Well, it's official. I was 'that Mom'. I was the Mom that I basically always complained about, but I was that Mom with good reason, if that makes any difference. I was that Mom with the 4,5,6, & 7 month old baby that didn't sleep through the night. I was a THIRD time Mom, this was not my first rodeo!
Why was this happening to me? That's what I constantly asked myself. Deep down I knew why. I'm running a very successful business, caring for an infant, tending to my 2 older children & their life happenstances, with 2 step-kids on the weekends, & trying to have some sort of a relationship with my SO. My other children needed their sleep & so did my significant other..... But where was mine?!
Though our house is of decent size, the walls are thin, and well, baby has a set of lungs. He roomed with us for the first few months of life and it was TRYING. First he roomed with us because he had a terrible reflux issue from the day he was born after swallowing some amniotic fluid. We were assured that would go away within a few days of being home. It did. Then he was rooming with us because we needed to sleep train him to prepare him to sharing a room with another sibling. All the excuses- we always had one. LOL. We had great intentions, however, we went about it ALL WRONG.
You see, each time he'd move in the night, I jumped up (and on occasion his Dad did too) & leapt out of bed to fetch his pacifier in fear that he'd wake himself up & the rest of the house in the process. We pacified him. Guilty as charged. We tried EVERYTHING under the sun except the Cry It Out method (which is so unlike me).
We were even giving him a bottle in the middle of the night which is actually one of the most ridiculous things you can do at these ages. There really is not a single reason for a baby to not sleep through the night at this age except for the parent holding the child back.
You see, as parent's - we are supposed to train our children. We are supposed to guide them. That starts AT BIRTH & never stops. It is not always going to be pretty. I actually realized we were doing him an injustice. It IS NOT mean to let him cry. The injustice was depriving him of his much deserved & needed sleep. THAT is what is wrong.
Parenting is not for the weak. It is not easy to listen to your baby cry, but when you know that nothing is wrong with them - it makes it a bit easier. You have to develop a thick skin because what is always right for your child isn't always going to be easy for you to do. So many people want an easy way out. Sure there may be easier methods in terms of you not having to hear your baby cry. I won't argue that. I will argue that they take longer to implement & CIO is not only a proven method, but is highly effective & effective much sooner. I hear parent's complaining that they 'just can't do it', they just can't listen to their baby cry. NEWSFLASH: It doesn't matter what you want. It isn't about you. What matters is what is best for your child. Getting your child used to crying things out once in a while isn't only a good thing, but it's necessary. We shouldn't get our children used to being at their beckon call. Besides, the crying strengthens their lungs. Bottom line? Let's not start our children out in life cushioning everything for them when it is not hurting them one iota.
I was also informed that by the lack of sleep that had built up, he was over-stimulated which will cause babies to sleep less and less over time.
I went on a trip to Alaska with my daughter when he was 7 months old. I thought this was surely a great time for my significant other to sleep train the baby and get him on a good schedule. It was just supposed to be him, the baby, & my 15 year old. It seemed like the perfect time.
After 4 days I came home & that night my guy says to me, "O.K., here's his schedule: He'll be up at 1 for a bottle & again at 4. That's just his personality. You're never going to get 8 hours out of him." I'm like, "Say whaaaattttt?"! I'm jetlagged as all get-out & totally screwed up from the time change to the point of feeling physically ill. Seriously, I thought I had the flu. I cried, I was so mad. Of course he was waking up at 4 a.m.! He was SOAKED from his 1 a.m. bottle! Duh! It was at this point I'd finally had it.
I told my SO, "I'm starting the Cry It Out method tonight so be ready." Around 9 p.m. I put him in his crib & had our other child sacrifice the bedroom that evening. Around 12:15 a.m.- he woke! After about 15 minutes of letting him cry I started feeling the tension from my SO, like he was mad at me over it or it was somehow my fault - which aside from our other kids, was a big reason I hadn't done this sooner. I attributed this to his sudden severe lack of patience that I did not witness with our other children. I did not give a crap at this point- I was doing this. I told him to go sleep in his truck as he was working my last nerve. He did & I went on to work my maternal magic!
I had every fear that a first time Mom usually has. A big thanks to our new day society that has instilled in us to be fearful of EVERYTHING. I worried about him getting his foot caught in a crib slat (since we should all fear bumpers now, even though I was raised with them and my older 2 as well), planting his face in his mattress & somehow suffocating himself (no blankets though, because you should be scared of those too), the whole 9 yards, but I knew that night was going to be sleepless for me & probably the next night too, but it was for the greater good & it would pass soon.
I went to check on him several times. I checked on him when he was crying to make sure he was o.k., but I NEVER took him out of his crib. You can't. You have to be firm (a quality you should get used to or develop quickly because you are going to have to implement it later in life in far bigger ways). After about a 1/2 hour of crying I did go pat his back. I went back in my room to lay down & he continued to cry. Around 2 a.m. I noticed he hadn't cried for a few minutes so I went to check on him again. He was out like a light. Guess what? He slept until 10 a.m. and the only reason I woke him was because I HAD to leave.
Turns out, it wasn't 'just his personality'. He needed to be trained. The next night he cried for about 30 minutes & went to sleep and slept until 8 a.m. It is currently 3 weeks later, he's teething & still sleeps until between 6:30-8 a.m.
BEST THING I EVER DID.
My other 2 kids had been so easy because when I was raising them as babies I didn't have so many other people in the house to worry about. I sacrificed myself and my sleep for 8 months when I should have done this around 2 1/2-3 months of age & saved myself so I could've been a better & more energetic person for the rest of my family. It is a win-win situation for everyone- YOU JUST HAVE TO GET THROUGH IT.
