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Archive for January, 2013

Thank you, Arisia!

As I mentioned before, this past weekend was Arisia.  It was the first con I’ve vended — and what a great first experience it was!

Mike and Kate and I got there early Friday afternoon to set up, and we were fortunate in our neighbor, Thomas of Brute Force Studios.  He readily offered advice on how to use our gridwall and displays easily and effectively, and even allowed us to hang things off the back side of his own gridwall to give us more display space. It was fantastic to have somebody so willing to share what he’d learned over the years, and help out newcomers, as a neighbor.

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The Storied Threads booth on Sunday morning.

While I’m sure there is still a lot we could do to make the space more eye-catching, I’m pretty happy with the effect here.  All of the bags and scarves and (nearly all of) the patches got good display space, and we had plenty of traffic all weekend, despite being tucked in a sort of cul-de-sac corner of the dealers’ room.

One thing that I knew intellectually, but was still somehow surprised by, was the number of patrons in cosplay.  I’m used to vending at faires, and while there is always a bit of cosplay there, it’s NOTHING compared to a con, where it seemed as though every other person in the shop was dressed as a character. 

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My first thought when I saw this guy? “It’s Stephen Fry cosplaying as Ten!”

There were, of course, a TON of Doctors.  Tens and Fours were the most popular, but I saw a bunch of others as well as Weeping Angels, Clockwork Men, and TARDISes. Several Arthur Dents and a Ford Prefect.  Pretty much every cast member of “Firefly”, plus Nathan Fillion’s other alter egos Captain Hammer and Richard Castle.

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One of Arisia’s many Lady Lokis, a returning Storied Threads customer.

And of course — Loki! There were at least half a dozen Lokis around, one of whom was even sporting one of our own Loki’s Army messenger bags.  (She and I had a great talk about making our costumes, and the annoyance of suddenly hitting your horns on EVERYTHING around you.) Kate and I observed that pretty much every Loki cosplayer we’ve ever seen has been a woman, which is kind of interesting to me.  It rather made me wish I’d brought my own Loki outfit with me, but I think I’d like to get a handle on just vending a con before I start doing so in costume.

Overall, I had a great time at Arisia.  It was successful as a business venture, and the people were great to work with, both the patrons and the con staff.  I fully plan to go back again next year — maybe in costume myself next time!

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Arisia!

This weekend, I’ll be vending at Arisia, in Boston, MA.  It’s the first con I’ve ever vended at, so I have to admit — I’m a little nervous.  I suspect that this is going to be a completely different animal than vending at a faire, and I’m really feeling my way along.

Expanding into cons is important to me. I’d been trying to find new venues to sell at, and first started looking at craft fairs and such, as there are a couple of large, successful ones in the Boston area.  But the more I thought about it, the more I realized that they weren’t the right fit for me — the people who go to those shows tend to be very vanilla. And I need to go where the geeks like me are — and that’s cons.

So, I’ve been spending the last few weeks trying to balance building stock for this show with continuing to fill orders. I’m not bringing everything — there will be no garb at Arisia.  But I’m bringing patches, and scarves, and messenger bags. (Though not as many of that last as I wanted….I ran out of d-rings, and my order won’t arrive until the afternoon I leave for Boston, unfortunately.) Oh, and TARDIS chokers! Definitely bringing TARDIS chokers. And hopefully I’m bringing enough of the right stuff, that people will want to buy the things I chose to make!

So — here I go! Into uncharted territory! Wish me well, and if you’re local, come visit!

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Everybody knows that 90% of the things I sell are things I’ve embroidered — patches, scarves, bags, etcetera.  Sometimes, though, peope make me work a little bit outside of my usual embroidery box, and that’s always great.

ImageThis year, a friend wrote to me asking if I could help her with a Christmas present for her boyfriend.  He’s a big Iron Man fan, and she wanted to give him an Iron Man hoodie, with the arc reactor embroidered on it.

I had to think about it for a minute — I’m used to embroidering a piece before it gets made into an actual garment, while it’s still nice and flat, so I had to work my brain around the idea of hooping up a shirt that was already made.  Luckily, though, my machines are designed in a way that works well for this sort of thing, and (once I found a red, pull-over hoodie, which was more difficult than expected) making the perfect gift for her was pretty straight forward.

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The back of my mother’s wedding dress, laid out on my cutting table.

My mother also had a special embroidery and sewing project for me this year.  When she got married, some 40 years ago, she had her dress specially packed up in a vacuum sealed box — and has been carrying it around like that for all of these years.  Finally, in her most recent move, she realized that this was silly, and that she’d rather convert the dress into some kind of heirloom that her daughters could actually keep and use.  So, when I saw her at Thanksgiving, she gave the dress to me, and asked me to turn it into a couple of throw pillows.

