Archives for category: The starting of the start up

The other important part of creating a listing, in addition to photographs, is the copy. On Etsy, you need to have a title for your item, an item description, and tags for each listing so it can be found in a search. Also you have to write all the shop info and policies, a seller profile, and a shop announcement.  We decided we’d try to be a little creative in our titles and descriptions and use quotes or familiar sayings as well as cute ways the crayons could be used.

Leslie is a little intimidated by writing, as so many people are, so she researches the quotes and ideas, then writes her notes as drafts, and I tweak them into complete sentences and paragraphs.  It works – she’s the idea person and I execute. We finally got it down to a science so we’d only need to change a couple things from listing to listing. Here’s an example:

The hardest part was the seller profile.  The theory is to be personal so the buyer feels a connection, like they know you, and will want to buy from your shop that much more. So we combined parts of Leslie and I and created a fictional spokesperson for the company and named her LeeLee.  She’s a little more lovey and quirky than either of us though. We try to remember to write everything in the first person and sign everything from LeeLee, but as I said, a copywriter I am not …

Our name is in print!

Our crayons got reviewed on the Mommy Testers website:

And we got mentioned by name in this write up:

Come see us next Saturday, August 25th!

We’re going to be at the Salem Jazz and Soul Festival this Saturday, August 18th at the Salem Willows from 11:30 to 6:30.  Come visit there too!

We had the name and the logo, now how to use them.

We needed some interesting packaging to really showcase these nifty crayons. Leslie had found some fun round shaped cellophane bags at the local craft store, but we wanted them to look finished and professional.  So I designed some tags to attach to the tops of the bags.  Because the bag’s shape was fairly unique, the tag shape needed to be too.  I wanted it to follow the angled shape of the top of the bag.  In the beginning, all we had on these tags was a logo and web address on both sides.  But even that was a little beyond my abilities in InDesign (our page layout program), so I had to enlist my husband’s help.  And they came out great!  Clean, simple and just a little different.

Check them out:

(Again, sorry for these posts being out of order.  Thats what I get for writing way in advance!)

The second craft fair we were in, we did better; about $100 profit for the day.  But when you take into account the amount of time it takes to get to the location, set up, sell all day, break down, and get back home times 2 people, we ended up making about $6 an hour.  We could make more than that working at McDonalds (not that there’s anything wrong with that).

So we decided it was time to focus our efforts on selling on-line.  Our long term plan was to set up our own e-store, but in the mean time, while we were working on that very large project, we would sell on Etsy.  If you haven’t heard of Etsy, you have to check it out:  It’s a site dedicated to helping independent artists and craftmakers sell their wares and it has some of the coolest handmade and vintage goods and supplies.  They make it all so easy. Or so it seemed.

In order to publish a listing, you need to take photographs of your product. Many of them.  And here I was with nothing but a Canon point and shoot. But Etsy had videos and tutorials and blogs to help us amateur types figure out how to take a pic that would pass. Best thing, they say, is natural light.  So I took our little lego peeps crayons outside, lay down a sheet of white paper, and tried to snap off a few. But every time I went to push that button, the wind would blow the littly guys over!  Done with outside.

Next project was to build a photo booth.  Not too tough.  Find a big cardboard box, cut big holes in 3 sides, line them with white tissue paper, put strong lights on either side of the box, set up a tripod with the camera and click away.  But they all came out green.  Thats when I learned there is something called white balance on my camera – that saved the day (although I have to admit, each photo session still produces a slightly different shade of white!).  I figured out how to use the manual settings for the shutter speed and I do a bracket every time so I can pick out the best lit pic once I see them on the computer screen.  Always need to have options!

What I haven’t figured out is the aperture setting to get a little depth of field in my photos.  Perfect focus would help too! I need to get my father down from Maine to give me some photography lessons because I’ve hit my plateau which is certainly not professional looking.

I have to say that believing is half the battle! Its taken me a really long time to learn to believe in myself. Not that I think I can do everything, but the things I do want to do, I’m pretty sure I can! What a change.  It took a backpacking trip around Europe at the late-blooming age of 29 for this change to happen. The first week out on the road I was afraid to even inquire how much a night’s stay in a hostel would cost. At the end of the trip, I was all alone in the Czech Republic sleeping with about 50 strangers in a huge gymnasium. I survived it all and it taught me that I can do whatever I set out to do.

