Saturday, December 27, 2014

Zap Creatives Review: Acrylic Charms

Hope everyone had a great holiday. Tonight I’m going to write a fairly in depth first review of my acrylic charms from Zap Creatives, a UK based company that manufactures acrylic, wooden, and metal charms, and stickers.

After years of admiring acrylic charms from other artists, I finally broke down and made my first order.

A few years back, Printsess was the #1 acrylic charm supplier that made small enough runs for little artists like us to purchase from. I remember it used to be a big trade secret that a lot of charm sellers were loathe to give out. After Printsess closed their doors, someone else had to step up to the plate. Two companies popped up: Zap Creatives in the UK, and Ink It Labs in the USA. 

I believe Zap has been around a little longer than Ink It, but I had heard some horror stories about Zap. Customer service and quality were something that was hit or miss according to a few other artists I had spoken to. Worried about getting what I paid for, I looked into Ink It. It seemed logical to order from a US-based company, as well as the unending glowing reviews I was finding on the internet. Ordering from Ink It meant shorter shipping times but their prices were a smidge higher. I was pretty ok with that. 

Right about the time I was getting ready to order, Zap Creatives had a sale on their charms so I decided to check it out. Here’s what ended up changing my mind from Ink It to Zap. For an order of 50 charms, Ink It allows only 2 designs whereas Zap allowed 5. Since it was my first time, I really didn’t want to order more than that, but I wanted more designs. I figured if I wasn’t happy with the quality or the service, I’d write my review and move to Ink It.

I placed my order for 50 1.5” white acrylic charms on 11/30, they shipped 12/8, and arrived 12/24.  It wasn’t so bad, although I think the shipping took a little longer than usual because it’s Christmas time.

So a quick note about the customer service. I didn’t have too much interaction with them but the next morning after I placed my order, I realized I could’ve added a free sample pack with my order. I emailed Zap to request a sample pack be tacked on. Didn’t take long before I got an email with a thumbs up. I was very happy with how quickly they responded.

The fun part: CHARMS!
I got my charms in this little bubble mailer.

Here's the sample pack they sent with it. I actually thought it was really cool how they have the pieces stuck to the card so you know exactly what is what. I'm really loving some of these charm examples and might get adventurous one day and order some :D

Here they are! My unicones  turned out really well. The colors are bright and they're actually bigger than I anticipated. 1.5" is a lot of space. Flavors from the top left going clockwise: Vanilla, Chocolate, Strawberry, Caramel, Green Tea.

Here you can see about how thick they are. They're pretty hefty charms.

The backs have little paper pieces that you must manually peel off yourself. I forgot about this and panicked a little because I thought the backs of all my charms were dirty or marked. Oops.

Not sure how clear it is, but the left is after I peeled the paper backing off. It's smooth, clean, and glossy.

Alright, so quality. I'm going to be extremely picky here just so it's clear what there is. For the most part, the quality is pretty good. I didn't have any major problems like crooked images, bad cuts, or discoloration. But there were definitely a few small things I noticed.

1. I saw a few of my charms had little dimples. Not sure if this is a result of some sort of clamp or press used in the manufacture process. It's really not noticeable unless the light is on it just right.

 2. About a half dozen charms has bubbles on them. They're usually small and inconspicuous, but I saw them right away.
 3. More bubbles (3 in a group on the chocolate) and some color fading.
 4. No specific picture, but if you look at the above photos, you'll see the lines of color from the printer. Some of the colors had it, some didn't. This is a pet peeve of mine because I think it looks like poor printing quality. However, the black outlines were crisp and solid.

Oops got my finger in this picture. Here are the edges of the charms. You can see they are striated but they are smooth to touch. No jagged edges, no cut corners.

Overall I was very happy with my order. I will definitely be ordering from Zap again (and praying this doesn't become an addiction). Zap was kind enough to throw in a few extra charms. I've heard they do this fairly regularly to preemptively make up for any broken or defective charms. I think it's nice.

I hope that helps a few of you and if you have any more questions, I'll be happy to try to answer.

My next step with these suckers is to take a few and run them through a stress test. I will bend, throw, drop them in my purse for a week, and run over one with my car. We'll see how they hold up so check back later for that bit of fun.
Follow Up - Second Order

I ordered a second batch (pegasorbet!) from Zap Creatives and was a little mmore disappointed with the quality. My second order consisted of 75 1.5" charms and I had a lot more defective charms. A lot of the charms has areas where the printing must've flaked off or just never printed. I have white spots about 2-3mm on 11 of my charms. A majority of the defects were on my Midnight Nebullamas which is unfortunate because I was expecting 12 but only have 6 that are in sellable condition. I'm not sure what I'm going to do with the bad ones.

On the bright side, shipping only took 2 weeks instead of 3. But based on this order, I might have to rethink ordering from Zap and swap to Ink It.

