Saturday, April 28, 2012

Oh Mommy......

Many people ask me - all the time - how I can do it all. It's actually a running joke in my family - "How many jobs does Abbey have today?"

#1 - I'm a wife, a sister, a daughter, and a mother. (TRULY 4 jobs but listing it as 1 for fairness!)

I think that all women in general are multifaceted. They must be. We take care of so much. Our children , our husbands, and our extended families. The job never ends. You're always on 24 hour alert. 

#2 - I am a third grade teacher. I have been teaching for the last 13 years and I LOVE it. Creativity and the classroom are just 2 things that go so well together.

#3 - I give private art lessons. Currently I have 20 students this Spring Semester. Not a lot, but I only take 6-7 kids per class. And of course my time is limited so I only offer a small number of classes.

#4 - I do crafting workshops and events around the tri-state area. Bat Mitzvah's, Sisterhood events, and Bachelorette parties - they are so so fun!!!

#5 - I am the creator and designer for I sell hand painted glassware and gifts wholesale to stores and retail to customers. I design for manufacturers and other designers. I sell at boutiques and shows around the tri-state area. OMG, the list goes on and on and on.... I feel like a mom to this company - the job NEVER ends....

So YES, I do tend to work very hard. I spend most of my days cramming in as much as possible.  I have big dreams for myself, and one day I know that I will get to where I want to be.

BUT, sometimes it's easy to forget the little people. When my children were younger it was easier to work longer hours. I know that sounds slightly backwards, but it's true. When your kids are little it's a physical challenge. Changing diapers, running after them, but I find that as my children have gotten older they need much more emotional attention. In essence they need more MOMMY time.

I joke with my husband all the time that he got the mommy gene - not me. When he comes home from work he puts the kids in the shower, reads them a story, and puts them to bed. I do the morning shift and he does the night shift. Our marriage works like a pair of synchronized swimmers, working as a team, building a foundation for our children to grow from.

With Mother's Day coming up in just a couple of weeks I think that this is a topic that most mother's can relate to. We all have challenges trying to balance our work with our family obligations.

How much is too much?

In today's world we often don't have the choice to work or not. In most cases a second income is very much needed to cover monthly living expenses. Can anyone say - Yeshiva Tuition???

So for all you hard working mother's out there, here is a gift for you! 
Enter to win one of my custom made tea boxes!
 Relax and unwind with this wonderfully personalized creation from 
Either choose from the mini flowers or roses collection, 
or let me custom design one to match your home decor, or hobbies and interests!

Just enter the Giveaway below and follow the instructions. It's so easy!
Contest ends Monday @ midnight. 
I will post the winner by Tuesday morning. 

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Hey Abbey! How come your prices have gone up??

I have been getting that question a lot lately and I felt that it was REALLY important that I write something in response. I have been very apprehensive and nervous to write this post. I was actually told by a few people that I shouldn’t even write it, but I felt that it was really necessary. I feel an immense gratitude towards my fans. Without you, I would not have the company that I have today.

And so, I thought that it was time to tell you my story. 

When I was in High School, I had really bad grades. I thought that school was a social experience. Not really a place for learning. I didn’t really take it seriously as you can guess. For example, when it was time to take my SAT’s I didn’t bring a pencil or a calculator. I remember wondering why everyone was so frantic and crazy about the test. Was it really that important??? I decided in my senior year that I would go to art school and become an interior designer. You didn’t need to have good grades, just an awesome portfolio. Problem was…. I had never taken an art class in my life or had picked up a pencil to draw. I had some friends in the art studio class in school and I thought if they could do it, why couldn’t I?

My art teacher, as they usually are, was a mighty eccentric character. Loads of curly frizzy hair and an insanely happy personality. When I told her my dreams of going to art school and that I needed 12-15 pieces for a portfolio - oh and that I had never taken art before or knew how to draw – to her credit she didn’t even blink an eye. OK fine – she looked at me as if I was crazy, but she held it all in and never dashed my dreams. It was through her that I first found my love of studio art and discovered the richness of art history. I truly owe her a lot. 

In the end, I came up with 5 large pieces and a sketchpad of drawings to show at my college interviews. I remember thinking that it was a long shot to get in, but get in I did! I was accepted to 2 of the best art schools in NY – the only 2 schools that I had applied to.

But life does not always lead you down the easiest path or take you down the roads you normally expect to take. God directs you through the path that is best for you, even if you can’t see the big picture right away.

