Handmade Artisan Interview: BohemianBlu

Welcome handmade fans! Today we are super excited to bring you an interview with handmade jewelry maker Kristin from Bohemian Blü.

Here’s a bit of our conversation.

Q: What is Bohemian Blü and how did you get started?

A: Bohemian Blü started about a year and a half ago when after my husband and I moved to Fargo, ND. We became empty nesters, my husband started a new job, and I wanted to start creating again. I knew I wanted to do something with design. Architecture is a my passion along with interior design. So while I thought about going back to school for either of these however, I used to make jewelry in the past for family and friends, so I took a couple of “refresher” courses and was asked to do a show in a local boutique here in town for an event one Thursday night last summer and I was hooked! I make hand hammered brass jewelry that is simple, elegant, and earthy. By using tiny Swarovski crystals and natural gemstones I create a minimalist look with a hint of “sparkle”. I truly want to be different! Living a minimalist, simple, lifestyle….I try to have this reflect in my jewelry.

Q: Where do you work?

A: Every piece is handmade in my home studio. I love working at home. It allows a flexible schedule. Some days you can find me up early in the morning working until 3:00am. It’s a perk of having your studio at home! 🙂

Q: What are you currently reading and listening to that gives you inspiration?

A: I am reading a couple of books… one by Tom Kundig and one by Jim Olson, both are Architects from the Seattle area. Also the “Kinfolk Home”. I draw a lot of inspiration from simple design and Architecture books.  Usually Pandora is playing in the background with classic rock!

Q: What have you learned so far about running a handmade business? Is there anything you wish someone had told you before?

A: Do what you love and love what you do! It will show in your work. It’s very competitive, however there are so many makers that support each other, it’s like having your very own creative family! I love it!

Q: How do you balance the rest of your life with running a business?

A: Being very organized is a must! Otherwise it is “part” of my life. I don’t really think of it as work. Seeing customers happy and wearing Bohemian Blü Jewelry is truly the reward! There is nothing like it!

Q: What does the future hold for Bohemian Blü?

A: The Bohemian Blü website will be opening soon! We will be introducing new hardware to our pieces such as leather, African beads, and solid brass findings! You can find us on:

Instagram  @bohemianblustudio
Facebook  Facebook.com/bohemianblu
Website  http://bohemianblustudio.com (coming soon!)

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Artisan Interview – AbbyChicCQ

Hello handmade fans! Today we are bringing you an in depth interview with the talented maker behind AbbyChicCo – maker of hand painted wooden signs, shirts, and a brand new line of gorgeous tote bags with colorful tassels. Her amazing online store is on Etsy at http://etsy.com/abbychicco, and trust me when I tell you that you are going to want to go take a look!

 

Here’s a part of our conversation with Abby.

Q: Tell us about @mrsabbychic. What do you do, and how does your work reflect who you are? 

Abby Chic has been the most fun adventure. I make hand painted signs, wooden shapes (states, painted pinwheels) and hand lettered shirts. I have never taken an art class so I honestly am figuring it out as I go. The shirts are my favorite because they are all something I love! I would wear them every day if it was acceptable. They reflect me in their simplicity and in their phrases. The bible verses are bold, strong but are written in a fun and whimsy way.

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Q: How did you get started?

Abby Chic has been such a fun happy accident. My husband and a friend suggested I start selling random things I made at a local market.  To make a long story short I realized I absolutely HATED making what I was making. I randomly decided to paint a sign and here we are! That makes it seem way easier that it really was. I spent every Saturday at that local market for five months and it was some long Saturdays with maybe a single sale but it struck a passion in me. More than anything I loved the people I met and trying new projects each week. I decided the market scene wasn’t the best choice for our family and I opened my online shop a year ago on May 25th. I have streamlined the shop to all things painted and hand lettered. I do primarily painted signs, wooden shapes, hand lettered clothing and a new line of tote bags.

Q: Where and how do you work? Do you have a studio? Do you have a set schedule every day or is your work more fluid?

I’m a bit of a mess when it comes to working. I wish to be type A and scheduled but with two little boys still at home that isn’t my reality. I try to do most of my work at night when they are in bed. I just recently put my kiddos in the same room and that gave me a studio!!! Yay for my own space. I am slowly adding shiplap to the walls and making the space my own. Even with my own space, my current projects end up all over the house. My family is very gracious.

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Q: You mentioned that you started selling at farmer’s markets and moved into online from there. What do you find that is different about selling on Etsy compared to selling in person? Do you have a preference?