Babies aren't born knowing what to do. Just like kids shouldn't be making choices & decisions. That's why we are made their parent's- to guide them. To train them, to make decisions for them so they can see what good decisions are. They learn by what we do.
I am not a Doctor & will never claim to be. I am a Mother of 3 children & have been a Mother for a long time. I am not a licensed psychologist or psychiatrist, however I do study psychology & behaviors & have one of the best tools you can have: EXPERIENCE . My posts should be taken as advice only, based on my own experiences.
I hope you made it all the way through this article & that it HELPS you. If I've inspired you to give Cry It Out a go- let me know how it works out in the comments below :)
Content & photo's copyright ©Liv & Co.™ . Baby bodysuit courtesy of Liv & Co. ™ . Get yours HERE
It's Better Handmade is not only a large Facebook group for Handmade Artists, but it is also a website that you may "submit" your handmade products to along with a link to where shopper's can find them, thus essentially making it another shopping platform for handmade sellers! This also creates backlinks for your site which also make your site more credible! It's Better Handmade also offers paid advertising spots on their site - which is ALWAYS a good idea! Click HERE to join their Facebook group of 40,000+ members. Click the photo to be taken to their website.
"I Own A Small Business" group board on Pinterest. This Pinterest Board is great for Etsy sellers, but ALL small businesses are welcome to pin! One of the fastest growing group boards on Pinterest, this board boasts 34k pins & 700 pinners to a ratio of 4,072 followers which means this board has a lot of followers that are most likely shoppers. The board instructions to be invited are as follows: 1.) Follow the board (because you have to to pin to it.) 2.) Email LivAndCompany@gmail.com with a click-able link to your Pinterest profile so they may invite you. The best part about group boards is that they are free advertisement. Rather than only being seen by your followers & seldom pinning your items as to not spam your viewers, you are actually expected to pin to group boards each day or a couple times a week to keep your items in rotation since they circulate so quickly. You are also seen by 100x more viewers than just your exclusive audience on your profile. Click HERE to be taken to the board.
Hello Love handmade. This is a paying site, but it's very straight forward & easy to deal with. A very small price to pay for a lot of exposure. Boasting a whopping 25.8k & counting followers on Instagram, you're sure to get more traffic to your item/website! To follow them on Instagram click HERE To head over to their website to apply, click the photo.
I Run A Small Business is a page on Facebook dedicated to featuring items from Small Businesses & holding weekly Facebook "events" that go for hours long where crafters & artisians post items by color theme, each hour a different color or hosting days like, "newbie Monday" to welcome all newcomers. With 52,000 followers, you are sure to be seen! Click HERE to follow.
Craftsposure is no joke. They are rocking 50.5k followers on Instagram & growing. They make it easy for a chance to be featured by having you hash tag: #craftsposure or tag @craftsposure on your posts . Even if they don't feature you, they're amazing at liking each post that they are tagged in. The best part is that Craftsposure is free as of right now. Bonus: If you click on their website from their bio they also offer an array of free tips for small businesses! How nice! Click HERE to follow on Instagram. Click the photo to head to their website.
Etsy USA is an Instagram account that features various unique Etsy products. It is easy peasy to be featured: hash tag #etsyusa or tag @etsyusa to your post. Click the link in their bio, for a $14 processing fee you will have a permanent feature if you are selected. If you aren't selected they will even email you with tips on how to become more feature worthy on their page! They currently have 13,000 followers and are growing at an approximate 300 followers per day. Click HERE to be taken to their website. Click the photo to follow on Instagram.
There are plenty of sites to assist small & handmade businesses, but these are my top 6 in reference to the ones I follow. As always, Liv & Co. offers easy, $10 slots to be advertised on our site for 2 weeks. To advertise at LivAndCo.com send an email to LivAndCompany@gmail.com with your PayPal email or email you would like to receive your invoice, a small blurb (2-3 sentences) about your business, a photo you would like to represent your business, & a link to your online store. All of those must be submitted to be featured. You will not receive an email until we are ready to feature you. When we put you up, you'll be up for 2 weeks. You can re-new as often as you'd like. All paid submissions are currently going on our blog pages because they drive the most traffic, aside from our shop. Meaning, on every blog we post, every time one of them is clicked on your advertisement will be located to their right. We constantly pin our blogs, tweet them, & share them to Facebook. They get a lot of traffic which = exposure for you.
If you'd like to shop Liv & Co. click HERE .
Do you have any sites that you favor that support handmade, small businesses? Tell us in the comments below!
What you need:
*A Blender or Food Processor
*A Can of Green Beans
That's it? Yep, that's it!
Instructions: 1.) Pour Green Beans into Blender or Food Processor. Important: DO NOT DRAIN GREEN BEANS. Most often a large number of nutrients from vegetables are in the fluid in canned veggies. Instead of using water like I do in most of my other recipes, I just use the fluid from the can to form the liquid consistency.
2.) Blend until you have a smooth liquid consistency (if you have to add a little water to achieve this - do so. Stir & serve.
Refrigerate leftovers & serve within 24 hours or freeze & thaw for meals at a later date. To re-heat: DO NOT EVER USE A MICROWAVE. Re-heat on the stove on low heat until mildly warm. Use your own discretion to make sure it is not too hot for your baby.
Do you have any fun baby food recipes to share with us? If so, post them below in comments!
What you need:
*A little over a handful of blueberries
*Blender or Food Processor
Directions: Rinse your blueberries & put them in your blender of choice. I use my Ninja & absolutely love it, but any Food Processor or Blender should work. Peel your banana, break it up, and place in blender. Put just enough water in to produce a liquid consistency (I usually use about 1/3 to 1/2 cup, but you can play with what works best for how much you're putting in by adding as you go). Blend, stir, & serve. Refrigerate leftovers or if you make a big batch, freeze & thaw for future meals.
