Thursday, January 31, 2008

Peruvian Bead Challenge - the opinions are in!

Two weeks ago I posted a little challenge about our Peruvian ceramic beads. I asked for 5 customers to let me mail them a package of beads and then for them to email me their opinions and pictures of what they made (if anything) with them. I've now heard from them and here are their comments as well as a picture of the beads that I sent them! I hope you enjoy their comments and it spurs you on to take a second look at these little works of art.

Annita Wilson, Wagoner, OK
"I just completed my project with the Peru Blue & Red Oval beads and I think it turned out quite well. I had some mixed blue "e" beads that had around for a while and they worked great with the color in the oval beads. Click here to see Annita's necklace and earrings. I really liked the beads, the colors were not what I usually gravitate towards but I liked the finished projects. I had a little difficulty deciding how to use them, I'm not used to such large holes in my beads so I had to adjust the size on the beads I used with them.."

Cheryl Verive, Carol Stream, IL
Cheryl was the only respondant who had a specific bead request.
"I really do like to quality of the beads. I think they are well made and a beautiful color blue. I have not had a chance to make anything with them yet. I am up to the challenge though. I know that I would only use the blue beads that I chose, that is mainly why I have not purchased them. The other colors are a little bold and I really do not like them."

Martha Smith, Cincinnati, OH
"Hi, I got my beads today and, to be honest, my first reaction was not a positive one. I was not expecting fish! I had been thinking about getting the beads and what I would make with them when I got them. The fish threw me off. But then I started looking at the colors and details and thought, wow, these could be fun. The colors are vibrant and exciting. I fell in love with the fish I didn't like. I decided these were earrings. I put a small 4 mm yellow Swarovski on the bottom to keep the pin from falling through, one fish, then as bubbles an 8 mm, then a 6 mm and a 3 mm Crystal AB Swarovski. I think they turned out very cute. (Even my husband like them.)"

Othella Morris, Upland, IN
"I just got my beads yesterday, so I haven't had a chance to make something with them yet, but as soon as I saw them, I fell in love. They are beautiful beads, and just what I've been looking for to use on some beaded bookmarks for myself and a few friends. The beads are just the right size and weight for what I've been wanting, and the design is perfect, even in the color combination. I can't wait to take a break from my monstrous homework load this weekend and play with them! Thank you so much for putting on this challenge and introducing me to these beautiful beads. Now that I know what they are, I won't be able to talk myself out of trying them in the future."

Kelly Abbott, Tonawanda, NY
I did share them with my beading partners and they loved them as much as i do. I think they are great and I was going to put them on black leather.

Another added comment is from Jan Mueller Pewaukee, WI. She wasn't part of my challenge, but sent in the following comments on the Peruvian ceramics and gave me permission to post her email:

First let me tell you that I am not at all concerned with not being one of the first 5 to get beads. I had ordered a few prior to reading your blog and I just "had to order more" because I love them so. I thought I could use all the colors in them to bring out in a piece but what I realized is that they look the best being the whole show and anything else being supporting characters. Click here to see Jan's bracelet.

And yet another idea sent in by a customer who bought the Peruvian ceramics. This playful necklace was made by Anna Skeb├Ąck of Gothenburg, Sweden! I was actually in Gothenburg to meet my husband Allen's relatives last year...what a small world!

Friday, January 25, 2008

Luscious Blown Glass Beads

I was so excited about the beads I put up this week that I just had to come and babble a little bit about them. Like the title says, I've added six new blown glass beads...but there's a catch. These are NOT $4.00 each beads from Venice, they're from...gasp...China! The least expensive is $0.68 each and the most expensive is $0.98 each.

So other than the price, why I am I so excited about these beads? Well first, the colors are so vibrant they practically glow (really). Second, they are extremely high quality beads. I've heard you can take a Venetian blown glass bead and whip it against concrete and it won't break. Hmm....these Chinese beads are so delicate and light, I thought there is NO way they'll stand up to that kind of torture. Well, guess what? I tried it...took one of these Chinese larger rounds and whipped it at our concrete floor and it BOUNCED. Impressive to say the least. I also sent a test package (nothing fancy, just our plain First Class packaging) to my sister-in-law all the way across the country in Washington and she reported they arrived in perfect shape. I was sold!

