Some Wednesday thoughts

Perhaps the biggest misconception is working hard will get you ahead when the truth is working smart is the only option for success. Whether you work a 9 to 5 job in an office or run your own business, the cards are generally stacked against you. Working smart is learning to do more with less and turn average income into truly sustainable income over the long-term. Too many people define success as working hard to pay their bills and will shy away from taking any calculated risks out of fear, while failing to see that breaking even every month without savings and investments could prove to be far more catastrophic than perhaps making a less than stellar realty investment or taking a loss on an unlucky stock purchase. Running a successful business requires planning, discipline, and constantly thinking ahead.

Some of the factors to consider:

-Sufficient target revenue
-Estate planning
-Tax exposures
-Debt management
-Total expenditures
-Healthcare, HSA, Health planning
-Retirement savings

Moves such as taking a home equity line to remodel a kitchen, buying a new car, paying rent, selling your current home to purchase a larger home, attending an expensive private university, having an expensive wedding… really need to be carefully considered and mostly like left to the rich and famous. When I hear about someone graduating a private school with $100,000 in student loans, $25,000 in wedding debt, renting an expensive apartment, and buying a new car, I absolutely cringe and am dumbfounded by the thought process.

What I like about running a business is having more control and choices, but those choices carry with them a large burden of responsibility. We are full-time online and in theory, full-time Etsians. If we were willing to place all of our eggs in one basket, we could definitely do quite well selling on Etsy alone without having additional sales channels.

I highly recommend having your own website and looking for other opportunities outside of Etsy as a good backup. The risk though is spreading yourself too thin and having a portfolio of mediocre projects without focus which is our current situation. When we truly focus 100% on Etsy, meaning promotion, listing new items, reworking old listings, forums, promoted listings… the up-ticks here are huge. As we spread out and perhaps spread ourselves too thin, I notice we slip below the Etsy “effort threshold” and experience dramatic decreases in business. Balancing and juggling takes hours of planning and getting it right is most definitely a huge challenge.

Nici’s Picks Applies to Etsy Wholesale

Feeling invigorated by wholesale and corporate opportunities at NAMM, Nici’s Picks applied to Etsy Wholesale and will hopefully hear back in time for Etsy Open Call.

Ironically, Nici’s Picks evolved out of a dissatisfaction with Etsy’s de-clumping, the drive to have market domination in the custom metal guitar pick market, and gain exposure in Google Shopping. Born on Etsy in 2012, we are once again eyeing up the company for networking opportunities to help Nici’s Picks grow in the #1 producer of metal guitar picks. Already #1 in Google for brass and bronze guitar picks, Nici’s Picks LLC passed the 6 month mark with some serious causes for celebration.




After hitting an all time low of $6.00 per share, Etsy has had quite the Bull Run since February 2016 with a stunning 37% increase per share. As of 15:00 today, the stock was making strong gains and heading towards $10.00 per share. Indeed we have very mixed feelings about Etsy and personally I’m not convinced going public was the correct move to benefit both the company and sellers. My sentiments come from a particular fondness for REIT investing and a desire to see similar models evolve elsewhere in the markets which leaves me to ponder the idea of an Etsy Artist Trust. In this model, Etsy would sell shares primarily to sellers and then re-distribute 85% of earnings to the shareholders much like EPR Properties or Realty Income. Income would be generated by seller fees, leasing studio space, and providing seller services such as accounting or tax filing. My thinking is to directly involve sellers in the company and keep the fiduciaries between the sellers and administration instead of anonymous shareholders. Of course, there’s nothing stopping sellers from investing in Etsy under the current model, however the consensus seems to be leaning more towards sellers resisting such investments in favour of creating their own websites or finding other opportunities elsewhere due to eroded confidence in the administration. Since April though, we have seen tremendous growth in our Etsy Shops and are hopeful Etsy can shake off some of the recent negativity to restore buyer, seller, and investor confidence in the company.

While certainly feeling positive about Etsy once again, we will continue to maintain the position that selling should be managed with a portfolio approach that includes a good collection of various selling channels, social media, live venues, trade shows, blogs, and having a presence on the biggest player such as Amazon and Ebay.


