Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Shop Spotlight: tinymack

Meet Kaci White of tinymack and see her handmade creations for the wee ones. "I'm a transplant to New England. Born and raised in Texas, I have happily called New England home for the past decade. A lawyer by training, I’ve spent the last couple of years getting to know Connecticut and playing art director with my daughter. My shop, tinymack, is an extension of our creative playtimes. I've had an eye for kidswear ever since my daughter was born. I scoured secondhand stores for vintage finds and picked out bright Scandinavian babywear for her. But eventually I wanted to make the clothes my own. Armed with a hand-me-down sewing machine, I got swept up in the handmade clothing movement. And for good reason -- handmade clothes have a special comfort and feel to them that everyone should experience.

My first priority for all tinymack clothes is sourcing the softest, cuddliest fabric. Sometimes this means I carefully select high-quality secondhand garments to repurpose; often it means I’m using premium organic fabric made with the highest environmental and labor standards.

My materials also have to be colorful. I like to pair colors that aren’t necessarily what you’d expect in the baby aisle. Babies and their caregivers often have monotonous, tiring days (and nights), so the clothes getting worn and washed and snuggled in should be cheery and beautiful.

I also take the time to add extra functionality to tinymack clothing. My baby gowns have foldover mitts to keep newborns from scratching their faces. And my pants and tops often sport extra long cuffs that extend their life through growth spurts. Designing for details like these allows my handmade clothes to be used and loved as long as possible.

The more I learn about the clothing industry, the more I’m happy to help wrap precious babies and toddlers in clothing that was made gently, with good conditions and with the end product as a priority. Because handmade clothing is labor-intensive, it will never be the cheapest item in the marketplace. But handmade clothes are super high quality and incredibly special. I think of tinymack items as functional art pieces for little ones.

See more of Kaci's work in her Etsy shop, tinymack.
or connect with her on Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest and Twitter.


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

Monday, March 30, 2015

Product Photography: Tips for Vintage Sellers

As with any item listed online, pictures can either make or break a sale. The images you post need to evoke the feeling for the seller that the item is right in front of them, within reach. Something they feel they can reach out and touch, something that they can picture sitting in their own home, wearing on their wrist, or holding it in their hands. For vintage sellers, the task can sometimes be much harder. Every item we sell rouses a unique sense of the past, where the item originated, and the shape it is in today. When selling vintage, it is important to show the item in it's best light, but to also make sure the item is correctly portrayed - every nick, flaw or sign of age.

As a seller of vintage goods online on Etsy for over three years, I have struggled with these exact facts- what is the best way to show my item? How can I make prospective buyers see all the fabulous assets of my item, especially what I like to call, those items that are in vintage condition and show their age. I have come up with several tips on how to show your vintage item in the best way possible to online shoppers:

1. Background matters:
I struggled and struggled and struggled with backgrounds and never could make my photos look like they were "professional" so to speak. I envied the top selling shops and their amazing photography skills. Low and behold, with some constant admiring of my favorite shops and some online snooping, I found out how to utilize materials I had lying around my house to create my own little studio using a simple white poster board as a background. The key, I found, was the simpler the better. Avoid busy backgrounds that can draw away from your item- your item should be the main focus of the picture. While I personally prefer a white background, I am also drawn to wood backgrounds and simple textured backgrounds, like linen. Take a few shots to see what works best - try showing the item in front of a white poster board, lying on burlap, on your studio table, etc.

2. Show your item's flaws in the photograph:
Unless the vintage item is deadstock and still new in the package, it will surely have some flaws. Do not try to take a picture where the scratch is hard to see or the ding is on the other side. Many customers love the vintage items for their wear and tear appeal and seek out the rusty and dinged. I refer to these items in my own shop as having "vintage character" Make sure your photos include the good and the not so good-you never want to mislead a buyer. Show it up-close.

3. Close-Up:
Speaking of showing your items up-close, don't forget a close-up photo in your listings. A close-up allows your potential buyer to envision the item's texture.

4. Natural light is your friend:
When possible, I prefer shooting outdoors out of direct sunlight or indoors in an area with lot of natural light flowing in, but not flowing directly where you will be photographing.
Jigsaw Puzzle- Springbok Circular Puzzle - Garden Flowers - Vintage 1960s -  Maynard Reece - Floral Puzzle - Flowers - Gifts For Her
5. Take many, many, many photos:
When photographing, I sometimes take up to 20 photos of each item with many different angles. When I load them onto my computer, I narrow them down to the five that Etsy allows per listing. Seeing all the images one the one screen allows me to pick the five that best represent my item, getting many different angles.

