Friday, December 30, 2011

Holiday Week at Melindesign Studio

It's been crazy busy this holiday week with finishing up orders for both a huge catalog job, Pendleton Spring 2012, an order of 50 pieces of micro macrame work, 500 pearl necklaces for the January issue of Oprah Magazine and 200 pieces of ultra cool acrylic retro goddess pieces. With the Accessories Show and New York International Gift Show coming up, we've been working right through Christmas into New Years. All of it done here in the United Sates within days. I'm thrilled that designers are finding us and keeping their production and manufacturing in the United States. Next up: Working on a licensed logo within a bead. Can we pull that one off?? Stay tuned!

Do We Have Paranormal Activity in the Studio??

Jewelry Assembly Chick April Got the Micro Macrame Lesson Down

Monday, November 14, 2011

Klout is bad for your soul

Klout is bad for your soul

I tried it out, using it as another SEO branch to my empire. It's sort of like high school, grading you with the cool kids and whether you pass muster. But it doesn't tell you how to improve your score, your reach. What steps are needed to increase your amplification? Your network? The first day I tried it, it deemed me an expert at The Sopranos. Was it because I posted a comment about the Sopranos on my friend's facebook comment field?

Since I do take the time to cull my search words, it'd be nice if Klout would trace them so I can find out where my expertise came from and where I can apply more to different subject matters. If I'm influencing people, where?? Is my reach better on Twitter or facebook? Am I commenting enough? Does it track my business page on facebook, which would be helpful. How would I know?

I'm proud that I'm in my 40s (age wise as well!) but how is that helpful on the world wide internet? I'd like to know if I can make my knowledge helpful for someone and where would that be?

If you can figure it out, let me know!

Monday, October 24, 2011

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

The Kids Are Actually Sort of Alright and NO! It Doesn't Suck to Be You.

I just got done reading The Kids Are Actually Sort of Alright, New York Magazine, October 24th issue by Noreen Malone. With all this #occupywallstreet going on out there, I was left wondering, #whycantthesekidsfindjobs?

I’m a mother of an 18 year old that just entered Buffalo State College as a freshman. The vibe the article gave me was, the young adults have been coddled and told they were so special and unique. I can attest to witnessing that while Simon was growing up. Everyone was a winner, everyone got a part in the play, everyone got to play on the team. Everyone got a trophy and we ALL had to sit through those arduous ceremonies awarding these meaningless “Participant” trophies for every child just for showing up. I found that this sort of adulation was going to bite somebody later in life. I didn’t expect it to be the kids, as they had EVERYTHING already, including no disappointments and the experience of being on a loser team. They were ALL winners! How could they not be the ones to rule the world and take us along for the ride?

Now what? Here we are, drowning in smart, special, and unique kids with no sense of getting the job done. Any job. Living at home well into their twenties. That’s fine with me if they’re paying part of the mortgage and taking the garbage out. I admire those who did work their tails off for those perfect SAT scores to get into the most expensive schools but not the part that they will be in debt for most of their adult lives. And I ache for those graduating with a bachelor’s degree and not finding their dream job, piling more education and debt upon themselves thinking a master’s will get them that entry job. A job that is barely above minimum wage. A job they thought they were going to get a trophy for just for showing up.

What are they going to school for? Is anyone helping high school juniors and seniors guide them in the right direction? That maybe, no, you won’t be a hedge fund owner or master of Wall Street because once you’re out of your small pond, there are plenty of other fish working harder, longer and for less money. With no college education. What happened to the entrepreneurial spirit? How about taking courses that can help people, that have a future? Philosophy or French History are fine if you’re a millionaire and have no money worries. When I hear some kid saying, “I’m going to major in English” I cringe. Really? What are you going to do with that?? Doesn’t their parents ask that of them? Take animation classes and create comic books. English Major? It was interesting that some of these people, like Sam and Desi, took on jobs just to pay the bills. Isn’t that what we all do to pay the bills? Weren’t they taught that growing up? Yes a super bonus would be to do a job you love and that comes to the next thing about the article that struck me, work your talent. Turn that into a job, business, career, your life blood. It’s the American way!

Life was made easy for this generation, being so fortunate to be raised during the boom times and getting the newest x-box or play station. Surrounded by the biggest and newest you could just point to it and it would be in your hands in an instant. I saw this coming, I knew that a shelf of worthless trophies were nothing but dust collectors. What’s wrong with bringing back craft, working with your hands? I’d rather see something my child made in woodshop on the mantle instead of that Chinese made trophy.

