Take 5 – Red Otter

When I saw the gorgeous handmade books and journals by the Red Otter, I just knew that I had to feature the shop in a Take 5! Check out what Jewels, the artist behind the masterpieces had to say!

Tell us about yourself and your shop.

The Red Otter shop was born out of a desire to make books by hand. Last February, I was working for a small children’s book design firm. It was fun, and challenging, but I missed the more hands-on aspect of building a book by hand. When I found Etsy, I swooned! It was the perfect forum for a wee little shop like mine! I don’t make huge quantities of journals right now, simply because I don’t have the time, but every journal I do make is special, unique and thoroughly enjoyable!

Where would you like your shop to be in 1 year? In 5 years?

This is an exciting question for me! I love to plan and scheme for the future! In one year I want to have done at least two art fairs with Red Otter. I would like to have developed my own website for a more independent forum. In five years, I want to have evolved into something more refined, more independent. I’m not exactly sure what that will entail at this point, but I want to grow this little business, slowly.

Looking back, if you could do anything differently in starting your business, what would it be?

I think I would have started my blog earlier. I never realized what a valuable tool blogging can be. It’s my way of saying hello to the art world. I’m able to tell people more of what is going on behind the scenes and I’m able to find my niche and support other sellers, other artists, other creators at the same time. It’s the most lovely thing!

What is a typical day in the office like for you?

Well, I just started a new job at an engineering consulting firm, so my Red Otter office time has pretty much halved. But, when I’m in my studio its usually for three or four hour spans. It usually involves me spreading my book making supplies all over my living room floor, mixing and matching papers. Getting glue over everything and then finally stitching the books together. It’s a fun process. And nothing beats that sense of satisfaction when I’ve finished sewing that last stitch and I turn the book over in my hands. It’s marvelous!

As a seasoned entrepreneur, what advice or words of wisdom do you have for those that are just starting out?

Be patient! Be patient with yourself. And then be patient with the art world. Especially as Etsy continues to grow, it’s easy to become discouraged at the beginning. But, if you keep at it, post regularly, hop on the forums or the chat rooms, it’ll happen.

For more on the Red Otter, check out the blog and shop!

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Take 5 – Laura Baillie Designs

I am so amazed at the beautiful pieces of jewelry from Laura Baillie Designs! Her earrings and charm bracelets are a combination of elegance and style. Check out the fabulous interview with Laura, the artist behind Laura Baillie Designs.

Tell us about yourself and your shop.

I graduated from Glasgow School of Art in 2002 with an Honours Degree in Textile Design. My specialism was knitted textiles and when I started my business I made felted bags and corsages. It has only been in the last 2 years that I have started making jewelry for a bit of a change! I have been doodling and making all my life, creating from found objects and collecting scraps of wrapping paper for cards. I was making and selling cards to my family when I was 5!

I started selling my bracelets and earrings on Etsy in October 2007 so I am still quite new to all and finding the best ways to promote and find new customers.

Where would you like your shop to be in 1 year? In 5 years?

During my first year on Etsy, I would like to invest more time listing and driving new customers to the shop, and by October of this year, I would love to have reached 100 sales. Over the next couple of months, I would also like to add different products like cards and prints.

In 5 years, I would love to be making a steady income from the shop hopefully to live off of.

Looking back, if you could do anything differently in starting your business, what would it be?

I started my business 6 years ago and the only thing holding me back has been some health issues. So no, I wouldn’t do anything differently, apart from finding Etsy sooner!

What is a typical day in the office like for you?

First I check emails, Etsy, and my blog “daily reads” to see what is happening out there. Then I spend the afternoon making, photographing, and journaling. I have learned over the years that this is my most productive creative time, when the sun is high and it is bright outside. Evenings are when I update my blog and do paper work and try to sort out my desk afresh for tomorrow.

As a seasoned entrepreneur, what advice or words of wisdom do you have for those that are just starting out?

Ask lots of questions. Do something that you love and brings you pleasure. Don’t try to be something you are not, it shows. Trust your gut instincts and tell everyone you meet about your venture and always have some business cards on hand.

