Meet the Maker: Jen of Nautical Wheeler

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This nautical-inspired handmade jewelry shop is everything that summer is about – just a look through the collection gives you all of the beach feels you can get. From simple wave bracelets to more detailed feather rings, every piece quickly becomes a summer staple that can be layered upon, or left to star on it’s own. We want to share the story behind Nautical Wheeler, the shop focused on beach jewelry wear.

Let’s get to know Jen and the story behind the Nautical Wheeler (visit the aftcra shop here)!


Hi, I’m Jen from Nautical Wheeler Jewelry (shop here) and I handcraft nautical and beach inspired jewelry for mermaids and gypsy souls.


I live in New England and work from home. I think it’s especially important that when you work from home, you make your office a place you really want to be. I’ve filled my office with pieces that inspire me and remind me of the beach. I always keep seaside treasures nearby, like seashells and driftwood, just in case I need a little added inspiration.

What is your background? How did you get started in your line of work?

I’ve been doing metalwork for 4 years but jewelry making for well over 10 years!

I’ve been very lucky to have family in the jewelry industry. I studied metalwork under my aunt who was a goldsmith for over 40 years. I taught myself other kinds of jewelry making skills, like knotting techniques and beading but found my true passion in metalwork.

How did you come up with the name of your shop?

I wanted a name that rang true to who I was and what I loved. A nautical wheeler is a person who builds ships and is a sailor at heart. Having spent most of my childhood on boats and out at sea this expression really spoke to me.

How do you create your work?

My process starts with an idea. Sometimes it’s easy to bring an idea to life, other times it takes several rough drafts before I get it looking the way I pictured. I usually start by either hand-sawing a sheet of Sterling silver or balling small pieces of silver together. The item is now just a soft notion of what I want it to be. So I’ll go in with metal filers and a variety of shaping tools to add details and get rid of sharp edges. From there it really depends on what type of jewelry I want the piece to be. If it’s going to be a ring, I’ll handcraft a Sterling band using a torch and solder to attach the two pieces. Next the ring will go through a series of cleaning and polishing until I get it just right. That’s when it’s ready to be wrapped and sent off to one of my lovely customers.


What is the inspiration for your work?

I grew up in Vancouver and spent every Summer on Vancouver Island. There wasn’t a day in my childhood when I couldn’t smell the salty air, that I wasn’t rummaging on the beach for seaside treasures or out on a boat with friends. I never lost my love for the sea as I grew up and I still find myself drawn to its sandy shores. It’s hard to pinpoint exactly what inspires me about the beach. There’s so many different textures and colors, that I always feel like there’s some new form of inspiration. Whether it’s sea glass tumbled by the waves, the glistening water or a small feather found in the sand.

What is your next new exciting project?

I’m planning on doing new designs for Fall/Winter using coastal enamel colors and organic shapes. As soon as the new collection is ready, I’ll be putting it up on Aftcra so stay tuned!

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As a small business owner, what is one piece of advice you would share with other small business owners?

The best advice I could give is that if you have a great idea or product, don’t sit on it. Just do it! I thought about creating Nautical Wheeler Jewelry for a year before I finally decided to test the waters. This has always been my biggest regret. There is only so much research you can do, only so many people you can talk to and only so many business plans you can write. At the end of the day you just need to get out there and show people what you’ve got.

What is a quote that you personally live by, or you have shared with others for inspiration?

The quote that has most inspired and motivated me is this one from Roald Dahl, “I began to realize how important it was to be an enthusiast in life. If you are interested in something, no matter what it is, go at it full speed. Embrace it with both arms, hug it, love it and above all become passionate about it. Lukewarm is no good.”

What handmade-related business resources do you use to help improve your business?

Earlier this year I started taking classes on Skillshare. I had read about it from an article in Inc Magazine (another great resource!). I wanted to increase my presence on Instagram and took every class Skillshare had to help figure out what I was doing wrong. A few months later I went from having 60 followers to over 900! I was elated and not just because my follower count had increased, but because I finally felt that my Instagram account reflected the story I was trying to tell through my jewelry line.

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Why did you choose to join aftcra, and what do you enjoy about the community?

I love that Aftcra features products handmade in the USA. I think it’s so important to know where your purchases come from and how they’re created. Aftcra really lets you reach out to the creators of products. It’s people dealing with people and I love that!

What does “handmade” and “handcrafted” mean to you?

Handmade is an endearing term meaning something that is created from the heart. Everyone should own something handmade, even if it’s just one thing. There’s something special about handmade items that you can feel when you hold them. I think that something special is love. With every piece of jewelry I make, I like to think I send out a little bit of love with it. I think that’s something everyone deserves to have.

