Thursday, September 5, 2013

FYI (If you are a middle aged mother of teen boys)

Yesterday a blog post popped up on my timeline a number of times.  I try not to address political or religious posts because no one wants to or needs to hear my opinion.  But this falls into a category that I cannot ignore – our children.  Two friends who praised the post retracted it after they really read it but more friends shared and praised it.  I wrote this parody, matching her points to my own.  As I did I realized even more how twisted this mother’s approach and thinking was; miss-targeted, sexist, and manipulating all wrapped up in a cheery “but we really love you” tone of voice.
The following is not written in a way that I would address someone…. it’s horrible really, but hopefully the format better illustrates my point.

FYI (If you are a middle aged mother of teen boys)

Dear Mothers,

I have an opinion that might interest you.  I was sitting in front of my laptop eating my cereal in the morning, as I sometimes do, and several FB friends brought to my attention a blog post.

Wow! What a detailed and heart felt blog post you wrote in such a tedious twisted manner.  I noticed that because I am trying to emulate your writing style right now.  But I also notice other things.  For one, it appears you believe teenage girls to be sluts and teenage boys helpless targets.

I get it – you are in your room and you feel cold and frigid.  Maybe you should arch your back, pout a little, strike a red carpet pose and see if that triggers your blood to warm.  That must not be a posture you would ever assume as you are getting ready for bed – this I know.

So here is the thing I think you should realize.  Teenage boys should be taught to respect girls as equally sexual and empowered partners.

Please understand this.  We are not against you just your sexist opinion.  Otherwise, we really liked your blog post.  We know you are a good Mom with your heart in the right place which is what makes your blog post so unfortunate.  

God forbid teenage boys ever think of a girl in a sexual way!  Did you know that you are potentially raising controlling boys who are ashamed of their sexual thoughts and even more so of their girlfriends’?

I didn’t think so.

And so, in my home, I expect kids to mess up.  I expect them to struggle as their bodies change.  If I see them waiver I will do what I can to steer them straight.  With the hope that one day they will be understanding, forgiving, confident, respectful partners in their relationships.  They will get second chances, and third, and forth chances to grow and mature because that’s what it takes.

Mothers, it’s not too late!  If you think you have made an online mistake RUN to take it down.  Talk to your boys and girls.  Tell your sons that girls do not want to be porn stars (because you know they are seeing that crap in the internet); they want to be asked, respected, and behave intuitively without pressure.  Tell your girls they should not be ashamed to want to feel attractive or sexual.  That they should only ever do what they feel is right and anyone who targets, pressures, or disrespects them should be kicked off their island.

I know that sounds obvious and intelligent. But that’s the way it is in our home; we hope to raise boys who respect women and are comfortable with their own sexuality.

Every day I pray for parents to teach their young sons and daughters to have respect for the opposite sex and to proceed into relationships with honesty, and good will.  I hope that my sons will not look down upon women as someone they have to “wait for” but as equals who are sexual beings in their own right.

Do you trust me?  Are you are saying that young men are fighting a daily uphill battle just to keep their thoughts pure but it’s the girls who are targeted for uncrossing their legs or posting a picture they think is cute?  That double standard is old as dirt and about as palatable as dirt.

Educate your sons and daughters, respect that they are changing, give them the knowledge they need to grow as gracefully as possible, and forgive them when they blunder.   

I’m glad we’re friends.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Entrepreneur? Doesn't feel right

Calling yourself an entrepreneur seems tacky, like giving yourself a nickname or declaring that you are witty. Plus, I have a hard time pronouncing it. I tried "cottage industry" on for size but that doesn't make sense to me; might as well say "Hobbit Conglomerate" or "Treehouse Manufacturing." I imagine a quaint tiny earthy space where little people toil away and the boss is pulling her hair out because she wishes she had a more productive work space. I think I already wrote a whole blog post about the murky waters of calling yourself and artist; that's like walking up to the deli counter and saying "I'd like meat and cheese." (picture the annoyed need-more-information look.)

