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Meet the Maker: Dani of Big Hugs, Little Envelopes – a maker every maker should know!

You guys, this Monday, you can thank me for starting off your week introducing you to a maker who creates supplies that makes running your business so much more fun & colorful, and soon, SO much easier! Get to know Dani & all the services & products she offers makers below, and be sure to visit her shop Big Hugs, Little Envelopes to view the full range of products as well – she is offering 20% off with code SAVE20 to all Lu & Ed readers through December 31st, 2017! Thanks, Dani!
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Heeeey Dani! Welcome to my blog! Let’s get started – why don’t you tell the readers all about yourself?

Hey, guys! I’m Dani, a life-long Colorado girl, mama of two rad boys, and wife to one totally amazing dude! I am a teacher by trade and actually taught elementary school for 12 years before deciding to take a break and stay home with my kiddos! I have taught every grade K-5 and loved them all, but 5th grade will always have a very special place in my heart! My schooling has all been centered around teaching, of course! I am certified to teach K-6 and, am endorsed in gifted education. With my Masters in literacy, I am also endorsed to teach reading K-12 (though I haven’t yet ventured into the land of middle or high school!). I also have a minor in French, but I tell ya what… that is definitely a “use it or lose it” skill. I’m bummed that I don’t get to use my French more often, and I fear I am forgetting it quickly! In my free time (wait… what’s that???), I love movies with my family, dance parties in the kitchen, scrapbooking, writing, reading, running (slow as a turtle!), and enjoying the gorgeous outdoors of Colorful Colorado. I couldn’t ask to live in a more beautiful place!!! I almost never watch live TV, but I love to pop on a show while I work, and my current Netflix/Hulu/HBO streaming addictions include America’s Got Talent, Shark Tank, Grey’s Anatomy, Big Little Lies, and This is Us!
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Have you always been such a wildly creative person?

Well, that is certainly a lovely compliment – THANK YOU! Yes, I have always thrived on creativity. For as long as I can remember, I’ve been making and writing and doing… It’s in my blood, as I think is the case for all creatives! I can remember making little dresses for my dolls when I was very young out of random things like toilet paper and yarn. Over the years, I have experimented with MANY creative outlets, including drawing, painting, clay work, sewing, cake decorating, jewelry making, embroidery, crochet… You name it! If it involves the creative process, I’ve probably tried it!
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How did you get started in digital design & print services?

It’s a funny story, really! Let me back up a bit… I’m super big on the idea of Happy Mail. It’s always been very important to me to send thank you cards, birthday cards, anniversary cards, etc. As a kid, I even had several pen pals around the world. I just truly believe that a simple card in the mail with a handwritten heartfelt note has so much power to make someone smile. So often, the mailbox is filled with bills and ads and other junk. Personally, I love getting a note in the mail, and I know other people do, too! It’s such a sweet way to brighten someone’s day, and the ripple effect of kindness is fascinating to me. I LOVE the idea that I can literally send a smile through the mail, which has the power to turn someone’s day around, and in turn, they could smile at someone else who needs it, and on and on… You just never know how far it’ll reach!
Fast forward to about 3 years ago. With the pause in my teaching career, I had more time to embrace some of my hobbies again. I’ve been obsessed with scrapbooking and paper crafts since before my first son was born 10 years ago, and with my newly found freedom, I picked up card making, which quickly became another obsession! I bought up a TON of stamps, inks, card stock, patterned paper… Oooooh boy! You already know how I feel about mail, so I found myself making cards for anyone and everyone! Eventually, people started telling me I should sell my cards. I thought they were CRAZY! Who in their right mind would pay actual money for them??? But, with some AMAZING cheerleaders behind me, I decided I had nothing to lose! I started up my Etsy shop, Big Hugs Little Envelopes, keeping in line with the idea that, although it may be a small envelope, it contains a big dose of love and kindness! Sure enough, my biggest cheerleaders became my first customers, and my little shop was up and running! Before long, people were asking me if I could make signs and shirts and other items. I’ve never been one to turn down a creative challenge, so I embraced all of the requests! One thing led to another, and before I knew it, most everything I was doing was digital. I now have a whole crew of machines here in my crafty space that help me do what I do! If you had told me three years ago that I’d be where I am today, I would have called you crazy! I never in my wildest dreams thought I’d be running a successful business doing digital and print work, but I wouldn’t change a single thing!
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What is your favorite products to design?

