Friday, January 30, 2015

Helpful Links for Crafty Businesses

There is so much great information out there regarding selling on the Internet, and I try and bookmark sources whenever I see them so I can go back to it or save it to share with you all.  The list below is just a handful of helpful resources regarding setting up shop online.
via Folksy

Productivity Tips for the Self-Employed

Yast: Easy Time Tracker for Freelancers & Teams

Shop Talk: Prepping for the Holidays

Create an online store with Shopify

Create a website with Squarespace

Sell locally through Amazon 

9 Beliefs of Remarkably Successful People 

10 Ways To Trust Your Gut to Grow Your Etsy Business


Etsy Wholesale

And a few links just for fun:

15 Things to Never Say to a Crafter

16 Unhelpful Life Lessons from Pinterest

8 Celebrities You Never Knew Had Their Own Craft Empire

All the crafty someecards you'll ever need


If you have a good crafty resource / source of crafty humor, feel free to leave it in the comments!

Written by Kristen of Milo and Molly.  Kristen runs her business while staying at home with her two small children. Fueled by an endless supply of tea, she sews late into the night when the house is quiet, most often accompanied by her faithful poodle, Casey.

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Local Love: Sage & Sandlewood

We opened November 2013. We first opened our shop to support local artisans who only previously had farmer's markets and crafts fairs to show their goods to the public. We wanted to help the public gain access to those quality, handmade, and natural goods year round. We have since expanded to support other family owned businesses across New England and beyond.

Our primary focus is on natural soaps, oils, and lotions, a variety of scented soy wax candles, and premium incense. We also carry a variety of hand knitted scarves, pottery, jewelry, greeting cards, local artworks, wooden toys, puzzles, home d├ęcor, and other unique gifts.

We are located on the CT shoreline and find this area experiences large fluctuations in business depending on the season. Overall, though, we've had a generally positive response from folks who've wandered through our shop. They seem to appreciate our support of local artisans and the unique variety of our inventory.

Starting a new business is an experience unlike any other and can be both exciting and terrifying. We have been delighted to discover just how many amazingly talented artisans there are all around us. We continue to enjoy connecting with artisans and learning about their creative process.

Our town has several events throughout the year and we participate in as many as possible. A calendar of local events can be found on

Sage & Sandalwood
273 Main Street
Niantic, CT 06357
(860) 691-1442

Find Sage & Sandlewood on Facebook
We are currently open:
Tue - Thu, 10am - 5pm, 
Fri - Sat, 10am - 6pm, 
Sun, 11am - 4pm. 

We stay open 7 days per week with extended hours in the Summer.

We love local businesses! Are you an independently-run Connecticut brick and mortar?
Get a feature by clicking here.

Know a shop that deserves a feature? Contact us at

Cyn Thomas is the illustrator, designer and pattern maker of RiverDog Prints. Her paper goods and gifts are guided by earth, animals, function, food and cocktails. You can also find Cyn canning in her kitchen, walking her dog, being outnumbered by her boys and husband or reading herself to sleep.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Shop Spotlight: Melley Nelson Design

Trish Nelson runs Melley Nelson Design: Architecture, Pen & Ink, and Anything Else.  Trish's pen and ink drawings are a meticulously crafted, thoughtful gift for anyone who loves their home.

"I am in architect, mother of three, and constant doodler.  I work part time with a construction company, I do residential renovations and additions, and I have an entire line of cards that I can't get out yet because they are just not right....but soon, someday.

My mother sold the house I grew up in several years after my father died.  She said a house needs a family.  My brothers and sister were already married and I was living a fun life up in Cambridge, so she had a point.  I drew a pen and ink picture of our home, made copies of it for my siblings and we all cried.  And then I started doing it for friends in book club, donating to the kids' school, and so on and so on.  Most everyone I have worked has a great story about the home I am drawing- good memories past, present or future."

To see more of Trish's amazing work or to request your own drawing,
please visit her on Etsy or Facebook.

Monday, January 26, 2015

Instagram Tips for Business

Instagram is a useful tool for building the presence of your business online through visual representation. There are some easy ways to maximize the benefits and expand your audience. The ultimate goal of your actions should be to create a loyal group of followers who will engage in your posts, thus spreading their impact.

