Bella Blu Designs

Saturday, January 31, 2009

Cavalier Rescue USA

Animal rescue is near and dear to my heart so I am pleased to announce that I'm supporting Cavalier Rescue USA this month. One of my fabulous shoppers from Kansas contacted me about this King Charles Spaniel rescue organization and I was happy to help. {Side note: love their logo!}

This little pup is Lady and she's available for adoption in Tucson, AZ. These are tough economic times for everyone but don't forget about our furry friends as you consider making your charitable donations in 2009.

When life gives you lemons...

I pride myself on being a positive person but man, I have been tested lately. Between legal/business issues on the backend (which have been resolved, woo hoo!), the looming CPSIA legislature, and the death of beloved laptop and loss of all my data... it's been long, rough start to 2009. But I continue to remind myself of a quote by Maya Angelou: “We may encounter many defeats but we must not be defeated.”

So score one for persistence because yesterday, by the grace of God, the CPSC granted a one year stay of testing and certification requirements for certain products. In a nutshell this means I will be able to continue to make children's products (that are known to not contain lead) without the looming fear of prosecution or incarceration.

"The action taken today provides breathing space to get in place some of the rules needed for implementation, but it should not be viewed as a full solution to the many problems that have been raised." —U.S. Consumer product Safety Commission

This is really great news for small business owners like myself who do not have the resources to pay for the testing/certification of children's clothing. I am also focusing on the 20% chance that some of my data may be recoverable from my laptop. It's still in the morgue but I got call from the IT guy at 5:30 last night who said he opened her up and the platter isn't completely scratched on the hard drive. He said success rate in this situation on this particular model is about 20% so I am going to take those odds. He's looking for a donor drive out there (essentially, my hard drive has mere days to live and it's on the top of the organ donor list; if they can find a match they can attempt to operate). So fingers crossed that things continue to look up next week...

Friday, January 30, 2009

Rotten Apple

I love my computer more than any of my other material possessions. It's a black MacBook and it's been good to me for more than 14 months now. So you might imagine my disappointment when I got home from work on Wednesday to discover the image above staring back at me. If you can't imagine, I will try to describe the horror.

I got home from a long, stressful day at my "real job" and pressed the old spacebar key to wake 'er up for my second round of work. She didn't perk up the way she usually does and finally managed to spit out a white screen with a blinking file folder and giant question mark. A question mark is right!, I said to myself. Simultaneously I began to hear a rythmic clicking noise and despite a limited knowledge of computer hardware, I knew this was not good. The panic started to set in as I powered down and back up again. I booted up my other laptop and frantically began searching the Apple web site for their help number (whilst googling the file folder/question mark error message ... which is akin to searching Web MD when you have a headache and are experiencing a general state of malaise - you will close the brower knowing you have but mere hours to live).

I finally connected to an Apple service tech after sorting out my service warranty (grrr!). Now, I normally really appreciate Apple's laid-back/techy/Gen Y approach to service - I mean, they call themselves Geniuses! But on this particular evening, I was looking for someone to share my panic and sense of urgency. What I got instead was, as I could only imagine, a 22-year old sitting in a cube with a headset on, a beer in one hand, and a joint in the other. In his defense, he was somewhat knowledgeable as he walked me through a few unsuccessful rescue attempts. But the third time he casually dropped "no worries" throughout the conversation, I finally went into screaming banshee mode and replied, "I AM WORRIED! There are a lot of worries on this phone call!"

The soonest appointment I could get at the Apple Store was this morning and my Genius Will basically confirmed my worst nightmare in about 5 minutes: Total failure of the hard drive. He recommended a few data recovery services in town but just received the call that 'Ole Besse was D.O.A.; Recovery not possible.

Now I know what your next burning question is and I am going to go ahead and answer No, I did not have a back-up of my hard drive (it's a relatively new Apple; that was my back-up). So let me take this moment to gently remind you to back up your data if you do not regularly do so! I basically have to start from scratch with everything - all of my graphics files, programs, iTunes, photos, etc... all gone! Aaaarrrrrgh! Lesson learned!

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Valentines are up

I might have missed Christmas cards but I have managed to get a couple of Valentine's Day cards up in the shop. Check out the dachshunds and black labs. As always, they can be customized with any breed in any quantity.

New! Design your own stationery

Now that the holiday rush has passed, I've had some time to design some new products for the shop. With the uncertainty of the impending Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act (CPSIA), I've decided to focus on paper products until there is some resolution on whether I'll be able to continue to sell onesies and other children's products. Fingers crossed that all pans out, but in the meantime.... lovely new stationery!

The newest addition to the shop is "design your own {dog breed} stationery." Now completely customizable, you can pick your favorite dog breed, font, ink and envelope colors. So far I've listed black lab, chocolate lab, pug and dachshund designs. More to come as I work on taking photos and updating the shop on this beautiful Sunday afternoon.

Design your own dachshund personalized stationery - Set of 10 flat paneled cards ($18).

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Sweet trailer!

