Saturday, May 4, 2013

The Soapsmith; Allegheny Hearth Soaps

Itch..itch..scratch..scratch..  OH! I am going bonkers! I've had unexplained hives for 2 months and its just making me crazy! They're everywhere with a focus on my face, arms and legs. I've removed all scented items from my daily routine and started using a new essential oil to help with the hives. But..I needed some kind of soap to shower with and that is what this blog post about!

I ordered handmade soap and goodies from Allegheny Hearth,Soapsmith on Artfire and am just delighted! Allegheny Hearth is run by Bonnie Klisiewicz Bartley from Altoona, PA (another Central PA gal representing!!) and has been crafting handmade soap for over 30 years! That's longer than I've been alive so who better to help me with my itchies?! I've "known" her for a few years now throughout the online soaping and handmade communities and she is wonderful. She is one of the kindest, most helpful people I have the pleasure of knowing. I wish we lived closer, I'd take her out for tea because she is just a lovely human being.

Olive Castile(front) and Lavender Oatmeal Bars

I chose two classics, Olive Castile and Lavender Oatmeal bar soap. Both are known for being extremely gentle. First off, I want to say these bars are LARGE..which would usually turn me off. I have smaller hands and some bars are awkward to hold. However, these bars are more narrow than wide, making them fit nicely into your hand. The Castile bar is crafted with organic olive oil and while it is unscented, it has a wonderful clean aroma. I chose this bar specifically for washing my face. I have very sensitive skin that turns red and dry very easily. The Castile bar lathered up so nicely with tiny, silky bubbles that cleansed my face and washed away, leaving it soft. I hate that tight feeling some facial cleansers leave behind! Plus, how cute is that butterfly stamped into the bar?! So girly and pretty.

I picked the Lavender Oatmeal bar for body cleansing. To be honest, I should use an unscented bar until I figure out what's causing the hives but I just can't take a bath with unscented soap! It just seems wrong. So my best bet was a gentle, essential oil soap and this Lavender Oatmeal bar is perfection! Handcrafted with Goatsmilk, Honey and Oatmeal, it is excellent for dry, irritated skin. My mood has little agitated ever since the hives showed up and the calming Lavender aroma is so nice. It lathered up with creamy, luscious bubbles that washed away, leaving softly scented skin. 

Monoi de Tahiti Tiare Oil

Next up, I had to order a little gift for my Mom. She deserves it after listening to me complain all day, every day about my itchies! I decided to get glorious Monoi de Tahiti Tiare Oil, which is an amazingly versatile item. If you've never smelled Tiare oil, you're missing out! Genuine Gardenia flowers are crushed in 100% Coconut oil..resulting in an intoxicating, heady oil/balm that is so sensual. Used for everything from a body moisturizer to a hair treatment, my Mom begged a foot massage(she broke her ankle a few years ago and has such pain) out of me!
Love free gifts!

Bonnie thoughtfully tucked these awesome free samples into my package, which was totally unexpected! The gorgeous Lavender embroidered sachet contains the most amazingly scented lavender buds. The organic lavender is grown by Bonnie and harvested at the peak of the season. So precious, I can see these tied onto a beautifully wrapped gift box instead of a bow! The samples were also a nice treat. I'm not big on fruity scented items but the Blackberry Sage Shea Butter is lightly scented and will be nice for summer. I adore the Lemon Verbena Shea Butter! Its such a refreshing, clean aroma and the shea butter sinks right into your skin. The two soap samples are also great; Tempest being a nice clean, unisex scent and Vanilla Butter Mint is a warm, creamy scent that is very interesting. The mint adds a little crisp edge to the buttery aroma.
I'm thrilled with my purchase and will definitely be ordering again. Next up, I would love to try one of Bonnie's body powders. I have my eye on the Lavender Chamomile and a gorgeous handmade Merino Wool Puff. I love using things that make you feel feminine! Check out Allegheny Hearth, the product line is extensive and you will be just as happy as I am. Now, hives..hit the road!!

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Santa is on Vacation

Rumor has it that there are some people(organized, non-procrastinating people) who start their holiday shopping early! Crazy, I know. I thought everyone waited until the last minute like me! Well, since Santa is laying on the beach in Maui..I thought I'd share a little secret with you organized people.

ARTFIRE IS HAVING A CHRISTMAS IN JULY SALE! Oh yes, thats right.. you can shop for amazing handmade items ON SALE all under one roof. Here are a few great shops:

Sea Breeze Jewels-

Polkadot Orchid

Ma dHats and More

Bella Sweet Jewelry-Save 15% with coupon code CIJ2012

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Being Thankful

One of the things I am most thankful for is my large group of repeat customers. When you have a business where you create the items with your own two hands..and then try to sell them, you open yourself up to the world. Your mind fills with "Will anyone like it?" and "I know my items aren't as awesome as other people's work.." at first. And then "What if nobody buys it?"