Get regular updates from Jen and her shop Nautical Wheeler! Connect with Nautical Wheeler’s social profiles here:

instagram: @nauticalwheeler
pinterest: nauticalwheeler
twitter: @nauticalwheel

Want to get featured on aftcra’s homepage! Interested in becoming aftcra’s Featured Store of the month? Send an email to and we will send you the requirements. All requests will be considered to become the next aftcra Featured Store.

Have you checked out aftcra yet? Discover handmade goods from American artisans at aftcra.
















From $0 to a Profitable Product Line – Introduction to The Handmade Seller Magazine

From $0 to a Profitable Product Line - Introduction to The Handmade Seller Magazine

You’ve probably seen ads for the Handmade Seller magazine pop up once in awhile or noticed other sellers talking about it on Facebook, but I bet you didn’t realize that this particular magazine isn’t actually about showcasing products, but about helping you learn how to become successful with your own product line. For example, in April we started a detailed video series showing you exactly how I get 20,000 targeted Instagram followers every 6 months. In each issue readers progress to the next lesson and eventually will complete that entire course, but that isn’t all they get. At the same time we have a series about starting a blog for your business, another one about getting exposure to your website, several about creating copy that sells, and many more helpful columns geared towards showing you how to be successful with an online platform. We even do keyword research for you and include those downloads in the magazine. Don’t take my word for it, though! You can check out our free sample here!

From 0 to a Profitable Product Line: Proof Inside - Handmade Seller Magazine

Hiii! J My name is Dani and I’m the CEO of theHandmade Seller magazine. First off, I’d like to thank Aftcra for inviting me to share the magazine with you! It’s been a pleasure working with them and getting to talk to all of you. Their platform gives you a great opportunity to get exposure to more online traffic, which everyone is a big fan of.

$52,930.45 From One Product Line.

I share these numbers to show you that the experts behind the magazine are experienced in selling online. I see coaches and courses pop up all the time from people who never prove they’re actually qualified to teach. The number above is the gross amount from one product line on Amazon that I launched in October, 2015. That’s after running out of inventory twice and I’m about to run out again because I can’t keep up with the demand.

Product Line


I personally have been selling online for 7-8 years (I’ve been so busy since that I can’t remember when I actually started, ha!) I still create product lines and my partners have all had/have successful product lines as well. Only qualified people contribute content in the magazine because we want you to have access to the best information there is.

Here is what our subscribers get access to each month:

1.     Monthly issues plus all of the previous issues

2.     55 – 65 pages which you can print out if you wish to

3.     Video tutorials (sometimes text tutorials just don’t cut it!)

4.     Resource links (we send you straight to the tools and resources you need)

5.     Keyword downloads (we do the keyword research for you!)

6.     Download guides and templates such as biography templates and trending colors

7.     Expert columnists in every field

8.     Knowledge to skyrocket your business

9.     Chance to have your story featured in the magazine or your product featured on our Pinterest accounts

10.  Letters to the editor (ask questions and get them answered)

11.  Featured stories from top sellers (learn from the best in your industry)

12.  Discounts on helpful products

If you’re interested in joining our family of subscribers, we’d love to offer you a gift for being a seller with Aftcra!

5% Off Coupon Code: AFTCRA

Happy Selling!


daniLearn more about Dani Marie here:
Dani has been developing product lines and selling online for the last 11 years. This has lead her to become the CEO of the Handmade Seller magazine, a best selling author, and the VP of Flourish (a coaching community for handmade sellers). Through these three avenues she helps others find success with their product lines and marketing strategies!



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Maker Tips: 3 Craft Show Do’s and Don’ts

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Post by aftcra Guest Blogger, Danielle Spurge of Merriweather Council. Sign up for The Merriweather Council’s newsletter here.

I love to go to craft shows because it is so fun to get out of the house and be amongst crafty friends and lovers of craft! Plus it’s fun to set up your booth and talk about your work all day. I realize some people are not into this at all, but I love it and encourage everyone to do it at least a few times!

To preface these tips there is the mother of all craft show logic: only shows that suit your work, price points and appeal to your target audience. Will your people be there? This is the number one consideration! No point in investing time, money and energy into a show that doesn’t attract the people who want to buy your stuff. No matter how much promotion you do for a show you’ll be at, the organizers are the ones who will primarily determine what kind of audience this show attracts so do your research!

Ahh craft show season!! Gotta love it. On top of the main factors in craft shows such as location and target audience, you want to consider a few more things that are specific to you and your product’s presentation at a show. Being mindful of display, attitude and personal behavior is essential when doing a show! Here are my personal craft show do’s and don’ts for making it through this craft show season.