I made these for my little man & as you can see by the photo- he LOVES them. He was smacking his tray demanding more! I couldn't get them in his mouth fast enough! See my "Baby Food Recipes" blog posts for more baby food recipes!
Do you have any fun recipes you'd like to share with us? Post them in comments below!
What better way to lighten the oh-so-controversial (in the world of men, anyway) topic of vasectomys than some awesome pictures of babe's & pregnancy to snag your attention?! Cute, right? This was my most recent pregnancy & also my last.
It was clear neither one wanted anymore children. Don't get me wrong, neither do I. When my boyfriend popped him the, "Why haven't you gotten a vasectomy?" question, his oh-so-manly response was, "I'm scared!"
Scared? HE'S scared? Because growing a human being for 9 months, stretching & scarring your body to push something the size of a watermelon out of something the size of a grapefruit isn't scary at all <insert sarcasm>?
Or going in for an emergency C-section and having your stomach sliced, with your uterus taken out of your body, while your bladder & intestines are shifted aside to get baby out isn't scary! In most cases it's terrifying, but we do it anyway. Most of us do it multiple times! We do it without hesitation. To aid in spreading your seed, if you will, among many other honorable reasons.
That doesn't even begin to break into the fact that most of us are busy cramming our bodies full of hormones from the time we are in our later teenage years (realistically, for whatever reason) until we are well in our forties in order to prevent & control when and if we become pregnant again & to give our significant other a worry-free, pleasurable sexual experience. Some of us even choose to have our "tubes tied". You know, that irreversible procedure women have done, often times right after birthing her last child.
All the while a man has the option to have a vasectomy. An opportunity to return the favor, so to speak. Eliminate a burden in his woman's life. A completely low risk, out patient, non-expensive (anywhere from $0-$1,000 when the cost of sterilization for women can cost up to 6x that), REVERSIBLE procedure that can eliminate a female having to take birth control and/or having her "tubes tied". All he has to do is make sure his swimmer's shoot blanks. Sound scary to you? To me it sounds quite easy in comparison with what the female body is put through.
In the words of my filled-with-wisdom father (whom had a vasectomy 2 days after my little brother was born), "Don't be a wussy!", dudes.
Can any ladies out there relate? Has your guy had a vasectomy? Does your guy refuse to have a vasectomy? If so, why? After how many children did you decide you weren't having anymore?
When my kids came to an age that I could leave them at home for an hour or 2 after school until I got home from work (before I created my own business) I realized their "GO TO" foods were less than desirable to me. Heck, even when I'm home I notice the, what I would refer to as junkier food is what they are reached for first.
Don't get me wrong, I seldom stock any "junk" in our house, but if there was anything questionable, it was eaten first because it was quick & because my kids aren't allowed to use the stove or oven when I'm not home. I decided to make them a list of foods and drinks that were appropriate to snack on that are fairly quick to make. It just so happens it's a great list for adults on the go too. Especially Moms that don't have a lot of time to put into their work lunches or whatnot. This way you can prepare yourself a meal where you know what is in it rather than having to grab lunch out everyday. They are categorized below & color coordinated to their topic: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner, Snacks, & Drinks.
Obviously a child will not be able to make everything in each list. Some items are just for adults to prepare or require adult preparation to refrigerate & go to later. Like the grilled chicken strips, for example.
Good Breakfast Choices:
*Hard- boiled eggs (or any cooked egg except for a fried egg.) The white’s are the healthiest part.
*Bacon, egg, & cheese sandwich on whole wheat bread or bagel with real American cheese & Bacon (NOT turkey bacon). Yum!
*Whole wheat toast.
*Cereal. Whole grain & high fiber. You can mix some berries/ fruit in it for extra taste. Skim ,milk is the healthiest, low fat option for cows milk.
*Bagel with a bit of cream cheese (this has very little nutritional value so I suggest eating a yogurt or something with some substance to go with it like a piece of fruit. Breakfasts started with a high - carbohydrate/ low protein diet will start your day off with a high blood - sugar level)
*A fruit salad concoction is wonderful for breakfast or a snack. Cut up of 1 of each of your favorite fruits and mix them together. (Make sure you rinse the ones that aren’t wrapped first.)
*English muffin with honey.
*Waffles. With any high-carb breakfast, however, you should always eat some fruit or yogurt with it. Something with nutritional value to start of the day.
*Fun fact: People who eat more whole grains are at lower risk of diabetes and heart disease.
*Another Fun fact: Sunlight is very important because your body produces Vitamin D in response to Sunlight. Therefore, at bare minimum, you should spend atleast 15 minutes per day out in the Sunlight.
Good Lunch Choices:
*Spinach salad with sweet tomatoes, feta cheese, and white balsalmic vinagarette dressing. Add a small side cup of cottage cheese and a glass of skim milk to make a superb meal!
*Peanut butter & banana sandwich on whole wheat bread, 1 cup of milk & 15 pretzels.
*English muffin pizza’s. (Whole wheat English Muffins (toasted), red tomato/meat sauce, & shredded cheese baked on 350 degrees for about 10-15 minutes.) 15 grapes and a glass of milk.
*Turkey & Cheese tortilla’s. Fill a 10 inch tortilla shell with turkey & cheese and roll them up. Add an apple with peanut butter for dipping & a glass of milk to make a meal.
*Grilled Cheese on whole wheat bread with REAL cheese. Pair this up with some carrots, ranch dip & a glass of milk and, Voila! You have an excellent lunch.
*Peanut butter & jelly sandwich on whole wheat bread or in a wheat tortilla! That’s a fun twist!
*Grilled chicken salad with dressing of choice. Add 10 wheat crackers, broccoli & cucumbers with a light dip and a glass of milk to make a great meal.
