Well, I did it again and didn't write for a month!  I know it's hard to believe, but my goal really is to write more on my blog (because I like it and think it's a fun space!)

April was pretty quiet around the shop, which was perfect timing for me to take care of non-shop related stuff in my universe.  Now I'm pretty excited to be this far into May, and am looking forward to the upcoming summer months, too!

Happily, I can report that May has been busier in Bax Cat & Co. land; people are prepping their cats with new fun summer toys and mats!  I just re-listed and renewed a bunch of items in my shop, and am up to 99 items.  It has been my goal for a long time to have 100 items listed... and it's so close!  I hope to sew this weekend and take some photos of new items.  The 100 mark will be reached soon, yay :)
Picture of picnic cat mat
Cat mat - who wants to go on a picnic?
Picture of cat mat picnic
Complete with a fork and knife
This is a cat mat that I made a little while ago.  I've been rooting for it to sell from the start.  Happy news: it sold a couple days ago!  This fabric was too cute not to buy (don't worry, the ants won't ruin your cat's picnic... or his nap).  I re-listed it in the shop today, because I'm proud of it and would love to share it with more kitties.  It's always fun to see what people buy from my shop, because I love everything that I make!

Speaking of things that make me happy... I also brought back this little bumble bee toy.  I ran out of this bees fabric a few months ago and then went on a mission to find it.  Luckily I did find it, and bought a bunch more.  It's so bright and colorful, and I really like the movement of the bees on it.  To me, it is one of my perfect spring/summer fabrics.  Here is the little bumble bee toy :)
Picture of bumble bee cat toy
Bumble bee catnip cat toy, enjoying some tulips
Picture of bumble bee cat toy
This little bee is having a fun flower visit
There is something very comforting to me about making toys and mats for cats.  Seeing these two (above) is like seeing an old friend.  Like "Hi, I remember when I first came up with your design... and then when I created you... and now I get to send you off into the paws of a cat who will hopefully have fun with you for a long time!"  Maybe I'm just silly, but I really take pride in the things I make for cats, and am happy when I get to share them with others. 

On that note... thank you for visiting my blog and my shop!  See you on here or over there soon.  Feel free to share us with your friends (and their cats!)


Back to the Museum We Go!

As you may (or may not) recall, we opened up the Musée de Bax Cat & Co. back in February as a forum where our crazy cat art can be shared with you.  The grand opening was a big first step - we don't share our art too often!  Your comments and feedback were all very positive, and we are so happy that you enjoyed your first visit!

Moments of Paws

Admittedly, this month our Etsy shop has been quiet.  The quiet month has allowed us to pause and think a lot about the shop's first year, and forward to the years ahead. 

It's so inspirational to hear from other Etsy sellers who are always looking ahead, whether to the next season, the next day, or the next year, with goals and milestones to strive for.  Although our April has been quiet, we are hopeful for more orders and new cat client interactions - we have new catnip cat toys and cat bandanas in the works!

A couple other events (in both the news and in our daily lives) have made us pause within the last week.  The message of hope, resilience, strength, and love have been abundant; these were the motivating factors behind our newest cat art today.

Our Newest Exhibit

Here it is - a tiny grey tabby cat seated atop a green mountain... with grand thoughts of love being shared as he gazes back at the viewer.  He is taking his own moment of "paws" and sharing what he thinks is important (quite frankly, we agree with him!)

ACEO card with colored pencil and marker.
Picture of grey tabby cat with heart thought bubble
Grey tabby kitten love
Another recent piece isn't cat related (Gasp!)  This red fox is sitting at the edge of his home, the forest full of birch trees.  There is something strong, serene, and wise about him as he observes us in his own moment of paws.

This is acrylic on canvas.
Picture of fox and forest
Fox forest

In Conclusion

This concludes our second trip to the museum, we hope you have enjoyed your visit!  Animals are our teachers, and we can learn a lot from them if we take a moment to "paws" and listen to them... What has an animal taught you today?

