Wednesday, March 23, 2011

April Merchandising & Marketing Opportunities!

Straight from the Etsy Merchandising Desk (minus the fluff & filler, and with a little Well Criated flare!) - April trends, hot items, treasury themes, and more. Plus... an exclusive trends section at the end, JUST for Alpaca People!

Important Changes from Etsy:
(And how to benefit from them...)
  • Significantly bigger emphasis on menswear and unisex items, meaning they'll be choosing more men or unisex-oriented treasuries, sellers, and items to feature.
  • Vintage also, will start getting more love this April, with more featured treasuries, shops, and items! Think Vintage Alpaca sweaters, bags, and art.
  • Shop Local - this feature has been around for awhile, but with events such as Euro Week (currently happening! March 21-25), this becomes extremely important. The wold-wide movement of "shopping local" is also growing larger every day. Make sure locals can find you with the Shop Local feature and the Local Filter, by filling in your country, state/province, and city!

April Marketing Opportunities:
(Turning April Events into April Profits!)
  • Spring in the Northern hemisphere, but... Fall in the Southern hemisphere! Don't close up shop for the summer, with your lovely Alpaca knit sweaters and scarves! Just offer international shipping instead. :)
  • Baby Season is upon us! Introduce baby blankets, booties, congratulations cards, and all sorts of things for little ones, their mothers, and baby showers!
  • Prom Season is right around the corner. Etsy suggests glammed-up prom options with a touch of sparkle and edge: dresses, shoes, jewelry, bags, hair accessories, corsages, and make up.
  • Wedding Season is coming up as well! Think white felt flowers, bobbin lace, nuno felt wraps, light crocheted shawls, wedding favors, bridesmaids gifts, boutonnieres, and more! Remember both the ceremony and after-party!
  • Graduations are only a couple months away too! Most colleges end in mid-May, while most high schools end in mid to late June. Etsy suggests teacher appreciation items, and sentimental congratulation items for graduates.
  • April International Guitar Month - Try some guitar, country, bluegrass, and music themed items and treasuries!
  • April 1 April Fools - Gag gifts, practical jokes, and humor are going to be popular. Emphasis on the sillier side of handmade and vintage! Try some fun, unexpected themes and items, such as our "Paca Beans" (candies that look like alpaca poo)!
  • April 3 Mothering Sunday (UK Mother's Day) - start tagging items for "mothering sunday" and "mothers day" right away! Anything that a lady would like, can get tagged! Also using the tags "handmade gifts" or "unique gifts" in conjunction with "mothers day", is a good idea.
  • April 4-10 Masters Golf Tournament in Augusta - Golf theme! Goes along with the menswear themes, too. Also think Alpaca golf caps and mens sweaters.
  • April 5 Ching Ming Festival (Hong Kong) - Also known as the Clear Bright Festival, Ancestors Day, or Tomb Sweeping Day. This is a day for remembering and honoring one's ancestors. Think memories, family, and history, with a Chinese flair!
  • April 15 Tax Deadline - Some interesting themes could come out of this one! Think numbers, paperwork, organizational tools, money, and office supplies. Vintage stapler anyone?
  • April 19-25 Passover
  • April 22 Earth Day - All things eco, earth, and woodland! Etsy suggests themes such as recycling, repurposing, upcycling, and the use of reclaimed, naturally sourced, self-sustaining, and environmentally-friendly materials. Alpaca fiber is eco-friendly, environmentally-friendly, natural, AND sustainable, so don't forget those keywords and tags for your items and treasuries!
  • April 22 Good Friday
  • April 23 St George Day
  • April 24 Easter Sunday - Easter bunnies, rabbits, eggs, baskets, candies, toys, chicks, children's spring formal attire, religious momentos, brights, and pastels!
  • April 25 Liberty Day (Portugal) - Portuguese flag colors.
  • April 27 Freedom Day (South Africa) - South African flag colors.
  • April 29 Greenery Day (Japan) - a day to commune with nature and be thankful for blessings. All things green, natural, and forest-themed.
  • April 29 Arbor Day - a day to encourage tree planting and care! Think woodlands, forests, trees, plants, new growth, new life, woodgrain, wood.
  • April 30 Queen's Day (Netherlands) - a day of national unity and "togetherness". Think Netherlands flag colors and all things Dutch: cuisine, fashion, history, etc.

