Vendor Show Checklist

What to bring for your first vendor show? What do you need when you’re doing a show, farmer’s market, or craft fair? There’s so much to remember, it can be hard to keep track of everything you need. Whether this is your first show or you’re a seasoned vendor, this guide is to help give you ideas of what to bring for a successful show.

Bare Minimum
tent (you know how much I love mine!)
weights
folding tables
tablecloths
displays
signage/banners
folding chairs (or taller director’s chair so you aren’t hidden behind your display!)
business cards (I use GotPrint.com)
credit card processing (get a free square reader with the first $1,000 processing fees free of charge!)
small bills for change (cash sales)
tarps (for bad weather/cover your tables)
shopping bags for sold items
product!

Personal Comfort:
drinks
snacks
cooler (I bought mine at costco but I LOVE it and it folds FLAT for storage!)
battery operated fan (and batteries!)
cooling towels /sweater (depending on temp)
anti fatigue mat to stand on (not mandatory but nice to have)
advil/tylenol/immodium/allergy meds
first aid kit (you should have this in your car at all times anyway!)
sunscreen

Backup Essentials:
tape
duct tape
scissors
rope/cording
paper towels
pens
paper
napkins/tp (don’t knock it! I’ve been at a show that ran out of tp in a porta potty before and I was glad I had my own!)
portable cell charger/battery backup
outdoor extension cord (I always have one just in case)
extension splitter (to plug more than one item into)
wet wipes (often no running water at outdoor events)
tool kit (screwdriver, pliers – little things in case of break or repair! You should keep this in your car anyway!)
extra price labels
safety pins (I like the larger size)
clamps (Clip down a blowing tablecloth, or clip two things together; I’ve needed this more times than I can count!)
bungee cords (again in a variety of sizes and SO useful!)

Other Good Ideas:
small mirror (if anything that needs trying on)
individually wrapped mints/candy (for customers – I find it helps draw people in. Nothing that melts outside!)
bed risers to lift tables (can be helpful to make tables higher so people don’t have to bend down)
rug for booth (totally optional)
decor/decoration/ways of making booth more appealing/pretty
storage totes (locking) to carry your supplies
dolly or flat rolling cart (I have this one since it folds flat) or utility wagon for transporting items from car to booth.
solar lantern (in case it rains and you need light or if setup/breakdown is in the dark)
waterproof led rope light (I string these along my tent frame to illuminate inside in case of rain or dark)

Also check out part 1 of new vendor guides: So You Want To Vend at Craft Shows? (Part One: Basic Supplies – Tent) which discusses how to select a tent, what to look for, how to use tent weights effectively and suggestions of items I like and use.

Like what you see? Check out PhoenixFire Designs on Etsy to shop our 100% handcrafted from scratch wire wrapped jewelry.

Don’t forget to like PhoenixFire Designs on facebook to keep up with our in-person shows and events and follow us on instagram to see what we’ve been working on lately!

Think Outside the [Big] Box This Holiday Season

Three 14k gf Tree of Life Pendants handmade by PhoenixFire Designs featuring emerald green Chrome Diopside, an Ombre of shaded Ruby, and deep Blue Sapphire.

The holidays can be stressful for so many people. Having guests, hosting dinners, having company, shopping for gifts, holiday baking – the list can be endless! And far too often people run out of time or energy and simply run to the local mall or big box store and frantically try to find some generic piece of plastic crap that fill the shelves and hope the gift recipient likes it.

But gift giving doesn’t have to be like this!

There’s a big maker movement being reclaimed here in the US; people are once again crafting things with their own hands, making them one-at-a-time in their workshops, studios, and made in America. Artists, artisans, crafters – all of us are honing our skill and craft and making beautiful things that are truly gifts to be remembered.

Three 14k gf Tree of Life Pendants handmade by PhoenixFire Designs featuring emerald green Chrome Diopside, an Ombre of shaded Ruby, and deep Blue Sapphire.

Three 14k gf Tree of Life Pendants handmade by PhoenixFire Designs featuring emerald green Chrome Diopside, an Ombre of shaded Ruby, and deep Blue Sapphire.

My own shop, PhoenixFire Designs is celebrating TEN YEARS this year on Etsy. It’s a milestone I’m very proud of and my commitment to luxury, quality, and beauty remain the core of my business. I love creating unique jewelry; signature pieces that bring people happiness and special meaning. I love knowing that something I made from scratch with my two hands will be something worn and enjoyed for years to come.

Hand wire wrapped in 14k gf yellow gold wire with a large, natural, Rainbow Moonstone Full Moon nestled in the bare branches of this unique tree of life pendant by PhoenixFire Designs.

Hand wire wrapped in 14k gf yellow gold wire with a large, natural, Rainbow Moonstone Full Moon nestled in the bare branches of this unique tree of life pendant by PhoenixFire Designs.