(Also, a brief unrelated note - thank you all for entering the giveaway put on by the wonderful hosts Caren & Cody.  Our two winners were chosen, and their new little catnip bird toys are in flight to their new homes as we speak!)
Hello all - here is a happy spring group that I finished today.

I love seeing groups of items together.  New fabric combos (like these shown) make me happy!

Maybe if we all keep giving out springy thoughts, it will finally come.  Who's with me?! =^-^=
Springy group of cat toys & cat bandanas
Bax Cat & Co. is getting ready for spring... we have lots of new listings since our last post.  Feel free to browse with your kitties!  Here is our shop.  Have fun and see you soon =^-^=
Sometimes the best way to get over a creative block is by walking away for a bit, until your brain is refreshed.  Other times, the best way is by just... starting!  I have been facing a creative wall for about a week (my creative juices became frozen with the dropping temps this winter)... low motivation, lacking the desire to sew.  I don't even know why; sewing is fun, and I like the whole process from beginning to end, through when a cat somewhere in the world gets to enjoy a cat toy I made! 

So... why couldn't I just start to sew?  I don't know!  I recognized, however, that it is ok!  I didn't lose my love for the creative process, my brain was just telling me that it needed a break.  I have a lot to think about in this new year with the shop.  Now that it is more than a year old, I need to nurture it, market it, continue to reach out to its target audience, and continue to spread the word.  Maybe the big picture items assisted with the wall I was facing? 

Maybe I was subconsciously comparing myself to other shops that have a million more sales than me?  Maybe I was just having a tiring week, and sewing didn't feel like something I wanted to tackle, so I stepped back from it.
Picture of green celtic fabric
Celtic inspired green fabric I worked with today
All true artists, whether they know it or not, create from a place of no-mind, from inner stillness.  ~Eckhart Tolle
Maybe the world was getting in the way of my inner stillness!  That makes sense.  Today I finally relaxed, and became extremely motivated to go to the art cave (my sewing space, which doesn't look like a cave at all!).  I worked for a couple hours on sewing, cutting, pinning, and prepping lots of new items with two new fabrics that I bought.  I even moved the fox toy along a bit more, since I now have black felt for his ears, tail, and paws.  It was a glorious jolt of energy, and it reminded me that is really is ok to jump in and START the sewing/creative process, because sometimes that is the best way to get over the creative wall that likes to get in my way from time to time.

Heck, I'm on such a roll today that I'm back to write this entry here!  Hi to my fun blog, I'm sorry to have been neglecting you in my creative block week! 
“Art washes away from the soul the dust of everyday life.”  ~Pablo Picasso
Now if you'll excuse me, I am going to draw something.  Perhaps a cat?  I would love to bring cat art to my shop again (had a few drawings up several months ago), but it's something I am hesitant to share with people.  I've never really taken an art class, but I really enjoy drawing/creating onto paper and would love to share that with people who enjoyed it! 

In other news...

The shop is slowly but surely being re-branded!  We have a new Etsy shop banner (which can be seen here), new custom listing graphics for the shop (I don't have any in use right now, but they are cute!), and new "Thank You" graphic (as seen in yesterday's blog post). 

There is also a new adorable avatar, but I am very partial to the one that I already use for the shop (a photo of our orange tabby friend); this is what we use for all of our other networks, too (Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest).  People are very happy about this photo, so I don't plan on changing it to the adorable new avatar graphic (although I really appreciate the time the designer took to make it, and maybe I'll change my mind in the future, who knows). 
Picture of orange tabby cat and black cat
The shop's other adorable avatar option
Along these same branding lines, I need to re-visit my business plan now that we have a full year under our furry belts.  I would also like to get matching business cards to bring everything together (and stickers for packaging!)  These are the big picture items that are dancing through my head lately, and they will be worked on piece by piece until they are completed! 