April Trends:
(Trends, Explanations, Alternatives, and Ideas!)
  • Spring - Themes such as spring cleaning, spring fashions, spring planting, spring break, fresh outlooks, rejuvenation, and splashes of light, bright color will be popular! Also... don't forget about "April showers"!
  • Gardening & Farming - Etsy suggests tools, plant markers, composting solutions (alpaca manure!), gloves, scrubs (alpaca?), seeds, plantable papers, organic methods, farmers markets, organic meats and dairy, dairy farmers, cheese artisans, seasonality, planting calenders, tips, recipes, and vintage industrial farming references.
  • Japan Relief - Japan's flag, japanese art and cuisine, scenery, fans, koi fish, etc. Tagging donation items "prayforjapan" and "artistaid" will help people find them!
  • Little Red Riding Hood - since the new movie, this fairytale has been growing in popularity. Esty suggests forestry, red capes, wolves, werewolves, the moon ("blood moon"), young love, legends and dark fairytales. Wolves, werewolves, and moons are a recurring theme in modern culture right now (Twilight books/movies, the Vampire Diaries TV Show, etc). Red Alpaca cowls, scarves, and hair accessories will fit in well! If it's red and goes near your head, tag it as "Little Red Riding Hood"!
  • Gadget Accessories - accessories for tablets and smartphones are becoming increasingly popular. Think iPhone, iPad (now iPad 2), iPod Touch, Droid, etc. We fiber people have no excuses here! Felting, knitting, or weaving an iPod case would be a cinch compared to some of the incredible products I've seen from this team!
  • The Indoor Garden - spring makes us all want to be outside! During rainy April bringing the outdoors in, is at a height in popularity. Etsy suggests glass domes, terrariums, air plants, window herbs, succulent plants, garden markers, and planters. Also, think garden or woodland themed wall decor, mobiles, felt sculptures (plants, trees, mushrooms, etc), and things for the home or office.
  • Vintage Designer - all things that USED to be hip, are back IN! And I'm not just talking clothes. Etsy suggests vintage designer fashion, collectibles, bikes, and even auto accessories.
  • The Butcher - Etsy suggests cuts of meat, diagrams, butcher paper, knives, bacon, and aprons. This isn't a very relevant category for us Alpaca people. Alpaca meat is actually starting to be sold in the U.S., which I think is terribly tragic. :( Who would want to eat an adorable Alpaca?! Anyways... Think kitchen and cooking supplies! Felted fiber trivets, anyone? :)
  • Food Trends - year of the homemade pie, whoopie pie, and macaroon! Think coconut, chocolate, cream, fresh fruits, and anything "pie". Felted "play food" versions of these things will also be hot!
  • Writable Surfaces - Etsy suggests chalkboards, whiteboards, and fingerprints. And don't forget about journals, notepads, notecards, chalks, handprints, and footprints. Maybe even 'paca prints?!
