October 29, 2006

Lindsay Designs



Website: Lindsay Designs
Where are you l
ocated? Chico, CA (about 90 miles north of Sacramento)

What do you create?

Accessories for people and pets. Pet collars, leashes, and harnesses made from ribbons, matching grosgrain ribbon belts, silk flower pins and hair clips, purses, wallets, plus a few other odds 'n ends (I'm a dabbler, yes I am!)


When and why did you decide to start your business?

It started mainly as a whim - I made a spiffy ribbon belt for myself, and decided pretty quickly I could sell them (if you knew me as a child you wouldn't be surprised by this - I've been pawning my handmade goods on other people since the 4th grade). I started selling a few belts here and there on eBay, and it slowly grew from there. Anyone who has sold on ebay knows how frustrating it can be, and I soon realized that a website was a better venue for my goods.


How do you get the word out about your business?

I've been very lucky so far, and have not paid for much advertising. I get a lot of word of mouth referrals. It must be true that dog people run in packs!




Where do you see your business in 5 years?

Just about anywhere. I'll be graduating from college this spring, and I'm still struggling with the decision to get a real job or to go full time with my business. While I'd love to go full time, I do love graphic design as well and want a career in that eventually. I am worried that taking a few years off to pursue Lindsay Designs may hurt that in the long run. Also, I'm going to be putting my boyfriend through law school (can you say, yikes!), and am really unsure if I can bring in enough money on my own to do that. In 5 years, depending on what I've chosen, my business could be wildly successful and I'll be living in a mansion in Malibu (haha), or I'll be working a 9-5 design job somewhere and Lindsay Designs may or may not be around. Only time will tell!


Where do you get inspiration for your projects?

My ribbons. And I have a LOT of them (some may call it an obsession). Usually, when I want to make a new purse or something, I take my current favorite ribbon and go from there... with coordinated accents and matching fabrics and such. I love color and am always looking for new combinations. I never make anything that I don't like myself... which I think is pretty accurately reflected by the things on my site.




Which of the tools you use is your favorite?

My sewing machine. Lindsay Designs simply would not be without it! Oh, maybe my seam ripper as well. (teehee).


What keeps you motivated?

Knowing that I could be working behind the counter at some crappy mall clothing store. If I am going to have a part-time job to put me through college, I can't think of anything better than this! I also love seeing the photos people send me of their pets wearing their collars. I can't help but smile every time. Little things like that keep me wanting to make more.




What advice would you give to someone starting a creative business?

Start small. Don't get overwhelmed. Don't underprice yourself. I've managed to stay in the black the entire time I've run my business... just by starting out so tiny and only spending money that I had. I'm not one to take risks, I guess! I'd also say don't get discouraged. Starting small means just that - you're not going to be making millions right off the bat!

*****
Little Extras

Where did you take your last vacation?

Napa, CA. It was a surprise for my 21st birthday last spring, and my mom (the schemer that she is!) planned an amazing getaway with my boyfriend, aunt, and grandma. We stayed at a precious bed and breakfast/cooking school in Calistoga. I'm drooling just thinking about it! (I love to cook. Can you tell?)


Can you recommend a good book or great music?

"Never Let me Go" is a great read and really makes you ask what really makes us human. Music wise, I highly recommend checking out Jackie Greene - he's a great folk/blues/rock and roll artist.


Who is your favorite indie designer/artist?

Tough questions! I have met so many amazing and talented people through our little community, I couldn't bear to pick just one!


October 26, 2006

Look What I Can Do



Website: Look What I Can Do
Where are you located? Seattle

What do you create?
I create plush called Love=Creatures. They are plush animals or monsters
that are made out of new & vintage cotton, wool or fleece. All the patterns are designed, sewed and detailed by me. I really like to take a modern simple shape and bring it to life with complicated or simple fabrics. Sometimes it’s the simple combination of shapes and colors and other times it’s all about the print. I call them Love Creatures because all Creatures need love. I put a heart somewhere on each one to remind people to love. I intend on increasing the amount of love and joy in the world through plush. The symbol of the heart is very powerful to me and I also really appreciate it’s connection to pop culture. Modern fabrics are my favorite but I also dig folk and 30-40’s fabrics as well. If I was let loose at the Marimekko factory I would be in heaven. I would love to work for them designing fabric. I would also love to go to any Scandinavian country because my passion is very strong for vintage modern fabrics and there are some amazing ones from that part of the world. I spend a lot of time sewing and when my daughter goes to kindergarten I plan on expanding what I make. I would love to do more with my photography and a whole lot more sewing. I have so many ideas but I am a horrible time manager…well at least I think I am a lot of my friends will tell you different.



When and why did you decide to start a business?