I've always wanted to carry blown glass beads, but besides being ferociously expensive for me to buy...what about your price? So, I just avoided them and drooled at a distance. When my supplier brought these in for me to see, I was just floored and I hope you will be too. Send me an email or post a comment below and let me know what YOU think of these beauties.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Anyone out there? YOU are! Talk to me?

Last Wednesday I posted my little Peruvian Ceramics bead challenge. By Friday afternoon I only had one taker and I was looking for five. I was perplexed, but then got the idea to put a link to my blog in the Saturday email update. At 3:00 Saturday afternoon, Allen came and got me and said "You better come take a look at this". My email in box was just loaded with people wanting to take part in my humble little bead challenge (look for the first 5's comments after January 31st). I couldn't believe it! While most people simply stated they wanted to "play" and I wrote them a simple email back, many people wrote me very personalized emails, not just about the Peruvian ceramics, but about the site, ideas and all sorts of stuff...I felt so bad saying "I have the five for my challenge", but had such fun answering all those emails.

On Monday morning, I had some more emails, but it was the usual stuff of "Did you get my order?", "Can I add this to my order?", etc. Now don't get me wrong, those emails are a complete necessity to my business, but it certainly doesn't tell me anything about who these customers are that are ordering from me.

So what do I want? You got email (or even a comment you can leave down below). Talk to me...tell me what it is you want or like or don't like about eebeads. I want YOUR opinion on EVERYTHING eebeads!

So just send off that email or post a comment below and babble a bit to me, I would love to hear from you.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Customer Blog About Ceramic Beads - aka The Peruvian Bead Challenge

The other day I was on Technorati (a search engine for blog sites) to see if they had picked up on my humble blog yet (nope) and found an interesting blog entry about eebeads. Apparently a customer had ordered some foil glass beads and was sent a package of Peruvian ceramic beads by mistake. She was baffled how that happened, but I'm sure the filler just transposed numbers. Anyway, we of course said we'd send her out the correct beads when she contacted us, but her blog entry tells how she then went to the ceramics page and started taking an interest in these little beauties. To quote her "I've been missing a whole area of beads that are truly worthwhile."

Well, I was just delighted (hence this post) because I adore our Peruvian ceramics. I've been importing them directly from Peru for years. They are hand crafted, hand glazed and some of the most unique beads out on the market (in my humble opinion). With that said, we certainly don't sell a whole lot of them. Why? I just don't know. Their bright colors definitely take center stage and may make them hard to design with.

I've now got 5 people who I'm sending a pack of Peruvian beads to for their opinion. As soon as I have their answers, I'll post them here - even the negative ones (if any are negative). Keep checking my blog for more offers of free beads for your opinion of them. Thanks to everyone who emailed me!

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Are you a member of our update list? Ooo I hope you are. Tomorrow morning, starting at 7am EST we're having a sale on eight new copper beads and two new toggle clasps only for members of our list. These beads and toggles will be on sale at 15% off until next Wednesday the 23rd at noon EST. Not a member or our list? Send me an email and I'll sign you up and also let you know the secret website address where you can find this nifty sale.

Friday, January 11, 2008

Working Conditions in India

I asked you to send me questions and this week I got a doozy. Bev, a customer of mine, asked about the working conditions in the factory where I get my Indian glass beads. Excellent question! One I avoided asking myself in the beginning for fear of the answer.

In my last post, I told you how my supplier from India came for a visit quite a few years ago. While he was here, he asked Allen and I if we wanted to see pictures of his factory. Why? Well, he was very proud of the working conditions! Now don't get me wrong, the conditions are not what we're used to in the United States, but they certainly were NOT the horrors you might read about on the net. Lampworkers sat on the floor in front of a torch. They had eye protection and tons of ventilation from open windows. I asked long ago if he employed children and he was rather insulted by the question...the answer was "Absolutely not!".

