Success Stories – Feel Felt

 

 

IMG_7002 (Copy)

 I found this beautiful range of laptop and device covers while browsing Etsy and loved the aesthetic, textures and simplicity of the designs. I had to find out more about the makers of Feel Felt, Karolis and Milda and their journey from idea to full-time creative entrepreneurs. The couple are beautiful and are on the same page with their entire business which makes for a happy synergy and some incredible beautiful products.

Can you take us on the journey of your creative career path so far?

Feel Felt was born just before my twentieth birthday – I got a new a laptop and wanted a case to protect it from scratches, so I started sketching designs. Then on the morning of my birthday, Karolis surprised me with a wool and leather case, which he had made based on my sketches.

After receiving lots of compliments from friends and strangers, we borrowed some money from our family and started designing and producing more products.

What has been the biggest challenge you’ve overcome so far in your business?

Originally we had a lot to learn and understand.

During the experience, where each mistake costs money, everything we learned quickly. In the beginning buying the skin in large quantities was a challenge – we had to knock on the door of  a huge factory and try to introduce ourselves  as creatives, not crazy people who just passed by.

Being such “small and dummies” wasn’t easy to set up at such a good first impression, but with time  even large leather selling corporations  started to see us just as seriously as the Bentley car representatives who buys the skin in the same factory as and we do.

IMG_6668

What has been the biggest ‘fist-pump’/successful moment for you so far?

Milda: It makes me happy when we receive ‘Thank you’ letters of  Feel Felt owners.

When people evaluate our products, and leave comments, then my heart sings. Then it seems that you really are on the right path.

Karolis: The largest handicraft platform online in the world “Etsy” chose our shop and presented it as a “featured Etsy shop” and this spread the word about us to America and Canada.

This created even more advanced markets and opened the door to the world. Also we are very excited that ELLE  magazine developed plans to put items in their blog.

Milda: Starting from the cases for phones and computers, we now have and backpacks, handbags and wallets.

I can see that our goods have become increasing favorites for buyers, and then creative inspiration comes and visits again.

FeelFelt-123

Do you ever have doubts as to your future creative direction? Are there things you yearn to achieve, but haven’t yet found the time for?

Although we do both – design and manufacturing, we do not call ourselves artists (who are required to have a muse). We are ordinary people who are producing for people who are looking for comfort, the finest materials – just people like us.

We do not search for super deep meaning in all things.

Inspiration is in our customers, so if it seems like everything is slipping, it is enough to read the messages, comments, criticisms and praises, which were written by our  customers and a new strength comes and we continue to work with double power.

Are there times when your creativity and inspiration seem to disappear? How do you handle that?

Wavering in our work and daily routine is not very common- we both believe in our design, communication and product, so we solve even the smallest doubts by talking with one another. This is one of our greatest strengths.

We have lots of ideas and secret desires – we would like to show Feel Felt design to larger audiences, produce bags, backpacks, furniture, but we believe that in the future we will have a clear niche and, more time and a common understanding for everything.

foto4

How do you balance your work with the rest of your life ~ what does a typical day in your life look like?

I think that we are a different brand – quality is the most important  piece of the puzzle piece of our business.

This is the best fact which adds much more confidence to our customers.

We try to engage quality from A to Z, and Z is the following statement of our journey to the customer’s home. We want to feel the  first emotion and hear first comments about the unpackaged fresh miracle.

What is one piece of advice you’d like to give fellow makers about running a successful creative business?

Milda: Think less! Because the more you think, wondering, trying to calculate, the less passion you will have. When you’re doing something it is done!

Karolis : My mom saw our business growth and also started to sell her crafts on Etsy. So, Milda’s advice applies not only to young people like us.

Milda: Firstly I was a little scared by the fact that both are young, inexperienced, totally green – from the collection of materials and ending with the election of the sewing machine needle.

But we believed in our product and were not afraid to make a mistake – this is the most important in any business.

FeelFelt-275

Where do you see yourself in 5 years?

Our aim and dream is to expand the Feel Felt business. Expand production applications, expand our client base and expand the Feel Felt presence map.

