Sunday, December 8, 2013

winding down an icy road with 113 pine cones, a few owls, and yes, that’s my beeswax

Back in November, or maybe it was October, somebody put the little beeswax pine cone candle I make in an Etsy treasury. Etsy, of course, is the online sales site I use, and treasuries of items gathered from all around the site are put together by Etsy members, usually with a theme and always with a name. (The one treasury I put together had the theme “bones,” and it was called “bones.”)

My shop on Etsy has been around since July of 2012, and in that time a few of my items have been treasured. But not the pine cone. That is, not until November. The pine cone is now in 38 treasuries, which is really not much by some standards, but this is my life, so these are my standards. The pine cone is in everything from “Jingle Bells” to “vintage” to “Planning the Menu.” Treasuries are fun to look at, and, if you see an item you like, you can click through for a better look. This of course results in more “views” for those items, and—one can only hope—sales.

The treasured beeswax (+ cinnamon!) pine cone.

Indeed, I have sold quite a few little pine cones lately. So many that at one point I let the listing lag as I contemplated how to stay on top of things. Overall in November orders increased 1200 percent over last November. This caught me off guard. Then I realized something. This is my business. I can do what I want. So I increased the price of the little pine cone from $2.50 to $2.75 and relisted it. Am I brilliant or what? It continues to sell.

No, I am not brilliant. I know that. But I do know, if I am reading my stats correctly, and I may not be—these are shop stats provided by Etsy—that in November there were 50 clicks through to the pine cone from one treasury or another. Overall, the pine cone listing was viewed 1,163 times, making it the most viewed page in my shop. (Hmmm, so … ?) On Etsy, people can “favorite” a listing by clicking a button (yes yes, the way of the online world, I know, you “like” me and I “like” you and let’s be “friends” and do the hokey pokey). In November, I picked up 895 “favorites”—606 for the pine cone alone. And, since I am nosing around my stats in more than just a precursory way for the first time ever, I see that in November I sold exactly 113 pine cones. Now, if I had been charging $2.75 all along, that’s $28.25 more in my coffers. Well, not really. Etsy takes a little bit and PayPal, if used, gets a cut. But still.

After the pine cone, in November the page most often viewed in my shop was the shop page (think people browsing in front of an old-fashioned shop window, bundled up against the cold, pointing at this item, that item, snowflakes falling, should they go into the shop? Take a closer look? ... ). The shop page came in at 949 views. After that—hold on to your hats—there is a precipitous drop. The little bear candle comes in third with a mere 139 views. What does it all mean?

And only one treasury listing? Seriously???

Math (which I assume is the core of statistics) has always been somewhat of a struggle for me (I had to consult with someone to get that 1200 percent figure). I prefer anecdotes over numbers. Such as, the little pine cone is so popular I am getting phone calls from Iowa wondering if I could ship some out today … Okay, that just happened once, this past week, but it illustrates my point just as well as 606 “favorites,” doesn’t it? I also got an order this week over the phone from a local customer, not for pine cones, so maybe I am mixing apples and oranges here, but we now know, thanks to the hedge apple and its parent, the Osage orange tree, that apples and oranges do mix, at least in nature, so maybe not so contrary as we think, and all this has nothing to do with Etsy, but I like this story about the guy who orders in bulk the bee-motif pillar candle and lights them, one at a time, while meditating. Last time he ordered he also got some of the beeswax sheets I make for rolled candles, and he is now rolling his own, softening the sheets in a toaster oven. He shared photos.

A beeswax moment captured by S. Benkarski.

Statistics are interesting, and if I could figure out how to use them, I am sure they would be even more interesting. But, as I said, I like stories. For instance, it was a dark and stormy night. Freezing rain pelted the little cabin, infiltrated drifts of snow. The wind howled. Things rumbled and clanked and I wondered if panels of the roof were about to blow off. Late the next morning, I drove to the post office. A woman in Iowa needed pine cone candles. My wheels spun and churned in the driveway even though it had just been plowed, even though my tires are designed for snow. I barely got out. Perhaps it was the consistency of the frozen-rain-soaked snow. Out on the road, ice. By the looks of it, underneath sprays of sand and salt, about an inch of ice. I drove carefully, 25 miles an hour, noticing, along the way, a bright magenta pick-up truck scraping snow from a drive; and the apples yet hanging on the apple trees were shriveled and brown beneath dreadlocks of snow; and the howling wind, where was it? There was a stark quiet and stillness. Then the van was pelted with snow and ice pellets thrown up by someone’s snowblower.

Alternatively, the stats: High of 34, low of 14 with a wind chill of -5. High wind speed of 35 mph with gusts of up to 47 mph. No precipitation. (All that freezing rain must have happened before midnight.)

Drupes and droops of snow circa December 2013.

Meanwhile, over at Walmart, I dwell upon their seasonal come-on, plastered on signs and bins all around the store. It goes something like: Get more Christmas for your money. As if Christmas could be bought. As if you can get more Christmas by buying more things. At Walmart. Well, of course. That’s what we do, isn’t it. So apparently that’s what we believe. That Christmas can be bought. Really? Is that what we believe? I wonder what the ratio is. (Is that the right term?) I mean, exactly how much more Christmas can you get for your dollar at Walmart?

Well, perhaps I should stick to beeswax and pine cones. And now owls. Since Friday, 10 of 16 orders have either been solely for or included a cinnamon owl. (That’s 62.5 percent, right?) I have nosed around my shop stats seeking a reason for this sudden uptick in owls, but all I come up with is this: Late last week owls entered the consciousness of many, and therefore for owls they searched, and for a lucky few my cinnamon-beeswax owl they found. Which reminds me ...
If Owl has oriented on you, you can be certain that an aspect of your life is going to change, in a big way. Some people believe that Owl only comes to those things that are about to die. Do not fear, though, for this does not mean physical death as much as it means the letting go of some part of you that is not serving you. … Thank Owl for its willingness to guide you through its shadowy realm.
I quoted that passage from “Animal Energiesback on August 11, too.

Who? Me?

For the record, at this moment, 6:45 a.m. 12/8/2013, the outside thermometer reads -5. According to the National Weather Service, the temperature is -2 , there is a 9 mph south wind, and the wind chill is -18. Light snow is predicted.