8 Tips for increasing your Instagram audience. 

1. Good photos are key to gaining followers. Instagram is a visual site first and foremost. Make your photos interesting and aesthetically pleasing to your audience. Showcase your items in a unique way. Take a work in progress photo (#WIP) when the light hits your workstation just right or a picture of your hand with paint on it. Then include a finished product photo. To give the item one last boost, post the item in use. For example, if the item is a ring show it on someone's hand while holding a cup of coffee. These posts can be spaced over a few hours or a few days but it will invest your followers in the item and its story.

2. Keep a visual tone. When someone looks at your whole profile, do the photos create a cohesive visual story? They do not need to be (and honestly should not be) too product heavy. Adding a mix of content including personal photos that tell a bit about who YOU are connects your followers to you as a maker. There should be a flowing visual story of you, your interests and what you make. Use complimenting filters and styles.

Check out Connecticut native The Confetti Bar. She uses a mix of personal and business related photos that all work wonderfully together. Check out her beautiful account:  theconfettibar

3. Hashtags are how you drive traffic to your fantastic photos. Use a combination of hashtags that include what the item is, what interests surround the item and general Instagram hashtags.

For example:
Item: #Druzy #Necklace #Jewelry
Interests: #Style #Fashion #Handmade #Etsyseller
General: #Instalove #Instadaily #Picoftheday

To keep your initial description clean include one or two hashtags and then comment on your own photo with the remaining hashtags you would like to use. Shoot for at least 8 - 12 hashtags while you are building an audience.

4. Create a unique hashtag for your business. It would be most effective to be your business name, but if that is taken, find something similar. Use this hashtag on your postings throughout social media to create a history.  Encourage others to use your hashtag by regramming when customers use your hashtag and crediting their account. There are apps that will allow you to easily regram photos - go to your app store and search "regram" or "repost" for an array of free apps.

For example: The Nutmeg Collective uses #nutmegcollective 

5. Tag your photos. If you're picture includes a West Elm rug and a Crate and Barrel vase, tag them in the photo. This will give them a notification and they might regram your photo giving you exposure to their vast audience. Keep in mind when tagging someone that the picture should be appropriate and non-offensive.

 Here you see designer Jennifer Stagg posted a photo to her account
and tagged her sources. She got 377 likes - not too shabby. 

A few hours later, the HomeGoods Instagram account reposted 
her photo because of her tag. The post got 11,267 likes!

6. Engage with others. If someone comments on your photo, comment back using their @ username. When perusing the general Instagram explore feed, like and comment on photos that strike your fancy, even if you are not following the account. Ask light and fun questions in your photo descriptions that warrant an answer from your followers.

7. Add a link to your main profile. Drive followers to your website, blog, giveaway, shop or even a specific listing. The link can be changed at anytime if you want to focus traffic on a specific listing or site temporarily. Etsy does not recognize incoming clicks from Instagram (yet) but if you want to track the traffic coming from your IG page use Bitly or and track it through their site. These free sites will provide you with a shortened link that you can include in your profile and track the clicks on the link.

8. Link your accounts. When you post to Instagram you can choose to share the post with other social media platforms as well. These will then link back to your IG post and help increase your audience. If you would like to add your IG feed to your Facebook's about page visit:

Who are some of your favorite maker accounts on Instagram? 

Written by Alonda Baird-Juhasz, owner of Designer Dwellings, who believes in adding color to life. An avid DIYer, sparkle-loving, all things fabulous addict, her shop features bright and fun home decor accessories and gifts. When not in the shop you can find her interior decorating or visual styling events and photo shoots.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Tutorial: Dry Lip Scrub & Balm

In the cold winter months, there are some days when lip balm is not enough to combat extremely dry lips. On these days, a lip scrub is the ideal way to remove dryness and heal lips. This is a simple do-it-yourself lip scrub. All ingredients used in this are organic. You will need:

  • a small microwave safe bowl or double boiler 
  • a fork 
  • a spoon 
  • organic unrefined Shea butter 
  • organic extra virgin olive oil 
  • organic coffee 
  • organic sugar

  • 2015/01/img_1987.jpg

    1. Measure one spoonful of organic unrefined Shea butter into a small bowl.


    2. Add one spoonful of organic extra virgin olive oil.


    3. Melt in the microwave for about 30 seconds, whip with a fork.  It should appear as above. 


    4. Add in one spoon of sugar and one spoon of coffee and whip some more.


    5. Let the mixture set in the refrigerator for about 30 minutes.  It will set and become more solid.  For the first use, I added slightly more sugar to mine.  I also kept some without the coffee, so I rotate with the scrub & just as a plain moisturizer.  Apply by rubbing in circles on lips.  Remove by wiping with a napkin.  I do not recommend licking.