Oooooh…. That’s a toughie. I am completely fascinated by the sublimation process, so one of the most satisfying things for me to create is mugs. It’s so wild to me that I can design something on my computer, print it out using special ink and paper, and then permanently transfer it to a mug that then is dishwasher and microwave safe! Even though I’ve done it hundreds of times now, it still feels like magic to me every time I take the mug out of the press! On more than one occasion, I’ve found myself saying aloud, “That is so stinkin’ COOL!!!”
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Making for makers must be so inspiring – how many different shops do you work with in a month, usually?

Ohmygosh, it REALLY is! When I started this gig, I had NO idea there was such an amazing maker community out there, but I am so incredibly honored to have found it and become part of it! At this point, over half of what I do is for other makers! I would say in any given month, I work with 20-30 shops, which blows my mind! It gives me so much satisfaction knowing that my small business is, in turn, helping their small businesses! My philosophy is that we are all in this together, and that there is plenty of love to go around. It’s that whole “Community Over Competition” idea, and I embrace that wholeheartedly. I seriously love promoting other makers, as you’ll easily see on my social media platforms! My wish is for all of us to be successful, and if what I do can have a hand in that, I’m thrilled! I’ve also become amazing friends with so many other makers throughout the process, and have gotten to know some super sweet, highly talented people (like YOU!!!)! Sometimes I even get to meet them in person, and that is AWESOME! (This summer, I got to meet the lovely Sue from Glass and Stone – my heart was SO happy!!!)
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You are one of my favorite people to follow on social media – you are so positive! What sort of daily routines do you have in place to keep the happy flowing?

Oh wow, thank you! That is so kind! It involves a lot of coffee! Haha! But truly, I really just try to live in the moment. I have come to realize that life is so short and so precious and that we are all on this planet together. I personally have felt the effects of kindness and love, and I know first hand how powerful that can be, so I just want to do my part every single day to pass that along to others. I genuinely believe in the magic of a kind word, a hug, a smile… My home is filled with inspiring quotes, which I look at daily, to remind me of how lucky we are to be part of this amazing thing called humanity.
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You specialize in custom branded goodies for makers, so I have to ask. What are three MUST HAVES for makers when it comes to branding materials?

For me, my business is all about the human connection. So, while a true marketing professional might disagree, my must haves involve things that help people connect on a personal level. I love, love, love creating stickers for makers to use on their packaging as a fun way to say thank you to their customers.
I also believe in a handwritten thank you note with each order, so custom logo cards with a space to write are always a favorite of mine!
And of course, I think a key aspect of any business is the ability to be easily recognized, so anything that includes an identifiable logo is huge! I love creating logo stickers, notecards, mugs… you name it! 🙂 If people see your logo and immediately associate it with your high-quality products, I think you’re doing something right! 🙂
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Tea, cocoa or coffee?

Oh girl, why do you have to give me the hard questions??? Is “Yes, please!” an acceptable response? 🙂
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What is your favorite color?

Again with the hard questions!!! I love all things rainbow, and any color that is bright and happy is good with me! Current faves are any and all shades of teal/turquoise/mint/pool, pinks, purples, and sunshiny colors like yellows and oranges. I’m gearing up for fall, though, so I’m sure I’ll soon be surrounding myself with warm, calming browns, deep oranges, and dark greens.

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Is your home as colorful as your products & social media feed?!

