Contributor post by Cindy Humphrey of Cynhumphrey
Please join us in welcoming Claudia Marie Lenart of ClaudiaMarieFelt, our featured member!
Tell us about yourself.
I am a self taught needle felt fiber artist, children’s book author and illustrator. My career was as a community journalist, but I always practiced some form of art. I’ve played with watercolor painting, sketching, colored pencil drawing. I also learned all the handwork arts as a child – embroidery, crochet, knitting, and sewing. When I discovered needle felting, I knew I had found what I was meant to do.
When did you open your business and what made you decide to do so?
Claudia Marie Felt was born in 2012, but I had an Etsy store previously in which I sold vintage and antique picture books. When I started needle felting, it was natural that I would start offering my items for sale. My first pieces were bunnies and flower fairies. I was felting as a hobby back then as I was working full-time as a journalist.
Tell us a bit about your products.
My creations fall into three categories, needle felt animal sculptures, angel and fairy dolls, and wool paintings. My animals are known for their realism and character. I focus a lot of energy on their faces and I use soft fibers like alpaca, cashmere, mohair and yak. My Waldorf angel tree toppers are very beautiful and distinct. My wool paintings are fairy tale interpretations or they show children playing outside in the seasons. My Waldorf Seasons wool painting actually inspired my book “Seasons of Joy: Every Day is for Outdoor Play.” It was illustrated with dreamy wool paintings that show children joyfully playing outside through all four seasons.
What inspires your work?
I am inspired by my love of nature and animals. As a young adult, I worked in three national parks out west and observed wildlife up close. Today, I enjoy hiking in the woods with my dog and I often see the regional wildlife – deer, chipmunks, cottontail rabbits, red-tailed hawks and various birds. The animals I see in my backyard tend to be my most popular felted items.
What are your future goals for the business this year? What is your dream for this business?
I’d like to grow the print side of my business. I also aim to continue to improve my work and to create some new amazing designs.
What makes your business stand out from businesses that sell similar products?
My customers tell me they like how I capture the personality of animals. I spend a lot of time felting the details of the animal’s face, especially the eyes. My angel tree toppers are distinct and customers have told me that they are the most beautiful.
Tell us a bit about your work space. Do you have a separate studio?
I have an open floor plan in my house, so my work space is a corner surrounded by windows, with a couch, a table and a cedar chest overflowing with wool.
What have you learned since opening your business that you wish you had known before hand?
To account for all the costs when pricing an item, the time it takes, the supplies, the fees and even the time you spend marketing. Don’t undersell yourself.
Any advice for those thinking about selling on Etsy?
My advice would be to always do your best work and also always aim to improve. Reply to customers promptly and always be extremely polite.
When you’re not working, what do you like to do to unwind and have fun? Do you have any hobbies?
I like outdoor activities — hiking in the forest preserves and kayaking on the lake. To relax I play guitar and read. My favorite books are novels with a touch or fairy tale. I also enjoy playing with my dog, gardening and spending time with family.
What is your favorite quote?
“He who works with his hands is a laborer. He who works with his hands and his head is a craftsman. He who works with his hands and his head and his heart is an artist.” St. Francis of Assisi
Where can people find out more about your business?
Etsy store: https://www.etsy.com/shop/ClaudiaMarieFelt
Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/ClaudiaMarieFelt
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.