And I’ve taken that belief with me into the business world. From working my way up in the advertising, to starting this LeeLee thing.  You can’t succeed unless you try. And try and try and try again, if thats what it takes. But first you have to believe you can.

This post is dedicated to our families – we couldn’t do it without you!

When you have a business run from your home, everyone gets involved.  And thank goodness they do!  In our business, the kids help sort and peel the crayons, test the new shapes, and are great for free market research.  My husband, who runs the computer artist department at an ad agency, helps in so many ways, from answering all my rapid fire questions about how to do this or that in each program, and completely re-designing my rough attempts at new ads, and helping me solve issues with our emailed newsletters, to building a display for our new pennant banners.  Leslie’s husband recently spent an entire day peeling crayons for us.  And he had a friend in his engineering department at work develop a tool to make the peeling easier (in his free time of course!).  My mother, the smartest person I know, is our proof reader (although not of this blog unfortunately). My brother, who has a very successful blog (, helps with blogging and technical advice. And my father is my photography mentor.

I just wanted them all to know how much I appreciate all the help they’ve given us to get this business up and running.  As well as putting up with the house not always being spic and span (ok, never), having to share my attention with an email or blog I might be writing, and getting woken up in the wee hours when I finally come to bed.  I love you guys!

Maybe I’m just ADD, maybe I’m just over committed, maybe I’m overly interested, maybe just like with everyone else, there’s not enough time in the day.  But I seem to be having hard time keeping up with life.  I have failed at my goal of posting twice a week. I’m lucky if I post once a week these days.  In fact, I’ve not done much LeeLee related in a couple weeks.  Ok, I’ve shipped out orders and answered emails. But thats about it.  I’m supposed to be tweaking the packaging of the DIY banner, experimenting with silkscreening t-shirts, and developing new packaging that doesn’t involve our current round bags.

But I have gotten most of our basement painted. And I have gone to my kids’ flag football games. And I have organized and run a can and bottle drive for the school’s Green Team.  And I have had a meeting about the Holiday Craft Market craft show that Leslie and I run every year.

I have to keep myself in check so that I don’t take on too much.  Even though I already have.  Just yesterday, they were looking for a volunteer to be the Vice President for the PTO. You organize the fundraising events – right up my alley!  Then I got a group email looking for a volunteer to be on the board of the Centerville Improvement Society which I think would be a lot of fun.  But no.  I have to remember I just don’t have the time. I mean, I don’t even have the time to keep my house clean!

Then again, its all about priorities.  I feel its important to be involved in my kids lives, and sneak work work and house work in when I can.  I feel its important to be creatively and mentally challenged to remain happy in life.  I feel its important to do my part and help out the community.  So if my basement takes another month to finish, and the non-recyclable styrofoam trays stay in the garage a little longer, and the morning LeeLee meetings happen once a week instead of daily, while I take my boys to baseball practice in between making a sign for a food drive, and a birthday cake for my father, then so be it.  I guess.

I have to realize I can’t do it all perfectly or well enough to make everyone happy.  But I do the best I can!

Didn’t post too much last week because we were crazy busy again getting our new products ready for a show we did last Saturday night. Loved the the show – “Girls Night Out” – grab some girlfriends and a glass of wine and shop to your hearts content (!

Our old faithful crayons did great! Especially the poop crayon, just in time for April Fools the next day.

However, our new products were not quite as successful.  So we sat down to figure out why.  Part of the issue was that we had to explain that the crayons were crayons, causing people to pay the most attention to them.  We forgot to bring our sign that says “We’re crayons – collect us all.” An easy fix for our next show.

The harder thing to fix is the issue of packaging and display.  We’ve decided to put our DIY banner kit on the back burner until we can do a total re-design.  The felt banner packaging is acceptable but we need to display them more creatively. We learned that no one pays any attention to what is hanging on the front of your table – where we had the samples hanging at this show. So a table top sign and display are needed  for that.  And possibly some kind of stands to go behind the table that we can string the banners between.

The paper rolls had a good reaction, we just need to suggestive sell them more.

We also had mini-cupcakes for people to munch on with their wine, figuring while they were eating, they would check out our products. Unfortunately, they were too much of a distraction because we had to explain that they were edible and not crayons themselves!  They also made the table that much more crowded.  Live and learn.

