Contributor post by Natalie
Please join us in welcoming Kitty April, our featured member!
- Tell us a bit about yourself
Who am I? I am an artist at heart. I grew up and now live in Perm with my husband.
Perm is a city far away from both ends of Russia, where Asia and Europe come together. Where it is -30 C in the winter and everything is covered with snow. Where it is +30 C in the summer. I am a teacher of English and French by profession. I adore trips and adventures, handmade toys and things, watercolours, illustration, holidays, gift-giving, pastel colours, the smell of fresh-cut grass and a lot more.
- When did you open your business and what made you decide to do so?
I studied art at school and that was where my imagination comes from. In 2005 I started making teddy bears myself just for presents to my dear friends and family. Then I realized I want something more, some self-development of my creativity. That is how my Etsy shop came to life in 2011.
- Tell us a bit about the products you have available.
Talking about my handmade toys I prefer making little toys, such as mini teddy bears and mini animals like hedgehogs, elephants, giraffes and others. I can offer customization or make any animal to order, for example I made lemurs specially to order. Prices vary from $40 to over $100 plus shipping. I ship worldwide so you can adopt my creature no matter where you live. My creations found their homes in different corners of the world, in Russia, the USA, Italy, Germany, Switzerland, the United Kingdom, France., Spain and some others.
My recent design is of a mini elephant with big ears. I plan a whole collection of elephants in different colours. As for popular items on Etsy I noticed that hedgehogs usually find homes quicker than others.
Handmade creatures need to be carefully treated. You must not wash them in the washing machine or even with your hands because it will damage the material and the cotter-pin joints which are inside. However, you can tidy your toy using a wet brush. Handmade toys are not suitable for babies and small children as they contain many small items.
- What materials do you use and which is your favorite to work with?
I usually use such materials as viscose or faux fur for miniature, cotter-pin joints which make the creature move its head, arms and legs. For stuffing I use polyfiber or padding polyester and glass shot for weighting. Sometimes I use ceramic clay, for example to make Northern angels. My favourite material is viscose because it is pleasant to touch and also fur for miniature because it is convenient to sew from it.
- Is there someone you look up to and inspires you?
I get inspired by different things, it is sometimes difficult to tell. To be inspired I need to be in a positive mood and communicate with people I like. Great source of inspiration for me is nature, as well as cartoons, illustration, fashion, travels. Sometimes my previous toys inspire new ones. What is most important for me is that my creatures make people smile and feel a bit happier, this reaction inspires me greatly.
- Tell us a bit about your workspace.
I work out of my home, I have my own desk in the corner of the room. I have some shelves to keep my materials but I would really love to have a whole separate room for my creative work and it should be in my flat not somewhere in a different building. That is my little dream. I would also love to have a studio for taking photos. Maybe someday I will have them both.
- Do you have a favorite artist/genre or tv show to listen to/watch while you work?
I can`t say I always listen to the same music while I am working. It depends on my mood and other things. I can work in silence alright, I am fully absorbed in the process so I do not notice much difference. Sometimes I watch (or rather listen) to programs about travelling.
- Why do you believe people should buy handmade, such as your own work, vs buying mass-produced products from box stores.
I believe that handmade things have a special touch and mood. As for creatures they seem to have a character. As a creator I can say that each of them is filled with love because I adore every toy so much it can`t have no result, this love is translated inside the toy somehow. That is the main difference.
- What are your future goals for the business this year and in the coming years? What is your dream?
My future goal in the coming years is to develop my business so that I could do it full-time and take part in several teddy bear fairs worldwide during a year. I think this would match my dream to travel often and to do the work I like. As for my plans this year which is almost over, I plan to create a winter collection very soon and take part in local New Year`s fairs.
- Is this your full-time job or do you have a day job? If so, what do you do for work?
It is now my part-time work because I have a day job too. I work part-time as a language teacher. I love foreign languages and the way they open your eyes to understand a different culture.
- Do you have any advice for someone thinking of opening their own business? Any advice for those wanting to sell on Etsy?
I do not feel being a professional Etsy seller yet, I still need to learn a lot of things. Though as for basic things if you open your shop on Etsy do not think that “opening” is the main thing you should do, it is not so. Since you have opened your shop you need to work hard before you get any result. There are many pieces of advice on Etsy so read it carefully and try to put it all into practice.
- Besides your business, what do you like to do with your time?
Besides creating toys, I love painting with watercolours. I paint landscapes of the places I visited, I am mostly inspired by small towns of France and Italy. I also design watercolour wedding invitations and sometimes cards. I would like to improve my painting skills and maybe do more illustration work.
I would also like to try scrap booking and doll making, so I have a lot of plans.
- Where can people find out more about you and your business?
My Etsy shop – etsy.com/shop/KittyApril
My blog – kittyaprilhandmade.blogspot.com
Pinterest – pinterest.com/kittyapril
Twitter – twitter.com/Kitty_April
Facebook – facebook.com/pages/K-i-t-t-y-A-p-r-i-l-Handmade
- Do you have any up-coming promotions/sales or anything else you’d like to share?
I recently launched monthly newsletters with special offers and news. You can get 10% off on your purchase in my Etsy shop if you subscribe to the newsletter.
Some fun questions!
- Favorite Ice Cream? I love ice cream with pieces of biscuits in it or watermelon or banana flavoured.
- Coke or Pepsi? Coke
If you would like to be featured, please contact admin Natalie at firstname.lastname@example.org. Please note you must be a member of the CIJ Etsy team to be featured.