Ways to Sell Your Handmade Items Online

July 1st, 2019

Selling Handmade Stuff Online

There are tons of benefits to selling your handcrafted goods online, the top one being it’s usually cost- and risk-free!  Tell me, is there anything worse than lugging all of your merch to some overcrowded craft show, only for people to walk by all day without making a single sale?  Now you can avoid that pain and humiliation by setting up an online shop!  It’s 2019, anything and everything is sold online now.  But which sites offer the best deals to merchants?  And how do you know which site is ideal for your products?  Well…

Do you have tangible goods to sell?  If yes, you can rely on Etsy and Bonanza.

I’m sure by now you’ve heard of and maybe even bought something on Etsy.  But did you know it’s totally free to open a storefront?  They only charge you 20 cents per listing and a small percentage of your commission!  So if you’re just getting started, you could post your strongest pieces that are guaranteed to sell, and risk practically nothing!

Bonanza mirrors this model by also giving you a free storefront, but you get free listings as well!  And to beef up the offer, they boast Google Integration and syncing all of your listings so that if something sells on Etsy or ebay, it will be reflected in your Bonanza store.

Both Etsy and Bonanza are perfect for artisans who have a lot of merch to sell over many platforms, and even offer options for you to personalize your online presence and really make a living through your craft!

For graphic designers who dream of seeing their art on anything from t-shirts and tapestries to mugs and clocks, RedBubble and Society6 are here to help!

There aren’t any sign-up fees for either site, but they do take a portion of your commission.  RedBubble guarantees in their user agreement that your art will always belong to you and you have total control over your merchandise, from the products they appear on to the prices you’d like to set for them.  If you’re looking for an easy way to make some money from your designs, it doesn’t get much easier than this!

Society6 works similarly, in that you get monthly royalties for the products you sell, rather than the full retail price.  Although, it seems like a pretty fair trade when you consider all the work they do for you.  And have you checked out their listings?  The stuff ain’t cheap, but consumers are more than willing to pay it–which just means more cha-ching for you!

Payments are made monthly based on when your product sells and when the shop doles out their royalties: so say someone buys your product on April 13th, there is a 30-day grace period for the site to do their thing, and then you’ll either be paid on May 15th with Redbubble or June 1st with Society6.  Great options for someone looking to sell long-term or even just posting some products, forgetting about them, and then waiting for the money to roll in.

Now are you looking for the absolute lowest risk possible?  You probably already interact with this app every day… it’s logo is a blue square with a white F on it… yep, I’m talking about our pal Facebook.  For those who don’t know, Facebook now has its own Marketplace where you can sell pretty much anything (as long as it’s legal).  And the best part?  There are NO fees!  No, seriously.  I sold a keyboard on there last week for $75 and walked away with $75.  You do have to put in the work of arranging to meet up with the buyer and dealing with them trying to haggle your price down, but Facebook even tries to combat this by encouraging you to meet in a public place and gives you the option to “rate” the buyer, so you can warn others of sketchy transactions.  The only requirement for using the Marketplace is an active Facebook account, which is free – but costs your soul in the long run.

So why not put all of your time spent on the internet to good use?  There are tons of sites just waiting to make you a millionaire!  Or at least help you get rid of the stuff piling up in your garage.

Natural Products to Make Summer Cleaning Easy on You and the Environment

June 21st, 2019

Top 5 Natural Multi-Purpose Cleaners

 

In a world where everyone is constantly trying to tell you what to buy, who can you trust?  Probably not the advertisers, but you can definitely trust a stranger on the internet.  Worry not!  I’ve compiled an elite list of my personal favorite natural multi-purpose cleaners and all of the reasons why I like them – and it’s not just because they smell good.

 

5. Meliora Cleaning Products Gentle Home Cleaning Scrub

 

It seems the best inventions come from people who are sick of the usual stuff and want something better.  Well, that’s literally the name origin for Meliora (Latin for “better”) and also their mission statement:  After formulating her own vegetable soap and using it to do her own laundry, [Kate, the inventor] knew she could offer better products that were rooted in simple ingredients and build a company that was honest about how products are made. 

