New dresses in the shop including Frozen Anna inspired dress and Minnie Mouse dress plus GIVE AWAY winner announced!

Firstly, I would like to thank everyone who entered the Frozen Elsa inspired dress giveaway. I appreciate all the new Facebook likes, Twitter followers, shares, etc.  The contest is now closed and the winner is…drum roll please….Kim Bacon. Congratulations Kim!  To everyone else, I am so sorry but I will do another give away soon. :)  For now please enjoy coupon code ELSA10 for 10% off of an Elsa dress in my shop. The coupon code expires on June 14, 2014.

In other news, I have added a couple more dresses to my Etsy shop since my last blog post.  Due to popular demand I finally added an Anna inspired dress for all of the Frozen fans. Here is Miss Chloe modeling it for us.

Image

 

I also added a new Minnie Mouse inspired halter dress.

ImageImage

 

Of course I made it in Chloe’s size so that she could wear it to a recent Minnie Mouse party we attended. Here is a picture of the two of us this past weekend. I made both of our Minnie inspired dresses.

Image

 

I am pretty excited about some of the new dresses I will soon be adding to the shop. Stay tuned!

Love & Lollipops,

Crystal

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

I’m giving away a custom made Queen Elsa inspired 3 pc satin Frozen dress to one lucky winner!

I hinted at some exciting news in last night’s blog entry and now I am here to announce it.  I am giving away one of my most popular items at the end of this month!  You and your friends and family can enter to win a custom, made-to-measure Queen Elsa inspired Frozen dress from Chloe Michelle’s Closet and I will make it in any size up to a girls’ size 7! The best part of all is you can enter more than once by using the handy dandy widget on my Rafflecopter page. You can earn even more entries by sharing this post and following the instructions in the following link. ENTER HERE===> Chloe Michelle’s Closet Elsa Inspired Dress Giveaway! <===ENTER HERE Good luck everyone! Love & Lollipops, Crystal

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Jack Skellington inspired Nightmare Before Christmas Halter Dress for the littlest Tim Burton fans

Image

We went to Disneyland over the weekend for some family fun time and also to get some better pictures of Miss Chloe’s Jack Skellington inspired halter dress.  I originally made this dress for her late last summer so that she would have something fun and festive to wear when we went to Friday the 13th at Disneyland, the kick off to Disney’s Halloween season. It also happened to be the 13th anniversary of the Haunted Mansion holiday and the 20th anniversary of the Nightmare Before Christmas movie, one of my family’s favorites! But I digress. Chloe wore this dress to several Disneyland trips between September and December and each and every time people would ask me where I got it. I finally decided it was time to add it to Chloe Michelle’s Closet.

Keith had fun photographing Chloe in her dress. We got comments on it all day, and it even scored our family an honorary caretaker of the Haunted Mansion certificate because the cast members working there were so impressed. The whole family got in on the fun donning Jack and Sally Disneybounds. Keith and Jeffrey wore the hand painted Jack Skellington inspired shirts I made for them and I wore my hand painted Sally tank top. Chloe and I wore matching Jack inspired hair bows. I neglected to get pictures of our accessories. Oh well! Maybe next time.

Here are some pics Keith took at our trip on Sunday.

Image

Chloe modeling her Jack Skellington dress near the Haunted Mansion

Image

Chloe showing us the back of her Jack dress on Tom Sawyer’s Island

Image

The kids and I exploring Tom Sawyer’s island at Disneyland.

Image

Miss Chloe and I exploring a cave in our Jack and Sally Disneybounds. :)

I wish we would have gotten a group shot, but alas, Keith was behind the camera entire time. Again, maybe next time. Well, that is all I have for you today folks. Thank you so much for reading and stay tuned TOMORROW for an exciting announcement. :)

Love & Lollipops, Crystal

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Chloe Michelle’s Closet welcomes two new princesses to the fairytale princess collection, Princess Ariel and Princess Aurora

Things have been so busy around here!  We had a wonderful Easter weekend with family and resumed home school Monday after a nice Spring Break. As for sewing, I had a sudden rush of Elsa dress orders and then a slight lull, so I took advantage of that lull and added two new beauties to my Etsy shop, princess Ariel and Princess Aurora! (Well, Princess Aurora before she knew she was princess Aurora.) My sweet husband (of Keith Silvas Photography) was gracious enough to do a photo shoot with the kids Friday afternoon after he got home from his day job. My shop’s little namesake miss Chloe modeled my new Ariel town dress, also known as the “Kiss the Girl” dress from Disney’s The Little Mermaid. Our son wore his Prince Eric outfit to compliment the dress. I may add this to the shop as well, but I need to work out pricing first.