Monday, December 22, 2014

Holiday Postal Delays

Every year I put up a little disclaimer about how the postal service gets really bogged down during the Christmas season. Really it's just to cover my butt because I'd never experienced a massive delay in delivery services in the last decade just because it was Christmas. The occasional package would get stuck somewhere for a day or two, but that was it.

This year is a nightmare. Ever since I moved to Columbia, USPS has been a nightmare and the whole Christmas rush thing is REAL. I'm so sad.

Here we are, days before Christmas, and I'm still waiting to receive almost a dozen packages. Granted, most of them aren't exactly gifts or anything, but I sorta need them. Soon. I've been telling myself, "Any day now. I'll just wait until tomorrow before crying." It's been several weeks for some of these items. -_-

I guess I'm just a little bummed out. Doll parts are missing, my charm order from Zap Creatives, supplies for my show in 10 days. And a bunch of convention artists got together to do a big Secret Santa exchange. I'm one of the unfortunate ones who still hasn't received their gift. Fortunately my giftee received hers about two weeks ago! Crazy thing is, I shipped her gift off and paid for 2 day Priority shipping and it took FIVE DAYS to get to her. Holy snap. Of course another friend shipped me a box of homemade cookies and it took 3 days to arrive with Firts Class mail. What the heck is happening?!


Just kidding. I'm not that dramatic. Although I do want my frickin mail.
Hope the rest of you have better luck, and anyone waiting on mail gets blessed by the postal fairy to get your stuff quickly!

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Meet Maeva

I completely forgot to post this one! Just finished it a few nights ago. I've created a new OC by the name of Maeva. Not gonna lie, I'm not sure what I want to do with her yet. Well, other than customize a BJD after her. Cannot wait!

Once Upon a Retail Dreary

So my Christmas orders are finally pouring in, a little later than last year. And ladies, I'm seeing a lot of Michaels and Tylers and Erics on those orders ;)

Quick promotional stuff before the fun!
Christmas delivery for domestic orders ends Dec. 12th. 
That's right around the corner! I've still got lots of cool stuff in stock, plus the 3 for 1 print deal is still up! Go to my Etsy to get your shopping done! (But you should totally read this story first.)


Onward! So this magical time last year, I was a lowly calendar stand worker at the mall. Let me start by saying this: I had NO IDEA that people actually bought calendars. I never understood how those stands managed to pop up year after year. I sold so many calenders in one season I was promoted to manager, plus I got pretty buff from lifting all those boxes.

So most people pay with card. I ask for their ID. Simple right? After months of asking for ID, it became a verbal reflex as soon as I saw plastic. Most people thanked me for checking, the rest didn't seem to care.

The fun part. This pimped out looking, older black gentleman came to buy a single calender. He hands me his credit card and shabam, "May I see your ID please?" Before I can comprehend what's happening, he screams, "Do you know who I am?!"

Now I'm looking at him real hard. Rolex watch, long fur coat, fedora, sunglasses (indoors), gator skin shoes, shiny gold jewelry. So I repeat myself, telling hi it's just store policy.

Oh man he throws the biggest fit I have ever seen a sober grown man throw. He's yelling about how offended he is that I wanted to check his ID, how I clearly don't know who he is. This goes on for about ten minutes. Fortunately, there was no one else waiting to check out, although other mall employees were starting to gather.

Fun fact: I was completely unmoved. I didn't feel awkward or guilty, or even embarrassed that a customer was going berserk. My only thoughts were:

1. It's one generic calender. He can get it anywhere. Even Walmart.
2. I bet his credit card is stolen.

In fact, by the end of those ten minutes, I was completely convinced his card was stolen and he was trying to make me uncomfortable enough to just swipe his card and go. Well my lovely friends at security appear and he calms down instantly, hands over his ID, and leaves with his calender. Credit card was legit. That big fit, for one calender.

It wasn't until I told my mom that story that I realized he was probably throwing a fit because he thought I was ID'ing him because he black. Cuz you know, I'm so racist. WHAT.

This is a fond memory of mine from my holiday retail days, although I'm not sure why. I just wanted to share with you since you guys are all doing your Christmas shopping :) Ok, I'll tell you another story next time!

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Feature by Librarian Lavender!

In the past I've received countless offers for features in blogs, YouTube videos, and other social media platforms in exchange for free product. I have always been skeptical of the return I'd get from some of these promoters, and steadfastly refused all offers. However, I'm changing my policy on this. Instead of free items in exchange for exposure, I will provide a custom coupon code for you to use. You are welcome to promote it however you want. Once the coupon has been used 25 times, I will send you any item of your choice from my Etsy shop as a thank you.


The very first entity I've established this new policy with is a lovely blogger that goes by Librarian Lavender. Lavender has graciously promoted Sweet Apple Tea on her blog.

Lavender promotes and shares all sorts of neat things, from Etsy store features to book reviews to product review for beauty supplies, fashion, and accessories. All her fun excursions can be followed on Etsy, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and other social media platforms.

For those of you looking for neat stuff to check out, she regularly updates her blog with reviews and promotions. Give her some love!