I really want this business to be a success, and we all work hard on it every day, even if no items are being sewn one day or another.  Let's not forget marketing either: I will be reaching out to different cat blogs, cat networks, and any other cat avenue I can think of to spread the word about my furry mission. 
Lots to do, but I am looking forward to it, in spite of any creative wall I may face in the future, or have face in the past.  It is all part of the creative process, and I love every second of it.  I hope you have a creative and art-filled week... I certainly will! =^-^=
Picture of orange tabby in flower field
Orange tabby in a flower field =^-^=
Meet Bill!  This is Bill the Owl.  Bill is a cat toy made out of cotton, fleece, and felt, and has certified organic catnip in his belly.  He just recently hatched, and we are excited to announce that he has safely completed his migration to his new home!

Bill was so excited to meet his new cat friends that he wants his siblings to be listed in our Etsy shop so they can meet their new cat friends, too.  We are listening, Bill!  Not yet listed, but coming soon.  The owl fun continues.

Up next in our woodland creature invasion... foxes?!  Stay tuned =^-^=
Bill the Owl catnip cat toy. Hoot!
Now that we have a whole year behind us (wow!), there are several things we want to accomplish in the shop; they include: organization to increase workflow & productivity; staying well ahead of upcoming seasons & holidays; spending a set amount of time each night in the studio; strengthening our brand; cutting the fat (explained below); and staying active online.  Let's branch these out and get out what's in our furry minds for the upcoming year!


Photo of irons and art
Irons and art
During 2012, we had lots of storage bins in the studio that held other non-Bax Cat & Co.-related craft and art supplies.  These supplies were strewn around in various different storage bins and drawers throughout the room. 

Our fabrics and other daily use items for the shop were in bins and drawers that sometimes did not make the most sense; since we use these the most, it would make more sense to put them in bins that are more easily accessible. 

Admittedly this seems like a "duh" moment, but it is not something that time permitted us to tackle in 2012!

Good news!  The storage bin organization was completely overhauled over the weekend!  All different fabric types now have homes, and our day-to-day use items and materials are readily available.  There are now even drawers with labels on them to clearly show what is in what drawer, without even opening up the drawer. 

A bunch of little changes like this were made, but all totaled, they have a very nice impact on the space.  All of our fabric was taken out, re-folded, and then re-stored too.  It was nice to have everything out, to see old and new favorites together.
Photo of fabric rainbow
Fabric rainbow at Bax Cat & Co.
Next up: re-organize the bulletin board where all of the patterns are kept.  It would be great to see all the patterns in individual labeled bags, grouped together in a way that makes finding the different patterns a very easy task.  Putting them in bags will also prevent them from having push pin holes, allowing them to last a little bit longer.  This is a task that will be tackled this year; looking forward to this one!

Finding a new home for the thread spool holder is on the list, too; right now it is on a shelf, but it would be ideal to mount it to the wall a bit closer to the sewing table.  Moving it to the wall might also make the space a little more user-friendly.
Photo of spools of thread
Thread spool holder

Staying ahead

In 2012 we were primarily working on getting the shop situated: filling it with items, creating accounts online for it, etc. and not focusing too much on whatever the next upcoming holiday was (as bad as that sounds!).  We opened in January 2012, so didn't have to worry about the December holiday season until many months later.  Prior to the December holiday season, we aimed to get several new holiday-inspired items into the shop.  The holiday rush was so fun (loved seeing that much activity coming through)!

From that experience, we will definitely focus on stay ahead of upcoming holidays and seasons prior to their arrival, so that our shop has related items well ahead of time.  So far so good with that - all the Valentine's Day items are listed, and St. Patrick's Day-inspired items are waiting in the wings to list. 
Picture of Christmas tree catnip toy
Christmas cat toys
Picture of heart cat toy
Valentine's day catnip toys
Cat bandana
St. Patrick's day cat toys & cat bandanas, too! (coming soon)

Daily studio time

It may sound silly or (unintentionally) slacker-ish, but we have not been setting aside a designated amount of time each day to go into the studio and sew.  Spending one hour per day so far in January has freed up time on the weekends, has helped us create a bunch of new designs, and could be really beneficial in the long run. 

