Classically Evil's Blog

Home, Bath and Body Products for the Unique Individual

Archive for the category “Inspiration”

Reduce Reuse Recycle

I’ve been going around the apartment (the Classically Evil space more so than others) and finding that I have a lot of stuff that I just don’t use and it’s taking up space.  Normally what I do is donate it all to charity.  When I was living up in Los Angeles I would donate it to Out of the Closet.  Unfortunately, I have moved and there are none, but there is a very convenient Goodwill truck that is pretty good.  I’m noticing that I have a lot of t-shirts that I don’t really wear anymore, a pair of jeans that is about to rip apart, beads, copper wire, all kinds of fabric, and a few bags filled with stuff that I just don’t know what it is.

So I have decided that instead of just donating to charity (not that it’s a bad thing, I am a huge donator), I thought that I would try to reuse as many of these items as possible and create new things with them.  Here are a few links that I’ve been checking out lately:

T-shirt projects: http://savedbylovecreations.com/2012/02/50-recycled-t-shirt-craft-projects.html
Copper Wire & Beads: http://www.ehow.com/search.html?rs=2&s=Jewelry+Wire&skin=corporate&t=all

Just a few ideas I was batting around.  I’ve got to see what other crazy things I have around here.  I’ll keep my weekend full, that’s for sure.  In the very near future I plan on putting up some of the pictures from what I’ve been reusing.  I’ll also be going through a step-by-step process for some of the cooler stuff.  If anyone has any great websites or cool ideas that they’ve been working on, I’d love to see it!  Cheers!

Finding Balance

It’s been a long time since I posted, well, anything and this is quite regrettable.  Over the last month it has been hard for me to find time to work on the blog, let alone the shop.  It’s been hard, not because I’ve been super crazy busy, but let’s face it, sometimes it’s hard to pull yourself away from the day-to-day.

Recently I acquired a temp position to help with the bills.  This is great, but also has been taking up some of the time that I would normally devote to the shop.  I could sit here all night and say how long my commute is (it isn’t.  It’s 15 minutes max) or how stressful the job is (it isn’t at all) but those would be lies to make myself feel better for being lazy.  That’s right.  I’m not going to sugar-coat it.  I know that I can find that balance between home life, work, and Classically Evil if I just put my mind to it.

The other day I sat down and was thinking of ways to try to find that balance between those 3 areas of my life.  I’ve been trying to just go with the flow and how I felt (but that was getting me nowhere, clearly).  I went scientific and decided to create a pie chart to divide up all of my free time in a week and make sure it went together in the appropriate percentages.  I realized as ambitious as that was, I wasn’t going to calculate my life down to the last-minute.  When you are an artistic individual, planning your life like that does not happen.  So then I was back to square one.  Then it hit me.  I’ve got the work time already planned out, so I’m good there.  No worries on that end.  I’ve got the alone time at night right before bed usually (which is nice – vegging out in front of the TV in bed without a worry in the world).  But on the weekdays between 5:30 and 10.  That’s where I find the trouble.

Fortunately enough, Classically Evil is done completely out of my house (which is a blessing and a curse).  It’s great because whenever the mood takes me, I can just go in the other room and work on something.  But when I get distracted (Oooh!  Shiny Squirrel!) forget it, I’m not gonna touch it.

So, here’s my solution.  I am going to make the goal that I spend at  least an hour every weeknight (and 2-3 every weekend day) on Classically Evil.  This will give me plenty of time to spend with my loved ones without feeling guilty that I’m ignoring them.  I figure with leaving it kind of open (as to when to do it) but still keeping a slight schedule to it, I think I can stick to it.  Let’s keep our fingers crossed.  🙂

When Times Get Tough…

I know, I know.  I’ve gone totally M.I.A.  These last 3 weeks have been rather hectic here in Classically Evil land.  I have adopted a puppy (she’s almost 11 weeks old) and she’s quite the handful; I am facing some tough negotiations coming up; and I even had an interview with the dream job and still waiting on the results.  With all of this, when times get tough…the tough get crafting.  That’s right.  I plunge, head first, into the craft work.

I’ve been experimenting on a few ideas with Le Fleur Du Mal products and even made a dog bed for the puppy.  For a long time I had forgotten how good it feels to be distracted by making something with my own hands and watch the time fly by. 