Yep. That is the kicker. You can think your art is amazing, awesome, the bee's knees, the cat's meow. But when you put a price tag on it..insecurity can arise. So the best thing that can happen after selling something is...TRC. Oh yes, The Repeat Customer. The Holy Grail of customers. What does TRC mean??

They like you! They REALLY like you!  Okay. They might not like you but they like your items. Same thing! Or is it?

With my RC's, I want them to like me as well as my items. I want a relationship with them. How do I do that? By offering the best customer service that I can. What is that?

1. Communicate clearly with the customer. Do they have questions about the item? Answer them politely in a timely manner. Let them know that you received their order and thank them.

2. Package their item(s) safely and maybe even make that packaging unforgettable. I like to make getting an order from me a fun experience. Part of that is my packaging. Even if the customer is shopping for themselves, its still a gift. Make it personal and again, thank them. I always include a little handwritten note, showing my appreciation.

3. Ship their order in a timely manner and let the customer know when you shipped it. Come know how it is when YOU buy something online. You wait..and wait..and can't wait for your box to arrive on your front step. Don't make your customer wait and wait!

4. Once your customer(and hopefully soon-to-be RC) gets their package and if they are not pleased, deal with it like a professional. Nobody wants to hear that their customer is unhappy with their purchase but lets face it, it happens. Purchasing something online is somewhat of a gamble. You can describe the item perfectly, you can take the best photographs but still..somebody can be unhappy or even have buyer's remorse. Whether the customer doesn't like the blanket they ordered or the earrings are too big..just suck it up and act like a real business. You don't hear Amazon saying "I don't accept returns because those earrings are too big", do you? Nope. Do what you can to make that customer happy again..whether its accepting a return or even a refund if you cannot accept returns.

Sounds simple right? It really should would think all sellers would treat their customers in a wonderful way. Sadly, I read stories all the time about how so-and-so at Etsy or Artfire screwed over a customer. It might cast a shadow over the whole handmade shopping experience but frankly, I like to look at it as a good thing.

A good thing? Am I CRAZY?? Well probably but hey, I view it as my amazing customer service sets me apart from those unprofessional people. And my many repeat customers definitely agree. Now, I know everyone has difficult customers. I'm not saying you have to treat them like royalty. I'm simply saying "Treat them just like you would want to be treated."

Thank you to everyone who appreciates and purchases Bella Sweet Jewelry. I love all of my customers and am so thankful that you allow my designs to grace your jewelry boxes and your gorgeous bodies!

Saturday, June 2, 2012

A New Life

One of my favorite things in the whole world is to go to flea markets and antique co-ops on the weekend. I am always looking for 3 things:

1.Black Americana items--My Mom collects Aunt Jemima items
2. Amazing vintage purses/compacts
3.Vintage jewelry for my Renewed Designs line

I recently hit the vintage jewelry jackpot when I stumbled across a group of sisters that were selling their mother's estate. They have suitcases full of vintage costume jewelry!! Having experienced how hard it is to sell off a loved one's estate, I am happy to give their Mom's jewelry a new life.

The center of this awesome Biwa Stick Pearl flower was once a vintage clip-on earring!

Why do I use vintage elements? I think its the perfect way to ensure original designs and to offer my customers something nobody else will ever have. I also think its great to incorporate the vintage styles of the past into a fresh, modern look. What was popular years ago can be popular again but in a new way.

The vintage leaf brooch is covered in glitzy purple rhinestones

I am always looking for unique vintage jewelry since these designs have turned out to be something that sells fast. Check my Etsy as well as my Artfire shops frequently to see new designs!

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Bead Fest Philly

Awesome Labradorite

I am no stranger to a bead show. For years, I've hit Intergalactic in York every couple months, always go to the Gem Miners Jubilee in Lebanon. Last weekend, I ventured into the world of Bead Fest. Now, this is a whole 'nother world!

We (myself, my Mom and my bestie Sue) left around 8:30am on Friday. It took about 2 hours to get there..easy enough to find, straight down the Turnpike. We paid our way in..and entered glitzy chaos! Honestly, there was a moment where I couldn't breathe. Later, Sue said she thought I was going to cry. It was very overwhelming..not the set-up of the booths but I think it was the fact that we got there soon after they opened and there was just a mass of people.
Pile of Pearls
We decided to just stroll through the whole place before shopping. The general variety of gems/beads was comparable to most other shows I've attended. Pricing was also comparable(Gem Miner's Jubilee in November is still the best for pricing though). I did notice more stands that required you to pay by the gram for gemstones. There was definitely a higher quality of gemstones at some booths which I fully appreciated. Also, the number of booths was a lot higher than shows I've attended.