For more information on Laura Baillie Designs, check out the blog and shop!

Take 5 – Macaroni and Glue

Macaroni and Glue’s stationery is fun and fabulous! With styles that range from feminine to classic, there’s something even for the most particular of card buyers. Kelly, the artist behind all the fabulous greeting cards, announcements, and invitations gave us a peek into her world with a Take 5 – check it out!

1. Tell us about yourself and your shop.

My name is Kelly Drill and I’m a stay-at-home mom, political activist and habitual entrepreneur. Since leaving my corporate job to stay home with my daughter, I’ve done everything from designer clothing resale to multi-level marketing. I’m happy to say that I finally feel at home with what I’m doing.

Macaroni and Glue has been around for a little over a year and started completely as a fluke. I’d been making handcrafted gifts for friends and family in an effort to save money after leaving my job and made a set of thank you cards for my sister’s baby shower. People seemed to love them and pretty soon I had several orders for custom invitations, announcements, note cards, etc. Just from friends, family and referrals, I had more than enough work to fill all of my available free time. I was having so much fun designing that it never really occurred to me that I’d started a business.

My sister came across Etsy and it seems to be a perfect fit – it offers me an online storefront with a minimal investment, allowing me to focus my resources on advertising and pursuing business opportunities off Etsy.

In addition to my Etsy shop, I have a portfolio on Trunkt.org and several of my note card sets and greeting cards will be available at Flourish Boutique in South Bend, Indiana – grand opening in June!

2. Where would you like your shop to be in 1 year? In 5 years?

I don’t have a particularly aggressive one-year strategy since my first priority right now is being a mom to my two-year-old. In the immediate future, all I ask is that I break even financially and continue to see growth in my design work. At the end of my first year, I hope to have established several wholesale relationships and to expand my presence in brick and mortar shops, both locally and beyond.

Ultimately, I would love to transition Macaroni and Glue into an online boutique that features an eclectic mix of emerging artists and designers – that’s the five-year plan.

3. Looking back, if you could do anything differently in starting your business, what would it be

I would have started it sooner!

4. What is a typical day in the office like for you?

Complete chaos. Literally.

In addition to my rambunctious preschooler, we have a black Lab puppy, I provide part-time childcare in my home, and I’m the Fundraising Chair for my local Democrats group. I wake up between 4 and 5 a.m. every day just to have a little bit of quiet time in which to (hopefully) be creative.

Beyond that, all my work is done in “stolen moments,” those few and far between times when no kids are awake, the dog’s not destroying anything, and there’s a little bit of time before dinner needs to be ready. And an amazing amount of my work is done via my beloved iPhone.

5. As a seasoned entrepreneur, what advice or words of wisdom do you have for those that are just starting out?

I say this all the time and even struggle with this myself, but I think it’s really important to know what you want from your business and to tailor your shop-keeping activities accordingly. It’s better to do one thing well than to do a thousand things badly, and it’s easy to get caught up in all the hoopla and try to stretch yourself too thin. You don’t have to belong to every street team, be on every social networking site, go to every craft fair and have shops on five different craft sites. Just do what you do, present it well, and then develop a cohesive plan for sharing what you do with others.

For more on Macaroni and Glue, check out the blog and shop!

Take 5 – Blaze Danielle

I found out about Blaze Danielle’s amazing artwork while visiting other WordPress blogs and I’m so glad I did! Her Etsy shop is full is beautiful prints of different characters, animals, and scenes. Check out the fabulous interview with this talented artist!

Tell us about yourself and your shop.

My name is Blaze Danielle Robertson and I am a junior in college majoring in illustration. I decided to start my store at age 20 so that by the time I graduate, I can have a little launching point for freelance illustration and a foot in the art world. My shop is currently all illustration prints, however it’s going to be changing soon – at least there will be more types of goodies! This summer I am happy to say that I’m going to do Etsy full-time! Expect big things from the Blaze Danielle Etsy store! 😉

I have been creating ever since I can remember. There is even a home video of me painting with watercolors when I was three and it made me just as happy as it does now! I remember sewing aprons in first and second grade during “choice time.” College has just focused my excitement, and has taught me how to use my talents.

