Member Feature: FELTBYNARELLE

Contributor post by Alicia from AliciasFindings

Please join us in welcoming Narelle of FELTBYNARELLE, our featured member!

FELTBYNARELLE

Tell us about yourself.

I am retired and living at our favourite beach where I grew up and after an active working and travelling life I needed something??? thus with the magic of computers, Pinterest and Youtube, I became engrossed in the fiber art of felting and fascinated with wool and all the amazing things that were possible to make from it.

 

When did you open your business and what made you decide to do so?

I opened my Etsy shop 3 years ago and needed an outlet for my work, I loved the process of making felt from wool then adding needle felted designs, with different challenges each time.

Tell us a bit about your products.

My products have been wide and varied from fiber art wall art, felted heat packs, cat caves, to baby mobiles and whilst making these I got engrossed with the beautiful beads and added a jewelry range, which I found to be stretching too far, so have now decided to revert back to my original love of working with wool.

 

What inspires your work?

Pinterest gives me inspiration, NOT to copy but what I could make “my way” and this year I decided not to leave it ’til too late and make a range of Christmas tree decorations, which I am really pleased with and am still making.

What are your future goals for the business this year? What is your dream for this business?

I have decided that I am going to specialize in my first love of felting and that is Needle Felting of wool sculptures…That is using special barbed needles to condense dry wool into sculptured shapes and 3D paintings, like Xmas decorations, Easter eggs, cat toys and my mini vegetable range.

 

What makes your business stand out from businesses that sell similar products?

Well I find that actually needle felting the products do that as a lot of my competitors are using cut felt and stitching it together and using filler… so my products are completely hand-made originals!

 

Tell us a bit about your work space. Do you have a separate studio?

My work space is now all done in my favorite arm-chair as my items are small and I have a movable chair set up beside me with all my instant needs. I also have a computer room with a shelf set up for photos and my computers ready for editing… this is a never-ending process and takes so much more time than I ever imagined.

What have you learned since opening your business that you wish you had known before hand?

Etsy SEO is the first thing you REALLY need to learn, I am still learning this after 3 years, and I also have learned not to spread yourself too thin, by this I mean try not to add too many different items, find the ones that work for you and have fun with them.

 

Any advice for those thinking about selling on Etsy?

Do not be afraid to try, we all have to start somewhere, try to make your things different so that you develop your own style and just go for it!

When you’re not working, what do you like to do to unwind and have fun? Do you have any hobbies?

My hobby Is ETSY! I love my work but other than that movies and music and photography which is all included in Etsy as well.

What is your favorite quote?

Never say die! never give up on your dream…

Where can people find out more about your business?

http://pinterest.com/feltbynarelle

http://instagram.com/narellehorsley

http://twitter.com/HorsleyNarelle

Is there anything else you’d like to share?

Thank you Alicia for the choice to be featured.

________

If you would like to be featured, please go to the CIJ Etsy Forum and fill out the questionnaire. Please note you must be a member of the CIJ Etsy team to be featured.

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Member Feature: Mari Marti Designs

Contributor post by Alicia from AliciasFindings

Please join us in welcoming Marijean of Mari Marti Designs, our featured member!

Mari Marti Designs

Tell us about yourself.

Howdy!  My name is Marijean.  I’m a temporarily retired teacher and Texas transplant living on the gorgeous south Florida coast with my wonderful husband and two delightfully insane littles.  I have a somewhat dark sense of humor, an attraction to coffee and Cuban food, and I love me some Jesus, (but I also sometimes cuss a little)www.etsy.com/listing/646837403 .

I’ve been designing and crafting for as long as I’ve been around.  It’s in my DNA.  Being that my mom is a crafter, there was never a shortage of supplies with which I could play and experiment.  By the time I was about six years old, I already zeroed in on beads and charms as my go-to crafting supplies.  In high school, I fell in love with all-things-scrapbooking and digital/graphic design.  I never tired of special fonts, fancy scissors, luxe papers, and CD drive graphic packs.  (Yes, CD drive graphics…the internet was still young, folks, so this was before you could hop on over to Creative Market and the likes for fly graphics and fonts.)  I sometimes wonder how my life would have been different had washi tape been “a thing” back then, but in seriousness, it doesn’t keep me up at night.

When did you open your business and what made you decide to do so?

