Shabby Miss Jenn

Friday, January 20, 2006

Interview With a Friend ~ Mary of AntyM's Garden

There are not enough words in my vocabulary to describe how much this lady has effected my life. Mary is always so funny and makes me laugh. She has a been a wealth of wonderful information for how to run my business. She lights up my life when I open my mail and see I got an email from her. You all are about to capture a small glimpse of her special sparkle when you read her answers to my questions. Get comfy.....she had fun! LOL
From the bottom of my heart.....THANKS Mary!XOXO

Here are her answers!

1.When did you start making and selling your creations?
I have been creating stuff ever since I can remember. About 35 years ago I made some layered candles in milk cartons for decorations for an office party (the milk cartons were the molds, you removed them afterwards. Had to use broken crayons for coloring. Four people begged me to make them and paid me $5 each. That was a LOT of money for a candle back then. then I started making macrame hangers and everybody wanted one of those. Then there was Indian jewelry and we won't even discuss that. All I did was string beads 24/7 for a couple of years. I have made and sold candles, plaster statuary, macrame, jewelry, painted wood items, wall hangings, and a lot of stuff inbetween for years. About 20 years ago I made my first cloth doll. It was a sort of bigheaded baby doll with a sunbonnet that was actually part of her head. I sold them with a matching little outfit for the dolls owner. The doll had a heart on her chest that said I love Kayla (or whomever the doll was for) Then I wanted to make a scarecrow doll and couldn't afford 4.50 for a pattern so I designed my own.
Made a lot of them too. Then i didn't craft too much for sell for a few years because I had two jobs and didn't have time. About 1997, I was supposed to do a craft demo for a church group of simple autumn crafts. I could not find anything I liked. The night before all I had were two dim looking turkeys made out of flowerpots. I kept looking through craft magazines and not liking the stuff I was seeing. I don't know what happened. I went in my room and pulled out a bunch of fabric scraps and sat down with just the junk I had on hand and started making stuff. I worked all night and when I got done I had the huge pile of strange stuff like nobody around here makes. The lady next door saw my creations and begged to take them to work with her to try to sell. She said she's bring the samples back in time for the demo. She came home around 4:30 and give me about $350.00 in orders (these were $7-$12 items. The people at the craft demo went nuts and wanted to learn how to make everything. I am embarrassed when I think about how simple the stuff was. I sold a lot from then through Christmas. then my husband got really sick and died in July of 98. I needed more income but did not really weant to work outside my home because I had a 13 year old wannabe gangster that I felt needed supervision, rofl. I started selling old glassware and pottery on eBay. A friend of mine had a bunch of stuff whe wanted me to sell for her. I was looking up duck decoys and clicked on one to read the description and
found eBay primitives. I didn't even know such a thing existed. I looked at this doll and it blew my mind. I could make those.
My first doll was a 36" tall harvest angel. she was totally painted, even her skin, stained with wood stain and sanded. She has huge wings with wood inside of them. She had on more clothes than an eskimo. I got 9 bids for her and sold her for $27 rofl. I was ecstatic. I started making dolls big time and sold almost all of them but not for a lot of money.
I been making stuff ever since, just about every day.

2. Many romanticize the idea of running a craft business from home.
What are two things you know now about having a home-based craft
business, that you wish you knew when you started your own business?
Working at home is working with constant interuptions. People who would never dream of coming down and bugging you if ya worked in an office or a factory, think nothing of phoning or dropping in unannounced when they know you work at home because most people do not think of this as work. They think I am just making a big mess! lol My youngest son is particularly good at phoning and asking, "what are you doing"? WHAT DOES HE THINK I'M DOING!
There is a very real need, if at all possible, to have a separate work space for your work that is not used for other living functions. Otherwise you get the "stuff all over the place" syndrome.
Working at home is not as easy as it sounds. The good thing is you can wear your PJ's to work. The bad thing is sometimes you really have to force yourself to get to work and ignore the other things you would rather be doing or think you should be doing.

3.What advice can you give potential craft business owners about
marketing their product?
Start on ebay, then try to hook up with a good group, then join a website like FOA, then when you get comfortable, start your own web site which really doesn't cost very much to maintain. Start up costs for graphics costs but if you can more or less design your own, you can usually find someone to put it together for you quite reasonably. Once you have established yourself like this, look for ways to expand. If you have patterns, get an eBay store and keep all of them listed in there also.
If their are good shows in your area for the type of things you make, try participating in some of them. Try to attend the show first to see what the set-ups, etc are like and then try to get in the next one. This is another case of you usually get what you pay for. Location is important.
A good show in a busy venue that costs $200 a space is usually a better investment than a little show in a recreation center or a church hall or parking lot that costs maye $10. There are always exceptions to this rule.
If you know people who do a particular show, talk to them about it first. I do not do shows in my immediate area, because few people buy finished items and even fewer buy prim items. I am getting ready for a big show in March. It is at the Disneyland hotel. I have done shows in that area years ago and they did very well. When people come to an area like that they expect to spend money and they will spend money. $50 for a doll is not much compared to $85 for a Goofy sweatshirt at Downtown Disney! lol ALWAYS BE SURE TO TAKE BUSINESS CARDS TO YOUR SHOWS AND PASS THEM OUT GENEROUSLY. IF YOU HAVE A PATTERN BROCHURE OR FLYER, TAKE PLENTY OF THOSE TOO. THEY WILL PAY OFF IN THE LONG RUN.
oNCE YOU HAVE DONE ALL OF THE ABOVE, (except maybe the shows, if you are in showless area), you need to think about print advertising. This is if your products have sold well in the other venues I have mentioned. If you are not doing that well, you need to examine your product and compare it to others like it. Maybe its too much the same and you need to think of ways of doing some fresh new stuff. If you are satisfied with your product , you need to consider print advertising. this is very pricy compared to the other stuff. Never waste your money on one of those tiny little classified ads in the back of the book. They are worthless. You also need to consider which magazines your items would do best in. Country Marketplace has been around a long time but its not as big as it used to be. Its focus is still more country than prim and its readers are generally a bit older and more conservative. Go for the biggest ad you can afford. Sometimes magazines offer upgrades. That means you pay for a 1/4 page and get a 1/2 page. Mercantile Gatherings is a smaller publication but much better for very prim things and very authentically old looking items. Create and Decorate is a terrific new magazine that defintely is slanted towards prim and I think it is going to do very well. If you can't afford an ad, consider submitting a project to the magazine for them to publish. They will pay you for this and it will give terrific exposure.