Where would you like your shop to be in 1 year? In 5 years?

In one year, I will be graduating and to be honest, I really hope to immediately shift into being a full time artist. This is a high goal, but I hope that my shop will grow in the next year so that I can ultimately jump head first into the art world, paying the bills one print at a time. 🙂

In five years, I hope to be a successful Etsy seller and perhaps on my way to publishing some children’s books. I’d like to be working from home and creating every day.

My dad has given me great advice that has stuck with me: “When you do what you love, the money will come.” I think this is exciting and I am willing to work extra hard to do what I love.

Looking back, if you could do anything differently in starting your business, what would it be?

Looking back isn’t that long ago for I just opened my shop this past fall. However, I wish I had participated in the Etsy forums earlier! There’s so much help and support over there. A beginner can find a lot of encouragement and many friends just by striking up a conversation.

What is a typical day in the office like for you?

I am currently in school right now so I try to make time for personal art whenever I can. I even have specific “studio days” when I dedicate a whole free day to art time. This summer, I plan on blogging in the morning, painting in the afternoon, and crafting in the evening! I am excited to see how it goes!

As a seasoned entrepreneur, what advice or words of wisdom do you have for those that are just starting out?

I would advise to make personal studio time and to stay disciplined with making art. Take many walks, think out ideas, journal down your inspirations, get excited over little ideas, protect those ideas, make the most of studio days, get involved in your Etsy community, and self-promote!

To find out more about Blaze Danielle, check out her shop and blog!

Call for Take 5 Inteviewees!

I hope you all have enjoyed the Take 5 interviews so far! It is amazing how many incredibly talented artists there are. So many, in fact, that I’m sure I’m missing out on featuring some fabulous shops. I typically look through the shops at Etsy or get suggestions from those that have done the Take 5 to find who to interview next but I’ll bet there’s some others I’ve yet to encounter.

So it’s time for an open call! Now don’t be bashful or modest! You know your stuff is amazing and you’ve read the interviews and already know what you would respond to each question. So what are you waiting for?!?

If you would like to be featured on the blog on a Take 5 interview, just drop me a comment with your email address or email me at emily@keepsakecouture.com and I’ll send you out the list of questions. Can’t wait to hear from you!

Take 5 – Jennifer Squires Productions

I was so struck the beauty and simplicity of Jennifer Squires’ photos! A relatively new shop on Etsy, Jennifer uses her art “to search for simplicity and meaning in the beauty of the everyday.”   

Tell us about yourself and your shop.

I have been photographing professionally since 1996, but I’ve been taking pictures my whole life.  I opened my Etsy shop in February 2008 – it’s been great for me, I work from home but the Etsy community never lets me feel as though I’m by myself.

My work covers a broad range of categories, from shopping carts to gerbera daisies, but I always find that I focus on the details of life.  I am constantly inspired by the world around me and I use photography to search for simplicity and meaning in the beauty of the everyday.

Where would you like your shop to be in 1 year? In 5 years?

In a year from now I’d like to have built a large, strong, online customer base.  I’d like to offer a wider range of subject matter and I’d like to focus more on larger images and image collections.  I hope to be in a position to advertise more and to further develop my website. 

Five years?  That’s quite a long time.  In five years I hope to have a lot of repeat business, I’d like for my clients to come to me when their wall art needs to be refreshed.  I really hope that in five years time there are more earth-friendly options for photographic printing.

 

Looking back, if you could do anything differently in starting your business, what would it be?

I’d have started my business sooner.  I found it hard to put myself out there.  My photography is the way that I see the world, and rejection of it is a lot more personal.  But now that I’ve come this far I know that taking the risk, showing the work can be the biggest confidence builder of all.

What is a typical day in the office like for you?

