Artist Interview: Allison of Apollos On Acres

I became acquainted with Allison through the Etsy Cleveland Handmade team and was instantly intrigued by her lovely, natural photography. Poking around on her blog I was even more intrigued by her earthy lifestyle, her love of nature, and support of local farming (as well as involvement in farming!) Allison lives on a 5.5 acre farm, is currently trying her hand at apple farming, is involved in animal rescue, takes care of horses….and if you can believe it still has another job! (I seriously do not know how she does it all)Regardless, I had to include her in my artist interview series as she has a great perspective of life on a farm and life combined with nature. Enjoy!

When and how did you begin your business?
My Photography in my Etsy shop is very new! I just started it about a month ago. Our orchard is new too! Last year was our first year in production 🙂 Well…the trees have produced for years, but last year was our first year farming them!

I’d imagine living on a farm makes your day really busy and interesting. What is a typical working day like? Well…weekends vary and can be crazy hectic, but on weeknights, we are pretty much on a routine. My husband and I get up at 6am to dogs licking our faces in anticipation for the alarm to go off. One of us feeds them and walks them and one of us feeds the horses. We usually take turns on who does what. I also have one messy gal in the barn so I clean her stall before work in addition to the evening so that she stays a tad cleaner! Then we get ourselves ready for work and out the door we go. When we come home, it is the same thing we did in the morning. Dogs fed and walked, horses fed/stalls cleaned/ groomed or worked or turned out in the pasture – that just depends on the season! THEN, if it spring, summer or fall, we are working in the orchard and gardens. If it’s winter, we go in to feed ourselves dinner! Our dinner is usually last on the priority line. And this example is just on the rare occasion that we don’t have some crazy wrench thrown into the plan….like our donkey getting loose and running down the road or me finding stray kittens that need rescued……you get the idea

How do you balance everything?
What’s balance?! My mother says I never have a game plan and fly by the seat of my pants 😉

What do you enjoy the most and what do you enjoy the least?

In relation to my photography and selling on Etsy I most enjoy making people say “WOW” when they look at one of my photos. I least enjoy second & third guessing myself on my photos and thinking people will look at them and think I am nuts or that my idea of ‘a photograph’ is crazy!!

In relation to the farm, I most enjoy walking out the back door to the smell of horses in my back yard and Apollo with his head out the window calling for me. I least enjoy pruning the fruit trees (it’s so tedious!) and frozen water buckets. Oh yeah….and flooded barns and mud in the spring

Where do you get your inspiration?
From my childhood dreams!

Are there any must-haves that you could not run your business without?

My husband! He’s the workhorse on the farm and my toughest critic with my art!

What are some of your favorite shops and items on Etsy?
Well I adore the Clover Leaf Feeds Hand Bag by ObjetAdapte and I am trying to save up some extra cash so I can purchase it. I have SO many favorites; everything is so wonderful on Etsy! I love the work by our own Cleveland Handmade Team Member LazyT! And I also like The Ruby Needle and the hats by Pixiebell. Bomobob and Judemcconkey have awesome photography! I love the scents at PosionApplePotions and on my wish list is also a bag by myfreerein made with recycled horse tack!! And I love Turquoise jewelry so naturally I love your Turquoise Teardrop Lariat that you just listed!! Should I keep going………..

What fashion accessory or wardrobe item is your absolute favorite and you cannot live without?
Hmmmm, well, chapstick isn’t a fashion accessory [editor’s note: sure it is, I couldn’t live without mine!]or wardrobe item so I guess I am gonna have to go with a bag! I am a sucker for large purses/bags/totes! I always have to be carrying one that weighs at least as much as a bag of horse feed

Which of your farm animals is your absolute favorite and why?
WOW – this is hard! I’d feel like a bad mother if I answered this! They are all my favorites in their own ways….but Apollo holds that special place in my heart. I have had him the longest. I adopted him in 2005 and he came from a rough past. We learned and grew together. (You can read our whole sob story on my blog!) I have a bond with him that is truly a once in a lifetime feeling; and he is the most ornery Arabian filled with attitude you will ever meet…but he’s my bud and I love him!

