The Pinterest Queen | Reaching your audience visually & great customer service with Melanie Duncan

Melanie Duncan is THE Pinterest expert. She has a couple videos that are free if you are on her email list, as well as online workshops for the person who knows what they are really selling. If you sell products or services, Melanie has so many great ideas to help you attract your customers on visual interfaces, and of course her specialty is Pinterest. She is an online e-commerce expert and has been featured in major publications throughout the country. A couple of her product businesses besides her Pinterest workshop include the fabulous home goods e-tailer  Luxury Monograms and a college apparel company. (She likes embroidery, y'all! You see why I picked her for this post. The crafty personality is a profitable one, I always say.)

Check her out! She has a Power of Pinning intensive as well as an Entrepreneuress Academy.

Last but not least, the thing I love about Melanie's wisdom is that she understands not only online marketing but great customer service online. Because you often don't see the customer with online sales, even if you are a business that gives great service and has great customer relationships in real life, it takes a little innovative thinking (and research!) to learn how to do that when you can't see someone's face! Once you get it though, it's pretty easy. Enjoy! We'd love to see your original content or infographics shared on our Facebook Page! If you are a knitter, spinner, or hand dyer, we'd love to see you on Ravelry. Ciao!  ~Alexandra

More web inspiration for your online business here!              

Neon #Truthbomber Danielle LaPorte and Your Intuition As Guide

Marie Forleo Brings You Business Sense

So, How Much? | Money Values with Kate Northrup

Finding Your Sweet Spot and Getting Paid Well With Kate Byrne

"Girls have balls. They're just a little higher up, that's all." | Getting great copy for your website

“Girls have balls. They're just a little higher up, that's all.”

“Girls have balls. They're just a little higher up, that's all.”  Joan Jett

Oh, how I wish someone had told me this when I was refereeing my speedy little butt through college and being asked on the regular if "Title IX applies to people who are working in sports". Yes. That little gem will give you great dinner conversation, no? 

Answer: If you are face to face with a redhead who can run as fast as a grown man and played men's soccer throughout high school and got along with the guys better than the girls, Title IX or lack thereof is not going to help you in your quest for "equality". You should probably first go learn to play this sport you so lovingly wish to adjudicate and then get back to me. Just a thought. 

Side note: this nonsense continues in my hometown. However, my favorite Principal ever (I can say this because he personally went after the girl gang leaders who were beating up my baby sister and once, when he sensed nonsense brewing, cleaned out the entire schools lockers  for a week straight to find out who they were. He did not know me. He did this out of pure human compassion and having a "pair". He is one of my hometown heroes. He likes sports. I like sports. I don't care what your Title IX "issues" are. We are here to be badasses and take some responsibility in life, mmkay? Love that man.) did get rid of the male hockey coach "coaching" the women's team at my high school who didn't know how to play soccer (and needed four female assistant coaches who DID know how to play soccer to help him. He was widely quoted as saying that "hockey and soccer are the same game". See: Title IX not helping you if you don't know what you are talking about.) and replace him with a female coach. She, besides being awesome, was a Division I trained goalkeeper and had a posse of very cool, grown up women to chill with her as she showed these gangly high schoolers how to kick a soccer ball around and have fun and for the love of feminism, to leave it on the field and support each other already. Free therapy, yo. 

Side side note: I have had several awesome, knowledgeable men soccer coaches, as did the awesome lady who played Division I soccer and went on to share her love of the game. As did Mia Hamm and April Heinrich, who are Champions of Everything. Thanks to the Irish Posse's (my first club coaches) careful sports science and good friends, I have been free of injury for all my 15 years of playing sports, and I even play a little on the reckless side:) Know your stuff and be fair, is all I'm sayin'. 

Anyhoo, you see why this quote resonates with me. I am sure that you have something similar to compare your "balls" analogy to, sports or no. Seems balls get you in the door to everything. Well, I'm here to tell you we all have some, okay? So don't let those doors stay closed for you.

In the world of marketing, and especially marketing online, everyone needs a good copywriter. This is the person or people who use their super psychology to manipulate people into buying what you're selling. (Just Kidding. That's really not possible.)

