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Musical Instrument Make-Over: Drums

This week we are going to show you what we can do with a drum that has been retired because it is too bent and beat up to play anymore.  Drum cymbals are most commonly made from copper and brass.  This makes them very hard and durable.  By the time they get to us they are usually pretty beat up but they are still beautiful to us.  These are some of our creations made from drum cymbals:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

You can see what other drum items we have available on our website by clicking here.

If you look really closely there is so much good in the world.  The more connected we become to the music industry, the more we see that they have more than their share of heart.  Recently we were asked by the President of the Boulder Drum Studio to donate a pair of drum cymbal earrings to an auction that they are having to raise funds for a new program that they’ve created in honor of a drumming student, Jared Lizakowski who died recently in a tragic motorcycle accident.  They have started a new program at the drum studio where they offering free drum lessons to those from low-income and indigent families. It’s called Drumming for Jared.  They have a silent auction coming up and the prizes are AWESOME.  We are so honored to be a included.  Click here for more information and to see the prize list.  If you are in the Boulder area and want to find out more about this cool drum studio or visit them click here.

These are the fun earrings that were chosen to be a part of the auction:

In our next blog we’ll end our musical instrument series by showing you what we can do with instruments from the strings family; cellos, violas and violins.

Have a great week!

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Musical Instrument Make-Over: Saxophone

As promised in our last blog are dedicating this weeks blog to the saxophone.  If you follow us regularly you know that we partner with an amazing Kansas City non-profit called Band of Angels who provides instruments to kids in need as well as sending kids in need to music camp.  If Hang Ups or Band of Angels are new to you – WELCOME!  You can find our Band of Angels retired instrument jewelry collection by clicking here and learn about Band of Angels mission by clicking here.

Saxophone keys are gorgeous, unique, and fun to work with.  These are just a few of our saxophone creations that are available on our website:

Want to learn more about the saxophone?  Click on this link to read 10 Facts About Saxophones and Its Players by Maggie Belnap in The Oxford University Press.

The 2017 special guest artist at the Band of Angels Heartstrings Gala was saxophonist Ryan Kilgore.  Ryan has spent the past ten years touring with Stevie Wonder as well as working on independent projects.  You can learn a little more about him by watching this You Tube Video.  Ryan was very generous with his time while in Kansas City.  He visited six schools in two days inspiring kids with his message that “every person has a passion, every passion has a purpose and every purpose has a person”.   Here’s a picture of us with him showing off his brand new Hang Ups saxophone key cuff links.

Have a great week!  Stay tuned for our next Instrument Make-Over featuring the drums!

 

 

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Musical Instrument Make-Over: Trombone

We are having fun showing you what we can do with retired instruments that can no longer be used to make music. Today we are featuring some photos of a trombone that was donated to Band of Angels.   Once it was inspected by the repair team from Meyer Music and determined unplayable it was given to us so that it could continue to give back through our jewelry and donations to Band of Angels.  Band of Angels is an amazing organization that gives kids in need, who wish to participate in orchestra and band programs, instruments. They also provide scholarships to music camps and are working on new ways to make a difference in kids lives in the Kansas City area.

Here are a few of the pieces of trombone jewelry that we currently have available on our website:

You can find these pieces of trombone jewelry on our website by clicking here.

We love following musicians on social media.  One of our favorite musicians is Troy Andrews, aka Trombone Shorty; musician, producer, actor and philanthropist from the Treme neighborhood of New Orleans, Louisiana.  You can find him on Instagram by clicking here.  He is incredibly talented and gives back to musicians and musically gifted kids in the New Orleans area.  He even has an autobiographical picture book for children that you can find on Amazon by clicking the image below.  He’s an inspiration.

Next up:  saxophone make-over, in two weeks.

We hope you have a great week!

 

 

 

 

 

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Musical Instrument Make-Over

Who doesn’t love a make-over?  Who doesn’t love programs that help kids in need?  No one that we’ve ever met!  We’re going to have some fun by spending the next few blog posts showing you how a musical instrument can have a dramatic make-over into a piece of jewelry so that kids in need can go to music camp.

The gorgeous clarinet and flute in the photo above were donated to Band of Angels but were not repairable.  They came to us so that they could continue to give by becoming wearable art.

Check out what became of the gorgeous metal clarinet resting underneath the flute in the photograph above:

 

Many of these pieces can still be found on our website.  Click here to visit the Clarinet section of our Band of Angels Collection.

