Thursday, March 26, 2015

Who are you, anyway?

Well, the results are in!

Last blog post, I asked my clients to take a short survey asking who they are. While it's not too late to take it (please do if you haven't!), I thought you might be interested in the results.
So without further ado ...

My clients are overwhelmingly female: 70% vs. 29%. This confirms what I've known for years: I'm a ladies man (just kidding, Brenda).

The largest group in the age range was 40-49 with 23%. Other age ranges were about even, the exception being 18-20, who were only 5%. So I'm not popular with the kids.

Almost half of my clients are married. The majority (58%) rent or lease their homes.

The majority, 51%, have a bachelor's degree or higher. Good on you. Smart crowd. You're in good company.

60% are employed full time, 12% part-time, and 15% are retired. 12% are looking for work or disabled/unable to work with 0% not working/not looking. So we've got a good, hard-working, red-blooded crowd out there. 'Merica.

I won't post the stats for average income, but I will say that many of you are doing quite well. Tell your friends about Hope & Grace Pens. ;-)

52% of you placed your order as a gift for a loved one, with 32% ordering for themselves. 14% ordered for a friend or acquaintance. I've always said handcrafted pens make great gifts (even for yourself)!

Most of my clients ordered in plenty of time or had no rush. 18% plan ahead like I do and were under the gun. No worries. I ship quickly.

And finally, I had LOTS of great suggestions and kudos in the comments question. In the weeks ahead, I intend to incorporate many of your suggestions. So be on the lookout for those. Thank you all for your input and continued patronage!

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Hey! Take my survey!

We all know I'm not the sharpest knife in the drawer.

All these business sites say how important it is to know your client base. But how's a guy like me supposed to figure that out? I'm just a guy who makes pens. Life is like a box of chocolates.

But then it occurred to me, why not ask clients who they are?


So if you've ever ordered a product from me, please take a moment to fill out this short survey. It's only 10 questions and completely anonymous.

Your feedback will help me improve my product, interaction, packaging and marketing. I will really appreciate it!

Saturday, March 14, 2015

My New Toy

Santa brought me something last December. I broke it out and started playing around with it recently. I'm getting hooked.

As a kid, I thought of myself as an artist. I did some drawing, mostly pencil with some pastel work and ink-dot. I did a lot of calligraphy. My brother had a wood burner that I tried once or twice. When you use one, you slowly follow lines drawn on a piece of wood, it makes dark burned lines, and when you're done you think, "well, that was interesting" before putting it away and never breaking it out again.

As usual, my wife knows better.

I knew I needed one since I lost the talents of John at the Wood Hobby Shop in Iwakuni. Sometimes clients wanted a name or Eagle, Globe and Anchor on a pen and since laser engravers are darned expensive, woodburning was my only option. John would always hook me up ... for a small fee. But I didn't have John any more. So I put it on my X-mas list and figured I'd learn how to operate it sooner or later. 

So one day my lives ran out on Candy Crush (see previous post), and I thought I'd play around with my new toy. One of the Japanese guys in Iwakuni was a real artist with a woodburner, so I saw firsthand what could be done. He was incredible. He actually made me the samurai box above as a going away gift.

I grabbed a piece of scrap pine and started doodling. Ok, Ok. Some line art should be easy. I converted Rosenthal's Iwo Jima photo to line art and gave it a shot. Hmm. Interesting. But what about shading? I tried a sphere. It really wasn't that hard. Hmm.

Brenda asked for a woodburn of the Mia Jima Floating Tori. Not my best work, but it was my first real attempt. Not bad, overall. And I learned more each time I picked it up. I did a mock of Michaelangelo's David using mostly shading with few lines. It was easier than I thought (all except the face, which didn't turn out quite right).

 Next I thought I'd try a Celtic cross. BIG mistake. That was HARD. But it didn't turn out half bad. Brenda wanted Gaelic for "Welcome" burned in at the bottom, which came out a little off center, but it's for us  so that's OK. She added some thinned green paint and a ribbon and now the piece greets our guests at the door.

It was also her idea to start woodburning my ring boxes. See why I keep her around? 

Now I've got stencils and no end to the ideas I want to burn onto the lids.


I was working on one at the in-laws' house when G-ma asked if I would do her old house in West Virginia from an old photo. No Rembrandt, but certainly not half-bad as it turned out.

I want to know! What have you recently picked up and really started to enjoy? Leave a comment below!