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3 Craft Show Do’s

1. Do Display Wisely!

You want to present your item as close to it’s “natural environment” as possible. This means that if you sell wall art, you want to display it hanging, on a “wall” in your craft show booth. Some folks are lucky – photographers and painters especially- in that people generally understand you hang these up or frame them. But if you sell an item that is a bit more cryptic, let’s say a ceramic tile, people might not “get it” if it’s just laying on the table. Give your work as much context as possible for the passerby.

2. Do Use Signage.

Signs are essential. For pricing or additional info, signs are great for giving people info they are too shy to ask about. If you have a product that is difficult to adhere a price tag to, a sign is an easy way to communicate that info. Likewise, you want your signage to promote your brand and give interest to your space, so consider hanging signs above your table or from the sides of your tent if possible – rather than only putting a sign across the front of a table, where it will be blocked as soon as someone comes to your table, which is what you want! A sign that explains you take credit cards will also go a long way.

3. Do greet customers.

Time to break out of your shell here, people! A simple hello and welcome is a nice way to let patrons know you are the person in charge of this space. A friend of mine who worked many years in retail passed this phase along to me: “let me know if i can answer any questions while you look around.” This immediately takes away the weirdness associated with “Let me know if you have any questions” / “no I’m just looking” exchange. You have already acknowledged that they are browsing, and offered a no pressure invite. Don’t harp on people, some folks find it annoying.


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3 Craft Shows Don’ts

1. Don’t spend the whole day on your phone.

Or otherwise huddled in the back corner. Be present and available for questions, discussions and most importantly, transactions! You are the brand, so be the brand!

2. Don’t only accept cash.

If you have the ability to sell online, you have the ability to accept credit card in person at a show, assuming there is decent cell service at your event’s venue. Many people will not have cash on them, don’t make it harder for people to buy from you.

3. Don’t compare yourself to your neighbors.

Shows are hard in that, you are competing in real life with the person directly next to you! You will get mad, frustrated and confused if you spend the whole day wondering how everyone else is doing. Not to mention distracted. Focus on the customers in your booth, and making sure your display is enticing and presents your products as well as possible. Don’t spend your day hypothesizing with your neighbor on how things are going down the hall or in the front of the room. Just make the most of what you’re got going on!


Learn More Now!

Get more advice, maker tips and handmade shop management guidance from Danielle by opting-in to the Merriweather Council’s newsletter. Here you can gain access to a variety of e-courses, including a free optimization course which focuses on optimization of your social presence from your online shop to your Instagram profile.


About the Author, Danielle Spurge of Merriweather Council:
Danielle Spurge of Merriweather Council on aftcra - 4 passive ways to advertise your online shop

Danielle is a crafter, blogger and crafty business consultant. She empowers creatives to share their work with confidence, optimize their handmade shops + leverage their creations. More info can be found at the merriweathercouncil blog.










Observing Disney World for Small Business Inspiration

Observing Disney World for Small Business Inspiration Merriweather Council Handmade Shop Advice

One of my nerdities is observing how big businesses operate… and then brainstorming how to apply those tactics and practices to small businesses, or not!

A few years ago I went to Disney World for the first time as an adult. I had been there before, as a child, and obviously the experiences were very different.

I don’t do rides, so I had a lot of time to observe while my friends were running from line to line. I also did a lot of bag-holding that trip, but that’s another story.

Here are a few of the things I noticed about Disney World – the business – that I loved and felt small business inspiration could certainly be derived from.


They have their own language

When the parks at Disney stay open late it’s called “magic hours” which I think we can all agree sounds way better than “extended hours” or “open late”… they expand their brand into every part of the experiences and the language they use is part of that. Another example: the people working behind the scenes at Disney world aren’t just employees, they are Imagineers. It’s actually brilliant. Not only does it elevate and expand the brand, it peaks our imagination and pulls us in. “What’s that?” we wonder, and explore further.


Further, the branding is seamless, and it’s literally everywhere

Any one who has been to Disney World knows this – there are Mickey Mouse ears EVERYWHERE. It’s actually a game you can play in the park – to spot all the hidden Mickeys. Everything they do is branded


They operate under the original intent, completely

Walt Disney had a vision and mission – and even though he is no longer alive, his vision lives on and his company uses his mission as a way point for all that they do. They use the original intent to provide new experiences and additions every year.


A great experience can be had at any price point

As a young adult traveling with peers to Disney World, I had a limited budget. My trip was still full of fun, “magic” and memories. My budget was not a factor – I had a wonderful time in Disney World despite my limited funding. This is because Disney offers lodging and meals at every price point all of which are branded, themed, and magic infused. There is no loss of entertainment at the lower price point!