So it’s off to the drawing board to prepare for Friday!

We had decided to sell our shaped crayons at craft shows and on-line.  We were familiar with the craft show circuit from creating the Holiday Craft Market fundraiser ( at our kids’ elementary school.  And there were a few shows in our area with good reputations, so we signed up for two of them. The first one was on August 27th.   This gave us a deadline to have everything finalized and stocked up.

The show was fairly expensive to participate in (at least for us), but it did give a large space; $95 for a 12’x12′ space.  We didn’t have enough product of our own to fill that space so we asked friends who make handsewn headbands ( and to join in and I decided I’d sell my upcycled accessories ( too.

We called ourselves Centerville Crafters Co-op so that we could apply together.  But part of the application process was submitting a photo of our display.  And of course we hadn’t sold together before.  So we faked it.  We went to Stacy (of Mel and Stacy)’s sister’s backyard where she had a tent set up, dragging all 9 of our kids with us.  We set up our display, hung our sign, and snapped a bunch of photos.  Thank goodness one, yes just one, came out ok!  So off it went with the application – and we got in!

What came next we couldn’t have dreamed up – a hurricaine in the forcast.  And this was an outdoor show.  We watched the weather reports like hawks as did the show’s planners.  And they decided the show must go on.  The latest was it would blow in late afternoon on Saturday and get worse overnight into Sunday.  So we went and set up our tent (which we had no idea how to do – thank goodness for the friendly, helpful, more experienced neighbors we had on either side who showed us how).  And up went our display (thank goodness for our practice photo shoot. We had already had to work out how to display our wares – in brightly colored plastic bins on wooden racks.  You know the kind they make to store kids toys in that you can get at Target?  Yup, those).

But what didn’t go up was our sales.  Because of the impending doom of the hurricaine, about half the vendors didn’t show up and more than half of the typical amount of customers were no shows. And then, right on cue, as the show ended at 3pm and crafters were packing up their goods, the skies opened up.  It was like the world was ending – people were running everywhere trying to get their stuff in their cars.  Cars were pulling up on the grass.  I lost Leslie in the mayhem but at least our stuff was packed up.  My car was blocked in its parking space, so I sat and waited unable to see out my windows due to the torrents of water flowing down them.  But when I finally turned my back wiper on, I saw Leslie out there helping another vendor with a tent she couldn’t get closed.  She is a better woman than I!

So how did we do at our first show?  After taking out the cost of the space, we made a total of $7 for the day!!!!!!

Now that we had a name, we had to develop a logo to be able to use it.

How exciting – I got to play on the computer (with my very limited knowledge of how to do that!). My original thought was to find a font that looked like the letters were drawn with a crayon.  My husband works at an ad agency so his computer has hundreds and hundreds of fonts on it.  There are alphabets made out of Legos and alphabets made out of clouds, but not one that looked colored with a crayon. So I went thru and chose a bunch of funky and unique fonts, set “LeeLee Street” in them, and then narrowed that huge list down to just a few. Turned out that both Leslie and I liked the same one best.

Then came color.  I put the type in a million different color combos.  Originally we were thinking of using 3 colors.  But my print production experience snapped into gear and said a 3-color logo would be too expensive to produce, better make it just 2 colors.  So I did.  However, which 2 colors was harder to agree on – we didn’t both like the same one best at first. After lots of go rounds we finally decided on orange and blue.

But exactly what orange and blue? I examined every orange and blue PMS chip in the book, played with them next to each other, looked at swatches of them on my computer screen, Leslie’s computer screen, printed out on my color printer, Leslie’s color printer and my husbands work color printer (all of which looked slightly different!).  The final choice: PMS 640c blue and PMS 1585c orange.

Then I diddled around with layout.  The font had drop caps, so I ended up tucking Street underneath LeeLee in the space between the 2 L’s and it formed a cube.  It looked so much better than the name all on one line and wouldn’t need any kind of art or icon to go with it.

Final step: set LeeLee in orange and Street in blue, and LeeLee in blue and Street in orange.  Yipee!  We both agreed!

So after many days of trial and error, experimentation, option testing, and just plain fun, we had our logo.LeeLee Street Logo