What copywriters actually do is connect with your audience verbally. Do you need to communicate that you have a sale going on? Who do you want to reach? Do you have a bunch of customers in a certain group? A copywriter knows how to speak their language. Some copywriters have specialties. For example, you can bet that the person who wrote your Chilton's manual is not the same team who puts all those cute jokes in the Nordstrom's website. Not that they couldn't, but they probably had a person who likes technical writing do the Chilton's manual and a former fashion student turned writer turned marketer do the Nordstrom's copy. Just imagine if those two styles were switched. All hell would break loose! (And you'd never be able to fix your car.)

If you are selling online, your copy, even if it's just a tiny one-liner, communicates a lot in the words you use. People sometimes give as little as 2 seconds to a webpage before deciding if they want to read it or log on to HelloGiggles. I know, you are laughing at how long this is getting. But my research shows that my readers like lengthy, personal posts. So here you go. :) 

Copywriters, especially for the web, need to be able to understand testing to find out where and who their audience is. Some people have a natural knack for this; others might need good software (see: nerdy people like myself) to help them figure out who is reading what and when, why, and if their copy "compels" readers to actually buy what you're selling. When you find a social butterfly who writes compelling copy, you've got yourself a copy expert. My go - to copy expert and all around motivational speaker on days when I'm stuck is Ashley, and she writes amazing, entertaining words that sell herself and her clients' work. Being the visual nerd that I am, I appreciate that the front page of her website manages to look beautiful, fierce, modern, classy, and funny all at the same time:

ashley ambirge TMF Project

She has a column that is sure to lift you up if you are down with some irreverant humor. Actually most of this site is fairly irreverent, so just know that before you forward it to someone! And find someone who writes you not just good, but GREAT copy if you are selling online. Remember the 2 second rule! 

Last, but certainly not least, in business and in sports, remember to always put yourself and your dreams before some old fogey's "rules of business". They're not you, and they're not here, so they can just skedaddle out of your head. Today we're making our own "rules". Or throwing them out the window, whatever works for you and your awesome customers.



Check out the other posts in this Inspiration Series below:

Neon #Truthbomber Danielle LaPorte and Your Intuition As Guide

Marie Forleo Brings You Business Sense

So, How Much? | Money Values with Kate Northrup

Finding Your Sweet Spot and Getting Paid Well With Kate Byrne

Inspiration Series | Kate Byrne, Branding Extraordinaire

Betty Means Business

Let me just start by saying that Kate is Austrailian. If you've ever had any Aussie friends or visited, you know what this means about her outlook. This woman is positive to the core. I started reading her blog before I even considered starting a blog. Cosmic? Maybe. But she was just so darn positive. She was fun to read and genuinely connected with me, because she knows how to package herself and her offerings in a way that resonates with the human soul. 

To a person who has lived with corporate approach to business for a long time, I wanted to read her blogs and get to know her ideas about business, which were obviously different from what I had lived (and conflicted - dramatically and painfully - ) with previously.  I'm a redhead, what can I say. Personal opinions are my strong suit. Someone has to stand up for the little guy, right? 

  I kept reading her blog because her approach was so personal, in the sense that it respects individual success as a way to achieve group success. Not what you were told in gym class, I know. But in the real world, it works, and not just passably. It works really really well.

 It was foreign to me but seemed like a step in the right direction. (Clue: it is!) After working within federally regulated buildings (if you are a friend on Facebook and wonder why I speak about Title IX so much, it's because no one knows about it - really- and that is a problem! ) and a few stints on my own, I was wanting something great like a few people I knew had going in their careers, and she seemed like she could help me get it.

Without wanting to put words in her mouth, her brand basically said to me: You don't need to package yourself to fit into someone else's box. Package your offerings, (what you would like to give to others, not what you have to give to others when money is the currency) so that the right people find you and pay well for them. Not just "okay", but WELL. Or GREAT, even. Get rid of the naysayers, the people who want to take advantage, and people who don't want specifically what you are offering. Take control and don't offer it to them. In relational speak, we call this setting boundaries. In business, great business, it is VITAL, whatever Wal-Mart and Fannie Mae would like to trick you into thinking. If you don't believe me, take a look at their stock reports. The system might be rigged, but financial equations are not. 