I deferred college for the year and went to Israel, learning at a seminary in Jerusalem. When I got back – and this is a story for ANOTHER blog (I promise, it’s a REALLY good story)  I married my husband who I had been seeing since I was 15 years old. We decided to settle down in Los Angeles and so I gave up my dreams of art school on the East Coast. I had no mommy or daddy who would support us. It was extremely important that I find a job fast. Since I had received my teaching degree for Judaic Studies in Israel, I found a job as a teacher at one of the local orthodox day schools. At night, I went to design school at UCLA. 

It was during these first 2 years of marriage 
that the groundwork was set
for who I would become 
and for the company I would later create.

At UCLA, I realized that as soon as I started taking CAD and all the building courses, that I truly HATED interior design. That wasn’t what I liked about art. I loved the color theory classes and the courses that brought about creativity and expected you to think differently. I loved studio art and the prospect of designing pieces that were done by mixing various elements and materials. I didn’t realize this at the time, but those feelings spilled into my teaching. I began teaching students visually and kinesthetically. Special Education became my forte.  

Not 2 Shabbey first began as a scrapbooking company.

I loved to scrapbook – especially my little kids. I sold not only my skill as a scrapbooker, but also various scrapbooking supplies. This was during the time when scrapbooking was all the rage. My husband and I soon moved to the NY area and Not 2 Shabbey then evolved into a crafting company. I love wood – and so I would craft on picture frames and mirrors, as well as other types of wood pieces and sell them at craft fairs around the Tri-State area. It was a hobby at the time, I still taught, and crafted on my down time. In November of 2010, I was at my Aunts house for Thanksgiving vacation. She had once owned a company where she sold hand painted acrylic pieces, like address books, accessories holders, and tea boxes. She wanted to get rid of her stock and so I took it and told her I would paint the pieces and sell them at my next show. I became successful selling acrylic and realized for the first time that I might actually have a viable business and not just a fun hobby.

 I began to notice 2 things…..

#1 – People (especially Orthodox Jews) like to entertain and because of this they want and need good quality serving pieces.

#2 - People do not like acrylic as much as they like glass. 

So one summer, and I’m not joking. I taught myself how to paint glass. It took me some time to figure out how to do it and what materials worked best, but once I learned how my business immediately changed - Overnight .

Sometimes things come together at the perfect moments. Just at the right time. That’s what happened here. Just as my business was taking off, social media stated to become very popular. I started researching how to grow a fan base and what you needed to do to become successful through facebook. I kept reading over and over again about giveaways. I was very scared to give things away for free. Not only was I working hard to make the piece, but it cost money to buy the products. I was a little weary of doing it, but then I read about an IKEA in Europe who ran a brilliant campaign on Facebook. They didn’t have enough money to advertise their location so they created a facebook page. Every day they uploaded a new picture onto their page and whoever shared the photo first would win that piece of Ikea furniture free. They had gotten so much publicity through facebook that millions found out about their new location and paying for advertisements wasn’t necessary. 

I thought, “Hey, if it worked for them, maybe it would work for me!”

I ran my first campaign I believe, that winter. I immediately gained 300 followers, and every time I posted a new photo I gained another 100 or so fans. I realized the brilliancy of my plan. I needed to get my products into the hands of my fans. It wasn’t just enough that they “LIKED” my page. They needed to see, feel, and above all else use my pieces to fall in love with them, so they would recommend them to their friends and come back to me as a retail client. As my fan base grew, I started going to stores and creating relationships with their owners. I started painting exclusively for a manufacturer after we made a connection at the NY Gift Show. I was there looking for good pieces of glass and he was a vendor looking to offer something different to his customers. 

So now I was working wholesale to stores and retail to private customers AND still teaching. It all started to become a little too much for just little ole’ me. I really needed help. I had gotten to the point that without spending money my company wouldn’t grow, but I had no money to spend. I had set my pricing too low and wasn’t making enough to cover for workers.  It was do or die. 

A couple months ago, a friend of mine recommended that I speak to Shoshana Raff, an amazing business coach. We went out for lunch and I began telling her about my company and what I was all about. We immediately hit it off and I knew that she would be a great asset to me and my company. She found me Natan who would become my new business administrator and The Clear MyDesk team who would redesign my studio space.  I also hired an assistant painter who preps and cleans pieces. 

So why am I telling you my story????? 

There are always challenges to selling you own work. As an artist, it is very hard to set pricing for your own pieces. You know the time and effort it takes to create the item and we usually undercut our value. We don’t always see the value of our own worth. 

What I’ve learned is….

         #1 -  How I perceive myself is how others will perceive me.  
         #2 -  If I want my company to be taken seriously then I need to take it seriously.
         #3 – The company has to work efficiently and professionally. 

With that in mind……

I have grown a company that was created by me, but is no longer just me.