When I became a mother I was very inspired to create unique toys for our
daughter. So I started making plush creatures for her when she was about 1 or so she is now 5 years old. My daughter started calling them Creatures when she was around 2 years old and I just added the Love to it. She is my biggest inspiration and helped inspire me to create all my Love=Creatures. I continue to be inspired by her ability to express such pure and genuine emotions. So I sewed sooo many that I decided to try and sell them and my friends kept telling me I should. So I emailed a bunch of shops in town and made appointments and just did it. A good friend of mine, Rose, inspired me to start. I was in retail forever and was in management so instead of doing if for somebody else I did it for me. I was surprised how easy it actually was. Then in December of 2005 I found Etsy. After the Holidays I opened my own shop on Etsy and it has been a really nice fit and great experience. One day I would love to have my own website but time and finances don’t really allow it right now.

How do you get the word out about your business?

I got on Etsy and started to network with other sellers and I asked some
of them to trade with me. I was really nervous because I have mid-western roots and asking to trade is not natural for me but I did it and it really helped to show people what I do and what I am about. I also learned that I am a lot better at networking than I ever thought I was and believe it or not that was a huge defining moment in my life. I later made business cards and gave them out and I have a friend that has networking parties for women and we all get together potluck style and share about what we do and who we are. I was a nervous wreck at the first one but now I really enjoy going. It’s nice to see women putting themselves out into the world through their art and it is amazing to see what everyone does and how.



Where do you see your business in 5 years?

Wow, that’s heavy for me. I’m a fire sign after all and we are not that
planned out. Hmmm. I see myself continuing to work very hard and network and hopefully making a living off of it. I see it possibly leading to a real career in design. Maybe someone out there will notice what I do and say wow…she should work for us. Ok that’s a bit larger than life but creative visualization really does work. I have index cards taped inside a lot of my closets and cupboards telling me things like ‘You will be successful’, ‘You will have abs of steel’ and ‘Minimal Dawn will prevail’.




Where do you get your inspiration for your projects?

One of my biggest passions in life is FABRIC!! I am completely obsessed
and consumed by fabric. I appreciate fabric that has a vintage and or organic quality to it. Visualizing what each fabric will look like as one of my finished Love=Creatures brings me an immense sense of satisfaction. The entire process from start to finish is very gratifying in a way that is difficult to describe. Like I mentioned above my daughter was and is my biggest inspiration but even before I had her I was obsessed with kids toys especially vintage ones. I have learned that I have strong visual skills and have always been inspired by my environment. I used to ride in the back of the car when I was a kid and make up stories about what I saw out the window while driving that went with the song that was on the car radio. They were like mini movies and my Ma would try and talk to me and I wouldn’t even hear her. It definitely explains why I really dig 70’s rock. My parents were pretty hip and young. My husband also inspires me to believe in myself and he is always telling me I am amazing. One day soon I may believe him…I hope. I have always wanted to be amazing.



Which of the tools you use is your favorite?

Ok…some of you will disapprove but I love watching T.V. while I sew. Granted sometimes I am only listening but I really like it. If nothing good is on then music is great too but there really is nothing like watching ‘Project Runway’ and sewing at the same time. So inspirational!!!! I don’t have a studio and if I did then things would most likely be a bit different but I have a feeling that my studio would have a T.V. and I would still be watching ‘Project Runway’ while sewing. I also adore little storage boxes. I love to organize my stuff and re-organize it. I dream of having my own space to create so I don’t always have to put everything away everyday and in my space would be hundreds of little storage boxes and shelves with all my stuff right there for me to be inspired by. Wow…that would be so kick butt!!!

What keeps you motivated?

I rarely lack motivation. I always have about 2 hundred ideas swimming
around in my head and it is very satisfying to complete one of them and stand back and just smile and be in love with myself for a few minutes. It’s really the only time I truly am in love with me. It is sooooo addicting that I can’t wait to start the next one so I can be in love with me again. I know that must sound super weird to a lot of people but that’s it really. I am also, of course, inspired by what I see on the web, magazine, in life and by what my friends do. Life is very inspiring if you just let it…it will inspire you.

What advice would you give to someone starting a creative business?

Be true to yourself. Do what you love and do it the absolute best you
can. Don’t give up. Pay attention to the details and strive for perfection. Network with other artists and get yourself out there. It’s hard but that’s how you get started. Pay attention to what people say about your work. Sometimes feedback can completely change your direction or inspire you to take it to the next level. Sometimes feedback can hurt your feelings but what doesn’t kill you will only make you stronger and you work will be that much better because you will feel a strong desire to be the best you can be. It takes time, lots and lots of time so you have to be passionate about whatever you do in order to achieve any level of success even if the success is just personal which I think is the most important kind.



*****

Little Extras

Can you recommend a good book or great music?
I heart T-Rex, Bowie, Nick Drake, Spalding Rockwell, Coldplay,
James Brown, Cat Stevens, Lucinda Williams, Stevie Wonder, Black Eyed Peas, Pretty Girls Make Graves, The Can’t See, Snoop Dog, Jet, Gorillaz, 50 Cent, Zero 7, Phantom Planet, Missy Elliott, Outkast, Joe Walsh, Eagles, Goldfrapp and well a lot more funk, disco and 70’s rock than I can't think of right now.