However, to do that, you have to know exactly what you are offering. That is Kate's specialty, and she is great at it. She was a high school drop out and now has a PhD, and the credentials that give weight to her projects. Before you even get to that marketing plan, get with Amanda or a coach she recommends and know what it is you are actually marketing. It might be something different than you were previously told. Check her out!

Webspiration Series for Creative Businesses | Day Three, Kate Northrup: Money, Body, and Soul

Kate Northrup

There is something cosmic going on. I started this series this week, and it appears the money and business coaches I like to read are all talking about art and creativity this week! Ha!

Anyways, Kate Northrup is the author and coach I like to read when I have money questions. As makers, sometimes money seems...antiquated, almost. What does it actually mean? In the scope of thousands of years of art and music, in the current world of design, technology, and commerce, money is both antiquated and fairly new. Without sounding like we are overthinking it here, we should acknowledge that a lot of us stop (or, the opposite: don't stop and plow full speed ahead with very little thought regarding money) when we get to the money part of art. It's hard to really put a finger on our ideas, thoughts, and feelings about money sometimes. It definitely makes me pause, because most of my work is made with almost complete disregard for "money". Meaning that I design or play or paint expressly for the purpose of beauty, or great fit, or simple novelty. Money doesn't really play into that. When someone asks me, How much? I can't really get the words out. I just don't know. Can you weigh a thought? How about a lifetime of obsession with color and style? Can you quantify mental energy, or novelty? Some people can. Artists....well, this one doesn't really get it, to be honest. And I'm pretty good at math.

As a society, we don't weigh or measure these things. "Resolution of society's difficulties coping with inequality, women's issues, and visual economics" is not a category on the Nasdaq index.  It's not technically a thing. Yet, we as artists make it. And why should we not have money? Money is currency, right? And people definitely like buying my "resolutions", disguised as pretty paintings or great clothing. These are smart people, so I know they aren't missing the point. And they do offer me money. So what am I supposed to charge them? What are we really exchanging? Do I ask them for a painting of theirs? I don't even hang my own paintings. I like bowls of fruit and live plants, not more contrived visuals for my cluttered mind. 

You may not be a painter, but whatever work you put your heart into, if you are an entrepreneur, you are in charge of pricing. Even if you are not an entrepreneur (I believe we all are, to some extent, even if we are not "self employed" or "business owners"), you deal with money and currency. If you are working toward your own resolutions about money, pricing, wages, and currency, Kate Northrup is your gal.  She gets it, and embraces freedom, joy, and abundance around it and with it in an ethical, kind, and fair manner. Check her out by clicking on the picture to hear what she has to say about "money angst" of all kinds. She may have a workshop near you, too. 

Ciao and we'd love for you to join our community of makers, creative businesses, and ladies who love independent fashion at ZanzibarSheep on Facebook


Web Inspiration Day Two: Marie Forleo's Rockin' Biz Academy

"Academy" Sounds boring, right? Like if you're the rebel you are, you probably have done everything in your life possible to avoid anything that sounds like it's an academy of any sort.  (I know you are a rebel, because only true rebels make their own clothes! At least at this point in the game! And real , dyed-in-the-wool rebels make up their own style. I can say that because I have simultaneously been teased and worshipped and jealous-if-ied by people who "just cannot believe she made that!" Which they did not know until I told them. At which point their mouth has fallen open and stayed there. For about the last 15 years. Ha!)

Well friends, style is all about knowing yourself. And this academy by Marie Forleo, who is so good at business that she has a personal reccommendation on! her!! webpage!!! by multibillionaire Richard Branson. Who, besides being adorable and ethical and musical and amazing at business, like my dear boyfriend,  is A KNIGHT. Yes.

She is Italian, friends. I have a slight girl crush. Love. Her. To. Death.


Her business academy is all about personalisation.