Meliora’s products not only work better than your typical cleaner, but they’re not caustic and harmful to the environment like most others on the market.  They also donate a percentage of their revenue to environmental and charitable nonprofits, so you can feel great about supporting a company that supports our planet!

 

4. Mrs. Meyer’s Clean Day Basil Scent Multi-Surface Everyday Cleaner

 

 

Mrs. Meyer’s was inspired by Mrs. Thelma A. Meyer, a hardworking mother of nine (yes, NINE!) who was fed up with chemical-filled cleaners and wanted a product that would get the job done without harming her brood in the process.  Thankfully, one of her daughters took that idea and created the Clean Day line of all-natural household products.  Made with essential oils from flowers and herbs, they’re cleansers that smell great and really pack a punch against daily dirt and grime.

For the avid gardener, you’ll love her collection of botanical scents (pictured below).

 

From Mrs. Meyer herself, “I wouldn’t put my name on something that didn’t work hard and smell great. No reason to ruin my reputation this late in the game.”

 

3. Citra Solv Concentrated Cleaner & Degreaser

 

Now this one takes me back to my days of cleaning paint brushes and wiping down display cases at a local art supplies shop.  My total hippie of a boss absolutely loved this product because he wanted to be sure he could clean the shop thoroughly without creating a large carbon footprint.  Citra Solv is a “Biobased” product, meaning it “is composed, in whole or significant part, of biological products or renewable domestic agricultural products.”  It probably helps having a very short ingredients list: Limonene (the clear liquid from the peel of the orange, food grade), C10-16 Pareth-1 (plant-derived surfactant), Citrus Aurantium Dulcis (Orange) Peel Oil (plant-based fragrance) – nothin’ but a whole lotta oranges in there!

 

 2. Branch Basics Concentrate

 

What I liked most about Branch Basics is that not only do they openly list their ingredients, but they break them down into layman’s terms so that you can be sure they’re not sneaking anything weird into the mix: Purified Water, Coco Glucoside (Sugar-Based Cleanser), Chamomilla Recutita (Chamomile) Flower Extract*, Decyl Glucoside (Sugar-Based Cleanser), Sodium Citrate (Food-Grade Emulsifier), Lauryl Glucoside (Sugar-Based Cleanser), Sodium Bicarbonate (Food-Grade Baking Soda), Sodium Phytate (Plant-Based Antioxidant), Sapindus Mukorossi Fruit (Soapberry) Extract*

*certified organic

It’s also hypoallergenic, fragrance-free, gluten-free, tree nut- and peanut-free, with no harmful preservatives, stabilizers, brighteners, and do-dads.  This brand also boasts the ability to clean multiple surfaces, from wood to glass to fabrics!  The only reason this product didn’t topple the #1 is because it doesn’t explicitly say if I can use it to brush my teeth.

 

1. Dr. Bronner’s Pure Castile Soap

 

Was anyone surprised that Doc Bronner’s was #1?  I mean, it’s pretty tough to beat a natural cleaner that says it has 18-in-1 uses.

From the company themselves: “You can use Dr. Bronner’s soaps for washing your face, body, hands and hair, for bathing, shaving, brushing your teeth, rinsing fruit, aromatherapy, washing dishes by hand, doing laundry, mopping floors, all-purpose cleaning, washing windows, scrubbing toilets, washing dogs, controlling dust mites, and killing ants and aphids. Now, that’s eighteen uses right there, but customers have told us over time about many more uses they have found for our soaps.”  Meaning the cleaning possibilities here are truly endless!

Dr. Bronner’s also uses certified organic and fair trade ingredients and packages them in 100% post-consumer recycled bottles!  And like everyone else on this list, they are vegan and cruelty-free.  Be sure to take a look at their Cosmic Principles below to see their values and what makes them a great company!  Truly, what’s not to love?

Happy Fourth of July!

