Thursday, May 28, 2015

The Whimsical Art of Flora Waycott

A couple of years ago I took an online class with Lilla Rogers that introduced me to a vast number of successful illustrators. One of them was Flora Waycott. Her art is whimsical and delightful!

whimsical art illustration - Flora Waycott

today will be full of great things - Flora Waycott


For me, Flora’s style validates the idea that you don’t have to be to have a “fine artist” to be successful, which is something I held onto for years and used that thought to disqualify myself from ever being successful myself. She turns her carefree drawings and hand lettering into designs that make me smile!!

bird illustration - Floral Waycott

how does your garden grow illustration - Flora Waycott

pattern fun - Flora Waycott

Monday, May 25, 2015

Enjoy the Simple Things

I've stepped away from our normal routine to celebrate this extra long weekend with some friends. Summer is usually a time to relax for many people but it's a time to ramp up for some extra busy days in my studio. So for now, I'm enjoying some simple things like taking long walks and playing board games. I hope your weekend has been wonderful!!

enjoy the simple things, watercolor dots by Mama Bleu

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Illustrated Faith Workshop

Several months ago I showed my illustrated faith bible to a few of my friends and they wanted to try it themselves. We set a date to meet a few weeks later and have been gathering for a workshop time every 2 - 3 weeks since then.

Some are highlighting or illustrating verses in their bible and others are using a journal. I spent the first week working alone in my journeling bible but decided to collaborate with my friends the following 2 workshops.

Illustrated faith workshop

Illustrated faith workshop

These ladies are special friends of mine and we've been regularly gathering together for several years. So when I asked them to consider illustrating a verse with me they were all in!


Illustrated faith workshop

To start I ask them if there is a scripture verse or a topic from the bible that they've been thinking about. We look up the verse together, read it and talk about the pictures that come to mind. Those images are collaboratively translated onto the pages of my bible with watercolor and ink.

Illustrated faith, journaling bible

Illustrated faith workshop

Illustrated faith, journaling bible

Illustrated faith, journaling bible

Illustrated faith, journaling bible

Illustrated faith, journaling bible

Illustrated faith, journaling bible

Illustrated faith workshop

Illustrated faith, journaling bible

Illustrated faith, journaling bible

Illustrated faith, journaling bible

Illustrated faith, journaling bible

I love how each page turns out and I'm so grateful for this growing collection of illustrated verses!




Monday, May 18, 2015

Some of My Favorite Things

The internet can be an overwhelming place sometimes and getting sucked into a rabbit hole of inspirational sites can literally take up half my morning if I let it. I love discovering new places of great information, pretty products and beautiful pictures. There are a few sites that are my go-to places and I thought I'd share them with you today in hopes that you will be inspired!

ARTIST + HANDMADE GOODNESS

Oana Befort - Illustrator and painter. I just purchased one of her illustrated memory game sets

illustrated memory game set by Oana Befort

illustrated memory game set by Oana Befort


Susan Farrington - Whimsical words and illustrations

Be Kind illustrated word art by Susan Farrington


GreenBugMarketplace - Heather makes the most beautiful eco-friendly tote bags and fabric ribbon. Everything in her Etsy shop is made from re-purposed linens and paper goods.

vintage linen tote bag with red poppy pattern


TOOLS + SERVICES

PicMonkey - A quick photo editing service that is easy to use

DaFont - Where I find beautiful fonts for free

Creative Market - Artistic fonts at a reasonable price. Specially prices bundles and free downloads.


BLOGS + WEBSITES

CodeItPretty - Where I've learned lots of tips on coding my site

Elle & Co - Lauren has taught me so much about blogging

Little Farm Media - Etsy and business

  
PINTEREST INSPIRATION

A Simple Lifestyle

It's Only Natural

Summer + Salt Air

What are some of your favorite websites and/or sources of inspiration?

 

 


Thursday, May 14, 2015

How to find Wholesale Supplies for Your Small Business

It can be a daunting task to find resources for your business. Whether you are first starting out or just refining your list of suppliers, it definitely takes time and effort. 

How to find wholesale supplies for your small business | Mama Bleu


I’ve tried reaching out to other creative entrepreneurs to ask their advice in finding reputable companies and reliable resources but often get a negative response or no response at all. I can completely understand their reason for holding onto information that took them weeks or months to obtain.

I wish I could tell you that I’ve learned the secret to finding great business resources that you can go through step-by-step, but I haven’t. What I have to share today are some sources I use and ideas for obtaining your own list of suppliers that fit the needs of your small business.

LOOK AT LABELS
Back when my mom was making dozens of dolls for her business she repeatedly bought muslin from our local fabric shop. I looked at the end of the cardboard core and took note of the company name. It was definitely outside my comfort zone to call the company and ask for a wholesale account but it was the first step to a repeated practice in my business.