I LOVE selling in person! The shows are SO SO SO MUCH work but I love it! The interactions with my customers are the best part of my job. I feel like the online shop with occasional shows is the perfect balance. Selling online allows me to stay available to my customers without being away from my family.

Q: What are you currently reading, listening to, or looking at to fuel your creativity?

I have dreams of being a reader! I have a pile of 8 books sitting on my nightstand that I hope to read someday. They are a mixture of wellness, spiritual and fiction. I love podcasts for creative inspiration. The stories of others inspire me more than I realize. I love the Jaime Ivy podcast and I finished S-town in less than 24 hours. I think I prefer podcasts because it’s like someone reading for me.

I get most of my best ideas in church. You will not see me without a notebook and pencils in hand on Sunday mornings. I even have a little custom made bag that holds all my pens and pencils. Ha. I look like a total dweeb when I pull it out. The music, sermon series, or scripture references speak to me or lead me to something else that inspires. It’s a great no pressure time. Just me, Jesus, and a pencil. I can make mistakes, erase, scratch through or trash but it is just a carefree time of creating with no critique.

Q: What have you learned so far about running a handmade business? Is there anything you wish someone had told you?

I suppose I knew this but didn’t really think through how personally invested in it I would be. You make something so a piece of you is in it. I for sure was not ready for all the emotions I would have invested.

Q: How do you balance what sounds like a very active family life with running a business? 

I don’t! I try to be very real, especially on social media since I think we view others as having it all together and we are the only ones just surviving. The key for me is multitasking and a joyful spirit (which I don’t always have). My kids are usually making some form of a mess or interrupting me so I try to give them as much attention as possible so that when I am working they are more likely to let me work. Somedays PBS kids is my best friend. Like I said earlier though, I do most of my work when they are in bed. My hubs is in the midst of a PhD program so he and I both just do work after bedtime.

Q: What else would you like our readers to know? (How can they find you, etc.)

I think I want people to know that they can do hard things. If I can do this crazy thing, they can tackle one of their dreams. There is room for all of us and cheering one another on is important.

Readers can find me on Instagram as http://instagram.com/mrsabbychic, and Facebook at http://facebook.com/MrsAbbyChic, as well as online at http://www.abbychic.com.

Thank you so much for reading! And here’s one last look at these gorgeous tote bags – I love it with the double tassel here. This is definitely going on my Christmas list.

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3 Posts A New Etsy Shop Owner Needs To Read

New to Etsy? There are lots of great posts that help you understand the bare basics of getting started. But aside from setting up your shop, adding listings, and filling in your shop policies, there are some great tips to help you get your shop in tip-top shape.

I’ll be honest – I’ve been doing this for years and I still read a lot of blog posts and articles about how to get better at selling on Etsy. Here are three that I really like to help those of you who are newer to this! FullSizeRender(7)

Creating Product Listings that Sell, from Elan Blog Studio

This is a great post that covers all of the basics – how to nail your title, description, and images to get your listings out there and get them noticed. All the basics, covered briefly and succinctly. Go take a look!

Grow Your Traffic with 6 Etsy Photography Tips, from Crafter Coach

This post really covers all of the basics of what might be holding you back from taking great, stunning, compelling product pictures that just reach out to your potential customer and make them want to click through to see more. This truly is the heart of making sales on Etsy – no matter how well you do everything else, if your pictures aren’t quite good enough, you won’t get the sale.

20 Juicy Tips to Increase Your Sales on Etsy, from TwelveSkip

I love this post from TwelveSkip because it takes the info mentioned in the previous two articles and starts to go a little more into detail. Now that you’ve got your listings set up, your pictures in place, and your shop front started, what’s next? Read this one to find out a little more about how to make your work stand out.

 

Artisan Interview: Beans Shack

Hello fellow creatives! Today we’re delighted to bring you a look behind the scenes with Irene, the creator and designer of online shop Beans Shack. See her shop at http://beansshack.etsy.com, and her great Instagram feed at http://instagram.com/beansshack.

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Q: Tell us about @beansshack. What do you do, and how does your work reflect who you are?
A: Beans Shack was created from my childhood love of crocheting, a hobby my mom taught me when I was about 8. Today, it is my Etsy store for selling crocheted items such as cup cozies, headbands, and drawstring bags. My love of the beach and earth tones can be seen in my work. I love creating things with shells, palm trees, and using turquoise yarn in quite a few of my items.

