Saturday, April 25, 2009

On Shipping FedEx Ground to Canada

Recently, I got an order from a lovely customer up in Canada. He had requested I ship via FedEx, which I was happy to do. Little did I know, though, what a crazy adventure this would become. And, for the sake of lessons learned, I thought I'd post about it here.

To properly quote a shipping price to my customer, I went on and clicked through to their "get rates" calculator. I put in my zip code and his (in Canada) and it came back with three options - two very expensive express rates and a much more reasonable ground rate. Ground it is, I said, and he agreed.

So, then, on Thursday, I jaunt over to the shipping store and tell them I'm shipping this package Ground to Canada. "No, we don't do Ground to Canada," is the answer I get. Excuse me, you don't do Ground to Canada? Alright, I say, I'll go to Kinko's, which of course is now FedEx Kinko's. I stroll into Kinko's and tell the guy that I'm shipping Ground to Canada. "Nah, we don't do that," he says. Nor will he tell me who does, so I'm starting to think there's some sort of conspiracy going on around me.

I go home and call the FedEx customer service number and talk to a lovely woman in their International Shipping department. She calls all the service centers in the area for me and comes back to tell me that a different Kinko's (the one that, fortunately, is right down the road from my house) can help me. Great, I say - and Russ and I stop there on our way home from dinner.

At Kinko's, I tell the guy that I want to ship Ground to Canada. He apparently mis-hears me and gives me the Express forms, although I don't realize this for a few minutes, after he gives me rate quotes. "But, I want to ship Ground," I say. "Ground isn't an option," he replies. "But, it was an option when I looked online," I retort, now thoroughly confused. (This is Canada, remember, that country that I could easily drive into and not need a pile of forms.)

This is the point where the story gets really interesting, because I lucked out and was working with hands-down the friendliest and most helpful Kinko's employee ever. He searched through the computer system and couldn't find anything about a Ground rate, but told me that if I could find it online again, he'd figure out how to get me that rate.

So, I go online and, lo and behold, there's my Ground rate. I print it out as evidence and go back to him. He looks at it dumbfounded, searches through the computer some more and then calls another area Kinko's for help. And what we learn surprises both of us - I have to have a FedEx account to ship Ground to Canada.

Alright, I say, and I open an account. Then, because it's still not an option in his system, I have to go online and log into my new account and print out the labels from there. This took several tries, as their system decided to go down. And, when I finally got it to work, it printed out my label, a receipt, and eight more pages that neither I nor the guy at the drop-off counter the next day knew what to do with. I guess they go with the package?

All told, I spent about 4 hours trying to ship this package. So, ladies and gents, you can ship International Ground to Canada via FedEx, but only if you have an account and you do it yourself online. And, forget having any help navigating through all the International forms and whatnot.

I think the part that most confuses me about this whole mess is this... Why, if I only get this rate by having an account, does FedEx include it as a possibility on their very much public website?

Off to do something much less frustrating now...

Friday, April 24, 2009

Sort of a life-changing decision...

I've been quiet here as Russ and I have been working on the details of a very exciting new (life-changing) project...

It's called The Path Less Pedaled... and it's a project to find people around the world who are living their lives in a less ordinary sort of way... and tell their stories.

Independent artisans and makers, small business proprietors, community activists... I think they're evidence of a more connected, more sustainable economic model. And I'm eager to start asking the question: What does it mean to be an independent business that's small by choice?

It's also a pedal-powered project (i.e. really long bike tour) that entails leaving behind all of the structure we have now, and all of our stuff. A huge change that I am really ready for... even as I am nervous about what it means and whether I'll actually like it the way I think I will.

The big, elephant-in-the-room question, of course, is what does this mean for my jewelry? Honestly, I don't know... except that I’m absolutely not giving it up. Can I take my operation on the road somehow? Pare my tools down to a "portable studio"? This is what I'll be figuring out over the next several weeks.

Right now, we have piles of books and dishes and clothes and DVDs to part with. Russ made a great video that's up on the new site about this whole need to jettison our stuff. If anyone's done this before, feel free to share. Although, I have a feeling that I'm forging a new path... and that's exactly what I'm looking for right now.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Mustache on yer Bike

I'm not really one for following trends. But, I have to admit that I've been enjoying the silliness of the mustache trend that's running rampant on Etsy right now. Russ and I were giggling the other night over beers about how fun it would be to put a mustache on a bike - and, well, I just had to run with it.

Introducing... Mustache on yer Bike. Sure, your bicycle has personality, but does it have enough personality to sport a 'stache?