As for books…The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver,
The Time Traveler’s Wife by Audrey Niffenegger and
Move Your Stuff
Change Your Life a Feng Shui book by Karen Rauch Carter.

Who is your favorite indie designer/artist?

I don’t really have one favorite because I admire so many and they all
do different things. I love Lisa Congdon because she has mad visual skills and a passion for fabric. She also seems very real and down to earth to me. I am a huge fan of her work and her blog. Her blog makes me smile a lot and lets me know it is possible to survive in the world even if you are a bit off center, which I very much am. I have never met her but hope to someday. I admire so many more the list is very long....

What is your definition of a perfect day?

Wake up early, do aerobics, walk dog, play with my daughter, go to the
fabric store, shop for some clothing and visit the art store. House is magically clean but still must vacuum. I love to vacuum. Have a wonderful dinner with my husband while my Ma watches our darling and fit in some time for sewing and time for my husband…kiss my daughter while she is sleeping…….then maybe fly off to the Marimekko factory in Helsinki and be offered a job to design fabric. “Hey family looks like we are moving to Helsinki”…. Ok so I got a bit delusional at the end of the day…it happens. Did you see how many things I did????

What’s on your nightstand?

Sadly there is no room for a nightstand in our small bedroom.
If I had one… My favorite plush of the moment, a photo of my daughter and husband, an alarm clock (or I will never get up), a pair of brass bird earrings and one of my many blank books that I fill with ideas….and someday a Jonathan Adler ceramic fish…you have to imagine it to make it happen.

October 24, 2006

Button Arcade



Website: Button Arcade
Where are you located?
Portland, OR, via Alaska


What do you create?
Buttons, mirrors, bottle openers, and other goodies featuring original designs, and various textiles. I like to think of buttons as little canvases. It is so much fun figuring out new ways to use them!

When and why did you decide to start your business?
I started making buttons about 5 years ago. I worked from home for about a year, but eventually went off to work for other people (although I still made buttons on the side). In 2003, when Michael and I found out we were going to be parents, I knew I just had to work from home, again. Luckily Michael is an amazing artist, and has a brain for web design, as well. He bought all these books on html and in a few months, I had my lovely website!

How do you get the word out about your business?
Most of my income comes from custom orders, and the majority of my clients found me through word of mouth. When we launched the site, I had no idea the custom area of the business would become so huge, or take off so fast! I feel really lucky! For my in-house goodies, I like advertising on sites like Crafster and The Sampler, as well as indie shopping directories and blogs. Exchanging links and promos with other shops is also an excellent way to spread the word. I'm also addicted to contributing my samples to The Sampler each month.



Where do you see your business in 5 years?
If I haven't worn my fingers off? I think it would be really cool to have a brick and mortar Button Arcade shop! People could see their buttons being made, and I could have a small section of the shop where customers could buy our in-house goods. It would be nice if in 5 years, I at least had someone helping me make the buttons. Right now I am making about 10K buttons a month, and the site has only been up for two years. I might have to teach Michael how to make buttons, soon!

Where do you get inspiration for your projects?
Everywhere and from anything! I just designed a button with a creature that was inspired by my daughter's thumbs (she pretends they are people). I also love Asian culture, comic books, factories, windmills, lighthouses...pretty much anything that has interesting lines. That being said, my designs never end up how I originally planned. I think that is pretty common, though.

Which of the tools you use is your favorite?
Juniper, my 1" button press. My old press died last April (RIP, Jim), so I had to replace him with Juniper. The other button presses are nice too, but Juniper and I have a much closer relationship.

What keeps you motivated?
Thinking about having to work for someone else, again. I love being my own boss. As far as staying inspired, I make sure to surround myself with art and beautiful things. My favorite magazine is Giant Robot, and I keep a copy at my work desk at all times!

What advice would you give to someone starting a creative business?
Network! It is the best way for small businesses to get your name out there, and get noticed! Swap links, promo materials, and take out a few cheap ads, online. Plus, it's really fun, and you get to meet all kinds of wonderful people.



******
Little Extras

What's your favorite quote?
"Gifted are we who can laugh at ourselves, for we shall never cease to be amused"
(I have a lot to laugh about)

Can you recommend a good book or great music?
"The Little Prince" by Antoine de Saint-Exupery. It's not just a kids'
book!

Who is your favorite indie designer/artist?
I don't play favorites, but right now I am stalking Lucha Workshp. Sssshhhhh!


October 22, 2006

Claudine Hellmuth - Mixed Media Collage Artist



Website: Collage Artist
Where are you located?
Orlando, FL USA

What do you create?

I create mixed media collages that incorporate paper, paint, pencil and photocopies. I would describe my work as whimsical and colorful.


