Monday, October 3, 2016

#Secret #Lives of #Etsy #Shops

Many etsy shops work very hard at making a living through a platform that has changed since I began in March of 2009. At first, the process seemed user friendly and items sold quickly compared to present, puzzling SEO and lack of transparency behind etsy's murky algorithms. 

Since 2008, I extended my brick and mortar shop through etsy and all was okay at first. Over time, many etsy changes stymied the best of long time merchants. Old gave way to new and included corporate shifts as well as the premise of the site. 

Over the years, many shop owners became frustrated as etsy seemed to pass it's sales focus on to shop owners insofar as making SEO a money maker through billing shops to be seen. Those who did not partake lost rank in site visibility and google indexing tossed them off the map of search-ability. This was furthered by creating a less handmade - come - social platform (of irony) due to the numerous closed fora posts and muting calling for transparency. Compliance did not do much for sales, but it lent a cape of supremacy at will by corporate.

In the meantime - shops struggled to pay the essential bills through their place on etsy. All that glittered was hardly gold and many felt the struggle in their ability to juggle work/life balance in a sustainable way. All this without panic. Shops were shuttered without notice and lives were negatively damaged as a result. Messing with someone's ability to feed and clothe their families is an outrage and one etsy never much cared about. When the corporate end of things has a paycheck, the real world can wait it would seem. 

The lives behind etsy shops are peppered with independent life struggles including those recovering from divorce, loss of family, school and caring for elderly family.  The list goes on. The struggles these shop owners face are grace under pressure. Many cannot find work in this horrid economy. The young graduate and over 50 or divorced women find the job market in general very hostile and unwelcoming. Etsy is a way to eat at least another meal or to keep the lights on.

I recall one difficult winter in which I sold one of my beloved paintings to none other than founder, Rob Kalin, to whom I will always be grateful. His support allowed me to have heat in winter that month. He may not realize it, but his purchase gave me hope during an abysmal Christmas, post divorce. That he saw value in something I envisioned and put my heart into,  gave me strength.

I currently care for my elderly parents and visit my handicapped brother nearby. I also work as a health coach as needed for a local company which I love. I only wish this was offered as a FT position. I maintain a 4.0 while in grad school for Adult EDU. Seems as a prior business owner and hard worker plus student, I would have better luck with finding a health coaching job FT. Unfortunately, employers can skim candidates as they want based on things down to the age and hair color.

I want to know if you would like to share your story - the life behind your etsy shop and how you keep it all together. 

Love - 

Saturday, May 7, 2016

New site for Beltane Moon

Greetings, earthlings! Beltane Moon is excited to announce the development of our new site .

At this juncture, the new site redirects to our shop hosted on etsy. Exciting developments will continue to offer the same quality products, plus new items customers have been asking for. Expect to see

  • new body jewelry styles & designs
  • body jewelry tools 
  • piercing kits
  • after care products 
  • jewelry care products
  • art & extended applications (mugs, cards)
Beltane Moon's autoclave sterilization service will extend to qualifying products such as tools and piercing kits.

Why change? Beltane Moon has outgrown the increasingly limited and confusing parameters of the etsy platform. While our presence will remain on etsy, our new site will transition to a more inclusive, fully functional site to include:

  • secure SSL encryption payment
  • optimized customer service
  • product line support
  • alternate shipping options
  • return policies on guaranteed products

We loved etsy, but we grew to love our customers more. Beltane Moon owes a gratitude of service that is not available as a cog in the growing wheel of our previous platform.

Join Beltane Moon on the new journey!

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Clean, Disinfect,Sterilizing : a brief look into autoclaving body jewelry

There are major differences in the decontamination of jewelry which has become a source of some confusion relative to body jewelry. The following briefly explains the differences between of the methods of : cleaning, disinfection and sterilization. Let's take a brief look into methods of "decontamination" as relates to body jewelry 


 Auto means 'self",  clavis is Latin for "cleaning". A bit of a misnomer as an autoclave is not an every day household cleaning implement. 

An autoclave (as defined by Wikipedia ):

 " instrument used to sterilize equipment and supplies by subjecting them to high pressure saturated steam at 121 °C for around 15–20 minutes..."

Sounds Familiar!

These units have a broad design in both size and  application as well as method. The autoclave is primarily applied within the health care industry and has a wide scope of application within these institutions. Industries in which the autoclave is commonly employed include (but not limited to); Veterinary, medical, dental, piercing, tattoo and nail salon industries for the purpose of sterilizing associated tools and equipment. 

