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May Monster Mash Giveaway! // Winner’s Announced!

ETA: WINNERS HAVE BEEN DRAWN! View each image for winner’s names. All makers will be contacting their winners individually, so be on the look out!

ETA 5:01 pm 5/22: I have two late add ins – a ceramic monster from Gingerly Twisted, and a monster sculpture from Lola Made – technical difficulties caused a delay in getting their items/entries in, but they are all added in now + you can earn entries by following their social channels & visiting their shops!

Hey guys! I know, I haven’t actually used this blog space for more than giveaways in a bit, but I promise I have some fresh content & blog posts coming soon! But first, let’s celebrate the end of school, beginning of summer, and all things FUN with my May Monster Mash Giveaway!

Yup, me & some monster making buddies are teaming up to bring you one amazing monster of a giveaway – 9 monster toys up for grabs, and 9 WINNERS. One item per winner, yay! So lots of cute monsters, lots of ways to enter, lots of chances to win, lots of winners! Hooray!

Like last month’s giveaway, you will earn entries by following these awesome monster makers on social media, visiting/following their shops, and you can even earn entries by sharing products from the stores to social media – you can do one blog post a day with products from each shop, share an item on Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter, or even pin some items to Pinterest! Then just post the URL of your share into the giveaway widget for the entry to count!

Here is all the official rules: Contest is open from 12AM EST 5/22 to 11:59PM EST 5/28. Giveaway is open world wide, where allowed, to entrants over the age of 18. Non-domestic winners must pay shipping prior to their item being shipped. Winners are selected at random by Rafflecopter!

Excited yet? Wait until you see this prize line up!

Rainbow Micro Monster from Lu & Ed / Winner: Mandy Capraun

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A Monster Plush from Love & A Sandwich / Winner: April Howard

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Sock Monster from Stuf’d / Winner: Jennifer Galay

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Sock Critter from Too Much Caffeine Critters / Winner: Megan Czach

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Fuzzy Monster from Pink Sprinkles Plush / Winner: Bridget Moore

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Purple Essential Oil Diffuser Monster from Smelly Faces / Winner: Jill Keller
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Fuzzy Monster from Fuzzling Monsters / Winner: Rebekah Lu

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Mama Monster Sculpture from Lola Made / Winner: Lisa Shankly

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Monster Plush from The Magical Monsters / Winner: Richelle G

Ceramic Monster from Gingerly Twisted / Winner: Carmen Mobberly

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How monstrously awesome are these prizes?! I sort of want to win them all myself. *heart eyes*

Now, let’s get down to winning some stuff! The more entries you earn, the better your chance of winning! Don’t forget to come back every day this week to earn extra entries!
>CLICK HERE TO ENTER<

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A Sugar Free Valentine’s Day Treat for You! (Psst it’s a Giveaway!)

Happy weekend, monster loving friends! It’s been an exciting week! Not only did my son launch his own line of monster products, I’ve been collaborating with new friends & I am so excited to bring you a super sweet treat for Valentine’s Day – a giveaway, yay!

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I have teamed up with a master maker of loveliness & sweetness, Ell Bee Accessories, to offer this free bundle of cute sweetness just for you. Up for grabs in the giveaway this weekend is winner’s choice of one of the five 3-pack sets of hair bows (either on clips or head bands), and a $10 shop credit to luanded.com! Yay!

Giveaway is open from 2/4 until midnight 2/6. Winner will be announced 2/7 and will have 24 hours to claim their prizes before we draw for another winner, so there’s ample time for the goodies to arrive in time for Valentine’s Day! There’s variety of ways to enter, from following us on social media to sharing the graphic above on Instagram!

Enter below – and tell your friends! Good luck!

>>> Click to enter! >>> a Rafflecopter giveaway <<< Click to Enter! <<<

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Monster Mash! Easy Peasy Monster Halloween Costumes & Accessories

This year, I had the honor of collaborating with Opposite of Far for a monster themed Halloween photo shoot done by the lovely Qiana K! Opposite of Far launched her Monster Masks, which are fun, colorful, and when paired with basics from Primary.com & monster trick or treat totes or stuffies from my shop – make the cutest simplistic monster costumes ever!