So I have to share this picture of my favorite Christmas present which happens to be from my sister Kathleen. It's an adorable little wooden camper trailer and it doubles as a bird house. How cute is this! I have been long fascinated with trailers and mobile lodging in general... so she saw this and immediately thought of me. When we were driving around Ireland this fall we made several stops so I could take pictures of various trailer parks (although none of them were as cute as this). I don't know what it is but I have always been fascinated by their portability and quirkiness. I think it's too cute to put outside so I'll have to find the right place to hang it somewhere in our house. (Pardon the mess in the photo; I'm crafting to serve you better)

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Save handmade clothing and toys from the CPSIA

I recently stumbled upon a very disturbing finding that could essentially put me out of the baby onesie making business. I am trying not to be too reactive until I have all of the facts, but wanted to make you aware of the new Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act which went into effect last year and will become enforceable starting February 9, 2009. More information follows but if you'd like your voice to be heard on this issue, you can vote here.

In 2007, large toy manufacturers who outsource their production to China and other developing countries violated the public's trust. They were selling toys with dangerously high lead content, toys with unsafe small parts, toys with improperly secured and easily swallowed small magnets, and toys made from chemicals that made kids sick. Almost every problem toy in 2007 was made in China.

The United States Congress rightly recognized that the Consumer Products Safety Commission (CPSC) lacked the authority and staffing to prevent dangerous toys from being imported into the US. So, they passed the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act (CPSIA) in August, 2008. Among other things, the CPSIA bans lead and phthalates in toys, mandates third-party testing and certification for all toys and requires toy makers to permanently label each toy with a date and batch number.

All of these changes will be fairly easy for large, multinational toy manufacturers to comply with. Large manufacturers who make thousands of units of each toy have very little incremental cost to pay for testing and updating their molds to include batch labels.
For small American, Canadian, and European toymakers, however, the costs of mandatory testing, to the tune of up to $4,000 per toy, will likely drive them out of business. And the handful of larger toy makers who still employ workers in the United States face increased costs to comply with the CPSIA, even though American-made toys had nothing to do with the toy safety problems of 2007. Toy makers won't be the only ones impacted by the CPSIA, the thousands of US businesses who offer clothing, jewelry and other gifts for children --in essence-- the entire children's industry will be as well.

The CPSIA simply forgot to exclude the class of toys that have earned and kept the public's trust. The result, unless the law is modified, is that handmade children's products will no longer be legal in the US.

Thriving small businesses are crucial to the financial health of our nation. Let's amend the CPSIA so that all businesses large and small are able to comply and survive!

Monday, January 5, 2009

Even cherries have the pits

I so greatly enjoyed my time off of work for the past couple of weeks that the mere thought of waking up to an alarm had me tossing and turning all last night. Consequently, I got very little sleep and woke up on the wrong side of the bed this morning (boo!). Going back to work was hard enough but going back on a few hours of sleep was torture. It was freezing cold and rainy today - very hard not to be grouchy.

But alas, the day is done and I just enjoyed some bing cherries and a melatonin. Tomorrow is a new day, afterall, and I hope to be well rested and ready to take it head on. And if my Buckeyes can swing a win tonight against my Longhorns, it'll be a very bright Tuesday.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Today LL and I got together for brunch at La Madeleine and a noon showing of Slumdog Millionaire. The movie is brilliant! If you haven't seen it, I highly recommend. It felt a little slow moving in the beginning (although not painful) but it picked up and was utterly "rewarding without being opportunistic," as one review states. Definitely worth the two hours of my Sunday.

I can't believe it's back to work tomorrow. I wish I had another week off to enjoy the down time. I've been plugging away at orders - stationery and shower favors - and trying not to eat too much chocolate in the process. Darn these little candy favors...

Friday, January 2, 2009

Rompers and bibs

I'm thrilled with some of the new products I've got coming to the shop this weekend and I've just listed one of them:

This sweet little light blue romper is a onesie/shorts combo and perfect for the summer weather. I've decided to list as "you-pick-the-fabric-and-dog-breed" and I hope it isn't too confusing (although you'd be surprised). I'd better get back to work so I can get the pink, green, and white rompers listed, as well.

Update: Just finished this bib and burp cloth set:

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Happy New Year!

Okay, okay, so I've officially added "be a better blogger" to my list of New Year's resolutions. December was such a blur but I say that with sincere gratitude for all of my wonderful customers and supporters of BellaBlu designs. The exposure from the Bark Magazine gift guide combined with the holiday rush (not to mention my 'real job' and the typical holiday stress of shopping and traveling) left me with little time to think... or write. But as I reflect back I am so thankful for the success of my business and all of the wonderful people I've met and the opportunities that presented themselves in 2008. I am very excited for another year and I look forward for all that lies ahead.

We returned from Atlanta last weekend and I am happy to report that I have done little to nothing for the past few days. It feels wonderful! We got a new t.v. and a Wii so Andy has been pretty busy perfecting his inner guitar hero. I've been working on some new items for the Etsy shop and have decided to revamp a few of my listings for ease of ordering. Notably, I'll be moving all totes and many other sewn creations to a "You pick the fabrics" set-up. i.e., you will have the option to pick the fabric for the appliqué and in the case of the tote bags, the color of the bag handles, as well. I'll also be adding a few more breeds like the mini schnauzer and the chihuahua.

I'm off again tomorrow and plan to work on some new designs and updates to the shop. I'm all caught up on orders and hope to see a few movies before the weekend is over, as well. Hope everyone had a fabulous (and safe) New Year's Eve... we were sound asleep by 11:30 so missed all of the hoopla.
Blog Widget by LinkWithin