The holiday season shouldn’t be about who can find the cheapest item the fastest. And I get that in this rush-rush-rush, fast-paced world, it’s hard to slow down and take the time to search for something unique and special. But please, as a handcrafted artisan, I implore you to look at options beyond the Big Box stores. Your mother, your sister, your friend – they don’t need more Made in China junk. Our lives and homes are full of disposable items, cheaply made of questionable quality and little to no value for the human lives in the factory that churned it out.

14k gf Yellow Gold Ombre of Shaded Ruby Tree of Life ranging from pink sapphire through deep ruby red. Handmade by PhoenixFire Designs.

14k gf Yellow Gold Ombre of Shaded Ruby Tree of Life ranging from pink sapphire through deep ruby red. Handmade by PhoenixFire Designs.

Instead, think about supporting an individual with your holiday shopping. The CEO of Wal-Mart doesn’t care about you, nor does your purchase impact the millions he already has. But your single purchase with a handcrafted artisan…that’s a different story altogether!

Those handmade purchases put food on the table, a roof over the head and gas in the car of REAL people; REAL individuals and families right here in America. It’s not an abstract concept, it’s as black and white and simple as it gets; support small business and handmade artists and not only do you get something unique and crafted with love and care, but you put money into the hands of a real person instead of a goliath corporation.

And isn’t that what the spirit of the holiday season is truly about?

Argentium sterling silver, recycled and eco-friendly sterling with deep blue sapphire gemstones in this handmade tree of life pendant by PhoenixFire Designs.

Argentium sterling silver, recycled and eco-friendly sterling with deep blue sapphire gemstones in this handmade tree of life pendant by PhoenixFire Designs.

PhoenixFire Designs would love to make your holiday shine! Please feel free to shop our Etsy storefront, or contact us if you’d like something custom, personalized or one of a kind made just for you! We’re always happy to accept custom orders.


Miss M. Turner is the owner and founder of PhoenixFire Designs and has been creating handcrafted jewelry, all made 100% from scratch in her Tampa, Florida studio since 2001. Her successful etsy shop celebrates it’s 10th year in 2016, with thousands of happy customers all around the world. M. Turner also vends at local markets, craft shows, indie festivals and other art shows throughout the greater Tampa Bay Area and into Sarasota.

You can find her blog at TreeofLifePendants.com, follow PhoenixFire Designs on Instagram, follow PhoenixFire Designs on Pinterest and Shop PhoenixFire Designs on Etsy or Handmade at Amazon.

So You Want To Vend at Craft Shows? (Part One: Basic Supplies – Tent)

PhoenixFire Designs handmade tree of life pendants, wire wrapped jewelry, birthstone necklaces, vendor booth tampa, clearwater, st. pete marker market, shop local, craft show, art festival.

With the resurgence of interest in the “maker movement” and the push for more handmade, handcrafted, locally sourced products lately, people are embracing the idea of shop small and shop local and there are more craft fairs, art shows, indie markets, farmer’s markets and more going on regularly in most cities around the country. Setting up as a vendor at these kinds of events can be a great way to promote and sell your wares.

Though I’ve been on Etsy for ten years now this year, I’m always reaching out to a new audience at local events! Online sales platforms provide a global audience but not everyone shops online, nor will they necessarily find you in the sea of options. It also gives people a chance to see my work in person and fully appreciate the details and intricacy of it. No matter how nice a photo I take, it’s always better to see, touch, and evaluate an item in person.

All that said, however, vending isn’t for everyone and one needs to be aware of the high up-front costs associated with getting a vendor booth ready for prime-time.

PhoenixFire Designs booth tent display for St. Pete Earth Day Celebration 2016.

PhoenixFire Designs booth tent display for St. Pete Earth Day Celebration 2016.

Now, I’ve been doing in-person shows and events for several years now. My early booth was nowhere near as “finished” as it is now. The process of developing a booth is forever ongoing and ever-changing. You’ll learn what works for you and what doesn’t; you’ll hone in on how you like your set-up, the things that are important or that can be discarded, etc. And you’ll upgrade and improve your equipment as you go. I’m not going to get into booth design or display ideas in this specific post (as that’s an entire post of it’s own), but perhaps that’s something I can address in a future post. For now, I’m just going to highlight some products that work for me. Your mileage may vary and please feel free to just use this as a starting point rather than a checklist.

First, and most importantly is your tent. Now, you can go to Wal-Mart or Lowe’s and buy a backyard or beach style tent for around $60-90 and that’s what I did in the beginning. (In fact, mine was a hand me down!)

PhoenixFire Designs first ever show tent, just goes to show how far I've come and how you grow, change and develop your display and vendor booth presence over the years!

This is so embarrassing, but I’m sharing it to show how displays develop and grow with experience. This was my first ever show with a hand-me-down backyard tent.

But if you’re going to do this on a regular or on-going basis, you’ll very quickly find that a quality tent makes a HUGE difference in both set-up as well as presentation. Once I made the investment for my tent – I personally use Undercover R-3 with CRS curtain wall system – I felt like it really stepped up my game. I felt more “legit” and “professional” and I think the quality helped customer perception of me as a vendor as well. It was an investment vs the cheap ones, but given how much I’ve used it, the tent has more than paid for itself countless times.