6. Props props props!
Showing other items with the items being listed helps customers to envision the item displayed in their home next to their things. If the item is something that would look great on a bookshelf in the living room, add some books next to it. If you're selling a basket, fill it with something! Also gives the customer a better idea of the size of the items (because we are all guilty of thinking something will be much bigger or vice versa until we actually see it in person. *When using props, always remember to use a disclaimer stating exactly what the listing is for, "ie: books used in the listing images are for display purposes only and not included in the listing. If you don't add this disclaimer, customers may be wondering why their new item doesn't come with the lovely pine cone featured next to it.
*HINT: use items from your current inventory as props, too. This way you can say "Like the book collection I have featured in the photograph? View the listing here!"

If at first you don't succeed, try try again! Trial and error is the best way to see what personally works for your shop and your items, there is no "one-size fits all" way that your listings can be photographed. Enjoy the process!

Jessica Labowski of Start Talking Vintage: Jessica is a 23-year old recent college graduate who has developed a passion for all things vintage and the rich history they carry. She enjoys treasure hunting for historic beauties at estate sales, crafting, sewing and DIY projects (especially those that upcycle vintage items and give then new, modern appeal!) Stop by to take a look at her curated vintage treasures and handmade, vintage-inspired goods.

Friday, March 27, 2015

Nutmeg Collective Photo Challenge: April

Beacon Two-Twenty Five (flash attached on top) 
Spring has sprung! It's usually this time of year we maker-types are looking for a way to freshen up our studios and find new inspiration to boost our creativity. One way is to take time everyday to look for the inspiration around. To help you find some creativity inspiration, the Nutmeg Collective is starting a daily photo challenge. You don't need a fancy camera (though feel free to use one if you have it). You can use the camera on your phone to capture your photos based on the daily subjects noted below. Next, you post that photo on social media (Twitter or Instagram, or both!) using the hashtag #NutmegDailyPic. At the end of each month, we'll post a collection of some of our favorites and link back to your social media account.

Some of the daily themes are simple, others might have you thinking a bit! We'll be sprinkling in a few subjects that relate to the work place. We'd love to see your studio, office, creative nook...whatever area you use to find your creative mojo! Join us on this daily photo challenge, sharing your inspiration and hopefully getting inspired by others along the way.

If you have any questions, leave them in the comments and I'll do my best to answer them. If you're reading this and April has already begun, it's never too late to join the challenge. You can start on any day you like, and don't worry if you miss a day or two. Take on as much of the challenge as you can manage. This is supposed to be a fun and inspiring challenge, not a taxing one.

I'm looking forward to seeing all of your photos!

Patti Wunder of Easton Place Design Studio is the designer for this sweet studio. After her kids head to school, Patti creates logos, packaging, sell sheets, web elements and anything else her clients need for their businesses! Her sidekick, Aggie the Goldendoodle, is a great source of inspiration & reminds Patti to go outside a bit each day. Along with designing, Patti makes time for a pot of Irish Breakfast tea (one sugar & splash of cold milk), dark chocolate and music!

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Local Love: The Confetti Bar

We launched The Confetti Bar on June 1, 2013 (although, we technically started around Feb/Mar). Confetti is like the quintessential symbol for celebrations, right? It's colorful and whimsical and fun and magical - everything you generally want a party to be. So, why not make it something special? Well, that's what I thought when I decided to start The Confetti bar, and between my husband and I, worked hard and made it all happen.

We specialize in unique and custom confetti mixes in our signature style that includes rough cut paper, metallic bits and sequins. We can also cut any custom word, shape, logo, etc. for the ultimate customized mix.

Some of my biggest challenges have been just learning how to run a business - things like taxes and bookkeeping and what paperwork I need to file where - it's enough to make you crazy! But just be persistent, do your research, and don't be afraid to ask questions!

We are having an open house for our new studio on March 28, 2015, from 10:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m.

36 N. Main St (Suite 2, Second Floor) 
Wallingford, CT 06492

While we won't be holding "regular" shop hours, our studio will be a creative space (by appointment or scheduled event) and we will be offering some really awesome workshops, classes and special events!
Email: party@theconfettibar.com

Find the Confetti Bar on Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest and 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 thenutmegcollective@gmail.com.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

A Day In Stratford.

Welcome to the next installment in our series, A Day In... , where one of our Nutmeg Collective members takes us on a tour of their hometown and gives us the scoop on the must-see local spots.

Today we are spending the day in Stratford, Connecticut with Alonda Baird-Juhasz of Designer Dwellings. Alonda and her husband moved to Stratford three years ago after falling in love with Paradise Green - a small center filled with mom-and-pop shops, bakeries, and restaurants alongside a town green. Join her as she takes us through town, which is full of scenic parks and history.