Q: How did you get started?
A: My oldest daughter introduced me to Etsy, where I started out just shopping. Eventually, as I created more and more items, friends and family started asking for some of the items I made. Etsy made it easy to share my creations with others.

Q: Where and how do you work? Do you have a studio? Do you have a set schedule every day or is your work more fluid?
A: I work from home. As the mother of three children and a dog, I keep myself busy during the day while the kids are at school. Our house has a craft room that I have taken over for my crocheting.

Q: What are you currently reading, listening to, or looking at to fuel your creativity?
A: While I crochet, I enjoy watching I Love Lucy and The Golden Girls.

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Q: How long have you been in business and what are you discovering so far about running a handmade business? Is there anything you wish someone had told you?
A: Beans Shack has been open on Etsy for three years. Running a handmade business involves creating items that a variety of people will enjoy (from yoga socks to baby dresses). While I appreciate every person who purchases from Beans Shack, I wish someone had told me that sales won’t happen as frequently as you would like at first.

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Q: How do you balance creating with the rest of a busy life?
A: Between taking the kids to school, endless laundry, and walking our dog, I crochet. It takes up my free time, but it is enjoyable and relaxing to sit down with my hooks after a long day.


Q: Do you have any plans for new product lines or upcoming specials that you’d like to share?
A: Seasonal items are released before holidays, and Easter items are now available! I will be at three craft shows this spring and look forward to more opportunities in the summer. I do offer a coupon with the code FREEOVER20 for free shipping with any purchase totaling more than $20.
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Q: What else would you like our readers to know? (How can they find you, etc.)
A: I am on Etsy as BeansShack and Instagram @beansshack. Also check me out on Facebook! If you are looking for a certain size, different colors, or a different item, contact me for custom creations. I love getting item requests, and I can complete them at my own discretion if I have the time available.

Thank you for visiting! And just one last note — here is my personal favorite item from Irene’s instagram feed – this adorable little Charlie Brown cup cozy. How cute is this? Please go visit her feed and leave some likes!

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Featured Artist: Little Hoot Designs

Today we are highlighting the work of talented designer Colleen at @little_hoot_designs. Here is part of our conversation.

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Q: Tell us about @little_hoot_designs. What do you do, and how does your work reflect who you are?

A: Little Hoot Designs is a line of kids’ shirts that was inspired by laughing kids across the country and it was created to make them feel good about themselves.
I have a background in psychology and education; through that I wanted to create something that enabled children to have a sense of pride in their clothing through personalization, reflecting their interests, and making them plain happy when they wear it!

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Q: How did you get started?

A: I began Little Hoot Designs when I decided to take an early “retirement” from my first grade teaching position after our second nugget was born.  I realized pretty quickly that I wanted to do something to keep my creative juices flowing, but would allow me to stay home with our littles…and thus began Little Hoot Designs!

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Q: Where and how do you work? Do you have a studio? Do you have a set schedule every day or is your work more fluid?

I work out of my home and I have a studio off our basement. With three young children and a traveling husband, my schedule changes often. However, I try to stick to a set schedule and what I don’t accomplish during those hours, I do after my kids bed time. I am known for being a night owl…I see midnight often!

Q: Can you tell us a bit about your By Kids For Kids line? How do you find the kids who produce the art for this series?

A: By Kids For Kids is a new line that just began in January.  The purpose of this line is for kids to help others. Each month we feature a new child artist who creates their own design to be printed on our shirts. They apply a bible verse to their work and donate their proceeds to a charity of their choice. I have been overwhelmed with joy by all the interest. The idea just came to me one day through conversation with my children as they were painting and I was drawing new shirt designs. My seven-year-old daughter was the first artist for the line. The idea came so naturally, we just went for it. At this time I haven’t had to search for kids to produce the art, they have come to me, which is thrilling! I have children lined up to feature their art through June of 2018! Agh!!!! Exciting!

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Q: What are you currently reading, listening to, or looking at to fuel your creativity?

I wish I was more of a reader! Ha! Time does not allow for leisure reading these days, but I do a lot of Llama Llama Red Pajama and Dr Seuss… I listen a whole lot to my 3, 5 and 7 year old! They are the best fuel! My children’s ages are my target market and the three of them couldn’t be more different, so that helps me pick their brains to get new ideas for what will appeal to my audience.

Q: What are you discovering so far about running a handmade business? Is there anything you wish someone had told you?