There are several things to keep in mind about a tent:

  • Some shows require white-only tops.
    Many “beach” or “backyard” style tents have blue, green, brown or other color tops. This can limit the shows/events you participate in.
  • Many shows require tent carry fire resistance rating.
    The “professional” tents are often pre-treated; inexpensive ones may require you to spray them down with fire retardant products that are messy and stinky.
  • Most inexpensive tents do not have sidewalls.
    Having walls you can close can be VERY important in many situations including if it starts to rain, if you need to isolate your booth from an obnoxious neighbor booth (it happens!), or for shade or sun protection. Many times, by the time you buy a cheap tent and walls separately, you spent as much as a more expensive tent anyway!
  • Inexpensive backyard/beach tents are not as strong/durable as professional grade ones.
    You’re going to be hauling this thing around; throwing in the back of a truck or SUV, setting up, breaking down repeatedly. It’s going to take wear and damage. Plus, you’re going to need to anchor this thing and you need to be sure it’s solid enough not to bend or break from use or from your anchor weights.

One feature I LOVE about my tent is the way the walls hang. Most tents – such as popular styles by EZ-Up (note: this one with walls is more expensive than my preferred tent!) – use a velcro system to hang the walls. This means it’s basically ALL or NOTHING. My preferred tent uses a unique system called “CRS™ Curtain-Wall Enclosure” which basically means there’s a built-in coated metal “cord” all along the four edges of the tent. The walls clip onto this “railing” and can slide open, closed, half open, etc.

PhoenixFire Designs vendor booth displaying Undercover R-3 CRS curtain hanging system usage.

In the circled areas, you can see how the curtains clip onto the “railing” (which is a strong, coated metal wire) to allow the walls to slide open or closed, or partially open or closed. This unique feature is one of my favorite aspects of my tent.

Once you have your tent, you’ll need a few accessories right away. First off, is some sort of anchor or weight. Do not be fooled into thinking because your tent is heavy that it can’t move, fly off, blow over or get knocked down!! Because I assure you it can and will if not anchored properly!

There are COUNTLESS ways to anchor a tent down. A lot of it depends on your personal preference. Every show will require some sort of anchor/weight just for safety reasons and you can’t count on being able to use stakes or anything that requires embedding in the ground. Besides the fact many shows won’t allow you to use stakes to prevent damage to the park or grass you’re set up on, many shows you might be on concrete and a stake simply isn’t an option!

It’s best not to even worry about any kind of in-ground anchor and focus ONLY on a weight type system!

Do a search for “tent weights” on amazon and there’s a myriad of options. I initially picked up something like these tent plate weights but quickly realized though they are convienent, they are NOWHERE NEAR enough weight. At only 5-7lbs per leg, they won’t even slow down a tent that catches the wind.

PhoenixFire Designs handmade tree of life pendants, wire wrapped jewelry, birthstone necklaces, vendor booth tampa, clearwater, st. pete marker market, shop local, craft show, art festival.

Shot of my tent from Live, Love, Local Festival in 2016. You can see how I opted to open my side walls up for breeze but how neatly they tie up like curtains when not in use. Hidden behind the curtains are my tent weights!

For safety, you want at LEAST 20lbs PER leg. I know. It’s a lot of weight and means that’s 80lbs of weights you need to carry to and from your car to set up and break down. I sympathize! But for your safety, the safety of your customers and to prevent loss or damage of your items or other vendors, it’s really what you need to do.

After some trial and error, I personally wound up using EZ UP Canopy Weight Bags. There are a few other, less expensive versions such as King Canopy Weight Bags or Euromax Weight Bags. At the time I bought mine, the cheaper options weren’t as plentiful. I can’t comment on the other ones but I will say the EZ UP ones I purchased have held up really well, through heavy rains and brutal Florida heat and sun. I would recommend them.

All of them work on the same premise though: You go to Lowes or Home Depot and buy some 50lb bags of “playground sand.” I found mine for a little over $5/bag at Lowe’s. And you simply fill the bags with the sand and close them up. The bags them wrap around the tent leg and you velcro them in place.

Demonstration of how to use tent bag weights and ratchet tie down straps to secure your vendor tent at shows.

Normally, I hide my weights in my curtain, but clearly this day I forgot. Which works well for you to see how I put the weights the base of the leg, then use a tie-down ratchet strap to connect the top of the weight bag with the frame of the tent. This helps provide more “downforce” pull on the tent and makes the weights more effective in preventing the tent from blowing, tilting or tipping over in the wind.

The final step is IMPORTANT though and I think most people miss which is to anchor the weights with a rachet or tie down strap to the top of the tent. And please, do NOT use a bungee cord! It has too much give and can fail if the wind catches the tent.

Example of how to use Undercover R-3 CRS curtain hanging wall system as well as hide your tie down tent weight straps in the curtain wall.

This is another shot from behind the table inside my booth showing you both how the curtain walls hang on my tent as well as how I “hide” my ratchet tie-down straps within the curtain wall.

