a lot.

Also, you can send her a thank you tweet here: www.twitter.com/homemadeawesome.  She posts about all awesome things from cooking to home decor.  Check out her blog as well http://homemadeawesome.wordpress.com/ No posts yet, but would recommend following her to be prepared for some really funny, helpful, truthful writing.

New at Frequency Vintage and What I Learned about Vintage Fur/Faux

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Gonna kick it off with this KILLER LEATHER TRENCH COAT!  If this super slick trench fit me, it would not be on the market.  I mean, there is no way to wear this and not be pretty sure you’re a spy. 
This is an amazing, flawless vintage piece.

$125 Frequency Vintage

And of course, gotta add a few more belts!  How better to mix up a look than with a fun, colorful pop full of vintage flare!

$7.00 Frequency Vintage

$7.00 Frequency Vintage

This belt fits right in with the Must have Monday: Bugging Out  post about the Critters Trend. 

 

 What I learned about fur

 $75 Frequency Vintage

I love this coat.  Just like the leather one at the top, if it was my size, you wouldn’t be seeing it here.  It is so soft, love the big collar, and the lining is beautiful.  I think dressing up a pair of jeans with this would be a great modern twist on a classic look.

It looks and feels real, the lining is luxurious, but!….the label tells it all.  It’s not marked Faux Fur, in fact it says clean by Fur Coat methods.  The give away is actually the label: Mincara.  In fact all Mincara, Intrique, Tissavel, Borgana, Glenoit and Grandella(commonly seen vintage labels) coats are faux, whether denoted on the label or not.  Some vintage sellers don’t take the extra step to research, so the more you know, the better chance of getting a really great piece, faux or fur.

Real does not always mean better.  Seriously, the Mincara coat above is awesome.  Great vintage shape, feel, warmth, look, and beautifully lined.  I have seen real pieces that are just falling apart with a much higher price tag.  So if you are in the market for a fur, maybe faux is the way to go.

Uping Your Etsy: Part 2

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As promised in Uping Your Etsy Part 1:Using Your Tags, here is another way to gain views/sales on Etsy.

Offer international shipping!

When I first started Frequency Vintage a little over a month ago I was only offering shipping from US to US.  I thought shipping international would be way to expensive.  WRONG!

You can use a flat rate box and it will ship to Canada , Mexico  or anywhere else  for $13.95 or less!

As long as the package is under 4 lbs, the cost aint that bad.  This is perfect for a dress or belt, even a pair of shoes.  Plus packaging is easy.  So I went ahead and adjusted all my items to reflect that, yes, Frequency Vintage does ship internationally for $13.95.  And voila!  Sold a belt to a stylish gal in Australia that same day.  Success!

Wondering what your packages will ship for?  I found this to be a great resource to help figure out postage for the different USPS zones.  Just fill in your package info and get shipping times and rate: http://ircalc.usps.gov/default.aspx?Mode=Intl_Single&CID=10054  Share your shop WORLDWIDE!

Do you have any tips to help grow an Etsy shop?  Would love to hear them.  Every little bit helps.

Uping your Etsy Part 1

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My online vintage shop Frequency Vintage has been up and running 3 weeks now and going well.  Since it is a side project things tend to go a little slower than I would like.  My impatience kicks in and I want more views and sales NOW!!!  But how?  What are the best ways to bump your Etsy shop to the top of everyones favorites?

PART 1. Use all 14 of your Tags well:

When listing items, one of the key steps to having your shop pop up in a search is using relevant, descriptive, and inventive tags.  Sounds easy, but for me it is one of the hardest parts of listing.  Etsy Admin often suggest using style, color, textures and motifs as tags for your items.  Courtesey of Etsy’s Blog, here is a great list to help the tagging begin:

Size: baggy, big, bulky, chunky, curvy, deep, delicate, dense, extra small, fitted, frail, gigantic, heavy, huge, large, lightweight, little, long, loose, massive, medium, miniature, oversized, petite, plump, plus size, shallow, shapely, short, small, snug, streamlined, substantial, tailored, tall, thick, thin, tight, tiny, voluminous, voluptuous, wide

Texture: airy, bright, bumpy, buttery, coarse, cool, cozy, cuddly, delicate, downy, embossed, feathery, fluffy, frilly, frizzy, furry, fuzzy, glittery, grainy, hammered, hard, iridescent, light, luminescent, luminous, matte, metallic, opaque, patina, plush, pointy, polished, prickly, puffy, rough, ruffled, sculptured, shaggy, sharp, sheer, shimmery, shiny, silky, slick, smooth, soft, sparkly, stamped, translucent, transparent, velvety, waxy, woolly

Style: 1980s (or any decade), adorable, African, Americana, angelic, antique, art deco, art nouveau, Asian, autumn, avant-garde, bizarre, black tie, bohemian, boho chic, bold, burlesque, business, casual, cheerful, chic, circus, classic, classy, clever, cocktail, colorful, complex, contemporary, country, cute, cyber, dark, deconstructed, delicate, DIY, dramatic, earthy, eccentric, edgy, Edwardian, elegant, ethnic, European, everyday, fall, fantasy, feminine, flapper, folk, folk art, formal, French, funky, funny, futuristic, gag, geek, geekery, gladiator, glam, goddess, goth, gothic, gothic, grotesque, harvest, hippie, hipster, horror, humorous, Indian, indie, industrial, Japanese, kawaii, librarian, lolita, luxurious, manly, masculine, mermaid, Mexican, midcentury, Middle Eastern, mod, modern, modest, modish, mystical, natural, nautical, nerd, noir, nostalgic, old world, organic, oriental, Paris, peasant, pirate, playful, polished, prairie, preppy, pretty, Primitive, punk, quirky, refined, Renaissance, Renaissance Fair (Ren Faire), retro, rockabilly, Roman, romantic, rustic, sailor, secretary, seductive, shabby chic, simple, sophisticated, southwest, sporty, spring, steampunk, summer, sustainable, tasteful, traditional, trendy, ugly, urban, Victorian, vintage, waldorf, weird, western, whimsical, winter, witty, woodland, zany