After a walk through the park head onto Salerno's Apizza, Stratford's oldest pizzeria, baking pies since 1947. And if you are visiting in August, make sure to order the fresh plum tomato pie - only available for a few weeks. Made with fresh Connecticut-grown tomatoes,  the restaurant bakes up thousands of these pies for their short summer appearance.

Source: Alonda Baird Juhasz

A visit to Boothe Memorial Park & Museum is a scenic must. The 32-acre attraction has a clock tower museum, trolley station, chapel, rose gardens, miniature lighthouse and windmill, two playgrounds, carriage house and the original Sikorsky Bridge toll booth from the Merritt Parkway among several other fun sights.

Fun fact: The world has six Stratfords. There are two Stratfords in Canada, one in New Zealand, one in Australia, and most famous of all,  Stratford upon Avon, known as the birthplace of Shakespeare. So it only makes sense that Stratford, Connecticut, would have its own American Shakespeare Theater. Built in 1955, the theater has run run festivals that hosted several famous actors, such as James Earl Jones, Christopher Plummer, Christopher Walken, Meredith Baxter and Katharine Hepburn. While the theater closed it's doors in 1982, the grounds still hold an annual Shakespeare Festival.

Looking for something a bit beyond this world? Visit John Zaffi's Paranormal Museum. Zaffi is the nephew of famous ghost hunting duo Ed & Lorraine Warren. Zaffi also hosted his own show on the SyFy network called "Haunted Collector". His museum contains the items, such as masks and dolls, he has collected from his paranormal investigations over the years. 

We hope you enjoyed our stroll through Stratford.  For even more to do, please visit the town's website.

See our other A Day In posts here.

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.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Shop Spotlight: DiGiJewels

Take a look at the work of mother/daughter team, Diane DeVos and Glynnis Killen, and their shop, DiGiJewels.

"Di stand for Diane and Gi stands for Glynnis. Diane is mom to Glynnis (now 14 years old). Glynnis is a passionately creative person. She started making jewelry when she was 11 as a way to give her friends friendship bracelets. As I watched her create, she inspired me to make a few pieces of jewelry. I have learned that I love to make jewelry!

My sister-in-law opened a shop in Kent and asked Glynnis to make some stretchy beaded bracelets to sell in her shop. When the first bracelet sold, hobby turned into a business. A couple of craft shows later (Kent, CT sidewalk), we discovered Etsy!

Glynnis took a picture of all her bracelets and named her business, DiGiJewels. We have evolved from stretchy beaded bracelets to gold and silver jewelry. We have a wonderful working relationship now that we have settled into our creative process."

See more of Diane's and Glynnis's work in their Etsy shop, DiGiJewels.
or connect with them on FacebookInstagram, Pinterest, Wanelo and Twitter.


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

Monday, March 23, 2015

One Thing: Add a Photo.

What is one thing can you do today that's quick and easy to accomplish that can help run your business in a better way?  One very simple suggestion is to add a photo to your social media postings.

People are visual- they like to see what it is you're talking about, or want an image to guide their mind along with your words- and they're more likely to click if you include an image:

Infographic via Socially Sorted

Instagram and Pinterest are built-in visual platforms, but for Facebook and Twitter, it does help if you add an image to you post.  If you are on your smartphone, emailing yourself an image from your blog or other source makes for easy posting, as does taking a screenshot with your phone.  (Just make sure to credit any borrowed images.)  This will help you make the most of your posts!

What's one quick thing you can do to help your business?
See more here!

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, March 19, 2015

Maple Syrup Season in Connecticut.

Maple syrup season is here in Connecticut!  The state ranks tenth in maple syrup production.  The season, where trees are tapped, and sap is collected and then boiled down by sugarmakers, runs from early February to late March, when the nights are still cold but the days are sunny and warmer.  Making syrup is an intensive process requiring strict standards of heating and filtering to maintain purity.  Find out more about maple syrup production, or how to learn how to make your own on the Maple Syrup Producers Association of Connecticut website.


This coming weekend is the Hebron Maple Festival, celebrating it's 25th anniversary!  Learn how maple syrup is made, take a tour, see some demonstrations, and stock up on a variety of maple-related products, all produced here in the state.  There will be activities for the kids, treats to taste, crafts, and other fun activities.  The Hope Valley, Wenzel, Woody Acres, and Winding Brook Sugar Houses will all be participating.

Connecticut has sugar houses in all of its counties.  For more information, and to find a sugar house near you, click here, or check out the Maple Syrup section on the CT Department of Agriculture website

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.

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Homemade Peppermint Patties.

The sun is getting brighter, the weathermen are promising that the temperatures outside will get warmer, and I’m about ready to come out of hibernation. I’m ready for some color, and maybe a little something sweet. These homemade peppermint patties are a simple recipe that I've made with my children in the springtime for the past few years. They love to help, but also love a good snack!