This is what that beautiful silver flute looks like now:

 

If you would like to see what flute pieces we have available on our website click here.  We are always adding new creations to our website so check back often.  If you have an idea of a design you like please email us at info@hangupsjewelry.com.  We love creating custom orders!

A generous percentage of the sale of every piece from our Band of Angels Collection goes directly to Band of Angels programs. To learn more you can visit Band of Angels by clicking here.  We feel so fortunate to partner with this amazing non-profit that has so much heart.  Last weekend we attended their annual Heartstrings Gala where we were thrilled to see young musician and long-time Band of Angels trumpet recipient, Destiny, be given the gift of a brand new Bach Stradivarius trumpet from Conn-Selmer Inc.  We had so much fun meeting and listening to saxophonist Ryan Kilgore who spends his time performing solo as well as with Stevie Wonder.  Check out Ryan wearing his Hang Ups Saxophone Key Cufflinks in the photo in the bottom photo!  It was so fun and inspiring to hear Destiny’s story and to watch her perform with Ryan Kilgore and local Kansas City Band Right On Red.

Band Of Angels guest of honor Destiny, Band of Angels Angel Alyssa, Kristi, Carolyn and Board Member Deann.

Kristi, Alyssa, Mike Meyer (founder of Band of Angels), Carolyn, Ryan Kilgore (guest artist)

Have a wonderful week friends!  Watch for our next blog featuring a Trombone make-over in 2 weeks.

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Caring For Your Jewelry

If you follow us regularly and see the condition of the instruments and antiques that we create with pre-clean up you know that we clean tarnished metal every day.  What is tarnish?  It is a dull/ dark discoloration on metal that causes it to lose it’s shine.  Tarnish is a natural thing that can happen any time.  Don’t take tarnish personally, it’s a natural process that happens when your jewelry is exposed to air or moisture.  The good news is that tarnish can be removed!  Here are our tips for polishing your jewelry:

  • You can use a polishing cloth for minor discoloration.  These clothes are inexpensive and can be found in local stores an online.
  • We use Wright’s Silver Cream to clean the instruments prior to making jewelry with them.

 

 

 

  • Here is an example of what some of our tuba keys looks before and after polishing with Wright’s Silver Cream:

 

Before polishing.

After polishing.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  • When polishing your jewelry be very gentle.  Our jewelry is sturdy but some pieces can be bent or broken if you are too rough with them.

Here are some tips for caring for your jewelry:

  • Do not wear your jewelry in the shower or swimming pool.
  • Avoid contact with lotion, perfume and hairspray.
  • When you take your jewelry off, store it in a safe, dry place.

We hope that our advice for caring for your jewelry has been helpful.  As we say at the end of every newsletter – Shine On!

 

 

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2017 A Fresh New Year

Happy New Year!  Have you ever wondered what happens to creative makers after the Christmas rush is over?  After taking a brief break to catch our breath we are back it it.  We are literally buried in instruments that are damaged in such a way that they can never be played again.  We are excited to be introducing new designs to our Band of Angels Collection.  Check our website regularly to see new designs and categories of instruments.  This week we added Tuba and Baritone categories.  They are still empty but won’t be for long.  Also coming soon, by popular demand, will be a Ukulele category. These are some of the instruments that we are excited to be giving new life to in the form of jewelry.  Can you tell what they are?

 

 

 

 

 

We have two events coming up that we are really excited about.  Thanks to our Band of Angels partners at Meyer Music, we will be at  Missouri Music Educators Association (MMEA) Conference coming up in Lake of the Ozarks from January 26 through January 28th and then at the Kansas Music Educators Association (KMEA) Conference in Wichita Kansas from February 23 through February 25th.  If you are a music educator or a participant at either of these conferences please drop by and say hi to us!

We are not big on New Years resolutions but we do love to spend the first several months of every year dreaming and planning where we want to take our business in the coming year.  I guess it’s more like new year rejuvenation at Hang Ups.  We are grateful to have the opportunity to make a difference in other peoples lives through our partners at Band of Angels and Literacy Kansas City and are very excited about what the coming year holds for us.