It's nice to have a set amount of time to work, because it makes us stay focused within that time frame: "Ok, one hour tonight will be spent cutting... drawing up new patterns... ironing... sewing... packaging..." etc.  Breaking it down into smaller daily blocks of time is a great tool to use (and we plan to continue to do so!)  Now weekends can be the perfect time to spend on taking and editing photos, and listing the items that we've made in any given week.

(Look at all of these tools for making us more efficient by leaps and bounds this year - exciting stuff!)

Strengthening our brand

Throughout the first year, we have really notice how great it looks when shops are branded across all online platforms.  When the same photos are used on FB, Twitter, Pinterest, as Etsy, you can really begin to recognize someone's shop (and brand presence) in each different avenue.  This also trickles down to matching brand packaging (stickers, business cards, etc). 

Things we did in 2012 for branding, and any changes we want to make in 2013:
- 2012: Had a banner made for the shop when it opened / 2013: new and improved banner is in the works, along with matching graphics to use.  We feel really good about this update!
- 2012: Had custom fabric labels made (see below) / 2013: continue to use fabric labels, they are a great addition to our items!  Need to look into whether the new graphics can be printed as the labels so that those match as well... branding!
Photo of fabric label Bax Cat & Co.
Our custom labels

Don't spread thin, but remember to trim the fat

Last year when started out, we signed up for a lot of different free avenues/accounts.  Each one offered a potential audience of people who were interested in our products and our mission (we were still learning how all of this stuff worked).  Lesson learned: spreading yourself too thin makes it nearly impossible to keep up with signing in and maintaining multiple accounts. 

Trim the fat; keep the accounts that work best for your shop's needs open and focus on those.  By spending more time with fewer accounts, it will allow those accounts to thrive (we're looking at you, trusty Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest accounts)!  Our shop now has a very focused set of accounts that raise it up and help it thrive, instead of making us rip our hair out trying to keep up with a million other avenues. 

It took a while and a lot of diving in to figure out what different sites are best for the shop and run with those.  If there's one important thing we've learned, it's that we always need to keep evolving/changing/growing as our shop does. 

Who knows, our set of go-to sites will probably change somewhere down the line as the shop's needs change too.  We are ready for the ride!

Active online presence

Further to everything mentioned above, we think it's important to make sure our shop has a strong online presence (something we are constantly working hard at!). 

Elements and key parts to an active online presence to consider as we move into 2013 will be (in no particular order)
- Reach out and find blogs that would like to feature our shop or one of our items
- Find our stride (whether slow or fast) and keep the stream moving!  The visual of a stream through the woods is helpful - some areas it runs faster, some slower, but it's always so happy with whatever pace or bend it encounters!  And minnows, let's not forget the minnows!  (Disclaimer: no minnows will be used in any of our shop's items, it was a metaphor!)
- Try our best not to neglect our blog!  It's another great resource to use, and allows people to stay connected to the shop
- Continue to interact with fans and keep them informed of shop happenings (this includes FB, Twitter, and the like). 
- Active participation on Etsy teams

In conclusion...

...the first year of our brand's existence has been quite a fun learning experience.  We look forward to the years ahead with Bax Cat & Co., and will strive to stay productive through an organized space, keep ahead of holidays and seasons, spend dedicated time in the studio with fabric, maintaining a strong brand, trimming down accounts and staying focused, and staying active online! 

We hope you and your kitties are all having a great year so far; we thank you for your continued support & enthusiasm! =^-^=
Couldn't resist... Henry now has a friend!  Listings are in the works for both owls, and we hope to have both of these catnip toys available soon in our shop.