L to R: Amazonite, Labradorite, Chalcedony, Malachite, Lapis
After having lunch (seriously overpriced..won't eat in the convention center again) and getting free admission coupons for August from a lovely lady at our table, we set out to spend my money! I bought some amazing gemstones that I cannot wait to work with. I found pretty much everything on my list. No Boulder Opals though :(  And I had to put down that strand of $850 tourmalines, don't worry..I will dream of you!

All in all, the trip was great. I will surely attend the August show which will be nice to shop for the holiday season. The Bead Fest employees were very pleasant, the show atmosphere was professional and enjoyable. I noticed that the shoppers seemed to be more friendly than the Intergalactic crowd. I always leave there wanting to punch someone in the throat. No, not really..well, kinda!  I will say this..I know, you beaders need your little wheeled suitcases..but come on, be polite with them!
Labradorite Pendants

Wednesday, January 18, 2012


As you can tell from my previous blog posts, I do not usually share personal posts. This is basically a business blog so I feel the need to share my thoughts on something business(and personal) related.

I've had a store with Artfire since 2008. I joined soon after AF started and during the years following, there have been many changes. In having a store with AF, I've made friends and helped grow with the community of handmade sellers. AF has allowed me to operate an online store with countless benefits and perks. I became a Fire Mentor to help newcomers and a Maven to help with site development in the community forum.

With every change Artfire has made, there has been triumphs and trials. I've seen the good in many of the changes but have also disagreed with a few of them. As a whole, I've been very happy doing business there and will continue to do so.

Recently, some new decisions have been made by the administration at Artfire. There will be some big changes in the upcoming weeks/months. These changes have caused confusion, anger and also happiness in the AF business community.

While I do not fully support these new changes, I am okay with the outcome. What I am not okay with is how some businesses have reacted. The unprofessionalism by some individuals is beyond revolting.

My business is my priority and I have always based my business decisions solely in a professional way. It is very hard for me to do this lately. I will no longer shop with numerous Artfire, Etsy etc.. sellers because of their complete lack of professionalism in the last few weeks. Personal attacks on appearances and character is simply unacceptable. I will not do business with or support any business that does this. I have actually have ended a few friendships over this situation and I am perfectly fine with that. I am friends with respectful individuals.

A few personal friends(dear Em, I love ya!) have made the decision to move their businesses away from Artfire and I would like to say that I will dearly miss you. I completely understand making this choice on a professional level and I hope that someday, you end up back with Artfire. I wish the best for you all and hope you sell your bootays off wherever you end up.

On the flipside, I'd like to welcome any newcomer to Artfire. With the upcoming changes, there are new businesses joining. If you ever need help with your store or with the site, I will be more than happy to help.

I would also like to say that while my shop is hosted through Artfire, Bella Sweet Jewelry is mine. I solely make the decisions for it. I offer my own excellent customer service and products. Please do not judge all Artfire sellers by the actions of a few unprofessional business owners. Those few people have cast a horrible cloud over an amazing website. I love having a business with AF and there are countless other stores on AF that offer the same professional service that I do.

Artfire is growing and branching out. If there ever comes a time when I feel that my business is not going to benefit from ANY selling venue, I will leave. For now(and hopefully in the future), Artfire is definitely the place for Bella Sweet Jewelry.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Amazing Holiday Deals

If you know me at know I love a good deal! As a handmade artist, I also know that hand-crafted items are something to be proud of and the value of getting something handmade as a gift is so special. These artists on Artfire are offering amazing deals on items that are as precious and special as their customers..

Bella Sweet Jewelry
Save 30% (Use coupon code "Turkey2011") and Free US Shipping! Nov 23-28

All Wired Up TOO
 Nov 24:   30% Off  and Free Shipping
 Nov 25-28:  10% Off and Free Shipping

Attic Closet Vintage
Nov 24-25: Vintage Clothing & Accessories 25% off

Night Sky Jewelry
"LIKE" Night Sky Jewelry on Facebook for a chance to win a $25 gift certificate!
See my Facebook page for details. Nov 24-28th.

25% off select items
Free US & Canadian shipping and discounted International shipping on every purchase
Runs from 12:00AM (Midnight) 11/24/11 - 11:59PM 11/24/11

15% off store wide (excluding Affordable Elegance line)
Free US & Canadian shipping and discounted International shipping on every purchase
Runs from 12:00AM (Midnight) 11/25/11 - 11:59PM 11/28/11

The Mushroom Lady
No Jive Turkey giblet prices! 30% off and free shipping on EVERYTHING-Nov 24th
Free Shipping Black Friday through Cyber Monday

Eclectic Oddities
Nov 24-25:  25% off and Free Shipping(Nov 24-28)

Rox & Things
 Nov 24: 30% off and Free Shipping
Nov 25 & 28th: 20% off and Free Shipping