We wish you a year even better than the best that put smiles on the faces of everyone you come across.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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2016 Most Awesome Moments

It’s hard to believe that 2016 is coming to a close.  It has been an amazing year for us and we would like to thank each and every one of you for your support.  We were going through our social media for the year and it really hit us how much we have to celebrate.  Here’s a quick highlight of happenings in 2016 for Hang Ups:

February:

  • The KCTV5 morning show, Better Kansas City, filmed and aired a segment about us and the evolution of our business.
  • We met super star saxophonist George Shelby at the annual Band of Angels Heartstrings Gala.  He loved the set of saxophone cuff links that we gave him.
  • George Shelby wore our saxophone cuff links while performing the Lionel Richie Tribute at the 59th Annual Grammy Awards.  He was nice enough to take time to email photos and another thank you to us.
  • The Nelson Atkins Museum of Art started carrying our Band of Angels and Literacy Kansas City Collections in their museum store.

March:

  • We were accepted as vendors on Etsy Wholesale and received our first order almost immediately!  If you own a store and would like to place an order through us you can visit us on Etsy Wholesale or you can email us directly and ask to see our line sheets.

April:

  • Our “Be Royal” Baseball Necklace was featured in the Home Town Blue Love segment of Kansas City Homes & Style Magazine.

August:

  • We were thrilled to have the opportunity to interview bestselling author Jennifer Brown for our blog.  She did a give away of her new book Shade Me and a necklace from our Literacy Kansas City Collection on her social media to help promote our Literacy Kansas City Collection.
  • We had so much fun being the featured artists at an The Artist is IN! event at the Nelson Atkins Museum of Art.  We spent a day playing with our power tools and making jewelry to show museum visitors what we do.  It was a very fun and busy day!

September:

  • We rolled out our new name, look and launched a brand new website!  We absolutely love our new look and have had a lot of positive feedback.  Let us know what you think!
  • Hang Ups turned 5 years old on September 14th!  We’ve come so far and are very excited about what the future holds for us.
  • One of our Saxophone Necklaces was featured in Vintage KC Magazine’s Gift Guide.
  • Our Kansas City Chiefs themed necklace was featured in Kansas City Homes & Style Magazine’s Style & You section.

October:

  • Our saxophone necklace was featured, again, in Vintage Kansas City Magazine’s Days of Local Gifts list.

December:

  • We are very excited to share that we have had the highest online sales in our history this year.  This, in turn, enables us to donate more than ever to our favorite non-profits Band of Angels and Literacy Kansas City!  Thank you for supporting these collections and making a difference in the lives of people in the Kansas City area.

We had so many more amazing moments throughout the year meeting with special customers, hearing their inspiring & impressive stories and celebrating with our amazing non-profit partners.

We are going to be spending time with our families over the next few of weeks so you won’t hear from us via the blog or newsletter until January.  Our online shops, however, will remain open.  You can visit our website or Etsy shop 24/7,  365 days a year.

May your holiday season sparkle and shine, may all of your wishes and dreams come true, and may you feel this happiness all year round.  Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

 

 

 

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Gifts That Give Back by Hang Ups Jewelry Designs

We hope that you had a wonderful Thanksgiving weekend.  We both spent time with our families & friends and ate way too much.  Then, like everyone else, we did a bit of shopping.  Today it is Giving Tuesday.  A time that we can celebrate this wonderful season by giving back.  As you know, our two favorite non-profits are Literacy Kansas City and Band of Angels.  We are proud to partner with these two amazing Kansas City based non-profits year around and would be thrilled if you would consider donating to them.

At Literacy Kansas City staff, tutors, volunteers, and instructors build a collaborative learning environment where adult students expand their reading, writing, math, and digital skills.  With support from volunteers, donors, partners, and the community at large, Literacy KC invests in Kansas City’s greatest asset – its people.  You can donate to Literacy Kansas City by clicking here.

If you are still in the mood the shop, how about purchasing an ornament for a teacher or as a hostess gift?  These ornaments are a part of our Literacy Kansas City Collection therefore a portion of each sale directly benefits Literacy Kansas City.  Click here to see all of our handmade ornaments.

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Band of Angels collects used instruments from the public, refurbishes them and gives them to kids in need who wish to participate in orchestra or band programs.   Through cash donations, fundraisers and partnerships like ours they also provide scholarships to kids in need to attend music camp every summer.  Band of Angels was formed in 2010 by Meyer Music and WDAF-TV Fox 4.  If you would like to donate an old instrument that is gathering dust in your house you can drop it off at any Meyer Music location.  Kristi & I save instruments that cannot be fixed from going into a landfill by making them into jewelry that gives back to Band of Angels with every sale.