I’m getting everything finalized and should have a few items up on my etsy page as soon as my labels are finished.  I will also get back to posting some more detailed posts soon!

Interesting Photos, Catchy Titles, and Other Amazing Things I Learned at the Etsy Success Symposium

Friday was Etsy Success Symposium and what a day it was!  If you were unable to attend the live event, you can catch them at: http://www.etsy.com/community/online-labs.  I ended up catching one symposium on how to get into craft shows and another one about getting found in search engines.  I’ve been trying to catch up on the other ones like getting found on Pinterest.  On the Etsy website they also have videos on how to get started and the new Pay Pal tax forms.  Yeah, I’m definitely behind on these symposiums.  I’ve got about 4+ hours to catch up on.  I’ve also been reading a ton of books.  All of the links and resources I pull from, I’ll cite below.* Thank goodness for the weekend!  The main thing that I really found useful was the 3 Steps to get noticed in a search.  Step 1 – Clickable Titles.  Step 2 – Clickable Photos.  Step 3 – Building a Brand.

Step 1 – Clickable Titles.  Be literal and use dashes to explain exactly what you’re selling but it needs to make sense.  For example: if you’re selling a vintage table.  Don’t just say: vintage table.  It’s always good to get specific: Vintage 1940s – Oak Dining Room Table – Seats 4 – Medium Finish.  They know exactly what they’re clicking on, which is when you can get a bit more creative with the picture.  It also sounds like it can be a bit frowned upon to put free shipping in the title or in a tag.  I’ll probably do a little more research on that when I start selling.

Step 2 – Clickable Photos.  Photos really give the client a couple of ideas: 1) what item you’re actually selling and 2) evoke need/emotion/desire.  Photos are important.  Extremely important.  It is ridiculous how many bad photos are out there of good products.  There’s also a ton of wonderful photos of terrible products.  Hence why there’s the website Regretsy.  Since photos are SO important, I decided I would start messing around with my phone (iPhone 4) and the free app Instagram.  I took some photos at the local Farmer’s Market as well as some plant life in my neighborhood.  I have attached the photos in this post so you can see the result.  I wanted to take photos of simple things and make them look high-end.  I think the result has turned out well.

Step 3 – Building a Brand.  Once you have created a brand, people will instantly recognize what you do and how skilled of an artisan you are.  With my brand of Classically Evil I really focused on what kind of message I want to communicate.  So I started thinking of keywords of my brand.  Classic, vintage, Tim Burton, glamour, luxurious, edgy, fun, Dia De Los Muertos, skull, flowers, Le Fleur Du Mal.  Working on my labels it hit me: Tim Burton’s Ed Wood was what I really wanted to capture in my label.  It says old-school Hollywood with a bit of an edge which is exactly what I wanted. 

In case you haven’t noticed by some of my previous posts, I am a huge fan of research and passing it along to others.  Especially since I have had some not-so-fun encounters.  The other day I was doing some website research and received a pretty harmful virus.  It completely wiped my hard drive.  You’d be amazed at how careful you have to be.  It’s not just reserved for sketchy sites.  Just be careful and stick to the main websites that are reputable.

I’m off to enjoy the rest of my weekend.  I have a few books/articles to read, a couple of videos on Etsy to check out, and Pinterest to figure out (since I just got invited today!  Woo hoo!).

For A Little Further Investigation:

Entrepreneur Magazine.  April 2012.  Some great articles: Go Solo: Build a successful business on your own.  Secrets of the 10 Most Trusted Brands.
Handmade Marketplace: How to Sell Your Crafts Locally, Globally, and Online.  Kari Chapin.  Storey Publishing.  2010.
How To Start a Home-Based Craft Business.  Fifth Edition.  Kenn Oberrecht.  Morris Book Publishing.  2007.

Organic, Vegan, and Great Resources for Doing It Yourself!

After some careful research (and not so careful – I ended up somehow getting a virus and wiped my hard drive completely!) I have determined organic is totally the way to go…unless of course, you are a vegan…then vegan (of course! Duh!) is the way to go.  Of course, 99 times out of 100 vegan is organic.  I know it seems pretty clear-cut, but there are many reasons to go organic and be able to control what you’re putting on your body.