Take the classes to learn how to market your business and go to vocational school to learn a real skill, say sewing, so that we can bring back manufacturing to the United States. Aren’t young people smart enough to figure that out? If they’re spending time poking their friends and posting pictures on facebook, take the time to research small collectives or start a co-op business, start small, start on nickels and dimes you find in the sofa. Start a guild and find like minded geniuses, masters, journey men/women and share your talent with apprentices. #occupywallstreet, go #occupyafactory and get America going again. We need your enthusiasm, energy and fresh ideas. It doesn’t suck to be you, we love you and you’re our future. We all pinned our hopes and dreams on you. Now go out there and get the job done!

Saturday, May 28, 2011

The Best Little Bead Sort Bowls!

We have been under a lot of orders these past two months. One of them called for a large variety of beads in different sizes, colors, styles in just one necklace. How do we keep order?

Pier 1 and Kohl’s has been pushing the “small plates” revolution lately with great collections of little dishes and bowls in white porcelain. I found these bowls for a buck at Pier 1. They are the perfect size, under 3”, pile up nicely to store away. We put the beads in the cups and arrange them on a tray and switch out so easily for the next styles. We love them!

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Where Have The Jewelry Assembly Chicks Been Lately? A NEW Necklace Town!

Two and a half months! It's been that long? Here's what happened in Necklace Town since you've last stopped by. The Jewelry Assembly Chicks did finish that huge order we were slammed with in November. 11,871 necklaces were made here in nearly 12 weeks, all here in the USA in my kitchen! All through Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Years and Valentine's Day. And we juggled other orders while scheduling tree trimming, turkey basting, present wrapping, college applications and snowboarding. If I could have grabbed Santa Claus when he dropped by Christmas Eve, I'd have had him loading up a shipment to drop off at the fulfillment depart via his sled to save me a trip!

So much has happened since the end of February! The Jewelry Assembly Chicks have found a new home! Melindesign has finally left the kitchen table and not a moment too soon. March 1 was the move in date and giant, heavy boxes came in from a couple of new clients very soon after we put the last chair together. What a difference to:

A) have the UPS man COME in and put the boxes any where I want him to
B) to leave pieces half assembled on the work tables and leave it til the next day and
C) to NOT have to vacuum my house every day's end when all the Chicks have left leaving a wake of cut chain and wire pieces all over.

What a difference to have 500 square feet to have a dozen people assembling jewelry and keeping supplies at the ready all in one place. It took a lot of work to clean, prep and 10 gallons of white paint to get it ready, a big thanks to Camie and Ben!

The new Studio is in the Doherty Building right in the center of Somers, my home town, five minutes drive from my house. Everything is right here. The post office, Fedex drop box, UPS store, CVS, sushi, pizza, diner, bakery, delis, Asian eats, Chase, Citi, my CPA, and gelato. I even went and got a pedicure after work one Friday afternoon, just walked right over and while my feet were getting whirlpooled, I could see the Melindesign sign on route 202. Wow! I'm so lucky to have found this space, to have found this wonderful, kind landlord, Bob. He's so generous and wants the best for me. He told me he hopes I'm here for many years. So do I, Bob, so do I!

In my town, in my community, I'm fortunate to be able to able to assemble jewelry for American designers here in Somers, New York. Necklace Town has laid down roots in America, employing Americans, and spending American dollars at the local pizzeria and nail salon. The Jewelry Assembly Chicks have expanded to include a few more chicks and a rooster in our coop. It's been a little scary to make the jump to a new place but so far after one month, I couldn't be happier. It's far exceeded my expectations and I'm just loving the chance to help grow the local economy and to keep this going in the USA!

Thursday, January 20, 2011

What's the Difference Between a Triple Net Lease and a Gross Lease?

The last two weeks I started looking at office spaces. So many variations in what an office space is! I just need a large room, big enough for a large table with eight chairs around it, a desk for myself with wifi and a bathroom. It's exhausting, I go in there with high hopes and my dreams are dashed when I see things I don't like. One ad boasted the space "has great lake views!" Who cares? The poorly laid out floor plan for the square footage was sad for my usage. I couldn't put more than one person in one room. The realtor wanted me to "bust out a wall" at my expense to make the rooms more user friendly. And a vanity with a sink in the middle of a small room with awful heating boxes on the wall, which took up more valuable real estate (who's going to sit there??) Uh, no thanks.