These Band of Angels Collection ornaments are currently available on our website.  Click here to see them.

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Believe it Christmas is only 26 days away.  We hope you enjoy the very best parts of this holiday season.  Have a wonderful week!

 

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My Favorite Things

Kristi & I both LOVE to shop handmade.  Since my birthday is coming up on the weekend I thought I’d share my favorite things from the handmade world with you.  This falls into our Season of Giving theme right?  There are so many handmade things that I love that I couldn’t possibly list them all but here’s a sampling of my favorites.

Accessories

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My current top 4 favorite accessories are all made in Kansas City!  I fell in love with this Natural Leather Tote by Burgundy Circus Hardgoods when I saw it in the fashion issue of Vintage KC Magazine.  Second item: I’ve been admiring Kneck Tie Wrist Cuff‘s made of recycled materials by Gyspy Soup for a couple of years and need to gift one to myself.  I deserve it, right?   Third item:  I love this Hummingbird Apron by Ni-Chern Designs.  Kristi & I have been admiring these aprons for a few years and a couple of months ago decided to buy them to use at shows and festivals to keep our cash secure and close at hand.  We LOVE them! They are fully adjustable, washable and super comfortable.  Last but not least is a Hang Ups Jewelry Designs Flute Metal Necklace.  I did not make this necklace – Kristi did.  It matches the earrings that I pestered her into making for me last year.  This necklace, on a 16 inch chain, would make a great gift, don’t you think?  Kristi?

Food

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Both of my favorite foods are over the top yummy and conveniently (for me) located in Kansas City but both ship if you aren’t in the area.  Aunt Christy’s Country Kitchen Strawberry Balsamic Jam & Frannie Franks delicious cinnamon coffee cake are my absolute favorites but both company’s have a variety of flavors.  You can even get awesome gluten-free coffee cake from Frannie Franks.

For the Home

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The hilarious tea towels by Cutting Edge Design Company totally appeal to my punny-bone.  I’ve been buying their stock out for Christmas gifts but they also make my list of things I love for me.  Second item: I can’t even express how much I love all of OodleBaDoodle’s pillows but the Occupation Owls that are custom made to your occupation are my favorite.  We met the maker, Rebecca, our first year at Craftcation Conference in California and she is as lovely as her creations.  The third item:  who doesn’t love barn wood creations?  My friend Keith operates his barn wood frame business in Barrie Ontario, Canada.  If you look closely at some of our website listings you will see Keith’s creations used as our backdrop.  His creations are solidly beautiful and he ships internationally.  Last but not least, anyone who knows me knows that I am obsessed with Assemblage Artist, Remnants by RJ‘s robots.  I have ordered several and they always arrive highly personalized with wonderful background stories.  Ervo, my current favorite, is up for adoption.

Kids

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My kids and I are both Harry Potter fans so you can imagine how much we love this hand-turned Peach Wand by Gipson Wands. Check out his website – he has a huge selection of wands and crochet hooks as well as other wizarding accessories.  Next up is Cydney the Friend by the little wing.  I love her dolls to distraction and at some point will probably end up with one even though I’m a grown up.  I love them that much.  Third item: As a boy Mom I especially appreciate the handmade wood toys by Creations by M and J.  They are so well made that they will last years and possibly generations.  I really love this wood helicopter.  Last but not least are dresses by Handmade by Lolo Z.  I especially love her Game Day Dresses for grown ups and this A-Line Dress for little girls.

If you want to check out any of these items online just click on the link that I provided on the company name and item name.  I would love to hear about your handmade favorites.  Please help my shopping efforts by posting your favorites in the comments and share a link to the makers social media and websites.

Happy shopping season!

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Planning for Giving Tuesday

As we all know, November is the best month of the year to shop.  The big box retail shops count on huge sales on Black Friday, which is on November 25th this year.  Small businesses like ours, who cannot afford to compete with the deep discounts that the big box stores offer, count on you to think of us on Small Business Saturday (November 26th).  Then we have Cyber Monday on November 29th, when retailers again count on us to spend big bucks on their online sales.  Then after the turkey is done and loads of money has been spent along comes Giving Tuesday.  It’s well promoted but after the crazy shopping weekend is over many people feel tapped out.  That is why we’re asking you to think about planning ahead for Giving Tuesday by putting some money aside to give to your favorite non-profit.  If you can’t afford to donate to a non-profit financially, please consider donating your time.  In the non-profit world the donation of time is as valuable as money.

