Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Member Feature: Lisa (ThatOldBlueHouse2)

Featured: ThatOldBlueHouse2
Interviewed by: NancyWallisDesigns

Tell us a little bit about yourself.
I majored in Fashion Merchandising in College, wanting to be a Store Buyer. By the time I graduated I had worked retail since I was 16 and realized retail is a weekend and holiday proposition, so I decided enough of that. After I graduated I worked selling Interior Plantscapes (plants and maintenance for commercial accounts) and that is where I met my husband. While dating I took a Stained Glass class at a local shop near my home in Texas. I made suncatchers for friends and family, until I ran out of people to give them too. A friend opened a floral shop and asked me if I wanted to put a few pieces in her shop. Well, a couple of days later I sold a piece...and I was hooked!!!

When my first child was born (I have three – ages 24, 21 and 14) I decided I wanted to be a stay at home mom (with my husband’s consent of course!), so I sold my suncatchers at craft shows, consignment shops and craft malls. Over the years (20+ ouch!) my work has evolved to where it is now.

How did you get started selling your work on Etsy?
I found Etsy through a friend, who heard about it from another vendor at a Wholesale Market. He said he loved Etsy and suggested she look into it. At the time, we both were at a turning point in our business...we had suddenly lost our Sales Rep who had been very successful for us, and it was also during the economic downturn when a lot of the stores that bought "handmade" were beginning to go back to the cheaper imports. I decided to try it - that was just over 2 years ago and I haven't looked back!

What do you enjoy most about selling on Etsy?
There are so many things I love about Etsy! Being computer stupid, it is easy for me to figure out, and what I can't do, I am learning. Through Etsy I have sold to many different locations worldwide, which is exciting. But most of all, I love the "family" feel of Etsy. I have made lots of friends and of course found some fantastic artists, art and customers. Who could ask for more!

When I look at your designs I can’t help but imagine who the owner was and where this little bit of fabric might have originated. I envision tablecloths draped under tea parties and grandmother’s quilts. Where do you find all these little bits of history?
Since I use "tattered" quilts and lace, I have a fairly easy time finding the imperfect items. I go to antique shows, malls and occasionally auctions (when I have a lot of time). I just had someone send me a bunch of her old torn hankies, because she didn't want to throw them away! I in turn made her a pair of earrings, since she didn't want payment, and I have some nice pieces that otherwise would have ended up in the trash.

What inspires you?
Inspiration for me, comes from the fabric piece itself. I love to pull out the old quilts especially the crazy quilts, and I may see a square that a month before didn't interest me at all, but for some reason, I see something in it that day that gets me really excited. I love the crazy quilts, because they are heavily stitched by women who had tons of chores and responsibilities, but yet they created these beautiful quilts & used them....they didn't hang them on the wall to enjoy. The fabric is tattered, but most of the embroidery is still strong and beautiful. Most of these quilts would be thrown away or put in a closet and forgotten today. But to me, they are truly works of art!!

It’s lovely how you can create a wearable memory for someone using a treasured keepsake fabric. Do you have a favorite custom piece that you have made for someone?
Right now I am working on lace necklaces for bridesmaids to wear for a wedding. The bride has 9 bridesmaids and fortunately, the lace she wants I have exactly 9 pieces that match. I have also made pieces for people with their family lace or quilts. These are usually from Grandma, and are made as keepsakes for the children and grandchildren as a way to remember her.

As Etsy has grown over the years and the competition increases you have really been successful. This is no small feat, especially in the super saturated category of jewelry. Can you offer some tips, advice, perhaps share improvements that you have made to your designs and shop presentation to get to where you are today?
As a jewelry artist in a saturated jewelry market, I don't have a lot of advice.

A few suggestions would be:

  • wonderful pictures
  • find a niche, but do what you like, don't try to do something because it seems to work for someone else or you won't be happy
  • have different price points
  • always try to find new have to stay ahead of the pack
  • have good customer service

What flavor of ice cream would you order?

What’s the last book you read or movie you saw in a theatre? Did you like it?
The last book I read was by PD James - Unnatural Causes. I am a mystery lover....
Last movie in the theatre I saw was Indiana Jones...yep, I don't go to the movies very often! I am a big cry baby and don't like to watch things that make me cry...which is just about any movie. My kids love to look at me if anything is sad on tv to see if I am tearing up....

Apart from creating things for your shop, what do you like to do?
When I am not working I am usually attending my sons ball games. All three of my kids were athletes, so most of our social life was with the other parents at the games. We have a big garden, although I hate to weed, but do enjoy time outside. Oh, I have lived in the country for 22 years now and wouldn't change it for the world!

Visit Lisa's Etsy Shop!