Thursday, March 29, 2012

Update on Sad to say, but its goodbye to Folksy

Well I had a surprise,  James from Folksy ( yes THE James, CEO)  commented on my blog  Sad to say, but its goodbye to Folksy  I was a bit taken a back but was quite pleased he had made the effort.  I replied and he then commented on what I had said.  I thought it was interesting as I am so rarely on the forums these day that it was nice to get an update and to see that they have actually been thinking about the problems and solutions to them.  

I wanted to share it with you as I think some points are interesting.  I realise that those of you on the forums will already be very aware of these things already.

So for your interest here is the comment James made on my blog followed by my reply and all the comments in purple are James's replies.

Think what you will,  but I was happy he made the effort and although I will not be jumping back into Folksy at this time.  I will definitely be watching and seeing what happens.

Hi Janice,

Thank you for posting your thoughts. I totally understand your frustration with the re-design. It would be really good to understand more about what you mean by "the good old days" of Folksy. A number of people have made the same reference. What do you mean?

It seems with some of our selling customers we've made some mistakes and we'd like to put that right. We have the weekly Q&A on the forums which is helping us to get your feedback more directly, but perhaps we could have a session for disaffected Folksy sellers to understand why we're not working well enough for you and your ideas on how we could improve? I'm up for having a live web-chat or some such thing. Or perhaps a specific Q&A?

We still believe we do some things really well but these don't seem to be noticed (in which case maybe we should put our resources elsewhere?). And it's fair to say we can't compete with the likes of Etsy as they have a huge amount of venture capital funding. We have to try and be different by design, think differently, and not ape them. We believe we have good ideas for how to do that but we'd welcome yours too.


James @ Folksy
Thanks James for taking the time to comment on my blog 

I am happy to put in my tuppence worth about how you can improve as I
think folksy was a brilliant platform  and I would hate to see if
suffer because of what I see as a few issues that if resolved, could
bring it back to a great place to sell handmade work.
Hi Janice,

Thank you for your feedback on Folksy, it's appreciated. I've replied
in-line to some of your comments (so it's easier to read).

Best wishes,

James @ Folksy


I personally was happy that mass produced items were cut down on as I
always felt its strengths lay in the individuality and uniqueness of
items offered. And I am pleased to see more interaction with sellers
and better communication, that would have perhaps cut down on the
confusion and bad feeling. However it doesn't seem to extend to those
of us who can't spend all day on the forums finding out information, I
have no idea what is going on any more  so  I feel a sellers e-mail
with updates would be useful.

Good point. We're launching a new "community" area next week and this will bring together lots of the information you need to know as a Seller and also focus on announcements. We do have the monthly Seller email too and we'll be making this more informative (and making sure, at least from next month, all sellers get it as some did unsubscribe from the other email which bumped them off this one).

Information is key and  I agree that I can get more information from
google analytics with regards to shop views.  but the views on folksy
especially on individual items were not only useful but an instant
link to the folksy site.  Its ease of use to see if people were
looking at my newest listed items,  made me visit the site.   Once
there I would browse the site, buy and interact on the forums.  When
that was removed then I had no need to actually visit the site, so my
buying also stopped as I wasn't on the site browsing.  So reinstating
some kind of stats information would not only be helpful in knowing
what was being viewed but would keep people connected.

We're going to be bringing back basic analytic information in the summer so you can see who has seen your work.
We've also - yesterday! - brought back "recently listed" items as a view on the site, accessible from the home page

But I think the main problem I have had is with the technical know
how.  When I started selling on folksy I didn't need to know anything.
I could just sign in, add items and I wouldn't need to know anything
else. I learnt how to promote through the help on the forums which
helped me get sales,  but I still didn't need to know anything
technical.  It was quite simply, simple to use. I didn't know how it
all worked but it just did.
Since the changes I now feel I have to understand, google analytics
and believe me after being on it for over a year, I still haven't got
a clue!! I have to understand how to tag items in order for them to
show up on google and other search engines,  I have to understand
paypal,  I used to just get an email and it told me everything I
needed to know, now apparently  I have to search for the information.
The illusion now is that if I knew everything I now need to know to use
folksy, I could actually set up my own online shop .
I know its a terrible stereotype but us Arty farty crafty folk, can't
create and do technical stuff at the same time,   I  just want to be
creative and all this time trying to find out how things work takes
time away from that.