We believe that in 5 years we will grow and mature – we will have shops – and what I would like the most?  Personally projecting the message about the Feel Felt miracle while travelling around the world with a Feel Felt case in our hands.

IMG_7126 (Copy)

Find Feel Felt Online:

Website
Facebook

C&T Podcast Episode 1 – How Anna Anagno Grew Her Jewellery Biz Into Her Full-Time Occupation

The Create & Thrive Podcast - Episode 1

 

How do you go about the transition from working for someone else to running your own business full-time?

It’s not something that happens overnight and it’s the result of a lot of hard work and patience.

Patience is a huge part of business ownership and we often become obsessed with the idea of knowing and doing it all now.

However, the path to success is not just a waiting game; it requires dedication and commitment along with hours of work in many areas of discipline.

Anna Anagno chats to me in this episode about her journey from worker to maker and how she made the change over time and with a lot of thought and organisation.

 

Love the show? You can show your support by:

  • Leaving a review on the C&T FB page.
  • Leaving a review on iTunes.
  • Donating a few dollars towards the costs of producing the pod.
  • Joining the Thriver Circle – without the members of the Circle, this podcast would not be possible.

 

C&T Podcast Episode 1 Quote

One Happy Leaf also grew from Anna’s strong feeling of connection to nature and the environment and her business name reflects this. Her feeling that her  business was a more authentic reflection of herself than her corporate job was made her feel comfortable in her shift to business owner, as she was very bonded to her art.

“I would go on these really cool walks and I felt more ‘me’ rather than the corporate ‘me’ that was working 9-5.” {Anna}

In a world where everything is online, fast-paced and energetic, it’s important to continue to stay true to your vision and yourself when running your own creative business.

 

Quotes and highlights from this episode

  • Be your authentic self and it will shine through in your business.
  • Trust your instincts with your own business and follow a path that you believe in.
  • Patience is the key to going full-time with your business – it won’t happen overnight.
  • “Successes don’t happen overnight and I realised that I couldn’t have it all right now.” {Anna}
  • Googling can help you answer a lot of your questions in the beginning, especially if you have time on your side.
  • Be prepared to learn more.
  • If you feel like you’re in the ‘deep end’ with any part of your biz, ask for help.
  • Knowing when to spend money or seek help can definitely be a trial and error exercise.
  • Work hard so you can play hard later but make sure you do get some downtime.
  • “You’re in that real development stage where you want to push your business forward and you’re at a stage where it’s OK to do that and really harness the passion and the energy while you’ve got it. But it’s also really important to take time out… I see it as a really dynamic flux” {Jess}
  • Setting annual goals which you view daily is important to keeping you on track and focussed on your game plan.
  • Photography and SEO are super important for any business.
  • “Screw it, let’s do it!” {Anna quoting Richard Branson}

 

 

Download This Episode

You can also subscribe to the podcast and listen to this episode on iTunes + Stitcher)

 

Links from the Episode

www.onehappyleaf.com

www.onehappyleaf.etsy.com

facebook.com/onehappyleaf

instagram.com/onehappyleaf

pinterest.com/onehappyleaf

Success Stories – Andie’s Specialty Sweets

 

 

 

Portrait J & A.ai BEST_2

Searching on Etsy I just about squealed when I found this delightful duo, Andie and Jason, selling creative candy and sweets in all sorts of whimsical shapes and lifelike colours. Andie’s Specialty Sweets is the kind of shop which stands out from the crowd, not just for beautiful photography and simple styling but because it’s a unique and exciting product which speaks to our desire to buy artisan-made products.

Can you take us on the journey of your creative career path so far?

I (Andie) started attending art school right out of high school. But I was quickly presented a job offer as Art Director of a small, handcrafted and innovative snowboard manufacturing company. I dropped school for the real-life education/experience, and it proved invaluable. The company had a small cult-like following and developed lines for larger, more commercial, snowboard companies.

I had no idea at the time that everything – from the skills I learned to the structure of the company itself, and the struggles and successes of being small and handcrafted – would one day serve as a resource for the direction of our business today.