*Turkey Wrap. Made with a whole wheat tortilla, light mayo, lettuce, tomatoes and some veggies of choice. Add a half cup of sugar free pudding and a glass of milk to make a delish meal!
*Strips of grilled chicken with Honey Mustard dip. Pair this up with a side of raisins & a glass of milk.
*Fun fact: You need 1,000 milligrams per day of Calcium to keep your bones strong! One 8 oz. glass of milk contains 300 milligrams of Calcium. A couple glasses of milk paired with a few other dairy products per day will get you your full serving of calcium for a day.
*Another fun fact: The more salt you eat, the more Calcium gets carried away by urine. Thus , keeping salt out of your diet will help you keep more Calcium to strengthen your bones!
*And another…: Fast- paced walking, dancing, tennis, and yoga have shown as the top "weight bearing" exercises to benefit your bones. Weight bearing means: using the weight of your body to stress the bones and muscles. Your body will lay down bone material and your bones will become denser.
Good Dinner Choices:
*Homemade hamburgers w/ whole wheat buns or bread cooked medium. Paired with baked beans, corn, and a glass of skim milk makes a good, easy dinner.
*Steak (sirloin is best, but for the most part, steak is always a healthy choice). Add a baked potato with pepper, maybe a dallop of sour cream, green beans and a glass of skim milk will make a fantastic meal choice.
*Salmon. Pair this with some whole grain rice, some mixed vegetables, apple slices & a glass of skim milk & YUM! Chow down!
*Mostaccioli with whole grain noodles or egg noodles & meat sauce. Add some Asparagus, sliced strawberries & bananas, and an ice, cold glass of skim milk and you’ve got yourself one heck of a tasty meal.
*Chicken Parmesan. Baked or grilled chicken drizzled with a bit of marinara or meat sauce with ½ a melted piece of swiss or provel cheese atop. Some mixed steamed veggies and a glass of skim milk would go great with this.
*Butter, Parmesan Noodles. Any type of whole grain noodle you’d like mixed with butter (real butter) and shredded or grated Parmesan. This isn’t the most nutritional meal, but if you pair it with a fruit, vegetable & glass of skim milk, it will suffice.
Fun Fact: Salmon (and some other fatty fish) offers a variety of bone boosting nutrients. They contain Calcium & Vitamin D. Vitamin D helps your body absorb Calcium. These particular fish’ are also high in Omega3 Fatty Acids which have been proven to reduce bone loss and prevent osteoporosis.
Good Snack Choices:
*Carrots and a little ranch dip.
*Crackers & Cheese (adding a little salami is always good too, if available.)
*Hard- boiled eggs.
*Pistachio’s & Sunflower Seeds (high in Calcium).
*Dried Cranberries & Cherries are a good alternative to Raisins.
*Celery with crème cheese or peanut butter.
*Trail Mix (with nuts, pretzels, dried fruits, raisins and a FEW chocolate morsels).
*Whole Tomato’s - sliced, with real melted Provel or Swiss Cheese. Baked.
*Cheese cubes & Grapes.
*Apples and Peanut Butter.
*Broccoli & Cucumber’s with a light dip.
*Sugar free pudding.
*Wraps. (they are good as a meal or for a snack).
*Walnuts & Flaxseeds (they are packed with Omega3 Fatty Acids).
*Homemade mashed potatoes.
Healthy Drink Choices:
*Water ( and lots of it. You should drink half your weight in ounces per day of water.) You can also squeeze some lemon into your water or juice from another fruit to make it a bit tastier.
*Milk. (Skim is healthiest if you drink cows milk, but you will get your Calcium from any type).
*Orange Juice (100% orange juice).
*Cranberry Juice. Real Cranberry Juice. Some have high sugar content, but it is extremely valuable for yielding off urinary tract & bladder infections.
*Making your own juices with a "juicer" is always a family friendly & healthy alternative to anything store- bought. Plus, you can freeze them and thaw when needed.
I'm not saying eating these foods will get you fit for a bodybuilding competition or anything, but they are certainly better choices than a McRib or a Toaster Strudel.
What quick snacks & meals that inspire healthy do you feed your kiddo's? Do you have any fun concoctions you'd add to this list?! Tell us below!
By: Liv H
When a buyer comes to Etsy there is no doubt they intend to find a unique, one of a kind, handmade item, & are willing to pay a bit more for the originality Etsy & it's shops offer.
Let me preface this post by saying: My goal is not to throw anyone under the bus, which is why I've been kind enough to black out shop names, unlike many other bloggers, because I understand having children to support. However, as I laid awake last night until 2 a.m. scrolling in astonishment & slight disgust, I realized it was my duty to write about this because I think it is a horrible, unethical thing to do on a selling platform that was designed to appreciate genuine, handmade products & the fact that it is shop's like these that put under the little shop's. I know there are loyal, die hard handmade customers out there that would appreciate knowing whether or not they are getting an authentic, handmade item.
So. When I started out on Etsy I was completely stoked about the handmade revolution. I was thrilled to be part of a community that all supported each other with the idea that a Mom or Dad could earn a living from their home and take care of their children at the same time. As many other honest small, handmade, home based businesses go, my wheels started turning. I went from designing my own t-shirts and baby bodysuits to wanting to expand my brand. I decided that I wanted to offer accessories for boys, girls, women, and men. I began working with headbands for little girls and bow ties for little boys. My Etsy shop was going so well I barely had time to produce a new headband per day. I was purchasing fabric and making rolled fabric flowers by hand and completely assembling each one from pure scratch. I remember thinking to myself , "How can anyone make any money with the time alone it takes to manufacture these headbands? Not to mention, the cost of the materials."