Good point. It should be easy and we want to make it simple to use. Some things we're doing:
1. The Seller Pack we're introducing in April will help here (which
will be prominent on the new community portal). We've taken keywords
away because they were complex and because they weren't good for
Google search and people misused them. This meant some people thought
their work wasn't being seen and people (wrongly) jumped to the
conclusion Folksy didn't work well with Google search. It does. Just
describe your item well and it will appear - think what someone will
search for and use those words.
2. PayPal is reverting back to the way it used to work and we're
making the emails more informative for you, to make your life simpler
(we're testing this to make sure they will be more useful).
3. Guest Login will mean the platform is simpler for buyers to just
buy too, something Etsy and others don't offer.
4. Listing - the listing process is due to be made simpler with faster
upload and also simpler postage options.
5. We're going to be bringing in re-stocking of items which will mean
no relisting - just update the quantity of the item.
However, there is some complexity we can't avoid. Legal issues for
one. We're launching a better way for sellers to comply with the
Distance Selling Regulations in the next month which will help
everyone, but complying with Safety law around toys and cosmetics is
something we can't help with.

We used to rely on each other for information,  but the forums have
died a bit of a death as people now worry about what they say.  So
perhaps some online videos would help. Joining instructions when you
start to explain some simple information with links  ( apologies if
you do this now but when I joined there was nothing)  I think you need
to remember that most people starting out are terrified and have
little or no understanding of selling online.

Good idea. We'll be bringing in videos with the Seller Pack and have already started our monthly video updates (we're not the most polished presenters yet, but we're trying and you can see we're human beings not robots!).
The forums can be so helpful but they can also be a source of mis-information which can be very frustrating to us (the Google search threads were one such issue). It's not possible to be in the forums all the time but we do try and manage them. The forums were really unpleasant last year (we had to ban a few people because of their behaviour) and we've worked hard to make them more useful and productive and supportive. The weekly Q&A hopefully helps and we're working on better ways to communicate our announcements and gather feedback so there will be less misinformation. The new support system (green tab on the right of the site) allows people to nominate and vote on new features, for example.

I hate etsy,  I really do.  I opened a shop to try it and I never used
it as I thought  they were impersonal and faceless and far to big and
corporate, to get noticed on,  everything I thought folksy wasn't.
They also weren't British, something very personal to my heart. But
with the changes,  rightly or wrongly I thought you were trying to be
like them.   I have to keep an online presence if I want to succeed in
my business,  and they are the only real alternative, easy to use,
cheaper  and I don't have to think about it, I just have to use them.

No, we don't want to be Etsy. We want to support Craft and not be a faceless corporate place that allows people to re-sell lots of non-handmade things. We have to be different to Etsy and in the next year you will hopefully see more of that. That's not to say Etsy don't do some things very well, they do, but we believe that we can support craft and the work of designer makers, better.

I am sure that none of  this is news to you,  but thanks for making
the effort to ask.

Contact me if you want to do a Q& A but I  don't think a web chat
would in my case would  be effective as I would spend ages trying to
figure out how on earth it works!!

Thanks again for your feedback.

Best wishes,


Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Meet the neighbour - Emile Belle

Did  you wonder what happened to my old studio??

Let me introduce you to Emile Belle, run by the very sweet Emily.  She has done a much better job of making the little studio look sweet and country.  She sells cushions and aprons and lots of little bits and bobs made from fabric.

Pop in and say hi to her when yo are next popping by

Friday, March 23, 2012

50 things

After a very a difficult week ( don't ask)  I can get back into the studio and also start thinking about normal things again.

I have been thinking and been nagged by Mr WD to come up with a suggestion of what to do on my 50th birthday that is coming up very soon.

I have been thinking and thinking,  never an easy task for me, and trying to compete with what he did,  which was walk on a glacier in Iceland.

