Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Interview with MuffinTop Designs

A brief aside...

Here it is, the end of 2008. Christmas (and other related holiday) shopping is in full swing, and my Etsy shop has been very busy the past month or so now. I'm not sure if things are going to continue to be this brisk for the next couple weeks, but I went ahead and made up another batch of Wooden Toy Swords (almost 60 of them this time) just to be on the safe side, because I've already had three batches sell out within weeks already this fall. I've also had to make up a new batch of 3-D Wooden Puzzle Cubes because my first batch finally ran out on those too.

I can't complain about the extra work, I suppose. I don't know if I could've anticipated the Christmas rush, this being my first year of selling my woodcrafts online. And honestly, I don't think we'd have been able to buy Christmas presents for the kids (nor could I have bought much for Mrs SmileMoon) if it weren't for the success of my shop.

And now, on to the main attraction...

I recently had the distinct pleasure of interviewing Cy, the proprietrix (proprietress? young lady who's in charge?) of Etsy's Muffin Top Designs. After warning me that an overdose of super sugary sugar cookies and the sounds of Dwight Yoakham had the mini-muffin whipping around like crazy (more on that soon), we got down to business...

1. Welcome to The Thoughts of a Poor Woodsman. You look familiar. Where have I seen you before?
well, you may have seen me poking around Etsy - where i have two shops: Muffin Top Designs and Muffin Topsy Turvy and in the Etsy forums! i also have a blog that i'm not too great at updating here, but i'll hopefully get better at it!! you, my dear poor woodsman, have also seen me at a Starbucks in east Toronto!!! Your humble narrator will attest to that!

2. What kind of crafting do you do, and how long have you been at it?
in my past life, i was a fine arts major, but meandered into the world of social services and property management!! however, about 2 years ago, one of my good friends introduced me to the world of beading, and i'm proud to say that i'm a jewelry maker now! i also dabble a little in sock monkey making. i still paint and draw but right now i love making wearable creations out of shiny things.

3. What was the first crafty thing you ever sold? Do you still make that same thing for sale?
i think that the first crafty thing i EVER sold was an acrylic painting that was part of a body of work that i did in university. but i don't do large scale paintings anymore, sigh! i wonder whatever happened to that painting????
this is the first crafty thing that i sold on Etsy - a Glass Bead Lariat Necklace, but i don't work so much with seedbeads anymore. the allure of sterling and fine silver and wire wrapped pretties are my current obsessions!

4. How do you get into the creative zone?
my creative muse is an elusive one. sometimes i sit in my little basement "studio" and create more than i can even handle... other times, weeks can go by without something new. i try to keep my space organized and clean, and i also love browsing on Etsy and the internet for inspiration. also having a full stomach helps.

5. What level of distraction can you put up with while you're working - music, TV, telephone, onlookers?
i absolutely need music or a movie on in the background in order to work! and that goes for both my full time job and my creative one!!!!!! however, i can't tolerate the phone or people looking over my shoulder. it's irritating!!!!! the husband and i have a wonderful basement space where his music equipment is close to my jewelry table - we're close, but not TOO close!

6. Do you have a dedicated crafting area that's forbidden from the rest of the family?
see above. however, i'm one of those people who knows where everything is even though it might not seem like it... once i put something down on my jewelry table, i need to know it will be there when i go back. hence, the husband and i are respectful of each other's spaces. i have caught him running his finger through my beads though!!! i don't know what will happen when our baby arrives though... :)

7. Do you come from a crafty background? Do/did your parents and/or siblings work with their hands like you do?
my sisters and cousins are quite crafty and artsy in their own right... and while none of our parents seem to be outwardly crafty, we've been slowly finding out that there is quite the artistic streak in some of them. my grandfather was a fabulous self-taught furniture maker - he would construct stools out of large cable spools and my grandmother would whip up padded covers for them!

8. What are your crafting goals for the next twelve months?
for 2008, i vowed to learn 10 new crafting/art techniques, which was really fun - and fully documented on my blog! for 2009, i want to take a metalsmithing course before the baby comes - how's that for a goal?????

9. How do you promote your business?
i wish i was better at promoting my business! working full time makes it difficult to get out there as much as i can, but i pass out my business cards as much as i can, blog, am present in the Etsy forums, and talk about what i do to anyone that will listen! perhaps one of my 2009 goals will be to draw up a formal marketing plan... and maybe get some MOO cards made up!

10. What is your most favorite handmade item that you have made?
probably the first sock monkey that i made. when i took it home, the husband immediately claimed it as his own. it was totally endearing.
i also fall in love with my new designs, wear them for a while, and then end up loving something else. i never liked wearing jewelry before, but now i'm quite flighty with my affections!

11. What is your most favorite handmade item that someone else has made?
i have sooo many. bizzielizzie makes the best zipper bags and key fobs and i can't live without them. scabbyrobot made the purse that i now carry. indulgentcreations makes lovely soap and body butters. i also have my eye on your wooden swords... i fully expect the husband and the baby to have tons of sword fights!!!!!!

12. What was your best handcrafted "moment"?
lighting up my butane torch and firing my first piece of precious metal clay at home. there's something to be said about a 1200 degree flame and molten silver. what a rush.

13. What's been the best advice you've received regarding your crafting and/or business?
stick with it and don't give up. things go up and down and as long as you're doing something you love, everything else will follow.

14. How far do you plan to take your craft? Do you envision being able to support yourself at some point down the road?
i am hoping to one day be able to only work part time and be a full time jewelry creator and sock monkey maker. it would be a dream to be able to stay home most of the time to create and take care of my family.

15. Describe yourself in 5 words.
kind, easygoing, creative, dynamic, hungry

...And there you have it! Please support my good friend and fellow artist by checking out her shop!


muffintopdesigns said...

i love you, smilemoon!!!!!!! lol! thank you for such a wonderful feature!!!!!

Anonymous said...

Fantastic interview! Thoughtful questions and interesting answers! Good to know more about the muffin behind the scene ;)
Oh, and those are the cutest sock monkey's I have ever seen!
Great post!

Smile Moon Woodworks said...

My daughter's getting one of those sock monkeys for Christmas! Shh! Don't tell her...

Anonymous said...

Great interview and wonderful pictures!