Image

My sweet babies as Ariel and Prince Eric from The Little Mermaid

Yesterday we did a shoot for my other newest creation, the Briar Rose inspired peasant girl dress from Sleeping Beauty. You know, the simple dress princess Aurora wears while picking berries in the forest for the three good fairies before she learns that she is really a princess? Growing up Princess Aurora was my favorite princess (before Ariel came along) and I always wanted to have her Briar Rose dress. I actually preferred it to the pink/blue one that the fairies made for her, so seeing my baby girl in a replica of the dress playing amongst the trees was pure magic for me—and for her as well. She loves Briar Rose! I made the dress a week and a half ago and every day she has been asking me to let her wear her “I know you dress.” (I know you, I walked with you once upon a dream…) Anyway, I had a lot of fun with this dress and now other little ones can too. Here are some photos Keith took of Chloe in the Briar Rose/Sleeping Beauty dress yesterday. Pure sweetness.

Briar Rose by Chloe Michelle's Closet

Chloe modeling the Briar Rose peasant girl dress inspired by Sleeping Beauty

My little Briar Rose running through the forest

My little Briar Rose prancing through the forest

That’s all I have today folks. Thank you so much for coming by and reading my blog, and stay tuned for some new princess inspired dresses coming soon! Love & Lollipops, Crystal

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

I’m back with lots of new inventory, including Disney Frozen inspired Queen Elsa Tutu Dresses

Boy has it been a long time since I’ve posted on this blog.  Sorry about that.  Life has been busy.  My kids are now 3 and 5 and between homeschooling, Etsy, music classes, t-ball and LIFE in general I have been pretty busy.  I really don’t know how all of the other crafty, blogging mamas do it!

Anyway, I took a long break from Etsy to reevaluate some things and opened back up in the summer—refreshed—just in time for Halloween.  In November Disney released Frozen and it’s not just a movie, it’s a PHENOMENON.  My kids fell in love and we saw it in the theater more than once (including the sing-along version), waited 2 hours in line to meet Anna and Elsa at Disneyland in December and downloaded it the day it was available on Amazon Prime.  Naturally I had to make my daughter a Frozen inspired Elsa tutu dress and after sharing it on Facebook and getting such a great response I (finally) decided to add it to my Etsy shop a couple days ago. Isn’t it pretty?

For the little girl who wants to "let it go" in style.

For the little girl who wants to “let it go” in style.

I’ve also been busy with weddings!  It seems like everyone is getting married this spring!  I have done quite a few flower girl tutu dresses and I even had the pleasure of making ivory flower girl dresses for my own daughter and niece. My husband took these awesome pictures. How cute are they?

My niece and my daughter wearing ivory flower girl tutu dresses in my cousin's wedding

My niece and my daughter wearing my ivory flower girl tutu dresses in my cousin’s wedding

I’ve added some other stuff to my shop as well, including the sweet Cinderella bird and mice inspired dress and my favorite, the Mary Poppins jolly holiday inspired dress.

Me and my babies at Dapper Day at Disneyland, Fall 2013. Mary Poppins, Bert and a Snow White Disneybound.

Me and my babies at Dapper Day at Disneyland, Fall 2013. Little Mary Poppins, little Bert and me in a Snow White Disneybound.

Sweet pink dress inspired by the dress Cinderella's bird and mice friends made for her

Sweet pink dress inspired by the dress Cinderella’s bird and mice friends made for her

I have a lot more Disney inspired dresses coming.  It’s just a matter of getting them photographed and listed. :)  Oh, and I finally joined Twitter so please go follow me if you are so inclined. Thanks for reading!

Love and Lollipops,

Crystal

Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment

A Word on Pricing (and why I’m restructuring mine)

As a small business owner I am constantly struggling with my pricing.  When I first opened up shop I searched through Etsy and determined my pricing based on what others were doing. I raised my prices because I switched to a supplier who sells CPSIA-compliant tulle that is made in the USA because that is very important to me. Having tried out many different suppliers I noticed a huge difference in the quality of their tulle, and though they were priced higher it was worth it to me.

As my business grows my costs are getting higher.  While I do get help from my husband (thank goodness for him!) I am basically a one-woman operation.  I love what I do and am grateful to be doing it, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t still work!  It takes time to design tutus and dresses, order fabric and notions, cut fabric, sew, photograph products, edit the photographs, determine pricing, write up listings, figure out the logistics of shipping, order shipping supplies, packing and shipping, marketing (plus updating social media sites), keeping up with customer questions, making sure I am operating according to the law, figuring out taxes, paying bills, etc etc etc. I’m sure I forgot something in there. The point is it is a lot of hard work.