Homemade Peppermint Patties

4 cups confectioners sugar
3 Tablespoons butter
1/4 teaspoon peppermint oil
3/4 teaspoon vanilla
4 Tablespoons evaporated milk

In the bowl of a stand mixer or other mixing bowl, combine 2 cups of confectioners sugar and the rest of the ingredients. Add remaining sugar 1/2 cup at a time until completely incorporated.

Roll mixture out into 1/2 – 3/4" balls, then slightly flatten into discs with the palm of your hand. Place on cookie sheet.

Note: they’re very rich and you might like to make them just slightly smaller than you think you would – Think somewhere between Junior Mints and York Peppermint patty sized.

Freeze for 20 minutes.

While discs are freezing, melt colored candy wafers or chocolate candy bark of your choice until smooth. We've tried the dark chocolate candy wafers and they are amazing with the cool minty inside! Dip discs one at a time into candy coating, shake off excess then place on wax or parchment paper to dry. It takes a lot of practice to make them look pretty (I have not mastered that skill!) – once they’re dry, use a little more of the melted candy to drizzle a design on top. I usually use a fork, but this time I dragged the back of a spoon dipped in the candy and smeared it on top – that way the messiness looks like it was on purpose!

Makes about three dozen, depending on size. They’re great as an addition to a holiday dessert table, or bagged up as treats for teachers or friends! Store in an airtight container.

C’mon, spring!

Vanessa Felie, aka "Queenvanna" juggles a husband and two blond pixies while running her burgeoning paper arts and crafts business,  QueenvannaCreations. Her job and family inspire her to create crafty projects for holidays, vacations, as well as times when there's just not much going on. Perpetual calendars and other home items, scrapbooking album kits and personalized gifts of all kinds - She looks to add a little flair to everything she makes, to put some extra fun in to daily life, as well as special occassions.
Website | Instagram | Twitter | Facebook | queenvanna@cox.net

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Shop Spotlight: Start Talking Vintage

Meet Jessica Labowski of Start Talking Vintage, a preschool teacher with a love of history. "I am a recent college graduate with a creative outlook on life. I went to school for early childhood education and am a brand-new full-time head preschool teacher with a classroom of my own. I spend my entire day getting to be creative with the kiddos to come home and continue my creativity with Start Talking Vintage.

My shop is a mixture of vintage and antique curated goods and handmade goods inspired by vintage beauties.

I have always had a love for history. I could often be found on the couch with dad watching the History Channel and Antiques Roadshow. Since I was a child, I have been a lover of flea markets, tag sales and thrift stores. I remember strolling in the hot summer sun at the Cape Cod flea markets as a youngster searching high and low for treasures. As I entered college, the passion only grew stronger. Being on a college kid's budget, I found myself frequenting thrift stores more often, where I really started to uncover the potential for 'other people's junk.'

Start Talking Vintage began on Etsy the summer before my sophomore year of college. I worked out of my dorm room and drove home on the weekends to pack and ship items. (Luckily, college was only a 20 minute drive from home!) It has grown slowly since then, and is now in its 4th year! I love hitting up thrift stores, estate sales and flea markets on the weekends to uncover the forgotten treasures and make them available to my customers. I love the idea of relocating the items to a brand new home where they will be loved and cherished."

 See more of Jessica's work in her Etsy shop, Start Talking Vintage.
or connect with her on Instagram and Twitter.


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

Monday, March 16, 2015

One Thing: Use Social Media Tags.

What is one thing can you do today that's quick and easy to accomplish that can help run your business in a better way?  We already suggested some ways to tweet smart to connect with your followers, so now it's time to reach out to others in your community that you wish to interact with.  The easiest way to do this is through social media tags.

There are two main types of tags:  a hashtag and an "at" tag.  

A hastag, initiated with a number sign (#) is an unspaced phrase used to identify a group of similar comments.  Hashtags are searchable, so if you click on one, you can see who else is tagging the same thing.  Many groups and businesses online use branded hashtags to connect with followers and reach out to their community.

At "at" tag, using the @ symbol and the person's or business's username will usually trigger a notification to a person's account that someone is tagging them and commenting about them.  It's a great way to give a quick shout-out to someone whose product you like, whose blog post is a good read, or whose an awesome member of the community.  Many times, you'll get a comment back, and if you do, you can start a dialogue.

By using tags, you are putting yourself out there to connect with others, plus it makes your social media posts searchable.  Others may find you through a common hashtag or a trending topic.  A few words to the wise: just make sure not to overdo it.  Too many or excessively long hashtags can be an annoyance to followers, as can persistent spammy tagging.  Make sure you are genuinely tagging someone to give kudos, and keep the amount of hashtags to the most important ones for the best results.

What's one quick thing you can do to help your business?
See more here!

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.