Haha! Yes. Yes it is! Like I said, color makes me so happy, and I love surrounding myself with it. It really does have an effect on my mood! When I want to be calm and peaceful, I find myself retreating to my bedroom, which is done in pale blues, gentle browns, and soft greys. When I’m feeling energetic and productive, I’m most often found in my maker space, which is full of all things bright and cheery and motivating! A good bit of my decor in there is actually handmade goodies from other makers! My kitchen and family room are warm and inviting, with the reds and yellows and browns that make me feel comforted and safe at home. It’s all about color around here! And of course a good bouquet of colorful flowers in any room makes me smile, too!
It was so fun getting to interview Dani & introduce you all to her amazing shop. She has something very, very exciting in the works and you NEED to follow her on Facebook & Instagram so you don’t miss out when this project launches!
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100+ hashtags for handmade businesses, makers and small shops + tag hacks!

Do you ever wish there was just a perfect, ready to use, list of hashtags to pull from for Instagram? Well, now there is! I’ve been researching, experimenting, and perfecting the perfect mix of hashtags for a handmade business for MONTHS. Literally. I started the draft of this post in December of 2016, and have tweaked it constantly, adding & deleting tags constantly as I found which got the best responses, the most engagement, and of course the ones that didn’t end up throttling my posts, reducing visibility or even penalizing my entire account! (Yes! That can happen!!)

Below, you will find hashtags sorted into groups. There’s a various amount of tags in each group, and several are repeated in different groups. Repeated tags are great for use on basically any post about handmade businesses! Then there are some that are highly targeted for specific types of posts,  from WIP images to finished products to selfies & more! I set it up this way so you can copy & paste directly from this list into your IG posts, then add your own curated tags specific to your medium – for instance, I usually throw in tags like #monstertoys, #toystorage or #instagramkids for my Mon-stor posts. If you make jewelry, you will want to put in specific tags – #handmadejewelry #datenight #wedding #bridetobe #prom and so on! For drawing or painting or art makers, you will want to use specific tags like #prismacolor #penandink #drawing #watercolor and on and on. These little tag packets just help you get started!

WIP photos

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WIP (work in progress shots) are a great way to share your story as a maker. Humans are drawn to the process, and seeing products being made creates a connection between consumers and your product.

#handmade #handcrafted #creativedaily #wip #workinprogress #makersgonnamake #makersmovememnt #mycreativebiz #creativedaily #creativelifehappylife #abmcrafty #handsandheart #handsandhustle #cylcollective #calledtobecreative #artistoninstagram #abmcrafty #madebyhand #whatimade #goalgetter #cantstopwontstop #craftbuzz #handmadelove #craftstagram #makingart #doitfortheprocess #makearteveryday #creativeliving #creativelife #artsandcrafts

Product photos

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Show off your work! These tags are highly curated and many put your product photos in the sights of top handmade publications, feeds & influencers!

#handmade #handcrafted #makersgonnamake #makersmovement #mycreativebiz #handmadebyme #whatimade #creatorslane #handmadeisbetter #craftsposure #creativelifehappylife #helloimhandmade #supporthandmade #makersvillage #thehandmadeparade #makersofinstagram #abmcrafty #craftaholic #communityovercompetition #creativepreneur #creativedaily #handsandheart #handsandhustle #cylcollective #handmadewithlove

Selfies

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People love to know the person behind the process, so every once in a while, throw up a selfie and tell people something personal! Bonus points if you wiggle a handmade product into the pic, or wear jewelry/clothing from another maker and tag them in the photo.

#me #makersgonnamake #makersmovement #communityovercompetition #creativedaily #creativelifehappylife #abmcrafty #abmhappylife #selfie #behindthescenes #handsandheart #handsandhustle #goalgetter #goaldigger #meetthemaker #mycreativebiz #livecolorfully #mycreativebiz #makersofinstagram #ladyboss #girlboss #shescrafty #womanownedbusiness #womanpreneur #mompreneur #craftybitch #craftygirl #girlbossmoment

Sale posts

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Whether you are posting a discount sale, stating products are up for grabs, your new line dropped or that you just restocked, these tags will get your products out there and get people interacting with your posts!