You can find Allison on twitter,@apollosonacres or you can read all about in her own words “my crazy life” on the farm at http://www.novicelife.blogspot.com You can also visit her shop on Etsy to check out her photography

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A “Smashing” Person Hearts Cleveland

I Love this!

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I fell in love with this gorgeous necklace by Smashing.  The heart is entirely handmade, enameled with gorgeous red color, fired to have a stunning texture and absolutely charming.  Wear your heart on your sleeve, or in this case, your chest.  Say it loud. Say it proud.  I heart CLEVELAND!

Designer Interview: Lillyella

It’s been awhile since I did a local interview feature. In the interest of reminding you to shop local and support independent artists here’s an interview with Nicole, the very busy designer behind Lillyella. She’s an interesting 29 year old, with seven tattoos, a love of peanut butter, a menagerie of animals to take care of, and at times is a dance instructor. Shes’ also building a barn! Interested? So was I. She’s made the leap to working for herself, so if you’re curious how she manages to juggle it all and make it successful, read on.

How and when was Lillyella created?

Since I already owned a business (an LLC), I added a DBA name to it, Lillyella, to use for selling my jewelry. I actually created the name/logo. etc a few years ago when I had hopes of doing craft shows and things of the sort, which I never had time for.   Where did the name come from you may ask? Good question! I tossed around lots of other options such as libelulle, peach pod, cant remember anymore! But in the end, I’ve always loved the name lilly – I really like waterlilies, lily of the valley, lilies of all sorts, and ella fitzgerald is amazing – so the combination just seemed like a winner! And I love it. People often think it’s my name and I’ll admit, sometimes I don’t correct them 🙂

What is your typical working day like?

I am trying very hard to be disciplined – but it is so difficult! Instead of filling orders and doing design work, my beads are calling and new designs are dancing in my head – but now feeling more pressure than ever without a steady guaranteed paycheck coming in, I have been pretty good. I always wake up early, even though Im usually up until about 2am. I check my email, poke around etys a bit, check my treasury lists, plan for new ones, answer any convos from people, update my blog and make about 13 lists every day. From there it just depends on what takes priority. Somedays I only do design work, some days I do billing (boring, but important!), some days I only make jewelry, somedays I only run errands! Most days I do a little bit of everything. But through the day I check my email and etsy constantly – every half hour watching the front page change! Everytime an order comes in I send a thank you email, print the order and file it into the appropriate “to do” pile. Unfortunately at this point I can’t call it a 9-5 job. It’s more like a 7:30 – 2 a.m. job, but Im hoping now that I am working on my own and not balancing 3 jobs, that I can get into a better routine.
Dayflower Earrings,$11.50

Where do you find your inspiration?
This is probably a typical answer, but I find inspiration from my favorite things. Since “design” in general is needed for every aspect of what I do, I kind of feel I look at the world a bit different than some other people. It takes me 3 times as long to decide what I want to eat at a restaurant because I a not reading the menu – but analyzing the font selections, colors, layout, paper, how it ties into the rest of the decor – etc!

