Friday, January 29, 2016

Inflation. Thy Name Is 'Merica.

The Time I've Been Dreading Has Come...

What I wouldn't give for an angel investor. Wings of gold that drop feathers everywhere. A leaky halo of cash couldn't hurt. It's not easy trying to build a business on your own when you've started with practically nothing. Dark Side Customs was started with $100 and the hope that I could build something beautiful. It's become a lot more complicated than that. 

I've been keeping my prices as low as I can because I remember what it feels like to see something I absolutely love and not being close to able to afford it. It's heartbreaking. Have you ever felt that? Then you are my people.

What does it take?

Some say looking successful is half the battle. Well... in an economy like ours, that battle will take quite a few more weapons to win. As a (mostly) one man operation, I'm designing product, manufacturing product, photographing product, editing photographs, writing copy, posting listings, marketing product, practically begging to be noticed, and feeling the sting when no one is buying.

Some say it takes money to make money. But what you you have no money? Not too many people think about the money spent by the artists when looking at the final product. In America, it's all about getting the bargain. I'm not going to go into actual numbers. But let's look at what I have to do on my end.

  1. I have to buy my tools.
  2. I have to buy my metals
  3. I have to buy my gemstones.
  4. I have to buy gas and oxygen for my torch on a regular basis.
  5. I have to buy my leather.
  6. I have to buy leather dye.
  7. I have to buy packaging materials like envelopes, bubble wrap, boxes, bags, etc.
  8. I have to pay for miscellaneous materials like bead wire, acrylic, chemicals, etc.
  9. I have to pay for each and every listing.
  10. I have to pay to renew the listings when items don't sell after a time.
  11. I have to buy displays for events.
  12. I have to pay to vend at events.
  13. I have to pay for electricity to run my lights and tools.
  14. I have to pay for the place in which I work. 
  15. I have to pay myself a wage for my work. (Something I've been neglecting for a long time.)
  16. I have to pay for childcare so I can actually have time to work.
  17. I have to pay for phone and internet in order to do business.
  18. I have to pay for gas, tolls, and insurance on the vehicle that gets me to vending events.
  19. I have to pay for marketing and advertising. 
  20. I have to pay for web hosting.
  21. I have to pay taxes. (That's a big pain in the... nevermind.)
  22. I have to pay for casting and other services I don't yet have the tools for.
  23. I have to pay for sales help. (That's every once in a while.)
  24. I have to pay for lodging at events away from home.
  25. I have to pay for photography equipment in order to photograph my product.
  26. I have to pay a portion of each online sale to Etsy even after paying for the listing.
  27. I have to pay a portion of every credit card sale to Square for in person purchases.
  28. I have to pay for postage/shipping on all online sales. (Much more than a simple stamp.)
  29. I have to take time out to write these blogs. (Time is Money. I never realized how true that was until I started trying to run a business.)
There's more. I just won't get too crazy with this list. The costs for all of these things goes up all the time. But you can see that there is a lot more going on in the background than most people ever think about when they say insulting things like: 
  • How much will you give me off if I buy two?
  • I can get this online for less.
  • You can cut me a break, right?
  • Will you take... (enter amount far less than the price of the item here)?
  • I could have made this.

Here's something I found just moments before I finished typing this post. It explains a lot. I think everyone should watch. I'm trying to figure out just how to apply it to my work.

(You Should Totally Subscribe To David Picciuto's YouTube)

So what's next?

No beating around the bush. Prices are going to have to rise. I've put it off for so long. So many people have told me that I need to raise my prices. They tell me I need to charge more because my work is worth more. I've just been so worried about people not being able to afford my work that I've been making the big mistake of making it so that I can barely afford to stay in business.

A few of my friends - people more successful in business than I - have gone out of business after the disaster that was 2015. They were fellow event vendors. Part of the issue was that they weren't charging enough for they're work. Not charging enough actually had the opposite effect of what you might think. Charging too little actually stopped people from buying. Couple that with the fact that attendance was at an all time low for a great many of the shows we did throughout the year... DISASTER.

I guess it's time to light a fire under my backside. I'll see you on the Dark Side.

Speaking of FIRE

It's time to focus on another of those inspirational people I've encountered along my journey.

Michelle Greenwood is an amazing artist, first rate pyrographer, a true inspiration, and a friend.

What is a pyrographer? Let's take a look at this. “Pyro” = fire; “Graphy” = writing. Pyrography means, literally, “fire-writing.” Pyrography, also called woodburning, is done with a tool similar to a soldering iron. (I kinda stole that from her sight. She said it a bit more eloquently than I would have.) One look at her work will leave you breathless. It's all done by hand. It's all imbued with the spirit of love.

Whenever I catch a glimpse of her works in progress, I feel an overwhelming urge to hone my own craft. Then I see the finished pieces. It's Pyromantic Genius from the hands of a Fire Goddess. Don't take my word for it. See for yourself.