From there I worked for several years as a photo-realistic airbrush artist, servicing record labels, and producing replicas of album covers, up to 24’ x 24’.These billboards were installed mostly on Sunset Blvd. at night clubs, street corners and major record stores.

When the ability to create large-scale digital replicas became more affordable, acing me out of a job, I began my own interior mural and decorative finishes business, including some restoration projects. One of these exciting restoration projects was on a cabinet from the 1400s Ming Dynasty.

It was during this time that Jason and I met. Jason had a business background and was running a successful pool and spa maintenance company. He also had an artistic ability and great eye for detail that had been set on a “shelf.” We married, and at 9 months pregnant with our first child, I retired from scaffolding and painting on my back, to relish the fleeting joys of motherhood.

At the birth of our fourth child, I listed a couple of sugar-crafted flowers on Etsy, during the kid’s naptime. I had acquired some culinary skills from my Dad, and had the privilege of creating a few wedding cakes for family and friends. Entertaining and making life special through culinary/pastry art had been one of my new outlets for artistic expression.

The most I thought that could come from those listings, and the most I aspired to at the time, was a little extra Christmas spending cash.

A little over one year later, and after the introduction of our Candy Vintage Buttons and Candy Gears, Jason sold his business and we took the plunge together, focusing both our attention and energy on the specialty sweets business.

IMG_4337_2_2

What has been the biggest challenge you’ve overcome so far in your business?

We’ve developed our own unique recipe and some trade secrets unique to the industry. But most monumental, we have discovered a way to scale our business, which appears to be limited in its growth capacity.

 

What has been the biggest ‘fist-pump’/successful moment for you so far?

We’ve had many amazing moments, most of which have taken us off guard.

To recall a few: collaborations with Martha Stewart Weddings, many special request from magazines and features in some of the most desirable blogs and publications, a place at the Martha Stewart Weddings Annual Bridal Market Party, unexpected and very large orders from international dignitaries, named Martha Stewart’s top D.I.Y. resource for edible art, our Chocolate-Filled Sea Shells featured in The New York Times (holiday gift guide 2013), several Etsy features, and our Buttons being one of the top selling items in the Martha Stewart American Made store.

Each time we are humbled and grateful, but rather than feeling like we have “scored,” we are more like spectators of a well-written, unfolding story, which is extremely entertaining but unpredictable.

We’re anticipating a climax, but expect we’ll be taken by surprise.

Jason with Buttons 4

Do you ever have doubts as to your future creative direction? Are there things you yearn to achieve, but haven’t yet found the time for?

We’ve never been in doubt about our creative direction, just highly pensive. We’ve also been thankful we haven’t made any decisions in haste. Our ability and the time seem to converge just when needed.

We’re always on our toes, looking for that pull-the-trigger moment when one must act upon opportunity. But we know that every business has its restrictions.

It is rare for a business to have infinite resources and time.

The object is to keep your goals always before you, make adjustments when doors close or unforeseen doors open, and be thankful for what you’re getting to do today, and do it well.

IMG_3802

Are there times when your creativity and inspiration seem to disappear? How do you handle that?

Our ideas are as many as there are things in the world. For us, it’s choosing what will best translate to candy, and what will have a timeless appeal –trends that have lasting power.

 

How do you balance your work with the rest of your life ~ what does a typical day in your life look like?

Our goal is to indeed have balance in our life, but we will be the first to admit, we are not successful at a “balanced life” at this junction in our business. At present, a concentrated focus on our business is what is required, which will lead to greater balance in the future. Meanwhile, the sacrifices and adventures today are knitting us together as a family.

Peppermint Buttons Bowl NEW

What has been the best marketing move you’ve ever made for your own business?

We have not yet paid for customer acquisition. But we do record and keep a customer list.

 

What is one piece of advice you’d like to give fellow makers about running a successful creative business?

Focus on continually developing your craft and never get comfortable with your skill level or high-minded.

We have also known that if we focused on the depth and integrity of our work, the breadth would follow. We have seen evidence of this in a word-of-mouth, acquired customer and in the % of repeat business we are privileged to serve.

toadstool sprinkle~2_2

Where do you see yourself in 5 years?

