Banzai Chicks Craig Horner Celebrity Endorsement and eFreesia Partnership

It’s been a while since I wrote on the Banzai chicks blog. At Wondercon in 2012, I gave a Banzai Chicks T-shirt to Craig Horner, the star of my favorite t-show that had a limited 2 season run, Legend of the Seeker. Craig is also working on a new series called Joey Dakota. Months later, a friend of mine found a photo of Craig wearing my Banzai Chicks t-shirt on Tumbler. I was flabbergasted! Here is a photo:

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I finally got my first Licensing Partnership for Banzai Chicks! eFreesia manufactures iPhone, iPad, Android and mp3 Chargers. They approached me to do some illustrations of the Banzai Chicks characters using their product. They also wanted me to create two new Banzai Boys Characters (Banzai Boys, that has a nice ring to it). They even sent me a complimentary eFreesia charger. You charge them either through the computer or through an outlet. It holds its charge for about a month. This is good for me since my android phone is getting old and runs out of batteries very quickly. I can carry the small eFreesia in my purse or car and have it handy to charge my phone in an emergency. Here are the images I created for their website. You can also visit their website at:

http://www.efreesia.com/lifestyle

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New T-shirts Modelled by Roselynn Salvage

I got my new Banzai Chicks screen printed t-shirts printed! They were printed by 3nuts here in Las Vegas and they did a top notch job! Here is there website if you need to get shirts done. They are modeled by the beautiful and happy Roselynn Salvage. I took the photos and even though it was a cloudy day, we got some awesome pics!

The shirts are now on sale at my Banzai Chicks Etsy Store.

Banzai Chicks Edgy Black Tee $20

Banzai Chicks Red Izumi the Geisha Chibi and Panda Tee $20

Banzai Chicks Green Izumi the Geisha Chibi and Panda Tee $20

If you were curious about the lip balm, I have it for sale also:

Banzai Chicks Organic Lip Balm

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Finally…Adventures in Lip Balm 2 and New T-shirt Designs (published Feb 14)

If you were following my initial concept of producing Banzai Chicks Lip Balm, this is how it turned out. My sister, Annie, volunteered to make the lip balm using all organic ingredients. She had bought a $400 distiller to make essential oils from her herb garden. My sister has always loved plants, she even wanted to be a botanist in college but switched to engineering. Her first samples were sent to me in unused contact lens cases (my goofy idea, but it served the purpose). She lives in Los Angeles and because I moved to Las Vegas, we had to coordinate everything through the mail. One was Chocolate (from the cocoa butter), the other was Rosemary (made from her garden). The cocoa butter one didn’t smell chocolaty enough and it was rather hard and not easy to put on. The Rosemary was kind of strange, like putting a plant on your lips, the consistency of the lip balm was soft and pliable. I asked her to experiment using a more minty flavor or at least melt some chocolate chips into the cocoa butter one to make it more appetizing.

I sent her some .5 ounce tins directly from the manufacturer, Specialty Bottle. And she filled 8 samples for me. I definitely like the more minty flavor (perhaps it is more like the Burt’s Bees). Here are the ingredients:  Jojoba (Simmondsia Chinensis) Oil, Sweet Almond (Prunus Amygdalus Dulcis) Oil, Beeswax (Cera Alba), Shea (Butyrospermum Parkii) Butter, Vitamin E (Tocopheryl) Acetate, Peppermint (Mentha Piperita) Oil. All organic and natural, except I don’t believe she distilled the Peppermint oil herself.

I’m still designing the label. I have to determine how small I can make the type and have it readable. I’m also playing with the size of the characters on the label. These are preliminary attempts. I still need to refine them. I also got some plastic wrap to seal the sides. At first I thought they were too big, but then my friend, Alicia, said I’d probably need a heat gun to shrink them. I looked at the website that sold containers, and sure enough, she was correct. I’ll try to use my hair dryer before investing in a heat gun, I hope I don’t melt the lip balm too much. Here are some photos:

My Lip Balm Packaging

My Lip Balm Packaging

My Lip Balm Packaging
My Lip Balm Packaging

Banzai Chicks Lip Balm labeling samples
I am planning to attend Wondercon in Anaheim in March 16-18, so I will test market these lip balms. I will be in Artist Alley if you drop by. : ) I am also applying for a table at First Friday in Las Vegas. I haven’t heard any news of my application. I’m hoping to get into the March 2nd Festival, but perhaps I sent in my application too late. We’ll see.