When and why did you decide to start your business?

I have always been creative, from a very young age, so it was always understood that I would be an artist in some way. When I graduated from college with my BFA I got a job in web site design, I worked at that job for 4 years while building my art business on the side. When I got laid off in 2001 it was a natural next step to segway into working at my art full time.


How did you get the word out when you first started your business?
Through the internet. I love the Internet! It's an amazing tool and I think all artists should realize the power of it. Everything that has come my way in my art business has been because of my web site, teach opportunities, book deals, licensing, illustration jobs etc.



Where do you see your business in 5 years?

In five years I hope to expand further into illustration and also licensing opportunities. I have always wanted to illustrate children's books, so that is a goal that I hope is in my future.

Where do you get inspiration for your projects?

Usually inspirations comes for me when I let go of an end result and start playing with materials. The materials lead me in the direction that they want to go.


You work on many different projects (commissions, classes, books, dvds, etc). Which do you like best?

I like all of the above for different reasons. I love creating commissions, working with other people's photos and their stores is so fun and refreshing. I get a thrill knowing I am making something that will be treasured.
The workshops and classes I enjoy for the social aspect and helping others create. The only thing I don't like about the workshops is being away from home and the travel. I hate the travel part. I wish I could just beam myself there. The books have been a joy to create and how exciting to be a published author! I would love to write another book but right now I need to generate some new ideas, it's time to fill the well.

Which of the tools you use is your favorite?

My Gel Medium! I use it to glue papers, and objects. I would be lost without my gel medium! I have even glued my dresser drawers back together with it!



What keeps you motivated?

I hate to say it but I am often motivated by fear. When I was in college I had a teacher that would repeat over and over again "only one in ten of you will still be making art in 10 years" That struck such a chord with me that whenever I go a little span of time without making art I get a little panicky. I never wanted to be the person who once made art and then stopped.

What advice would you give to someone starting a creative business?

I would say to first get a web site, then make sure you train yourself to check your email every day. If someone emails you and then doesn't hear back in a few days they will think you are unreliable. Make sure you are prompt with your emails.


If you weren’t creating art or teaching it what would you be doing?

I have no idea! Probably something with animals. I am such an animal crazy person.


*****
Little Extras

Can you recommend a good book or great music?
My fav book is Me Talk Pretty One Day by David Sedaris


Who is your favorite indie designer/artist?

Hmmm I don't know! I have so many! Right now I am really excited by the work of Camilla Engman.


What's on your nightstand?

A book: Notes from the Universe
A glass of water phone lamp TIME magazine

Where did you take your last vacation?

Vacation? What's a vacation? Actually, my husband and I went to Italy, I taught a workshop there, so it was a working vacation. We'll be going back to do another workshop in April and we are excited!


October 20, 2006

Thank you!

I just want to take a minute to thank everyone that has been visiting, has linked to CS and has sent me messages regarding this blog. It's very encouraging to receive such lovely comments and to watch the CS audience expand. In particular, I'd like to thank everyone that has accepted the invitation to participate. The stories, of the creative women that you read about here, are what make this blog possible. I'd also like to thank Adorn Magazine for featuring CS on their blog today!

Back to our regularly scheduled blog! Have a great weekend! -- Patricia :)

October 19, 2006

Anna Bella Stationery



Website: Anna Bella Stationery
Where are you located?

The studio is located in Orlando, FL, but we sell nationwide through the web site.

What do you create?

Customized stationery products including pregnancy and birth announcements; shower invitations; holiday invitations; personalized stationery and notes; unique paper items such as Tooth Fairy Kits and Baby Milestone Announcements.

How did you come up with your company name?
The company is named after my daughter, Anna.

When and why did you decide to start your business?
I started my first stationery business in 2001 designing and selling custom wedding invitations direct to consumers through my web site. This evolved into a wholesale business, which I closed in 2005 to focus on licensing. In 2006 I opened Anna Bella selling direct to consumers again while still involved in licensing.

Which is the biggest lesson you've learned from owning your own business?
My first business taught me so much. It was such a complete success, but also such a complete failure. By that, I mean I had no shortage of customers and demand of the product. I had reps all over the country. Marketing was a huge success. But, on the flip side of that, it was rare that my Net30 wholesale customers ever paid me on time. I was lucky to be paid within 60-90 days. I had no working capital to use as a cushion and eventually, I decided to close the business and focus on licensing. The one piece of advice I have for anyone selling wholesale is accept credit cards and stay away from Net30 terms unless you do a full and complete credit check and have strict rules on late payments.



Where do you get inspiration for your projects?
Oh gosh, from so many places. Vintage fabrics are a favorite inspiration - I love looking at old wallpaper and fabric books.

Which of the tools you use is your favorite?
The computer has really become an extension of me - it's what my pencil was to me in art school.