4. What is your typical crafting day like? I wish I could have one, rofl. I usually get up in the morning, read my e-mail and post on boards etc while I wake up and have coffee. Then I try to do a little housework and get busy. I usually try to sew in the morning, while the light is good, my eyes are old! Then I stuff and do the handwork in the afternoon while watching reruns of Law and Order, rofl. I usually stop and go to the post office to ship orders and pick up mail around 4 , then I do any errands that need to be done. Unfortunately if I have a lot of interruptions, I end up sewing in the afternoon and finishing in the evening. I really love to craft on a day when I don't have to go anywhere , do anything else, or get dressed up. I get a tremendous amount of stuff done on days like that. I hate stopping and starting.

5.What sparks your creativity?Who inspires you?
Anything and everything can give me an idea. I can see something someone else has done and think how it would translate to something I do. A quote from a book, some words from a song, a vist to the produce section of the market. I listen to a lot of music while I work.For reasons I cannot quite explain I find southern gospel Music and the music of Johnny Cash to be very, very good for creativity. I think most people have heard of method acting, where someone is supposed to immerse themselves in the role and pretend they are in the time and place of the character, to actually BECOME the character. I think I do method crafting, rofl. When I think of primitive I tend to think of people back in the Dust Bowl during the depression years and stuff like that. I don't think of people in 1786 in a log cabin someplace because I really can't relate to anything that far back. Most of the people I grew up around were always frugal by necessity. They really believed in the old saying, Use it up, wear it out, make it do or do without. My mom's aunt was the Queen of Recycling, she never threw anything away, even her dead parrot, rofl
we found him entombed in a box in the butlers pantry after she died. I think that is way too extreme. When I am working on things, I tend to become Anty M from someplace in Arkansas or Missouri, I spend a lot of time pawing through boxes of junk looking for just the right thing to add to something. Sometimes pieces of old fabrics or little doo-dads will give me an idea. I can remember my Grandmother cooking from scratch and remember what the fresh veggies looked like. I remember old quilts being cut up and being used for other things. Old furniture got painted or refinished and recycled to the bedrooms from the living room or whatever. Nothing ever got wasted. Of course the old stuff lasted a lot longer. Mostly I like to feel like I am in a simpler time when people did not worry so much about whether something was in and just did what they liked with what they had. I am old, almost 60. When I was real little most of my family had stuff around they used everyday that was pre WW2. Some of it was much older. My mothers aunt was much older than my grandmother. She was born in 1872 and died in 1963. She lived in a huge ancient house that was crammed with stuff going back forever. She left boxes and boxes of old family pictures and pictures of the inside of all her homes and they are very inspirational to me.
She was quite excessive in her personal style and was the first person I ever saw who wore rings on ALL her fingers. She used to wear old dresses from the 20's on holidays that were slathered in sequins. this generally horrified many of her relatives but I found it fascinating. the woman was like a living museum. Most of her furniture went back to before WW1. She was the only person I ever knew who never, ever had a 50's formica and chrome dinette set! I still have a lot of her things. Many people barely know anything about the Civil War. I look everyday at a small picture taken of my great-grandfather during the civil war AND ITS THE ORIGINAL. This was actually owned and touched by someone who fought in that war. It gives a slightly different perspective to things. My mothers aunt left school in 4th grade to work in a shirt factory. This was perfectly normal at that time. She was perfectly literate, very artistic and managed her husbands painting and paperhanging business so well that they retired when they moved to California in 1920 and bought an oil well! I remember so many things she had in her home and get inspired to make something similar.

6. What do you LOVE to work on? What do you HATE? I love to sew. I love to create things out of fabric that loook like something else. I lov e hand-sewing. I find it the most relaxing thing in the world. I totally hate paper crafts , which is what I happen to be doing now. Requires way too much equipment and supplies. Paper is very unforgiving. If you mess it up , you usually have to start over. Fabric is more fixable.I am only working with the paper because I had some ideas for using some of the vast array of old vintage photos I have inherited. I do have a lot of experience with stamping and embossing and know how to work with paper. I just find it very tedious.
Most people think of tags as a super easy thing to make. I think tags are just a big pain. I agonize over everything and then realize I just spent a couple hours on little pieces of paper with strings, rofl.

Oh how I LOVED getting back her answers. I want to sit at her kitchen table for hours and just talk and talk. I bet we'd be laughing the whole time.
Please make sure to check out the wonderful patterns and goodies that Mary has on her website as well as on Ebay.
emmyray347 is how you find her on Ebay

What a true treasure to have come into my life!OXXOXOXO

Prim Blessings!

1 comment:

Cara said...

This makes me want to drive down to Victorville for a visit! I can be one of thoes horrible droppers-in-on-ers! It's a long drive, I'd arrive with a bad case of rump rot and need some TLC.