I am also going to silk-screen some new t-shirts. I found a t-shirt silk-screener in Las Vegas called 3nuts of all things. Unfortunately they don’t use organic ink. I am told nobody uses organic ink in Las Vegas. Something to do with the weather I’m assuming. Right now I can’t endorse them until I see how the shirts come out. I haven’t placed my order yet. I am waiting to get my Las Vegas Reseller’s license (so I don’t have to pay sales tax). Of course I will be responsible for it after I sell my merchandise. Here is a sneak peek at the initial designs:

New Edgy Banzai Chicks Tee

New Edgy Banzai Chicks Tee

Izumi the Geisha Chibi and Panda Tee

Izumi the Geisha Chibi and Panda Tee

Second T-shirt idea featuring Izumi the Geisha Chibi and Oreo the Panda
I’ve run the t-shirt designs by my girlfriends at kung fu and they loved them. The first one was the most popular. I think I will print the second one in green and also in red. Oops…I noticed I left out the Banzai Chicks logo on the bottom. I will have to add that in later. I also came up with this design which I think is cute. But there are too many colors on it for a silk-screen. I will upload it to my media files on spreadshirt.com and have it reproduced digitally for print-on-demand. This way, I can replace the featured mascot on the bottom and switch it out with outer animal characters.

Kawaii Banzai Chicks Mascot T-Shirt

Kawaii Banzai Chicks Mascot T-Shrt

Anyway. That’s all for now. I’ve also added some new baby onesie designs at my Cafepress store. They contain Oreo the Panda, Cally the Calico Cat and Mr. Pook the Tabby Cat. I have also sent 5 of my characters to get laser cut in acrylic in England and I am excited to see how they come out. I will keep you posted.

I have to go exercise my dog, Ripley. She went to the vet on Friday and he informed me she has to lose 3 lbs., so I am taking her bike riding!

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Embedding WordPress into Your Existing Website (originally published Feb 4)

So Monday night, I actually went to a Las Vegas WordPress meet up. I didn’t know how powerful WordPress was. Every time you make a blog entry, WordPress sends information about your blog to all the search engines. Coupled with a powerful plug-in called the All-in-one-SEO-Pack, WordPress can make your website very visible on the internet. But guess what? My website existed on http://www.wordpress.com and was not embedded in my site. The members of the WordPress group were very adamant about using WordPress to program your entire site. (I felt like a Mac User fallen among a nest of PC Users…that’s how fervently passionate these people were about their WordPress!) There are free templates called “Themes” and if you are lucky to find one to fit your website, you can modify it with a little CSS. You have thousands upon thousands of templates to choose from on WordPress.org. If you don’t find what you want, you can go to themeforest.com and buy something better suited for your needs. I recently coded my site and was in no hurry to propagate it over to WordPress (which I anticipate would cause me a bunch of headaches).

The leader of the WordPress group said if I embed the blog into my website, I can make use of all the powerful SEO features offered by WordPress. But how? I am no expert at html or webprogramming. First you have to go to wordpress.org and download the wordpress folder. You have to put it up on your site so it can run on your server. You have to have databases set up and able to run php. I have godaddy, so it wasn’t too difficult to follow the instructions and set up a database. Then you have to go to the wp-admin file in the wordpress folder that now exists on your website and run it. Entering your database info and presto! WordPress runs on your site. Here is step by step information on godaddy.

Now comes the confusing part…embedding wordpress (a frustrating process for me). I had to download a default theme (template) and modify the header.php, footer.php, index.php and the single.php files. Basically, I had to remove code, put in parts of my html code from my existing website and replace php code. Here is a website that documents the process in a step by step fashion:

http://www.burnseo.com/blog/2009/10/23/integrate-wordpress-into-existing-website-tutorial/

But guess what! There are syntax errors in three places in the replacement code! In the index.php code and in the single.php code. Having NO knowledge of php made it difficult to figure out what it was. The errors are with the single quote. In one area, he uses two different single quotes in the same line of code. The php parser could not recognize the second single quote. In another place, he uses a double quote, which is in actuality, two single quotes. I figured this out after looking at similar code on the internet. I tried to type the correct php here, but WordPress fonts misprinted the single quotes as well.