  • Personalization - especially influential as wedding season approaches. Etsy suggests monograms, initials, text, numbers, zodiacs, constellations, portraits, custom labels, stamps, fingerprints, and family trees. For Alpaca people, also think custom logos, farm names, pet and animal portraits, and custom felt pet sculptures.
  • Vintage (Travel & Farm) - Etsy suggests globes, maps, crates, baskets, barware, industrial appliances, farmhouse, typewriters, cameras, letterpress, brass, and cast iron animals. This is right up our alley! Don't forget about farm animals (felties, photos, etc), woven baskets, gourd bowls, and all sorts of other farm-themed things. Plus... spring time means travel season. Felted passport cases, quilted travel totes, crocheted luggage tags, and other fun things like that, will be great products this time of year!
  • Geometry - Etsy suggests geometric shapes, patterns, triangles, and chevrons. A perfect one for weavers and quilters! Woven scarves and accessories featuring diamonds like this one, are going to be hot! Don't forget to tag them "geometry" or "geometrical".
  • Beards - Apparently... they have transcended the mustache in popularity! Think knit hats with attached beards, like this one, for instance.
  • Redheads - Don't forget... that even if your MODEL is a red head, you can still tag your item as redhead!
  • Color Trends - Etsy suggests black paired with white, gold, or navy. Also, orange, camel, chartreuse, neons, and brights.
  • Fashion Trends - Etsy suggests emphasis on basics, spring and summer dresses, lightweight bags and carryalls, sunglasses, swimwear, hair accessories, jewelry, and sandals. Unique shoulders: structured, elevated, outlined, embellished. Lace (think bobbin lace or crocheted lace), faux reptile skins, 1970s revival, structured wearable art (just tag your beautiful felt accessories as "wearable art"), sporty (knit/crochet head bands are perfect for skiing!), nautical, American classics, tribal influence (think African and even... Peruvian for the Alpaca people!).
  • Secrets - Etsy suggests secret hiding places, lockets, skeleton keys, and silhouettes. Think felted mini-pouch pendants, little bottle pendants, key necklaces, and all sorts of other little cache places. Maybe even custom pet/alpaca silhouettes?
  • Feathers & Arrows - Feather hair extensions and accessories have been trending up non-stop this month, and will continue in April. Also think woodland scenes and Nottingham Forest!
  • Birds - Etsy suggests "namely birds" (birds that people know the name of), owls, feathers (again), nests, and eggs. Or... all of those things... out of felt!
  • Woodland Creatures- Etsy suggests woodland/forest animals, squirrels, hedgehogs, chipmunks, bunnies, and butterflies.
  • Nature - Etsy suggests natural history, woodland/forest themes, acorns, leaves, trees, branches, wood, woodgrain, and natural colors.
  • Fortunes - Etsy suggests Fortune Cookies (another Chinese theme!), wishbones, and fortune tellers. Also think crystal balls, dream catchers, horse shoes, and all things lucky, fairytale, and folklore!
  • Diamonds - The April birthstone.
  • Aries & Taurus - The astrological signs of April (Aries: March 21 - April 20, Taurus: April 21 - May 20). Think Rams and Bulls!