I can see plenty of ways these tactics can be applied to any business including small, craft based businesses. How about you? Do you see any ways you can apply these to your shop and business?


About the Author, Danielle Spurge of Merriweather Council:
Danielle Spurge of Merriweather Council on aftcra - 4 passive ways to advertise your online shop

Danielle is a crafter, blogger and crafty business consultant. She empowers creatives to share their work with confidence, optimize their handmade shops + leverage their creations. More info can be found at the merriweathercouncil blog.


4 Passive Ways to Advertise Your Online Shop

4 Passive Ways to Advertise Your Online Shop by Danielle Spurge of the Merriweather Council on aftcra handmade shop advice

I’m sure you’ve read lots of information about how to advertise your online shop. There’s lots to think about and people are always coming up with clever ways to promote their products.

But we hear less about the standard, basic, passive ways to inform people about our work. Here are a few super simple and smart ways to passively generate more traffic to your shop and inform more people about what you do.


Email signature link
I love email signatures because they inform people of your pertinent info without any of the awkwardness. You decide what it should say – and where it should link – and plug it in once. With the volume of emails you’re likely sending for both personal and business reasons, not having an email signature that links to your shop is a missed opportunity.


Facebook cover photo + profile picture caption link
Facebook pages are garnering less and less organic engagement. The situation with getting people to like your Facebook page hasn’t changed much – but since that liker will most likely not see a majority of your unbolted posts, it’s important to make that first experience on your page a powerful one. Use the caption areas on your profile and cover images to introduce yourself and your business. Make your cover image clear, bright and branded – and leave a link to your shop. While you can leave links to your shop in other places on the page standard, we know people love to flip through photos.


While blogging is in fact a decent amount of work compared to the other items on this list, it becomes passive in the sense that once it is there, it continues to work for you. Blogging is great for educating and informing your customers, but it is also great for generating traffic to your site. Blog posts tend bring in a lot of traffic from search so it is a good idea to write posts about your products every now and then that are highly focused on a particular key phrase. Of course you want to include links within the post to purchase the item that’s being discussed. These posts can continue to generate traffic for you even once they are a few months old or more.


Pinned tweet
If you use twitter, log in from your desktop and compose a tweet that directs people to your shop. Once the tweet is published, you can toggle the “…” and select “pin to your profile page.” It’ll show as the first tweet anytime someone views your profile, no matter what else you tweet, it will remain at the top!


What do you think? Smart and simple right?


About the Author, Danielle Spurge of Merriweather Council:
Danielle Spurge of Merriweather Council on aftcra - 4 passive ways to advertise your online shop

Danielle is a crafter, blogger and crafty business consultant. She empowers creatives to share their work with confidence, optimize their handmade shops + leverage their creations. More info can be found at the merriweathercouncil blog.





Welcome aftcra Guest Blogger: Danielle Spurge of The Merriweather Council

The Merriweather Council Handmade Shop Business Advice - Intro to Danielle Spurge

The aftcra team would like to extend a warm welcome to Danielle Spurge of The Merriweather Council as an aftcra guest blogger. Danielle will be joining the aftcra blog monthly to provide sellers with advice for their handmade shop. Before she starts whipping out her best practices, tips and tricks we want you all to get know Danielle, gain a little insight into her experience with handmade, and understand her passion for makers.

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The Merriweather Council was established in 2010 after my post college plans fell through at the very last minute, about two days before graduation. For five years The Merriweather Council focused on providing high quality custom hand embroidery. As my business grew, other makers would reach out to me for advice and I found that I loved chatting shop and strategy with others. In late 2014 I set out a plan for the new year that would allow for me to shift my focus from making products to supporting other makers. After five years of working alone, I really wanted to explore the things I had spent much less time on but loved just as much. My goal for this year is to empower creatives to share their work with confidence and the educate handmade shop owners on how to leverage and prosper.

Makers in business are a very cool and intrepid group, and they don’t have time to waste. I aim to provide clarity and insights from my five years of experience to help handmakers get more out of the work they are already doing -and have done- so they can spend more time doing the work they love.

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I have five years of experience selling crafts online. I’ve worked with national and international print and online publications, news media, bloggers and other influencers. My products have been sold wholesale, retail and on consignment as well as directly at shows across the country.

My approach to consulting is to provide clients with insights as well as viable personalized steps and solutions as well as tried and true tactics.

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Look forward to Danielle’s first post in July! In the meantime, you can connect with The Merriweather Council on the following social outlets, or send her an email.


Let’s welcome Danielle!


President and Co-Founder, aftcra