#handmade #handcrafted #makersgonnamake #makersmovement #creativelifehappylife #abmcrafty #handmadeisbetter #makersofinstagram #shopsmall #supportlocal #golocal #buyhandmade #supporthandmade #shopsmallbusiness #womanownedbusiness  #creativedaily #handmadewithlove #ilovehandmade #handmadeshop #handmadeisbest #buzzfeed #huffpost #craftsposure #makersvillage #creatorslane #favehandmade #thehandmadeparade

Now for the fun ones – TAG HACKS! These hacks help you get more connections, engagement, and opportunities while also increasing engagement, but require a little work on your part to actually find the tags best suited for use for your medium/brand/products/audience.

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Publications

Do you know a publication, popular Instagram account, blog or magazine you want to see your stuff – and maybe share it? Find out if they have specific tags for reposts, or a tag for their brand, and USE IT. Search your niche, find the best publishers, follow them, use their tags. For instance, I use #punkymoms #momdotme #momazine #buzzfeedparents #huffpostparents & so on to reach publishers who are considered experts to my target audience.

Local tags

It’s important to post tags that are geographical – this opens you up to a LOT of opportunities, from magazine features, award nominations & invites to craft events, to making local maker friends, growing your local audience and securing sales to people who love to shop local.

Use tags relevant to your city, to your state, and your region. Use the nearest large city to you if your area does not have a lot of tags – I live about 20 minutes West of Asheville, but it’s the nearest large city, so that is the tag I use! For example, I use #madeinasheville #madeinnc or #madeinwnc. I also use popular local tags when I do events, like #828isgreat #asheville #AVL #ashevilleNC #wnc #smokymountains #ashevillefolk #ashevillemoms. Pop on Insta, browse the tags and find ones that seem to be trendy. If there isn’t a #madein*yournearestbigcity* tag – make one! Use it on every post – it will catch on!

Audience Capturing

Like I said above, you will want to fill in your posts with tags specifically curated for your audience. This also requires some homework on your part. As a toy maker, I use tags like #igkids #instagramkids #momlife #motherhood #childhoodunplugged #letthembelittle #creativeplay #sensoryplay #learningthroughplay #igbaby #instababy #nurseryinspo #kidsroom #playroom & so on. So you need to identify you target audience & then search through hashtags relevant to them. As you can see from my tags, if jewelry was your medium, you wouldn’t just post #jewelry – you would use tags like #datenight #girlsnightout #wedding #gettinghitched #bride #momofthebride #anniversary #ootd #wwiw – stuff people who will be wearing jewelry to, tags for fashion posts, events people buy jewelry for. Once you identify you target audience, you can find them on social media, browse the hashtags they use, see which ones are applicable to your products, and start integrating them and A/B testing them on posts!

Daily Themes

#meetthemakermonday #makermonday #wipwednesday #throwbackthursday (great for sharing your progress as a maker!) #friyay #flashbackfriday #followfriday #smallbusinesssaturday

Platform/Group Tags

Don’t forget platform centric tags! I sell on Storenvy, so I use #storenvy #storenvyseller & such. For Etsy sellers, there is a MILLION hashtags! Same for Shopify or other selling platforms. Do some digging, find which tags are popular and apply them applicable posts about your shop! Do the same for any communities you are in that have exclusive hashtags for interaction, exposure & feature opportunities, too!

Whew! Grab some tags and get practicing! I am always evolving, switching it up & changing what tags I use – you should too! Try a bunch of these out, and let me know what your results are! Remember, Instagram allows up to 30 hashtags. I recommend putting them in the second comment so as to not look spammy, plus they get buried as people come in commenting, so they are pretty much hidden from sight after 3 comments. Have fun!

 

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St. Patrick’s Day Giveaway Winner’s Announced!

Happy Sunny-day friends! I hope you all have had a great week and a restful weekend so fine. First thing this morning, I dove into drawing names for the huge, awesome, rainbow giveaway – hooray! I was so excited to draw names and see who won!! This giveaway has been my favorite yet and I loved all the prizes so much, so I know all the contestants must be just as excited to see who won what!