I opened up my shop http://www.marimartidesigns.etsy.com in late summer 2016 after being transplanted from TX for my husband’s work. I have been very blessed to be able to stay at home with our tiny humans since the move, and with a little extra time on my hands (just a little, the babes keep me hoppin’!) I started designing and creating items. When my craft room started overflowing with finished work, I decided it was time to share some of the love by opening an Etsy shop. I was already very familiar with Etsy as a shopper and I had watched my mom sell handmade hand-painted, custom curtains on Etsy (www.homespunheartofmine.etsy.com) for years with success (and lots of fun!) so I was very comfortable with the idea of opening up a shop and seeing what happened.

Tell us a bit about your products.

My products are designed for the woman who loves to plan and journal, but it wasn’t always so!  It took me a little while to discover how much I love designing these products and designing FOR women who plan and journal.  Planning and Journaling:  It’s a whole beautiful world of beautiful people with beautiful –breathtakingly beautiful!– planners of various styles.  My shop started out as jewelry and accessories, but once I fell in love with planning accessories and the communities that come together to plan, I quickly started moving my shop in that direction.  My first planner accessories to bring to market on Etsy were planner tassels like these: www.etsy.com/listing/512708060 and www.etsy.com/listing/512706752 .  Soon I was designing page clips and planner charms to add to the collection.

When you visit my shop, you’ll see a convergence of both minimalist glam and boho-chic style.  I can’t get enough of upcycled sari silk ribbon (the COLORS, ya’all!) and I lovelovelove knowing that the recycled sari silk is a beautiful and socially conscious option for accessories as it keeps waste from sari production from contributing to landfills and empowers women by providing them work.

What inspires your work?

The style of my work is an unexpected but happy marriage of global eclectic meets late 60’s minimalism.  Nature, an obsession with rich colors, cute animals, and the beautifully creative minds of women planner communities (just look up #bujo on IG and be amazed!) keep me constantly creating and inspired.  I feel there is no end of planner accessories just waiting to be discovered, thought up, and designed.  And the styles of accessories possible are as varied as the styles of women who love to plan!

What are your future goals for the business this year? What is your dream for this business?

This year I am working on:
-Preparing for a hefty re-branding of my shop going into the new year,
-Building up my Instagram following to 500 followers (www.instagram.com/therealmarimarti ),
-Setting up to launch my planner-of-the-month subscription club (coming February 2019!!), and
-Systematizing my work flows for more productivity and more time to spend with my wonderful family, cause really, those people are my favorite.
-Broaden the selection I offer for an amazing shopping experience.

What makes your business stand out from businesses that sell similar products?

A sharp attention to detail and a focus on variety and creativity.  My shop has the option to build your own sets of planner charms and clips to express your unique style and my planner tassels feature unique colors of sari silk ribbon that enhance the plans and journaling without taking away from the gorgeous spreads women create in their journals and planners.

Tell us a bit about your work space. Do you have a separate studio?

I work at the same table where my preschooler practices drawing, cutting, and stringing beads.  We usually come together a few times a week during the baby’s nap to work on creative projects at her “tall table”.  We have fun laughing and creating together.  It’s really fun for me to be able to bond with her through creating the same way my mother bonded with me growing up.

What have you learned since opening your business that you wish you had known before hand?

Etsy is work.  There’s marketing, social media, taxes, SEO, branding, photography, and an ENDLESS list of hats to wear when you run your own Etsy shop.  I think there’s this myth out there that you make it, you list it, it sells.  But there’s a lot of mind and muscle that goes into it all behind the scenes.  I feel like I am a perpetual student of all things Etsy and really, these things are all beneficial for ANY kind of online business presence.  But I love to learn and am FASCINATED by all the facets of the business.  The one thing I wish I knew beforehand (and have to keep reminding myself!) is to PACE MYSELF!  Budget, time, and energy don’t always expand quickly enough for me make and list all the things my mind is constantly wanting to add to my shop.  So, I have to be kind to myself and pace myself so that I don’t get burnout.  Task batching has been VERY helpful in making the very most of time, budget, and energy as I roll out more and more exciting new products.  It’s important to remember when I make or even imagine new products that there is an entire workflow that has to happen to bring the idea to market as a product.  The process can be overwhelming if I don’t have my tasks batched and intentionally take time to chill out alone and with the family and focus on what matters most to me.

Any advice for those thinking about selling on Etsy?

