Saturday, October 3, 2015

Stella Erwin's
"It Takes a Village"
Part I

There comes a time in life of any successful small business when it's no longer feasible for one person to do all the work.  For me that time arrived well before the available funds needed to hire hourly help.  Over the next few weeks, I will be sharing some creative ways employed by as well as other Etsy sellers in "It Takes a Village" series.  

Part 1 - What to do with so much glass to drill and only a 12 volt battery hand drill.  
Stella Erwin's has two lines that require holes drilled in the glass - Porch Lights and Wynne Chimes (and no Wynne Chimes is not mispelled.) 

The Porch Light are handled in house with a hand drill, but the Wynne Chimes glass is drilled by my good friend Jeff Wynne.  The volume of glass needed for the chimes line is huge, limited only by the amount of glass that arrives broken or is broken in processing.  After finding the cost of a drill press to be around $900 the search began for an alternative.  Enter Jeff Wynne who already owns one!  

Jeff Wynne - creator of Wynne Chimes

That's him busy drilling holes on the pieces of glass that are first tumbled back at Stella Erwin's. Upon completion of the first batch of 100 or so pieces, Jeff was paid with a covered bird feeder from Stella's inventory.  Our current arrangement, which includes some additional work by Jeff on the chimes is 50/50 split upon sale.   These chimes have very little cost involved but are labor intensive. With Jeff's help we are able to keep things sustainable at Stella Erwin's by using even the broken glass.  

One of the newest in the Wynne Chimes line and just in time for fall. Beautiful amber and gold glass are featured in this piece. They are suspended by a vintage bedspring.  

Links to the Wynne Chimes and Porch Light sections at follow.  

Thanks for reading
Julie Jansen

Monday, September 28, 2015

Stella Erwin's presents:
Foothills and Flats

Stella Mae Erwin, my great aunt, had a zest for life and loyalty to her extended family that was remarkable.  She died young but is well remembered and loved. Great women are like that, they live on and on.  

Stella's great grand nephew and his wife, Ben and Jessalyn Beasley, recently began their artist adventure creating handmade artisan jewelry. They are open for business on Etsy at and soon to be on Handmade at Amazon.  

A little bit about their shop and some of their creations. Listing links follow last photo. 

$61.23 Sterling Feather 
$15.95 Turquoise wire wrapped ring
Our name is Foothills&Flats because of the two parts that make up this company, a Tennessee boy and a Texas girl. On the one hand, our roots very much influence our work and our style but on the other hand, it's just a starting point. 

Our affections for silversmithing really took off after Ben cast his own wedding ring (the week of the wedding.) We were enamored by the matte finish of the delft clay casting and the immense feeling of having created something so meaningful with our own hands. 

$37.45 Copper Cuff
Our jewelry is earthy and eclectic. It appeals to the simple down-home style or the traveler in search of the connection between all humans. Designed for the person who appreciates that there is nothing new under the sun and that all things are influenced by another and connected. We believe in art for the sake of connecting humans to craft, not simply to generate profit or provide endless copies. Sometimes it’s better to limit the reach. That’s what makes it unique.
$51.50 Sterling Mountain
 That's what makes us all unique. We found that we're all a little like that first wedding ring, cast from such precious material, unique in our creation & raw and imperfect until our Maker comes along to give us the perfect finish.

Shop now, shop often.  Their designs and quality are amazing.

Sunday, September 27, 2015

Fall News

The big news for on-line handmade sellers is Handmade At Amazon - the newest version of Amazon which will be launching soon.  In late May H@A began sending out invitations to handmade artists. Stella Erwin's was accepted in June.  Yay!  This is what Stella's landing page art will look like.   

BIG THANKS and hugs to Sherilyn Koss at for this stunning digital art. Sherilyn has created all of Stella's art for 2 years, lending beauty and consistency to our brand. I highly recommend Sherilyn, a gifted artist and professional business woman. She has great instincts for putting together exactly what you want and need with limited information. And she's fast!

Handmade at Amazon has not launched yet, but should soon.Stella's inventory at H@A will be unique from that at Etsy, though in the case of duplicate pieces you may see the same item in both shops.  More to come as this venue opens. 

Below are some of newest glass creations from this season.
Ice cube design - $66

Porch Lights - vintage glass hanging candle holders.  Some of these are milk glass and most were originally on porches or in bathrooms. Although a few of these we installed in carnival trailers in the 60s. Visit the Porch Light section and look at the exquisite selection.
More than just a candle holder 

$51 - stunning milk glass
$51 - milk glass w/side cutouts

Imagine these with votives or remote control LEDs.  Discounts on multiple Porch Lights purchases can be realized with the following coupon codes used a checkout.  