Autoclave use is most often used in the medical field.  Medical waste requires sterilization in favor over incineration (thermal oxidation) due to  environmental concerns . There are exceptions to this rule, for example, such as when dealing with pathological waste. An designated autoclave is used for medical waste only. 

As for piercing jewelry, the method for sterilizing new jewelry in an autoclave employs the use of an autoclave pouch. An autoclave pouch has a sterility indicator printed on the outside which changes color upon proper processing.
Example of pouch

Disinfection, Cleaning, Sterilization

It is important  to recognize the difference between cleaning, disinfection and sterilization in relation to proper jewelry and piercing care. Disinfection and sterilization are part of a decontamination process. 

In the absence of owning an autoclave, cleaning and disinfecting your jewelry is a wise (and hopefully ongoing) personal responsibility. Let's start there.

1. Cleaning is essentially part of infection control in the reduction and removal of surface  microbial contaminants. Simple, mindful cleaning begins with the removal of body jewelry and its components as applicable. Use clean water and antibacterial soap with a soft brush in and around the components to remove debris on a regular basis. Use a clean, disposable paper product to dry the jewelry and allow to air dry. In oral jewelry, it is wise to remove plaque accumulation from jewelry parts by soaking in clean, warm water before removing with a soft brush as it can be difficult to remove. 

Ultrasonic unit aids in the process of the removal microbial contaminants that may not be visibly removed. These can be purchased through online sources. 

2. Disinfecting is the process in the limited elimination of most pathogenic microorganisms (excluding bacterial spores). The most common type of disinfectant used in jewelry cleaning is alcohol. Pure alcohol is not favored as much as rubbing alcohol. Pure alcohol immediately coagulates a germ cell's outer wall which creates a protective barrier which does not effectively neutralize the inner protein. Therefore, the germ cell can reactivate. Rubbing alcohol works more slowly thereby allowing entry into the protein and killing the bacteria, before total coagulation of the outer wall is complete.

3. Sterilization -  Autoclaves utilize steam or gas to destroy microorganisms such as bacteria and spores which cannot be done through cleaning and disinfecting methods. 

Similar to the old fashioned pressure cooker, a steam autoclave boils water at a temperature higher (approx.20°C hotter) than the normal boiling point.

In my steam autoclave, the process is as follows:

The jewelry is inserted into the pouch and then into the autoclave for sterilization.  The chemical or steam indicator color change reflects successful exposure to time & temperature during processing. A symbol or lettering on the pouch indicates color change and should state as such. 

In my shop, I use an FDA approved Prestige unit accepted for piercing jewelry. The temperature specs for this unit are: 
Sterilizing temp': 121°C
Sterilizing temp': 250 F
Arriving at sterizing temp: 16 mins
Cycle time - total 26 mins

As a professional piercer I find it essential & morally ethical to autoclave-sterilize piercing jewelry.  I autoclave-sterilize body piercing jewelry (where applicable) prior to shipping to my Beltane Moon Etsy customers.Please keep in mind that all body jewelry in my shop jewelry is new and has never been worn. 

I hope this lends some clarity on the basic concept and mechanics of what an autoclave is and how it is used in my shop. If you have any questions, please contact me and I am more than happy to respond!

Copyright 2016, Beltane Moon 
Cite Reference for use

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Piercing Aftercare Success or Failure, Education Key

Piercing Aftercare - Success or Failure is up to Education

Determining the failure of a piercing depends on many factors from aftercare to the type of jewelry worn and when it is worn. 

As a professional piercer, it is important that recipients of piercings be educated about their piercings insofar as how to care for them. This includes all aspects of management from care of the initial piercing through jewelry selection. In my experience, many of my clients are open to education from a knowledgeable piercer and willing to ask if they are uncertain. I prefer they call, e-mail or text if they are unsure. No question is stupid when it comes to piercing aftercare. Success is my bottom line for both our benefit. 

When I first opened my shop, I had an influx of customers in need of damage control. Education about aftercare and types of jewelry are and always will be of paramount importance. It is too easy to blame the piercer for errors inadvertently made when a answer is easily within reach, but forgone in favor of dismissing personal responsibility. 

Not only am I a professional piercer, but a nationally certified Phlebotomist. OSHA regulations insofar as Bloodborne Pathogens guidelines  are of considerable if not absolute concern for piercing methodologies. This is one reason I autoclave sterilize jewelry prior to piercing a customer. 

With navel piercings, it is important to not introduce heavy or dangling jewelry into a piercing until completely healed. By healed I mean at least one year of continuous wearing of autoclave sterilized, low weight, non-dangling jewelry that is both simple and kept clean. No skin irritation, no redness, no exudate from the entry/exit, no pain or green discharge. 