July 4th, 2018

The Fourth of July is a national holiday full of food, fun and fireworks, so don’t let something as simple as forgetting the basics get you down. Sunscreen, bug repellent spray, and water are key points to keep in mind during any fourth festivities. If hanging out by a pool, river or lake, don’t forget to reapply your sunscreen. Go for one that is considered coral safe or biodegradable if possible, it’s better for the wildlife (even if you aren’t at the beach!) Mosquitoes and ticks are no joke this year, so if you plan on being outdoors, make bug spray your new friend. If you choose to go with the do-it-yourself method, remember to include Rose Geranium essential oil, as it has been proven to repel ticks.

 

 

 Water, water and more water! With the rising temperatures across North Carolina, it’s important to keep your body hydrated, especially if you plan on indulging in any adult beverages. Stay hydrated with some fun twists on a plain ole’ glass of water that’ll keep you coming back for more. Infuse ice water with your favorite fruits and herbs, like strawberry mint or lemon basil for a refreshing kick. Combine lemons, limes and oranges to provide vitamins and minerals to keep you going through all the barbeques and fireworks. Coconut water is another excellent source of sodium and potassium, two minerals that are essential for proper hydration. For those who are hesitant to try it out, blend coconut water with fresh pineapple and mango – these will help to balance out the flavor!

 

Pet parents know all too well how difficult the sounds from fireworks can be for their animals, especially for those who have been rescued from abusive situations. Animal shelters across the country report increased admissions of runaway animals on July 5th, due to scared pets escaping the day before. One of the best ways to keep your pet calm is to stay inside with them, preferably in a room with no windows, and have the TV or music on to block out any neighborhood noise. Keeping your fur-baby occupied with toys can help to soothe any anxiety they may feel, and you can also try natural pet treats containing Chamomile or L-Theanine.

Tasty!

 

Want to be the hit of your neighborhood shindig? Click the image above to try out a delicious Sweet and Spicy Grilled Watermelon recipe from The Kitchn!

Wishing everyone a happy and safe Independence Day!

Summer Solstice Celebrations

June 21st, 2018

How to Celebrate the Summer Solstice

Although the recent heat waves may have had you fooled, June 21st marks the official beginning of the summer season. In the Northern Hemisphere, this day is also known as the summer solstice, the longest day and shortest night of the year. The solstice has been recognized by humans as early as the Stone Age, with celebrations held all over the world.

 

In most of Europe it is known as midsummer, celebrated with bonfires and feasts. In China, this solstice represents the feminine or ‘yin’ energy and festivals focus on celebrating the Earth. Many Native American tribes take part in rituals celebrating the sun, full of symbolic dances and colors. However it is celebrated, the purpose of this solstice is to pay tribute to the warm and vibrant energy of summer.

 

When planning your own celebration, keep in mind some of these ancient traditions that are easy to incorporate into modern times. The nature of the summer solstice is to celebrate the sun, and lighting a bonfire is one of the longest held traditions of this holiday. If you don’t have the space for a full-fledged fire, try a chiminea or candles. Creating a flower crown to wear during your festivities is a wonderful way to show tribute to the Earth, plus it’s a fun activity for kids (and kids at heart). Holding a feast for your friends and family is another long standing tradition of this day. Incorporate edible flowers and fresh herbs into a beautiful salad or make refreshing beverages with sparkling water and fruits. Choose to celebrate the natural world in a way that fits with your lifestyle, whether that means following these traditions or starting your own.

 

 

If you’d like to attend a solstice-centered celebration, try one of these regional events that you can drive to in 4 hours or less.

14th Annual Greensboro Summer Solstice Festival

Virginia Summer Solstice Wine Festival

Summer Solstice Celebration in Thomasville, NC

Random Holidays You Probably Don’t Know

June 7th, 2018

Finding Reasons to Celebrate

It can be easy to get trapped in a place of feeling like there’s nothing exciting going on, but a small break from your daily routine could be just the thing to perk you back up! Did you know there is a holiday for almost everything? I’m not kidding. Cheese Day? Yep. Punctuation Day? Of course. Butterscotch Pudding Day? You betcha! Of course, the majority of these holidays are unofficial, but they do provide us with the small joy of celebrating things we wouldn’t otherwise think about.