PORCHLIGHT10 - 10% off purchase of 3 Porch Lights
PORCHLIGHT15 - 15% off purchase of 4 Porch Lights
PORCHLIGHT25 - 25% off purchase of 5 or more Porch Lights

Thanks so much for reading and for your support.

Julie Jansen

Coming Soon:  Vintage glass Wynne (no it's not misspelled) chimes and the newest in covered bird feeders - think square.

Friday, May 1, 2015

Stella Erwin's 

How to Write Successful Etsy Description for Vintage Items

Because it's important to capture as many on-line customer segments as possible, I invited Alex, a college sophomore, attending the University of Illinois to share his thoughts about writing listing descriptions.  His shop - is successful and his perspective fresh and well grounded.  But first, enjoy a couple of his listings, and be sure to click on the links that follow and read his descriptions.  

Antique Auto Horn - $70
1969 Vintage Lunch Box - $28.89

This from Alex: In the body of the description - "Repeat your item title and other important identifiable characteristics about your piece in the first 1-2 sentences.  This is important for SEO (search engine optimization) and being chosen by Google and other search engines as one of the first results if someone searches for your item.  Google looks at the first 64 characters of your description - making the placement of this information important."

Bloggers note:  I recently incorporated this great advice in to all of my new listings.

Next, describe any faults, problems, or missing parts with your item.  Leaving it for last leaves a lasting impression.  This part is important both to protect you - the seller from claims of not selling as advertised as well as protecting the customer by letting them know exactly what they are getting. All in all it's less of a hassle to come out and be frank about what you are selling.  

Schlitz Retro Bar Light - $135
Matchbox 1907 Peugeot - $25.45
Describe what the item could be used for or how to decorate with it, especially for obscure items. This helps the customer draw a connection to it.  For example:  I've listed some antique car horns that were used on Model T's and A's.  Not every customer is building a hot rod or rat rod, so by describing ways to use them as decor I can expand the number of possible customers from those building a hot rod to those who think old cars are neat. 

When possible give a little history.  I think the customer appreciates knowing when and how it was made and what it's original use was.  It's part of our history and culture and something worth knowing about.  It does take extra time researching, so what is the real benefit to you? It might just make the customer think, "Wow, that's really neat, I'd love to own that piece of history!" And right there you convert a casual viewer to a buyer.  Lastly, provide a link back to your shop at the end of your listing.  This is important to keep the person viewing in your shop and continuing to shop.  
Bubble depression glass - $12.99
Blue Edworth Tobacco Tin - $24
Alex has been open less than 2 years, has over 50 sells, 24 - 5 star reviews and almost 1000 admirers.

Great Advice from Alex and
Thanks so much for sharing your insights
Julie Jansen

Sunday, April 26, 2015

Stella Erwin's™, LLC

May 1, the summer edition of GreenCraft Magazine featuring The Stella Erwin Feeder hits the stands at Barnes and Noble, Costco, Michaels, Lowes, JoAnn's and lots of other places.  Below are the first and last pages of the four page article found in the Vintage Repurposed section.  

Look for the cover with the cute apron on it.  And look for bird feeders at

GreenCraft Summer Edition Cover
 Justin Jansen, Stella's incredible photographer has his by-line in the article and the table of contents

Stella is on the move!


Friday, April 24, 2015

Stella Erwin's™
Etsy Shop Policies - Part II

Payment and Seller Information are both important parts of an Etsy shop.  Completion of these sections with clear, informative data will set your shop apart.  I am so fortunate to have expert contributors to this blog.  Take some time to browse, starting with a couple of  items that follow and then absorb Tony's insights into Payment and Seller Information. Listing links follow the photos.  
Night Before Christmas Hosta - $14.99
5 Abbey Hostas - $30 + shipping
"List clearly exactly what forms of payment you accept and I recommend you accept every form you can. The more comfortable customers are with how they can pay, the more money you will have in your pocket." Paypal, Direct Checkout and Etsy Gift cards are 3 easy payments to take. 

If you decide to accept personal checks and money orders, state they must clear before shipment (usually 15 business days – three weeks). You may not hold them that long, but the message is clear that you aren’t going to ship until the money has arrived. For those that choose this option, they will be willing to wait.  USPS money orders can be cashed at post offices and turned into immediate cash. 

