Monday, March 19, 2012

Bringing back some old favorites with new beauties.

So many people have emailed about my Calla Lily earrings..
My supplier in Korea had stopped manufacturing these for a while because the price of precious metals has been increasing, and they needed to determine what was the best for their business. Thankfully, they have decided to continue production. Unfortunately, these have experienced a slight price hike, but the quality is simply top notch as usual.

Enjoy the Romantic Golden Callas:

And the Serene Callas:

I also decided to sample some other cute studs-- I think you'll like them!

The Queen-to-Bes are really adorable and perfect for every day wear.. I have them in SILVER as well as GOLD.

These Golden Swirly heart earrings are just fun :)

Right after waking up this morning, I came up with these earrings:

I've never seen hearts wire wrapped like this before, I think it looks super classy.
This is another addition to my Everyday Classic collection!

And last but not least, I am very happy with these bridal style floral earrings "Bride in Florals":

VACATION REMINDER: Any orders received on Thursday Mar 22 - April 7th will be postposted to ship  after my return on April 9th! I am going to visit Japan, and may not have consistent internet access. Any orders placed within the next two days will be shipped immediately!

Also: if you would please "Like" my FACEBOOK, I will be holding a large giveaway on there once I hit 400 likes! Please help spread the word :)

Have a great night, everyone. Thanks for dropping by tonight!

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Ear Cuffs, Rocker, Wings and Orchids

... today has been a busy and productive Saturday for me. I experimented with a few new bath and body products, and over the course of last night and the majority of today, I put together 3 pairs of cuffs for everyone: (and more!)

Spring is coming. Everyone knows how much I like to make spring earrings. Here's another SPRING themed cuff set which reflects my colorful style:

I have a few of these beautiful, bright rhodium open star charms left and made another Star set:

These little silver embellished wings were a part of my findings collection a while back, but Alyssa recently sent me a couple more... so it's natural I must use them in these Wing Cuffs:

Also, everyone should head over and check out Alyssa's blog linked above; she's an extremely talented earring artisan and has a whimsical style that I am drawn to.

Alyssa also sent some other findings, which I made into these one of a kind antique brass earrings, and added Niobium ear wires for those of us sensitive to metals:

I also added another to the Pretty Orchid Collection:

I also ... made something a bit different from what I normally do. I ventured into thicker chains for bracelets on this Rocker Angel bracelet:

I think this came out well.

And just a very, very simple piece:

See My Black, Black Heart HERE

I hope everyone is having a wonderful St. Patrick's Day! Have a restful Sunday.

Please note: I am going on Vacation to Japan for 2 weeks starting March 23, returning April 7th. It's likely I won't have internet much, so any orders received on March 23 will be a bit delayed; Thank you so much for your patience and continued support!


Friday, March 16, 2012

Importance Of Awesome Customer Service

I get quite a bit of emails in my inbox from people similar to myself who want to start a small business. I have had trouble consistently writing back; so.. I'm hoping to cover some things on my blog! What better way to interact and share knowledge with a big group of people?

I will be covering... ideally 1 topic every week or two (sporadic-- sometimes more or fewer, depending on my work schedule). Because there are endless topics to cover, I think this will be a great opportunity for buyers and sellers alike to learn from each other, to see the other side of the story.

To begin, a little about me & my business.
He Qi Crystal Designs is a very small scale business operating outside of my home. I have one employee; me, and no plans of expansion anytime soon. I am a registered business, have a seller's permit, and I pay taxes on everything I sell. This is the correct, legal way to sell products. I work on He Qi outside of my day job (7:30 - 4:30/5 or later when needed). This is my one major interest/hobby, and having He Qi keeps me sane. This is not to say that my day job is not important to me, because it most definitely is! I have pride in what I do; whether that be in my office during the day, or at home during the night.

Today's top is: the importance of exemplary customer service.
All of what I write is based completely off of my own personal experience. I have never taken a business class. Just because this is what I have learned/observed does not make it the ultimate truth; is it one side of the story.

I believe shopping is an experience. It is not simply just buying merchandise. Or else there would not be rating sites and service/experience would not be a part of the criteria.

For me, shopping goes beyond buying a product; it includes the search for that product, comparing a variety of products, and then finally choosing to purchase a product that appeals the most to you as a consumer.

