Friday, July 23, 2010

Healthy Can Be Beautiful

A member of my Etsy team has a shop Flow Yoga Mats with very different and beautiful products.  Now I know you say healthy and we all think wheat germ but this shop will surprise you.  The following is an interview with the owner Megan.

I knew Megan did yoga and asked if that is what started her mat painting and she explained that most mats were just solid colors but she wanted something more personal.  She painted her first mat with an Om symbol, a yin yang and a Virgo which is her sign.  It was not her intention at the start to start a business but a friend who taught her yoga asked her to paint one for her.  She also told her she should do them and sell them online, that's when the research started.  She found not to many people sell hand painted mats online and if they did they were very over priced.

My favorite                                Megan's favorite
                    


Above is my favorite design from the shop but Megan also does custom mats.  She has done mats from her drawings and from ideas the customer has come up with.  The customer has the option on her web site  of color, design and size.  Below are examples of custom designs

                                                


You stated that you have branched out from your mats to make a total yoga shop not just a mat shop.  The other items do bring an extra dimension to your shop.  The items include yoga straps and blocks and most recently your hand stamped jewelry and key chains.  The jewelry is interesting because it is not just yoga but encouraging words we all hear often.  The pieces below show some of the words from yoga and other sources you have chosen.


     
                      

When asked what her favorite thing to create was she said it was a toss up between the mats and the jewelry.  Her reasons most of us can understand.  She loves to paint so the mats are really it and she feel like her heart and soul is in every one she paints.  However, there is this thing most people have about I wan it now and the speed with which she can create her jewelry gives her that.




Although Megan has her own website http://www.flowyogamats.com/ that and Etsy are her main venues.  In the past she tried craft show but found her mats were not a good fit there.  So she chose Etsy because she had heard great things about it.  Before she started selling online she had asked to get other peoples opinion a most said she should try Etsy.  There is also the money issue for starting a small business she didn't have a lot of money for start up and Etsy makes it easy.  She also tried Ebay but found it also wasn't a good fit. 




Etsy provides a lot of help for new sellers one of which is local and global teams.  Megan joined the Eastern Washington Team and would recommend that anyone starting join a team.  She said when you are new being on a team allows you to ask stupid questions without feeling stupid.  She feels like a part of a family on this team because they have been so supportive.


I asked Megan to talk about what has contributed to her success on Etsy and she had a lot to share.  "I think the biggest factor that has helped me be a success on Etsy is the fact that no one else is hand painting mats.   I'm the only one.  So, I think that has helped me a lot.  Also, I think they are unique and different and people like that."  She had good advice for someone just starting out and the number one priority she said was "take great pictures".  As she explained when someone shops on Etsy (her husband says she does to much of this) the first thing you look at is that thumbnail picture, if it is not great or different from the rest who is going to click on it to see your work.  Her second point was to be patient specially when you are in a market with many sellers.  To get your work out there start a facebook page, a twitter account, a blog and any other accounts that  will get your name out there.  A final point is to always have your business cards on hand because you never know who you might start talking to when you are out.



Along with all Megan has done in creating her business there are other achievements in her life.  She is first a wife and mother which is more than a full time job.   She has had an article written about her mats in the Spokane Journal of Business, worked with one of local kids yoga studios teaching them to paint their mats and has been the designer/painter of a local studio's full mat line.  Be sure to visit Flow Yoga Mats and pick up your personal favorite.

  

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

The Today look of Victorian Yesterday

This interview is with one of my favorite Etsy team mates.  She has had her own business since she was 17.  I didn't ask how long ago that was because a lady has to keep some secrets.  Leanna says "I have been a do-it-yourselfer all my life and when I'm not creating, I'm remodeling my house, fixing a car, canning homegrown food, building something, fixing broken machinery, learning a new skill, writing, upholstering or whatever needs to be done."  She feels incredibly blessed with the many talents she has been given and she strives to use them for good in this life.  She finds that by serving others her life is greatly enhanced.
Leanna currently has 3 shops on Etsy Seams Victorian, Teez Loueez and Bits and Purses.  As the title may lead you to believe her style is feminine and although modern and up to date is based on the Victorian look.  Along with her modern design she also  designs and makes reenactment gowns like the one pictured that was done for a customer in Rhode Island.