Trades - Tony has made some amazing deals accepting trades, and made good money bartering. "Think of creative forms of payment you can accept that will help your customer. For example, I have long been a coin dealer, so I will accept silver or gold coins at a slight discount to spot price in lieu of cash."  Lay-a-ways are also a great way to get larger sales and it's easy to set up lay-a-way listings.  

Tony has an amazing and eclectic selection in his shop -  Since it's spring and gardening time, I'm featuring items form his Garlic, Garden, Hostas section.

Galic to transplant - $4.99 + shipping
The more you are comfortable giving out information, the more visible and human you will appear. Many people prefer the anonymity they have selling online. However, from a customer’s viewpoint, the more ways they can reach you the better - especially if an issue or a question arises.  

Tony highly recommends giving both an address and a phone number in this section. It gives customers a much higher trust in you if they can view you as a “real” seller. Links to other sites where you can be found and links to antique or craft shows where you set-up send a strong professional image. Some of you will decide against this due to your individual situation, and that can be a valid choice. 

5 Milkweed pods - $9.99 plus shipping
This is the 2nd article Tony has contributed to and I so appreciate his insight.  Remember to shop at for these lovely garden plants and so much more

Julie Jansen
Stella Erwin's, LLC, All Right Reserved

Sunday, April 12, 2015


Frustrating, to say the least, are copycats.  Can't afford a patent?  Me neither.  Still, there are things that can be done to keep your work unique and to inform your customers they are getting your original product. 

Acrylic tags hang from each of my pieces, which brings me to the real subject of today's blog - Stacy Scissors of
Beginning with the above listing, Stacy created 100 custom acrylic tags using my script and the ™ symbol. She also reviewed my work and recommended a color choice that beautifully accents each piece without being distracting.  
Once the artwork was settled Stacy sent me three sizes to choose from, with the dimensions clearly marked.  The photo left, is her mockup.  So much information in one photo makes it easy to choose.  

Somewhere along the way, I made the purchase - ONLY $42.90 INCLUDING SHIPPING for 100 tags.  Amazing!

Stacy cut and beautifully packaged the tags and got them to me within 3 days.  They came neatly nestled in a gift box, tied with a ribbon and one of the tags.  Working with Stacy was such a pleasure. She is professional, fast, accurate and made the process easy.  

Stacy sells all kinds of neat things in her shop -
Silver Bullet Charm Necklace - $24.95
Acrylic Red Leopard Heels - $3.49

Check out this cool charm necklace and acrylic red heel cabs.  The listing links follow the photos

A bit from Stacy's Etsy About Page.

"I created Running With Scissors jewelry in 2006 with glitter running through my veins and a dream swirling in my head. Having just become a new mommy, I wanted to find a way to stay with my new lil princess always. Running With Scissors has not only allowed me that luxury, but, has also become a jewelry and accessory line that has taken the world of bling by storm! 

......Once the kids are napping or asleep at night I retire to my fantasy glitter factory and strap on my gas mask. There, in the solace of resin fumes, stickers, beads, and charms galore I can create whatever I want..."

4 finger rings - $24.95
I love the part about strapping on her gas mask.  Stacy's shop stats are impressive.  Since opening her Etsy shop in 2008 she has accumulated 7328 Sales; 7419 Admirers; 2488 5 star reviews. 

Bones and gears earrings - $11.95
Whether you want something fun or need classy acrylic work, shop with Stacy -

I love this shop.


Thursday, March 19, 2015

Stella Erwin's™ presents:
Porch Lights in keeping with the stylish repurposing of vintage glass lighting announces a new line - Porch Lights. These glass porch light covers, reclaimed for use as hanging candle holders, are a subtle and stunning accent for garden weddings, your patio, or outdoor party decoration. I have one sitting on a footed candle holder inside.  Below are the first in the new line. Links to Etsy listings follow photos. 

$44 plus shipping
$44 plus shipping

The vintage glass is thick and the designs are many and varied.  Some have vertical ridge and geometric designs.  Others include hobnail or horizontal accents.  They range in height from 3-7" and most have top openings of about 3" in diameter.  Two holes are drilled in the rim of each piece to insure secure attachment of hardware.  The hardware also includes a black chain that hangs 12-18". All are available at

$37 plus shipping

$44 plus shipping 

Each "Porch Light," comes with a votive candle, but imagine having several of these suspended from your porch, fitted with remote control LED wax candles, which can be found on eBay in sets of 6 or more.  