Paying attention to little known holidays is a wonderful way to expand your horizon, and maybe even learn a new skill that you didn’t know you were interested in. Ever wondered about building a scarecrow? Don’t worry, there’s a day for that (July 1st). The beauty of an unofficial holiday is the lack of expectation as to how you choose to celebrate. Throw a party with all of your friends or just eat an extra piece of cheese – whatever tickles your fancy! Check out the list below for some celebration inspiration

June 8th – Best Friend’s Day

June 18th – International Picnic Day

June 22nd – Take Your Dog to Work Day

 

June 27th – Pineapple Day

July 7th – Chocolate Day

July 10th – Don’t Step on a Bee Day

July 14th – Tell an Old Joke Day

August 3rd – International Beer Day

August 8th – Book Lovers Day

August 24th – International Strange Music Day

September 1st – World Beard Day

September 15th – Make a Hat Day

 

September 19th – Talk Like a Pirate Day

October 3rd – Random Acts of Poetry Day

October 25th – Punk for a Day Day

November 11th – International Tongue Twisters Day

November 13th – World Kindness Day

November 17th – Take a Hike Day

December 8th – Pretend to be a Time Traveler Day

If you’d like to know more about these fun and random holidays, check out daysoftheyear.com.

Happy celebrating!

Happy Arbor Day! Time to Give the Trees Some Love

April 27th, 2018

The last Friday in April, best known as Arbor Day, is more than just an obscure day found on store-bought calendars. It turns out that most countries celebrate some version of Arbor Day, which varies depending on the planting season. It became an official American holiday in 1872 when J. Sterling Morton, whose lifelong fascination with trees lead him to spread the message of protecting forest habitats. Today the legacy is carried on by the Arbor Day Foundation, founded in 1972. Their purpose is to provide education about the conservation of forests and native tree species, as well as provide community tree recovery for areas affected by natural disasters.

Who can blame Mr. Morton for being so enthusiastic about trees? The connection between trees and people is not a new one. The term “tree hugger” was coined in 1730, when a group of people from the Bishnois branch of Hinduism physically held on to trees in their village to protect them from being used to build a palace.

Trees are one of the most important resources we have on the planet. On average, it takes one large tree to provide enough oxygen for four people. They can also help to cleanse polluted air and water, as well as provide a much needed cooling effect for the Earth. Trees even have the power to make people feel relaxed by just being there. If you’d like more information on why trees are so great, you can check out the numbers on the Arbor Day Foundation’s website. The bottom line is that trees are an indispensable support system.

 

Japanese Maple Seedling

The simplest way to get involved in the cause is to plant a tree. Fruit trees are an excellent investment to have around your home and property. Apples, pears, peaches and plums grow well throughout most of North Carolina. Live in an apartment? You can easily plant a seed from your apple or lemon in a planter, making it easy to move from place to place. Seek out organizations in your community in need of planting – parks, schools, and churches are a great place to get started. Try contacting a National Park in your area for information about volunteer opportunities to get involved with. If you’d like to start planting, check out your local nursery or farmers market for the best advice on native tree species, what could grow best on your property, and tips on planting and care.

Happy Friday the 13th!

April 13th, 2018

Much like breaking a mirror or spilling salt, Friday the 13th has become synonymous with bad luck in the Western world. The association between the two became most notable in the 1980s, thanks to a film franchise of the same name, but this superstition was around long before slasher movies.

 

Ideas around the number 13 possessing negative connotations go back as far as ancient Mesopotamia and continue into modern times. Words have even come into fruition thanks to the ‘bad juju’ surrounding Friday the 13th. Triskaidekaphobia, the fear of the number 13, explains the phenomenon of many apartment buildings, elevators and airlines omitting the number. Some estimations put the amount of people suffering from this fear to be in the millions.