I go see another space that is going under a renovation, freshly painted walls and the carpet was ripped up leaving plywood. Would I want to put down flooring again, at my expense. Uh, no thanks. How about pay for all the electric and electric heat for the entire second floor since I would be the only tenant there until more renters come in. Uh, no thanks. 6% of the school taxes? Village and county taxes? Variable sewage and water costs? Waste removal? Parking fee? $1,000,000 insurance coverage? and do that for 10 years please? Uh, no thanks. What I thought was a nice little rent of $1025.00 turned into about $1,500 pretty quick. And we know how taxes go: UP. Could I keep up with that pace or keep the business in my kitchen and double up on my own mortgage? Tough choices! I really want to get it out of here though....

I just explained Triple Net Lease. It's set up more for the investors, buying the property, making money from the rent and getting the renters to foot the bills to cover expenses. It could work to your advantage because you can negotiate a lower rent. I'm not ready for this sort of deal yet, that's for sure.

I need the Gross Lease. One price, everything covered by the landlord. Usually electricity is on you. But watch out if the heat is electric! Cable will be covered by you too. I'm looking at one that the landlord will give two months rent free for build out, which is renovation. The space may need painting or flooring and the landlord will let you do what you want but you pay for it. Luckily this space has new carpet and new paint. I'm not fussy about the paint and I will have to work with the carpet. With the jewelry assembly, lots of cut chain link pieces falling to the floor all day, bummer I can't just sweep it away. It's same floor too, another negotiable leg you can stand on. The triple net lease was one flight up. Dragging fifty pound boxes of stones and chains up one flight would mot be fun. Oh! I just found out the heat is included in the gross lease! All I have to pay is my own electric.

I'm waiting for the proposal from the gross lease landlord. This one is right down the road, a little more than a mile, I could ride my bicycle there! Fingers crossed the numbers are in my favor! I love the idea of keep this right in the neighborhood, right down the road.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

So Happy to See The SCORE Crew!

I finally got to a SCORE meeting last week. Ever since the deluge of orders that happened in Necklace Town, I haven't been able to see the gang over in the Carmel, NY chapter. And I was in desperate need for advice, a business pick me up. I'm not a business person. I am an artist, a day dreamer, an inventor, a tinkerer, a renovator. I make jewelry all day. I do not like to add numbers, keep records, fill out forms, or do that Quickbooks. I last entered Quickbooks on November 9, 2010 and became so frustrated that I never went back to it. I'm back to pencil and ledger. It works better for me.

To see my retired business titans again today after nearly two months gave me such a relief. Down to business. Ben said I need an accountant right away. Jim the retired accountant, got on the phone and called one to get me going on getting my books in order. When I came home from the meeting, I had a phone message from a CPA. Ben said that my jewelry contractors meet the criteria of a 1099 and gave me a printout from the IRS outlining this. I mentioned this in "Who is a SubContractor or an Employee?" I met a new guy today, Ken. Ben filled him in on what I was about and what was going on and asked me what I want by the end of the month:

  • Get the books together, get my numbers straightened out. NOW. I have 1099s to get out
  • Get the big order at Necklace Town finished and put to bed.
  • Find a space to move this operation. It's too much for my kitchen. I need more room for more people and room to store this material. I want to be able to go there, work, and lock up. We talked about a temporary spot, like a church or a synagogue to rent a space for short term but I can't drag these rolls of chain back and forth. Jim also called another associate on this one, who has offices to rent.
  • Handle new inquiries to new business. How was it to be handled, what were the needs?
  • Establish a strong core team that will be there for important clients at a notice to fill an order, establish other teams to handle other clients as their needs arise. Train them to my specific needs and expertise to be able to attend each client specifications.
Ken asked how I got all this business. I told him it was all the internet. That's how I started. The website, the blog, craigslist, Facebook, Twitter. Google jewelry assembly, jewelry outsource and I'm number one, two, three. Ben thought I paid for the spots! It's Search Engine Optimization. SEO has finally worked for me. And tending to social media has worked too, spreading the word of what I do. No paid advertising, no knocking on doors. It's like a garden, you do have upkeep and maintain the website.
I don't blog enough, I'm still kind of new to it and there's so much more I should be doing but right now, focus is on jewelry assembly.