By cleaning,  I am referring to the use of fragrance-free, anti-bacterial, dye-free soap such as dial. The piercing should be cleaned  at least once daily for the entire year post piercing and thereafter and dried with a clean disposable paper product. Polysporins must be avoided as the petroleum base occludes the piercing from proper oxygen circulation essential for healing. Clean means avoiding the use of alcohol based products and harsh chemical cleansers that should never be used on broken (ie: PIERCED) skin for any reason. No iodine, no bandaids or other interventions. 

The least irritating jewelry best used when being pierced is titanium, niobium or bioplast. It should be autoclave sterilized prior to piercing or wear. There should be no dangling parts and the jewelry should be the appropriate size for the piercing. The wearer should not be playing with, touching or bumping the piercing to avoid irritation and opportunistic bacteria from entering and causing infection.

Your piercer should be following sterile techniques and using a sterilized needle and gloves while avoiding cross contamination.

Once the piercing has healed in 12 months time, it is important to know the skin is approx. 80% as strong prior to piercing. Repiercing the same spot may result in failure to heal.

The jewelry worn thereafter should be lightweight and ornate jewelry should not be worn for more than 12 hours. This is a key point. Wearing ornate dangling jewelry overnight may result in irritation during sleep due to changing positions and lying on the jewelry overnight. The tendency to fiddle with dangling or ornate jewelry is a temptation for many wearers that can lead to irritation and infection. 

Changing navel jewelry requires cleaning of the hands and tools used for installation and removal. 

When used for purposes of body jewelry, it is a sound choice for most who are able to wear titanium in well-healed piercings. Titanium is inert, biocompatible, non-toxic and will not be rejected by the body. Because it is non-ferromagnetic, recipients of Ti implants can be examined safely using MRI.

If you are concerned the material of your jewelry is not as stated, have it tested for verification purposes. Getting to the bottom of your piercing woes relies on many factors and breaking the chain of unknowns has more than one causative possibility. Determining the failure of a piercing depends on many factors from aftercare to the type of jewelry worn and when it is worn. Ask for information if you are uncertain and seek answers rather than blame. Sometimes the manufacturers of excellent jewelry are blamed.  Piercers may be blamed through no fault of their own and unless culpability is proven, the answer may lie elsewhere.

The solution lies in a process of eliminating mitigating circumstances one by one, and only then should a conclusion be made. Be proactively informed on the responsibility involved in selecting a piercer and aftercare education is a logical approach to avoid complications. It is important to  select  and responsibly wear appropriate body jewelry. Accountability begins with each person in this chain and relies upon open communication. Many professional piercers and jewelers want customers to to enjoy a well-healed piercing.  

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Once Upon A Bustle ~ Esther Skandunas

As a fan of dimensional creativity, it was not happenstance to become enchanted by Esther Skandunas' shop Once Upon a Bustle on Etsy. My preoccupation with television revival of 1800 Sleepy Hollow is well known to my friends. I am enchanted by actor Tom Mison'charmingly innocent portrayal of Ichabod Crane.  If you have not seen this show think dusty boots, long hair and 1800s clothing. All hot and flustered fanning aside, I find  similar creative ingenuity and trademark authenticity in Esther Skandunas' work. Hence, my understandable interest in asking her to share her story. You can find Esther on Facebook, too. Enjoy!

I started out very young. My mother sewed most of my clothes when I was little, and I loved to watch her. I began by playing with her fabric and lace scraps by creating Barbie clothes out of them. My mother noticed how much I loved to make these little scrap fabric clothes, so she decided that she would show me how to use the sewing machine at age 5.

My love for creating and sewing grew quickly and has never stopped. I get so excited about new projects and figuring out the creation process for very difficult items. For example, I am the costume designer for the band Steam Powered Giraffe. The costumes aren't what I would call simple. I have had to learn how to create with lighting and metal; two things that I can say are very recent additions to my creation vocabulary.

You probably wonder why I call the items that I make creations. Well, before I can sew or tailor anything, I have to first start with an idea. Then from that point I have to create the pattern, which is not as easy process in itself. I have to think 3-dimensionally while creating this flat paper pattern, so that when I cut the fabric and sew it all together, it will come together with the correct shape and effect that my initial idea or design had. It can be a very challenging process, but I love challenges and always have.  I call them creations because before I ever have the idea, the pieces that I make never existed.