This isn't the first time that question has stumbled it's way across my plate. Many beginner sellers have asked me how they can make money sewing, making jewelry, etc. because so many Etsy shops offer such low prices that it isn't worth their time to produce. One day I was randomly searching and came across some shabby chic wholesale flowers on Etsy. Of course I wondered what it was and clicked on it. Low and behold, after searching for some little girls headbands , I had found how everyone was doing it for so cheap. No harm there. Everyone that manufactures a product has to purchase supplies and clearly these were supplies. I design my baby bodysuits & t shirts, but the bodysuits & t shirts are a supply for my company. Just like people making baby blankets aren't making their own fabric. Their fabric is a purchased supply. I was grateful to find an easier way to improve my business & expand to better support my family. My headbands were my own unique creations & I could purchase the supplies I needed to assemble them from several American wholesaler's, still building my business upon being designed & made in the USA.
However recently I stumbled upon something so much greater. In my crusade to support handmade in the USA, since it became completely obvious to me I wasn't going to have the time to make them myself, I decided that I wanted to start purchasing wholesale from American made manufacturers for my website (NOT MY ETSY SHOP- MY ACTUAL WEBSITE. ALL CONTENT IN MY ETSY SHOP IS DESIGNED & MADE BY ME FROM START TO FINISH. I DO NOT HAVE ANY CURRENT EMPLOYEES TO EVEN HELP ME BAG MY ORDERS). I typed into my search bar "wholesale head wraps made in the USA". As you can imagine American manufacturers were scarce. If you continue reading you'll see why. Several China wholesale websites came up and suddenly several photos that I have seen from several shops on Etsy all popped up as well.
This is no secret, it has been a hot debate several times in the handmade community. Some Etsy sellers have argued that China stole from them and I found it ironic that they would claim that after doing this very simple math equation. Take your cost of fabric & thread. No biggie, right? Wrong. Factor this: after cutting your fabric, pinning your fabric, sewing your fabric, turning your fabric right side out, possibly top stitching, sewing and assembling your bow, & attaching your bow to your head wrap, even for the experienced seamstress this cannot take any less than a half an hour, but actually took me approximately 50 minutes. If you have an employee making them for you- it still doesn't make sense. You have a headband at $4.95 & you pay your employee, say, $10/hr. Even if you can manufacture 2 head wraps in 1 hour - that only pays your employee & doesn't even begin to touch the cost of supplies. If you could make 3 in an hour it would cover only your supplies & your employee. So where is the profit?
Does anyone want to tell me how selling one of these head wraps for $4.95 - $10 you can possibly make any money at all? One of their Instagram pages has photo's of 'their' bows on sale for $3.95 and oh! There are only 50 pieces left! Sounds handmade to me!..... NOT! They even have a photo of the blonde girl above saying, 'We have the cutest customers!! Please continue to tag us!!' $3.95! Yes, you read that right! Etsy's policies are very clear. A quote from Etsy policies states: "Handmade items are designed and created by the shops that sell them. Because transparency is paramount on Etsy, we asked sellers to publicly list all members of their shops and, if pre approved, any manufactures involved in creating their items. Reselling an item the seller was not involved in creating is not allowed in our handmade category." I would love for Etsy to require them to sit down in front of an Etsy rep with a sewing machine and crank out some of these headbands!
IN ALL FAIRNESS, several of these Etsy shop owners claim that they were stolen from, not the other way around. It is obvious the natural rebuttal from a seller would be to argue that THEY were stolen from, however the evidence sells them out. Many of these sellers have shot themselves in the foot with their pricing. There is no way to sustain being a legitimate, handmade business in the USA with prices like that.
That doesn't even begin to crack the surface considering some sellers are all using the exact same pictures as other sellers that are the exact same pictures from the China wholesale website! So are these sellers trying to convince us that they all had the same idea and they all use the same model and then China stole from all of them and put their items on their wholesale website? It doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out how not likely that is.
I've heavily scoped this China website. I have scoured articles all day about Etsy sellers claiming they've been had by Alibaba. It sure doesn't add up, though! From everything I've read & concluded, if that were the case, just like Etsy, Alibaba will remove items that infringe on the intellectual properties of another, but they haven't removed any of these photo's. I'm going to take a guess that the photo's may very well have been those of the shop owners, but the Alibaba manufacturers started using them because they make the items & felt they had the right to. Otherwise, a simple complaint from the Etsy sellers with proof it was their photo- 48 hours Alibaba would remove the photo's. Not only that, but let me reiterate- PRICING. The pricing for the U.S. sellers just flat out DOES NOT MAKE SENSE! It does not add up. One of the shops that claimed Alibaba took their pictures was quoted in an Etsy team here in 2013:
No offense, but judging by the broken English in the shops original statement, it seems like damage control to me. It seems like it was planted there because they felt they were on the verge of being found out. Does it not? Notice how someone mentions that "Ali sites are pretty good at removing them"? Funny how 2 years later & they still aren't removed. Someone must not have been able to furnish proof!
Then there was this blog post blasting Three Bird Nest. We've all heard of Three Bird Nest by now, I'm sure. You can find the full blog post from Indie Untangled here: http://indieuntangled.com/make-1m-year-selling-knitting-successful-etsy-importer/ , but what I found MOST interesting was what was in the comments at the bottom. You can read for yourself, but I've blacked out the names on my end. I found it crazy that in these blog comments contained EVERY company that I have researched for this blog AND THEN SOME. With legitimate handmade sellers BEGGING for someone to expose them. Now, I just came across this article tonight & most of this post of mine was written this morning so I'm editing to add the comments as I thought they were highly relevant to what I'm trying to convey:
I'm not going to lie- I want one! I love them. I think they're adorable. I've even purchased from Three Bird Nest & some of these other shops before I knew what was going on. I wanted to purchase from the community that provided for my family. I wanted to give back. Now that I have seen what I've seen- I won't purchase one. I'll take the time to make a few for myself. I would've paid an extra $10 for a headband for it to be authentically handmade and know I was putting money in the pocket of a work at home Mom. I would've paid an extra $10 to know it was going towards the attention to detail that a handmade item requires & that a seller/maker takes pride in making.
