ThinkOutsideTheBox is not only a wonderful store on ETSY full of talent, creativity, and inspiration, but the owner behind it Rachel is one of the most wonderful people you will get to know and any transaction with her will be nothing short of memorable! I have been lucky to be one of those individuals who has really gotten to know her on ETSY, and as a new artist on the site she really has offered much guidance, advice, and helpful tidbits to make me a stronger and more successful business owner. Peeking into her shop, she has a very memorable showcase of items for sale, all waiting for wonderful buyers to purchase them. There is truly something for everyone. I recently got the opportunity to interview Rachal, and I enjoyed, just as much as I know everyone else will, getting to know the artist behind the shop.
1.Q: How long have you been working with your craft?
A:There really is no correct or short answer to this question. I believe that artists as a whole have been fortunate with their particular craft in that they were most likely born with a certain artistic ability. So, not to sound dramatic about it but I guess I could say at birth. So for me that is about 40 years! Yikes, did I say that? Boy, 40 does not look good when written.
2. Q:What drew you into your art?
A:I think that art drew me into it! It has always served a purpose of joy and relaxation for me.I was never one to really enjoy art class as I felt it was a public display of humiliation for those of us who were more of the non-traditional artistic types. People were always judged on their ability to conform to the subject at hand as if it were of the utmost importance to be able to draw an apple perfectly that actuall looked like an apple. Totally NOT my style at all. So, it was a natural progression for me to be drawn to art in a more eclectic and non conforming way. Thinking outside of the box has always interested me, hence my shop name.
3.Q: What made you want to become a small business seller?
A: I never put much stock into selling what I made. A lot of artists and crafters don’t really entertain the idea that someone will actually want to buy their things. I create for me not for the masses so when someone actually pays for something I’ve made it is such a rush to me. The desire to become a small business seller stems from a need for me to create. There is only so much room in my house for these things and my family’s homes too. My general thinking is that maybe one of my items would become a cherished piece or a focal point in someone else’s home. But, really, the short of it to is that I have 2 expensive children ages 16 and 21. They have a need to be fed, clothed and housed along with college tuition and voila..there you have it. Want quickly turns into need when you are responsible for others.
4. Q:Have you been featured anywhere, in any artiles, magazines, or local venues?
A: My shop and a few select items have been featured in some etsy related blogs. There are a few great bloggers like yourself whom dedicate a lot of their time to feature other etsy shops and their owners so I have been fortunate in that arena. A few noteworthy ones other than yours are http://www.onthedotcreations.typepad.com, http://www.handmadenetwork.blogspot.com and http://www.dzfantasy.blogspot.com. I am a member of the etsy NFEST team (needle felters of etsy) and they run a few websites and blogs where many of its members are featured along with their felted items. I was contacted by someone on Flickr a month ago asking for permission to use one of my pics of a needle felted Peter Rabbit I created for use in an on-line newspaper/group. But, other than that I really haven’t put myself out there enough yet. I will be participating in a well known Fall Festival around these parts in October so fingers crossed there.
5. Q:What advice can you give to artists who are beginning the trade?
A: I am so bad at advice and over the last few years have been programmed not to give it as my own children don’t take it so…I’m a bit rusty in that category! I can tell you this though…most everyone else always say to do what you love and I don’t necessarily take stock in that because doing what one loves eventually turns into work and no one likes work! Plus, what if what you love isn’t loved by others and you are trying to make a living? There is a balance to be had here..yes I suppose you should try to do what you love but it’s more important to try and love what you are doing…make sense? Try out different things, different mediums and somewhere down the road you will be all the better for it. This helps us to apprciate a particular craft that someone else may do to perfection and it can also help you to find something you may love to do and didn’t even know it. Many of these things take a very small investment to try out and the return on that will be that you’ve made yourself into a more well rounded artist or crafter and can then possibly offer more of a selection to potential buyers. For me, this type of eclectic crafting really helps me to create more and keeps me from the monotony of one craft or medium. If I grow tired of doing one thing I can move on to the next. I’d say needle felting is the pefect example for me. I had always wanted to try it out not knowing the how’s or what’s etc. but it took over like wildfire for me. I love it and have a great affliction, obsession and addiction to it, all in a very good way of course. Just don’t be afraid to try new things. What’s the worse that can happen? So maybe that particualr craft isn’t for you…you only have invested a small amount of moola and time and maybe along the way you got a good chuckle out of your atempts! Above all else here and the absolute most important piece of information I can share is to consistently give good qaulity and friendly customer service. People will remember that time and time again!
6. Q:Any promotions you want to address that you have, or will be having?
A:While I LOVE and adore a good sale believe it or not I don’t really partake in them with my own shop. I try to consistently offer good quality items at affordable and very reasonable prices. I don’t mark things up for the sake of then marking them down and making them appear like a sale or bargain. Bad practices if you ask me. The whole etsy Saturday Night Sales doesn’t appeal to me. It is ludicrous to think that all of those buyers out ther are jsut waiting to pounce until Saturday Night. Etsy is a huge international site and there are handfuls of different time frames. While I sleep, someone in Australia is up and shopping…not fair for them to miss out on a special I’m having because their time zone doesn’t coincide with mine. Occasionally, on a few items I may offer free shipping or a reduced price but that is only because I may feel like it. There is no rhyme nor reason to it. What I do think is important and concentrate my time on are other blog giveaways and celebrations. It is extremely important to be willing to create some items to give away. It is a great business practice as it involves you and your shop with the community at large, gets your name out there, is a great way to promote yourself and along the way it gives you the opportunity to meet some really great people that you will inevitably become friends with!
7.Q: What is your favorite item in your shop, and why?
A:OH, this is a tough one for me…If I have to answer I’d say it woud be my needle felted Calla Lilly fiber art tapestry. As I have said, I am very new to needle fleting and just love everything about the craft and the mediums used. To be able to create an object or a piece of art from a few handfuls of sheep or Alpaca wool just amazes me! I am in awe of it. This particular piece is my very first attempt at needle felting a two-dimensional piece. So far, I have created about 6 other pieces all of which were three-dimensional, like rabbits and realistic looking baby chicks so this was a challenge. It took me nearly two weeks to finish the piece and I really just love how it came out. It is such a rush for me to try something new, enjoy it along the way and then to be happy with the result is just icing on the cake! If I never end up selling it I won’t be sad because it is something mmaybe I should own? Although I’d really love to see it adored and displayed by someone else.
Please come take a peek in her shop, and enjoy all her handmade goods! I’m sure you will find something that you just must have! Please visit Rachel’s shop at http://thinkoutsidethebox.etsy.com