Typical days for me are cyclical. I’m just wrapping up a new body of work (Flora) and now I find I’m spending more time marketing rather than creating.  I get up at 7am and get myself ready for the day.  Check into my Etsy store and see if there’s anything that needs tending too.  Flip through some blogs for inspiration for future projects.  Contact people that have requested information and send out press releases.  Go to the lab if prints need to be picked up.  At 11am, I check email then I have a break.  Twenty minutes of yoga then lunch.  In the afternoon, I package up anything that needs to be shipped, check into Etsy forums, see how my shop is doing, tend to matters that arose in the morning, and begin my to do list for the next day.  My days are ever changing but that’s where I’m at currently.

As a seasoned entrepreneur, what advice or words of wisdom do you have for those that are just starting out?

Don’t spend too much time in the beginning working on branding.  Just get your stuff out there for the world to see.  As your business grows you’ll gain a better understanding of the direction you’d like to go in and who your target market is, then you can focus more on your logo and identity.  Stop dilly-dallying and show us what you’ve got! 

For more on Jennifer Squires Productions, check out her shop and her website!

Take 5 – MyWoodenRobot

I was so excited to interview Jane from MyWoodenRobot! I’ve been a fan of her shop for some time now and a Take 5 was a great way to find out more about her work. They have recently launched their Spring 2008 Collection and their new products are so much fun and so colorful. As a proud owner of their MatchBook NoteBook, I can tell you that it is not only super adorable, but purse-tested and approved!

Tell us about yourself and your shop.

I’ve been crafting and creating for as long as I can remember. I just never knew there was a whole community of crafters out there until recently. I love to do all things creative from cooking to design and I think MyWoodenRobot (the blog and the store) really reflects my interests and style. I originally wanted to design t-shirts and bags, but due to limited funds and experience, we decided to move into paper goods and I’m enjoying it just as much.

My boyfriend, Sergio, is a really big influence in the product line. We both have very different and distinct styles (he’s more urban, I’m along the lines of Sanrio and bright colors, what can I say?) and I think that’s why our designs appeal to all kinds of people.

MWR_1

Where would you like your shop to be in 1 year? In 5 years?

My blog is as much a part of my life as my shop is so in a year, I’d like MyWoodenRobot to gain a strong following for the blog and store. I’m hoping to begin vending at local craft fairs within the next year. And beyond that, I’m working on MyWoodenRobot becoming a household name and a place people go to for shopping guides for handmade stores and the go-to store for fun, functional, and practical designs and products.

Oh and maybe quit my day? =D

Looking back, if you could do anything differently in starting your business, what would it be?

I’m pretty impatient when it comes to starting things up. Looking back, I probably would have taken more time to do research and develop my design style and create my business. But no regrets here. I learned and I’m moving forward. =]

MWR_2

What is a typical day in the office like for you?

I work primarily from home and from our “office” a.k.a. Sergio’s house. I’ll usually check my email first thing in the morning, do a little window shopping on Etsy and decide which products are news worthy so I can give my readers a heads up on what’s hot and hopefully help boost sales for the person’s store.

Then, I’ll drive over to Sergio’s house and begin developing new designs and products for the MyWoodenRobot store. He’s a big part in the design process as he’s an artist as well and is pretty darn crafty. We’ll collaborate for hours and even days on themes, design concepts, and new techniques we can incorporate into our products. Right now, we’re working on going beyond paper products and into silk screening tote bags, t-shirts, and lots of other things.

As a seasoned entrepreneur, what advice or words of wisdom do you have for those that are just starting out?

I’m not so sure I’m as “seasoned” as everyone else. MyWoodenRobot has only been up for about 4 1/2 months now but if you’re counting by learning experiences, well, I may as well be an expert!

My advice for those of you who are starting out is not to think about the sale. Design, make, create from what you think is not just good, but great. Design for yourself. In the beginning, I made the mistake of thinking about the possibility of money, but now that I create for myself, I’m finding more success because buyers can tell the difference.

Be patient. I interview lots of Etsy sellers and they all have the same advice because it’s true. Don’t expect to get your first sale the minute you post an item. It takes time to get people to notice you and once you get there, it feels amazing!

For more on MyWooden Robot, check out the shop and blog!