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Aren’t these little monsters the cutest you ever did see?! Hurry to place your monstrously awesome Halloween orders – it’s spooky how soon it will be here!

 

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500 Monsters in 2016 update & some really BIG news

Going into this year, I knew Lu & Ed would be my sole source of income, and that I would have to increase production & sales greatly in order to make ends meet. At the beginning of the year I set a goal to beat last year’s monster production (just over 350 monsters) & exceed it by at least an additional 150 products – for a total of 500 monsters made in 2016.

And guess what?! I just made more monster making history: my 300th monster this year! Shooting right along towards the big 5-0-0!

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The 300th monster of 2016!

While this is a super exciting milestone to hit, I have an even bigger, much more exciting announcement to make – the reason why I’m hustling so hard to meet this goal early!

And that is that I’ll be a mama again in a few short months!

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Whoa, right? I know people will have questions, so here’s the short & skinny version: Several months after I moved, I reconciled with my son’s bio dad. It’s been amazing for me & G, and we are so super happy! The timing of it all and how things just rolled together is so serendipitous, I can’t even begin to explain it. And apparently this is just how things were meant to be, because now there’s a beautiful babe on her way this fall, and we are all so happy together!

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I won’t lie though, it took a really long time for it to sink in that I had gotten pregnant. Gauge is ELEVEN almost & I never thought I would have another baby. I have chronic ovarian issues, and had been told the odds of me conceiving again were much slimmer than that of a healthy woman with normal hormone production & no ovarian issues. But somehow, this little miracle happened, against all the odds. And it’s only just now sinking in that in just 3.5 months (or sooner, depending on when the babe is ready to make her debut) I’ll be a mother to a newborn again, for the first time in eleven years. Which makes me stupidly excited!

But it’s, like, really starting to really sink in that in a few months, I’ll be the mother to a newborn again. And that my goals for Lu & Ed this year, and next, needed to shift drastically. So I did some evaluations, and while it will be tight, I think I can still make my 500 monsters in 2016 goal – if I make 90% of the rest of the monsters before mid-October, when the baby is due. No big deal, right? (Seriously though, send me all the productive vibes!) If I can meet my production goals, I’d be able to take almost the entire last quarter of the year off post-babe from sewing monsters & soak up those weeks with my own new little monster.

So, I decided I’m still going to push to meet my production goal for this year. As far as next year, the unofficial goal (I don’t like to set goals in stone until the end of the year, but this was sort of a must-do thing) was to move into a bigger place with a 3rd bedroom I could use as a studio. Currently, we are living in a tiny little MAYBE 700 SF home with two tiny bedrooms and one closet in the entire house. (Seriously, it’s so little you have to turn sideways to walk by the sink to get to the toilet, and we have less than 24″ of counter space in the kitchen). But if we do upgrade to a home with a third bedroom, I wouldn’t be able to dedicate that to my studio space for long with babe needing her own space eventually. So now I am considering other alternatives:

  • Rent a one room office downtown to use as a studio
  • Scale down production to make room for babe (though how, I don’t know, I’ve already went from six totes of fabric to two, and less than 8 SF of production room, and it’s really really really difficult to get stuff done in this teeny space already).
  • Try to afford a four bedroom house (in WNC? HA! I would need to win the lottery).
  • Buy a three bedroom home with either a main level office or place that could be used as an studio, like a sun room (light is essential for product photography so a basement is out of the question, unless it magically has tons of natural light) or convert a shed into a kick-butt fully functioning studio space with heat, AC and good lighting within a year or two of moving.
  • Buy a school bus/camper and convert it into a mobile studio, with monster graffiti all over the outside of it, of course.
  • Set up a Yurt in the backyard of our tiny rental, move studio to Yurt. Or move us into Yurt, turn house into studio.
  • The most undesirable option is to shelf Lu & Ed for several months until we are in a better position financially & space wise. I am loathe to do that and completely halt the growth I’ve made since moving. I’ll empty the living room and turn it into a studio before I shelf Lu & Ed.