When I started my shop it was essentially a hobby.  Friends, family, and friends of friends would contact me and I’d make them tutus or outfits for a little over the cost of materials. With the economy being what it is I have had to take my shop more seriously so I can make a living off of it and contribute financially to my family. That is when I took the time (and money) to file my fictitious business name, obtain a California resellers permit, get my business license, make sure I have accounts set up for taxes, income, shop expenses etc.

As you can imagine, it was very disheartening when I recently crunched numbers and realized that at the end of the day I am actually losing money on this little venture of mine.  At first I thought I was making a small profit, but then I realized that I wasn’t taking into account any of my time or labor!  When my husband would suggest prices to me that included labor costs my stomach would turn and I would tell him that pricing my stuff that way would be pretty audacious.  I’ve come to realize that he’s been right all along. I think that many Etsians are hobbyists and don’t charge honestly or realistically for their handmade goods.  I know because I’ve been one of them.  I have always been afraid that if I charged what my products are really worth people would simply go elsewhere. During such tough economic times I can see why people would want to save buyers money, but short selling oneself only hurts small business and the general population of people who make handmade goods for a living.

I have been struggling with this decision and arguing with my husband over it and I have ultimately decided that, yes, this is my job and not just a hobby, and I need to charge accordingly. I tell you this, dear customer, because I don’t want you to be caught off guard when you see my prices increase across the board. When you buy from an artisan (as opposed to a large corporation) you are paying for their talent and expertise. You are paying for their time and all of the expenses that go into running their small businesses. In my case you are paying for higher quality materials made in the USA, you are paying for my 20+ years of sewing experience, and you are paying for the time it takes me to create something. As a work-at-home mom of two very young children my time is very valuable to me.

It always stings a little when people at the farmers’ market scoff at my pricing and say “Oh yeah, I can get one for my daughter at Costco for 10 bucks.” I am not Costco. I support an American company (and therefore American jobs and workers) by purchasing my quality American-made tulle from them, I support small business by having my sewing machines serviced locally, I do all the packaging, shipping, marketing, etc myself and I try to pay myself a fair hourly wage for the blood, sweat and sometimes tears that go into doing what I do. Costco can charge $10 a tutu because they source cheap polyester material from China and pay factory workers 20 cents a day to mass-produce thousands at a time. (That is an approximation, haha, but you see my point.) Their profit margin is enormous.

The Snow White tutu dress currently listed in my shop took me several DAYS (not hours) to complete. Why? It is an original design. I sketched it out myself and then drafted my own custom pattern, and when my first couple attempts didn’t work out as I had envisioned I had to go back to the drawing board. I bought fabric and sewing notions locally (at retail prices, ugh) and after many (MANY) hours of sewing I listed it on Etsy using a price I thought was fair (based on what other shops sold their dresses for.) It turns out that my dress at its original listing price only covered cost of materials plus an hour of labor at minimum wage. This doesn’t even include listing fees, PayPal fees, Etsy’s cut, etc. Ouch. So you see, my original pricing is not realistic at all and that is why I will slowly be raising my prices. To soften the blow, if you will, I will still offer occasional specials and coupon codes, but I really need to be honest with myself about what I am doing. While I do love what I do I have a family to think about and they must always come first.

This was a very long post so I sincerely thank you if you read all of it! I was inspired and empowered after reading a fellow seamstress’s blog about handmade goods and why they are “so expensive.” It was a great read and really helped to put things into perspective for me. I encourage everyone to read her brilliant blog post, whether you’re a seller or not. We as artists need to value ourselves and our time because our skills, our expertise, and our quality is worth it. Again, thanks for reading my blog!  I will (hopefully) be back soon with some exciting news. Until next time!

Crystal (Chloe’s mommy)

This is me sewing a version of my Mon Petit Chou-Chou tutu at 12:21 a.m. on July 21st, 2012 as a raffle item for the Canyon Lake Community Theater, photo courtesy of my husband Keith Silvas.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Chloe Michelle’s Closet – The Blog.

Hello everyone and thanks for stopping by my brand new blog!  In case you don’t already know me my name is Crystal.  I was born and raised in the suburbs of San Diego, Ca.  Since this blog will primarily be about my small tutu business I will start with some of my back story.  Here goes!

Both of my maternal grandparents were tailors.  My grandma had her own tailor shop, part of a small chain of shops in San Diego, each owned by one of her siblings.  My grandpa worked for another company in Carlsbad and still does to this day.  Naturally I grew up around sewing machines and always gravitated towards them.  I quickly fell in love with sewing and creating brand new things, like stuffed animals for my relatives at Christmas time or fun clothes for my Barbie dolls.  I always had an entrepreneurial spirit and would set up shop on our front porch and I would sell things I made to the other neighborhood kids, sometimes to the dismay of their parents.   (Giggle.)  I sold them ridiculously giant hair bows, scrunchies (ah, the 90’s!), doll clothes, friendship bracelets, you name it.  Those are some of my fondest childhood memories.