You’ll see the errors when you edit the files in Dreamweaver. Anyway, I finally got my website inserted into the wordpress template…but more problems arose! Because of my website’s CSS, I lost all the WordPress CSS formatting on the blog. I would have to redo all the CSS to make my blog look readable! At this point, I am pulling out my hair because I’ve already spent hours trying to figure this out…remember, I’m an artist, not a programmer. I’m throwing a tantrum! Attracted by my howls of pain and frustration, my husband looks over my shoulder in my office (which is in the dining room…I like open spaces) and he goes…why are you going through all this trouble? Why don’t you just embed the wordpress url in an iFrame?

AAARRRGGGGHHHHH! So all I need to do was make a div that is the width and height of my WordPress blog. Make iFrame the width and height of my blog, set the frameborder to zero and scrolling to yes. Put my url in the src and I’m done! Now I don’t know about iFrames and which browsers they don’t work in, but I tested it on an iPhone, and the blog shows up great. Granted you have to go to the WordPress themes to find one that fits in your iFrame and design of your website. But this is a lot simpler!

So I hope this is helpful for all those people that are more artist types who are struggling with their blogs!

One more bit of interesting info. According to members of the meet up, part of SEO includes how fast your website loads. Mine has a lot of graphics so it may be slower than other sites. There are sites that will cache your whole website for free for faster load times! Check out Cloudflare.com

So, in parting, I will show you the double-sided pendants I made. They are 22mm in diameter and glass. The middle one I actually found 22-inch lace edged bezels and I glued them together. They ended up being more popular than the pre-made double-sided pendants I bought (and cheaper to make). Sorry about the bad photos. I took them with my phone. I reached for my camera and realized they were out of batteries!

Double-sided 22mm Glass pendants

Double-sided 22mm Glass pendants

Here is the other side of the pendants

Other side of the pendants...

Other side of the pendants…

Here are some bottle cap rings I made. The band is stretchy and incredibly comfortable. It doubles as a martial arts weapon and as a ring. I’ve actually had a customer put one on each finger and form a fist. It was pretty formidable! Ha ha.

Bottle cap rings with stretchy bands

Bottle cap rings with stretchy bands

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Banzai Chicks New Website Launched!

So after 2 weeks of redesigning the layout in Photoshop (and adding lots of new artwork to the banners) and 2 weeks of coding and incorporating Jquery downloaded from the internet (which included a tutorial on Lynda.com on CSS), my brand new and improved Banzai Chicks website is LIVE! I have to give a shout out to my ex-coworker, Martin Shueh, for helping me fix the gallery page (that damn Jquery) and for fixing the contacts page (I initially could not get any emails to be sent). Please check out all my hard work:

http://www.banzaichicks.com

Banzai Chicks Website

The Brand New Banzai Chicks Website

So please spread the word and tell your friends to come visit! If you can, please sign up for my newsletter. I promise not to spam you more than once a month. I also created a brand new CafePress store which I still need to add new merchandise. What’s cool is the flip-flops I designed! I’ll have to buy myself a pair, although, I’m not sure which art to choose. I thought of putting Freckles on on foot and Ripley on another (so I don’t show any favors). Here is an example of some fun flip-flops!

Banzai Chicks Flip-Flops on CafePress

Banzai Chicks Flip-Flops on CafePress

Other noteworthy news…My Penelope the Gothic Lolita Chib Android Phone case got nominated for Zazzle’s Today’s Best Awards Showcase on Jan 21st! It’s nice to get noticed. I have my other chibis designed for iPhone, Android, iPod and Blackberry cases as well. You can go to my Banzai Chicks Zazzle Store to look at more designs if you are interested.