Again, pace yourself and do some serious digging around online to discover what you can about task batching.  Don’t think of tasks in terms of each listing.  Batch like tasks into blocks of time to make the most of that time.

Also, Marmalead. (No affiliate here, just a true fan.)  Marmalead has been SUCH a valuable business investment for helping me navigate the sometimes murky waters of Etsy SEO.  This tool has taken out some guesswork for me.

Marketing on Social Media doesn’t have to be over-complicated.  Just find your tribe online and try to grow followers organically through having a presence on social media.  I made it over-complicated and overwhelming for too long and am finding now that it can be fun and natural once you find your shop’s niche and your fans.

When you’re not working, what do you like to do to unwind and have fun? Do you have any hobbies?

I love cooking for my family, playing dance party with my kids, and watching international (Usually Spanish and  Korean) films with my husband.  I have a very inquisitive mind and love to read and research the question du jour.

What is your favorite quote?

Oh, gosh!  SO many, but currently:

“How we spend our days is, of course, how we spend our lives.” -Annie Dillard

Where can people find out more about your business?

You can follow Mari Marti Designs on
IG at www.instagram.com/therealmarimarti  @therealmarimarti
Pinterest at www.pinterest.com/marimartidesigns
FB www.facebook.com/marimartidesigns

I’m most active on IG so follow me @therealmarimarti to stay up to date on sales, events, and launches!

Is there anything else you’d like to share?

I’ll be offering free shipping on all orders $25 and up from October 15, 2018 – November 1, 2018!

Find what makes you happy and what you’re good at. See how you can spread that into the world. Thanks for taking time to visit and I’ll see you in my shop!

________

If you would like to be featured, please go to the CIJ Etsy Forum and fill out the questionnaire. Please note you must be a member of the CIJ Etsy team to be featured.

Member Feature: Nemezinda

Contributor post by Alicia from AliciasFindings

Please join us in welcoming Betti of Nemezinda, our featured member!

Nemezinda

Tell us about yourself.

My name is Betti Horvath and I am the owner of my one-person enterprise, named NEMEZINDA.
I have three children and we live in a village very close to Budapest. The philosophy of Waldorf pedagogy stands close to is, so we enrolled all of our children to the closest Waldorf school.
I have a MSc degree of Chemical Engineering, but I have always been love with art crafting since my childhood. I worked 6 years in a Pharmaceutical Company till my first son was born. He was born with cleft palate, which was operated successfully at his age of 9 months, and I decided to stay at home with him and his younger brother. When they started the kindergarten I met the wet felting craft. This felting hobby became so serious, that I finished a 2-years-long felting course at the Heritage House of Hungary. There I studied a lot about the historical, social, traditional background of the felting craft.

When did you open your business and what made you decide to do so?

The first scene was Etsy’s marketplace where I showed my felted items. I opened my first Etsy shop (former name FeltedbyBetti), Nemezinda, in 2015.
The first product was made for Valentine day, felted hearts and bowls integrated with red sequins. While I was waiting for my first sale I changed the profile of my shop: I left the sequins and found a niche market: felted playmats, playscapes in 3 dimensions. So trunks, small hills, flowers, volcanoes were growing on the play mats inspired by the nature and mainly by my daughter. Meanwhile we moved to abroad and being on Etsy helped me to continue my work.
I chose Etsy’s Marketplace, because it is international, easy to use and the fees are affordable. The international delivery of my felted items is not difficult, because they are light, non fragile items.

Tell us a bit about your products.

All of my products are handmade by the wet felting technique by me. I offer different types and sizes of playscapes, playmats in the Nemezinda shop. The size of the smaller ones is similar to an adult’s palm, the largest is 24”x24” /60cmx60cm. They are great for playing, for storytelling or for a season table. Usually my customers buy them for birthdays of age of 1 to 6. My daughter, who is 8, still loves to play with them. I also offer felted fairies, gnomes and elves to complete these playscapes.
I opened my second shop, called BohoNemezinda, in 2018, where I offer colourful, boho, nunofelted scarves, flowers and accessories.

What inspires your work?

My main inspirers are the Mother Nature, my daughter, Sophie, and my customers.
I am amazed by the colours, forms, plants and animals of our planet. It is inspires me everywhere I go, every season I live.
I love to see children playing on the playscapes and they always have great ideas for stories as well as for new designs.
The most popular playmats were originally custom orders from my enthusiastic customers. I love to felt their dreams!