Aren't they a hoot?
Catnip toy owl
This is Henry's new owl cat toy friend <3
Meet Henry, the owl we have been designing for the past several days.  He finally hatched today and we could not be happier!  He still has a little while before he gets listed in the shop; we want to hang out with him for a bit (and take listing photos too, of course).

What a hoot!  Are you and your cats big fans of owls, or maybe a different type of animal is your favorite?  We would love to hear from  =^-^=
Picture of owl cat toy
Owl catnip cat toy - he hatched today with all of his purple cute owlness :)

Our Etsyversary Cometh!

Wow, can't believe our shop has almost been open for a full year (January 9 is the actual date).  This shop started as a way for us to share fun toys with cats.  It's amazing to see how many people (and their cats) are as excited as we are about the shop.  This makes us so happy, and we really couldn't do it without the support of our great fans, fantastic followers, and cool customers - THANK YOU ALL (and your cats!)
Picture of cat with heart toy
One of our models

Other cool stats from this year:

- Our first items were listed on February 9
- First sale was on March 6. 
- This year we also had our first blog features
- Our Facebook page has over 100 fans (which we are so grateful for!)
- The Twitter page we started later on, but it has over 20 followers
- We have learned so much this year through the helpful people on Etsy, in team forums, and have really gained knowledge from a few great mentors.
Cat bandanas rainbow
This year we started with a mission to provide cats durable toys that are affordable and fun to play with.  We also had mats in the shop right from the start, and eventually branched out to include these great bandanas, too. 

Much to our delight, our cats really like to wear them and show them off!  We hope that lots of people's cats can enjoy showing off their cute furry faces with our bandanas, too.  When people have purchased these and send us customer appreciation photos, they make us so happy to see! 

One Paw at a Time

When starting this shop, we knew it would be at a bit of a slow pace due to time constraints presented by life... but we always keep telling ourselves to do things "one paw at a time", and that really seems to be working. 

By the "one paw at a time" approach, we have had sales on 4 continents, and five separate countries this year.  Our Boot Camp buddy showed us a map program where we could track each sale as sales come in, so it's something we've been keeping up with - super fun to see the progress!
World map of sales
Map of sales around the world this year

Just Getting Started

This year as allowed us to learn what it takes to run a successful Etsy business, and to find the pace that works the best for our lifestyle.  2013 will be a year filled with the same mission - bringing durable, fun, affordable toys and other items to cats around the world.  Lots of ideas are already brewing, and we are very excited to pounce on the upcoming new year.  Lots to keep learning, lots to do... We are just getting started here!

Coming Soon...

Now that we are in the post holiday season, we have a bit of time to focus on new items for the shop.  Below are our newest creations that are not yet listed.  Stay tuned, they are coming soon!
Coming soon - New catnip heart toy
Coming soon - Shamrocks cat bandana
Coming soon - Shamrocks kick toy pillow
Coming soon - Heart cat bandana
Stay warm, furry, and purry... and have a happy start to 2013!  =^-^=
We have finally listed all of our holiday items!  Each day over the last week we've listed one new holiday / winter item, to change up how we usually operate.  There are still a few more in the works with this new stash of fabric we picked up yesterday, so keep checking back for more!

Holiday / Winter / Festive Cat Bandanas

These new bandanas are in our shop's Cat Bandanas section:
Photo of cat bandana with birds fabric
Festive bird print cat bandana
Photo of cat bandana with snowflakes
Snowflakes cat bandana
Photo of cat bandana with stars print
Cat bandana with colorful festive stars

Holiday / Winter Catnip Cat Toys

Our four new holiday / winter catnip toys are in the Holiday Cat Toys section of the shop.  More to come soon here!
Picture of catnip cat toy with stars
Catnip kick stick
Picture of catnip pillow cat toy with snowflakes
Catnip pillow toy
Picture of catnip cat toy Christmas tree
Catnip Christmas tree
Picture of catnip Christmas stocking toy
Catnip Christmas stocking toy

Still To Come:

Here is a glimpse of fabrics for holiday toys / bandanas still to come!