As you can see, I have a lot to figure out in a few short months about what path I need to focus my energy on – while still getting the house ready for babe. Renting a one room office space is so far the most appealing option for space requirements but I would have to greatly increase production & sales to make it a viable option for my budget which will be tough with a new babe – and the added rent & utilities for a space would be equal to what we’d pay on a mortgage for an additional bedroom or two…. so much to think about and decide on!

Right now? I’m just focusing on meeting the production goal. I have a lot of work & planning ahead of me, in order to keep Lu & Ed functioning at full capacity, but hitting that goal is the first step. After that, we will see what we are able to make happen after the babe gets here. It’ll be tough, but I’m excited to share this journey of new motherhood & small business ownership with all of you!

Got small space living tips? Please, share them with me in the comments – we need to make this tiny house work until at least March of 2017. Got space saving tips for babies (besides using lots of Mon-stors to hold clothes and toys?) – share those in the comments too! I’ll need all the help I can get!

 

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Getting to Know Your Dream Clients

This is part two in a five part series about identifying your target audience. Read the first post here.

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This exercise is all about exploring, getting to know and getting ready to approach your dream clients. This may not necessarily be the  people currently purchasing from you, but rather the people you dream of buying & using your products and telling their social media following about you!  This doesn’t mean in any way you are kicking current buyers to the curb, which a common concern about people learning to identify their dream clients – that’s not what is happening at all! It just means that you are working hard to expand & grow your audience organically and bring in additional clients who will help you spread the word about your business in an authentic way. So try to remove any considerations about your current clientele from your mind and focus only on your dream clients, who should be the most popular and influential peeople you could dream of buying your products!. Once you wrap up this series, you should have a clear vision in your head about your dream client is and how to approach them, so take your time and really consider your answers!
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Download this printable here
How to use this worksheet:
Again, it is not designed to analyze your current customers but to help you identify & define your target audience. These are the most popular & influential people you can think of that you would want to buy & showcase your products on social media.


Parts 1-3 help you identify their style and how your brand & products fits into their life by helping you determine where they live, how your products fit into that space, and why they would like your stuff to begin with. No matter what you make, your dream client has to want to bring it into their home, or they won’t bring it into their home. It’s as simple as that. So by identifying where & how they live, how they decorate & use their space and how your products fit into it, you have a better chance at staging photos & writing copy for listings as well as your social media posts so they speak to your dream client and drive sales.

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Parts 4-6 help you define your dream client’s interests and spending habits, as well as what sort of marketing tactics they are attracted to. Understanding your dream clients interests and consumption habits help you understand how they respond to marketing from larger industries & how your products fit into their consumption habits. This knowledge helps you analyze your own social media and marketing habits and alter them to appeal to your dream clients better.

Parts 7-9 help you to understand what type of content your dream client likes on social media. This is SO important – knowing what type of content your audience enjoys, actively pursues & shares is the keystone to how your social media campaigns should be administered, from photo styling to product modeling to how you talk about your products – recognizing the type of content your dream clients actually consume and respond to will help you create a killer social media campaign!

Try to think of at least four people to put on this worksheet that your target audience follows. It can be celebrities, indie brands, bloggers – anyone you look up to & think your dream client would too. Determine why they would follow those four people. Is it because they are all funny? Inspiring? Spiritual? Are they all kids clothing designers & parenting lifestyle bloggers? Are they all trendy moms? Photographers? What is it about these people your dream client loves? And of course – does your dream client share content from these people? If so, why? What type of content? And most importantly – are you curating the type of social media campaign that your dream clients would follow? Are you creating content they would share with their audience?

Harnessing this knowledge is the key to understanding what sort of content your dream client is looking for & how you can produce similar content that is unique to your brand. Explore the people you think your dream client would follow. Look at this objectively – do not try to find similarities between the people your dream clients follow and you. Look for the differences. Learn from them. Look at how they style their images & present themselves & their brands, if they are businesses.

Defining your dream client’s interests is so important to understanding how to approach them. Next, we’ll use the info gathered from this worksheet to help learn where to find our Dream clients online! 

Let’s talk in the comments: what did you learn about your Dream Clients today?

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Tips for Maker Moms: 15+ hashtags you should try out on Instagram

Moms. We’re busy people. We make humans, we raise humans. That alone makes us all superheros in my book. Maker moms? We make humans, we raise humans, we run businesses. Running businesses means we are the CEO, the head of marketing, the product photographer, the head of production, the public relations specialists & social media analysts, the product testers, the quality control team… and so much more. Plus, we’re moms.

