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371  Crafty Business Advice Interview #2 - Aimee Ray aka merwing in Crafty Business Discussion by jungrrl on: April 13, 2008 12:24:15 PM
If you don't know who Aimee Ray is, maybe you recognize the name merwing?  If not, surely you recognize her wonderful embroidery:

If that's not ringing any bells you may have been under a non-crafty rock!

Besides her fabulous contributions here on Craftster, she has an etsy shop called little dear, a website called dreamfollow, oh yea, and there that little issue of being a published author!  She wrote the fabulous embroidery book Doodle-Stitching!

So Aimee, when you started your business did you set out with a business plan and funding? or did it grow organically from your hobby?

It basically grew from my hobbies. I've always loved making stuff, and I've been lucky to be able to sell some of what I make! I started small, with my etsy shop. (www.littledear.etsy .com) Etsy is great, it's inexpensive, and has allowed me to try out lots of different things. If they don't sell, you're not out much.  Wink

Do you have a preference in selling online or in brick and mortar stores?  If yes, why?

I mostly only sell online, and it's been really good so far. I feel like there is a much larger audience. I do have some wholesalers with real stores, which is fine too. I'm sure there is an advantage to people being able to see/touch an item, but overall I've sold lots more online.

How do you promote your items?  What is your most effective marketing strategy?

I post my work for free online wherever I can. Besides craftster, I use flickr, myspace, livejournal and deviantart regularly. I think the more places you can get your stuff out there the better! I am also a firm believer in the Sampler, (www.homeofthesampler.com) they are great and super cool to work with.  Smiley
What is your pricing method?

This can be a challenge, I don't really have a set method. I come up with a price based on several different factors, such as: how long I spent making the item, cost of materials, comparison with cost of similar items by other crafters, or just what I feel like it's worth to me. Sometimes trial and error is a good way to find out what people would be willing to pay.

Being a published author is huge!  How did your book deal happen? Was the idea presented to you? or did you initiate it?  Did you use an agent?  How long did the process take from start to finish, concept to shelves?

I was very lucky to have been contacted out of the blue by my publisher (Lark Books) and asked if I was interested in writing a book! They had seen some of my embroidery online and thought I would be a good choice. I had never written anything before, but they were very helpful in assigning me an experienced editor who helped me with the technical stuff, while still allowing me full creativity. It was really a fun and very challenging experience. The whole process took about a year and a half, I had to first do up an outline with my project and pattern ideas, then take one project at a time, making it and writing the instructions. I also did all my own illustrations. After I turned everything over to them, they took photos, did the book design and handled the printing.

Was there a moment when you felt "I've hit the "big time"?  What was going on in your business at the time? 

Wow, I don't feel like a celebrity or anything! It was super exciting to have the first copy of my book in my hands, and to see it in the marketplace. Crafting is still not my full time job (yet), I will really feel like I've "hit the big time" if I can reach that goal.  Smiley

Can you describe a "typical" day in your business? 

I still have a full time, "real" job! I do all my crafting on the side. I work a normal day as a greeting card designer, and when I get home, I pretty much devote all my free time to making stuff. I have a hard time doing nothing, so I usually have some project in hand even just sitting on the couch watching movies.

I have to say, not being a full-timer is very inspirational! I'm sure a lot of Craftsters don't want to or don't feel they can give up their 9 to 5s!  How do you handle the times when crafting does feel like a job and doesn't feel as enjoyable?

Well, so far I've been lucky. I've only felt overwhelmed a few times, and I've had to just make a list and take everything one project at a time until it's all done. I still love everything I do, and the things I make are kind of diverse, so if I get burnt out on embroidery for instance, I switch to some digital art or painting my NOM gnomes for awhile.

What is your biggest piece of advice to those craftsters who are reading this interview and just starting out in their own crafty business ventures?  What has helped you the most?

Just find something you love to do and do it! Try not to make things just because you think they will sell, make them because you like them. Start out small, try lots of different things, don't get discouraged. Use the internet! We are so lucky to have so many opportunities to get our work out there, right at our fingertips. You never know who might see it.  Wink

What are you favorite crafting tools? What was your best crafting tool purchase?

A needle and embroidery floss seem to find their ways into almost everything I make.  Smiley Embroidery is so versatile, I love that I can add a little piece of stitched artwork to things. One of my favorite tools was actually given to me, it is a book of samples of all the embroidery floss colors available from DMC. I love that thing.

What inspires you?

Everything inspires me. Especially nature, animals, other artists on the internet! My dreams also inspire me.

What is your favorite material to embroider on?

Any plain cotton fabric, or felt.

Do you still find time to craft for yourself?  If so, how do you find the time?

I kind of look at everything I make as for myself. Sometimes my work is hard to let go of! I do make Blythe clothes pretty much only for myself, I'm not good enough at it to sell them yet! As for time, as I mentioned before, I'm pretty much always working on something, but it doesn't feel like work.

And finally, what do you want embroidered onto your tombstone?

haha, that is a tough one. I would appreciate some embroidered artwork rather than flowery words I think.  Wink

Thanks so much merwing!!
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372  Fabric ATCs - Pillows in Artist Trading Cards (ATCs) by jungrrl on: March 31, 2008 06:39:22 PM
Here are my, I think, 4th 5th and 6th ATCs  Cheesy  My first three were also fabric!  These were from the Fabric ATC swap, round 3.  I wanted to make them much more oranate but ran out of time and patience.  Undecided

This lovely went to crafty_dame. Notice the vintage button! (there's a matching one on the other side.)

this went to sajona.  Her likes were the inspiration for the set.

This one is embroidered along the red and black parts of the crane (except the legs).  It went to goatgoddess.

Let me know what you think!