Between the age of 5 and becoming the costume designer for Steam Powered Giraffe, I continued learning as much as I could about sewing. I learned how to make my own clothes in Junior High. In High School I was lucky to attend a school that had a Fashion Production Program on campus. There, I learned how to use industrial sewing machines, and, let’s just say that the teacher knew me really well by the end of my high school career! I was in that class every chance that I could get. I made the majority of my own clothes in high school.

At the age of 17, right after I graduated from high school, I

was hired at The Old Globe Theatre in San Diego as a seamstress. I think I was the youngest person that they had ever hired at that point. I worked and went to Community College. I studied fashion design. But I must say that the best education that I received was at The Old Globe Theatre. That is where I was introduced to the making of menswear. My true love is menswear and I love everything about it. Men's clothing is very deceptive. To just merely look at a men's suit one may think, “Wow! That is a nice suit!” yet not realize the craftsmanship and labor that is involved.  I suggest going on Youtube and reviewing videos on the process of hand tailored suits to appreciate the intricacies of the art involved.

On my 24th birthday, I was hired at a local Community College as the Theatre Arts Department Costume Shop Foreman. I had 6 years of experience learning from the best at the Old I was and still am in charge of my own Costume Shop. Some of my responsibilities include designing the costumes for the shows, pattern making, cutting of the patterns out of fabric, sewing, and teaching students to sew.

I opened my Etsy shop in 2010. It took off slowly, which is to be expected.When I opened my shop I believe there was only one other person on Etsy selling hand tailored menswear. It was a great time to open. My first sale got things rolling slowly, but soon picked up the pace. Because I am employed full time, I work on orders before and after my day job as well as weekends. My average day begins at 6:30AM and ends at 10PM. You have to love what you do to be able to dedicate so many hours to your creations.  Luckily I love every minute of it and find time to spend with family and friends. I have become very good at time management, and my husband also helps me whenever he has the time. I am lucky to have a strong support group around me that believes in my work, talent, and products.

In the last few years since opening my Etsy shop, I have had the privilege of working on some amazing projects. I have created menswear for Hollywood photo shoots, a few of my Etsy items have appeared on television, and I have the great honor of being Glenn Hetrick's personal tailor and clothier.

Thank you,Esther!

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Want to be Featured?

Are you an independent artist with a shop on Please contact me through my shop Beltane Moon on Etsy. There is no cost, this is my way of helping small businesses rebuild the economy and sustainability.

Shop Security 
What do people want to know?

So many are interested in starting a new business but are unsure of the process. Through your stories, others discover your shop and talent while empowering themselves to do better in life. People want to know how you got started in your line of work. The ups and downs - what motivates you and your goals.
Motivation for Steel

Tell your story through photos: Your process (without divulging trade secrets, of course), funny stories through pictures and the direction you see for your dreams.

Provide links to social media if you so choose, whereby customers can order and ask questions.

Every story counts. Leave footprints on the path of positive discovery!


Sunday, January 19, 2014

Open Range Preserve Vintage

From Knoxville, Tennessee, I present Jane, from Open Range Preserve vintage on 

I recently nudged Jane into sharing her shop story with me on this blog. Pull up a chair and stroll through memory lane with Jane!

 I had been making handmade items for decades, using crochet, macramé, sewing, quilting, embroidery, and needlepoint to make clothing, decor, accessories, Christmas ornaments, household linens, and anything else I could think of. Five years ago, several people began urging me to sell on Etsy. But I had a job and other activities and just didn't think I had time for it. So I let it go.

Fast forward a few years, and I'm in my sixties, too old for my former job and with health issues and changing family circumstances that moved me to a much smaller living space. And here were all these wonderful items I had collected over the decades, but that I would no longer have room to keep. 

A friend already had an established Etsy shop (Victorian Wardrobe), and she pointed out that I could sell vintage on Etsy. 

Well, I was well supplied with that! So I looked into Etsy and started my shop on May 2013. While I haven't sold a lot, it has been enough to keep me going. I have out-of-print fabrics, vintage patterns, pre-loved toys, heirloom household items, nearly-antique jewelry, and old books (including some first editions). 

Now, every time I sell an item of special significance, I recall how I got it, and I think of how much the buyer is going to enjoy it. Recently I sold an old hippie kind of book that I thought was wonderful, and not long afterwards I sold an old pair of hippie bellbottom tiedyed jeans that I had grown out of long ago. And I was so excited for the buyers! They get to have these neat items!

Someone asked me what I'd do when I ran out of things to sell. I had to laugh! No danger of that for quite some time!

Thanks, Jane!