I’m not going to downplay it – sometimes it’s not easy to balance it all, get to soccer practice on time, make the cupcakes for the play date and stay on top of social media trends, all while finding time in there somewhere to you know, actually make products.

But if I can help take a little of the overwhelm out of the social media gig for you, hey, that makes me happy & we all succeed, right?! And with Instagram’s new changes rolling out soon, I decided it would be a great time to share some of the most responsive hashtags I’ve discovered for makers & mamas! These are all hashtags I have experimented with, spent time exploring & found to drive authentic, organic traffic & interactions to my posts. Plus they have led me to some really great Instagram accounts I wouldn’t have found otherwise!

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#creativedaily

You know that awesome monthly photo challenge I run? It’s sort of taken off as a viral hashtag for handmade & makers. And I’m fine with that! Use it however you want. If you want to follow the prompts, cool! If you’d rather just use the tag to connect with other makers and share your daily bits of creativity, that’s fine too! The entire purpose of the project is to bring together makers & creatives!

#creativelifehappylife

This hashtag was coined by Danielle of Merri Weather Counseling. I love this hashtag because it is all about sharing how creativity impacts your life – whether that’s through your creative business, shopping handmade, doing crafts with your kids or a DIY project. There is already almost 100K images uploaded to this hashtag, and it is one of the top trending hashtags for makers to connect!

#craftymom

With almost 100K posts to this hashtag, it’s without a doubt a wonderful way to connect with your fellow maker mamas, share cutesy DIY arts and crafts projects with the kids & showcase your own fierce crafty mama game!

#makersgonnamake

This popular phrase quickly turned into a trending hashtag with over 300K images uploaded to it. It is ideal for connecting makers, creatives and artisans, whether they sell or create just for fun.

#abmcrafty

Created by Emma & Elsie, there’s a ton of A Beautiful Mess hashtags but for us makers, this is the one we want to use to show off our creativity and connect with DIYers or makers. Almost 50K posts to this hashtag already with hundreds being added daily!

#abmhappylife

Also part of the A Beautiful Mess family, this hashtag has over 125K images uploaded to it & there is a few ways to utilize this hashtags: Showing off a bright, colorful space, showing off things that make you happy, sharing snippets of your life & joyful moments and also to showcase how your products make life happier/easier/better. It’s important to be authentic on Instagram, so posting photos that show what real life happy moments are to you is essential in creating real connections & driving organic engagement!

#abmlifeiscolorful

Life with kids is colorful. So is life as a maker. Another member of the A Beautiful Mess family, this hashtag is one of my favorites for it’s vibrancy!

#momlife

If you are a maker mom, or you make products for kids or moms, this hashtag is a must for your kid/parenting related posts! With over 3 MILLION images uploaded to it, #momlife is a high traffic hashtag that can put your toys, kids clothing line or organic wooden baby rattles in front of thousands of people daily – or you can use this hashtag to share your parenting wins & woes, connect with other moms about balancing work/house keeping/feeding kids half way healthy meals every day and to basically put the real authentic you on display to help drive engagement, new followers and make it easier for other moms to relate to you/your products.

#wearethemakers

This hashtag is best used to connect with other creatives and makers – it’s all about sharing the process of your creativity and you can use it to show off your work space, show how your trade inspires others, share exciting maker milestones (yay for that feature in the magazine, go you!) and build community/make maker friends!

#livethelittlethings

This hashtag is a great way to showcase your products if they simplify, beautify or improve the quality of your consumers lives – or to show how you personally live in the moments where the little things happen, capturing your child(ren)’s toothy grins or how special it is to see your products in use. We all need to #livethelittlethings a little more often! (And no, it’s not a typo, it’s LIVEthelittlethings, not LOVEthelittlethings.)

#clickinmoms

Anyone else love using their kid as a model as much as I do? Or just photographing them in general? This is a great hashtag to use to connect with other moms who love photographing their children!