But nothing seemed to jump out as being that special,  everything I wanted to do seemed a bit lame compared to walking on a glacier.  So with just a few weeks to go, I decided I had to make a final decision,  so I made a list of everything I had thought of to do,  and as I made it, I started to remember little things I liked to do and then it struck me,  this is me,  this is what I like,  I like lots of varied things and why did I have to do just one special thing,  why couldn't I do several,  in fact why couldn't I do 50????

So last night I e-mailed the following list to Mr WD and my 3 wonderful kids.


Do you and the children ( and anyone else) want a challenge?????.   How about help me achieve all of these in my 50th Year??????

1. Have a meal out with Steve and all the kids

2. Try and see a whale

3. See the Angel of the north

4. Photograph wild flowers

5. Paint outside ( not the fence)

6. Search for sea glass

7. Find 50 Art Deco buildings and photograph them

8. Swim a mile

9. Walk on a beach at sunset in the UK

10. Sing in public ( not on my own)

11. Make  a sculpture out of found or natural items

12. Pooh sticks

13. Walk up to Glastonbury Tor

14. Paddle in a stream

15.  Go on a picnic

16  Climb something

17. Tea and cake with all the family

18.  Spend a day with Gemma           

19.  Spend a day with Heather

20.  Spend a Day with Chris

21.  Walk a dog

22. Find treasure

23. See wonderful stained glass

22. See a David Hockney painting

23.  Visit Scotland

24. Try and see the Northern lights

25. Stargaze

26. Dance in the tower Ballroom Blackpool

27. Road trip

28. Decorate a special cake

29. Do a mosaic

30. Make 50 origami birds and hang them in trees

31. Grow a pineapple

32.  Throw a pot

33. Have a girly night

33. Make a flower arrangement

34. Sparkle

35. Have my engagement and eternity rings repaired

36. Decorate the bedroom

37. Make a daisy chain

38. Get a tattoo

39.  Learn to pick a lock

40. Make myself an item of clothing

41. Have a photo us all.  Not professional

42. Make an album or photo book of the year

43. Do something to raise money for charity

44. Candle lit relaxing bubble bath

45. Kiss in the rain

46. See a film in the directors lounge

47. Have a butterfly land on my hand

48. Crochet myself a jumper

49. Paint a good picture on an Ipad ( or similar)

50.  Surprise me!!!

So watch this space in 2012/13 to see how we get on 

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Sad to say, but its goodbye to Folksy

After months of dilly dallying around,  I have finally shut up shop on Folksy.


It is with a heavy heart I have made this decision, and as the phrase above says, I have been finding excuses for ages, to find a way to make folksy work again for me. I haven't managed it,  so its obviously no longer that important to me.

It was, when I first opened my shop I was on all the time checking if people had viewed my items, I started with listing tiaras and jewellery as Diamante Dream and then WellydogDesigns. But then when I was off sick from work a couple of Christmas's ago with a bad case of Vertigo,  I saw a thread on the forums, from the wonderful and very supportive, Brenda from Gweddus Art , about aceo's.   I just had to have a go,  I hadn't painted for some time, but when I started painting again you just couldn't stop me.  I got sale after sale and I would have only just finished listing them and they would have gone. I started painting more and more and the paintings got bigger and bigger and it gave me such a lot of confidence, so much so  that when I lost my job last year,  I jumped at the opportunity of getting my own studio at a local craft centre.

But then the changes came on folksy.  It  caused a lot of bad feeling in the forums,  where there had used to be support.  This was then followed by listing problem,  and I could not list anything for weeks on end.  I missed not being able to see how many views an item had and Google analytics, was saying nobody was ever visiting. This was proved right when sales just plummeted and my plans for a good online Christmas to help support me through the winter months at the studio, disappeared.
Things seem to pick up so I stared listing again.  But,  I am not getting any views, or sales and then last week when I became aware that there had been another change, I started to realise that this just isn't working for me, any more.

I frankly don't have the time to make it work for me. I have a lot in my life going on at the moment both professionally and privately and I feel I need to do a whole lot of research on how to Tag my items correctly and masses of promotion,  just to get them noticed. I need to learn how to use google analytics more effectively , find out how the new changes on paypal may affect me and my seller rights, and goodness only knows how many other things I may have missed by not being on the forums daily any more.

