Monday, 15 July 2013

Interview with Debbie from Happy Yellow Dress

Debbie is the brains and beauty behind Happy Yellow Dress, "a fusion of vintage and modern styles, spun together to make a modern classic". I interviewed Debbie to learn more about her and her gorgeous dress designs:

Cory: How did you begin designing and making clothing, and how did that turn into a business?

Debbie: My cute Mommy taught me everything I know. I grew up in a family with ten kids, so most of my clothes were hand me downs from my big brother, or made with love by my mama. I was also a really tall and gangly kid, so I sewed for myself out of necessity. 

As I got older, the styles of clothing that I loved, (1920's to 1960's style fashions), were hard to find outside of vintage shops, and again, the body type thing got in the way, so I became more creative with my designs. People seemed to like what I was doing, so there was definitely a market there, and thus Happy Yellow Dress was born.

Cory: Where do you get your inspiration for your designs?
Debbie: When I was young, my favourite pastime was watching old movies from the 40's and 50's with my Dad, and I was always obsessed with how beautiful the leading ladies were, and how pretty their dresses always were. Definitely get inspiration from the classics. Grace Kelly in Rear Window, by Alfred Hitchcock is one o' my faves.

Cory: Where do you do your work? What is your workspace like?
Debbie: I work from home. I'd say my work space is pretty clean-ish, considering how small the space is... my bedroom quadruples as warehouse, office, and studio. definitely spills into other areas of the suite tho... Thank God for an understanding roommate!
Cory: Please tell us a little more about Happy Yellow Dress.
Debbie: Happy yellow Dress is a line of women's clothing, mainly dresses, inspired by classic vintage, and made in beautiful Vancouver British Columbia. All of my dresses are named after old rock and roll songs from the 50's and 60's. Our tagline is "Boys will whistle!", and believe me, they do ;)
Cory: And finally, if your dresses were a food, what would they taste like?
Debbie: If my dresses were a food, they'd be banana cream pie!! Didn't even have to think about that one!!!!!
Cory: Mmmmm, banana cream pie...

Saturday, 13 July 2013

How to price your handmade items - an often forgotten bit!

One of the most common questions that come up on craft forums and discussions from new crafters is, "How do I decide how much to charge for the things that I make?".  A lot of simple formulas exist for how to find the appropriate price to ask from customers who buy your items, like this one from Etsy.

Personally though, I think many of the formulas leave out an important part of the equation, and an obvious one: the market.

Common things to take note of when pricing items are:
1. Cost of materials
2. Time it takes to produce (i.e. give yourself a wage
3. Other expenses: the money you spend on advertising, packaging, and fees etc.

Looking at these things, you are told that you can find an appropriate price to set for your items.  However, none of these articles I've read on the subject brings up the subject of what other similar items are *successfully* being sold for - and I stress successfully!

It's always good to research what others are charging, and other ways they are organizing their business, to be aware of competition and also expectations the customer may have of your items.  And if this market is flooded with items much cheaper or more expensive than these formulas would set a price at, it is not going to help you much.

I've seen a lot of discussion by self-employed crafters on craft discussion forums mostly, upset about how other people underprice their handmade items and how this means that their much more expensive items don't get any sales.  They feel it's the fault of the cheaper sellers - but is that fair?  I mean, a market already exists and your items are just a small part of that.  If you want them to be involved, its your items that must be acceptable in that market, you can't just say that the market is what is wrong.  The rhetoric often carries with it how a self employed crafter deserves to live off of their craft, and people must pay enough for their lovely pieces of work so that they can have a viable business.  While this is desirable, it's in no way a guarantee, nor should anyone expect it to be!

So I want to add something very important to the formula on how to price you items - a comparison to what others are charging for a similar item.  If there is no one selling a similar item, that is GREAT because it means you can try to set that price yourself.  If they are, add up how much time and materials etc. go in to your item, add a profit margin you would see as comfortable, and then adjust the price so that it fits well within the existing market.