Penelope the Gothic Lolita Android Phone Case

Penelope the Gothic Lolita Chibi Android Phone Case

I’m sorry I didn’t post anything last week. I was busy making new jewelry for the Chinese New Year Street Fair in Last Vegas on Sunday, Jan 29th. I was informed two weeks prior about the event and my kung fu school, Shaolin Kung Fu Chan offered to let me share their table. Of course, I was freelancing for my old graphic design job and didn’t start making new jewelry for the event until 4 days before. I’ve got to make a resolution never to do that again. I had 1 hour’s worth of sleep Saturday night and was a zombie at the event. All and all, I did pretty well peddling my magnetic pendants and rings and sold a nice number of pendants. I will have to post my new double sided globe pendants next week. I made 10 and sold two. I was pretty happy with the results, since this was a new experiment of mine. I love inventing new creations for jewelry and seeing them manifest. I was also very proud of the students at my school. They put on a kick-ass performance on the stage at 1:30pm and their show blew everyone away. It was inspiring and I will have to work much harder in kung fu class to get to their skill level. Well, I’ve got to run. You’ll never guess where I’m going…I’m going to attend a WordPress workshop in Las Vegas. Hopefully, it will help me customize the interface to this blog better! Ciao…

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New Ideas for Banzai Chicks Products…Adventures in Lip Balm…

So coming up with ideas for Banzai Chicks merchandise can be quite fun. I’m always exploring new jewelry ideas, combing online jewelry supply websites and Etsy for innovative parts to make jewelry. Most of my creations have been successful with research invested (like making magnetic pendants and rings with interchangeable glass lids with artwork), others have been frustrating and disasters (my faux-pas at learning soldered jewelry…my little 20mm double-sided glass dome pendants look messy and had too many sharp edges…soldering circuit boards when I was younger is way different than soldering jewelry. I think I will require more practice and experience in soldering. And now…my newest idea…Banzai Chicks lip balm.

This all came about when I was at dinner with the kung fu folks a week ago. Alicia, who also makes glass jewelry for sale on etsy, Halesia Designs, mentioned that she wanted to make her own soap. I thought about the cute Burt’s Bees lip balm I bought a week ago and blurted out loud, “I want to make lip balm!” Alicia responded that homemade lip balm was very simple to make. When I got home that evening she sent me a link to a bunch of lip balm recipes. Excited about the prospect, I searched the net for cute 1/4 oz round tin containers. Alas, that is what attracted me to the Burt’s Bees lip balm in the first place, the cool packaging (we graphic designers are suckers for great packaging).

Burts Bee's Lip Balm

Imagine a Banzai Chicks character on the face of this lip balm

I found a site that lithographs artwork directly on the metal, unfortunately the minimum print run is 15,000 units…that’s a lot of lip balm to sell…I hate to think how much that would cost! I’ll have to stick to stick-on labels, which won’t look as cool, but maybe I will crystal glaze the art on so they will look a little nicer.

Alicia also sent me an article about the dangers of petrochemicals in household products earlier in the week. It’s pretty scary that these chemicals permeate the home and are detrimental to your health: http://thomko.squarespace.com/petrochemicals-in-the-body/ This got me thinking…I’m addicted to Carmex lip balm. Ever since I was in college I was plagued by dry chapped lips. My sister was in marching band and in the hot texas sun, she and her bandmates would swear by the benefits of Carmex. I’ve used it most of my life and one of it’s prime ingredients is petroleum. When I moved to Las Vegas, the super dry weather severely cracked my lips and Carmex ceased to protect them. Burt’s Bees was a little better, if I constantly replenished it several times a day. Looking over the recipes on the internet, most of them had healthy ingredients such as cocoa or shea butter, coconut oil, vitamin E and of course beeswax (to seal the moisture.) Getting organic ingredients would be more expensive, but a better alternative.

I was telling this to my sister, who loves plants and wanted to be a botanist in college, and she told me that she had already started making her own organic lip balm. She grows her own herbs and bought a $400 distiller and was making her own essential oils from her plants. She said she tried to make rosemary lip balm, but the cocoa butter made it smell like chocolate, and rosemary and chocolate together was not very appetizing. She offered to make the lip balm for me (including pouring it into the tins). How can I refuse? But it kind of defeats the fun of doing it yourself. She’s a busy Disney executive (unlike me, a nutty artist), so I foresee her possibly getting bored sometime in the future. But with her essential oils as a supply, I do plan to make some lip balm myself. Chocolate flavor or chocolate mint (using peppermint essential oils sounds good to me).