Honestly I wish Folksy the very best in the future,  I am grateful for the opportunity it afforded me.  But they are no longer on the same path as me.  For what its worth.  I think the changes have meant they lost their quirky individuality which I thought was a strong selling point, in a market place full of the same faceless corporate sites. I also think that new people will not get the opportunities I got from it as it is no longer easy to use and confusing for newbies to get their initial sales and learn and grow from the experiences on a friendly and supportive site.

It not a complete goodbye as I haven't closed my account as I still want to support others there, with any buying I may want to do,  (if I can find what I want). And if its ok with you I would like to also occasionally check in on the forums to catch up with good friends.  You never know when my life settles down I may have the time to sort things out, I may be back.

If you want to find me now I'm on Etsy  and I will be stocking my shop with more items soon

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

FAIL ????

Do you like my new blinds,  I do ,  I love them,  I have been obsessing about them for ages since I saw them on ebay.  There were 3 blinds, the 2 smaller ones were wide enough together to fit the big window.  

The bigger  one was not quite wide enough,  but I thought I would cut it down and use it for the door and  maybe also get a cushion or 2 out of the remaining fabric.

Well that was the plan ............

I did measure honestly I did,  the widths were perfect.........if only I had checked the length.....   I can't believe I didn't check I just assumed. ( Never ever ever assume anything!!!!) They are a good few inches to short OMG what a div I am. 

I didn't have time to try and work out what to do,  by the time I realised my mistake, I had all velcro and loops up and not enough time, with students about to arrive,  to sort them,  so I just finished putting them, up.

I really want to find a way to sort them.  The choice seems to be,  lengthen the blinds with the material from the 3rd blind and loose the one on the door, or do the door one and find a contrast colour material to lengthen the window blinds.  I am not really happy about either idea,  but I don't see any other way.   

Oh bother!!!

Something a bit different....

Yesterday I had a lovely day with my daughter helping her try to get sorted for her first ever craft fair.
She has helped me at them in the past, which is not a very good training as I never did well  at Craft fairs and haven't done any for some years.

But I think her soap will do well.

Since she hit her twenties she has had issues with her skin, made worse by stress and hormones! At times it has been so sore it was painful to touch and even wash her face! 
So having already made some melt and pour soap, she researched what you could do with it and  thinking  can she make a soap that works with her skin rather than against it... She tried so many fragrance free soaps and expensive lotions and potions, which all either made it worse or dried her skin so it looked dull and flaky all of the time... After almost a year of researching and attending workshops she created a soap which is simple and moisturing. Since  staring using it she's  much less sore and can actually wash her face without it hurting!

Her recipe has 4 main ingredients, including shea butter to give those of us with delicate skin moisture and LUXURY! The main recipe is Fragrance free but she is making other soaps now for those with less sensitive skin.
She now has had her recipes tested and approved by a certified chemist (something which is a legal requirement) and is also a member of the Guild of Craft Soap and Toiletry Makers. 
I am so proud of her.

She has a folksy shop but as we all know folksy is having a few problems at the moment and so the next step is to go to Craft fairs.

Her first one is on the 14th April, at  The DevonPort Guildhall so if anyone is around the Plymouth area, please drop in and say hi to her.

We experimented with packaging a few sets and I think they look fabulous.  I managed to sneak off with some of her new Teatree oil soap,  but I have to wait a little while for it to finish curing, I am not patient so it will be tough.

She still has a lot of work to do, to be ready but as lexie ( below) is keeping an eye on her,  I am sure it will be fabulous.  My only regret is that I can't be there on the day to support her

Sunday, March 11, 2012

9 ladies and a postman

I had my largest workshop to date.  9 lovely ladies arrived to paint Spring flowers. I wont pretend it didn't come with a few logistical problems.  But it was fun and great to have a full house.

The group was a mix of  those who had been to a lot of various classes and some that are only on their 3 or 4th ever painting,  but everyone was very positive and supportive of each others work.

We had a few varieties of flowers daffodils, tulips, hyacinths, grape hyacinths, primmulas and primroses

We started the day looking at the structure of flowers and leaves, we had magnifying glasses to help people look closer at details and they were all asked to look at the shapes of the flowers.  They needed to identify if they were Star,  bell, bowl, trumpet or multiheaded shapes.