I study billboards to determine if the message was appropriate marketing for the product, I check out the little logos on the back of cars to see if they match the name and style of the vehicle. Other than that, I love nature, of course. I find amazing color combination in plants and animals. I find materials that represent things I like and then figure out the best way to utilize their potential.
What do you like best about your business and what do you like the least?
I love the creativity involved, I really love making people happy – creating things that bring people joy – even if it is just a piece of jewelry. I love making custom orders and wedding jewelry, I feel very honored to do that. I love organizing my supplies – most people will tell you I’m anal-retentive! What I like least – hard to say – maybe taping shipping labels to packages? Or possibly always being paranoid that my pieces are not perfect and being nervous that someone will not like it.
How do you market yourself and what sort of customer service do you provide?
Marketing – not as much as I should do yet. I started a blog recently (http://lillyella.blogspot.com/) but it’s quite new and does not have much traffic yet. I do write tidbits about my life but mostly use it to offer special sales on wednesdays and fridays, have contests and other things to get people involved, showcase other etsy shops and show off new designs.  Aside from that I spend a ridiculous amount of time in the Etsy Treasuries. It’s so addicting! I make lists as often as I can and I love browsing through and commenting on other peoples lists. I have made so many amazing etsy friends this way and have been featured on the front page a few times so far, which is the best exposure you can hope for.
Customer service – it’s very important to me. I have also become friends with many people who have purchased jewelry from me – including pen pals all around the world! I always send a thank you email when I get an order, telling them when the order will ship and asking them to make sure they let me know what they think of the piece when they receive it. I give discounts on large orders and often include extra goodies in my shipments. Since I am graphic designer, packaging is very important to me, so I always make sure that it looks really nice. I offer gift wrapping at no charge and I always include a hand written thank you with each order.
I also offer lots of customization options on my pieces, which I think people appreciate. Whether it is changing the color of a bead, changing the length of a necklace or bracelet etc. The nicest thing that has happened to me recently is a girl from hawaii who purchased a bracelet from me sent me a handmade card and a box of candy to thank me! I guess that means I’m doing something right!

Where can customers find your designs (if other than on Etsy)

Currently, only a few places – a website which features all handmade goods called Miss Princess, http://mymissprincess.com/ and three retail stores in Hong Kong. I may also be in some local venues soon (when I have more time to pursue) and will probably also do a few select art shows.
Is there anything else you would like to tell Art Addict readers?
I’m bad at these kind of questions!
For the artist readers who are thinking about further pursuing what may just be a hobby now – go for it! It may be ridiculously scary, but you only live once. But be smart about it – talk to someone who has done it, save money, write a business plan for yourself, and stay disciplined!
For the art lovers out there – continue to support handmade, local artists etc – chances are, you could be changing someone’s life.
Garden Branch Bracelet

Rising Artist Interview: HQ Designs

Helen Quinn is a designer I was introduced to when she purchased a necklace and earrings from me on Etsy.  It was really quite an honor actually, because she herself is a jewelry designer and an extraordinary one at that.  I quickly fell in love with her designs because they are sleek, modern and fabulously sleek!

So of course I had to interview her for Art Addict, and here’s what she had to say.

What is the name of your business?
hq design.

When did you begin it and what was your original inspiration?

The jewelry making began with a 1 year jewelry manufacturing course which I thought I’d try because I had no idea what I wanted to do with my life and ended up absolutely loving it. I had worked for various people but loved the idea of being able to make limited amounts of my owns jewellery. There is a lot of uncertainty involved with setting up by yourself but the rewards are worth it

How do you seek out ideas for your designs?

Inspiration comes from all over – I usually like to sketch for a bit and see what I come up with and go from there to the bench and see what happens.

As you have progressed what have you felt to be rewarding and what has been challenging?

The rewarding would probably be designing and seeing a piece through to completion & then having people enjoying wearing something I’ve created.
On the challenging side of things, it’d probably have to be the business and sales side of things, it’s stepping out of my comfort zone!

Are there any must-haves that you can’t run your business without?

I find supportive family, friends & boyfriend are essential – always willing to help!

Outside of jewelry what intrigues you?

Well there’s numerous things, I’m a huge architecture fan from ancient ruins to new buildings. Besides that all kinds of art in general, photography, fashion & beauty in unexpected places.

What are your hopes for the future?

Eventually I’d like to be designing and creating full time, while continuing to learn more about jewelry different techniques.

Large Art Deco Earrings

Large Art Deco Earrings, $157.00

Visit and see more at HQ Design

Rising Artists Interview: Labella Designs

My latest interview was with the designer behind Labella Designs. Here’s what she had to say:

1. What inspired you to become an independent business owner?
The opportunity to be completely in control of something, to see my ideas actually come to fruition and the desire to start a business that I could continue after I retire from my “real” job as a registered nurse. I had been mulling over the idea of starting a faux painting business when I took a jewelry making class for fun and just loved it. I think it was all the beautiful gemstones and the immediate gratification you get from creating something in a relatively short amount of time that really got me hooked. And of course, what woman doesn’t love jewelry?