The creations I offer are geared towards a certain niche customer base of those who treasure handmade, one of a kind goods. I, myself, fit into that niche perfectly, so I am actually trying to attract people with similar likes to myself. When I make goods and interact with customers, I always try to keep in mind that I only must treat others as I wish to be treated myself (pretty basic law of life, I believe). This means, every interaction must be conducted with respect, honestly, genuine concern for a customer's well being. Sure, it is business, but this does not mean everything is strictly about profits, because when it comes down to it, for me, it is definitely not about the money.

Rule #1
Treat everyone with respect. 
It doesn't matter you who're talking to; a fellow artisan, a customer, always have respectful exchanges. It can be a firm and serious matter, but please, be respectful. Regardless of what seemingly "rude" comment a buyer has made about you/your products, it is your responsibility as a seller to NEVER lash at your customer. Chances are, there are reasons for the buyer being unhappy. Find out why, work to resolve the issue in a professional, objective manner.

Rule #2
Communicate professionally.
I can not tell you how many times I have seen this. You can send casual notes/emails, but still remain professional during communications. NEVER EVER EVER TYPE IN ALL CAPS WHEN CORRESPONDING WITH CUSTOMERS. Seems like you're screaming at them, even if you're not. It's fine to use capitals in certain cases where you're obviously trying to emphasize a few words. Don't swear. Choose your words with some level of awareness, don't spurt the first things that come to your mind, because those are often "emotionally charged" words. I have seen all things before, and try my best to avoid doing them because really, your customers don't deserve attitude from you. You, as a seller, owe all of your success to your clients.

Rule #3
You promise something, you deliver.
Do not say your item is "high quality" if it costs $10 and breaks within 2 wears. I don't know about you, but when I think high quality, I think... durable, long lasting, well made. Sure, it seems like a great bargain and the price will draw a certain crowd in, but think twice before making claims about a product that is not true. It is perhaps even more dangerous when false claims are made about materials.. Metal allergies can be dangerous. I am personally allergic to pretty much everything except for sterling silver/gold/niobium. I had a ring which contained nickel, and ... the worst part was the seller did not disclose this, even though nickel is a HUGE concern in the industry for allergic reaction. And the whole time, the ring was sterling silver, top quality, and .. did I mention also $110? Not "cheap", and you can definitely buy sterling silver for less, but alas, I thought I was getting something I was not. When questioned about it, the seller did not take any responsibility, no apologies. I came out of this situation with a lasting rash on my now blue/green finger--- lasted weeks and was itchy, irritating. Yep. I try my best to offer accurate descriptions of my products. I always disclose if there are any potential substances of concern in a product... but easier yet, I avoid questionable materials altogether in my creations.

Rule #4
If your buyer is unhappy, do everything in your power to remedy the situation.
And it shouldn't matter if you lose money because of it. Eat your own policy if you have to. Did you buyer not receive his/her package? Do your terms say you are not responsible? I know that a seller has absolutely ZERO control over what the post office does, but that's not really the point here. The point is that you make an effort to work with your customer to resolve an issue. Make sure that when a buyer communicates an issue to you, you address it right away. It is top priority. Work out an agreement between the two of you where both of you lose/gain something. The buyer pays only material costs for a replacement, or sellers sends full replacement but buyer pays shipping, something like that. Buyers are always willing to work with us, we just have to make sure we make the situation comfortable, open, and honest.

Rule #5
Don't bite off more than you can chew.
Suppose you are successful; you are getting tons of customers wanting your products. You are 1 person. It is not realistic for you to work non stop to get your high volume of orders done. This hasn't happened much to me as I don't have high volume, BUT there are times when the Holidays roll around, and things can get a little hectic. If you promise a 2 day processing time, you do it in two days. Otherwise, promptly communicate the issue with your customers, and discuss possible extension or whatnot. In most cases, customers are VERY understanding; for artists who meticulously hand craft all their wares, it takes time, and rushing it really doesn't do any good. Either close your shop temporarily for a while, with a notice of reason, or communicate your overwhelm to your customers.

All of the components above help provide great customer service for your buyer. With a positive shopping experience, a buyer is more likely to return/spread the word. This post did not include ALL the things I think are helpful, but it is a good starting point. And I am the first to admit: I am not perfect, but with each transaction I am involved in, I work harder to be better. We're all human and we will have really awful days where everything rubs us the wrong way; the best way to remedy the situation is to be honest about whatever is happening, apologize and move on.