#momofboys or #momofgirls

I use this tag a lot, especially when posting photos of my son, because while I try to keep things as gender neutral as possible, it’s undeniable raising a child of either gender has it’s own unique struggles, celebrations & joys – and this is a great way to connect with your fellow girl moms & boy moms, and it’s always a great way to put your handmade children’s products out in front a wide audience of mamas who may be looking for gender specific items, like teething necklaces, baby wraps or toys, for baby showers or birthday gifts. You can also use #boymom & #girlmom tags as well!

#instakids

Let’s just say if you have anything kid related to post, this is one of the top hashtags to use with over four million photos currently uploaded to this stream on Instagram! It’s a great way to connect with your fellow moms + explore & share kid related posts & products.

#craftsposure

While Craftsposure is a community of makers, creatives and bloggers, the #craftsposure hashtag has over 300K posts to it so far and it’s one of the top trending maker hashtags out there with the sweet possibility of your post being featured on their IG account – which has more than 197K followers!

#handsandhustle

With over 90K posts so far, this is a fun hashtag full of colorful, real looks into the lives of creative makers & entrepreneurs. And us mamas know that it’s truly a hustle to get kids up, dressed, ready for school out the door, then it’s pedal to the metal all the way until the bus swings back around, and often right back at it after the kiddos hit the hay. If that’s not a handmade mama hustle, I don’t know what is. Love this tag, and all the cool posts that reside within it.

#handmadeisbetter

Duh, all makers know that! But did you know this trendy hashtag has over 200K posts to it on Instagram? Tell it to the world & connect with fellow makers!

#handmade and #handcrafted

These seem like a no brainer, but I actually don’t see many makers I follow utilize these hashtags when posting their handmade products, and these both have millions of photos posted to them (#handmade has over 42 million while #handcrafted has 2 million).

#flashesofdelight

What little things are bringing you joy today? Is it your baby’s smile, your latest product, or a fresh cup of coffee? Share the little moments & embrace those little flashes of delight – this creates authenticity and shows the life behind the lens! With over 800K photos, this is currently a really hot hashtag to share those sweet little moments that make you smile.

Are any of these hashtags new to you? Why not give them a whirl and let me know if you find them driving more traffic to your posts? Got some suggestions for great hashtags for maker moms to use? Leave them in the comments! #collaborate

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Five Friday Favorites

I’m sorta broke this holiday season (thanks, divorce & moving half way across the country) so I wasn’t able to shop indie/handmade as much as I usually do – and that stinks cause my maker buddies were killing  it this year with new designs, awesome products & amazing sales!

Since I couldn’t indulge in excessive holiday shopping this year (and won’t be able to for a while, ugh) I decided to do a little series here & there featuring some of my favorite items on my to-buy lists from my maker buddies that I think y’all might dig too!

First up, I recently met Hánni of Wolfe & Scamp. She makes the most darling baby bibs, hoodies, headbands and other goodies for kids. My personal favorite item that I would have LOVED to have snag my nephew this year? A rainbow dino (or monster!) hoodie! Serious cuteness going on here.

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I was actually able to score my niece some sweet floral headbands from It’s Vann by doing a swap with her (a giant mega red stuffed Mon-stor for three headbands, yay!). I love Vann’s sweet headbands and have several myself. She also makes awesome handpainted necklaces for kids too – my son has one and he wears it all the time. Seriously fun kid’s accessories!

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I have gotten sooooo many gifts from Landon’s Toy Box over the years, and this year Holly added so many awesome new product lines! Her pillow dolls & stacking toys were on the top of my list for my littlest niece, who just turned two. I think I am going to order some for her Easter basket this year since I wasn’t able to snag any for Christmas. I mean seriously, my niece needs this monster stacking set. Needs it. 

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JoyalTee makes amazing pants for kids from discarded, misprinted or thrifted tee shirts. I totally need to get my nephew Caleb about two dozen pants of these – that boy could live in PJ pants but these are waaaaaaaaaaaaaay cuter!

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And last but not least I am so so so in love with Happy Guppy home goodies! I bought my mom a ‘cactus’ from her last year & have decided I’m going to buy her one every year for her birthday – these are just too cute and are such a fun thing to collect!

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And there you have it – five things currently on my to-buy list! Which item from this line up is your favorite?