These designs and others are now available at  Many more will be introduced over the coming weeks.  They will range in price from $33-49 plus shipping. 

Julie Jansen

Saturday, January 31, 2015

How To Create Professional Etsy Policies
Part 1
Tony Hershey,, provided valuable insight for creating your Etsy policy and information sections.  In the on-line selling biz for a number of years and with Etsy since 2010, Tony is approaching 700 sales on Etsy alone.  He also has 220 reviews with a 5 star average. 

Part 1, of this series covers Shipping and Refunds.  First, let's peek into the unusual, rare and quirky world of  With 585 listings, you are sure to find something wonderful. (Listing links follow photos.) 

Rare Czech Pitcher and glasses - $80.00

Antique Marble - German Cloud - $250

USA Mint Olympic Stamps - $19.99
Tony indicated the Return policy is the most important followed by Shipping Information.  I put shipping first, because one always ships, but hopefully will rarely deal with returns. 

  • Turn-around time. 
  • How to charge for shipping 
  • International shipments 
TAT - In the instant society in which we live, people like next day shipping. Tony recommends using the 3-5 day category in your listings. If you can ship faster, you have an impressed buyer. If you can’t, the buyer expected that anyway, so no disappointment.  (Blogger note:  Tony has daily sells and a huge shop inventory.  The 3-5 day process time gives you the opportunity to organize and be more efficient.)

U.S. Shipping Charges - Etsy does not have an embedded shipping calculator, so you will need to know how much to charge for shipping. The major carriers (USPS, FedEx, UPS) have on-line shipping estimate calculators.  A visit to your preferred vendor site, some experimenting with weight, box size and distance will help determine the right amount for you.  Though time consuming research, it is important.  Most sellers use USPS, because it tends to be the cheapest.  

How to determine the right amount of shipping, when you don't yet know where the item is headed?
  • Some Etsy sellers simply select a City and State far away from their home location, and set that amount as their standard shipping rate. 
  • Others take an average of several points across the US. 
It is easy to refund a portion of the shipping if you so choose. But shipping charges aren’t just postage. They include tracking, insurance, packing materials, etc.  Remember to calculate these somewhere in your pricing.

International Shipments? - If you answer yes, read on.  If no, skip ahead to Refunds.  From the Blogger: First step is back to those carrier calculators.  I use, USPS for all International Shipments, because consistently it is the cheapest.  Adding locations in your Etsy shipping profiles by country is easy.  I have about 20 countries listed and then "Everywhere Else."  Countries were selected based on the percentage of total views received by my shop during 2014.  (Not very scientific, but I am growing and learning about international shipments all the time. ) 

Tony says, "Remind international buyers that you have no control over shippers or customs agencies. As a result, shipments can sometimes take weeks or months." Remind them that any value added taxes (VAT), customs fees, or brokerage fees are their responsibility. If you choose to exclude countries that can’t be insured, state that plainly.  Although it is rare, you may be asked to falsify information in order to reduce the customs fees.  That is NOT a practice we endorse or participate in. 

Time for a short commercial break and another look at Tony has some wonderful historic photographs.  Below are a couple with autographs.  Listing links follow.     
President Carter, First Lady and The Pope
signed by The Carters - $345

Signed Marcel Marceau - $79

This is probably the most important policy section and needs to be done carefully. Make sure you include the following:
  • How long people have to return items. 
  • Whether or not you will refund shipping
  • Language about partial refunds
  • Refunds without return of item

Standard times for return are 7-14 days from receipt of item.  A “No refunds” policy is both useless and detrimental. Customers will be wary and you will lose sales.  Both Paypal and credit card companies can force a refund in certain situations, and savvy customers know it.  

Refund Shipping - Yes, for damaged or lost items.  Otherwise Tony recommends no for either direction, because it is a charge for a service that you cannot recoup. Additionally, one of the primary reasons for return requests is buyer remorse. Allowing such a return is likely enforceable by your buyer.  But they should also participate by absorbing the shipping costs.  The primary exception to this is an obvious mistake on your part, such as an incorrect description. In this case refund both directions, and take the loss. You’ll not make that mistake again, and your buyers will be happy with your customer service. 

Partial Refunds - Tony says, "NO!" And spell it out in your language, as in "No Partial Refunds." Partial refunds set you up for post sale pressure, which is essentially the same as asking for a discount up front. 