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373  Re: Fabric ATC round 3 GALLERY!!! in The Swap Gallery by jungrrl on: March 25, 2008 02:42:15 PM
Yay! Glad you like it!  Grin

Here's a closer pic I grabbed before sending it off.

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374  Re: octopus/squid gallery in The Swap Gallery by jungrrl on: March 17, 2008 03:46:07 PM
Ok, so the PO tried to deliver my package on Friday, but I was at work (duh).  So I assumed they'd just try again on Saturday or today, right? Wrong.  Roll Eyes I called and they told me I had to pick it up! So luckily I was off of work today so I ran over there.

Bigfatroses says she was/is super nervous about her package and I'm here to say, she's certifiable.  Cheesy  She sent so much awesome stuff!  (I would never have known you were trying a lot of these crafts for the first time!)  Honestly, I love everything!  So ok, pictures of the octo bounty. (My apologies if they're not the best quality, I was in a hurry to show off!)

First, the whole shebang (minus a necklace that I immediately put on..)

(There's a cool octo print out and some awesome fabric in there!)

The necklace (It's ink! Wink)

I will definitely be wearing this a LOT.

The absolutely adorable hexapus!

sooooo cute! Felix has since given his approval.

An awesome octo mug! I love interesting coffee cups!!  A beaded wire candle holder which had to have taken ages.  It's so awesome.  And a suncatcher that lil' roses did! awww!!

(Close up of the bead/wire work)

An amazing trinket box

with this super cool clay octo inside!

I don't know if you can tell but he's even got tentacles and eyes carved out!!

And even though I love everything else, I SUPER love this!

A metal sculpted octo!! He's soooooooooo awesome!  I didn't tell her this but I really love metal stuff! My family's business revolves around making things out of metal, so I'm partial to this.  It's really great and definitely fitting for the jungrrl household!

Bigfatroses, you had NOTHING to worry about! I honestly love everything and you did a wonderful job on it all!!   Kiss Kiss KissGrin Grin Grin
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375  Giant Alien Octopus in Toys, Dolls and Playthings: Completed Projects by jungrrl on: March 17, 2008 03:17:22 PM
So for the octo swap, my partner asked for a plush.  That's something I can totally do! But I didn't want to stick to my regular style, so I came up with this.

Absolutely, positively inspired by deelind's octos, especially this one.

I used that fabric because there are parts that look kind of

I don't know if you can tell from these pictures but I did a little bit of (god, what did crafty_dame call it...) needle sculpting?  I'm not sure if that's what it is, anyway, I made little dimples and they eyebrow looking thing by running some thread from near the top of his head, down around the eyes and pulling it tight.  I made lots of changes as I was going, tweaking all kinds of things.  I didn't like him until the very last second when I took pictures, then he kind of stole my heart!  

ETA: for a sense of size, he's probably over 2 feet tall!  See the link below...

He's already being [url=https://www.craftster.org/forum/index.php?topic=231622.msg2561915#msg2561915]loved by his new owner
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376  Re: Birds are Beautiful Swap - Round 2 (CLOSED - send by 3/30/08) in ARCHIVE OF SWAPS THAT ARE TOTALLY FINISHED by jungrrl on: March 07, 2008 05:38:28 PM
You guys aren't going to believe what I brought home for inspiration.....








A barred owl!  Cheesy

Here are some kinda craptastic pictures. 

with cat rear for size reference.  Cheesy

S/he is from the educational loan department of the museum I work for.  There were at least 10 owl cases with screech owls, short eared owls, a snowy owl... I just liked this one best because you can see all sides.

And FYI, if you ever just feel you need lots of attention from total strangers, carry around a taxidermied owl in a glass case in public.  Cheesy  I can guarantee there were people going home and telling their friends "You'll never believe what I saw on the L today!"  Cheesy

and I guess I'm officially a weirdo.  Tongue
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377  Re: Fabric ATC round 3 GALLERY!!! in The Swap Gallery by jungrrl on: March 02, 2008 04:34:56 PM
Ok sorry for the delay!  The boy stole the camera Saturday.  Roll Eyes

It's lovely! The colors are more vibrant in person and it's all soft and silky.  It's called "Dark & Organic II"

Sajona, you have great control with your sewing machine!
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378  Re: Fuzzy Red Bear aka My first time trying eyelids! in Toys, Dolls and Playthings: Completed Projects by jungrrl on: February 23, 2008 02:46:13 PM
eeee! I just made another bear! This time I used some long-pile fur so I decided that eyelids would be overkill, well, this on looks adorable! Like a little ewok!  Cheesy

^ smooth hair

^ w/ mussed up hair.

I love that the same pattern can give such different results.
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379  Fuzzy Red Bear aka My first time trying eyelids! - 2nd bear added on pg 2! in Toys, Dolls and Playthings: Completed Projects by jungrrl on: February 23, 2008 12:45:58 PM
So I've been wanting to try eyelids, and I've also been wanting to make more bears from my bear pattern so, this morning I did this:

(unfortunately these are not true to color, he's really an awesome blood red - I'll try to photoshop it later)

I'm hoping that his wonky eyelids prove to be endearing instead of off-putting.  Cheesy

I used the same fabric for the eyelids as for the rest of him, I just put the opposite side out.  I cut out one side of the pattern, poked the safety eyes through (I didn't fasten them on yet!) then roughly placed the eyelids, took the eyes back out and sewed the eyelids in place one at a time.  I don't usually put teeth on my bears but I like them.  Smiley
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380  Re: Rail Fence and Annie's Choice quilt tops. in Quilting: Completed Projects by jungrrl on: February 21, 2008 05:26:54 PM
I finished one!  Cheesy

I added a bit around the outside because it was very small.  However, it came out a little crooked. Oops!  Lips sealed

The whole thing.

The binding.

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