WORKING WITH WHOLESALERS 

Before approaching any wholesale supplier there are some things you will need to be prepared to provide them. The first thing they will ask you for is proof that you are a retail business.

As a business in the US, you need to file your business name and obtain a reseller’s permit. You can find out more on business set up at the US Small Business Association. A wholesaler will most likely ask for a copy of your reseller permit. I’ve scanned mine into my computer so I can easily send it off in an email or make copies to give them in person or through the mail.

Many times a wholesaler will have a minimum order requirement. The first order is usually larger than the following orders. These requirements often restrict me from dealing with some suppliers but not all ordering levels are beyond my budget.

SHOPPING DISTRICTS FOR WHOLESALE BUSINESSES 

I live fairly close to Los Angeles so I am fortunate enough to visit the fashion and floral district in person. The general public is welcome into these stores but discounted prices are offered only to resellers. Sometimes the items are marked with a code for wholesale pricing, Some establishments offer a percentage discount to resellers. Most of the places I shop don’t even have prices posted. 

How to find wholesale supplies for your small business | Mama Bleu

How to talk with wholesalers for your small business | Mama Bleu

Michael Levine’s - There are two locations in downtown Los Angeles. One side of the street sells home decor fabrics and the other side carries a full line of fashion and craft fabrics.



At the cutting tables they like to know if you are resale or not. They write up your purchase ticket accordingly. At the front of the store there are two separate purchasing desks. During your first purchase there they will ask for all of your business information which is usually found on your resellers permit. I always carry 4-5 copies of mine in case they also want one for their files. Upon repeat visits you only need to tell them your business name. They should have all of your info in their database.

Trims, Buttons and Zippers - There are dozens and dozens of trim, button and zipper shops to visit and it's a good idea to establish a relationship with the shop owner. They often offer a deeper discount for larger purchases and then cap it at a certain price point. Taken note of product specifications so you can call before coming in. If they take will call orders over the phone you may be able to have your order waiting for you when you walk in the door. 

How to find wholesale supplies for your small business | Mama Bleu

DON'T BE AFRAID TO ASK QUESTIONS
When you are just starting out as a purchaser in the wholesale market don’t be afraid to ask questions. Each and every supplier has a different requirement. Don’t make assumptions!

I often ask questions of retail stores that I frequently do business with. Ask them if they offer discounts on large purchases. Ask if they honor a reseller permit in any way. I have registered my permit with a large chain fabric store and they don’t charge me tax on my purchases. Always ask questions. You may be very surprised at what they will offer you!!

COUPON CODES 

It's not always possible to find a wholesale resource for what I need so I collect coupon codes in multiple ways. I go online and print off coupon offers. I am on mailing lists for major craft and fabric stores so they send me coupons in the mail. I’ve registered for text messages with coupon codes.

The next time you shop at a retail craft, art or fabric supplies, ask them if they have a text code for coupon offers.

PHONE APPS
I have several Apps on my phone that offer coupon codes that can be scanned at the checkout register right from your phone.

SnipSnap - Allows you to snap photos of your coupons so you don’t need to carry them with you. This is a new app to me so I don’t have any experience with it yet. One review for this app reads “Amazing app! It breaks down the coupons in categories, so no more shuffling through our purses or wallets. The location feature is an awesome addition which alerts you when you enter a store of a coupon could be relevant! You save time and money... What could be better?!”

RetailMeNot - I’m often finding an extra coupon offer on this app. If you activate the locator a message will pop up when a coupon is available where you are shopping.

Other Apps you can look into are Michael's Crafts, Hobby Lobby and Joann Fabrics

ONLINE SHOPS 
There are websites I visit for smaller purchases. If I know the exact color, style and manufacturer of what I need, shopping online can save me money and lots of time. I’ve signed up for email alerts about sales and often act on them. My time is valuable so this is a viable option for me on many occasions.

How to find wholesale supplies for your small business | Mama Bleu


I often place orders online. You may want to consider ordering from Joann Fabrics when they have great coupons and offer free shipping. Another great resource for fabrics is Fabric.com. I usually don't like to order anything if I haven't seen or felt the fabric. I like to know the quality of fabric before I make a purchase. They do sell fabric swatches if that will help you.

ETSY CRAFT SUPPLY SELLERS 
I love supporting fellow Etsy shop owners. My best resource for small purchases and out of print fabrics is Etsy!

Did you learn something new from this list? What advice would you offer to someone looking for business resources and suppliers? If there is a resource that you’ve found helpful in saving you money or time I’d love to hear about it!