Motifs and Patterns: argyle, Asian, asymmetrical, brocade, Celtic, checked, checkered, complex, damask, dotted, Egyptian, fleur de lis, floral, geometric, gingham, Gothic, hearts, paisley, plaid, polka dot, scalloped, stars, striped, swirls, symmetrical, tartan, tweed, woodland

Specific Colors: charcoal, chartreuse, chocolate brown, cobalt blue, coral pink, cornflower blue, cream, crimson, cyan, emerald green, fuschia, gold, hot pink, indigo, ivory, kelly green, lemon yellow, lime, magenta, mauve, navy blue, nude, olive green, periwinkle, robins egg blue, royal blue, sapphire, silver, sky blue, slate grey, taupe, teal, turquoise

MORE TIPS COMING SOON!  Check back for Part 2

Channeling Jackie O and Placing your Vintage Label

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Gonna drop a little vintage shopping tool on you: Vintage Fashion Guild is a great resource for finding out more about vintage designers and labels.

I found this Oleg Cassini dress and used the Vintage Fashion Guild to check the label for dating the piece and to learn more about Cassini.  Really love the dress and liked matching the labels for 1970s authentication.

Anyone have any other vintage label/designer resources?

Boost Blog Followers for the Beginner, like me!

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It’s only been a week and a day since I started blogging (MY FIRST POST) and it has really jump started my journey to owning my own boutique.  I find that blogging daily about fashion helps me focus on where I want to be as well as inspires me to do the unfun things on my to do list. 

The big one today is learning how to get more followers on this blog, and I would like to share with you what I found.

First is a FREE tool that helps you find great keywords from your post, which will help your Search Engine Optimization(SEO).  Google Adwords gives you the option for looking for keywords on a specific blog/webpage, topic or from text.  It then lays out how competitive the keyword is in the search world.  I entered in Steps to the Shop to see what I could find.

I received a list of suggestions, many of which were obvious but I hadn’t used as tags, like “opening a boutique”, DUH!

This can help you pick and choose how you would like to be categorized and also find a niche.  Really great tool!

Wait, got to back track for a second.  The first step really should be blog, often and well.  The more you blog, the more searchable content is out there equally more blog hits.  What gets people hooked and following your is good content.  Write what you know and love, then proofread and edit.  You don’t have to write a novel everyday but the more quality posts, the better.  Mixing it up with great images as well as written content grants your blog variety and catches the eye.

I have also read that commenting and following  other blogs help boost followers, likes and comments.  This is also wonderful way to see who else is out there, and if you love what you’re blogging, a fun way to pass some time.  I have found some great blogs this past week, with some really interesting points of view (and couldn’t help but include one of my favorites of today.  See below.) 

Seeking out other fashion bloggers has helped me realize how important finding a personal blogging style is.  Setting yourself apart from the masses can be truly difficult.  I don’t fancy myself a writer by any stretch of the imagination, so this has been a struggle for me.  Clarifing my style in this blog will be great practice for owning a small business.  Gettting to the point and expressing a clear point of view and editing are essential when finding your niche and help to avoid rambling.  Ooops too late.

I have been slow to spread the word about the start of this blog since I am still trying to find my footing, but one of the best ways to gain more followers is to invite your friends and family.  You can do this by email, phone, text, or by posting on Facebook or other social media.  WordPress is makes it easy to sign up as a follower.  Simply set up the “follow blog widget” in your side bar and soon to be followers can can click, enter their email and they are all set: Click here for WordPress help on how to set up sidebar widget.

RECAP
1. Good, consistent content
2. Great Key Words
3. Network with other blogs
4. Find a personal style
5. Invite family and friends (Email, word of mouth, social media, any way)
6. Setup Widget for easy following sign up

As I beginner to blogging this is a work in progress, and a great test to see if these steps work.  I will initiate the 6 steps myself and keep you posted on what works for me and what doesn’t.  Would love to hear if any of these have been more or less helpful to you or if you have anymore tips?

Oh, and here’s a pretty dress because I can’t resist draping!   Found this while surfing through other fashion blogs.  View The Style Platforms full blog on an Evening with Willow, the designer of this dress visit her blog by clicking here.

Coming soon to Frequency and a Great Etsy tool!

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Coming soon to Frequency and a Great Etsy tool!

Alright, really loving the shopping that comes along with open an online store.  Just want to share a recent buy that will be in Frequency Vintage soon, if it doesn’t end up in my closet first!

I love dresses like this, perfect in fall with a sweater, winter with tight, boots and a cropped jacket, spring layered on top of a long sleeve tee with knee highs and oxfords, or summer with sandals.  Cute pattern, diverse styling options and so comfortable.  I found this in a french vintage shop, so may take about two weeks to land into Frequency, but it’s always nice to have something to look forward too! 

OH, and I also wanted to share an amazing tool I found.  The Etsy/PayPal fee calculator.  A great help in inventory pricing.  Check it out!

Been using this tool to price out my inventory.  Looking forward to posting more tonight.  Will let you know tomorrow what’s new in the shop!