We have two non-profit partners that truly give our small business purpose; Literacy KC and Band of Angels.

Most cities have an organization that focuses on literacy for adults.  When I lived in Barrie, Ontario (Canada) I donated by time as a tutor at the Barrie Literacy Council.  A similar organization in Kansas City is called Literacy KC. Literacy KC provides services that include private tutoring, digital literacy, math and family reading programs.  To find your local literacy connection just google your city name and the word literacy.  These organizations are always looking for tutors and other volunteer help.  Five years ago Kristi and I developed a rewarding relationship with Literacy KC. We created a collection of word jewelry that gives back to Literacy KC with every sale, year around.  These pieces make excellent gifts for teachers, readers, writers and graduates.  You can check out our Literacy KC Collection by clicking here.   It has been so fun to watch this amazing organization grow over the years.

 

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Donating is easy!  To donate to Literacy Kansas City simply click on their logo (left) and then the blue “donate” button in the upper right hand corner of their main page.  If you would like to tutor or donate your time in another way give them a call!

 

 

 

Through Literacy Kansas City and ultimately the One Million Cups Program (entrepreneurs check this out) we met Mike Meyer from Meyer Music, founder of the Band of Angels Program.  Band of Angels collects, repairs and distributes donated instruments to kids in need who wish to participate in band and orchestra programs.   We use the instruments that cannot be repaired to make jewelry for our Band of Angels Collection.  A generous percentage of each sale goes directly back to Band of Angels year around.  Through fundraisers, our partnership, and a partnership with Roadhouse Fountains they also raise money to send kids in need to music camp in the summer.  Click on our Roadhouse Fountains link – Keith is wonderfully creative.  I love my saxophone/trumpet/ trombone fountain.

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To donate to Band of Angels simply click on their logo (left) and then the yellow “donate” button on the top right hand corner of their main page.  If you have an instrument that you would like to donate, it can be dropped off at any Meyer Music location.

 

 

 

Even though we donate to both of these amazing non-profits year around we also put aside some money to donate to them on Giving Tuesday.  Both of these programs work so hard and impact so many lives in our community.  It seems like the right thing to do after a weekend of shopping.

Happy November friends!

 

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Season of Giving Featuring Ni-Chern Designs & Lucky 13 Rescue

We’d like to introduce you to our friend Nicole from Ni-Chern Designs.  Nicole is well known in the Kansas City area for her gorgeous handmade aprons, bags and dog collars (and much much more).   She has recently partnered with a very special non-profit that helps homeless pets get healthy and find forever homes.  Nicole has graciously agreed to guest blog for us this week to let us know what is going on with Lucky 13 Rescue.


Hi there! I am Nicole from Ni-Chern Designs!

I am so honored to be writing a blog post for Hang Ups for this season of giving.

There is a new non-profit animal rescue in town called Lucky 13 Rescue.

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Lucky 13 Rescue takes in unwanted, stray, and lost pets in the Kansas City and surrounding areas.

I met one of the co-founders, Mandy, of Lucky 13 Rescue a while ago through some handmade connections.  When I heard she was creating Lucky 13 Rescue, I wanted to be able to help out with her new adventure! Ni-Chern Designs donates dog collars to Lucky 13 Rescue. All newly adopted dogs will receive a brand new Ni-Chern Designs dog collar!

Here you can see Blu Moon in her Ni-Chern Designs’ collar with her new family!

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Want to know how you can help Lucky 13 Rescue?

Lucky 13 Rescue is hosting their first annual fundraiser on Saturday, Oct 29! More info below:

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Check out all the raffle products here.

If you are able to attend to help support Lucky 13 Rescue, that would be amazing! If you are not able to attend, you are always welcome to donate on their website! Or even buy from their Amazon wishlist, and everything will be delivered directly to them!

If you are interested in a Ni-Chern Designs dog collar, check them out here! Use code “lucky13”, 10% of your purchase will be donated to Lucky 13 Rescue!

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What’s in Our Shopping Bags

It’s the beginning of October and the weather is gorgeous.  Having booths at Chick Events Handmade & Vintage Show and Strange Folk Festival in September has really gotten us in the shopping mood.  We love to buy handmade for our friends & family and what better place than the shows that we are also selling at?  We thought it would be fun to share with you what has made it into our shopping bags so far this year.  Just click on the photo to visit the websites of these amazing artists.  We wish you all a very happy fall!