I'll wear "small business owner" for a while and see how that feels. It's not that I don't understand the need for these names and labels. I do. I can't very well go around saying "I am a fine artist specializing in fiber sculpture, which is made by poking wool with a needle over and over, and further more I am branching into providing supplies, kits, and services in this field."

Yours Truly,
Small Business Owner
Sara Renzulli

Thursday, February 16, 2012

This is for you Etsy Sellers

Are you an Etsy seller? Here are some tips....

The 10 Commandments of Etsy

Stay Current - Shoppers are usually set on the chronological sort option. If you have not listed in a week your item might be as far back as the 10th page. Be sure to list something on a regular basis. If you do not have anything new to list than renew an existing listing.

Love your Shop like a baby – Your etsy shop needs to be nurtured. Shoppers can tell the difference between half heartedly listing stuff you have laying around and investing your energy into making a shop that expresses you and your art.

Have some Cohesion – Visually it is pleasing and inspires confidence in the buyer. It would be great if we all made and sold one thing - a plethora of perfected items from which the shopper could choose the perfect one. But we are all scatterbrained artists following the muses. At least photograph your items with the same background and be consistent in your style of description.

Use Great Photos! – Good photos are not good enough. Especially when you are selling something like jewelry and have 1000s of competitors. Etsy prides itself on being a visual feast. To be on the menu you have to go top shelf with your photography.

Provide something extra – Packaging, service, documentation, communication... customers want to be babied. If you treat a customer as if they are the sister you never knew you had, they will be your customer for life. Give them that something extra. Let them know that you appreciate that they spent their hard earned money on something you made.

Use all of your tags – you have 13 “tags,” key words to direct your customer to your product. Make sure to use all 13. These descriptive words can be subject, occasion, color, texture, feeling, season, use, etc.

Have a Banner - Your banner is the first thing people see when they visit your shop. It might be worth paying the $15 that other etsy sellers charge to design your banner.

Tell a Story - One of the reasons people shop on etsy is to support the little guy. You are honed in on a market that cares about the origin and artistry of a product. Give your shoppers more to go on; describe why you were inspired to make and item, what you personally love about it, an anecdote about how it came to be, etc. They love this stuff!

Believe in what you offer – There is a buyer for every product out there. Some may be more difficult to sell than others. If you love and believe in what you do than they will come.

Monday, February 13, 2012

"Felt Good" and Other Possible Names

I am driving my family crazy; all I can talk about is launching my business. So I am reaching out into the mysterious internet world with my burning unanswered question, "What should I call my felting business?"

2012 has brought into light many avenues for my felting career. I have spent the new year obsessing over how to navigate the avenues and bring them to fruition. I am on the precipice of change. I want to at least have a parachute before I jump.

Here is what is on my list:
Branding/naming my needle felted art and supplies
Moving my studio out of my home and into a nearby Mill
New website
Unifying my logotype and developing brand recognition
Training help
Marketing kits and supplies

If I do all of this, when will I make the critters?! And when I do make them, what the heck will I call them?

Here are few names:
Felt Good
Soul Felt
Stock Pile

In the meantime here is a picture of a recent critter so that this post was not a complete waste of your time...

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Horses and Leather

These are a few of my favorite things. It's like chocolate and peanut butter, cookies and milk, snow and a sled, cheese and more cheese. Horses and leather are good alone but together take it to a whole new level of sublime.

Saddles, tack, saddle bags, holsters, boots (boots really deserve their own post), fringe, chaps, scabbards, sheathes. I love them all. I admire the stitching, the craftsmanship, the smell, the feel, the look, the practicality.

I am in the process of transitioning from English to western riding. English of course has it's own appeal; tailored, classic, and athletic. But western riding opens up a whole new world of well made tack, utilitarian horsemanship, American history, and purposeful riding.