Refunds without return of the item to you - Again, Tony says, "No."  Why not just accept a picture of a damaged item item? There are two compelling reasons not to. 
  • The item may be repairable and re-sellable. 
  • Protection from a common scam:  "A person owns a vintage, mass-produced item (not a one-of-a-kind artist-made one). This item gets broken. They search online and buy one just like it from you. Once it arrives safely to them, they contact you claiming it was broken. You ask for a pic, and they take a pic of their original, broken item, not the good one you shipped. They get a refund and a new item…for free."
You can always loosen up your policy depending on the situation.  You may want to state in your policies that you use multiple photos and secret marks to confirm the validity and original condition of returns. Secret marks are advisable, especially on expensive items - some tiny mark, in a hidden location, in a way that will not cause damage. Photos of the secret marks and wear patterns will help you identify your item has been returned.  

Stay turned for Part 2 - Payment and Seller Info, coming soon.  And thanks to Tony Hershey of for his contributions to this article.  

By the way, Tony has his wares at: Top of the Class Antique Show, at Bone Student Center at Illinois State University in Normal, Illinois this weekend. If you are from the area, go see Tony from now until 4 pm Sunday, Feb 1, 2015. 

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Stella Erwin's™

Scenes from last Saturday's backyard bird feeder photo shoot. The Cardinals are frequent visitors to Stella Erwin's™ table. These photos were taken in anticipation of a magazine article featuring The Stella Erwin Feeder™available at These pieces (blue $79 and sunburst $64) would look lovely in any backyard and clearly attract birds.  

Stay tuned more more about the magazine article, coming later this year.  Links to listings follow photos.

Photos by: Justin Jansen, © 2015 Stella Erwin's™.  All Rights Reserved.

Female Cardinal

Male Cardinal

Male Cardinal striking a pose

He's either coming or going

Male Cardinal 
Female Cardinal and Carolina Chickadee sharing a table

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Stella Erwin's™ 

Just about anyone you ask or anything you read about being successful on Etsy, emphasizes the importance of great photos.  Picking up from the last post and keeping with the "how to take great photos" theme, Kevin of shared some of his photos tips with Stella Erwin's™. To showcase his great photos below are 2 items from his shop.  Listing links follow.

Wooden Drawer Shadow Box - $78
$36 - Burlington Sandblast pipe

To begin says Kevin - "Use the Program feature on your camera and properly adjust the white balance & exposure settings. This may take some practice and lots of sample photos to get the perfect settings for your lighting conditions."

  • Set up a small area for your indoor photo shoots. 
  • Use a white or neutral background. If you don’t like a stark white background just make sure your background is not too dark.  My wife uses old gray colored barn wood and an old crusty white painted ceiling tin. Just about anything neutral will work. (Blogger Note: The photo in the listing below is sitting on the barn wood with the white ceiling tin behind.) 

Excess Baggage Print - $16

  • Make sure there isn’t an overwhelming pattern in the background. You want your item to be the main focus, not the background.
    • With a little luck you can get a huge white vinyl pull down (rolled type) window shade or an old vintage projector screen to use. They are easy to hang, clean & store. They are also cheap usually under 10 bucks. 
    • For smaller items painted boards or poster board work well. If you paint a backdrop make sure you use satin or flat, not a gloss paint. 
    • Large paper roll backdrops are a pain, they tear and get dirty. 
Blogger Note: - More examples of Ohio Pickers fantastic photos
Steampunk radio parts $48
$28 - Vintage Keys

A word or 2 about light bulbs:
  • Use correct light bulb color spectrum 5,000 – 6,500K (kelvin rating).  6,500K is the best. The lower the spectrum rating the more yellow your photos will look. Do not use incandescent bulbs as you will be fighting with a yellow tint in your photos. You can buy 6500K Daylight GE energy smart compact fluorescent bulbs for a few dollars each. Make sure you get the 26 watt (100 watt replacement or equivalent) bulbs. If the boxes are not marked with the spectrum most of the time the bulbs are marked on the base. They may be a little hard to find as most of the bulbs sold are lower (softer light) spectrum bulbs. 6500K is the key.
  • I use 6 bulbs total. Each bulb is installed in a work light reflector that can be purchased at any hardware store (about 10 dollars). 
  • don't use the camera flash, soft white incandescent bulbs or "auto" feature on your camera.  
    • the flash will overexpose most photos and wash out the image
    • incandescent light bulbs will give your photo a yellow tint
    • auto feature will often make your photo look dark is a successful Etsy shop, with over 2600 sales, 8150 admirers and 1066 reviews - all of that since 2010.  

Visit, take a look at the fabulous photo listings and spend some time shopping through a great eclectic mix of history.