Otherwise, those sales just won't come...

Wednesday, 10 July 2013

Book Launch Tour: The Vesuvius Isotope, by Kristen Elise, Ph.D.

The Vesuvius Isotope_ebook_cover 12.5.jpeg
I'm taking part in a blog tour for the release of The Vesuvius Isotope, a new thriller by drug discovery biologist Kristen Elise, over at my other blog, Musings of a Palaeolinguist.

All the posts on Kristen's blog tour are related in some way to the content of her new novel.  Click to read about "The Crocodile Library of Tebtunis"!

You didn't know I had another blog?  It's about archaeology and linguistics and stuff... go see ;)

The Vesuvius Isotope:
When her Nobel laureate husband is murdered, biologist Katrina Stone can no longer ignore the secrecy that increasingly pervaded his behavior in recent weeks. Her search for answers leads to a two-thousand-year-old medical mystery and the esoteric life of one of history’s most enigmatic women. Following the trail forged by her late husband, Katrina must separate truth from legend as she chases medicine from ancient Italy and Egypt to a clandestine modern-day war. Her quest will reveal a legacy of greed and murder and resurrect an ancient plague, introducing it into the twenty-first century.

Kristen Elise, Ph.D. is a drug discovery biologist and the author of The Vesuvius Isotope. She lives in San Diego,  California, with her husband, stepson, and three canine children. Please visit her websites at and The Vesuvius Isotope is available in both print and and e-book formats ( for Kindle, for Nook, for Kobo reader.) 

Monday, 8 July 2013

2 Ingredient Pizza Dough - so easy and delicious!

Now here is a recipe that I'm happy to say is cheap easy and delicious - which are my three favourite things in a recipe ;)

I've seen other 2-ingredient recipes around on the internet and suggested on Pinterest, and when I saw this one, I just had to try it.  It's just so simple.  This pizza dough doesn't need proofing, and just involves mixing and kneading the ingredients (all 2 of them!), and then voila, ready for toppings and the oven.  I've done it twice this week, I think I'm addicted:

2-Ingredient Pizza Dough Recipe

1 cup self-raising flour (with a bit extra for kneading)
1 cup greek yoghurt

And that's all you need!  First, in a mixing bowl, pour in the yoghurt and the flour.  Mix with a spoon until it is doughy, and sprinkle a bit of flour on it to keep it from being too sticky.  Place the dough on a floured surface (with floury hands!).  Be careful to keep the outside of the dough very floury, as it gets quite sticky and will make your hands and the surface a mess if you're not floury enough.

Knead the dough gently for about 5 minutes, adding flour and working it.  This is a good time to preheat the oven to about 200 degrees C.

Press and stretch out the dough into the shape and thickness you want.  I have a pizza stone to place it on - add your toppings and taadaa!  Into the oven it goes for 20 minutes or so.

I have cooked it for 20 minutes at 200 degrees, but I have a feeling I could cook it either longer or at a higher temperature.  I'd like to get the crust a bit more crispy, it's a bit of a doughy and soft recipe.  But delicious and worth the time saved in making a more complicated recipe!

The first time I made it I used mozzarella, basil and chili oil as toppings (with tomato paste too of course).  Last night was red onion and a strong cheddar cheese - yum yum!

Try it out and tell me how you like it!  Do you know any other 2 ingredient recipes?

Friday, 5 July 2013

Greeting Card Swap at Smart Creative

Do you design and sell greeting cards?  Sarah at Smart Creative is planning a greeting card swap for the 20th  of July.  This first swap is UK based in order to keep costs down.  The plan is to send a couple of cards to three or four people, and enjoy receiving cards from others, so you have some beautiful UK handmade items to use for your next friend or family's birthday!

Also, you can get 10% off until the end of July on purchases at Smart Creative using the exclusive code in my latest monthly newsletter here: take a read, sign up if you'd like, and visit Sarah's Etsy shop!