On the way home, I pulled over at every sign I saw "Office For Rent" and left messages. I saw my first office yesterday. It had a listing price of $650 per month BUT it didn't include electricity, did include heat, ac and water (I didn't know you had to pay for water!). I learned what CAM was: Common Area Maintenance. I spoke to another realtor about another space that was $1780. That didn't include HVAC (air conditioning!) or heating (gas!) there's business taxes and proportional fees for the building. So why don't you just say it's $2,500 then?? This is going to be a picnic, finding a space that's going to fill my needs. Ben said don't take the first one I see. I didn't, it was too small. And did I need a sink vanity in one of those rooms? Strange....

I really needed a shot in the arm from SCORE today. Sometimes I come in there so bewildered (what am I doing??) and they take everything step by step, solve, find solutions and I leave more confident and relieved. I have help close at hand, expert advice that's free! and I'm so grateful to those SCORE guys! If you are just starting out in a small business or already in the thick of it and things are getting crazy, find your local chapter. It's like a business partner but you have many business partners all advising you from their vast wealth of experience. Do it!

Monday, January 10, 2011

Happy New Year in Necklace Town

It's a New Year and hope yours has been Happy! It's still buzzing in Necklace Town. More than half the orders have been shipped. A huge shipment of stones, finally just arrived. Now we can get a big portion of that part of the order going in the next two weeks. There's a lot more to go, but the pace has picked up, everyone knows these pieces quite well now. We're hoping to be finished by the end of the month, fingers crossed!

It's real close to how we've kept to the original amount of chain that was ordered for this. Not too bad, when trying to determine how much chain is needed for four different types of pieces that total to be about 14,000, give or take. Oh to be the one multiplying and multiplying by inches and feet and dividing all that to determine amounts for each one. Oy! And the shipping department! They are packing, labeling and taping hundreds in flat rate boxes twice a week. The biggest load I have taken to ship in my Volvo station wagon so far, is 1,100 pieces.

Out of all that has been shipped, just a small handful have been returned for damage, or the wrong thing was ordered and needed an exchange. Not bad considering all of these 14,777 necklaces were made by hand, here in the United States of America. In the Hudson Valley, New York City, Stamford, Lagrangeville, Pleasant Valley, Poughkeepsie, Fishkill, Montrose, Brookfield, Ossining, Scarsdale, Croton-on-Hudson, Pleasantville, Carmel, White Plains, North Salem, Brewster, Amawalk, Putnam Lake, Hopewell Junction, Cortlandt Manor, Poughquag, Mahopac, Mount Kisco, Shenorock, Mount Vernon, Yorktown Heights, North Yonkers.

Jewelry Assembly Chicks are also administrators, teachers, opera singers, college students back for Christmas break, bass players, full time homemakers, brand new moms, painters, financial administrators, retirees, some unemployed, some working full time. All them working over the holidays, in their homes, at their peak times. Some people like to work late at night, some early in the morning. All of them thrilled to make this jewelry by hand in Necklace Town. There have been many other customers too, to have the ability to over see their production here in Necklace Town, USA, no matter how big or small their needs are. it's been great to help them achieve that. To keep their production here and not in China, Bangladesh or Taiwan.

Everyone has been so wonderful. There were some hiccups. Back ordered supplies. Snowstorms causing a mess of trouble. Some people would get sick but other people stepped in to pick up what someone couldn't do. Or they would come in, stand at the doorway to pickup supplies, lest they contaminate us with a sneeze or cough! Someone had their wisdom teeth pulled but called to find out when they could come in and grab supplies. I did insist she stay home and rest after oral surgery. The team work has been amazing. Everyone has been so cooperative, so helpful.

Sometimes it would be so overwhelming to me, feeling like, such a mountain of STUFF to conquer, so much chain, bubble bags, stones. Boxes crowding out my Christmas tree in the living room. UPS delivering several 50 pound boxes every day, bringing it up and down the basement stairs and up and down the front porch stairs, load the wagon to deliver the finished product. I lost 12 pounds since this order came in and dropped two pant sizes! But it's been the citizens of Necklace Town helping me that has made it possible to conquer this, to make this happen here in our community, keeping the momentum going. I can't thank them enough. Meeting so many nice people in the past two months has been a bonus to this venture. And it was all here in Necklace Town, USA.