“Tales of Beedle the Bard” Faux Book Box - From

A little from the artist:

I hold degrees in Japanese and Creative Writing, but art always has been, and probably always will be, my passion. I also dabble in costuming, pen and ink, and embroidery, but I like pyrography the best.

I enjoy pushing the boundaries of what is traditionally considered “pyrographic art,” using the medium to render themes that are unusual for the art form, and constantly testing and improving my skills and techniques.

Also, fire.

Most of my pieces are of a Pagan or Earth-centered theme. However, I love both history and re-imagined histories (like steampunk), and frequently work with those themes as well.

While I find the raw materials in many different places, all of the work you see has been hand-drawn and hand-burned by me. I don’t use any routers, engravers, or laser-etching machines.

What does this mean to you? This means that your piece, even if it is a pattern that I have burned a hundred times before, is going to be unique. No one will ever have exactly the same piece you have.

Every piece is a one of a kind work of art.

Check her out.

You can find more of Michelle's masterpieces by clicking one of the links below:

Friday, January 15, 2016

DSC Valentine 2016

Remember that video I was talking about in the last blog? This is it.

Why settle for Overpriced Roses that die or Cliche Chocolate? Use Coupon Code TRUELOVE to save 20% on the most unique Valentine's Day Gifts until Feb 8th. Click here: 
Please share this video with your friends and family.

Thursday, January 14, 2016

Hi, Controversy. How Have You Been?

'Bout To Get All Valentine Up In Here...

Hello, Beautiful People.

I'm sure we all know it's about time To think about Valentine's Day gift shopping. Greeting card companies really make a killing by celebrating a true "Lady Killer". Seriously. The guy murdered women. People eat it up. Go figure.

For some, it's just another day. Shouldn't we be showing our love to our partners every day? I think so. But some folks need a special day. For many, it's all they've got. Think about it. How many of us need to work hard to schedule a special "Date Night" just to be able to spend some true quality time with the ones we love? No matter how bad you think you have it... some have it worse. If not for special days like this, they would probably never get that special time together.

Don't get me wrong. I'm all for the day. We celebrate so many things. Why not take a day to celebrate love? So many holidays have love as an underlying theme. Love of family. Love of country. Love of those on the other side. Many of these holidays are centered around giving gifts. This one is no different.

Here's The Kicker

I started working with some of my friends to make a video for my jewelry business. It's a video for Valentine's Day. Sure it centers around LOVE. I decided to do something a bit different. We always see your typical couples doing typical gift exchanges. It's all over the TV, billboards, posters, magazines, etc. I figured it was time to take a broader view of Love. It takes many forms. Why not show some?

So I gathered some of my friends to create something... well... whole. While I wasn't able to touch on every type of love, (let's face it... the video would be months long) I did try to touch on something that should be addressed. I know I'm going to lose a number of followers with this but it has to be done. 

Let me just say this. "LOVE IS LOVE!!!" There is no one with the right to tell anyone who they should and should not love. It's simple truth. Judge not lest ye be judged. Get it?

Over here, on the Dark Side, we don't judge. This video is my simple way of showing how beautiful love is in all its forms. Not just the ones that were safe to air on primetime television in 1973.

The gift of love should be shared. So... This Valentine's Day, remember these words:

Love is patient, love is kind.
It does not envy, it does not boast,
it is not proud.
It is not rude, it is not self-seeking,
it is not easily angered,
it keeps no record of wrongs.
Love does not delight in evil
but rejoices with the truth.
It always protects, always trusts,
always hopes, always perseveres.
Love never fails.

On Another Note...

One of my "Jewelry Making Heros" is RockLove Jewelry. The owner/designer, Allison is a genius. Everytime I see her work I ask myself one simple question. "Why am I not studying under her?" I mean... LOOK! 

The piece pictured is Handcrafted in New York City by RockLove in official collaboration with Stargate. I mean... seriously. I would love to be doing stuff like this. I have quite a bit more to learn before I try anything like officially licensed works. But One day...

Here's a little bit from her site:

Find out for yourself.

Friday, January 8, 2016

Going For The Gold

So... Here's a first for me & DSC. Don't laugh. I know it's a little goofy. But it was my first time. Be gentle.

Please share with your friends.

And don't forget to stop by these sites:

You can also sign up for our mailing list directly by copying and pasting this link in your browser:

Friday, January 1, 2016

A New DSC for 2016 - It's About Time!

Procrastination Sucks!!!

Hello, Dear Friends.

It's been quite some time. I have to admit that I'm actually not very good at this blogging thing. I know what I want to say. It just becomes a challenge to figure out how to get it from my brain to my fingers. I guess I just need practice. 

So... Let's get to it.

2016 is going to be a year of change. What a struggle it was to get here. 2015 was one of the toughest years I've ever faced. I guess you can call it a Murphy's Law kind of year. I've lost my mind a few times. I've felt like giving up more than a few times. I've learned quite a few valuable lessons. What do I do with it all?