Nici’s Picks Goes to the NAMM Music Tradeshow

Exceeding our wildest dreams, Nici’s Picks was in full swing for Father’s Day delivering a good mix of custom and stock orders. As the dust settles, we turn our attention to the NAMM Tradeshow in Nashville, TN. Unfortunately, having been broadsided with tsunamis of orders on all of our sites, the shining star of show, Nici Laskin is absent and replaced by the by the folks Ron and Carol Laskin making Nici’s Picks a true family business.


Booth 1611 open this morning for business at 10:00am and our modest little display has been attracting curious attention as NAMM’s smallest venue.

A big thanks to Maliana@ You’re On Film for tweeting a photo of a few of tiny picks on that giant table. Be sure to check out her coverage of NAMM ClpXNK0VEAA8i57

Feeling left out of the show, I’m already eyeing NAMM 2017 in Anaheim, CA and this time my plans would be to go all out with an incredible display of music jewelry, guitar picks, and some of my favourite pieces. Rocking out your own business sounds like fun and so many people have this glorious vision of working from home, but truth be told, there is no last one out of the office on a Friday shutting off the lights. Instead, there’s cranking up the lights and grabbing a coffee for the night shift. If nothing else comes of NAMM, we are seriously looking into hired help as an absolute necessity heading into the holiday season.



Made something today that I never made before – a hair fork

I made something today that I never made before - hair fork

I make jewelry mostly and metal guitar picks . Today I decided to make something that I have no experience in making – a hair fork please excuse my english – its not my mother tongue😉

I think it came out pretty good for the first one

I think it cama out pretty good for the first one

Of course there are a lot of imperfections and things that I could have done better – but it is what it is

I took a 17 gauge copper sheet

I took a 17 gauge copper sheet

I get mine from a local metal shop – they have huge sheets of almost any metals

most shapes are easy to recrate

most shapes are easy to recrate

most shapes are circles and can be made with a simple circle template

I drew directly on the copper sheet with a sharpy

I drew directly on the copper sheet with a sharpy

I never really plan things out – I mostly doodle and then see what happens the shape is 5.25 inches long

cut out hair fork with a small jewelers saw

cut out hair fork with a small jewelers saw

more circles

more circles

well half circles but I used my template again – its made of plastic and has circles in different sizes

added some details

added some details


I love butterflies – always have

cut out some flowers too

cut out some flowers too

added some texture again

added some texture again

now the fun part – soldering all together

now the fun part - soldering all together
I added some solder to the back of the butterfly and the flowers

flux is applied before the soldering

flux is applied before the soldering

soldered together

soldered together
looks ugly due to the oxidation that happens when heating metal

chemical bath to clean it up

chemical bath to clean it up

a little cleaner

a little cleaner
I took the pliers again and twisted the ends so that it can stay better in the hair

hammered the ends of the ends too

hammered the ends of the ends too hammered the ends of the ends too
the ends were so soft that I decided to hammer them to harden the copper

polished look

polsihed look

after adding some patina and polishing again

after adding some patina and polishing again

Carol goes Impressionistic

As we focus on maintaining our catch all shops in Etsy, Ebay, Amazon, and of course NiciArt , while also creating our new speciality shops such as Nici’s Picks for branding, brand identity, and building-up our individual product lines, Carol Laskin is transforming her retirement into an exploration of the blurry world of Impressionism. Here’s her latest piece:


What struck me are the memories of those green tones from the rich Copper Sulfate laden cobblestones and spending two weeks with my folks touring every walled city in Tuscany, Italy. A simple split second decision to stay an extra week and catch a train to Germany would eventually become a 3 year adventure in Germany. Looking back with nostalgia and utter amazement, I still can hardly believe, had I taken that flight home with them 3 days later, this blog, NiciArt, the cross country trips, and all the adventures with Nici never would have taken place. I would most likely be 85 lbs overweight, working my butt off in some cubical on the 33rd floor of an office tower in lower Manhattan to live in a New York suburb, and sunning myself under the glow of buzzing fluorescent lights and white washed ceiling tiles as the general breeze of the air conditioning provides a gentle breeze of inspiration for day dreams of all the places I would never see or visit in my lifetime. Even today, when I walk past the hoards of angry zombies stampeding out the NJ Transit Boonton line at Watchung Station, there’s a brief chill where I think, wow that could have been me.