This was a bit of a nerve wracking project, I have to admit.  I had the dress, and I had a plan. I bought pillow forms, and decided to make the dress into covers for them that could be removed, for easier care and cleaning.  I had a simple pattern in my head, and I could think of no reason why it wouldn’t work. And yet — if I messed up, it’s not like I could run to the store and buy matching age-colored vintage satin!  So I cut carefully, ironed even more carefully, and in the end, it all worked out fine.  Three pillow covers made, with embroidery chosen to reflect each of our personalities.

ImageIt’s always nice to work on new kinds of projects, and to have new ways to use the tools I’m so familiar with.

 

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I hope your 2012 was as good as mine, and 2012 was a great year for me because, as I’ve mentioned in previous posts, this was the year I quit my day job to make Storied Threads my full-time career. I just did my year-end number crunching and learned that my business for 2012 more than tripled over 2011, so I definitely made the right call…and even so, I had a hard time keeping up with the Christmas rush!

I’ve got some nice plans for 2013 in terms of shows, new merchandise, and behind-the-scenes decisions, but for now I’m going to present my annual end-of-the-year review of my most popular products – all of which are of course available through my Etsy store.

PATCHES

Mummy10 ) Are You My Mummy? This was my number seven top-selling patch last year and it remains a favorite, perhaps because The Empty Child/The Doctor Dances remain two of the most popular episodes from Christopher Eccelston’s run on Doctor Who.

 

 

 

 

 

Ribbon9 ) The Original Doctor Who Awareness Ribbon. This was the top-selling patch of 2011. It is also the design that started me on the path that led to my self-employed status, because it showed me the potential of marketing to the geek crowd.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Time Lord Seal8 ) The Time Lord Seal. Last year’s number four top-seller, which this year found its way onto my new line of scarves.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

PatchDoctorsName7 ) The Doctor’s Name. Circular Gallifreyan is a pain to digitize, but the results are worth it.

 

 

Stark

6 ) A Song of Ice and Fire – House Stark. Last year’s number five and another all-around favorite, in any format (as you’ll see later on in this post).

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Plague5 ) Plague Survivor Merit Badge. The eighth highest-selling patch last year. It still surprises me how popular this patch is, considering it doesn’t cater to any specific fandom. In fact, it is the only non-fandom-related patch on the countdown!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

PatchBigDamnHeroes4 ) Firefly/Serenity – Big Damn Heroes. This one has a story behind it. I introduced this design in April, and through October it sold sporadically, and then in November it was featured on the Bring Back Firefly Facebook fan page and sales skyrocketed. More of these sold in November alone than the preceding seven months combined.

 

PatchTARDIS3 and 2 ) Doctor Who Police Call Box and TARDIS Door Sign. Interestingly, sales of these patches were highest in the months immediately preceding Halloween. I suspect a lot of people were designing TARDIS costumes and using these patches to finish them off.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

XFiles1 ) The X-Files – I Want to Believe. In 2012 I sold 198 of these patches. 198! I wish I could have hit the 200 mark, but I certainly can’t complain about 198. This was last year’s number two seller.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

SCARVES

Scarves were a new-ish addition to my product line. I made a few for a Christmas show I did in 2011 but they were more generic designs. I started putting geeky designs on them for the fall Connecticut Renaissance Faire and they flew off the shelves, so I expect to expand my offerings on these.

ScarfWinterGrey13 ) A Song of Ice and Fire – Winter is Coming. How appropriate that the Winter is Coming design proved so popular on a warm flannel scarf.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

ScarfDrNameBlue22 ) The Doctor’s Name. Popular across all product lines, as you’ll see in a minute.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Green flannel Loki scarf1 ) Loki’s Helmet. Loki’s helmet started out as an image for use on a number of Avengers patches and wound up being a popular choice for scarves.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

BAGS

My line of bags expanded quite a bit in 2012 as I started producing different sizes to accommodate a variety of electronic devices (iPads, laptops, etc.).

MBagTARDIS13 ) TARDISThe only vertical messenger bag I regularly offer.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

LaptopDrName22 ) The Doctor’s NameThe only design to find its place in all three lists. Shown here as a laptop size bag.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

MBagLoki31 ) Loki’s Army. This was a simple adaptation of the Loki helmet design, but the effort was worth it, because Loki fans aren’t shy about sharing their love for the God of Mischief (and, by extension, Tom Hiddleston).

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