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This gorgeous bud vase and small dish were made by Art by Jen Fontanella.  Jen is a Kansas City based artist who creates beautiful handcrafted ceramics and jewelry.

 

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Check out these unique note cards! They are just the tip of the iceberg of awesomeness from Kansas City based artist Cat Coquillette, of CatCoq.

 

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We can’t even begin to express how much we love this super soft Highwaymen t-shirt by Philomena + Ruth.  Philomena + Ruth is a store, located in Waterloo IL, owned by accessory designer Elizabeth Hahn.

 

This t-shirt, also by Philomena + Ruth, is the perfect fit for two people we know. We know they will love them!

This t-shirt, also by Philomena + Ruth, is the perfect fit for two people we know. We know they will love them!

 

We love all of the ceramics created by Cloud Studios.  She was selling out fast so we had to make a decision.  It was so hard to choose from all the gorgeous ceramics created by Brandace cloud of e know that this dish will be a hit!

We love all of the ceramics created by Brandace Cloud of Cloud Studios.  She was selling out fast so we had to make a decision. We know that this dish will be a hit!

 

Joy Tote Bag by Fisher Fine Arts, Ashland, Ohio

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Season of Giving

The summer is almost over and we are moving towards the season of giving.  We’re going to spend the next few months focusing on ways to give such as supporting a non-profit, making handmade gifts for the holidays, gift guides full of stuff we love and introducing you to some of our creative friends.  In the meantime, it’s still September, one of our busiest months of the year. Chick Events Handmade & Vintage Show was a smashing success so we are in major re-stock mode for Strange Folk Festival in St. Louis this coming weekend.  Here’s a peek at what we’re up to these days.  We wish you a very happy and creative September!

Cutting cello wood with my scroll saw to make jewelry benefiting Band of Angels KC.

Cutting cello wood with my scroll saw to make jewelry benefiting Band of Angels KC.

Kristi using the drill press to make holes in cello tuning pegs that become necklaces for our Band of Angels Collection.

Kristi using the drill press to make holes in cello tuning pegs that become necklaces for our Band of Angels Collection.

Cutting typewriter keys to make them into rings, earrings and necklaces that will benefit Literacy Kansas City.

Cutting typewriter keys to make them into rings, earrings and necklaces that will benefit Literacy Kansas City.

 

 

Cutting a french horn key to make it into a pendant for our Band of Angels Collection.

Cutting a french horn key to make it into a pendant for our Band of Angels Collection.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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What’s Up With Hang Ups?

We have a brand new name and look!  Hang Ups in KC has transformed into Hang Ups Jewelry Designs.  If you’d like to check out our new look you can find us at our new websiteInstagram, Twitter and Pinterest.

September through the end of February are the busiest months of the year for our small business.  We participate in some really cool art & craft shows and have several pop up shops.  We’d love to meet you in person if you are out and about on any of these dates:

Saturday September 10th and Sunday September 11th:  Chick Events Handmade & Vintage Show, Leawood, KS

Saturday September 24th and Sunday September 25th:  Strange Folk Festival, St. Louis, MO

Saturday November 19th:  Pop Up Shop at Meyer Music Blue Springs, MO

Saturday December 3rd:  Pop Up Shop at Meyer Music Overland Park, KS

Saturday December 17th:  Pop Up Shop at Meyer Music Kansas City North, MO

Wednesday January 25th through Saturday January 28th:  Missouri Music Educators Conference, Lake of the Ozarks, MO

Thursday February 22nd through Saturday February 25th:  Kansas Music Educators Conference, Wichita, KS

We wish you a wonderful September!

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10 Things We’ve Learned From Our Creative Business

