This week's crafty chick that's coming clean on "THE WASH" on how she does it is... ME!
Since it's my birthday week I figure I'd give myself a taste of my own medicine and answer the questions I email to the artists that are featured on my blog.
So here goes!
MAIN CRAFT: graphic designer and bath fizzies
LOCATION: Muskegon, MI - Detroit, MI - Atlanta, GA - Kansas City, MO
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• Background (what lead you to your current craft) / How’d you get started?
When I was a little girl I dabbled in crafts. I made a few sun catchers and needlepoint at Christmas time. In high school I was a a band geek, cheerleader and on the pom dance squad.
I really had no idea what kind of career I wanted. My aunt was a successful broadcaster so I figured I'd major in journalism at Michigan State University.
Towards the end of my college career I fell into magazine design. The class was basically past-up by hand. I really liked it. I was alway enamored by a glossy magazine. And I was finding out that being a news journalist really wasn't my cup of tea.
So I moved onto the publication design classes and LOVED it!
After I graduated I moved into a web design career. I basically learned how to code HTML and design on the job. I still had a desire to learn art. So I took the whole photography track at a local community college.
After five years of working I was laid off and I decided to go back to school for formal training. So I went to Portfolio Center in Atlanta to study graphic design and loved it.
I completed the two year program and moved to Kansas City where I'm currently a greeting card designer for Hallmark Cards, inc.
• How long doing craft business?
In 2007 I got on the handmade indie biz train and started making aprons under the name Dirty Laundry. In April 2007 I took a sewing workshop at work. I didn’t know how to sew at all, but I ended up making a beautiful apron with my own textile pattern.
I found that I was a natural at sewing so I signed up for a basic sewing class to reconstruct t-shirts.
I ended up making an apron for a friend and everyone loved it. So I opened my Etsy shop June, 2007 with an apron line.
I made the cupcake bath fizzies for a holiday craft show in 2008. I wanted to add on another product to Dirty Laundry. I had not idea they'd do so well. My four dozen sold out in the first three hours of the show! They've really taken off. So now I'm focusing on the Dirty Laundry fizzie line.
If you told me seven years ago when I got laid off that I'd be residing in Kansas City, designing greeting cards and making bath products I wouldn't have believed it! It's amazing where life can take you.
• Is your craft business full-time or part time?
Since June I work a four day work week at Hallmark for 32 hours a week.
The time I spend on Dirty Laundry is an average of 30 hours a week (it could be more if there is a craft show). That includes making bath fizzies, blogging, filling wholesale orders and Etsy sales, writing "THE WASH," social networking, and other admin stuff.
I'm also the N.E.E.T. blog Beauty Blogger. I blog for them twice a month. I bookmark products I'd like to feature as a run across them. Then it takes a couple hours to do the image collage and write the blog post.
And I spend an average of six hours a week on Zumba fitness. That includes teaching my three classes, getting music for the class together, choreographing and blogging. I love it!
• Do you craft for fun (do you do crafts other than for your business)?
I don't craft for fun really. I love looking at DIY's and other's work.
I honestly don't have time to play to make cute stuff for myself or my friends. I have to take a class to craft something personal. The idea of paying for a class and having a time block to complete the item works for me. If I don't finish the project in the class it most likely will stay unfinished.
• 3 words to describe yourself and your work.
ME: sweet, cute, busy-bee
MY WORK: sweet, cute, professional
• What’s your workspace or most creative atmosphere?
My workspace is my kitchen. That is where I make the bath fizzies. Most of the time I'm sitting on the sofa in front of the TV while I'm doing the packaging.
My most creative atmosphere is everywhere! I'm always aware of my surroundings may it be at my job, online or out and about running errands.
• Family (significant other, children?)
Husband of two years. A step-son that lives in Atlanta. No children of my own.
I wouldn't be able to half of the things I do without the love and support of my husband. He built my blog, helps me with fizzie packaging and gives me business advice. We make a great team.
• How do you balance your life (work, craft & family/friends/personal)? How do you stay organized?
People always ask me how I do it all. I recently got the answer from another gal. THE ANSWER IS: I'm a Virgo and we're naturally organized. Simple as that. I think that I'm just wired to take on more activities than the average person. Actually I'm amazed at myself of how much I can accomplish.
I always have lots of things swimming around in my head and lots of things to do. I can't keep those things in my head, nor can I keep thinking of what I have to do. That'll drive me CRAZY!
I have several ways that I keep things straight and get things accomplished.
The best way is that I have certain days to do certain things. When it's "that" day I know that the same 2-3 things need to be accomplished that day.
I keep lots of lists. I like to write things down in my calendar. I do have a task manager iPhone app, but I tend to write multiple lists daily. Each subject has to be on separate lists. Grocery shopping, people to email, what fizzies I need to make. I like to write in different Sharpie colors and cross things off.