Ortho Flex fit her but not me - sent it back

In the search to find a well fitting western saddle for my wide horse I have been on quite a learning curve. Although I have been riding for 30 years, the Western lingo is completely different. The tack has mostly the same parts but different names. They are measured differently. The saddle sits differently on the horse. The rider sits differently in the saddle. There is a lot to learn.
Beautiful roping saddle did not fit her - sold it on ebay

I have also realized, after three saddle purchases in an effort to find the right one, that I love western saddles. I can see myself becoming a collector. (Don't tell Dave). Maybe a saddle to go with every pair of boots?

Fisto admires the saddle I bought yesterday, a used Circle Y. Hope this one works!

Wednesday, June 29, 2011


Itty Bitty Kitty

I have not properly blogged about our kittens. Perhaps I was being cautious; not wanting to shine a spotlight on them ( if you call call my blog a "spotlight"... more like a candle) until I knew they were going to live through the introductions to the dogs. Seriously.

I think only Dave really knows how much I love kittens and cats. I become transfixed by kittens. (Trying to put the feelings into words would convince you that I am a "crazy animal person" and I'd like to avoid the label.)

The timing is all wrong or all right depending on how you look at it. We are stressed, cramped, and unorganized thanks to the kitchen remodel and so I go and bring home two tiny kittens. While keeping tabs on their safety, whereabouts, and litter box adds to my list, watching them play, having a tiny weightless soft fuzzball asleep on my chest, even watching them sleep, unravels any tension that I might have.

After plenty of discussion and days of observing them, we finally named them. Larger, older, spunky male kitten is Fisto. Tiny, younger, runt of a female kitten is Itty Bitty.


The dogs seem to have concluded that they are not targets but fixtures in our family. The first night the dogs couldn't leave them alone, sniffing and licking (tasting?) them. The second day they all relaxed. By day three only Maive, our mutt rescue, still had any interest and she seemed to be keeping tabs on their whereabouts and licking them all over as if they were her puppies. Now Maive actually enjoys a gentle paw batting play with them.

Our fat gimpy cat Mrtyle (she deserves her own blog post - good story there) was horrified by the kittens. But she too has settled into their presence. She particularly likes Itty Bitty Kitty and holds her down for a good tongue bath once in a while. If Fisto gets to spunky with her she hisses and bats him with her snaggle foot. Fisto is a bit dense if he doesn't realize that Mrtyle exists to eat and sleep and playing is the last thing she'd ever do.

They have settled in nicely. In a week or two more I can relax further because they will finally be too large for the nearby family of hawks to carry away. Well, Itty Bitty might be at risk of capture by talons till the end of her days.... tiny thing.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Artistic Suicide

I wonder - how many truly successful artists there are out there. Let's define artist as someone who makes a one of a kind product to sell. Let's define success as an income capable of supporting a person: some sort of shelter that at least has insulation; enough food to not be "starving;" enough money to invest back into their career, like buying a laptop, painting supplies, or a pencil perhaps; health insurance would be nice.

To make money selling something that you have created there are two requirements. First, you have to be making something that people want - a lot of people. Second, you have to be able to make enough of it, get it out there, and sell it. This does not come easily to anyone. Few might be so genius either creatively or in the marketing department that they find Easy Street. But for the vast majority we have to work... hard.... forever.

There are further complications with making and selling art. Artists can't sustain their creativity in a constant linear direction. We get something good going and then the muses withdraw their support and send you hurling into another direction of unexplored creativity. Try to sell THIS now. The muses don't stand a chance against THE ECONOMY. We are trying to sell the most superfluous product of human existence; adornment. You can't eat it, drink it, live in it, or even smoke it. When THE ECONOMY has spoken, all artists listen.

The artist's greatest challenge is to find their way through the pitfalls to thrive, create, SELL, defy the muses and THE ECONOMY.

All of this said, I will not be deterred and I personally know dozens of others who have chosen this path. Give your artist a hug. Or even better, buy art.