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eBay Launch Party! meet the interns

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eBay can be personal, too

We’ve taken some steps to make sure our eBay store has a personal touch: one difference between our old online fair trade store and the eBay one is that we don’t have complete control over its appearance.  We can modify a lot of settings, but in the end eBay is eBay.  This is great because it’s a familiar and highly functional interface for customers.  However, it might seem a little impersonal.

Here are some things we’re doing to set ourselves apart from other eBay stores:

  • writing catchy product descriptions that say more than the specs of each product
  • including information on the artisans
  • putting the story of Beleza on our seller profile
  • using pictures of ourselves to model the jewelry (no worries, you won’t have to see any of the guys modeling)

I think we’re all having a lot of fun with this project; it’s definitely keeping us busy but I’m really enjoying myself!

We don't want to be this guy.

Another day’s work

Today I learned how to put the fair trade store‘s items on ebay. This is not a hard task, just time consuming.  Tomorrow Lindsey and IJ are going to take more pictures to put up for the store, hopefully they’ll portray the lambas in a way that provides the customer with a better view of them. By putting our items on ebay, our fair trade store is hopefully going to become more successful.

beleza products are beautiful

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Here are some of the pictures that Lindsay and IJ took last weekend.  These are all fair trade products.

major milestone!

Our pagerank for http://www.shopbeleza.com increased from a 3 to a 4!!!  This is huge!  Thanks to all of the other interns for their help over the past several months.

page rank

We are one step closer on the path to universal recognition!

under the fair trade label: cryptic coffee

lesson of the day:  fair trade impacts the coffee industry differently from other industries: in order for a farmer to get the fair trade label, she must sell her beans to a local distributor.  this distributor will combine her beans with other farmers’ beans to create a mixed product.  as a result, the farmer gets a lower price than they would selling directly to a buyer in the US.  therefore… the coffee growers with the best quality coffee don’t need fair trade.  instead, institutional conflict behind the fair trade distributors acts as a crutch to producers who make bad products – fair trade can sustain bad quality coffee.

I learned all of this by calling Global Village, our local organic café on Hillsborough.  Take note that fair trade itself is not the reason that the coffee producers earn less – the distributors who are fair-trade certified cause the price to go down.  But, the distributors are the ones who are “fair trade certified.”  What we need to do to fix this is to encourage NGOs like the Fair Trade Federation (FTF) to certify individual farmers instead of distributors.

In an example, the owner of Global Village has chosen to pay a small farmer in Nicaragua directly for his coffee because the quality is unbeatable.  If he bought it from the distributor, it would be mixed with everyone else’s lower-quality coffee.  But now he can’t call it fair trade, even though he has paid the farmer more.

The fair trade practices at Beleza are such that the owner either pays the artisans directly or through a co-op.  Again, because we are not working with a fair-trade certified distributor, the products aren’t necessarily “fair trade certified.”  But what’s the ultimate goal?  Having a stamp of approval or directly improving the lives of the producers?

Todays Mantra: E-Bay

Take a breath. Inhale. Exhale.    E.    Bay.    E.    Bay.    Concentrate all your energy on listing items and providing a visually balanced storefront for your customers. Now focus on your goals for the next couple weeks. Try not to overwhelm yourself. Feel the excitement from the upcoming item photo shoot enter your heightened consciousness. Now list more items. Don’t forget your other mantra. Fair trade store.   Fair.   Trade.   Store. We want Beleza to flourish in the online atmosphere and continue to build its reputation as a Fair.   Trade.   Store.

time to shoot some photos

We’re working full-force on our eBay site – bringing a fair trade store online is no easy task.  PDail has picked out which products we should feature first.  I’m using an iterative project management technique – we will put our first 25 products up.  By going through this cycle once, we can learn from what we are doing before putting up too many things.  This is a good process I learned in a software development class last semester – it lets people working on the project have more flexibility in what they do.  I’m amazed by all of the features eBay has – when we make product listings for jewelry, it asks us for different details than it would for, say, our scarves.

We’ve had to make lots of business decisions – what will our free shipping offer be?  What kinds of shipping will we offer?  Which products should we list?  The list goes on…

Some of our interns might model our products for the photoshoot, which would give us nice personal photos to put on the Beleza site.

this blog is so powerful.

On Friday, I had the interns target the term “fair trade store” in our blog entries.  While we are coming up on the first page of google results for “fair trade,” we weren’t even the second page for “fair trade store.”

My reasoning for choosing this search term is that many people are searching for more information about the concept of fair trade when they google “fair trade” but if people want to buy products, they’re going to jump right in and hit “fair trade store.”  This cat and mouse game of keywords is what makes SEO so exciting.

It’s only monday, and we’re the second choice for “fair trade store.”

so fast - it happened in 4 days!

Hello world!

And we’re back, after a brief winter hiatus, wreaking havoc on the HTML, CSS, and sprys of the Beleza website. Right now, we’re focusing mainly on organizing the entire site, eliminating dead ends, standardizing the menus, and streamlining the whole web experience.

If you can really say you’re “focusing” on everything…

hmm… I’ll get back to you. In the meantime, check it out! Today I spent most of my time on the Fair Trade and About Beleza pages. I had some interesting learning experiences figuring out how to work internal anchor links as well. Had an entire page of text displaying as a link at one point… CSS still scares me.

see?

That’s it for today… next week I’ll try to finish up going through all the webpages, and maybe even add a favicon!

*happy place*

Swing by the Beleza Fair Trade store sometime! Hope to see you there.