However prevalent the avoidance of 13 is within many cultures today, the number isn’t seen as a bad omen everywhere. In Italy, ‘fare tredici’ or ‘to do 13’ is a commonly used phrase meaning ‘to hit the jackpot’. It has also been associated with the Goddess of Fertility, as well as bringing prosperity and abundance in life. In China, the word for 13 means ‘assured growth’, securing it as a lucky number. The number 13 is associated with the cycles of the moon, and can be found in a positive light throughout Pagan traditions. Even science has shown no notable changes in the number of hospital visits, accidents or other disasters to take place on a Friday the 13th.

 

Some may see the number 13 as a sign of new hope, while others see it as the potential demise of the world. In the end, it will be up to you to decide the significance of something so seemingly small in your own life. While you decide, maybe carry around a four-leaf clover or a horseshoe, ya know, just in case.

Happy Friday the 13th!

 

Tiny House Trend: Owner Talks About Downsizing

April 6th, 2018

 In recent years, the tiny house trend has been growing, with no end in sight. The thought of making a permanent lifestyle change by cutting down on possessions in order to live in a smaller, more cost effective space is appealing to some, because it gives more freedom for following other passions. Others have turned it into an additional source of income, especially appealing to those with unutilized property. We spoke with Jennifer Zoeller, owner of The Bird’s Nest, a tiny house located in Fairview, NC. This tiny house is only 15 minutes from downtown Asheville, and comes complete with all the amenities you would need for the perfect mountain getaway. To get an idea of what this type of property entails, we asked Jennifer some questions about the process.

 

Chaney Group: What made you decide to build a tiny house?

Jennifer Zoeller: A few reasons really. 1. To create a welcoming, affordable place for people to come and share in this awesome mountain experience that we’ve been fortunate enough to have (Asheville rocks!) 2. Additional income 3. Increase our property value 4. For family and friends that often come to visit.

CG: Did you come across any issues with building a rental property in your neighborhood? Did you have to go through any special processes in order to be able to build even though it is on your property?

JZ: Our first step was to check the zoning laws to make sure short-term rentals were allowed. We had to get a building permit like you would with any new build. As well as pass all building inspections to get the final certificate of occupancy – no easy task in NC!

CG: Did you have any pushback from neighbors?

JZ: Nope, we made our neighbors aware of what we were doing from the get-go. They’ve had no issues. I’d say because it’s such a small house the most people we rent to is 4…so we’ve never run into the issue of noise or disturbances to neighbors.

CG: Did you two design the house, or did you use plans? The design is really fantastic. There’s so much room even though it’s tiny, and all the personal touches really make it very inviting. How many square feet is it?

JZ: Ourselves…along with a couple knowledgeable builder friends of ours. Thank you! We love hearing that. We poured our heart and soul into our little Bird’s Nest. Every detail was pretty thought out. It is 512 square feet.

CG: How long was your building process?

JZ: 1 year. With twin boys, both of us working other jobs and doing a lot of the work ourselves it went slower than we’d hoped.

CG: How far from the parkway is the house? What are your favorite things about the area that made you think it would be perfect for visitors and vacationers?

JZ: About 10 minutes. Quiet and secluded for a relaxing escape, yet close enough to the area’s attractions (Fairview is in between Chimney Rock and Asheville…everything seems to be about 20 minutes from us. Very convenient!

CG: Do you have a steady stream of renters?

JZ: Yes!

CG: When we stayed there, we noticed that you had an even tinier house that looked like it could be used for camping. Is that it’s purpose? I love that it matches The Bird’s Nest.

JZ: Because the Bird’s Nest has done so well, we decided to try renting out another property, this one even tinier! But, it will have everything the Bird’s Nest offers- bathroom, kitchen, and a comfy queen bed. We’re going with the “glamping” trend I guess you could say, ha! Good to hear! I wanted it to be cohesive, and not just an afterthought. We still have lots of work to do, including exterior paint that will match the Bird’s Nest.