What are your future goals for the business this year? What is your dream for this business?

This year I would like to launch the playmats into my local, Hungarian market, meanwhile to increase the international sales via Etsy. My goal is to get steady sales and make my customers happy.

What makes your business stand out from businesses that sell similar products?

There are two main types of felting: wet felting and needle felting.
The needle felting technique is very popular in the western European countries and USA, it results in very nice, detailed items, however they can usually serve as decorations.
Wet felting technique originates in Middle Asia where it was mainly used to make felted blankets and rugs. Wet felted items have strong, durable, washable texture, they last long. That is why I use this traditional felting method to create the playmates, playscapes. They are also stands out with their 3D elements, like hollow caves, trunks, trees and flowers.

Tell us a bit about your work space. Do you have a separate studio?

Fortunately I can use the largest room in our house as a felting studio. I bought 4 second-hand large desks and now there is enough space for the wet felting work, for the dry work (mainly embroidery), for stocking of the materials and also for photography. I used to make wet felting courses here for 4-6 students.

What have you learned since opening your business that you wish you had known before hand?

I knew that good photos are essentials for online selling, but I needed time to realize what it means a really good photo. My husband’s hobby was photography, so I have a good Nikon camera for this purpose.

Any advice for those thinking about selling on Etsy?

If you sell outside the USA, which is I think the main market of Etsy, you have to find a niche market and offer a unique product at excellent quality on it. Usually people prefer the local market, so you have to stand out to get their attention.
I think that natural, environment friendly, eco are the future’s tags, so maybe it worth to develop products with these qualities.

When you’re not working, what do you like to do to unwind and have fun? Do you have any hobbies?

Sports and travelling. I love running in the forest and travel to the sea. We lived one year on the tiny island of Malta in the Mediterranean Sea and we usually return there.

What is your favorite quote?

“Creativity takes courage” – Henry Matisse

Where can people find out more about your business?

I started a blog several years ago: nemezinda.blogspot.com
I use Instagram and Facebook page as Nemezinda, although I should be posting more regular.

Is there anything else you’d like to share?

________

If you would like to be featured, please go to the CIJ Etsy Forum and fill out the questionnaire. Please note you must be a member of the CIJ Etsy team to be featured.

Member Feature: Double Stitch Creations

Contributor post by Alicia from AliciasFindings

Please join us in welcoming Emma of Double Stitch Creations, our featured member!

Double Stitch Creations

Tell us about yourself.

Hi, I am Emma, mum to 4 children. I am totally in love with making and creating items using the fabulous fiber and vintage art of crochet. I have thrown myself wholeheartedly and passionately into the handmade world, enjoying everything that there is to learn, and what an amazing journey it has been. You name it and I have created it from crochet beards to hedgehog cushions. The world is an entirely different place when you love what you do.

When did you open your business and what made you decide to do so?

In 2014 I started selling my crochet creations at local markets but the online market seemed to be more of an appeal for me so I opened my Facebook page July 2014.  I feel like it has been a gradual stepping stone approach for my business.  From Facebook, I set up Pinterest, then Instagram but it wasn’t until 2016 that I felt that Etsy was the next big step for my handmade journey.  So I am still relatively new to the world of Etsy and all it has to offer but it is exciting to be a part of it.

Tell us a bit about your products.

My products are all about capturing adorable memories, fun and cuteness is a must.  I make matching theme sets like unicorns, ladybugs to foxes and fireman.  Sets can be different combos of applique t-shirts, beanies, headbands, booties and nappy covers.  And soon I hope to add matching bags to go with the t-shirts and beanies or headbands. My items are perfect for that newborn baby photo shoot, as an adorable cake smash outfit or fun and creative gift for any child.

What inspires your work?

Inspiration mainly comes from Children. They are imaginative, playful, enthusiastic, encouraging and creative. Children love colors, animals and interesting accessories and I love knowing that I can create something fun and unique that puts a smile on their face. I love knowing I can create something that helps to capture memories and special milestones for parents and children in a unique and creative way.

What are your future goals for the business this year? What is your dream for this business?

These past 12 months has been about focusing, narrowing down my product range, finding my target market and honing my crochet skills.  I still think this needs to be my goals for the coming year but I also would like to start capturing a story of my products with creative photos. My dream for this business is to just keep making, creating, learning and having fun with it  – one stepping stone at a time.  And who knows, one day I may just reach the ultimate dream of running a successful, handmade, crocheting business.