      The before picture of very dry lips, 
      resulting from jogging in below freezing temperatures.


      After one day of use, my lips feel incredible! This recipe works fabulously for dry lips, plus it can also be used on extremely dry feet or hands.

    Erin Egan of Pure Naked Soap is a mom to three girls and social worker by day, but at night she is a creator of body nourishing foods and skincare products. Diagnosed with multiple allergies, Erin makes most of her foods and all of her soaps and skincare products from scratch. Using whole ingredients that meet the needs of her body, she found that many other people were interested in the simpler and truly natural soaps. Check out her selection of body friendly products!

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Shop Spotlight: Petite Maus

Meet Jenn, a self-taught artist who has been creating since before she can even remember, and who has always been a very effervescent and outgoing individual: "At any given time I probably have vibrant pink and purple streaks in my hair!"  She's currently a PhD student and Instructor at the University of Connecticut getting her Doctorate in Behavioral Neuroscience, and her research focuses on the underlying neural mechanisms of schizophrenia. She loves working in academia, teaching, and she has a passion for her research. Her shop, Petite Maus, gives her a fantastic creative outlet when she's not in the classroom or in the lab.

"My shop, Petite Maus, was born from an insatiable need to create with my hands and a little nudge from a DIY family Christmas experience. I had never before made jewelry (besides the typical teenage friendship bracelets), but my cousin's wife wanted a pair of earrings for Christmas. I thought to myself, "Hey, I like making things, I'm going to try and make these earrings from scratch!" and so it began.

"The name Petite Maus comes from two passions: "Petite" is from my French heritage, and means small (I am very short!), while\"Maus" (pronounced just like mouse) is the German word for "mouse", and reminds me fondly of the time I spent living in Germany, and reflects the love I have for my research. This also perfectly symbolizes my work - a combination of small, petite gemstones and details, as well as an occasional scientific flair.

"I rarely, if ever, design my pieces ahead of time. Rather, I let the stones and materials speak for themselves, and find that the spontaneity of creation best influences my designs. If I am in the midst of trying to create a piece, it is almost impossible to see my work bench, as I have so many materials out at once to see how things fit together. Since most of my work is born in this manner, much of my pieces are limited edition - meaning that there is only one of them ever created (so the customer often has a truly unique one-of-a-kind piece that no one else will ever have!) or that each design only has a handful of design 'siblings'. As an person who revels in individuality, I find that this makes for a special and intimate experience with those who purchase my designs."

To see more of Jenn's work, find her at Petite Maus or her website,
or visit her on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook.

Would you like to be a featured in the Shop Spotlight?
Active Nutmeg Collective members fill out this form!

Monday, January 19, 2015

Crafting Perfect Posts on Social Media

Social media and online business are an inevitable combination.  In order to bring in business and connect with customers, you are most likely going to need to use some form of social media to gain an audience.  Once you have followers and people interested in your brand, you can then use these platforms to connect further- offer sales and promotions, announce upcoming events, introduce brands, even get opinions.  Social media can be an invaluable tool if you know how to do it right.  We'll be covering some of the big name platforms over the next few weeks and why they're good and how best to use them, but this infographic from My Clever Agency provides a great quick guide on how to create a good post in some of today's most popular platforms, plus the best time of the day to send out a post.

How to Create Perfect Posts on Social Platforms

What is your favorite social media platform?
Do you feel you're utilizing it to the best of its ability?
Is there a platform you're ready to try but haven't yet?

Written by Kristen of Milo and Molly.  Kristen runs her business while staying at home with her two small children. Fueled by an endless supply of tea, she sews late into the night when the house is quiet, most often accompanied by her faithful poodle, Casey.