Wait! I'm not finished. Let's move along to crochet! Anyone that crochet's know it takes a lot of time. Everyone knows that, right? Right. When my newest Son was about to be born I was searching for something turtle related as an inside joke with my oldest Son because he LOVES turtles. I found the cutest little item! A crocheted or knitted turtle 'cape'. It lays over baby's back and has a hat attached to serve as the turtle head. I found this bad boy for a STEAL! I noticed the shop was only charging $15.99 for it & I just couldn't believe it so I messaged them (I was naïve back then) to ask if it was really handmade. I cannot believe I expected an honest answer, but I sort of did. Of course she said hers was handmade. I noticed another one was $40 which seemed far more realistic to me. I don't know a whole lot about knit & crochet, but I do know that this turtle shell looks like it'd take a very decent amount of time & no way could it be handmade by a shop in the USA for $16. Fast forward to months later (which is now) after searching for these headbands, I remembered this incident of the turtle shell. Just for grins I typed it into Google & sure enough, there it was. On the same China wholesale website. Do the shop owner's that sell these for so cheap really want to claim that China is stealing their idea or their photo? How could a shop owner even think that would be believable by Etsy, consumers, or other shop owners? Even if China truly did rip off their design- that still does not answer how they are able to sell them for so cheap. What kills me is they use the EXACT same pictures.
If you're a veteran Etsian, you've probably already seen these photo's before on Etsy anyway. These should be eBay items & if you are purchasing China wholesale, you should open up an eBay store. Etsy was intended for legitimate, handmade artist's. If you are one of these shop's and would like me to post credit to you, let me know & I will. If you want to come forward for me to share your story, I'm open to that too.
Also, I am not against wholesaling. I am against fraud and pretending to be handmade if you are not. I am against blatantly disregarding policies for the almighty dollar, especially when there are other selling platforms that would better fit what you are trying to accomplish. I am against trampling on others to get to the "top".
These items certainly do beg the answer to who copied who. In the end, I'm sure it doesn't truly matter because, most likely, these shop's will never be held accountable to questioning or subject to termination for violating policies. If these items were truly handmade, though, I don't think they'd be listed on a wholesale China website. Most of us handmade artisian's that are interested in wholesaling our items cannot afford to do so at China prices.
Tell me your thoughts! Is it o.k.? Should it be o.k.? Should Etsy convert to being the next eBay? Is the problem too big to contain?
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Let me start out by saying that I am not a Doctor. I am a veteran Mom of 3 children, but my youngest Son would have you thinking he was my first by how many curves he has thrown me since he's been born. From his sleeping to his skin issues, I feel like I could be a Doctor with all the research and diagnosing I've performed since he's been born. Today I am going to address his skin issue. Excema. After being told that excema starts in the gut, I went on a crusade to CURE this for my Son, not mask it. It does not necessarily have to be 'aggresively treated' with creams, ointments, sometimes steroids & chemicals, in my opinion. I thought I just had to lube my Son up all the time & that excema was just something we were going to have to deal with. That it would be impossible to determine what food(s) he could be allergic to. If it started in the gut, clearly we needed to address the foods he was eating. I never needed a Doctor to tell me that. It only seemed natural that if it started in the gut-that's where my research would start.
Lets start with the itch & topical issues:
My Son would itch... to the point it would wake him up at night, and when he learned to scratch, left scabs on the back of his head after scratching so much (yes, I kept his nails short). I would bathe him in a warm water, oatmeal (to relieve the itch), olive oil (for moisture), & baking soda (to balance PH) bath, pat him dry, & seal in the moisture with Vaseline (seldom washing him with soap). The only soap I would use on his skin is Honest Company or Burt's Bees. Though, you do not want to wash a baby's skin everyday with a soap. Limit soap washes to 2-3 times per week (I suggest this even for babies that do not have sensitive skin. They don't get dirty that fast!
FRAGRANCE (another skin irritant): I refuse to use anything that has a fragrance in it on his skin (or mine, for that matter). I suggest this not only for anyone dealing with excema, but for everyone in general. Why put these chemicals on our skin? His skin reacted great to Coconut Oil (extra virgin), however, it has to be applied ALL THE TIME & still didn't cure it. Coconut Oil can be found at your local grocery store, normally in the health foods or organic aisle's.
LAUNDRY DETERGENT: The long story short; laundry detergent leaves a residue on our garments that our skin will absorb (and can also be inhaled. Yikes!) Due to trade secrets (any confidential business information which provides an enterprise a competitive edge may be considered a trade secret) detergent manufacturer's are not required to disclose what is in their detergent brand, at times leaving the ingredient list very vague. Conventional detergents generally contain the following:
-Bleach = Chlorine - A possible carcinogen & endocrine disruptor. Bleach is also a known environmental toxin.
-Optical brighteners - Often made from Benzene, a definite carcinogen. They're no fun for the environment either. Optical brighteners washed down our drains frequently survive wastewater treatment and escape into our lakes, rivers, and streams. Once there, they don't completely biodegrade and instead accumulate in fish.