What keeps you motivated?
I have such a love and passion for stationery and really, anything made from paper. I can't explain it - it's just the wholes process of coming up with new designs and patterns and sharing them with others. I get a kick out of knowing that I'm a small part of someone's celebration or that my products inspired someone to write a letter to a long lost pal.

How do you get the word out about your business?
My second company (Anna Bella) was an experiment of sorts. I took all of the lessons learned from my first business and started a brand new company from nothing, zero. No money, nothing. It's been amazing to watch this company grow from nothing. I've spent minimal money on advertising - I've purchased spots for press releases on www.prweb.com. I also tried placing ads on blogs as an experiment. I also invest in pay-per-click for very specific key words. I would say though, 90% of my advertising has been from free editorial coverage. There's no secret to it, anyone can do this as well. You simply send out emails and samples - LOTS of emails and samples. It's super time consuming, but worth the free press.

Where do you see your business in 5 years?
That is a fantastic question! I have absolutely no idea becuase my idea changes all the time. I'm about to introduce wedding invitations again to the collection - which I didn't see myself doing, so it's exciting to be back in that line of business. I'm a contributing editor for She Unlimited and will be doing a lot more podcasting and writing for them, as well as covering local events. And my licensing keeps me pretty busy, too. One thing I do know for sure is that I want to always enjoy creating stationery, so whatever avenue my business takes, it will always be unique and fun.

What advice would you give to someone starting a creative business?
First and foremost, spend as much time as needed to do your research. Know your industry inside and out - whatever industry it may be. Study companies in the same line of business. Find a community of people in your line of business who are willing to answer any questions you may have - there are tons of wonderful communities online!




*****
Little Extras
What's your favorite quote?
"Never underestimate the power of a single action", REM

Can you recommend a good book or great music?
The eMyth Revisited by Michael E. Gerber
The Do-It-Yourself Labotomy by Tom Monahan
Music? Yes, sign up for Sirius Radio!

Who is your favorite indie designer/artist?
There are so many fellow designers I admire, but here are just a few:
Shades of Violet
Paper Bride
bymichelleb
Collage Artist
Fashion Flair Cards

October 17, 2006

Alena Hennessy



Website: Alena Hennesy
Where are you located?

Near the blue ridge mountains in lovely Asheville, NC.


What do you create?
Paintings, prints, birds in flight, fauna tiles, and I have a small screenprinted clothing line. So basically, art and apparel. But new and exciting things are to come too!

When and why did you decide to start your business?
I have been creating art for some time now. Actually for as long as I can remember--I used to draw for hours when I was little. However, I started the business aspect of it last Fall. I really loved the idea of taking my creativity into my own direction so I decided to become more business oriented with it. I also got inspired by others and decided to just go all out and start my own online business. It was pretty much on a whim.



How do you get the word out about your business?
The first step I took was to take a little ad out in Bust. My website was basically finished the day the ad came out. Then I started emailing blogs and other sites I liked and introduced them to my site. That really paid off. Then I sent press kits and things to magazines. It's a lot of work, but its well worth it.

Where do you see your business in 5 years?
This next year I am going to put more of a focus on wholesale and do one or two trade shows. So we will see what comes of that.

Where do you get inspiration for your projects?
I love this question because I could give you a million answers or simply say it just happens naturally. For me, colors, line, and simplicity inspire the design aspect and then I really adore drawing animals, flowers, etc. Also, keeping yourself inspired outside of your art making is key too, like cooking up a big meal for friends or going on a walk at dusk or something. Little things like that help my inspiration.



Which of the tools you use is your favorite?
My watercolor pencils. They are soft and add a perfect accent.

What keeps you motivated?
I really just love to make things along with working for myself, so I couldn't imagine doing anything else. I'm completely hooked. :)

What advice would you give to someone starting a
creative business?
I could write pages on this because it seems like you learn so much in the first year. Be able to update your website, this is incredibly important. Know how to photograph and use Photoshop, etc. These things take time to learn but are sooo invaluable and will save you lots of mula. Research and connect with others on the web--there is a lot of help/info out there. Decide on what you want to sell and who your market is. Ask lots of questions and stay positive. And most importantly, listen to your own passion. Know what you want to express (make sure its you) and then do it. But practice makes perfect so patience is also key.



*****
Little Extras

What's your favorite quote?
"I expect the gift of good and industrious hours." Rainer Maria Rilke (love him!)

"We must be willing to get rid of the life we planned,
so as to have the life that is waiting for us." Joseph Campbell

Can you recommend a good book or great music?
I love slow and poetic lyrics from the likes of Iron and Wine and Cat Power. But I like to work to more upbeat things. Dancing in between filling orders is pretty fun.

Who is your favorite indie designer/artist?
There are so many! Ashley of I'm Smitten is a sweetheart. I also love Jill Bliss.

October 15, 2006

Dear Monday



Website: Dear Monday
Where are you located? Orange County, California

What do you create?

Dear Monday creates paper goods with simple and clean designs. The greeting cards and enclosures are embellished with ribbon, beads, glitter and I just added some stationery designs.

