Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Bead Collection Challenge Begins!

You've been asking and I've been thinking...what to challenge you with next? One of my favorite products is our Bead Collections (shown to the left is the Peacock Collection). Not a huge seller though and I've often wondered why... I admit they're a bit expensive at $11.95 for 150+ beads, but we've done all the work at mixing together colors that go great together. Maybe that's it want to do the mixing?

Our Bead Collections are much different than other companies mixes because they are created in small batches. That means that every bead in the Bead Collection has a partner so they're great for symmetrical designs and earrings. There's a mix of Czech and Indian glass and other materials based on the specific collection, plus a smattering of metals for interest. I'd like to see what 5 of you think of our Bead Collections so...

Here's the challenge:
  • I will send you one package of our Bead Collections valued at $11.95. You can see them at the top of our Collections page of the site (look for the $11.95 priced collections). You can request a specific Bead Collection, but if I get more than one request for the same collection, I'll send you a different one as the challengers send me emails. In other words, each participant will have a different Bead Collection. Please keep in mind you might not get a collection you love the colors of!
  • You will have two weeks from the mailing date to make a project with these and any other beads you want to add. That means you're going to need to get working right away so please make sure you have the time.
  • When you're done with your creation, email me a picture of what you made and a blurb giving me your opinion of these beads. You must also agree to let me post your full name and city and state where you live.
  • If you've already participated in another challenge from my blog, please let someone else play this time alright? :)

I now have 5 people who will participate in this challenge. Look for another entry soon that shows you what the beaders made and what they thought of the beads!

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Redesigning all things

What a momentous really means I'm asking for YOUR help. Allen and I are working on redesigning (just the website, don't panic :). We have a marketing firm working on ideas and a couple customers who have commented on the website giving us their feedback, but we're kind of at a stand still. Although we have ideas on what we'd like to do, it's pretty useless unless you, our beady, internet surfing customer, like what we do.

So I've got a bit of a challenge for you (another bead challenge is coming REALLY soon, I promise): Take a look at and surf around a bit and then tell me what you want to be like for you! I really mean this...if you were remaking the website, what would you want it to look like?
Here are some things we're debating on that you might be able to solve arguments for:

  1. Should we keep the tab navigation on top or switch to a left side navigation bar?
  2. If we go with left side navigation, should all categories be outlined or should you have to click to get to the subcategories as with the tabs?
  3. Are the colors on the tabs at the top too bright?
  4. Is the background distracting?
  5. (This one gets wordy...sorry) Most sites have an one item per line for sale with an image to the left and text and the option to buy to the right, we have a table and put a lot more items per this too much or do you like seeing more at once?
  6. Is the home page cluttered or do you like all the information you find there?
  7. Is there anything on the site you find confusing or completely baffles you?
  8. Anything else you'd change?

I really appreciate you looking over our site and giving us feedback. We're working to make this site the best it can be and the easiest for you to find what you're looking for. Send any and all comments (nothing wrong with a negative comment!) to me at or leave me a comment below. And thank you in advance!

Thursday, April 3, 2008

African Bead Challenge - The Opinions Are In!

About a month ago, I posted a challenge for beaders about our African Trade Beads. I sent 5 beaders one package of Cobalt Bottle Glass from Ghana, one package of Silver Roundish Beads from Ethiopia, and one bag containing a little more than half a strand of Christmas Beads from Ghana (older) all shown to the above left. Unlike my last challenge with Peruvian beads, this time the beaders got to see the beads before committing to the challenge...much better way to do it I think.

Below are each beaders comments about the beads and what they made with them. I'm posting exactly what they wrote to me (positive or negative). Each of the small pictures is clickable so you can see a larger picture.

Lisa Devos from New Hope, Pennsylvania

When I opened the package with the beads, I immediately loved the cobalt glass and silver beads but was initially at a loss how to combine them with the Christmas beads. After looking at them for a few days, I decided to combine them with some cobalt blue seed beads I had lying around, use some wire for the silver round beads and introduce the Christmas beads as an accent color. I am very pleased with the way they all look together and it will make a nice piece to add to my tribal belly dance jewelry collection. I am going to have to buy more and make earrings and a head piece as well :)

Debbie Gilligan from Troy, New York

The African beads aren't perfect but they have character and the colors are beautiful. I used seed beads inside the Bottle Glass beads to compensate for the large hole and center them on the wire. I have a tendency to be symmetrical in my designs so I slid the Christmas beads off their string in small sections to keep the order random. I added MT AB Cobalt Druks, Bali style spacers, and my favorite toggle. I remembered that I had gotten zebra charms in a goody bag and immediately got them out to make the earrings. This was a perfect time to use them! I wore the set to work today and told everyone about your website and blog.

Sharon M. Harris from Chattanooga, Tennessee
I did not care for the African beads. I prefer beads that are more uniform in size and shape. I also prefer a smooth shiny finish on beads. Also, these beads are a little too heavy to wear comfortably. In general I prefer pastel colors instead of the stronger primary colors of these beads. That being said, I found I liked the necklace better than I expected once it was made, though I probably will not wear it.

Julianne Kurpiewski from Wilmington, North Carolina

I knew before I even got the beads that I would love the Christmas beads. Their small size, bright colors, tiny stripes and random patterns are perfect.

I decided to make a bracelet because I love bracelets and I'm not a big fan of necklaces. The blue glass beads were a beautiful color and I loved their frosted texture but they were a little too big for my tastes...which is why I didn't use them in my bracelet. I'm sure they'd be perfect size for a necklace but I just haven't thought of what I want to do with them. The silver beads were neat but I had trouble with their holes. Some of the holes were really big and others were a lot smaller. I ended up putting the small Christmas beads inside the silver beads and then used spacers to prevent the silver beads slipping over the Christmas beads.

I do love my bracelet. I've worn it several times and people always comment on how cute the Christmas beads are.

Debby Boltman of Bothell, Washington
I needed a new anklet for my Disney trip we are leaving on tomorrow and I thought the African beads were charming and would be perfect for such a project. The slight imperfections provide just the right amount of eclectic appeal for my project.

Thank you to all the beaders who participated in this challenge! African trade beads are very unique. The beads are old and worn and just downright funky at times. Hopefully these ideas and comments will get you to take another look at our wonderful African trade beads and give them a try!