-Toxic fragrance's - Usually containing phthalates. From the CDC: "Human health effects from exposure to low levels of phthalates are unknown. Some types of phthalates have affected the reproductive system of laboratory animals. More research is needed to assess the human health effects of exposure to phthalates." From a Breast Cancer research study: "Phthalates, pronounced THAL-ates, soften plastics and are known to disrupt the body’s hormones. A 2012 study found that women working in the automotive and food-canning industries have nearly a fivefold increase in risk for premenopausal breast cancer, likely because of their exposure to phthalates, BPA and flame-retardants. Phthalates have also been linked to birth defects, asthma, neurodevelopmental problems in newborns, fertility issues and obesity. Though phthalates are banned in children's toys, they can still be found in school supplies, cosmetics, and personal care products such as nail polish and shampoo." O.K. Maybe that was long story long (LOL), but at least you learned something new. If they are banned in children's toys- lets not put them on their skin. This is why I use Honest Company detergent for clothing & swear by it. I also wash my entire family's laundry in Honest Company because #1: It's an excellent product #2: We all hold him so he rubs against all of our clothes & #3: If I wouldn't put it on my baby's skin, why would I put it on mine or any of my other children? That's just my HONEST opinion ;)
NOW LET'S TALK FOODS!
I removed ALL foods from my Son's diet for 2 days (he's 7 1/2 months old) & allowed his rashes to clear up somewhat & I began my food testing. I was on a Facebook thread & had commented that I thought my Son may be allergic to Apples. We had been giving him Apple Juice since he was 2 months old to regulate his bowels (which we were advised was fine to do, being that Apple Juice cannot be digested & it would "flow right through you", so to speak & was also recommended that babies can have approximately an ounce per month old that they were). Many Mother's said that it couldn't be Apples, that majority of the time it is often dairy, glutens, or grains. I cut his Apple Juice bottle out of his daily routine immediately along with the foods. I introduced a new food every 3 days, so for lunch & dinner for 3 days we started with Green Beans every day for 3 days. After that we went with Bananas for 3 days- still no flare- ups. We started with Apples after the Bananas & sure enough, that night his skin flared up again. At first I thought maybe it is just the Apple Juice, since I'm assuming it probably isn't boiled, I assumed maybe it was the pesticides they spray the Apples with, but when you make Applesauce or baby Apples I thought the only process was to boil them to mash them. Either way, for whatever reason I can speculate- Apples are definitely the culprit. We immediately stopped the Apple Juice & Apples after flaring up after 1 meal of Apples & his skin cleared up almost entirely.
We have also done this exact same research with tap water vs. PURIFIED water. Be sure to know your purified/filtered/distilled processing when it comes to purchasing bottled waters. Purified water is often confused with filtered water. Many people believe they mean the same thing, but they do not. Both types of water are subject to some sort of filtration (as is almost every spring water), BUT purified water is cleansed and purified through additional purification processes, typically reverse osmosis, distillation or deionization. The resultant product, “purified” water, is of significantly higher purity than either spring water, tap water or filtered water. Like anything else, there has been research for and against water of such purity mainly due to demineralization, however, I am a reverse osmosis gal all the way & my baby's skin loves it too! When given tap water (on the rare occasion we ran out of purified water) his skin tended to flare up as well.
This is just my experience with baby excema. For whatever reason your child has excema, it is beneficial to try to cure them of this condition rather than to attempt to combat it with creams or oral medications. Chances are it is a food allergy that can be determined over time & weeded out without the use of harsh chemical's or oral medications. Did or does your baby have excema? Have you found out what yours is attributed to? What different ways are you using to keep flare- up's under control? Tell us in comments below!
SO. I am constantly having people ask me how I became so successful on Etsy. I'm actually gearing up to start hosting monthly seminars to coach small business owners on Etsy in making their stores more lucrative- so take notes & re-pin, re-tweet, or re-post this on your Facebook page & keep it as your reference as I do not always give away advice for free ;)
1.) PICTURES, PICTURES, PICTURES. Man, do I see some God awful pictures on Etsy. I'm not sure if the store owners actually think they look professional or just figure that they'll list it & it will sell anyway, but whatever the case is- clear, crisp, bright photograph's of your product are the only way to go.
2.) BE ORIGINAL. Don't be a copycat. I cannot tell you how many people I see copying off others and they are never as successful as the original. I started doing custom orders & noticed that everyone was asking me to make what someone else had already made and I'd think to myself, "well, that sucks because I'm never going to be able to list that." I do not list anything I've seen someone else make (though MANY have tried to copy me). That being said, I was charging $18 for something that took me 2-3 hours or more to design, not to mention cutting, printing, pressing, packing, the whole 9 yards. All that hard work to never be able to make any more money off it. I have cut back tremendously on doing custom orders unless they are specifically original & I am able to implement my own creativity and not use someone else's.
3.) THE 100 RULE. This probably isn't the first time you heard this, but I promise you, much of it is true. Do you have at least 100 items listed in your Etsy shop? Have you had 100 sales? 100 seems to be the magic number. In my case it was and with several thousand shop owners to attest to it- I can say it's some pretty good advice.
4.) HAVE YOU JOINED TEAMS YET? Etsy teams are important. The reason Etsy is such an original concept is because it was built on the foundation of small businesses being successful promoting each other rather than self promotion. When you get into teams & you see 'game threads' such as, 'post 5, favorite 5'- those MATTER! Every time an item of yours is 'favorited' your item slowly moves up in rank as Etsy sees it is becoming a popular item. You want people, A LOT of people, to favorite your items. Every time someone favorites your item it then goes into their followers home feed as 'so-and-so just favorited this item', thus causing a chain reaction of possible viewer's of your item. Not to mention, teams are an excellent source of advice. Find teams that blend well with what you are selling or focus on promotions.