 

The Bird’s Nest is a great example of how you can utilize a small amount of space on your property as a worthwhile investment for the future. If you’d like to check out The Bird’s Nest further, you can find details and rental information on their Airbnb page here.

Fresh Spring Recipes for the Easter Table

March 29th, 2018

After a long winter, spring and Easter are finally upon us! To celebrate the brighter days and warmer weather, try incorporating some fresh flavors into your traditional Easter meal. These delicious dishes are easy to make and are sure to impress anyone, plus they are light enough to keep your family moving for Easter egg hunting fun!

Appetizer:

If you are anything like me, you’ll probably fill up on deviled eggs long before the main course is on the table. To mix things up a bit, try these Deviled Potatoes. This recipe incorporates fresh dill and can be made with any smaller-sized potato. Be prepared for them to disappear as soon as you put them on the table!

Main Dish:

This Apricot Dijon Glazed Salmon is easy to make, plus it’s a healthier alternative to the traditional Easter ham. Try it alone as a main dish or as a topper to this Apricot Quinoa Salad. The fresh flavors and colors will bring some vibrancy to your holiday table.

Dessert:

What’s better than guilt-free cheesecake?  These Vegan Mini-Cheesecakes only have 7 ingredients, and require no baking to set. The cashew filling is insanely creamy and perfectly sweet. You can add any flavor to your heart’s content – my favorites are chocolate and berry!

Wishing you a Happy Easter from The Chaney Group!

Build It, And They Will Come – Part Three

March 15th, 2018

This is Part Three in our series on buying and building. Here are Part One and Part Two.

 

Buying in the High Country

 

I have been asked by a plethora of folks lately “Who is buying?” The High Country has always been a second home market, but there seems to be an evolution occurring.

When I moved here five years ago, the market was slow. I started my own property management company for vacation rentals just to compensate for the lack of sales.  Most of the folks I did work with were looking for a second home, investment property, or just a family get-away.  Out of these, the majority paid cash.

In the last two years, I wanted to see if there was a shift from vacation homes to primary residences. Lately it seems that the buyers reaching out to me are only looking for a second home about 25% of the time. I tell my team regularly “get prepared, the market shift is approaching.” All the families that live within a three-hour radius of Boone that just got the “go ahead” to work remotely are high-tailing it to our little piece of paradise. Why wait till you are 65 and retired to move to the mountains, or the ocean, or anywhere that you go on vacation, when these places can now, reasonably, be called “home”?

Checking some numbers in the High Country MLS caused this discovery:

  • As of 2/26/2018 – in the last 180 days there were 965 single family homes/condos/townhomes that sold in Ashe Avery and Watauga Counties.
  • 384 of those sales were CASH transactions and had an average sale price of $300K
  • 498 sales in the last 180 days got Conventional Financing and had an average sold price of $282K.
  • 8 owner financing
  • 25 FHA Loans
  • 25 VA Loans
  • 25 – of unknown financing

Looking back at the same 180 days 2 years ago here is what I found

  • There were 739 sales of single family homes/condos/townhouses
  • 289 of those sales were cash sales
  • 362 of those sales were conventional loans
  • 15 FHA loans
  • 21 owner financed
  • 20 VA loans

Breakdown of the findings:

40% of the sales today are cash, 60% were financed in the last 180 days.

40% of the sales two years ago were cash, almost 60% of the deals were financed.

Interesting that year over year the cash vs finance buyer remains THE SAME.  Obviously with 965 homes sold in the last 180 days and only 739 in the same time-frame 2 years ago, we are seeing MORE sales. By my calculation that is 24% increase.

More people ARE moving here. I base that assumption more on my gut and the fact that the premise of why folks can, and will, move to a vacation destination vs a larger city is about quality of life.  The High Country will continue to remain a vacation destination but as we see an increase in new construction I expect that more and more of these consumers will be building a primary residence. Only time will tell for certain. If you are thinking that you want to move to our little piece of heaven, call The Chaney Group! We will shoot you straight on the trials and tribulations of this “life-style evolution.”