How did you come up with your company name?

Monday used to be my least favorite day of the week because it always meant that's the day you go back to work. I thought if I wasn't working for someone else, Mondays would get as much love as the other days. When I came up with the business name, I decided to embrace Monday... so in a way 'Dear Monday' is a slight contradiction, plus the 'dear' played well with paper goods. Also, I wanted the name to be vague enough in case I wanted to branch out into other products.
When and why did you decide to start your business?
Well, I've always wanted to do my own thing and the idea of a business began almost 4 years ago while I was doing my wedding invitations. I always had excuses on why I didn't officially start then... too busy, day job is sucking my soul, fear, etc... So after I had my son and I felt I've had it with freelancing for corporate clients, I decided maybe I could do this while I stay at home. To tell you the truth, I'm busier now with a toddler but somehow I get more done now than I did before.



Where do you get your inspiration for your projects?
I have inspiration in so many areas. I've yet to tap into them for more of my designs! I love nature patterns, textile patterns, mid-century modern design, silkscreen prints/block prints, and of course magazines.

Which of the tools you use is your favorite?
I'd have to say I wouldn't be able to do a lot of this without my Mac and all its nifty programs!

What keeps you motivated?
When I create a design I really like or getting positive feedback. Also, I want to get the business to a point where I'd only have to go back to work part-time when my son's older.

How did you get the word out about your business when you first started?
I'm new and STILL getting the word out :). Actually, I bought a few blog ads, donated to contests, and told a handful of friends. I know I should tell lots and lots more friends but I don't know if they 'get' it. LOL



What is your main goal for this year?
For the coming year, I'd like to add more designs to the existing products, get a few wholesale accounts. I also want to add another line/type of cards once I get enough of a collection together.

What advice would you give to someone starting a creative business?
I'm still learning as I go so I don't have great advice, but in regards to time... Once you decide on what you want to do... don't procrastinate, do what you can today, you never know how busy you'll be tomorrow. (I should remember to take my own advice too).

*****
Little Extras

What's your favorite quote?
"A big shot is a little shot that kept shooting." - Anonymous

Can you recommend a good book or great music?
A few of my fave music artists: Fiona Apple, Radiohead, Garbage
I've not read lots of books lately, but I loved reading Ayn Rand's The Fountainhead and Atlas Shrugged. (Don't clobber me, I love her books not necessarily the philosophy :)

Who is your favorite indie designer/artist?
There's so many talented indie designers out there... I think Lulette is so clever with their cool customizable scarves!

October 12, 2006

Lisa Congdon



Website: Lisa Congdon
Where are you located? San Francisco

What do you create?
I create both art and craft. There is a slight distinction in my mind between the two—and I make this distinction for my own sense of organization about my work, not because I think that my work necessarily falls into these categories as the world defines them. In the “art” category, I make paintings, drawings, screen prints {traditional and Gocco} and collage. Much of my collage is three dimensional {when I can find shadowboxes to work in that aren’t that expensive!} In the “craft” category, I make all sorts of things out of contemporary and vintage fabric and trim: pillows, birds, baby bibs, headbands, wrist cuffs, etc. I am always thinking of new ways to use fabrics together. Right now I am really into colorful quilted patchwork designs.

When and why did you decide to start your business?
I started my business in a very haphazard way back in 2003. I was in a relationship at the time with someone who really pushed me {in a good way} to put my work out to the public. She was instrumental in helping me to have a long-term vision for my work. Previously I made stuff only as gifts for friends and family. In addition, I had recently started a blog and people were asking me if they could buy some of the crafts I was making and displaying on Bird in the Hand {namely my “modbird” design}, and the business really began there. A few months later, I was asked to show my modbirds at a gallery along with some of my other work, and then everything sort of exploded for me after that. Three years later and I am planning to leave my full time job to make stuff in my studio full time. It feels crazy how it’s all happened so fast.

Where do you get your inspiration for your projects?
I am one of those people who walks around looking at the world as if everything is framed like a potential photograph. So I think I get my inspiration just from noticing things, like color, street art, nature. I think this is very common for artists. I notice when I am hanging out with my artist friends we are always saying things like “look at the sky right now” or “check out that rusty gate” or “look at the way the light is hitting that building.” My non-artist friends just think I am a kook! I also get inspiration from other artists. I feel lucky to call many artists friends, and my sister, who is my best friend, is also an artist and craftsperson. Seeing the work of my friends and family, talking to them about the process, going to look at other art together is part of how I stay inspired and work on improving my craft.



Which of the tools you use is your favorite?
I have a love/hate relationship with the sewing machine. I love what it can do, but it also drives me crazy because it’s tedious and loud, and my machine cracks under pressure sometimes. I need to take it in for repairs and a tune-up but I am afraid that while it is gone I will not know what to do with myself!