I’m planning to share a table with my kung fu school on February 29th (exactly 2 weeks from now) to sell some of my Banzai Chicks merchandise during Chinese New Year. If I can pull this off, maybe I can unveil some cool Banzai Chicks Lip Balm. This may be hard to pull off if I can coordinate this venture with my sister (if not, I can gather the ingredients and make a small batch myself), not to mention I will also have some jewelry to make for the show. It would be an interesting test to see how people would respond to lip balm in the Banzai Chicks Universe. Wish me luck!

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Busy in the New Year!

Happy New Year!

The last month found me busy redesigning my Banzai Chicks website. I am converting the flash to a pure html and Jquery site so it can run on different platforms (especially mobile devices). I downloaded lots of free Jquery galleries and slides off the internet and incorporated them into my design. Now begins the laborious task of converting everything into html code. I am currently running a CSS tutorial on http://www.Lynda.com (a fabulous site for learning programs, anything from Adobe Photoshop to Zbrush). I’m hoping to have the actual site up and running within a week or two (I’m sure I’m going to run into snags and will probably bother my ex-coworkers at my old graphics design job for problem-solving).

I also ran an analysis on my existing site to see the value of my keywords. I was definitely hitting the wrong demographic! Argh! My current market consisted of martial arts t-shirts and supplies, putting Banzai Chicks in the same category as superiormartialarts.com and martialartsmart.com. I have used both these sites to buy weapons for my kung fu classes, but I was hoping to hit the Kawaii, Manga loving female tweens to 35-year olds not men looking for karate uniforms. I had to choose different keywords and meta tags. When I am done with learning CSS, I will have to invest some time in search engine optimization.

I also started making some cute iPhone, Android and Blackberry cases using the Banzai Chicks chibis and mascots. I want to make some of all my characters. You can see my hard work (ha) here:

Coco the School Girl iPhone Case on Zazzle

Mika the Punk Girl iPhone Case on Zazzle

Madison the Steampunk Girl iPhone Case on Zazzle

The problem about designing cases is the different variations of products, (iPhone 3, iPhone 4, Android, iPod and Blackberry versions) you have to impart one design to. Rather time consuming, tedious work! I did get the honor of having 2 of my skateboard designs voted on Zazzle’s Todays Best Awards page. This means my products were featured on the first page.

Edgy Ricochet the Army Girl Skateboard on Zazzle

Izumi the Geisha Skateboard on Zazzle

One thing about designing is being picky about one’s work. After completing Madison’s mascots, Nutmeg and Buttercup the Chinchillas, I was unsatisfied with the artwork. I decided that chinchillas were just not fascinating enough. So I searched the internet for an alternative creature…something small and cute. I came across Sugar Gliders! Wow…this makes me want to get one or two, but they are a lot of work and very little is known about the proper care of these critters. Sugar gliders are a marsupial from Australia with a prehensile tail. They are about 12-13 inches with the tail incorporating most of the body, the body itself is 5-6 inches.They have five digits on each foot with an opposable toe on the hind feet. They are nocturnal and can glide like flying squirrels.

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I considered other animals. Japanese flying squirrels, hamsters, jerboas (a weird little rodent that has huge ears and long skinny kangaroo like legs), hedgehogs and guinea pigs. I found a myriad of exotic and bizarre looking animals. To name a few (you should look these up on a google image search: axolotl, blob fish, tarsier dumbo octopus, mouse deer, and yeti crab. In the end, the Sugar Glider won. Here are Nutmeg and Buttercup the Sugar Gliders! Nutmeg (the boy) is on the left, Buttercup (the girl) is on the right. I’m pretty happy with these new mascots for Madison!

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I hope you find this new incantation of Nutmeg and Buttercup cute and to your liking. I am off to run my CSS tutorial.

 

 

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