  1. We’ve learned that our time is valuable.  Remember when you started our and thought that you could only sell items if your pricing was dirt cheap?  Over the years we’ve learned that our pricing must include a fair hourly wage for us.  Otherwise we are giving our products away for free which makes what we do a hobby not a business.
  2. We’ve learned that our business cannot afford to give discounts.  We price our merchandise carefully using a very accurate formula.  Our profit margin is not overblown on any item so therefore we cannot give discounts and still make a profit and donate to our non profit partners.  When we hear rude people comment about our pricing or try to buy our merchandise for a discount we politely refuse and remind them that a generous chunk of our proceeds to go our local non-profit partners.
  3. It is very important to find your tribe. These are people in the same boat as you who get your daily questions, struggles and celebrate successes with you.  Creative businesses can often be lonely to run.  Our tribe of like minded creatives is called Handmade in Kansas City.
  4. It’s extremely important to have all of your government paperwork in place if you truly want to have a successful business vs. a hobby.  Register your business, incorporate (or if you are like us form a legal LLP), charge taxes and pay taxes.  It seems daunting but a CPA can help you with all of this.
  5. Attending a maker conference will change everything.  There’s nothing like it to really light your fire.  We’ve tried a few but our absolute favorite hands-down is Craftcation Conference in Ventura California.  We’ve attended 3 times and every time we’ve come back and implemented what we learned and our business grew in leaps and bounds.  This is also a great way to find your tribe.
  6. It’s incredibly important to be open to change.  We make a point of stretching ourselves beyond our comfort zone frequently.  When someone offers you advice about your business don’t blow it off, listen and REALLY consider it even if it sounds outlandish.  Some of our best changes and growth ideas have come from Mike Meyer of Meyer Music.  His ideas usually scare us a little at first but the fact that he has such a strong belief in us and what we do makes a huge difference to us.
  7. Taking a class to upgrade skills is creativity rejuvenating.  This will not only help widen your offerings and expand your business but it’ll keep your creative juices flowing.  It’ll also make you happy.  Happy shines through in your work.  You can often find classes at your local craft store.  If you’d rather take a class online we highly recommend Creative Live.
  8. It’s important to be the face of your business.  This is what Mike Meyer told us last spring.  We aren’t shy about sharing our products but never felt like we were interesting enough to share our faces and story.  Apparently we were wrong. People want to see your face and know your story.  We will be launching a new website very soon and you will see much more of our faces and story on it.
  9. Customer service will make or break your business.  It doesn’t matter how beautiful your product is, if you don’t provide excellent customer service and back the quality of your product, your business will not flourish.  When you are working a show be welcoming and friendly to people who walk into your booth.  We’ve watched many makers over the years who read or play on their phones instead of standing up and greeting the customer like they are grateful they are there.  Worst customer service we’ve ever seen?  A maker ranting about politics while people came and went from the tent.  Oh and how about the lady who wouldn’t let people stand in her tent during a rainstorm unless they were going to buy something?  Greeting customers by speaking to them and looking them in the eye also reduces theft.  It’s win-win.  Online service is just as important.  Send your product out right away when it is ordered.  If the order is large or wholesale, follow up with the customer afterwards. Believe it or not your packaging and customer service are as important as the product itself.  We send each product our in a branded muslin bag with a business card (not a stack), a handwritten thank you note and a receipt.  My favorite packaging I’ve ever received from an online order was from Seasons of Love, handmade bath & body products.  Her packaging was creative, gorgeous and made me feel like I was opening the most special product I’d ever ordered before I’d even tried the product!
  10. It’s important to regularly acknowledge and celebrate how far you’ve come.  Don’t get so caught up in working on the future that you forget to celebrate your past.  We celebrate regularly.  If you know us well then you know that it’s usually with food.  That’s just how we roll.

Keeping a sense of humor through the highs and lows didn’t make the list but is very important. We think we excel in this area as you can see by our photo above. We hope that what we’ve learned can help you out a little.  If you have any questions please feel free to comment on this blog and we’ll get back to you right away.  We love sharing information and contacts so go ahead and ask away!

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Creative Inspiration for Writers: Interview with Bestselling Author Jennifer Brown

We are excited to introduce you to bestselling author Jennifer Brown.  Jennifer writes women’s fiction and middle grade fiction.  Check out her latest suspense thriller SHADE ME.   For a complete list of Jennifer’s books please visit her website  www.JenniferBrownAuthor.com.

So how do we know an actual real-deal author?  Kristi is friends with Jennifer.  I asked them for a photo and this is what I received.

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As you can see they work out together and are both a little camera shy.  

We are grateful to Jennifer for giving us some insight and advice that keeps with this summers theme of creativity in life.   Do you ever wonder what surroundings a bestselling author works in?  What inspires them?  What other creative talents they have?  If so, read on!

 

1.  What inspires you creatively?

I have always found that enjoying other artistic endeavors (mine or otherwise) tends to inspire me. A great book, a meaningful song, a deep movie, a poem or painting that I connect with — when I see something great that someone else created, it makes me want to create, too.