A: Handmade businesses are much more demanding than people realize. This day and age everyone expects Amazon Prime-like service and response, so that is a challenge. On the flip side, our social media world allows a mom like me to work from home while building a lego castle with my son… and be successful, so that is pretty awesome! I love being creative and seeing those creations on kids around town and in pictures from afar. Making them happy, is very rewarding!

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Q: How do you balance what sounds like a very active family life with running a business?

A: Haha! Got any tips?!… I am always trying to figure out that balance! 😉 I do have days that are set aside for work. However, my family comes first, so days that I have a hiccup in my work schedule, I stay up late or get up early to get my orders fulfilled…and I have found some really good sitters for back-up!

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Q: What else would you like our readers to know? (How can they find you, etc.)

A: I appreciate Happier Handmade for featuring Little Hoot Designs! Thank You!  My website is www.littlehootdesigns.com.   I would love for any reader to follow us on Instagram @Little_Hoot_Designs and Facebook.

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Artisan Interview – Beauvivo

This month’s artisan interview features an amazing creator of gorgeous, organic skin and body care products, Beauvivo. We love their work! Here is a bit of our conversation.

Q: Tell us a little about Beauvivo and your work.

A: We believe that beautiful skin is one of the key components to having a beautiful life. Our all natural products are made with organic ingredients and help assist in this process (naturally). Regardless of your race, your size, if you’re male or female; You are a beautiful person both inside and out. Be the natural YOU!

Q: How did you get started and what is behind the name of your shop?

My interest in this began at a young age but my first time making soap was about 4 ago. My grandmother made soap when we were young and would sit the batched soap on the kitchen table to cure for a few weeks with a stern warning “DO NOT TOUCH”. It was always amazing to me that someone I knew made soap but I never tried to do it because of those words of warning from my grandmother. I started researching a little more and making it myself as my skin began to break out while using commercially made products. Nothing worked. I remembered I never had these issues when using the handmade lye (cold processed) soap when younger. So I went back to what I knew worked. Trent Fouts and I (my husband) haven’t used commercially made soaps since. We’ve made it all ourselves. Interest in our soaps peaked after we gave a bunch out as wedding favors during our wedding in June 2016.

 
Q: What makes your products special?

Our products are designed to support natural beauty. We use all-natural and USDA Certified Organic products to provide a top notched quality product. Paired with the amount of research and our extremely long cure time for each bar; you have a longer lasting, high quality product that will do what it is designed to do; assist in helping you promote naturally beautiful skin.

 

Q: What types of problems are you trying to solve with your products?

The amount of harmful chemicals used in skincare today is staggering. We know a lot of other people have had some of the same issues related to use of chemically laden skincare products and we want to share what has and is working for us, our friends and family but also from customers who are currently using the products.

Q: Can you share a little about your devoted human line?

Yes, indeed. We sell our pet bars exclusively through Devoted Human. Devoted Human is an artisan site devoted to the support of artisans who love pet’s. They either have pet’s, just love animals or both. We started making pet bars when our Jack Russell Libby began having similar issues to what we were having (skin irritations from commercially made products). We made our own natural product to help restore the moisture in her skin and shine in her coat. Currently, we have one Unscented Colloidal Oat bar (Libby Bar) made with Organic Oils of Coconut; Olive, and Castor; along with Neem Oil and it’s enhanced with Vitamin E. We’ll have a few additional options coming soon :).

Q: How did you get started making bath and beauty products?

Once you start making one all-natural products it’s like an addition and you have to keep making more. Although my interest in this has been present for quite a while; I started making them myself when I absolutely has to because of skin conditions due to using commercially made products.

 

Q: Do you have any training as an artist or in particular techniques, or are you self taught? After quite a few years of research and botched batches, I am primarily self taught.

Q:  Where and how do you work?

It is myself and Trent Fouts (my husband) who make up our team. We are fortunate to have a shop at home. We have about half of our garage/shop that we are slowly turning into a full soap studio. It’s about a 20×50′ space. Pretty nifty setup.  I work on Beauvivo almost every day. I have to try and pull myself away at least one day a week because I tend to eat, think and sleep something I’m passionate about.

 
Q:  What have you learned so far about running a handmade business online?

Timing is everything and it is non-stop. You are either in it for the long haul (as a business) or it can quickly be pushed aside as an expensive hobby. We are in it to help change lives and make this into a full-time business. It takes a lot of work but it so worth to hear that someone else is having positive results with our products. Also, be organized from the very beginning. Once your business launches publicly you will not have much time to backtrack and establish a system of organization. It may take a while to set up and if you need to get help but it is hands down one of the most important things to invest your time in.