 In life, when you are getting really really good at something like an instrument or baking, or a specific kind of art, you must needs put yourself aside. Like, completely aside. This is why great performers, artists, and chefs often seem to have gigantic egos and work hard at being nice. They have to have enough ego that it still is, in fact, there, after all that training. Great art is not about how you feel, or, your Mommy issues. And the design world is not here to make you feel like a Precious Princess. They are about good design, and they have the taste (and the not-so-hidden  fangs) to prove it. There, I said it. I'm allowed because I went through art school. Tough art school, not Princess Art School, Where I Also Studied Music. Classical Music. And you know what? It was damn worth it, and I made great friends to boot.

Here's the thing: when you do this, your ego takes a beating. Because whoever you are, however good you are, if you were born in the age of video games, you are just not that fucking smart or artistic next to Bach, or Kandinsky, or Monet, or Rachmaninoff, or your teacher, and you get to study their stuff all day long. If your goal in life is to feel like a Princess, Do Not Go Here, to Art and Design and Music School. You will not feel like a Princess. You will not feel "Special". You no longer consider yourself "Talented" next to Bach. Or your teacher, who appears to have dropped out of the clouds from the afterlife with the skill of someone who has played and made art and written since the time of Odysseus. (This is not, of course, the case, but this is how "It Feels". When you are twenty one, and studying Bach and Monet and Piazzola, Who Is A Genius.)

Yet, when you are done with all that work, and study, you will realize that you are, in fact, rather lucky, whatever talent you have, to have gone, and studied with accomplished artists and caring teachers who did, in fact, try to get you to dressed and educated and accomplished. Neurotic artistic tendencies, "self-designed" skirts and "hippie hair" aside. Your story might be different. We do not name the guilty here, so I won't tell you who tortured their Juillard - trained teacher with "self -designed" skirts and "hippie hair". (The skirt was pretty good, by the way, for a twenty one year old music student. Not the hair.) This person may or may not have just come from pretty much the country, and had a hard time adjusting to "stage clothes" and being stared at after a lifetime of shyness. This person may have also been bizarrely good at playing the violin for someone who tortured their favorite teacher with "self-made" skirts. So everyone made an effort. Anyway.

I am guessing that if you are reading this blog you have some experience rather like that in your life, arts or not. My education was with some pretty amazing artists and musicians, but yours might be that or something else. I know a lot of techies, business people, writers, builders, and countless other things who venture out to work on their own ideas, because they have the technical education to do it. A tough technical education that gives them the confidence to know when they see something that needs doing, and how it fits in to their industry. You know what we tend not to have, which is totally fine, because Marie Forleo is here to bring it to you?

Business sense. Plain and simple.

That isn't what we went to art culinary music  chocolatier  computer science  school for, mmkay? We studied the stuff,  and we're damn good at it. There's just not a lot of room for business sense and "marketing plans" when you decide you're going to learn Kandinsky by the age of twenty-three if it kills you. That's just how it is. Time may not be an actual physical thing, but it's an actual mental  thing. And I have just explained to you the whole concept of 18th century music. The End. Yes, those people were real actual honest to God geniuses before the age of Internet Marketing and "Retail".

Anyhoo, we are talking about Marie Forleo.

Friends, Marie Forleo is here to Teach You Business Sense (even if you are An Artist), and she understands Performance. She is Italian. Her YouTube videos are wildly funny and enriching. She worked in the stock market, got out when she realized it was eating her soul rapidly slowly (you see how I know she is smart. Ha.), and launched a consulting business to teach people Internet marketing. She was a professional dancer, without training, beginning at the age of twenty two. (How does one do this? I don't know, but she has the video to prove it. It must be her mother's cooking, just a guess. Italian food will fuel you to heights you never before knew.) She likes artists and tells us we should charge more. No, I am not kidding or making this up. It's on the video, coming out of her own mouth.

And, she is Italian. Don't forget. (You won't; we have "a look".)

Without further ado, I invite you to binge on her YouTube videos for whatever you got cookin', artist or not.

Wisdom and Wit from #Neon #Truthbomb Guru #Danielle #LaPorte

Hello Friends,

Well, I am getting ramped up here to further organize and design this website so that it is easier to use and understand, as well as shop!

