Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Creative blog hop

Note: I am SO sorry if you have tried to reach this post earlier but didn't find it. I was so reliant on blogger and the fact that I had scheduled it a long time ago that I didn't check if everything was going alright. Of course it didn't... Murphy's Law :o(

Welcome to
Creating Success around the World
The worldwide blog hop tour, that introduces you to creative people from all corners of the globe.
Every Wednesday our hosts on each continent will introduce you to someone new whose creativity is inspiring!

Here's how you can take this worldwide tour with us:
You can follow all the hosts to support them and keep up to date with the fabulous posts they will share every week.  Then if you are inspired to join, just link up your own blog to make some new international friends.

Remember to leave us a comment when you follow us so we can follow you back! And of course we'd love if you added our button to your site to help spread the word!


creating success around the world




Here are your hosts:
Make sure you visit them all to see the inspiration and creative people every continent has to add to our community.

Australasia - Jill @ Creating my way to Success
Europe - Yaga @ The Shiny Bubble
The Americas - Suzy @ Suzy's Artsy Craftsy Sitcom
Asia - Janelle @ Of Pinks and Fairytales
Africa - Adepeju @ Peekadot


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 Europe


Jenna moved from America to the South of England ten years ago. Her blog is called "Sew Happy Geek" and she talks about all sewing, quilting and geekery! :o) She also sells quilting patterns and all sorts of handmade bags in her etsy shop. Without further ado:
Tell us a bit about your trade: What do you create, how and where do you sell your things,
how long have you been doing this?
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I create handbags and quilts mostly, developing my own patterns and writing detailed tutorials for them. I sell a few finished pieces, patterns and kits through etsy, and I take commissions and sell pieces locally as well. I’ve been selling finished works for about a year, and selling quilt patterns for about 6 months. I’ve only got one quilt pattern pdf in the etsy shop right now as the others are in rough draft or ‘still being made’ form, but I expect to have 10 patterns for sale by the end of this year. 

Please, tell us a little bit about the place and the country that you live in.
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I live in south England, between Southampton and Romsey. Romsey is a successful market town which has existed since at least the 800s. It’s very beautiful and green here. It doesn’t rain as often as people think; we actually have very mild weather all year round. We’re close to London, and love to visit the museums and shops. I’m quite fortunate to live here, and I absolutely love my adopted country. (I’m American and moved here 10 years ago.)

Do you think that your surroundings influence your creativity? How? 
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Sometimes I suppose it does, mostly in how I look at colour. I’ve only recently really begun to understand how to utilise colour in my sewing and designing and I am always on the lookout for great colour combinations. The best ones are nearly always found in nature, and our family has a membership at the local gardens so we can all work on our photography skills and look at colour in nature.
How and why did you 'pick' your creative outlet of choice?
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I love creating useful things. Don’t get me wrong, decorative things are always nice, but I prefer to make really useful objects. Bags and quilts are about as useful as you can get, and there’s something magical about dreaming something up, cutting your fabric, and sewing it into something really beautiful while knowing the whole thing is YOUR creation.
 
 Why did you decide to sell what you are creating?
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I started out selling bags and aprons through my etsy shop, mostly because people would compliment them and encourage me to sell them. I really wanted to make a small career out of it. I don’t want to be a downer, but people who don’t sew rarely have any idea of how much time and energy goes into, say, a hostess apron or a proper handbag. So they often think you should sell your stuff, just not to them because they’re not willing to pay for it. So you are often left with a tough decision: do you stick to the fair price and sell fewer items or do you lower your prices massively and sell more with a low profit margin? I decided neither was going to work for me, and the only logical step I could take was to develop and sell my own patterns. There are no shipping costs and I don’t even have to leave my home to send someone the product.

How did you start your business?
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I started the blog in September of 2010 using a blogspot address, and started an etsy shop soon after. I originally wanted to sell through www.notonthehighstreet.com, but thank goodness they turned me down! Now I have my own website, www.sewhappygeek.co.uk, which has forced me to learn very useful web design skills. Eventually I want to have my own pattern shop on my website, but that may be a year or two away.
I also teach handbag making at a local school - for that, I just walked in the Adult Education office with a couple of bags and aprons I had already made and asked them if they’d be interested in having me teach a course. (I have some teaching experience.) But they were thrilled with the idea because no one has ever taught it in my area, so they put the course in their next brochure.