A little back story on myself and Classically Evil.  I moved out to Southern California in January of 2005 to pursue a career in the film industry.  The following year I quit the industry (I had some successes and some failures, but all in all a wonderful experience) and got a job in retail.  It got me thinking.  I can do this myself.  I can do it better.  I can make it personal.  I started working on the concept for Classically Evil back in 2006.  It originally started as a clothing line concept – 1940s inspired gothic.  I started doing research and kept working at my own style.  Then one day it hit me: Bath and Body Products.  With the vegan and organic revolution taking hold over the next few years, I decided I would start making my own and noticed a huge difference in my skin.  I starting bringing my products to work (lip balm and lotion) in 2011 and testing it out on people.  I started donating my products and giving them away as gifts.  I got a lot of very positive feed back and decided to quit my day job and pursue Classically Evil full-time.

Now I go around and encourage everyone I meet that they should make their own scrubs, soaps, lotions, and masks.  You can control what goes on your skin – no harsh chemicals.  I can’t tell you how many times I’ve gone to a store, looked at the bath/body products, smelled them (smelled great), and then looked at the ingredients and couldn’t pronounce them let alone know what it does for my skin.  Before I started making my own product, I used a particular brand of body scrub.  I loved the way it smelled and made my skin feel.  For $8 I got 18oz.  The first three ingredients are Sucrose, Glycerine, and Polysorbate 20.  The body scrub you can make yourself has only the ingredients of epsom salt, sugar (I like to use organic sugar), and extra-virgin olive oil.  It’ll only cost you about $8 to make 24oz (roughly).  And the craziest part of all of that: it is more EXPENSIVE than the organic counterpart you can make yourself. 

Some basic ingredients that you have around your house that are commonly used in bath and body products: epsom salts, sea salt, sugar, baking soda, honey, extra virgin olive oil, sunflower oil, vitamin e oil, coconut oil, oats, lemons, and tea.  It’s always great to have chamomile and lavender on hand.  Maybe growing it in a garden.  This year I started growing my own herbs and vegetables on my balcony.  We’ve been using them quite a bit and it’s a ton of fun.  You’d be amazed as to how useful and easy (on your health and wallet) it can be.

As I am working on this, I am currently checking out a couple of Etsy Online Labs for marketing and branding.  Always learning this one right here.  If I find out anything cool, I will try to pass it on to you guys!

I have a few resources below for you to check out.  A few books, websites, and stores that I use as wonderful resources.  I’ll keep you all up to date if I find any other cool sites or books.  I’d love to hear from you guys if you know of any great sites/books/stores you use that you can recommend!

Further reading:

Natural Beauty at Home.  Janice Cox.  Holt Paperbacks.  2002.
Organic Body Care Recipes.  Stephanie Tourles.  Storey Publishing.  2007.
Making It: Radical Home Ec for a Post-Consumer World.  Kelly Coyne & Eric Knutzen.  Rodale Press.  2010.
The Big-Ass Book of Crafts.  Mark Montano. Simon Spotlight Entertainment.  2008. (The book that started it all)

Sites to check out:

Mountain Rose Herbs.  They’re great for organic and vegan products.  You can get just about anything.  They’re a little more expensive, but you pay for convenience.
Lip Balm Tubes.com.  They’ve got the lip balm basics as well as vegan alternatives.

Stores:

99 Cent Store.  Surprisingly great location for basics like Epsom salt (2lbs. for $0.99), Vitamin E oil (4 oz. for $0.99) for instance.
Trader Joe’s.  If you are anywhere near a Trader Joe’s they have Coconut Oil ($7 for 16oz.) and Jojoba Oil ($8 for 4oz.).
Sprouts (formerly Henry’s).  You can get Essential Oils (and do some fun research for organic beauty products) here.  They’re a little expensive.  However, keep an eye out for sales.  Occasionally they go on sale for 20-25% off.
Smart & Final.  Great for spices that you can put in your products.  I believe I got a 1/4 oz bag of dried chamomile flowers for $0.99.  Not too shabby.

To Thine Own Self Be True

In my particular line of work, smell is essential.  Well, good smell, that is.  We all have our own preferences.  Some like floral, fruity, or earthy.  Just because we love the smell of fresh cut grass, doesn’t mean that we necessarily want to smell like that either.  By starting Classically Evil, I have discovered my own personal fragrance pallet: fruity, tropical, tasty.  Personally I like to smell like food.  But just because my personal tastes lean one way, doesn’t necessarily mean that my client base agrees.  Here lies the issue.  Stay true to what smells I love and products I personally use?  Or do I try to use scents like Lavender and sandalwood in my products because I know that there is such a large base?