Friday, January 16, 2015

Get Baked Local Love Market featured in The Hartford Courant

The upcoming Local Love Market at Get Baked in Windsor was featured in The Hartford Courant today.  The market, which includes many of our team members, runs on Saturday, January 24 and Sunday, January 25. 

These images are some of the maker's setups from the successful Holiday pop-up market at Get Baked in December.  Next week, we will have an in-depth preview of all the makers and artists lined up for The Local Love market.

Along with Emily Woodward, owner of Get Baked, Kristen Skelton of Milo and Molly and one of The Nutmeg Collective's team leaders, is helping to organize the event.

Check in next week for our preview of the Local Love Market!

Get Baked is located at 
25 Central Street,
Windsor, Connecticut  06095

Cyn Thomas is the illustrator, designer and pattern maker of RiverDog Prints. Her paper goods and gifts are guided by earth, animals, function, food and cocktails. You can also find Cyn canning in her kitchen, walking her dog, being outnumbered by her boys and husband or reading herself to sleep.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Local Love: Swarm Shop at B:Hive

We added Swarm Shop to our established (and beloved) co-working space, B:Hive Bridgeport, this past November of 2014. After hosting a number of successful pop up markets throughout the year, we thought it was time to finally have a collection of goods that folks could access on a more regular basis.

We carry the best of the best! A little bit of this and a little bit of that. We have everything from apparel, jewelry and accessories to paper goods, candles and lamps, kitchen-wares and beauty products, kids clothing to teas, mugs, and journals. We continue to add new products and work diligently to keep the inventory fresh and interesting. People love shopping small and local. They enjoy learning the story behind a piece and knowing that it was created by real hands, real people, and made REAL close by. As buyers, we look for high quality, unique items that are created by individuals who are involved in the entire process of their products. We get to work with Connecticut's finest, coolest, most driven folks this little state has to offer. It's so much fun and very inspiring!

Whenever you take on the responsibility of housing and selling another person's handmade products, you feel the enormous weight of showcasing their items in the most appealing and genuine of settings. You want each piece to standout. We have a lot of inventory for a small space and making it all work together can be a challenge. However, because we are careful to select the right goods from each vendor, we are able to create a atmosphere that works on two levels; separate items deserving to shine on their own as well as all the items working together and supporting one another within the shared space.

We have loved seeing the positive response from the community. We have folks stop in quickly to grab a letter-pressed card for a coworker's birthday, we have groups of friends come out for our evening shopping events and make a night of it, we have those whole follow individual vendors of our shop come to see their favorite items on display. But our favorite is when we see people rushing by to grab a coffee next door or hurry to a meeting and they stop dead in their tracks when they glance at the display window. The beautiful spread of inventory is like a magnet. There are few retail stores like Swarm Shop in downtown and our presence is really grabbing the attention of those who are out and about during the day. We hope to see further growth of small businesses like this throughout the city.

We also create our own events! Why wait for others to organize something? Our vendors deserve constant shouting from the rooftops and we're happy to do so.

We're also fortunate enough to host events in the B:Hive space that bring in people that wouldn't normally come to Bridgeport. For example, non-profits will run meetings from our space, companies will rent it out for office parties, and we also participate in local workshops. Monarch Workshop will be running it's 2nd weekend-long workshop here in March. These types of activities bring in a whole new set of lovely faces that can experience the city of Bridgeport, our co-working space, and (of course) Swarm Shop.

Swarm Shop is located within B:Hive Bridgeport
285 Fairfield Ave
Bridgeport, CT 06604
B:Hive Website

Swarm Shop is open Monday-Friday from 10am-4pm. We also hold many evening/weekend shopping events that are posted on our social media. These events typically include light bites and libations. A great time for all!

Find B:Hive Bridgeport (@bhivebridgeport) on Facebook // Instagram // Twitter

We love local businesses! Are you an independently-run Connecticut brick and mortar?
Get a feature by clicking here.

Know a shop that deserves a feature?   Contact us at

Written by Alonda Baird-Juhasz, owner of Designer Dwellings, who believes in adding color to life. An avid DIYer, sparkle-loving, all things fabulous addict, her shop features bright and fun home decor accessories and gifts. When not in the shop you can find her interior decorating or visual styling events and photo shoots.