I've been researching and looking for ways to refine and focus this blog. I tried to pull up a labels widget for you all and there were over two hundred of them.

I'll edit some.

If you read my "feminist ranting" last week on beauty, you might remember that I have a case of ADD/PTSD often "take the roundabout way" to a finished goal and that I respect that. Well, if you don't mind me saying so, I believe that my brain's roundabout way has produced some good juju this time, coupled with some great advice from my mentors and my guy.

 Just so you know, I practiced yoga and meditation this morning too. So here's crossing my fingers and putting good energy towards that.

Anyhoo, the reason I was researching business gurus this morning is because I know many knitters, home decorators, designers, and generally style DIY'ers are people who act as connectors in their everyday lives. Not just connectors, but researchers. We find and share information for the doer's in our life. Me, I am a researcher and connector to the core. Of course I do things, but my doings pale in comparison to the connections and research in my life, which terrifies both my mother and most people who see my Google stats. Not to brag, I'm just saying that's a strength, and I know there's lots more of us!

My guy, he is a doer. He worked till three in the morning last night. On a Friday. Then stayed up a little later to party, natch! I was nervous about his late night driving he did awesome work. 

 Well, researchers, this week, I'm going to share my research with you and hopefully inspire you or your friends to action on whatever projects you guys have got going. You might have something cooking in fashion, small biz, career, or otherwise. I consider myself, my biz, and my designs to always be a work in progress. These next posts I want to introduce to you the people and organizations who are on my daily/weekly/monthly "read". These are a few of the folks that inspire me to take action, and who I trust to give advice that is applicable to large groups of people in an accepting, kind, and gracious manner that will help you make more businesses and more joy. Consider them to have my full inner Italian nonna kudos, and have a cookie and espresso while you read, because it's all fun, nourishing, inspiring goodness.

Really, it's good stuff.

Because this is a style and fashion blog, I will pick people who have some relevance to that topic and let you know how my roundabout brain makes that connection, which may not always seem obvious. But, these people are relevant to business and life in general. You can share their wisdom with almost any inquisitive, intelligent, and searching soul.

Welcome and let's get started!

Today, if you have time, check out Danielle LaPorte's website. She is the author of the book The Desire Map, which I think is an intrinsic approach to life in general, but also a great approach to personal style. What do you really want to feel? Until you know this, I guarantee you you will not have found "your style". This is for both getting dressed, designing, and in your business branding.

Danielle's website here.

Check it out!

 I'd love to have comments or email about how you used this info if you want to share! We are on FB and email at You can also connect with any of the social media buttons at the right top of the web page above the title "Zanzibar".

Friday Shortlist: Handpainted Yarns for the Arabelle Pattern


Today I am searching for some handspun or handdyed fibers that I think would knit up well in HandpickedBella's Arabelle pattern, (shown below). There are some great new handyers and spinners popping up on Etsy! Check em out by clicking on the listings below. The pattern calls for a worsted weight; below I have listed a couple DK weights which will make a smaller headband. 

Happy Friday!

For the instant download of this pattern, click here.

The Shortlist:

Can you tell I'm on a purple kick? 

Left to right:

1.  Little Monkey SnS worsted weight handspun, 415 yards!!!
2. Spun Right Round graffitti dyed DK worsted wieght superwash merino, 250 yards (repeatable if needed) 
3. Dyeabolical Yarns in Worsted Weight, in Superwash Merino, 180 yards
4. Lake Cabin by AspenMoonArts Superwash Merino, 274 yards
5. Chitsoyama by EdgewoodGardenStudio DK weight domestic and Falkland handspun (310 yards)
6. Alpha B Single Silk B Superwash Merino and Silk 415 yards (hold double to make worsted weight)
7. June Pryce Handpainted Superwash Merino Bamboo Nylon Fingering weight 400 yards (hold double)
8. Alcidinia handpainted MCN sock 
9. The Clay Sheep Handspun Worsted 180 yards merino blend with sparkles! 

Check out our facebook page here for updates on new patterns, events, and to network with the indie yarn community!