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Find, Make, Wear

The Find, Make, Wear page is now up on the Victoria & Albert Museum website!

There's a fantastic collection of jewelry shown and I'm so thrilled and honored to be a part of it!

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Still car-free... and loving it!

I recently realized that I have now been car-free for eight months. Eight months. Time flies, doesn't it?!

I rarely think about the Saturn that is no longer mine, except when I happen to see one in the same green sailing down the road. I've actually only seen her once in the past eight months, despite the fact that her current owner also lives in Long Beach. I was cycling down the road and I happened to look over to the traffic next to me and see a green Saturn that looked especially familiar and, hey, had my old license plate number. The windshield had been replaced so there was no more crack, she was clean, and the driver was singing along to some mariachi music. It made me smile - I found her a good home.

So if anyone's wondering whether I miss having a car - the answer would be no.

Next weekend is the Long Beach Grand Prix, although the "Welcome Race Fans" signs are already up. The Grand Prix is an uttlery ridiculous celebration of the automobile (we can actually hear the race drivers shift gears from our apartment a mile and a half away). Parking is always notoriously terrible. This year, I don't even have to give it a sideways thought.

Riding around on my bike is so completely natural to me now that I would never even think that I couldn't get somewhere on a bike. Amazing how you make that mental shift over time. Anywhere seems reachable on my little two-wheeled "freedom machine" (as it was once referred to by an Amtrak employee).

In fact, I've pedaled over 1700 miles this year alone!

All of this is to say that Russ and I are working on a very exciting project, that I hope to announce shortly. If you couldn't guess, it has to do with the bikes, and riding them, and all that you can do with them, and how great it is to remove yourself from the status quo. Stay tuned.

In the meanwhile, I found this funny photo from many years ago (I was maybe 10?). Looks like cycling and I were meant to be. :)

Friday, April 10, 2009

The catalogs are in the mail...

Last night, as I was packing up my little catalog bundles to go out to some shops, I was laughing at what a prime example it is of all the different hats you end up wearing when you're a one-woman show. Not only did I make all the jewelry, but I took all the photos, designed and laid out the catalogs (and then bound them too!), typed up the line sheet, designed and laid out the postcards that I'm sending with the catalogs, designed and cut all the little notecards on which I hand-wrote introduction notes, wrote out all the labels on the envelopes, and in a little while I'll walk them all down to the post office. Whew. No wonder I get tired sometimes. :)

I'm excited to get these mailed off and put a period at the end of this very long project. Sometimes it's hard for me to actually finish things that I start (I can't count the number of jewelry pieces that are half-done in my studio, nor the number of books on our bookshelf that have a bookmark stuck somewhere in the middle), so I'm quite proud that I followed this all the way through. Fingers crossed that great things will come from it!

Have a Happy Friday everyone!

Thursday, April 9, 2009

More new mini pendants

Finally getting around to listing the last of my little bundle of mini pendants... in my Etsy shop...

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Today required a little extra determination...

"to be nobody but yourself in a world which is doing its best, night and day, to make you everybody else means to fight the hardest battle which any human being can fight; and never stop fighting." - e. e. cummings

Sunday, April 5, 2009

More Mini Pendants!

In my Etsy shop...

Saturday, April 4, 2009

The Catalog is Done!!

I have a pile of pages just back from Kinko's that need to be bound. And I still need to type up my line sheet with actual prices. But I just have to take a moment to celebrate that this never-ending project is actually coming together. Here's the first one...

If you know of a shop that should be carrying my work (and, thus, should receive one of these beauties), please let me know.

Friday, April 3, 2009

All smiles...

I got a delightful email on Wednesday from the Victoria & Albert Museum web team. They're putting up a page on their website featuring selected pieces from their "Find... Make... Wear..." flickr group - and they chose one of my pieces for inclusion (see above)! I am so thrilled - partly because it's the V&A and that's just a huge honor for me - partly because this is the piece that launched my current design direction (and the first piece I made with natural materials) - and partly because I'll be in the company of some amazing artists that I truly admire. Will post a link when it's up.

In the meantime, after gushing to my colleague at my day job, she gifted me this card, which totally made my day...

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Front Page!

What a fun April Fool's present! My Window pendant made the front page of Etsy today. I missed it, but fellow seller Gina of CheapBoutique grabbed a screen shot for me. Thanks Gina! And thanks to Dorothy of DorothyDomingo for curating the treasury!

This is no April Fool's joke

The new little pendants are up in my etsy shop! Or, rather, the first four of them are. All that photo-taking and photo-editing and etsy-listing is time-consuming, so I thought I'd space it out a bit. Take a gander...