 

Q: Any tips to share with other creatives?

Find ways to keep those creative juices flowing. If you’re constantly creating I believe you are one who is constantly progressing. Also, keep a small notepad in your pocket or purse to jot down ideas, potential blends, color schemes, etc as they come to you. It helps solidify the creative process. Oh yeah, always try to have fun and enjoy it. Once you add the business aspect to your creative venture it can get a little stressful. Making sure you have fun will help remind you why you’re doing what you’re doing.

Q:  What are you currently reading, listening to, or looking at to fuel your creativity?

I like Dan Brown books. I still have quite a few more to read of course since I’m a slow reader. His choice of vocabulary in his texts sometimes spark creativity. Also, I look at Architectural Design Magazines, Gardening Magazines, Fashion Magazines and just recently quilting magazines. You can probably notice that a lot of our products have more earth tones…..influence of landscaping and gardening design at it’s finest. We absolutely LOVE natural earth tones. They’re sexy, they’re bold, they’re real, they’re unapologetic, yet warm, cool and inviting at the same time. Calming even.

 

Q: What else would you like our readers to know? (How can they find you, etc.)

You can find us via our website at www.beauvivo.com and be sure to join the Beauvivo Family by adding your email when you visit us to become a subscriber. Please like us on our Facebook page (www.facebook.com/beauvivo1); Instagram Page (www.instagram.com/beauvivo or @beauvivo). We would love to see you there.

 

 

Artisan Interview: No Illusion Design

This month’s artisan interview features an artist in Sweden who makes intricate bracelets and breathtaking paintings – introducing Lena from No Illusion Designs.

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Here is a bit of our conversation.

Q: Tell us a little more about No Illusion Design and your work. How did you get started and what is behind the name of your shop?

A: I got the idea of making designed bracelets out of fabric more than five years ago when I visited the Opera House in Oslo, Norway. But I forgot it for a couple of years and so it popped up again when I discovered a fabulous shop in Gothenburg selling bands, decorations, applications and lovely buttons. I was so inspired and bought a lot of lovely things for future use. I tested my idea on some creative friends and made some prototypes. The first ones I made at my kitchen table at home where I also produced ten unique bracelets for my first exhibition. Then I started my site on Facebook.

The name No Illusion Design says that my work really is for real – no illusion 🙂

My bracelets are unique; they are handmade, hand decorated and there is only one of a kind. I use different fabric bands for the base (e.g. laces, party like, for brides, more rustic). I decorate with buttons, palettes, decorative bands… My signature is swarovski crystals – so there are at least a few of them on everything I make. All bracelets can easily be put on and taken off by yourself (without help of a partner.)

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Q: Who is your customer? Who do you see as the person wearing your bracelets, and what kind of feeling and mood are you trying to create with your bracelets and paintings?

My bracelet customer is a woman interested in fashion and trends. She likes to be unique and have a very personal look and style with a glamorous touch.


My paintings are mostly abstract art in mixed techniques (acrylic, watercolor, felt pen) and very colorful. I want to create a joyful and humoristic feeling with at twist. Although I have started my new figure “Maggie the Pie” and hopefully she will be produced in a series.

Q: How did you get started crafting? Do you have any training as an artist or in particular techniques, or are you self taught?

Actually, I’m self taught and have never before made anything creative, either bracelets or paintings. But since I started, I’m so excited and get inspiration of all sorts of environments, pictures, colors, shapes and situations. I discovered my longing for creative work during a period when I was burned out and badly ill for a couple of years. Painting was then part of my rehabilitation.

Q: Where and how do you work? Do you have a studio? Do you have a set schedule every day or is your work more fluid?

I have a small studio in an art-shop in Eskilstuna, Sweden, where I live. (Called Konst-igt, look it up on Facebook). I work there on Wednesdays and also keep the shop open for customers during my work.

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I don’t have big stock of bracelets since I custom make most of the bracelets, so there can be a short delivery time.

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Q: What have you learned so far about running a handmade business online? Any tips to share with other creatives?

I’m really a beginner of online business. I use my social media (Facebook and Instagram) for marketing and interested customers contact me that way. Then I also sell in the art-shop. I now plan to open my shop on Etsy.

Q: What else would you like our readers to know?

I’d love to get feedback on my work and would really appreciate the readers contact. They can post on my feed on No Illusion Design on Facebook and Instagram (and of course pm or dm). My email is lenabsjoberg@outlook.com.

 

Thank you to Lena for answering my questions! See her on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/noillusiondesign/.