My grandma fostered my love of sewing from an early age and helped me sew my first “project” at the tender age of five.  It was just a collection of 100 buttons for a kindergarten assignment teaching the concept of  “one hundred.”  My collection of 100 things was buttons hand-sewn on to some fabric in an embroidery hoop.  I was so excited to be entrusted with a needle and thread (under supervision, of course) and from that day forward I was hooked.  My grandma gave me a sewing machine intended for kids, which I quickly outgrew and then she upgraded me to a vintage Singer sometime in elementary school.  Because she owned her own tailor shop and had extra machines around I always got her hand-me-downs.  Flash forward to my awkward middle and high school days.  Sadly my sewing projects slowed down and I gave it up for a very long time.  I would occasionally hand-sew quick skirts or handbags in high school but that was the extent of it.

It wasn’t until I was pregnant with my second child—a girl—that my love for sewing was rekindled.  Suddenly I remembered how crafty I used to be and started making frilly things for my daughter-to-be.  Because I was well known for always wearing flowers in my hair I of course had to make my daughter lots and lots of flower hair clips, with the hope that she’d have hair.  (She didn’t really, but at almost 2 years old it’s coming in beautifully and I’m having a ball, but I digress!)  One day I saw on Facebook that my favorite baby boutique was offering a class on no-sew tutus and I jumped at the chance.  I went to the class, had a blast and fell in love with tutus.  I started making my yet-to-be-born baby girl tutus in all sorts of fun colors and I’d post them for all to see on Facebook.  It wasn’t long before people started asking me to make them for their kids or for baby shower gifts, birthdays etc.  That’s when I decided to open up a shop on Etsy.com.  I was already a devoted buyer there so it was the perfect fit for me.

I opened a new account for my business-to-be in July of 2010, and of course I named it after my soon-to-be-born daughter Chloe.  Chloe Michelle’s Closet was born, but I didn’t officially list anything until February of 2011.  Before long I realized that the tutu market on Etsy was extremely saturated and I needed a way to differentiate myself, so that’s when I decided to start sewing my tutus rather than doing the no-sew, slipknot around elastic method.  That way is beautiful and works great for a quick tutu, but I did find that the sewn ones hold up better over time and that I am able to pack on more tulle for over-the-top poofy, fluffy goodness.  They do take quite a bit longer to make but in the end it’s worth it to me to deliver a delicious, ridiculously cute, fluffy product.  Additionally I pride myself in using only USA made, CPSIA compliant tulle.  That just means that it is apparel-grade and meets the safety standards for children’s clothing.  Children’s clothing is heavily regulated and although I am just a tiny business I didn’t want to take any chances.  You will not find any made-in-China or craft tulle in my tutus.

Recalling my love of sewing and wanting to get into it again on a larger scale I made sure that my shop name would allow for expansion, which is why I didn’t have “tutu” anywhere in my name.  I knew that eventually I would want to create and sew more than just tutus, and that’s why I called my shop “Chloe Michelle’s Closet.”  People in conversation often refer to it as “Chloe’s Closet” but that is not correct.  While that was my first choice when I started out, it was already taken, hence the addition of baby girl’s middle name.  I love the name now.  It’s so chic, so boutique.  Of course I am biased.  :)

So that’s my (not so) little introduction.  I hope to be blogging here on a semi-regular basis, probably shop related stuff, balancing life as a work-at-home mom, possible guest posts, etc.  How often I blog will depend on how busy my shop is and how cooperative my two little ones are.  My kids are 3 1/2 and 22 months at the moment, so as you can imagine life can get pretty crazy around here!  At the end of the day my babies come first so I apologize in advance if I ever have any long lulls between posts.  If I’m not blogging a whole lot you can always check my Facebook page at http://www.facebook.com/ChloeMichellesCloset. I try to update it pretty frequently, and if for whatever reason I’m not engaging you enough there you can always go directly to my Etsy shop at http://www.etsy.com/shop/chloemichellescloset and start a convo with me.  Thanks again for reading this and bless your heart if you read the whole thing.  I have a tendency to say way more than I need to.  See?  There I go again.  Until next time!

Love & Lollipops,

Crystal

Traci Hines as Sally, me and Chloe on her 1st birthday

Me, baby girl Chloe and the lovely & talented Traci Hines as Sally the rag doll at Chloe’s Nightmare Before Christmas themed 1st birthday party. 10-8-11 Tutu by Chloe Michelle’s Closet :)

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , | 1 Comment