2. What have you found to be the easiest part of beginning your new business and what has been the most difficult?
Easiest part: Deciding on my general area of business, as making jewelry kind of picked me. I was addicted after the first class. I would also say the creative part of designing and actually making my products is one of the easier aspects for me. Most Difficult: Staying focused on the business part of things: writing a plan, marketing, keeping records, paperwork, etc. I tend to get distracted by all the creative ideas floating around in my head!

3. Explain what skills you have that you feel you have that have been absolutely necessary.

Being organized and keeping good records has been absolutely necessary. You don’t know if you are making a profit or how to price things if you don’t keep records of everything you spend money on. It also it imerative at tax time to be well organized, whether you do your own taxes or hire an accountant. I am working on being more outgoing to help me with marketing my jewelry; this does not come naturally for me, but I think it is absolutely neccessary to feel comfortable with promoting yourself and your business to the public to be successful with a small business.

4. How do you think you have been successful so far?
I think that I’ve been successful so far in that I have branded my company with a distinct look, have set up my website and my shopping site. I am curently working on a more distinct look for my product line, something that will let you instantly recognize a piece as a “La Bella”.

5. What are some of your goals for the future?
Immediate goals are to get my jewelry into 3 retail stores this year and finalize a distinct line for fall and the holiday season. In 3-5 years I hope to have my own shopping site {I will definitely keep my etsy site as long as I am in the biz}, expand the number of retail stores to 15-20 and be accepted to 2-3 high-end juried art shows a year. I would also like to have 1 article a year published in a craft/art magazine. Ongoing goals are to keep expanding and improving my jewelry making skills. Ideally I would like to learn and perfect at least 2 new techniques a year.

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Rhodolite Earrings, $40.00 

Rising Artists Interview: Studio M (a.k.a Studio M07)

I’ve decided to help out artists who are just starting out with brand new independent businesses, perhaps with a blend of excitement, anticipation and nerves. Artists, who are taking the time to do what they love-to craft, to design, to create. So, without further adieu, here is the first in a series of spotlights on rising artists. Congratulations to them for embarking on a journey of creation.

Our first designer in this series just opened her online store in November of 2007. Her custom paper, gift and card shop is an alternative overpriced mass-produced greetings. The following interview gives insight into her challenges and rewards of beginning a new business.

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Fathers Day Card $2.95 from Studio M

1. What inspired you to become an independent business owner?
The flexibility of being my own boss. I’m at SAHM [Stay at home mom] and love being able to spend time with my son while I create.

2. What have you found to be the easiest part of beginning your new business and what has been the most difficult?
The easiest is having an excuse to make new products. I love getting lost in my studio. The hardest is advertisement. I’d like to get some more exposure.

3. Explain what skills you have that you feel you have that have been absolutely necessary.
Self discipline is the biggest. You have to have that if you’re going to be your own boss. Also creativity is important. If you don’t have that, you don’t stand out.

4. How do you think you have been successful so far?
I’ve made some people happy when they have received something that I’ve made. Just seeing smiles when someone gets a card I’ve made or I hear that the person liked what I made makes it all worth it to me. Customer satisfaction is the best success.

5. What are some of your goals for the future?
My goals are to keep doing what I love. I’m happy doing what I’m doing now. Oh and maybe make a little bit of spending money while I’m at it.

Interested in finding out more about StudioM07. Visit her at Studio M

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A card so elegant and contemporary

Love Always Card, $2.95 from Studio M

“Screening” for the local goods!

While screening (looking for) some more local handmade goodies to highlight I came across Sarastar77 which was yet another great find on Etsy. Since I have many DJ friends I try to get to read this blog may I point out her turntables men’s shirt. It’s not a bad idea for a tough to buy for guy. It’s fresh and stylish and really affordable! ($22.00) I also thought her corkscrews screenprint could add a cool modern flair to home decor. The color and design really catches the eye without being too bold. It comes as a limited edition 8X10 with a white matte.

 

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