It’s too much to divulge and a little top secret. But, in a nutshell: more refined and greater capacity.

 

Online

Shop/Website:  etsy.com/shop/andiespecialtysweets

Instagram: instagram.com/andiesspecialtysweets

Facebook: facebook.com/andiesspecialtysweets

Success Stories – Alice Nightingale

 

 

 

 

Alice

 

I was lucky enough to have a very talented maker on my list to contact as my first interview for our Success Story series in my new role as Assistant Editor. Alice Veivers has been working on her label Alice Nightingale since she finished her design course and she delivers some of the most dreamy and delicious outfits your imagination can conjure. Read on for more about her wonderful creative path to full time maker. K xx

Can you take us on the journey of your creative career path so far?

I’ve always loved sewing and creating and at 16 I left school to do my Diploma of Fashion Design and Technology at the Australian Institute of Design. I finished the course with a goal to provide a handmade alternative to modern fashion and that led to me selling my designs at markets and through Etsy. Since then I’ve been lucky enough to take my label around Australia with the Finders Keepers markets and connect with lovers of all things handmade.

What has been the biggest challenge you’ve overcome so far in your business?

I’ve found balancing my business with my social life the hardest part of being self employed.

At 22, I’m finally finding my balance and learning that often your best friends are also busy creatives and therefore they understand that spare time is often hard to come by.

Flamingo

What has been the biggest ‘fist-pump’/successful moment for you so far?

It’s hard to choose my favourite moment from the last few years, I’ve been so thrilled to be a part of Peppermint Magazine, Frankie Magazine and the Etsy Blog; so I suppose I’m always impressed when people I look up to notice my designs and appreciate the handmade factor!

Do you ever have doubts as to your future creative direction? Are there things you yearn to achieve, but haven’t yet found the time for?

A big part of the self employed lifestyle seems to be making big decisions on where your time and money should go so that you can achieve your eventual goal. I’m just preparing for my first trade show, which is a big step for me and definitely comes with plenty of doubts/hopes! I think all creatives tend to spread themselves thin over a thousand little jobs, I’m still learning when to put something down until I have time to focus on it properly!

Lady 2
Two ladies underwear 2

How do you balance your work with the rest of your life ~ what does a typical day in your life look like?

I’m focusing on business growth as well as social and self happiness this year! So my average day involves a gym visit, emails and sewing with my work experience girls! Most nights I’ll either keep sewing or catch up with friends, depending on my workload.

What has been the best marketing move you’ve ever made for your own business?

Constant connection with my customers through markets here in Brisbane and interstate has been the most beneficial move I’ve made. The time spent travelling and setting up stalls is always worth it to talk to new customers and re-connect with familiar faces.

Lady

What is one piece of advice you’d like to give fellow makers about running a successful creative business?

Focus on your presentation! Whether you’re selling on Etsy, Madeit or at markets, I’ve found that high quality images and clear stall presentation makes all the difference!

Where do you see yourself in 5 years?

I’d love to keep expanding my label, growing the lingerie and swimwear lines as well as the clothing. There are distant plans for a more community based project with classes and a boutique, but at the moment I’m focusing on running my label and enjoying my twenties without too much pressure!

Find Alice Online

Shop/Website: www.alicenightingale.com
Instagram: @alicenightingale
Facebook: facebook.com/alicenightingalethelabel
Pinterest: pinterest.com/alicenightingal/

 

Success Stories ~ Bonnie’s Cinematheque

bonnie

I’ve seen a LOT of knit artists on Etsy but few have the pizazz and style of Lora from Bonnie’s Cinematheque. She’s taken her art form to a whole new level and as such her business is thriving. I knew you’d love to hear her story and advice.

Can you take us on the journey of your creative career path so far?

I think it won’t be something new and original if I tell you that I started to create clothing and invent images when I was a child, first for my dolls and then for myself. I think that all creative people feel their potentials at an early stage.

It happened so that I haven’t studied arts or clothes design but, as I realize now, I was always searching for something distantly creative. I studied history, specializing in “history of arts,” and informatics, choosing mostly seminars dedicated to web-design. But only after my second child has been born, and I again started to think what should I do for a living, I tried to transform my hobby into a main occupation.