What makes your business stand out from businesses that sell similar products?

I am not sure about other businesses but I can tell you what I offer.  I am incredibly passionate about what I make which means clients receive a beautiful, handmade gift that comes with all the love in the world and a little extra.  I care about my clients and aim to provide them with the best possible service.  I have worked hard on my sizing so that I can offer many sizes.  I offer 5 different sizes between newborn to 12 months just for my booties and all sizes for my beanies.  I am very choosy about the materials I use, as quality is important to me.  I have re designed my patterns so that my creations have minimal to no small parts to make them child friendly.  $1 from every item sold goes towards Kakinda Children’s Home in India and every client receives one of my dragonfly charms as a special little gift from me.  It’s all about loving what I do.

Tell us a bit about your work space. Do you have a separate studio?

Lol, so technically I have a work room but that has some how spread to the front room, to the couch and the kitchen bench – oops! I really need to stop spreading out.  Lucky my family don’t seem to mind except for when they would actually like to sit on the couch but can’t because my yarn has taken pride of place.

What have you learned since opening your business that you wish you had known before hand?

That a handmade business is a real business and it takes time and hours of work. It’s not an overnight success.  It’s a gradual learning process that can and will lead to success, if you don’t give up.  Look at each process as a stepping stone in the right direction.  It’s okay to take a break from Social Media.  Social Media has away of making you feel trapped.  A break is always refreshing and allows the creative juices to flow. Be clear about what you sell and don’t sell. Find quality materials and try to stick to them as much as possible.  This will save you from over spending and stocking.

Any advice for those thinking about selling on Etsy?

Stay focused and narrow down your focus. Even though you can make everything doesn’t mean you should or can sell everything.  Find your target audience and make them your focus.  Focusing on your target audience is the key, I think to Etsy.  It will give you are clear direction for your shops and the items you make.

When you’re not working, what do you like to do to unwind and have fun? Do you have any hobbies?

I am currently in the process of learning Photography which has been a huge learning curve but I love it.  I am an ex librarian so I always have few books on the go.  I love to go for a jog 3 to 4 times a week and coffee is a wonderful thing.