Most of the time I have lots on my list and I don't always want to do all of them. So I like to pick what sounds most pleasing to do 1st and I try to see what can be possibly moved to another day. Doing a task that you don't feel like doing is the worst.
I also like to multitask. Spend time with a friend = let's go craft supply shopping. My husband and I talk about our day at dinner every day. I listen to my Zumba music as I'm making the bath fizzies.
Most of my list writing is done in front of the TV. Our TV is always on and most of the time I just listen to it like a radio to keep up with the few programs I like to watch. (This article was written on the sofa on my laptop as I watched Project Runway on the DVR.)
I'm hardly ever siting still and/or ever doing one thing at a time. Sometimes I feel bad sitting and doing nothing. It's hard for me to fully take a break unless I'm asleep.
I use lots of labels in my Gmail to keep things organized. I also answer emails RIGHT AWAY. If I don't do that they'll get lost.
I also use Google Reader to check the blogs I follow. And recently I've been using Pinterest to bookmark inspiration.
• What’s your inspiration / Where do you find inspiration / What do you love?
Like my creative atmosphere everything is my inspiration and I find it everywhere.
The easiest and most convenient place is online. All of the wonderful blogs and Etsy sellers can get overwhelming. But I make sure I keep up with the 200+ blogs in my Google Reader. And I use Tumblr and Pinterest to track trends.
I also find inspiration when I'm out. In antique stores, little craft/gift shops I can find little gems and trinkets there. I love food and beverage packaging so going to natural food stores is always a treat. And I like stores like Anthropolgie. I can hardly afford anything in there, but I'm always inspired by the display windows and all of the fabulous treasures they have in there. I sneak and take photos all of the time!
I love cupcakes, macarons and cakes of course. Also food photography. I adore the delicate artwork that goes into baking and cooking. I look at the photos as works of art.
As I mentioned I love good food, beverage and beauty product design.
I love fat fluffy flowers, garland, and the color gray too.
• What’s your favorite thing, the 1 thing you can’t live without (your prized possession you would grab if your place set on fire)?
The iMac and it's time capsule. I think I'd be ok if my iPhone got lost in the fire. Everything is on the iMac.
• What’s your favorite food?
Lots of my favorite foods comes from several places. And unfortunately the places are long distance.
#1 is vegetarian satay and sesame chicken from Chinese Buddha in Atlanta.
#2 is vegetarian BBQ from Soul Vegetarian in Chicago.
• Where do you like to shop for yourself and gifts?
I like anything under $30. So Target and Forever 21 are my friends.
I wish I had $20 to buy something from all of the Etsy sellers that I like.
For gifts for friends I like to bake or find something cute somewhere.
• What crafting tools could you not live without?
• What keeps you motivated?
Getting comments on my blog and Etsy shop that people like my cupcake bath fizzies lets me know that someone out there is really looking at my work. Receiving comments from people in person at craft shows is always wonderful. When people come up to me and say, "I follow your blog," I get so tickled because they never left a comment but they came up to me in person to tell me.
All of the artists that I've featured on "THE WASH" inspires me. The reason why I did this series was to understand how people have become successful in their indie biz. Their stories keep me motivated to do what I do.
Also the possibility that I could make a living making cupcake bath fizzies or whatever I may create keeps me motivated.
• What have been some of the biggest challenges with being an artist, starting your own business, and promoting your work all at the same time… what advice would you give to others in the same boat?
My challenges would be being seen. It's hard when I find other artists with a similar product or blog and seeing that they are more popular. I've learned it's all about timing - being in the right place at the right time.
My advice for others wanting to have an indie biz is to GO FOR IT! Stop thinking about it and just do it.
Everything isn't going to happen at once. Take baby steps. Start with keeping your Etsy shop full. Do a couple more craft shows next year. Work on one new product.
And your time is precious so don't take on too much. Learn how to say NO. I started learning how to say no eight years ago. It's still hard, but I've saved myself from getting into a bind.
Also make yourself a schedule to help keep track of all of your tasks. It helps if you know how long it takes to complete a task, it'll help you decide if you can take on that order or do that craft show you were thinking about.
• What are your future plans?
The most immediate thing I'm working on is keeping up with wholesale orders and holiday craft shows that are coming up.
I'm also working on the packaging of my Dirty Laundry French macaron bath fizzies to start selling them on Etsy and to my wholesalers.
I'd like to keep growing my business and improving my bath fizzie bath products. I'd love to expand my Dirty Laundry products with photography and maybe some online classes or ebooks. Going full time with Dirty Laundry and becoming a crafty superstar one day would be great!
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Visit "THE WASH" for more artist stories.