I asked Leanna about having multiple shops on Etsy and what her reasons were.  She told me that Seams Victorian was the first shop because she wanted to appeal to the reenacting communities around the country and others such as the Steampunk fashions that are so popular.  Her second shop was born out of having so many varied interests.  She started dabbling in purse making and found that some designs don't fit the Victorian category very well  so Bits and Bags was the answer.  She then found an interest in screen printing and to have each artistic form shown in it's own special place she created Teez Loueez.  She admits to maybe having crafting A.D.D.



As you you can see in the above blouse Leanna's style is very flattering and feminine.  I asked her what influenced her to follow the feminine Victorian lines.  In reply she stated she is convinced that she was born in the wrong time period, although, she would probably be languishing in some dark Victorian era prison for behaving contrary to the way a lady would have to in that period.  She loves the "freedom to be" that women have now and it wasn't acceptable then.  In her opinion, he attention to detail that was prevalent in the Victorian era in everything from architecture to the clothing is fantastic and she tries to incorporate that detail into the clothing she designs today.

 

I asked about starting the Bits and Purses shop wanting to know if she started that to have the Victorian era accessories.  She actually started the shop to show what awesome things can be made with recycled or reusable items.  She learned the handmade fabric technique she uses for some of her textured purses about 10 years ago and wanted to incorporate it into beautiful handbags.  As with most artisans she try to be Eco friendly and with this shop she is able to use almost all of her sewing scraps in the fabric so that she throws away less than a pound of scraps each year.  The purse below is made with Leanna's handmade fabric.



She does make coordinating pieces to items in other shops. Such as the "On Broadway" tunic with the "Burlesque" cuff both of which go with the "Nights on Broadway" purse.

On Broadway                                                          
                                                                                      Burlesque                                                                 
Nights on Broadway

Leanna's screen print designs come from numerous places like rubber stamps, graphics from book (non-copyrighted) or just her own drawings.  her first design was the Scarabesque bug which is my favorite in the shop and hers too.




I tried to pin Lianna down as to her favorite but although she likes designing Victorian gowns she gets great pleasure from creating anything that is unique and beautiful.  The custom gown shown at the beginning of the interview is one of her favorites.  And, below is one of her newest designs.



I asked her if she remade wedding dresses and she said she loves to make them into other fashions and that recently she purchased a bunch of discontinued wedding gowns from bridal shops and is looking forward to finally getting a chance to remake them.  Her first reinvented wedding dress Shalimar sold earlier this year and the remake made the dress.



As with many artisans Leanna uses recycled and antique materials.  She finds those materials in thrift stores, antique stores, Ebay and often receives wonderful bits from her many friends.  Even when using new fabrics her designs have an old world look.


We talked about why she chose Etsy to start selling her creations. Her response tells it all.   "Etsy is a fantastic place to sell.  I love the fact that there are so many artists out there that have a place to show what they have made with their own two hands.  I am constantly being inspired by the work of others on Etsy.  I love it!"  She also belongs to the Eastern Washington Etsy Team and had nothing but good to say about is she said "It's a fabulous group of people and everyone is willing to share their knowledge, skills and talents with each other to help us succeed.  It's just like a big, happy family."

When asked about her typical buyer she  said it depends on which shop.  She has been been surprised that the interest in mainly in her Seams Victorian shop.  She is finding that it fits with the Steampunk crowd very well and she likes that.  The Bits and Purses shop has been a good fit with people who want to create their own bags as she sells a lot of supplies.  The fact tat they can get purse frames in the U.S. without waiting 2 weeks is a big draw and she can get the frames in the mail the same day they are purchased, for the most part.  Her screen printing at Teez Loueez is new so she is unsure what niche it will fit into but she has many new designs coming out in the next few days so be sure  to take a look.