Like Polonius said to Laertes in Hamlet, “To Thine Own Self Be True.”  Nowadays we take this to mean to be true to who we are and what we believe in.  What Shakespeare really meant was to be true to our own interests.  In a way this seems a bit selfish and self-serving.  I take it both ways.  I have to serve myself in my business.  After all, at the end of the day, I have to make a living.  However, the whole reason I started this business is to create a product I can believe in and stand behind.  I think that I can make a good product that I will be proud to put my name on and sell.  Granted, I am not a huge fan of Lavender (for instance) but I’m sure I could pair it with another scent (say chamomile or vanilla) and make a great combo.  It’s all still a work in progress, of course.

Just as important as smell, is also sight.  You’re not going to want to put anything on your body (no matter how good it might be for you) that looks and smells gross.  Sometimes I had a couple of drops of food coloring to achieve the right effect, but for the most part, I believe that the products should speak for themselves.  For the most part my products are either white, tan, or clear just because the bases or the ingredients themselves are those colors.  I’ve also been doing some investigation with natural dyes.  Beet juice is great for lip stains.  I have discovered this fact while trying to cook with them (Literally my fingers were red for two days!).  There is also a bit of a healthy balance here.  You don’t necessarily want beet juice in your body lotion (looking like a lobster before a first date is not the best idea).

I’m actually really excited because tomorrow afternoon I will be attending a couple of online workshops through Etsy.  Marketing and Branding workshops.  Marketing and Branding are just as important as your product when it comes to the online community.  Tomorrow I’ll report as to how that goes and what I’ve learned as well as the ultimate question for me: Regular product vs. organic vs. vegan.  Which is the best way to go?   Is there such a huge difference?  Or is the $2-$10 I save on getting non-organic, non-vegan items are just as good as their expensive organic vegan counterpart?

The Past No Longer Is. The Future Has Not Yet Come.

Life is all about beginnings and endings.  We see this every day from the miniscule to the gigantic.  Today I was looking for some inspiration and I found something the Buddha taught:

“Do not pursue the past.
Do not lose yourself in the future.
The past no longer is.
The future has not yet come.
Looking deeply at life as it is
in the very here and now,
the practitioner dwells
in stability and freedom.
We must be diligent today.
To wait until tomorrow is too late.
Death comes unexpectedly.
How can we bargain with it?
The sage calls a person who knows
how to dwell in mindfulness
night and day
‘one who knows
the better way to live alone.’ ” *

I felt that this was particularly inspirational today.  Wednesday (March 28th) symbolizes two very important things for me personally.  One, it’s my anniversary of meeting my boyfriend and two, the day that I am officially finished with residing in Los Angeles.  This is truly bittersweet.  I am grateful for everything that I have achieved while living in Los Angeles, but I am excited to find out what the future holds. 

It is so easy for us to dwell in the past or live in the future.  Is this because we are not so thrilled with how our present has turned out?  Are we so stressed as a society that we can’t even cope with the mundane?  Or are we on sensory under-load and we need some kind of excitement?  I know that for me, a sufferer of Borderline Personality Disorder, I had great difficulty living in the present.  I blamed my past for why I couldn’t achieve my dreams and focused on what tomorrow would bring.  It is something that I struggle with every day.  But I know that each day gets a little easier with Mindfulness.

With the new outlook on life I have completed my Classically Evil workspace here in Irvine.

I’ve also officially started the Etsy shop.  http://classicallyevil.etsy.com.  I don’t currently have any products up yet.  I am still finalizing the product line as well as packaging and labels.  I’m hoping to have the packaging ordered, the products finalized, and the Etsy site finished by tomorrow.  I’m also hoping to have the labels finished by the end of the week.

I’ve also been working on some great recipes for the kitchen as well as the bath!  Fun recipes to come!

* Adapted from the Bhaddekaratta Sutta, translated by Thich Nhat Hanh (Teachings of the Buddha, Jack Kornfield, 1993.  Knowing a Better Way to Live.  Pgs. 114 – 115).

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