By running a tie down through your tent weight and then through the top frame of your tent, you’re providing more downforce so the tent is anchored even more securely and firmly. And I can attest that this very system helped us when we got caught in a HEAVY thunderstorm right on the waterfront in Florida. The winds were blowing hard and we just zipped our walls shut and hunkered inside and waited out the storm.

Whew! That was a lot of information for one post and we’ve only just scratched the surface. But I’m going to finish up here for now. Look for additional how-to and vendor information articles in the future addressing other aspects of vendor life and how to have the best possible presentation for your work!

Have ideas for other topics? Leave a comment and let me know! And please feel free to share this article with anyone you think could benefit from this information. Thanks for reading!

I am in no way endorsed or sponsored by any company. All opinions are 100% my own and not influenced in anyway. All products mentioned were paid for 100% out of pocket without any compensation or discount. This is not a paid review. Amazon links are affiliate links to help support me as a small business owner and help me provide helpful content like this.


Miss M. Turner is the owner and founder of PhoenixFire Designs and has been creating handcrafted jewelry, all made 100% from scratch in her Tampa, Florida studio since 2001. Her successful etsy shop celebrates it’s 10th year in 2016, with thousands of happy customers all around the world. M. Turner also vends at local markets, craft shows, indie festivals and other art shows throughout the greater Tampa Bay Area and into Sarasota.

You can find her blog at TreeofLifePendants.com, follow PhoenixFire Designs on Instagram, follow PhoenixFire Designs on Pinterest and Shop PhoenixFire Designs on Etsy or Handmade at Amazon.

Recycled Jewelry Can Be A Toxic Health Risk

Electronic products are jam-packed with heavy metals, semi-metals and various chemical compounds that can leak into soil and become hazardous. Things like lead, mercury, copper, barium, nickel and even arsenic are all present within a variety of electronic products.

While I am a strong advocate for recycling (and upcycling), not everything can be “recycled beautifully.” Some things are unsafe, toxic and potentially seriously harmful to health. Doubly so when you’re talking about materials that will be worn on the human body and touching skin. One such example is reclaimed wire from old electronics such as tv’s or computers.

 Electronic products are jam-packed with heavy metals, semi-metals and various chemical compounds that can leak into soil and become hazardous. Things like lead, mercury, copper, barium, nickel and even arsenic are all present within a variety of electronic products.

What you might not realize is that electronic waste (also known as “e-waste”) is a serious problem in our tech-hungry society. And that much of that old tech contains a terrifying mix of toxic and potentially deadly combination of heavy metals and chemicals that are not only making humans sick, but poisoning our environment as well.

  • Brominated flame retardants – used in circuit boards and plastic casings. They are known to cause neurological issues such as learning disabilities and memory function. Additionally, interfere with thyroid and estrogen hormone systems. Exposure in the womb has been linked to behavioural problems. source
  • Lead – cathode ray tubes (CRT) found in monitors and tv’s contain thousands and thousands of tons of lead. Even low levels of lead in the blood of children can result in:
    Behavior and learning problems, Lower IQ and Hyperactivity, Slowed growth, Hearing Problems, Anemia and in rare cases, ingestion of lead can cause seizures, coma and even death.

    In adults, effects include: Cardiovascular effects, increased blood pressure and incidence of hypertension, Decreased kidney function and Reproductive problems (in both men and women) source

  • Mercury – used in flat panel displays and for lighting of monitors and tvs, this heavy metal produce toxicity or death with less than a gram. Toxic effects include damage to the brain, kidneys and lungs. Mercury poisoning can result in several diseases, including acrodynia (pink disease), Hunter-Russell syndrome, and Minamata disease. Symptoms typically include sensory impairment (vision, hearing, speech), disturbed sensation and a lack of coordination. source
  • Hexavalent chromium – used in production of metal casings to harden and resist corrosion as well as in paints and plastics is known to cause cancer. In addition, it targets the respiratory system, kidneys, liver, skin and eyes. source
  • Polyvinyl chloride (PVC) – used to manufacture plastics, plastic coatings on electronic wires, cable coatings, packing materials and more has more harmful side effects than I can easily mention ranging from liver damage, to male reproductive damage, to liver cancer, to oral cancer, to miscarriage, to testicular damage, to kidney damage, to inhibition of blood clotting in humans and cardiac arrhythmias in animals among many others. Suffice to say, you don’t want prolonged exposure to it. source
  • Cadmium – is a toxic heavy metal used in old CRT monitors and rechargeable batteries. Cadmium and its compounds are highly toxic and exposure to this metal is known to cause cancer and targets the body’s cardiovascular, renal, gastrointestinal, neurological, reproductive, and respiratory systems. source

Unfortunately, the list goes on and on. See Hazardous Substances in e-Waste for even more toxic and dangerous materials I haven’t even mentioned!