While I realize the working conditions are not as good as ours, it's just reality that I could never afford to buy my lampwork beads from the United States. I've contacted numerous lampworkers and the usual discount is about 20% off their retail prices. I can't run a business on that low a discount.

It's certainly up to you if you want to buy beads from India, but I hope this post will reassure you that the conditions in the factory where I buy my beads from in India are pretty good and no child labor is used. If I pulled my contract and discontinued our Indian glass, I'd be putting a lot of people out of work as well.

Keep those questions (even the challenging ones) coming!

Thursday, January 3, 2008

Our Shipment from India Arrived!

So many of you have been waiting, you'll be glad to know our order from India finally arrived! Yippee! I ordered approximately 260 kilos (573 pounds) of lampworked and pressed glass beads as well as bone and horn beads and after about 3 months this big ole shipment arrived. Most of the items come pre-bagged so we'll have those back up on the site today. For the rest of the items, we'll get our pieceworkers on them and we'll have them up in no time.

I've been importing from India for over 10 years. Why? I simply love Indian beads and especially the prices. Over the years I've had lots of Chinese designs reproduced in India for a fraction of the cost that Chinese beads would cost. We've also been using the same supplier and just love him. We were actually graced with a visit from the owners brother and partner a few years ago.

The picture to the right shows how the order arrives. The large boxes are covered in hand stitched burlap coverings and inside are smaller boxes holding 1 kg each. Sometimes customs will seize the shipments and go through them and the opened boxes are covered in bright green tape. Not this time though, they came through quickly and without a hitch.

We sent out over 600 email notifications about these beads being back in stock so I'm sure you're as excited as I am to have them back in stock!

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

We screwed up (confirmation emails)

Boy did we screw up! We were closed from December 19th through January 2nd. We put a notice on our home page, but lots of folks missed it. We were inundated with emails over our break asking if we had received peoples orders because they didn't receive a confirmation email after placing their order. We've done this in past years...closed that is...but never did we get this many emails from people concerned about whether or not we received their order. What went wrong this year? Was the closed message on our home page too small? We're not really sure. One thing is for sure year, if we close again for a week, we'll be sure to set up the program so you receive a confirmation email right after you place your order. Sorry about the confusion!!!

You've got to try flower arranging too!

Every year for our annual Christmas party, I order flowers. And every year I am completely disappointed regardless of what florist I choose. The arrangements are small...maybe 6 carnations, 2 mums and a red ball with some green stuff. My employees are way to sweet to complain, but I just feel like a cheap jerk when they see the arrangements. I've tried several florists, tried spending more money, but I'm never pleased. Why is it that I go to a grocery store and see a gorgeous bouquet for $14.99 loaded with flowers, but when I order them from a florist for $40.00 I get junk?

This year, I decided to stop being disappointed, skip trying yet another florist, and take these flower matters into my own hands. After a bit of research on the web about flower arranging, my husband Allen and I went to a place called Produce Junction (which is like a wholesaler open to the public) and loaded up a box with tons of gorgeous, colorful flowers. We then took them back to our warehouse and I took over the kitchen...and I might add I had an absolute blast making the arrangements! If you don't have a place like Produce Junction around you, consider using those pretty bouquets at the grocery store.

Here's some tips if you want to try making your own arrangements too. Start with medium height flowers ( I used mums and carnations). Each of my arrangements has about 10 of these. Next, put in your focal flowers that are taller and shorter than your medium height flowers (I used one white hydrangea, three pink roses and two purple statis). Then add your greens for filler ( I had ferns and some other pretty greens I don't know the name of). And finally, I filled in the "blanks" with baby's breath.

This year, the arrangements were colorful and lovely and best of all, loaded with gorgeous flowers. Another added bonus was these loaded with flowers arrangements were about 1/4 the price of the florists flowers. You may not need to make a bunch of arrangements, but consider trying flower arranging yourself next time you need an arrangement and skip the overpriced florists.