You work in several mediums. Which is your favorite?
That’s a toss up between ephemera (paper) and fabric. I absolutely love to do collage and shadowboxes with vintage and found ephemera, but I also love to put fabrics together for patchwork pieces. I suppose, either way it’s about using the medium to create something that is visually and graphically appealing and balanced, yet sweet, completely unique, personal and emotion-evoking at the same time. I want my work to reflect my own personal style, but also to speak to others—to remind them of something from their past or to appeal to their visual sensibilities. That is most challenging with paper and fabric because they are not mediums specifically designed to paint a picture or tell a story like paint and brushes. I like the challenge of working with paper and fabric.

You divide your work into art and craft. How do you define which is which?
As I described above, it’s actually a blurry line, but for the sake of keeping things consistent, I define my art as collage, screen printing drawings and paintings. And my craft is the work I do with fabric—machine and hand sewing, fusing, three dimensional textile pieces.



What keeps you motivated?
Being part of a community of artists and crafters (and people who appreciate art and craft) who share their work, provide feedback and encouragement and support one another. It also helps that people actually like what I make and want to buy it!! That feels really awesome.

How did you get the word out about your business when you first started?
My blog has been instrumental. If it weren’t for my blog {and the interest and support of the people who read it, along with my friends here in san francisco} I would not be a working artist. Other than my blog {and being featured on other people’s blogs} I haven’t really done much promotion for myself except for announcing my shows and updates to my shop to everyone I know through email. Email is a great medium for promotion.

What is your main goal for this year?
My main goal this year is to leave my full time job {I’ll be staying on in some capacity part time to make ends meet} and work on lisa congdon art+craft 60-80% of my time. I also need to find a bigger studio, which might mean moving out of San Francisco. That alone will require a lot of my time and energy! I’d love to have more shows. Installations are my favorite thing to do and prepare for.

What advice would you give to someone starting a creative business?
Start a blog. Show your best work. Make connections with artists who you admire. Keep your prices fair {fair to you and fair to the consumer}. Ask people you trust for feedback on your work. Keep your receipts organized. Put yourself out there even if you think you might face rejection. Work hard and do it because you love it.



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Little Extras

What's your favorite quote?
“In three words I can sum up everything I’ve learned about life: it goes on.”
-Robert Frost

Can you recommend a good book or great music?
I highly recommend the book Radical Acceptance: Embracing Your Life with the Heart of a Buddha by Tara Brach. It changed the way I approach my life.

Who is your favorite indie designer/artist?
I am always inspired by Jill Bliss. We have somewhat different styles, but I so admire how she’s made a business out of creating unique, inventive, handmade things out of recycled materials. I also love her attention to detail in her drawings. They are so intricate. I have so little patience in drawing, so I truly admire this ability to take hours just to cover a page. I have the privilege to know Jill too, and she is incredibly real and humble despite the success she’s having. I always try to keep this in mind.

October 10, 2006

Studio Stelle



Website: Studio Stelle
Etsy store:
studiostelle.etsy.com
Where are you located? Toronto, Ontario

What do you create?
I make limited edition handbags and satchels with applique created from a mix of new, vintage and reclaimed fabrics. I make the occasional wrist cuff or sash, too.

How did you come up with your company name?
The short answer: Stelle is the Italian word for “stars”; it’s the last word of my favourite poem.
The long (and far nerdier) answer: When I was in school, I did my senior thesis (and a number of other papers) on the links between text and textile – story and cloth. For me, poems and stories are woven, just like a piece of fabric and, in turn, fabrics have their own story to tell. I spent a lot of time exploring this image in Dante’s Divine Comedy. Stelle is the last word of all three parts of that poem.

When and why did you decide to start your business?

A little over two years ago, I made myself a bag with a little red bird on it. I was out shopping with my husband. We were in a shop and the owner was very complimentary about my purse -- and asked if I could make a few for her. I said “Ummm…okay, maybe” at which point she went into her back room. My husband looked at me: “What are you doing? Go get her card!” and practically shoved me after her! I was terrified because that purse came together out of sheer will – not any kind of sewing ability. But I did it, and they sold, so I did some more, and some more…



Which is the biggest lesson you've learned from owning your own business?

It’s really important to have a plan; to know where your business is going so you can make decisions. Making the leap from side project to wholesale is a big commitment of money and time and having a plan will help you move forward with confidence. Another lesson: sleep should not be your biggest priority.

Where do you get inspiration for your projects?
As I mentioned above, I’m really inspired by the stories that fabrics have to tell. I collect vintage pieces and scraps from my friends, so my appliqués actually tell me (and, usually, only me) stories.

Colour is a big inspiration. As I walk around Toronto, I collect in my head different colours and colour combos that I see. I then try to work them out in the appliqué. I have a lot of scraps, so I just haul them all out and start playing!

In the past, I’ve sort of been known as the birds and flowers girl. Lately though, I’ve been looking at a lot of old Japanese block prints and cloisonné. I was inspired by those wave prints for my shapes and then the enamel pieces for the crazy mix of patterns.