What is your favorite quote?

~~~~~LAUGHTER is timeless, IMAGINATION has no age and DREAMS are forever – Walt Disney ~~~~~

Where can people find out more about your business?

Find me on
Facebook www.facebook.com/doublestitchcreations
Instagram www.instagram.com/doublestitchcreations and
Pinterest https://pinterest.com.au/doublestitchcre/

Is there anything else you’d like to share?

Don’t be afraid to have a go and have fun!

________

If you would like to be featured, please go to the CIJ Etsy Forum and fill out the questionnaire. Please note you must be a member of the CIJ Etsy team to be featured.

Member Feature: Lianne Marie Art

Contributor post by Alicia from AliciasFindings

Please join us in welcoming Lianne of Lianne Marie Art, our featured member!

Lianne Marie Art

Tell us about yourself.

My name is Lianne Marie! I am 29 years old and the creator, artist and owner (and everything else) of Lianne Marie Art.

I run my business from home – I live with my biggest fan and support my fiancé and fur baby.

I’ve always loved art since I was a little girl and am totally self-taught through practice, dabbling between watercolor or acrylic paints and pencil drawings.

When did you open your business and what made you decide to do so?

I opened LMA January 2017 after being made redundant from my office job in accounts. It’s been a lifelong dream of mine to make a living doing what I love as an artist but seemed so farfetched at the time. With a few pet portraits under my belt and lots of kind support I took the plunge and haven’t looked back! I hope to keep doing what I really love whilst putting smiles on some faces and spreading joy through my art.

Tell us a bit about your products.

I create beautiful high quality prints, greetings cards and stickers from my carefully and lovingly painted watercolor paintings. I plan to expand this to other products such as mugs and other home decor and accessories.

What inspires your work?

I am a big animal lover and my love for animals inspires all my wildlife paintings. In general the joyful reaction I get from my art inspires me the most to keep doing what I am doing.

What are your future goals for the business this year? What is your dream for this business?

I am planning to expand my product line to include other products such as mugs and other home decor and accessories. Add brand new designs and collections (florals etc) and attend more events to get myself and my business out there more.
I would ideally love to get my products in to shops and available to a wider audience.

What makes your business stand out from businesses that sell similar products?

My heart goes into my art and into my shop. My customers happiness is absolute top priority.

Tell us a bit about your work space. Do you have a separate studio?

I have a work station set up in a separate room at home which allows me to spend more time on my shop while still having a good work – life balance.

What have you learned since opening your business that you wish you had known before hand?

I didn’t know before starting how much research and hard work is really needed to get going, you really do need to learn and keep growing every day. I wouldn’t change a thing though.

Any advice for those thinking about selling on Etsy?

Do your research! Be patient! Stay dedicated! Love what you do.

When you’re not working, what do you like to do to unwind and have fun? Do you have any hobbies?

Painting used to be my hobby! I do it for work now but it’s still fun to do. I love horror/fantasy movies & books and going to zoos (artspiration!)
Of course I also spend time with my lovely Fiancé, family and friends (and cat).

What is your favorite quote?

Don’t quit your daydream!

Where can people find out more about your business?

Visit my Etsy shop which has the most information or ask me directly, I’m an open book and always happy to help.

Is there anything else you’d like to share?

Thank you for giving me the opportunity to be featured!

________

If you would like to be featured, please go to the CIJ Etsy Forum and fill out the questionnaire. Please note you must be a member of the CIJ Etsy team to be featured.

Member Feature: FeltedFantasies

Contributor post by Alicia from AliciasFindings

Please join us in welcoming Sheila of FeltedFantasies, our featured member!

FeltedFantasies

Tell us about yourself.

Eleven years ago I moved to the Pacific Northwest from South Florida. The beauty of Nature in the Northwest and the tropical colors of Florida have influenced my use of color and design in my art.
I have been knitting since a teenager, but 10 years ago I discovered the art of needle felting. It became my new passion.  Needle felting is like painting with loose wool fibers and very sharp barbed needles. This art enables me to create depth, texture and detail to the otherwise flat surface of a felted wool purse,hat,gloves,portraits,pillows, and paintings.

When did you open your business and what made you decide to do so?

I opened my business in 2008. I fell in love with the art of needle felting and wished to share my creations with others. I started selling at our local farmers market and then went on to participate in Art Shows in the Pacific Northwest. Ten years have gone by so quickly but I still love to create needle felt art on my purses,hats, and wool paintings.

Tell us a bit about your products.

Some of my favorite projects are making a purse or portrait for a custom dog or cat. I try very hard to create a likeness from pictures that a customer sends to me.
My newest product is a felted hat knitted from one strand of baby alpaca for softness and one strand of wool for shape. I needle felt birds,flowers or other custom creations on the hat. I love this new product and they have been very popular at my few shows this summer and surely will be even more popular as the temperature gets cooler this fall and winter.

 

What inspires your work?

Nature inspires my work. I love animals,flowers, birds, and all of the brilliant colors that nature offers.

What are your future goals for the business this year? What is your dream for this business?

I would like to continue creating my art and look forward to sharing it with my customers.
My dream for my business would be to reach more customers through additional markets.

What makes your business stand out from businesses that sell similar products?

My customers tell me that my needle felt art makes my products stand out.

Tell us a bit about your work space. Do you have a separate studio?

I have a separate studio above my garage. Everything I need is here and I love spending my days here./

What have you learned since opening your business that you wish you had known before hand?

I do wish I was better at social media, as I think it is necessary to really reach more people.