Monday, May 11, 2015

The Inspirational Colors of Strawberry Season

When some out-of-town guests arrived at our house a couple of weeks ago they came to the door with three baskets of ripe, luscious strawberries! They had purchased them from a family owned farm stand in Ventura County.

It’s strawberry season in a lot of ways. I’m not only enjoying the ripe juiciness of the fresh fruit but also the beautiful images of Summer Fruit I’m finding on Pinterest these days. 

Here are some sweet juicy colors for you!! Enjoy!

Strawberry season inspiration | Mama Bleu

Thursday, May 7, 2015

The Heart of Mama Bleu

I had no idea that the name I chose for my business 5 years ago would actually become more than a business about selling my personalized gifts. I am a “Mama” through and through, in how I love and care for my family and how my heart yearns to encourage others.

This is particularly true in my business and that’s why I often write about the things I’ve learned that you can use to improve the success of your Etsy shop and/or your small business.

I HAVE THE HEART OF A MAMA 

My blog has become an extension of what I do almost every day of my life. I see potential in people even if they don’t see it themselves and my “Mama” heart wants to wrap them up in a hug and encourage them until they can see it too!

Sometimes we need someone to lift us up so we can see things from a different perspective. That, my friends, is what I love to do for others!

stitched illustrations with good words of encouragement and inspiration by Mama Bleu Designs


I HAVE THE HEART OF A MENTOR 

After my first year of business on Etsy, people started coming to me for advice about starting their own small business. I hadn’t realized how much my years of being self-employed as a small business owner had prepared me for being a mentor to others. My trainings (formal or not) through taking online courses, reading books, listening to podcasts, talking to my peers, etc, have helped me stay current with changes as an owner of an online business.

With all that said, I am a Mentor and I alway welcome questions you might have about your Etsy business and will do my best to address them here or through a private email conversation.

I HAVE THE HEART OF A MAKER 

All of this started because I am, and always will be, a Maker. In fact, I was "making" a few changes to my blog this week.

I once heard that your website is never finished. It is always evolving and changing as your business grows and your needs change. After I added the by-line to my banner I also thought it would be appropriate to make some adjustments to Mama Bleu to fully tell the story.

Besides a few color changes you’ll also notice a banner for the Creative Market. I purchased the font for my logo from Creative Market and love all the digital products they offer. Just like Etsy is a place for makers, this website is a platform for designers to sell their products. They interact with their customers in open forums and offer advice and answer questions. Nothing beats great customer service like that!!

I HAVE A HEART FOR HELPING YOU

I’ll love to hear what you think of the changes I’ve made and most of all, any questions you’d like me to address in future blog posts!!

Monday, May 4, 2015

The Art of Healthy Eating

They say you eat with your eyes first so when I put together a lunch salad last week, snapped a picture and posted it on Instagram, everyone commented on how pretty it was. Could that be the art of healthy eating? Maybe….but for me it’s more than food styling. It’s becoming a necessary way of life. 

Quinoa Pilaf and Avocado on Fresh Greens, Gluten Free Eating

I mentioned early this year that the words “The Art of Change” was probably a phrase that would be carried out through my year. It started unexpectedly with pulling my inventory from a local gift shop in February and other things have been subtly changing for me since.

One of the biggest changes for me has been the choice to make some serious changes in my diet. I was finding that small changes were not giving me any benefit so about a week ago I dove in with both feet and carved away sugar, gluten and dairy! 

Eating healthy for me has to be more than a 3 week diet. It needs to become a part of my life from this day forward. So making my food look pretty so I can feast my eyes on the colors and textures before it gets eaten is part of the plan. I've even started to use some of the dishes I reserve for special occasion meals!!

So back to my pretty lunch salad on Instagram. I promised my followers that I’d post my Quinoa Pilaf recipe here.

FRESH GREENS with QUINOA PILAF

Red, Yellow or Orange Bell Pepper
Two Small or One Large Zucchini
½ Yellow or Sweet Onion
Crimini Mushrooms
1 cup Quinoa
2 cups of Chicken or Vegetable Broth
Mixed Organic Greens
Sliced Avocado

Chop veggies into 1” pieces and slice mushrooms. Saute’ in olive oil. Add quinoa and broth to pan. Bring to a boil, then turn down to a simmer until all liquid is absorbed. About 15-20 minutes.

I served it warm as a side dish with our dinner and served it cold from the refrigerator atop a bowl of fresh organic mixed greens and sliced avocado for my lunch the next day. I eat my salads without dressing. If you prefer to use dressing on your salad I would suggest a light vinaigrette with a mild flavor. 

Be sure to serve it in one of your favorite salad bowls and enjoy every artful bite!!