Hope you've enjoyed this post! I am curious: what was your WORST and BEST customer service experience? Please leave your comments below! If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to ask.

Please excuse any typos I may have made-- appreciate it!

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Of Wired Gems

Hope you all are having a wonderful Sunday. For those of us in the US; I hope daylight savings hasn't thrown your day off! I usually get up at 7 or 8 on weekends, and today, I was so depressed (well, not seriously depressed) it was daylight savings that I did not roll out of bed until 9:30.

Thanks to everyone who shared their favorite piece with me last time! Congrats  Stacey   -- you win a $20 gift certificate to He Qi! Please email me to obtain your coupon code!

Yesterday, Brian and I finished watching Game of Thrones (amazing series btw); and now I'm tempted to read the books. Anyone read the series so far? What are your thoughts?

And as we watched the show, I whipped out my wire and started wire wrapping gemstones for my "Wired Gems" collection; simple, classic gemstone earrings wrapped in sterling  silver.

And I made another pair of Orchid earrings, this time using a beautiful AAA light amethyst briolette. I think this has got to be my favorite pair of the series. I was hoarding these stones as they were hard to track down, but I think it's time to make something of them :)

I hope you've enjoyed today's sparkles! Recharge before Monday comes upon us again :)


Friday, March 09, 2012

Orchid Collection - Gemstones! & Small Giveaway :)


Happy Friday, everyone!

Much of my inspiration comes from the what I encounter everyday, objects, feelings, colors, people.

The "Pretty Orchid" collection has been inspired by two of the He Qi models; Jen and Sam.

Whenever I use florals, I always think of Sam. The simplicity of the single gemstones dangling from the bottom invoke Jen; classy, natural. All beautiful.

I hope you enjoy the earrings.
These are made with some gemstones I have... really.. taken a long time to get as I wanted to get the best quality. They're all natural, handmade, and simply gorgeous.

Pretty Orchid with Light Sapphire Topaz:

Read about Blue Topaz here:

Pretty Orchid with Garnet:

Read about Garnet here:

Pretty Orchids with Milky Pink Chalcedony:

Ready about chalcedony here:

Pretty Orchids with Royal Amethyst:

Read about amethyst here:

Pretty Orchids with Citrine:

Read about the properties of Citrine here:

And a pair that a coworker suggest I make with quartz briolettes;

I vowed to myself that I was going to make 1 necklace this week, and I am quite happy with this modern piece:

Made with graduating sizes of round Cubic Zirconia.
See Meteor Shower in detail HERE.

I am working on more lockets:

And will soon release the option of initials/monograms/short words

The packaging for the solid perfume sample/locket refill has been changed to be way... way.. cuter :)

As a thank-you for all those who drop by to visit, please leave a comment here with a link to your favorite piece on my website, and you will be entered for a chance to win a $20 gift certificate to :)

Have a great weekend, everyone! Any special plans? :)


Tuesday, March 06, 2012

Debut: Sailor Moon Inspired Solid Perfume Lockets and Future Custom Lockets

Many of you have been curious about the Sailor Moon Inspired Perfume Locket I had posted last time/on Twitter/on FB... and it had been so close to releasing, but just needed a few final tweaks to details like the chain, and photography of the aluminum solid perfume inserts.

So here it is:

This is a piece of art that makes me extremely giddy because it brings back so many fond memories and positives feelings.

Again, I want to emphasize that perfume lockets are NOT a new thing; Victorian women wore them all the time, but the more popular method back them was to soak some  cotton in essential oils, and keep it in the locket so that when the locket is worn against the skin, your body heat helps release the fragrance. If you take some time to Google/Etsy, I'm sure that you'll also find many other solid perfume craftresses; but my purposes was not to copy them/take their customers away, but to take a old idea, and play it up with a new concept, and reach a whole new audience.

These can be worn with chains (available separately)-- I have been wearing this to work and have received many curious questions and compliments!

My first experience with solid perfume was at the Whole Earth Festival - UC Davis 2008. I met a craftress who made a myriad of bath and body products from soaps (from scratch, using lye!) to lip balms to solid perfume and lotion bars. I was intrigued. I am sad I did not keep her contact information as those are the people I gravitate toward supporting. Anyway, the idea of creating natural, unique mixtures to inhale all in a cute package just.... thrills me. I started doing research, and stumbled upon various creations of perfume lockets which have further inspired me to create my own.