All this begs the question….why would you use “recycled copper or aluminum wire that [is] pull[ed] out of T.V.’s that people throw in the trash” for human worn jewelry??

epa000471501 A worker rummages through electronic waste for the purpose of salvaging metals and other materials for resale in Guiyu, south China's Guangdong province, Friday 01 July 2005.  Electronic waste, illegally imported here from developed countries, is causing severe environmental damage and exposing workers to highly toxic chemicals and heavy metals.  EPA/MICHAEL REYNOLDS

Do you really want to wear jewelry made from THIS? Do you want to exposure yourself, your family, your children to the potential dangers known in e-waste by wearing jewelry made from “recycled beautifully” wire? image source

Remember, skin can and DOES absorb chemicals!

Skin absorption is a route by which substances can enter the body through the skin. Along with inhalation, ingestion and injection, dermal absorption is a route of exposure for toxic substances and route of administration for medication. source

I implore you to PLEASE research your jewelry purchases. Be sure that the materials used in your jewelry is SAFE and MEANT for wear by humans. Don’t fall for slick marketing campaigns designed to trick you into thinking you’re buying something ecologically friendly.

Managing the ever-growing source of e-waste in the world is a serious problem to be sure, but using potentially toxic – and at worse, possibly lethal – materials for jewelry is flat-out dangerous.


Miss M. Turner is the owner and founder of PhoenixFire Designs and has been creating handcrafted jewelry, all made 100% from scratch in her Tampa, Florida studio since 2001. Her successful etsy shop celebrates it’s 10th year in 2016, with thousands of happy customers all around the world. M. Turner also vends at local markets, craft shows, indie festivals and other art shows throughout the greater Tampa Bay Area and into Sarasota.

You can find her blog at TreeofLifePendants.com, follow PhoenixFire Designs on Instagram, follow PhoenixFire Designs on Pinterest and Shop PhoenixFire Designs on Etsy or Handmade at Amazon.

When “Handmade” Isn’t Really Made by Hand

Just because a seller claims to be "handmade" doesn't mean they really make it by hand. This article takes a look at common reseller tactics and how to avoid falling for overpriced junk made in China.

Handmade is having a resurgence lately. People are reconnecting with the idea of handicrafts, handmade, arts & crafts and craft markets. Websites such as Etsy have dominated the online market share, with Handmade At Amazon launching late 2015. As a handmade jewelry artisan, it’s a good time. And I am excited that people are once again valuing the maker movement; the one-of-a-kind treasures made by human hands here in America instead of churned out in a factory in a third world country.

The problem comes about when people abuse the definition of “handmade” to profit from this goodwill; when they falsify what handmade truly is. I see people pass off mass-produced items as “handmade” all the time. This hurts those of us who are true artisans and waters down the market. It also undercuts the value of true handicrafts and teaches consumers to expect “dollar store” or “Wal-Mart” pricing, making it much more difficult for artists to make a living.

For example, if Jane Doe comes along with items made in China that she buys for pennies and resells as “handmade” she can afford to charge very little for the items. Meaning, a consumer used to the “Wal-Mart” type lowest possible price mentality will see something truly handmade and scoff at the “expense” of it.

Pretty pictures don’t mean something is handmade. Take this image from instagram for example.

Beware of fake handmade. How to spot fake handmade. Not all handcrafted is by hand. China resellers on etsy.

One of thousands of so-called “handmade” or “handcrafted” websites out there who have pretty pictures of Chinese imported junk.

As of this writing, over 400 people have “liked” it. It’s being passed off as “handcrafted.” But is it really? A 30 second search on AliExpress (a website where you can buy wholesale goods direct from Chinese factories) results in this:

Beware of fake handmade. How to spot fake handmade. Not all handcrafted is by hand. China resellers on etsy.

Direct Chinese import at wholesale prices. These items are of questionable material and made in third world factories. They are NOT “handmade.”

Look familiar? It’s the same exact item. Available for $2.49 each with free shipping. It’s NOT handmade. It’s some piece of junk from China made from unidentifiable materials and made in a factory in a third world country with questionable human rights.

What about the “dragon claw” pendant. That’s handmade though, right?

This is not handmade. Deceitful sellers pass things like this off as "handcrafted" on etsy and at craft shows all the time. How to spot fakes. Guide to truly handmade.

This is not handmade. Deceitful sellers pass things like this off as “handcrafted” on etsy and at craft shows all the time.

Nope. $1.89 per pendant with free shipping.

Ok, but surely the crescent moon druzy pendant must be truly handmade, right?

Pretty photos don't make something handmade. Just because the etsy shop or craft show vendor claims its handcrafted doesn't mean it truly is. Resellers are a rampant problem in the handmade marketplace and damage consumer perception of the maker movement.

BZZ!! Three strikes, you’re out! Just another case of being a reseller. (A reseller is someone who buys mass produced, factory items at wholesale prices and turns around and resells it for profit without disclosing it was actually manufactured elsewhere.)

Not only does this blatant lying and misrepresentation mean that truly handmade artisans can’t compete financially with resellers, but it degrades the consumer’s trust in handmade. It puts down in their minds as to whether or not something is made by hand or not.