What, in your opinion is your biggest strength in your creative life and how does it
influence your work?
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A sympathetic husband who bankrolls my sewing? LOL No really, I think my biggest strength is my ability to see everything from the absolute beginner’s point of view. I read a lot of patterns, and without clear instructions and pictures, even I have trouble understanding, and I know what I’m doing! I have a tendency in real life to over-explain. It drives my tween bonkers, but it’s a real strength when you’re writing patterns and tutorials!

What would you regard as your greateest weakness in terms of your creativity and how do
you deal with it?
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Poor designing skills. It may be because I’m still learning, but I know I’m not a genius designer. So my creations and patterns tend to be technically simple, and use the fabrics as the focus. I also like them to be quite ‘beginner-friendly’.

How do you stay motivated and inspired?
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I love seeing what other people are doing through reading blogs and keeping up with my sewing friends on Twitter. I also belong to the local quilting society, Romsey Quilters, and they are a lovely, clever bunch of ladies who keep me on my toes.

Where do you see yourself and your creative life in two years? Do you have any plans?
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I’d like to have at least 2,500 followers on the blog. I’d also like to have a book planned or released, either a traditional quilting/sewing book or a self-published ebook full of my own designs and tutorials, and I’d really like to have my own store at sewhappygeek.co.uk for my bag and quilt patterns.



What are your 5 hottest tips for people who want to be more successful with
creating?
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- Don’t be afraid to approach people who can help get you noticed - leave your tutorial link on Craft Gossip, or email the lovely ladies at Craft Buds, etc. They need new content every day, and if they don’t feature you the first time, keep trying! As you go on, your content and tutorials will get better and better, which attracts more features and followers. Linky parties are useful too.

- If you are selling patterns (or anything else), do your research. Try looking on etsy for your product, and identify which listings are ‘winners’ and which aren’t. There are basically 3 components in any online pattern listing that people use to decide whether to buy: Price, Photos, and Description. You must make sure those are at least as good as your pattern. Unfortunately, unlike a handbag or necklace, you can’t actually show the entire product in your listing, so you have to make the listing look as well made, professional and attractive as possible. You should spend a lot of time writing the listing itself - far more than you think it will require. Pattern listings must have TONS of information. Poor information costs sales.

- If you are interested in writing patterns, start looking very closely at how things are made. Look at textiles EVERYWHERE, even if they’re not what you’re ‘into’ right now. I always study how well-made clothes are made, because I never know if I will find a technique or idea that I can incorporate into a handbag design. 

- If you are interested in selling patterns, start paying very close attention to how they’re formatted (in books, in individual patterns, even in free tutorials) and whether you can understand them or not. If you can’t understand it, why? Have they sacrificed clarity for brevity? Would more or better photos be helpful? Or both? Could you draw a diagram that might help? Can you think of a simpler way to ‘show’ it?

-And perhaps the most important: use GOOD pictures. Your mobile phone isn’t going to cut it in the world of professional patterns/tutorials. Blurry pictures and pictures that are too dark or in which the ‘action’ is way too small to be useful aren’t going to work. Get a decent camera (even used is fine.) Get familiar with your camera, and if you don’t have Photoshop (or don’t feel confident with it), start uploading your photos to www.picnik.com and taking advantage of their free editing software. There are loads of free tutorials about using picnik to improve your photos and it’s worth taking a couple of days to really play with it. If you have bad photos, blogs are very unlikely to feature you, and people are very unlikely to buy your pattern, even if your instructions are excellent. Online, people can only judge the quality of your patterns by the photos you provide of the finished product.


Thank you so much for being with us and sharing all this information with us, Jenna!
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Now it's your turn! Link up your posts: Inspiration, craftsy blahs, tutorials, tips or business talk: We wanna know!






Have fun hopping, reading, linking, connecting... take some time to share your love and inspiration by following, leaving comments and visiting each other.
Happy Wednesday! ;o)


7 Comments:

Suzy Myers said...

Jenna is pretty darn awesome! Great interview and wonderful tips on creating patterns!

suzy

Jill said...

Great interview! Such interesting answers - I'm definitely off to check out her site right now! Thanks for introducing her Yaga!!

Jill @ Creating my way to Success
http://www.jembellish.blogspot.com/

tartankiwi said...

I have only just found you. Looking forward to visiting lots of other blogs from the blog hop. Thanks for hosting :-)

Halina said...

This is a wonderful idea! It's so fun to share and be shared with, and I think it really makes the big difference in creative work!

Leah said...

I love your "creating success"-blog hop. The firs two interviews were very intresting to read.

Halina said...

This is a great idea! Will definitely follow the interviews!

Janelle said...

Love her! I've been reading her blog from time to time. Great interview!

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