Of course, no piece beats my all time favourite:



Every morning for as long as I can remember, my mom enjoys her coffee with the sunrise over New York and takes in those first warm rays as part of her morning rituals. No matter how hard we tried to convince Papa Scrooge not shut the heat at night, he insisted a simple hat and some wool socks could solve our winter woes and the fresh air would lead to better sleep. Even in the dead of winter on January mornings, you could feel the warmth pouring through the glass as a surrealistic shimmer of reds and oranges light up the city skyline. Going back to Glen Ridge for visit is like stepping back in time. Suffering the wrath of fine mid-century furnishings outfitted with a botanical blend of mismatched flowers, stepping through their front door is truly a portal to a world immune to time and can only be described as “coming home.” With so much talent, it’s sad that she never pursued a career in art and painting instead of the drudgeries of secretarial work, but at the age of 73 and completely sheltered from time in that old farm house, I’m almost certain her absolute best works are still to come in the years ahead.

Have a Hoot with NiciLaskin

thank you very much for this great blog post about my shop🙂

yarnhole on Etsy

Owls are incredibly popular right now. One of my favourite shops on Etsy, NiciLaskin, run by, you guessed it, Nici Laskin, has a ton of great owl products, including owl stud earrings, and owl guitar picks.

Nici Laskin has built up a great reputation on Etsy over the last number of years. Believe it or not, she has almost 35,000 (yes, 35,000!) sales, and well over 5000 five star reviews.

Now, lest you think that NiciLaskin’s Etsy shop only has owl items on sale, take a look at some of the other fine jewelry for sale, including rings for sale, and necklaces for sale, and other accessories for sale:

I’m seeing a lot of items here that would make great gifts for mom this Mother’s Day!

Nici has a ton of items for sale, let me know which one is your favourite in the comments!

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The Multi-platform Approach

I just posted this in the Etsy forums and thought it blog worthy here as well.

Revisiting a multi-platform approach to selling is definitely worth a short discussion in light of Devin Wenig’s current statements:

“eBay was pivoting away from “big retail” and said he would rather have a million small businesses than three more huge retailers with commodity products.”
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I’m actually quite surprised to have been recently featured on Ebay and also have strong sales this year especially to Valentine’s Day. While we all tend to be a bit critical if not downright cynical when someone claims to support small business, I’m definitely thinking there might be a serious element of interest here to fill capture a piece of the buyer market where Amazon Handmade’s shortcomings have failed to invade the handmade niche. I actually feel upbeat on Ebay this year being more of a platform for listing handmade.

As far as shock titles such as “Etsy Killer,” I hardly see any of these venues winning over Etsy’s loyal user base or becoming anyone’s primary platform for running a small business. The take home lesson from Amazon Handmade is additional sales channels are always greatly appreciated and Ebay is welcome to come play in the sandbox. Many of us are becoming very comfortable with a multi-channel approach, while Millennials are also less brand loyal and happy to shop on various platforms. Etsy seems to recognize this multi-platform trend:
as Chad D. mentions “50% of sellers sell elsewhere in addition to Etsy.” What this hopefully means for sellers is each platform is working in their own direction now and not simply cloning each other with the same offerings such as back in the early days of Artfire, Zibbet, and various other attempts to directly crack Etsy’s market. This multi-platform trend encourages innovation, creative marketing, and ultimately presents sellers with more opportunities.

My thinking for Etsy is investors will become more comfortable with the long term sustainability, the stock will eventually recover, and Amazon might require a reality check for their growth expectations in the handmade market. I’m already seeing Amazon being surprised by the difficulty of entering this market and they must now be taking stock of Ebay announcing their entrance as well.

We sell on, like using, recommend to others, and own stock in Ebay, Amazon, Etsy, Shopify and Google. From our perspective these platforms are not competing in the least for my business and I will gladly use any and all sales channels available. The competition is between the platforms to win over the most buyers and the most sales.