This isn’t a new problem. Nor is this example the only person who distorts the truth for marketing appeal – nor the first to be highly successful selling tall tales as to a product’s origins. One need only google “Ecologica Malibu” to come across articles (like this or this or like this) discussing the case of the “recycled boat wood” furniture.

You can also google “Three Bird Nest” to find one of the most INFAMOUS abusers of etsy – and self-proclaimed “richest etsy seller” at one point – to find articles like this.

So, it’s not so much a “Genesis” here that this one, highly successful jewelry seller is making hand-over-fist reselling you cheap junk from China with a fancy marketing scheme and instagram filtered photos. It’s that this continues to happen and hard working artisans like myself continue to get the squeeze.

If you want to buy cheap, junk, costume jewelry or cheap, junk accessories you are welcome to it! It’s a free country and a free market. But I sincerely hope that you take the time to educate yourself about what handmade TRULY means.

Does it look like something a person could have made in their home, studio, or garage? Or does it require industrial machinery? If the latter, chances are that means it WAS made in some factory somewhere.

When you shop on etsy, or you attend a craft fair or craft market, ASK QUESTIONS. Know what you’re spending your money on and decide who and what you wish to support. Those of us who make our living literally by hand are depending on it.


Miss M. Turner is the owner and founder of PhoenixFire Designs and has been creating handcrafted jewelry, all made 100% from scratch in her Tampa, Florida studio since 2001. Her successful etsy shop celebrates it’s 10th year in 2016, with thousands of happy customers all around the world. M. Turner also vends at local markets, craft shows, indie festivals and other art shows throughout the greater Tampa Bay Area and into Sarasota.

You can find her blog at TreeofLifePendants.com, follow PhoenixFire Designs on Instagram, follow PhoenixFire Designs on Pinterest and Shop PhoenixFire Designs on Etsy or Handmade at Amazon.

How to use coupon codes on Etsy

Every so often, I run a sale or offer a discount code or coupon code in my PhoenixFire Designs etsy shop. And etsy itself doesn’t seem to have very helpful how-to or information on how to use discount codes or coupon codes. If you’ve been confused in the past or wondered how to use a promo code, here’s a visual how to to help.

It’s actually pretty simple but not obvious. There’s a little link, “Apply shop coupon code” right under the payment type in your cart. You click that, and a text field will open for you to type in the code. Hit “apply” and it will take the discount off automatically.

If the code is expired or invalid, it will let you know that too.

Add item to cart. Then click the "apply shop coupon code" link found under the payment options.

Add item to cart. Then click the “apply shop coupon code” link found under the payment options.

A text box will open for you to enter the code, then click the "apply" button.

A text box will open for you to enter the code, then click the “apply” button.

After you click "apply" the cart will automatically update to reflect the discount and new total.

After you click “apply” the cart will automatically update to reflect the discount and new total.

If the coupon code is expired, it will tell you that it's no longer valid.

If the coupon code is expired, it will tell you that it’s no longer valid.

Now, it’s very important NOT to put coupon or discount codes in the “notes to seller” field. The system does NOT recognize codes there and will NOT take the discount off for you. Sellers are unable to modify your cart or your order after you check out, so we can’t apply the discount for you. (For safety and security reasons, sellers do NOT get any of your credit card info, nor do we have the ability to process or modify your existing order in anyway or charge your card. Obviously, this is a safety feature for buyers but it does put limitations on what we as sellers can do after you’ve checked out.)

The “notes to seller” field is usually reserved for customization information, messages to include with gift orders, etc.

Finally, it's important NOT to put a coupon code in the "notes to seller" field as it will NOT apply the discount and sellers CANNOT apply the discount for you after you've checked out.

Finally, it’s important NOT to put a coupon code in the “notes to seller” field as it will NOT apply the discount and sellers CANNOT apply the discount for you after you’ve checked out.

Hopefully, this helps clarify how to use a coupon code, discount code, promo code or other discount when buying on etsy. As always, you can find our PhoenixFire Designs shop on etsy here!

Size Chart for PhoenixFire Deisgns Tree of Life Pendants

It can be really hard to judge size of things online from just a picture. Even harder still to decide between two differently sized items. So I made this comparison chart to help easily show the sizes of the commonly available tree of life pendants in my shop.

Extra large, large, medium and miniature size scale of tree of life pendants by PhoenixFire Designs.

Extra large, large, medium and miniature size scale of tree of life pendants by PhoenixFire Designs.

The approximately 2″ Extra large is currently a custom order size. Pictured is a version with a 25mm fire crack agate in mixed metals of brown wire and copper wire. I have more colors of the 25mm fire crackle agate on hand as well if you’re interested in having one custom made.

Large is the “normal” size for my full moon trees. The pendant is approximately 1.5″ and I use 20mm moons in those pieces. Things like my rainbow moonstone, Halloween moon and also Four Seasons Tree of Life all are in the “large” size. Pictured is a gold feldspar moon set in non-tarnish copper wire.

Small at approximately 1.25″ is the “normal” size for the faceted rondelle trees such as the birthstone trees (garnet, emerald, ruby, etc.) as well as the smaller full moon versions. I use a proportionally smaller moon of 10mm to keep the balance of the scale. Pictured is a green agate moon set in gunmetal wire.