They then did a quick tonal drawing to learn how to plot light in a painting so if the light changed they still could see where the light had been and be able to continue on into a final painting,  if they wanted to.

I had got them to stretch paper in the morning ready to do a final painting in the afternoon.

A couple of my more advanced students I challenged to do the whole final painting without putting in any line drawing and they coped extremely well with it.

When they were getting tea and coffee generally chatting away it could be quite noisy and I had to shout to be heard,  but as soon as they were painting and concentrating they were as silent as church mice.

Except of course when my lovely postman came in in his shorts. There were whoops and cheers and the poor man went a bit pink and left asap.

 The whole day went really quickly and everyone was very positive.  All said they would be back either for another workshop or for the drop in groups,  so I was very pleased.

I also had a sale of a painting and was pleased to have so many people in generally,  the sun must have brought them out.  I was worried they may not come in, with so much activity,  but I was surprised to find it seemed to draw people in to see what was happening.  I also had a couple of people leave their names to be contacted for more information on future workshops.

All in all I had a lovely day and although I am tired today I wouldn't hesitate to do it all again,  I fact I will positively look forward to it.

Friday, March 9, 2012

Spring flower Mayhem

Tomorrow is my largest workshop yet.  I have 9 people coming to the workshop that we are going to spend all day painting flowers and learning about their structure.

So I set it all up tonight,  before coming home.  I hope its all going to be ok,  I am slightly nervous as its been a while since I did a workshop this large,  not since my college teaching days.

I think it looks ok.....wish me luck xxx

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Can you spot the difference ??

....My students didn't notice  can you.  I will give you a clue, its not the pictures have been changed

Perhaps you can see it better here  ???

Yes I have added another table in...
I have my biggest workshop ever on Saturday,  I have 9 people coming to a workshop for painting spring flowers.  I am busy collecting a variety of flowers so I can put a centre piece in the middle of the table for them to paint.

Its funny the Saturday workshops are really going well,  but the mid week ones,  which I thought would be more popular are really not doing that well.
I am also going to change my improvers workshops,  they are to unspecific and so I am going to see how the spring flowers one goes on Saturday  and then change some of the improvers to more specific workshops,  covering painting trees, birds, landscape etc instead.

I also need to sort out my wall painting competition as well,  but I think I will do that next week on a quieter week.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012


I had 36 entered for my giveaway,  I wrote all the names on a piece of paper as people asked to be entered, I then gave everyone a number .  I then put the number 1-36 in a random number generator and matched the number to my list.

As you can see the number chosen was number 26

and it matched  ( if you can read my terrible writing )  .....

The lovely Lynda from SimJaTa..  If you let me know  your address ( DM me on Folksy or twitter)  I will post you your painting.

Many thanks to everyone who helped get me my funding :-)

Monday, March 5, 2012

You are all amazing

WOW WOW WOW what a week!!!!

As most of you know I have been trying to get Funding from the Enterprise Nation Fund 101 scheme ,  basically you need 1 vote for every £1 you apply for and I reached my total on Sunday .  I was so excited,  as the last 20 voted came in,  I was yelling and counting down,  I am sure Mr WD thought I was completely insane .
I couldn't have done it with out my friends and family,  who spread the word.  But what really amazed me was how the whole of my virtual friend community, rallied round and got me support and votes. They say the power of twitter is a force to be reckoned with and I saw it first hand,  also I have to say people on the folksy forums and Facebook were amazing.  In 9 days I got 250 votes,  mostly from virtual friends and people who I have never met.  I thank each and everyone of you.  It means so much to me as `I can get a good stock of materials in and get a new sign and some leaflets printed.  
You are all amazing xx
I have been running a giveaway which you can check out here.  If you have helped me in my quest and you want to be entered let me know before Wednesday.  leave a note on here, Folksy or facebook and I will add you to my list and Draw it on Wednesday

On a separate note this is my latest picture

You can also see a YouTube slide show of how it developed 

I am now off to start preparing notes for my student for Saturday and to have a lie down to recover from all the excitement