Which of the tools you use is your favorite?
My favourite tool is a sewing gauge. It’s really useful for getting a consistent width on long pieces (like straps). I also really love fuse-a-knit interfacing. I use it on the back of every fabric I appliqué. It keeps even the most finicky fabrics from falling apart AND you don't end up with that crinkly look.

What keeps you motivated?
I'd love to be able to motivate myself, but really what gets me working is having a workspace that I share with someone else. I used to work at home and was really unproductive. It's not so much that I'm accountable to my studio mate, but when she's there working, I'm more likely to get off my butt and go in as well.


How do you get the word out about your business?

Hmmm ... I haven't been so good about this lately because my day job is pretty hectic. I'm not that great at marketing myself, but the majority of my biz is wholesale so the shops do the marketing for me, really. They really earn their 50%!




Where do you see your business in 5 years?

In five years, I'd really like to work at my business full time. Right now I'm working on some clothing, but it's taking a while - I'm a real perfectionist and everything takes me ages. I'd like to have the clothes all worked out sooner than five years though.


What advice would you give to someone starting a creative business?

Know how much your work is worth and get what you deserve. It sounds crass, perhaps, but I used to spend a lot of nights working frantically to get orders out and making almost nothing. It sucked. You may enjoy your work, but for the sake of both rent and sanity, you've got to make money.

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Little Extras
What's your favorite quote?
Don’t really have one, but if I did, I’m sure it would have been said by Dorothy Parker.

Can you recommend a good book or great music?

I've been really into a group call P:ano recently - they're from Vancouver. When I first heard their album, Brigadoon, I thought it was maybe a bit cutesy, but I'm so addicted now!

Who is your favorite indie designer/artist?
That would be my studio mate, who designs a line called Nude. Her clothes are very simple, but made of awesome silks, jersey and raw denim and then embellished. It's really fantastic.

October 09, 2006

Jeweled Elegance



Website: Jeweled Elegance
Location: Oregon

What do you create?

I handcraft artisan jewelry inspired by romantic eras of the past to
create fresh, modern, elegant adornment. My modern romantic style has been described as graceful and feminine. I use timeless natural materials like semi-precious gemstones, shell, wood, and pearls and set most of them in sterling silver or gold-fill. All my creations are unique, either one-of-a-kind or very limited in quantity. I also do custom bridal and wedding jewelry.

How did you come up with your company name?

The core value in all my designs has always been elegance, and jewels have
been representative of quality jewelry throughout the ages. I also wanted a name broad enough to encompass a greater range of creative products down the road.

When and why did you decide to start your business?
Being one of those people allergic to all sorts of metals, I never had the
chance to wear much jewelry. I also found the traditional fine jewelry store offerings to be somewhat lacking in spirit. Whenever I would watch historical recreations, I wondered why jewelry didn't have that diversity of color and design any more. When the beading culture started, I jumped in. Friends loved my pieces and when I put a few out at a local gallery, they all sold. Jeweled Elegance LLC was born shortly after.



Where do you get your inspiration for your projects?

Growing up, I was exposed to the beauty of several cultures, both Western
and Eastern, and the art of many museums and historical places. I draw on that background to try and capture the spirit of those places and times when I design. Museum exhibitions, historical movies, vintage dresses and scholarly art journals are all good places to find inspiration. Sometimes it is the materials themselves - The beauty of a singular stunning gemstone, a rare color of pearl or a unique carved ethnic bead.

What is your main goal for this year?

To get established, build a customer base, and create a line of work that
really showcases my design philosophy. Like most creative people, I am just bubbling over with ideas I would like to see take shape. I'm hoping to incorporate some of my Asian flair multimedia paintings and knitted accessories in the near future.



What advice would you give to someone starting a creative business?

I would say getting good systems in place to control the creation and flow
of inventory and a solid business foundation to manage the finances. This will save a lot of time, frustration and reinvention of the wheel. If you have good systems in place, you can handle almost anything that comes your way.

Which of the tools you use is your favorite?

I love my Lindstrom roundnose pliers. Besides producing top-quality work,
they are easy on the hands, very precise and sometimes the only tool necessary. They are one of the few "must-haves" when I pack my travel beading kit.

Where are you located?

My studio is in Oregon, part of the beautiful Pacific Northwest. I'm in a semi-rural area and it is very green, lush and quiet.



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Little Extras

What's your favorite food?

"Death by Chocolate" cake. Simply divine.

What's your favorite drink?

Like any true Northwesterner, a coffee from Starbucks that requires a
minimum of four or five adjectives to order. My current favorite is the Grande iced nonfat decafe latte.

Where did you take your last vacation?

I love downtown Portland, OR. All those wonderful tiny shops with their artisan treasures, tea at the Chinese Gardens, and fresh tirimisu at a local cafe.