Mini is currently available only as earrings. Items like my Four Season Tree of Life Earrings use the mini size. It’s approximately 1″ and makes for a tiny, adorable little tree. I can also make a single tree as a pendant in this size on custom order. (Perhaps a nice gift for a younger girl? A piece of “grown up” jewelry more appropriate to her size?) Pictured is a mix of rose quartz, amethyst and rainbow moonstone chips in silver.

I hope this helps better understand the various sizes and the scale of how they all relate to each other. My pieces tend to fall in the same sizes so this reference should be a helpful guide in comparing and deciding which size works best for you!

As always, every single piece of PhoenixFire Designs jewelry is handmade entirely from scratch so customization and personalization is always possible! If you want to mix it up or change it up, just let me know!

All About Birthstones

Every month of the year has birthstone associated with it. Each month has a primary gemstone and several also have an alternate or two as well. What’s nice about birthstones is that it’s a great way to celebrate family (such as children, grandchildren, siblings, etc.) in jewelry.

birthstone gem chart, birthstones by month, birthstone tree of life pendants, family tree, birthstone jewelry

Birthstone Gemstones Chart by Month featuring Tree of Life Pendants.

Let’s take a look at the different birthstones for each month of the year along with information about the symbolic meaning of birthstone gemstones and I’ll show some examples of what you can do with them!

January – Garnet

Garnet is a natural, semi-precious gemstone associated with the planet Mars, the zodiac sign of Aquarius and the birthstone of the month of January. Considered the stone of good luck in business, it's also said to increase your self-esteem when worn as jewelry. It's also the stone associated with the first chakra (base of the spine.) It's rich, deep and intense color is unique and beautiful.

Garnet is a natural, semi-precious gemstone associated with the planet Mars, the zodiac sign of Aquarius and the birthstone of the month of January. Considered the stone of good luck in business, it’s also said to increase your self-esteem when worn as jewelry. It’s also the stone associated with the first chakra (base of the spine.) It’s rich, deep and intense color is unique and beautiful.

February – Amethyst

Amethyst derives it's name from a Greek word meaning "without drunkenness" because it was believed to protect the wearer from poisons. Amethyst is a semi-precious gemstone and is a very powerful stone being used for insomnia, protection, wisdom and healing. Amethyst is also traditionally associated with royalty and people of great wealth.

Amethyst derives it’s name from a Greek word meaning “without drunkenness” because it was believed to protect the wearer from poisons. Amethyst is a semi-precious gemstone and is a very powerful stone being used for insomnia, protection, wisdom and healing. Amethyst is also traditionally associated with royalty and people of great wealth.

March – Aquamarine

Aquamarine is a natural, semi-precious gemstone in lovely tones of delicate blue. The birthstone of March, it is said to help you be in touch with your spiritual being. Known as "Water of the Sea" because of it's color, aquamarine been used by sailors for centuries to protect them on the water. It's also been long used as a strong meditation aide and when worn as a necklace, it is said to calm and sooth the nerves.

Aquamarine is a natural, semi-precious gemstone in lovely tones of delicate blue. The birthstone of March, it is said to help you be in touch with your spiritual being. Known as “Water of the Sea” because of it’s color, aquamarine been used by sailors for centuries to protect them on the water. It’s also been long used as a strong meditation aide and when worn as a necklace, it is said to calm and sooth the nerves.

April – Diamond (Alternates: White Sapphire, White Topaz)

Pure Topaz is colorless and transparent and is more rare than it's better-known colored versions. (Such as Blue Topaz or Yellow Topaz.) Known as "White Topaz" or "Silver Topaz" it's transparent and crystal clear and is a popular alternative for diamonds. The beautiful micro-faceted rondelles used in this piece are very high quality, luxe stones with precision cutting.

Pure Topaz is colorless and transparent and is more rare than it’s better-known colored versions. (Such as Blue Topaz or Yellow Topaz.) Known as “White Topaz” or “Silver Topaz” it’s transparent and crystal clear and is a popular alternative for diamonds. The beautiful micro-faceted rondelles used in this piece are very high quality, luxe stones with precision cutting.

May – Emerald (Alternate: Chrome Diopside)

Emerald is one of only four rare, precious gemstones in the world (along with Ruby, Diamond and Sapphire.) A member of the beryl mineral family, emeralds have been prized since ancient times and a quality emerald commands more value than even a diamond! Traditionally, emeralds are worn to promote healing and enhance love and contentment.

Emerald is one of only four rare, precious gemstones in the world (along with Ruby, Diamond and Sapphire.) A member of the beryl mineral family, emeralds have been prized since ancient times and a quality emerald commands more value than even a diamond! Traditionally, emeralds are worn to promote healing and enhance love and contentment.

June – Pearl (Alternates: Alexandrite and Moonstone)

Pearls have been used for jewelry and adornment for centuries. Unlike all other gemstones, pearls require living creatures to create them and they require no cutting or polishing. Freshwater pearls are said to promote sincerity, truth and loyalty and are commonly used in wedding and bridal jewelry.