2.  What kind of surroundings do you like to write in?

I can write in pretty much any kind of surrounding, but don’t love dark and gloomy areas. I tend to keep it to my kitchen table, where I’m surrounded by windows and can see and hear what the kids are up to. I can’t really write to music, unless it either has no words, or has words in a foreign language I can’t understand. My brain just latches onto words too easily, and it gets distracting.

3.  Who inspires you?

In terms of inspiring specific pieces, that could be different on any given day.  But in terms of who generally inspires me to write and makes me want to be better what I do?  Stephen King. He’s a master storyteller and I wish I could spin a yarn the way he does.  Also, Lin-Manuel Miranda, because he packs so much meaning into his work, and I love deep meaning in art. And Marian Keyes, because her work is light and fun and romantic and sexy.

4.  How old were you when you started writing?

Gosh, even before I could write, I was a storyteller. I would draw pictures and tell the story out loud as I turned the pages. I wrote my first short story when I was eight. I wrote a picture book in high school. I’ve just always written for my own entertainment. I started writing with the hope of publication in 2000. I was *mumblemumble* years old.

5. Do you have any other artistic outlets?

Here’s the thing. I can draw and paint pretty well, but it gives me the rage. Like, serious rage. I hate it so much, so I never do it. I do, however, play piano. It was something I wanted to do my whole life, but never had the opportunity until I was an adult. I’m self-taught and try to practice every night (when my cat, who loves nothing more than to walk across the keyboard, will let me).

6. How long does each stage of the writing process take?

Depends on the project, actually. It takes me a lot more time to write a 100,000 word YA or adult novel than it does to write a 40,000 word middle grade novel. Also, my writing availability fluctuates through the year, depending on how much I’m traveling to speak, whether there are holidays, or if I’m just personally busy. But generally, it goes something like this:

Writing the rough draft takes anywhere from 3-6 months. After turning it in, there is a several-month wait for my editor (and others in the publishing house) to read it and write a revision letter, and also suggest revisions on the manuscript itself (the length of time on this really fluctuates, depending on the editor’s other projects and workload). Depending on how heavy the revisions are, that stage can take me anywhere from 4-8 weeks to complete. Then I wait a couple months to either get another revision letter, or (if the editor feels the revisions are complete) to get copyedits. Copyedits are detail edits, and grammar tends to be pretty cut-and-dried, so they take much less time – hardly ever more than a couple weeks. From there, within a month or two, I get what’s called first pass pages, which is where the book is laid out and I can make one final look-through to fix any small errors that have been missed. That takes about a week. During this whole process, the editor (and others) is working with the designer to come up with a cover and any interior design, and not long after first pass pages, I will get ARCs (Advanced Reader Copies). Those tend to come out a few months before the book is released, to give reviewers time to look at and review the book before it comes out. I would say the entire process, from idea to bookshelf, can take around 18-24 months. Patience is a must-have skill for any writer.

7.  What advice do you have for kids & adults who dream of being a published author?

It’s never too early; it’s never too late. Read. Read a ton, actually. And try to absorb what you’re reading in terms of style and craft. Pay attention to what makes a story good and what makes a story bad (in your opinion). Write. Every day. Even if you’re just playing with bits and pieces of stories and techniques. And, finally, believe in yourself. Too many would-be authors give up too easily. You are going to have days, weeks, months, years, where you are certain that you stink and it will never happen for you. You will get rejected. You will get bad reviews or hateful emails or harsh critiques. That’s just part of being in the business. Sometimes the writer who gets published isn’t necessarily the best at writing; she’s just the best at believing in herself and sticking with it the longest.

We so appreciate Jennifer taking the time to share herself with us.  We’d like to congratulate her on her nomination for the 2016-17 Gateway Award for Torn Away!


Don’t go yet!  We have exciting news!

Jennifer is hosting a give-away on her Facebook page.  You could win a signed book by Jennifer Brown and this fabulous necklace from our Literacy Kansas City Collection.

Hang Ups Live Love Read Necklace

Hang Ups Live Love Read Necklace

Here’s how you enter:

  • Visit Jennifer Brown’s Facebook page and find the post announcing this contest.  Don’t forget to “like” her page to keep up with news and announcements.
  • Post a comment and link on her contest post telling her which of our Hang Ups products you absolutely love.  You can find us at www.hangupsinkc.com.
  • The contest runs from August 9th through August 26th, 2016.  It is open to US Residents only.
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