April Trends For Alpaca People:
(Hot Alpaca-community trends this April!)
  • Cria Coats - people always end up with early babies! If you're thinking about buying a cria coat, or even starting to make them yourself, check out this post.
  • Organizational Supplies - things to make peoples' lives easier! Alpaca people are notoriously busier this time of year, as babies start being born, and craft shows and festivals pick up in the warmer Spring weather. Fiber display boards, paper weights (show booths aren't always in the best spots!), business card holders, organizational totes, guest sign-in books, and signs and banners will all be hot items for business people and vendors.
  • Crafting Materials - craft supplies, yarn, roving, batting, clouds, felt sheets, kits, supply organizers (shelves, totes, knitting needle pouches, etc) will be on demand with crafters right now!
  • Unique Gardening Ideas - there are TONS of fun ideas out there, for incorporating Alpaca fiber into gardening... such as felted bird houses, bird nesting material dispensers, and using fiber seconds for weed control (if you put them in your garden walk-ways, they'll felt up, preventing weeds)!

Follow this blog for more fun Alpaca finds, and "1000 Things Alpaca" Team updates and events!

If you're not a member yet, check out our Team Page!

Monday, March 21, 2011

Cria Coat Season!

Early Spring is here! (Also known as... Cria Coat Season!)

Unlike baby sheep (who have lanolin oil in their fleece to help them keep warm), baby Alpacas don't always thrive in the colder early-spring weather. So Alpaca breeders generally try not to have their cria too early in the Spring.

But, of course...

Accidents happen. So we like to be prepared!

What Kind Of Coat Do You Need?

When selecting a Cria Coat there are three important things to consider: material, weight, and size.

Materials vary mostly in levels of water resistance (from Cotton Duck which is porous but "resistant" - to heavy duty materials that completely protect from water and dampness). Coats also come in different weights, based on the number of layers. A 2-layer coat is generally just the water-resistant outer layer, and a fleece lining. 3 and 4 layer coats have batting in the middle, to add some extra warmth for colder climates.

If it's only a little cold, the 2 layer will be perfect (cheaper too!). But if it's snowy or icy where you are, the 3+ layer coat is a must. And of course, you'll want to keep in mind how much rain the little coat will be up against too, when considering water resistance! If it's just an insulator for the Cria, a cheaper material such as Cotton Duck will work perfectly. But that certainly won't do in heavy rain or snow.

And finally... the size. You'll need to make sure the length and girth are correct. Measure the length, from the back of the neck to the butt of the Alpaca. Measure the girth around the chest (right behind the front legs) of the Alpaca.

If you're looking for a Cria Coat, or know anyone who will be having early Cria...

Be sure to check out our team members' shops! Three of our members offer selections in high quality and affordable Cria Coats (which are also GREAT for dogs)!

Cria Coat Options:

Size: 3 sizes available (Newborn, Medium, Large)
Weight: Medium (2 Layers)
Materials: Water Resistant Outside (Ripstop or Duck), Polar Fleece Lining
Custom Made to Order! We're happy to do custom colors and sizes, too!

Size: Premature, 14" long, 15"-19" girth (under 12 lbs)
Weight: Medium (2 Layers)
Materials: Ripstop/Water Resistant Nylon, Fleece Lining
Ready to ship today!

Size: Small, 16" long, 19"-24" girth (12-18 lbs)
Weight: Medium (2 Layers)
Materials: Ripstop/Water Resistant Nylon, Fleece Lining
Ready to ship today!

Size: 3 sizes available (Newborn, Medium, Large)
Weight: Heavy Duty (3 Layers)
Materials: Heavy-Duty Water Resistant Material (Outside), Thick Cotton Batting (Middle), Polar Fleece Lining
Custom Made to Order! We're happy to do custom colors and sizes, too!

Quilted Heavy Weight Cria Coat by Cheshire Farm

Size: Small/Newborn, 18" long
Weight: Heavy Duty (4 Layers)
Materials: Water Resistant Outside, 2 Layers Batting, Fleece Lining
Embroidery: "I My Alpaca"

And... some excellent Adult Coats too...

Adult Alpaca Coat Options:

XL Medium Weight Alpaca Coat by Nobella Alpacas
Size: XL Adult Alpaca, 35" long, 42"-53" girth
Weight: Medium (2 Layers)
Materials: Ripstop/Water Resistant Nylon, Fleece Lining
Ready to ship today!

Custom Medium Weight Alpaca Coat by Well Criated

Size: Adult Alpaca, Custom Size
Weight: Medium (2 Layers)
Materials: Water Resistant Outside (Ripstop or Duck), Polar Fleece Lining
Custom Made to Order! We're happy to do custom colors and sizes too!

Size: Adult Alpaca, Custom Size
Weight: Heavy (3 Layers)
Materials: Heavy-Duty Water Resistant Material (Outside), Thick Cotton Batting (Middle), Polar Fleece Lining
Custom Made to Order! We're happy to do custom colors and sizes too!

Other Ideas:

Cut the sleeve off an old sweat-shirt and use it as a neck warmer! Their long necks, often get cold too! :)

Follow this blog for more fun Alpaca finds, and "1000 Things Alpaca" Team updates and events!

If you're not a member yet, check out our Team Page!