I am in the process of creating other scents.. of course, using all natural and/or organic/local/wildcrafted ingredients!
You'll have the option of just purchasing the little perfume pans to sample the scents first. These are also the same sizes used to fill the inside recess of the locket:

There are lots of more options and customization to come. Many formulas in the pipeline. If you have any specific blends/scents you'd like to see featured, please don't hesitate to let me know!

Eventually, I am moving towards creating custom monogram, initial and name perfume lockets :)

^ These are in early prototype stage, but I have never seen anything like these... so its exciting to give a sneak peak :)

I need to get back to a working sleeping schedule, so I'm off for the night. I hope everyone has a lovely day tomorrow.


Sunday, March 04, 2012

Of Recent Adventures.. and in the pipeline ;)

Hi all!

The last few weeks have been a whirl wind of experimentation, planning..executing.. messing up, waste... but finally, success!

I have made a few new earring creations since last post...

First off, some more gemstone earrings, this time featuring a pink quartz, AAA grade with the slightest mystic sheen:

The onion briolettes are simply adorable. See them HERE.

I am on a cluster kick again lately, thanks to my housemate who's been feeding the frenzy, and I couldn't help but to make a pair of Bollywood earrings to match the Bollywood necklace:

And while Loki was sleeping in Dad's lap,

I was creating these:

Inspired by the sea:

And by Tiger's Eye (both the actual animal's eye, as well as the natural stone!)
Tiger's Eye is secretly a tribute to Loki, because his eyes are super fierce and look awesome in the daylight.

I am also selling some handmade stickers that I have wayyy to much of on my Etsy Account:

If you are in the need for supplies, check out my store for some destash packaging materials, beads, etc!

And lastly.. something that I have been working on since October 2011 to create:

That's right. Sailor Moon inspired perfume lockets.

Ok guys, please use your imagination with this one, because I know that initially it sounds like a stretch. Perfume lockets are not new, and definitely not this type of locket (though I have worked hard to get my hands on a unique design), but as I fell in love with solid perfumery, I wanted to combine my interests. As many of you already know, Sailor Moon has been a huge muse for me over the years, and continues to me. I wanted to transform my thoughts about her character into a scent. I know, many of you are probably shaking your heads and think I'm nuts. I might be a little nuts. I might be pushing a little. Oh well ;) What's creativity without a bit of crazy and unexpected? Am I making a whole Sailor Moon series of solid perfume lockets? Maybe.

.. so after months of research, market research, designing, failing, sucking, making some really disgusting smelling things, I think I'm almost ready.

These lockets are made by a family owned business in the USA, and the quality is simply breathtaking. When I got my first one to hold in my hand, I was surprised. NOTHING beats the quality of these perfume lockets. They come with a little recess on the inside where you can swap out the aluminum pan with other scents or refills as you need over time. I am designing over perfume locket centerpieces right now, but am not ready to release them. Heck, I couldn't wait to show you these, and I'm not even ready to reveal the exact details of these yet, but thought it might be fun to show you what's in the pipeline.

Pretty cool, hmm? I'm pretty stoked to say that with a huge amount of Googling, I have yet to come across a Sailor Moon inspired Solid Perfume. I'm stoked.

Many consumers do not realize how much time artists put into developing work. Just like how the R&D department of a Biotech company takes a huge amount of money to run to make a product, causing the end product price to be 400-1000% or whatnot of material price, same idea applies across the board to something like what I do. The price of a piece reflects not only the materials, but the time spent on developing it, including all the fails, wasted materials, time spent redesigning, time spent on designing package... well, the list goes on and on. Keep that in mind the next time you're shopping for an artisan good; though I am not a full time artists, I have grown over time to value other handmade artists' goods because I know first hand how hard it can be to make art one's livelihood :)

Thank you all for dropping by and taking part in my little adventures of late.
Please head over to the He Qi website and take a look at all the new goodies there.

If you choose to place an order, I am currently giving away a sample of my new Vanilla Clove lip balm with all purchases!

I hope everyone starts on Monday with bright, positives attitudes.

Until next time,