Not 2 Shabbey was started by Abbey, but it is now running as a bigger entity and because of that my pricing has gone up.

As I said in the beginning you are my biggest asset. 
I would not be here if it wasn't for my fans. 

So please accept my gift to you!
 Use Promo Code – MYGIFT and receive 20% off your entire order from now till May 15th
We are still working tirelessly on the new website. And we have so many great things ready to come at you in the next couple of months. Things that will BLOW YOU AWAY. But for now please bear with us as we are in transition mode. Most everything is up on the site or will be soon. Although there are a limited amount of photographs- I PROMISE WE ARE WORKING ON IT!!! 

I hope this helps to explain some things and clear up some of your confusion. If you weren’t wondering what was going on, then I hope you found this to be a good read anyway! 

All the best, 
Shabbey Abbey 

Monday, April 9, 2012

A Wimple In Time....

Being "out there" in the social media world, I do get some interesting requests from time to time. As an artist you see,  I love taking on challenges, especially those I know I will have fun with.
Last January, I received this email from a wonderful fan..... 

I found your page on facebook and see your beautiful items.
I am looking for a "wimple" artist for my sons 3rd birthday. Id imagine you might not know what a "wimple" is but it is a yekke minhag instead of an upsherin. It is basically a large piece of cloth (about 10 foot long banner) that the child wraps around the sefer Torah. it is designed with the childs name and pesukim  with pictures and designs. 

Does that sound like something you might be able to create?

My response back to her was ....

Hi _____! 
Honestly I have never heard of a wimple before, but it sounds really beautiful! I would love to make it for u. Could u send me a pic of one so that I can get a better idea of what it entails. 

Thank you so much for thinking about me! 

Have a wonderful shabbos! 

We emailed back and forth discussing pricing and the design of the piece. She was extremely helpful by sending me a video of a sample and sending me her own husbands in the mail along with the piece of fabric. 

To be perfectly honest with you, I was most frightened about getting the wording onto the wimple. I was terrified that the Pasuk wouldn't fit on the piece of fabric. What if I made the wording too big? What if it was too small and there was so much extra room??? Those thoughts plagued me as the package of fabric sat on my porch waiting to be worked on. I new that it had to be completed by a certain date after Pesach so I wasn't overly concerned that it wouldn't get done. But as Purim came and went and Pesach was upon us I felt that it really really needed to get started. I new that once it came out and I started painting it, I wouldn't be able to put it away. Would I get the wimple done on time????  Thank Goodness I work BEST under pressure of a deadline!

So last Wednesday night, as my wonderful husband was kashering our kitchen for Pesach, I hid away in my studio and began working on the wimple. Once I pulled it out and saw the beauty of the fathers piece I new that I was in for a really fun few hours. The first thing I noticed was that The fabric was thin enough that I could copy the wording directly from the fathers wimple onto his sons. Of course I had to change names and dates so I used the lettering and pieced the words together. This totally eliminated my worst fear! I was able to get the wording and sizing perfectly onto the wimple! PHEW!

The next thing I needed to do was to begin painting in the lettering and the design. The fathers wimple was decorated with a paint pen, I was going to paint his sons with fabric paint and a brush. The piece of fabric is made from a linen material which had a lot of holes. So I had to make sure that there was a paper towel under the piece the whole time. This would protect my table and protect any paint from going onto the fabric from underneath. I decided to paint the piece in a harmony of rainbow colors one color leading into the next word. 
Next I began painting in the tree design. Adding branches and leaves. 
Once the lettering was painted and the initial tree design was on I began adding the 3 dimensional effects. I used a puffy paint to raise the border around the letters as well as adding flowers and blossoms to the tree. It was also important to the family that I add pictures over the wording to describe the pasuk text. Half way through, at around midnight, the baby woke up and I fed her. My husband was still humming to his music while he worked away in the kitchen and I had been bitten by the creative bug and was just itching to finish the piece in my studio. So I happily returned to my seat and put the baby into her carseat on the floor next to me.
In the end it took me over 6 hours to complete and I left my studio at 3 am bleary eyed and exhausted, but oh so happy. I felt so accomplished! The piece was unbelievably beautiful and something so special that would be cherished forever. I took this video as I held the baby who was in need of another feeding, so you can hear her in the background :) 

In the morning when I came downstairs to roll up the piece and check that it indeed dried the proper way, I noticed that the paint had bled through onto my table. Oh well. Nothing a little acetone won't fix! Baruch Hashem, the family loved the piece and it's in the mail as we speak! Another challenge done and now on to the next one!!! 

SO WHAT DO YOU THINK? Have YOU ever heard of a wimple before?