Without further ado, here is the prizes & their winners! I have contacted all sponsors, so if you are a winner, be sure to keep an eye on your email inbox for an email from the maker of your prize to collect shipping info! 🙂

Erika Watkins

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Rainbow Mega Monster by Lu & Ed 

Tara Peterson

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Leprechaun Hair Clip or Headband (winner’s choice!) by Elle Bee Accessories

April Proveaux

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Green Baby Shoes by By Mindy

Tiffany

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Child Size Rainbow Clouche Hat by Knits for Love

Kashmir Campbell

Do something AWESOME today mug & 4 pack of cards by Big Hugs, Little Envelopes

Valerie Moore

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Monster Garland by Lisa’s Little Monsters

Heather Kallinger

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Custom Family Names Rainbow Heart by Selena Ashley Design

Holly Cothran

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St. Patrick’s Day Hair Clips by Three Little Snowflakes

Sarah Piccari

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Rainbow Adult Hat by Melli’s Yarn Works

Jessica McIlvenny

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Unicorn Pretend Play Mask by De Boop Shop 

PJ Halliwill

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Majestic AF mug by Rainy Day Geekery

Reina Trumpet

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Green St Patrick’s Day Monster by Pink Sprinkles Plush

Elizabeth Bloomquist

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Rainbow Stacking Toy by Outside Everywhere

Woohoo! Congratulations to all the winners! Yay! You guys are some lucky duckies and won some amazing prizes!

If you didn’t win this round – no worries!

You can still shop the sponsor’s online stores (all are linked under their pictures!) & I have another big giveaway (AND sale!!!!) coming up for my 7 year Envyversary in April! Can you believe it has been SEVEN years since I launched my online shop? It’s been a crazy, amazing, wildly wonderful ride, and I couldn’t have done it without you guys! So stay tuned for the huge 7 year celebration! Mucho smoocho!

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St. Patrick’s Day Giveaway!

Happy March, mamas and maker friends! I’m so excited to bring you this HUGE collaboration giveaway this month – I hope you are feeling lucky! There’s over a dozen prizes – and over a dozen chances to win! Below, you can view the prize line up, then dive right into earning your entries!

Some of the options are new and can be done daily – like sharing an item to social media to earn FIVE extra entries (a total of of 60 extra entries a day!). To complete this entry, all you have to is select an item from the shop on that entry, copy the product URL or use one of the share buttons on the product, and post it to social media – Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, your blog, etc. Then copy the URL of YOUR post into the box on the giveaway widget – easy peasy! You can also now “heart” items from Etsy shops for an additional 8 entries per day, too!

Rules & other info: Giveaway opens at  12am 3/6 & runs until 12am 3/12 (Eastern Standard Times).  Giveaway is open to all eligible US citizens over 18, and international entries are accepted where allowed but postage must be paid by winner. There will be one winner per prize, drawn randomly using the Rafflecopter widget (YAY! Lots of chances to win!). Each item is mailed directly to the winner from the sponsor, who will be contacting winners individually to collect shipping info so please keep an eye on the email you use to enter giveaways powered by Rafflecopter with!

 

Prizes:

  1. Rainbow MEGA Monster by Lu & Ed
  2. Lucky Leprechaun Bow (your choice headband or clip!) by Elle Bee Accessories
  3. Green baby shoes by By Mindy
  4. Rainbow Child size Clouche Hat by Knits for Love
  5. 4 Pack Rainbow Cards & Rainbow Be Awesome Mug by Big Hugs, Little Envelopes
  6. Rainbow Monster Garland by Lisa’s Little Monsters
  7. Personalized Rainbow Family Name’s Heart by Selena Ashley Designs
  8. Rainbow & Leprechaun Hair Clips by Three Little Snowflakes
  9. Adult Size Rainbow Hat by Melli’s Yarn Works
  10. Rainbow Unicorn Mask (winner picks size!) by Deboop Shop
  11. Majestic Unicorn Mug by Rainy Day Geekery
  12. Furry Green Monster by Pink Sprinkles Plush
  13. Rainbow Stacking Toy by Outside Everywhere

 Click here to open the giveaway widget and start earning entries!