I've always known that one of my biggest problems is procrastination as a result of the fear of failure. It's not a new topic. I know that I've touched on it somewhere in previous blogs. There have been so many times that I've delayed projects due to the fear of failing. So many projects were never started. It has kept me wondering how far I might have gotten without that monkey on my back.

It's not always projects that involve making jewelry. There are so many other things that should have been done that just never made it past planning.

Putting on my Big Boy Pants...

One of those neglected projects involves the creation of a campaign to move the vast majority of DSC production out of my livingroom and backyard, and taking it a step further into the real world. I've been wanting to do it for quite some time. I will be making that campaign a reality this year. Just you wait and see.  

The BIG Picture...

I'm making some investments that will serve to make it impossible for me to not move on my ideas. Some of those ideas involve marketing. I'm sure you don't really want to sit here and read about marketing strategy and the like. Don't worry. You won't have to. 

I will tell you that the investments are more time than money. But there is one seriously cool investment that falls into both categories. 

As (sort of) a One Person Operation, I do most everything on my own. I design my product. I manufacture my product. I market my product. I hopefully sell my product. I repeat. That means that - somewhere in the middle of all this - I photograph my product. I edit those photos for size and clarity. Then I post those photos on Etsy and various social media outlets in the hopes that they're seen. Well... I've just purchased a mini photography studio to set up in my livingroom. This will make it so much easier to work with the models I've been wanting to work with. It gives me fewer and fewer excuses as to why "I can't do it right now". It's a major step for me. I'm more than happy to take it. In fact... I've already started making the plans. Not just making plans in my head. I'm talking about making plans with the people I would like to have involved. I'm practically bouncing while typing this.

I'm sure there's much more I could tell you. But you didn't come here to read a novel. And I don't want to give everything away in one shot. That just wouldn't be fair to either of us. This isn't bad for my first blog in a couple years. I'll be back. I'll also be incorporating video logs (vlogs) into the mix. It's my way of keeping us more closely connected. Together, we can make DSC the great adventure we all want it to be.

Have a beautiful everyday. I'll see you on the Dark Side.

A bit of inspiration...

One of the things I liked to do in my previous blogs was to introduce you to other people that inspire me. That's what I'm going to do right now. 

I've always wanted to try my hand at pottery. I've also been wanting to learn how to knit forever. I'm pretty sure I won't be doing it any time soon. I've got enough on my hands. However, for those of you that love mixing the super cool with the super practical, you might just want to take a look at this.
This ceramic yarn bowl is thrown in the traditional Korean style. The inner and outer glazes are a combination of French Blue and Red-Brown. The Red-Brown creates a beautiful bronze-gold speckled effect on the deep blue background. This yarn bowl can accommodate lace to DK weight yarns. This bowl makes the perfect gift for anyone who knits or crotchets.  The jumbo is about 5.5" tall and 10" wide. The large is about 4.5" tall and 8" wide. The medium is about 4.25" tall and 7" wide. The small is about 4" tall and 6" wide.  **The bowls will take about 3 to 4 weeks to complete. Once fired, I use priority mail, so it will only take 2-3 days to ship.**  I can ship international, so please feel free to contact me about shipping prices.  I can make a customized knitting bowls, so feel free to message me if you want a smaller or larger bowl like this one.
Rustic Knitting Bowl - By Rehndell Masi

The Magic of the Potters...

I've recently become connected with a group of pottery rockstars. That's right. Pottery rockstars.  The piece you're seeing in the photo to the right is made by one of them. Her name is Rehndell. (

Here's a little bit from the lady, herself:

"I have a lot of hobbies and love to learn new artistic ways of expressing myself. I am a mostly self taught artist, with the exception of throwing; I have the privilege of studying under a wonderful Korean potter, at the Brickhouse Pottery Studio in L.I.C. New York. 

For a while I would make things solely for my friends and family; however, I started to get requests from friends of friends and strangers for my work. Now I hope to use Etsy as a way to branch out to a larger audience, with the end goal of being able to support myself through my work. So take a look around, and if you have any questions feel free to ask!"

Handmade Ceramics, Yarn Bowls, Tea bowls, Nesting Bowls, Ceramic Buttons, Soup Bowls, Korean Pottery, Succulent Planters, Mugs, Tumblers, Knitting Bowls

Keep a lookout for upcoming sales and ceramic clearance! Every Saturday we host kids clay classes at the Artist and Craftsman Supply Store in LIC. Check out their events page for more info :
You can follow us on Instagram @rehnworks.

Brown Tankard Beer Stein
Brown Tankard Beer Stein - By Rita Varian

Also Keep An Eye On...

Another magical potter you'll want to look out for is Rita Varian (

Rita Varian is a ceramic artist living in Long Island City, New York. She creates handbuilt sculpture and functional art. 
Rita Varian earned her BFA from the New York State College of Ceramics at Alfred University, and her MFA at the State University of New York at New Paltz. She is an associate member of Brickhouse Ceramic Art Center.
Her style is unique, intriguing, and fun. I'm determined to own one of her tankards. We'll be talking about that very soon. Very, very soon.