Pearls have been used for jewelry and adornment for centuries. Unlike all other gemstones, pearls require living creatures to create them and they require no cutting or polishing. Freshwater pearls are said to promote sincerity, truth and loyalty and are commonly used in wedding and bridal jewelry.

July – Ruby

Ruby is one of only four rare, precious gemstones in the world (along with Emerald, Diamond and Sapphire.) Ruby is known as the most powerful gem in the universe. To own a ruby is to know contentment and peace. Given as a gift, ruby is the stone of friendship and love. It's also associated with vitality and royalty.

Ruby is one of only four rare, precious gemstones in the world (along with Emerald, Diamond and Sapphire.) Ruby is known as the most powerful gem in the universe. To own a ruby is to know contentment and peace. Given as a gift, ruby is the stone of friendship and love. It’s also associated with vitality and royalty.

August – Peridot

Peridot is a natural, semi-precious gemstone in the most amazing green color. The birthstone of August, it has been considered sacred and a symbol of purity for thousands of years. It was considered a stone of Springtime and a gift of Mother Nature by the Ancients. It is a stone of lightness and beauty and is said to enhance wellness in the spiritually aware. Peridot, while possessing a uniquely vivid tone of green has some natural variation in it.

Peridot is a natural, semi-precious gemstone in the most amazing green color. The birthstone of August, it has been considered sacred and a symbol of purity for thousands of years. It was considered a stone of Springtime and a gift of Mother Nature by the Ancients. It is a stone of lightness and beauty and is said to enhance wellness in the spiritually aware. Peridot, while possessing a uniquely vivid tone of green has some natural variation in it.

September – Sapphire

Sapphire means "blue" in Greek. The blue goes from dark blue almost black to pale blue. The finest blue sapphires are a strong blue. Sapphires are one of only four precious gemstones in the world (along with ruby, emerald and diamond) making them rare, expensive and cherished. The sapphire was called the "Stone of Destiny". Sapphires contribute to mental clarity and perception. They can promote financial rewards.

Sapphire means “blue” in Greek. The blue goes from dark blue almost black to pale blue. The finest blue sapphires are a strong blue. Sapphires are one of only four precious gemstones in the world (along with ruby, emerald and diamond) making them rare, expensive and cherished. The sapphire was called the “Stone of Destiny”. Sapphires contribute to mental clarity and perception. They are said to promote financial rewards.

October – Opal (Alternate: Tourmaline)

The Opal derives its name from the Latin word "opalus," meaning precious jewel. It is one of the birthstones for October.  Available in an assortment of colors including blue opal and moss opal and ranging in color from opaque whites, through pale beige, into soft green, browns and even blue.

The Opal derives its name from the Latin word “opalus,” meaning precious jewel. It is one of the birthstones for October. Available in an assortment of colors including blue opal and moss opal and ranging in color from opaque whites, through pale beige, into soft green, browns and even blue.

November – Topaz (Alternate: Citrine)

Citrine is a semi-precious stone in the quartz family. Citrine has been called the "stone of the mind" and is known as the lucky "Merchants Stone". It's said to bring luck to those in sales by placing a piece in the cash drawer. Citrine is also used as an alternative to the November birthstone, Yellow Topaz, due to it's similar color.

Citrine is a semi-precious stone in the quartz family. Citrine has been called the “stone of the mind” and is known as the lucky “Merchants Stone”. It’s said to bring luck to those in sales by placing a piece in the cash drawer. Citrine is also used as an alternative to the November birthstone, Yellow Topaz, due to it’s similar color.

December – Tanzanite (Alternates: Turquoise, Blue Zircon

One of the most cherished and sought-after gemstones in the world today, Tanzanite is blue-purple to purple blue stone belonging to family of zoisite.Tanzanite is found in only one place in the world: Tanzania, Africa in the foothills of Mount Kilimanjaro. Discovered in 1967, it's also a relatively "new" gemstone and was named by the famous jewelry store, Tiffany & Co.

One of the most cherished and sought-after gemstones in the world today, Tanzanite is blue-purple to purple blue stone belonging to family of zoisite.Tanzanite is found in only one place in the world: Tanzania, Africa in the foothills of Mount Kilimanjaro. Discovered in 1967, it’s also a relatively “new” gemstone and was named by the famous jewelry store, Tiffany & Co.

There are many myths and legends about the healing, spiritual and mythological power of birthstones. It is said that wearing a gemstone during the month it represents enhances it’s power and influence for the wearer. Though the concept of birthstones date back thousands of years, the modern list has been around since 1912 and the only update in all that time has been the inclusion of “modern” gemstone, Tanzanite, to be added for December’s birthstone.

Regardless of whether or not you believe the gems hold mystical properties, they remain beautiful and attractive and a wonderful way of symbolizing and celebrating friends, loved ones and family!

Check out all the featured birthstone tree of life pendants and many birthstone alternatives on PhoenixFire Designs Birthstone Trees section of the Etsy shop.