5.) SEO. More importantly (in my opinion) is SEO. SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization. Optimizing your listings to be found in Google's search. Google focuses on your title & approximately the first 3 lines in your listing. It reads the entire listing, but it focuses on finding keywords that relate to your item to better place you in front of viewer's that are most likely to buy your item. You do not want to 'stuff' keywords in there. It is frowned upon & can actually hurt you rather than help you. Google wants meaningful content. Not a bunch of words thrown together that you think will get you seen. Instead, you want to use the words from your title in sentence form in the first few sentences of your first paragraph. Etsy's search reads your title & your keywords, not the actual content of your listing so make sure you are placing your words where they need to be so they are seen by whom you want seeing them. What is a good what to find strong keywords for your items, you ask? Head over to your Etsy or Google search box & start typing in what you sell. You will see several ideas on what terms are most commonly searched for. It always boggles my mind that Etsy gives us 140 characters to use in our title & I'll see someone's title is, "White Gold Wedding Band". Ummm.... You are MISSING OUT on so many other keywords that someone would search for! You're missing the bus! You could have in there, "Men's 14K White Gold Wedding Band Ring, Wide, Size 4-12, Engraved". THAT packs a WAY bigger punch & will be seen by anyone that types any of those terms into the search bar. It also narrows you down so you aren't so broad. You will get trampled on with a title like, "White Gold Wedding Band". There are so many other people with that key tag- you want to be found!
6.) KNOW YOUR TARGET AUDIENCE & find a way to be in their presence. This is the time you want to NOT worry about excluding people. I used to think that I didn't want to exclude men, nor did I want to exclude elderly, but I had to buckle down & really understand who was MOST LIKELY to buy from me rather than looking at everyone and thinking they MIGHT. For instance, yes, I carry men's apparel. Are they most likely to buy from me or is their girlfriend or wife more likely to buy from me? If so, what age range would be most popular? And so on... Think about who is most likely to buy from you & why. Then start building on that.
7.) UNDERSTAND SOCIAL MEDIA & ADVERTISE. Understand what sites work well, how to work them, when to use hashtags, etc. WITHOUT SPAMMING. Social Media can make all the difference. For my business, Pinterest has made me the most successful out of them all ( www.Pinterest.com/LivAndCo ).
Instagram( www.Instagram.com/LivAndCompany ) runs a close 2nd. I clocked in 8x the views from Pinterest than even Google. People were also much more likely to buy my item that clicked from Pinterest. I became a part of group Pinterest boards & started 2 of my own that are extremely successful. (You may find me & follow me- follow the instructions at the top of my board's for an invite.) Join small business groups on Facebook to network with other small business owners & display your items in front of viewer's that like to support small business. A few good ones are: "I Own A Small Business" https://www.facebook.com/groups/ShopSmallBiz/ & "It's Better Handmade"
https://www.facebook.com/groups/its.better.handmade.link/ Etsy-Preneurship seems to be another great tool for Etsy sellers. Visit their Facebook page here: https://www.facebook.com/EtsyPreneurship?fref=ts
8.) PROMOTE OTHER'S! When you promote other small businesses & they see it, they are likely to promote back! Plus, you should always support the community that supports you ;)
9.) DO NOT USE COPYRIGHTED OR TRADEMARKED PHRASES, ITEMS, DESIGNS, ETC. Not only is this unethical, it is illegal. Do your research on your shop if you want it to be around for a long time. It is a good way to get your Etsy shop SHUT DOWN. Trust me, I know, I've been there & you do not want to be. If it weren't for some serious investigating, contacting several higher-ups, & seeking legal advice, my shop never would've been re-opened. Why, you ask? The word "Onesie". This is trademarked by Gerber. It is their word & has been for decades. You'd never know it, I didn't. Once some of my listings were flagged & removed, I changed my keywords to 'onezie' & 'onsie'. I was flagged & removed again. According to trademark laws, anything that is similarly confusing is also a big no-no. My shop was shut down. When an Etsy shop is shut down- it is rarely re-opened and I had TWO! Both of my shop's were shut down & only 1 of them used that word. It didn't matter. If you have 5 shop's and 1 contains illegal material in it, Etsy can shut all of your shop's down & never re-open you again & it doesn't matter if you're a million dollar seller. No company, including Etsy, would want the responsibility of a lawsuit for infringement on their hands & as far as your stores go- there are plenty more like it that they can move up in relevancy in your place. In my case, I was completely unaware I was using a trademarked word. I heard it used so often as a general term in reference to the bodysuits I design. A couple other popular trademarks that people should be aware of, but apparently are not are Disney items, Taggies blankets (You cannot use the word taggies, tagged blankets, or anything similarly confusing. You also cannot make blankets with ribbons folding coming out of the sides because they own the patent on that as of right now. Anything that has to do with major league sports teams, even "Cape on backwards" in reference to bibs is now trademarked. Therefore, consult with an attorney if you are concerned something you make or sell could infringe on a copyright.
10.) HAVE YOUR OWN DOMAIN NAME. No matter what, be in charge of your shop. Make sure you have your own domain name from the get-go and plaster it on your business cards, clothing labels (if you have them), etc. Make sure people get to know your domain name & not your Etsy domain name. You can re-route your domain name to land in your Etsy shop, but if you ever decide to part ways with Etsy or Etsy ever decides to part ways with you- every customer you've ever had will know your domain name & instead of landing on a dead store with options for other store's listings, they'll come look for you at your domain name which you can build your shop under should anything go awry!
11.) BACK UP YOUR SHOP. Whether you use the CSV file option or you use an app to back up your shop & it's listing's- do it! Make sure you've always got your listings on hand to upload somewhere else. This goes hand in hand with making sure you are always in control of your shop- no one else.
Well friends, that's all I've got time for today. I hope you learned something valuable while you were here :) & hey, you may as well check out my shop! Visit us here: http://www.livandco.com/store/c1/Featured_Products.html
Proud Mom of 3 beautiful children. Creator, designer, & owner of Liv & Co.
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