Lady in Waiting                                                             I've Got Your Back














In closing the advice she would give to someone starting on Etsy is.  "Join a team, ask a lot of questions and meet as many other Etsians as you can by email or in person.  You will feel empowered to succeed if you expand your circle and constantly learn something new.

I hope you have enjoyed getting to know a wonderful artisan and her products.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Diversity Eastern Washington Style

If you have been following my blog you know I am writing about the Eastern Washington Etsy Team a group of very diverse artisans who sell their work online. There something for every taste in the items below.

First up is Connie (who I know as Sunfire) who has 2 shops, Breath of the Dragon and Turn Peace Around.  She is a Navy veteran who is currently attending college, online, to earn a degree in WEB design.  After trying different types of crafts she discovered wood burning and became hooked.  Her designs are varied and well done.  I am fascinated by her second shop which she has with her mother.  Turn the Peace Around is not just a shop but an idea.  The peace symbol originally an anti war sign is turned around to be a pro peace sign.  By changing the orientation of the symbol it's arms are raised in hope and joy and brings positive energy.  This was inspired by the WEB site Turn The Peace Around.org which thinks it is time for a new awareness of peace.

Tribal Dragon Plaque
Kanji Beauty Magnet                              Dream Believe Receive Box




Simple Black and Silver Peace Necklace


Turn Peace Around Natural Cotton Tote  Wooden Peace Key Chain

 
Our third shop is Sagegold Soaps a shop filled with  the most beautiful soaps.  The owner is Kerry who has many years crafting these luxurious soaps.  Kerry got her start in 1999 when she received a popular soap making kit as a gift. She says "Using the kit was fun, even though the resulting 'soap' left a lot to be desired... And I became hooked on the idea of making a great handmade soap". She did research and made many trial batches of soap until she made soap that not only made her skin feel happy but she felt was good enough to give to family and friends.  Of course that lead to having everyone try what she made and at the insistence of family and friends Sagegold Soaps was born.  Each batch of soap is handcrafted from scratch with only the finest of ingredients resulting in a soap that leaves your skin clean and comfortable and not over stripped and dried out.  Kerry says once you try this luxury soap you will never go back to commercial products.

Mimosa Hand Made

Patchouli Haze Handmade                                                                              Cherry Blossoms Handmade









Sandalwood Handmade 


The fourth and fifth shops are owned by Maggie. Maggie designs and makes, you guessed it, bags with vintage fabrics for Material Girl Bags and she also has sold vintage clothing since 1999 opening Denise Brain on Etsy in 2008.  Formerly she was  a professional French horn player and was Principal Horn of the Spokane Symphony for whom she now substitutes and is an extra.  She currently has her bags for sale online and at the Ruby Slipper in Spokane.  Her vintage fabrics date from 1900s to 1970s and she finds them in many obscure places.  Going green looks great in both of Maggie's Etsy shops as you can see below.

Japanese Garden Knitter Bag





You've Urned it Tote Bag                                                         
                                                      Black and White Vintage
                                                      Linen Hope Bag
                                                              


Vintage 20's Black Beaded Silk Dress



Belle of the Ball 80's Vintage                                                                  70's Vintage Brown Suede Leather


Our sixth shop is one I can identify with as glass is a medium I dabble in.  Carol the owner of Harrach Glass has a couple of interesting theories as to why she loves working with glass in different forms.  Her first theory came about when she was 15 and she did her first glass work in a class taught by a witch (Carol is not Wicca). She thinks maybe the teacher put a spell on her.  Even if she didn't she has been working in glass every since.  Her other theory and this is after my own heart (I love family history) is that her last name Harrach is the same as a very distinguished Czech glass making factory that opened in 1712 and is still in operation today.  And, because of this it is only natural for her to love working in glass.  Carol owns a stained glass business/art glass studio and is a full time glass artist.   

Swan Origami Style Pendant

Dichroic Fuse Glass Pendant


Glass Sculpture Window Hanging of Hanuman








Fish Origami Look


So there you have a very diverse group of entrepreneurs.

I would like to remind my readers that I am currently clearing inventory in my shop Beaded Splendor by having a 50% OFF SALE.  If you are looking for a gift or just some bling for yourself please stop by.