Any advice for those thinking about selling on Etsy?

Be patient and don’t give up!

When you’re not working, what do you like to do to unwind and have fun? Do you have any hobbies?

I exercise for 1.5 hours every morning. Every afternoon at 5 PM  I play Rummy Cube with my hubby before dinner.

Where can people find out more about your business?

www.feltedfantasies.com

Is there anything else you’d like to share?

When you retire find your passion and go for it!

________

If you would like to be featured, please go to the CIJ Etsy Forum and fill out the questionnaire. Please note you must be a member of the CIJ Etsy team to be featured.

Member Feature: Elliot’s Playground

Contributor post by Alicia from AliciasFindings

Please join us in welcoming Clara of Elliot’s Playground, our featured member!

Elliot’s Playground

Tell us about yourself.

I’m a Florida native who moved to Chicago to escape the heat.  After ten years of designing costumes for local theater and film, working in an artist collective and waiting tables in the Windy City I met and fell in love with my Australian husband. I was lucky enough to move to Melbourne and have completely fallen for this country especially the flora and fauna, extra especially Koalas. I have two little humans and a fluffy pup who I love to get messy with but I’m not so great at the clean up afterwards part.

When did you open your business and what made you decide to do so?

I opened my Etsy store back in 2012 after I had illustrated a few children’s books. I wanted to sell art prints which garnered sporadic interest but nothing substantial. I kind of let the store lapse until 2 years ago. When my daughter was born I made her this little felt pixie hat. My mom was visiting and asked me if I would like her to jazz it up a bit with some embroidery. I loved what she did and asked her to show me how the stitches. That was it. I was hooked. I watched every YouTube video I could find on embroidery stitches and started making ornaments. It’s been pretty amazing. I mean building up a “following” is a slow process but the support has been great. I am a Christmas nut so being able to make something that someone can display on their tree of in their home is really meaningful to me.

Tell us a bit about your products.

I still offer personalized illustrations for children but mostly my shop centers around Christmas ornaments. My ornaments are all hand sewn and embroidered. They are made with wool felt and mostly DMC floss. They are plushy, toy like and kind of big. But I love BIG Christmas ornaments.

What inspires your work?

Australia for sure! The birds are a big one. I get lots of custom requests for birds and have certainly learned about lots of new species. My Norwegian ancestry is another. Who wouldn’t want to make gnomes? I also love all the Christmas time traditions from around the world. We take the kids to see St Nicholas and his friend Krampus every year at the Austrian Club. My cute version of Krampus is one of my best sellers. The other one that was a surprise hit is my Tardigrade. I love Tardigrades! My husband saw it and asked “who in the world will want that?” My first one sold within an hour of listing to a microbiologist who has a microbiology themed Christmas tree. Another one sold as a present for a girl who had studied Tardigrades as a research project. It’s cool when you connect with people who share you funny interests!!

What are your future goals for the business this year? What is your dream for this business?

I’m really working on making more patterns. To be honest sitting in front of a computer is not nearly as much fun as making an actual craft but I love being a small part of other people’s creative process. A friend of mine used some of my patterns to make ornaments for all of the grandparents. Her husband and the kids all got involved and embroidered together. I love that!  Another upside is the selling a digital download is easy peasy! There’s no work to be done after the sale.

What makes your business stand out from businesses that sell similar products?

I try to make things that aren’t super typical. I mean I still love to make snowmen and reindeer but also like to throw in an Axolotl or Leafy Seadragon to mix it up. I am 100% NOT the most talented hand embroiderer on the planet but I do take a lot of pride in my work. I want these items to last a long time so I do my best to deliver the highest quality work I can. I also like to personalize items for people with names or dates.

Tell us a bit about your work space. Do you have a separate studio?

Ha! My family wishes I did. That would cut down on the felt and floss scraps all over the house. I have pretty much taken over the dining room as my craft supply room but do most of my actual work in the living room while hanging out with my two-year old. I wish I could show you a cute, quirky little working space but it’s more like badly organised chaos.

What have you learned since opening your business that you wish you had known before hand?

Don’t compare yourself negatively to people who have been doing this for years! Learn from them. There are some amazing ornament and pattern makers out there. I read their blogs and follow their work. It’s good to see what kinds of themes people are drawn to.

Any advice for those thinking about selling on Etsy?

Give it a go!!! It’s a small amount of money to try to if nothing else it will be a good learning process. I honestly really thought I would be totally concentrating on illustrations but couldn’t have been more wrong! The embroidered felt ornaments have really been the ticket. It’s great because I absolutely love making them!!

When you’re not working, what do you like to do to unwind and have fun? Do you have any hobbies?

Does trash TV count? Haha! I love to go on Sunday drives to different country towns near Melbourne. I love being in and around water. I used to read all the time but that’s a bit hard to squeeze in with the rugrats but a good book is still one of my all time favorite things in the world.

What is your favorite quote?

“It’s best not to be too moral. You cheat yourself out of too much life.” ~ Maude from “Harold and Maude”

Where can people find out more about your business?

I have a blog that I need to update more than I do!
elliottsplayground.blogspot.com

And on Instagram @elliottsplayground

I also have a Pattern website that has all my offerings. Starting 1 December my shop is only on Pattern,while I am making all holiday orders.

Is there anything else you’d like to share?

$1 from every sale I make in my Etsy store goes to the Save the Koala Fund.

Thanks for letting me talk about myself and share my work!!

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