But this hasn’t happened immediately. The couple of years I’ve spent at home with the baby, I was thinking it over: gathering information, trying various options, I even traveled to Vietnam, where a little collection has been made after my sketches (which taught me that I don’t want to refuse myself the joy of producing things with my own hands- meaning that I want to have an atelier where I myself should work too), I attended to some courses about how to start your own business.

My advice for everybody who’s thinking about turning their hobby into a real job to earn your living: don’t hurry, take your time – your dream won’t be fulfilled immediately anyway.

Gather as much information as you can, make a test-shop online, gain some strength and inspiration, and only when you feel that you’re ready – go on!

bonnie 3

Winter Wedding Knit Top

What has been the biggest challenge you’ve overcome so far in your business?

The biggest problem when you’re starting your business is to manage it the right way – so you can move on. Creating new models and new collections is a pleasant part, and for me it was also an obvious one. But the ability to know when it’s time to upgrade your production facilities, where you have to optimize your technologies so you don’t work at a loss, at which point it becomes necessary to hire people who should help you in certain processes – all that you learn intuitively, and normally you can’t avoid making mistakes. That’s the most complicated part in conducting a business for me right now.

 

What has been the biggest ‘fist-pump’/successful moment for you so far?

I can’t highlight a certain moment, there were quite a couple of them, pleasant and inspiring: an article in the American magazine Belle Armoire, an article in the ETSY blog recommending my shop, an offer to cooperate with a shop. There are all such sudden rewards you get for your work, they make you believe that things you do are really worth something. But every purchase at my shop is still an exiting moment for me.

bonnie 5

Bridal Headpiece

Do you ever have doubts as to your future creative direction? Are there things you yearn to achieve, but haven’t yet found the time for?

In his book On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft Stephen King gives a great example on how a book is being created. You watch some casual things happen around, they get somehow deposited in your memory, so you even not necessarily realize it’s happening, but at a certain point, you get some new observation, all the things from before fit together – and you know that this is it – the new ideal, the new image you’ve been looking for. And when the image in your head gets its form, then you don’t have any doubts whatsoever.

As for the ideas – of course, I have some of them stocked in my head, because I haven’t got time to realize them right now. But this could be a good proof too: not every idea you store for later proves to be that good after time passes.

I get some ideas as a ‘gift’ from my customers. I always pay a lot of attention to that. For example, I use some props for my photo session, without any second thought, (like putting real yarn-balls into model’s hair), and after I get a number of emails asking where can one buy it, I realize that it’s time to start producing them myself.

 

Are there times when your creativity and inspiration seem to disappear? How do you handle that?

Normally, exactly the opposite happens: I want to make something new, but instead, I have to knit one and the same sweater for the 100th time, because something fit together in the universe, and it suddenly gained immense popularity.

It makes me proud, of course, and it’s fun to think that I could go to NYC, Tokyo or London, and in any of these cities I have a chance to see somebody wearing my sweater. But on the other hand – it is the moment I mentioned above, a moment when you should think about hiring somebody to help you make these numerous replica of the old model, while you get your time to think of the new one…

bonnie 4

Winter Wedding Bouquet

How do you balance your work with the rest of your life ~ what does a typical day in your life look like?

I love my job, and I happily dedicate to it not only a normal 8-hours working shift, but every minute of my time. My husband is a screenwriter – it means he’s an artist with no ‘working hours’ too, so I don’t have to explain him why I can’t finish my work at exactly 5 pm. In this sense, we’re a perfect match: we can sit for 20 hours one against the other, doing the work we both love, stopping for a little chat once in a while. Luckily, we have a 3-years old son who gives our day a little bit more of a structure, and makes it look more like a day in a normal family.

 

What has been the best marketing move you’ve ever made for your own business?

Professional photography. Buying things online, one can judge them on the basis of one thing only: the visual. He can’t touch it, smell it, try it. Your item could be great, gorgeous, prodigious – but bad pictures give a client no chance to appraise it.

It is a matter of dispute, how ‘proper’ photos should look like: should an item be photographed with a clear background, so you don’t divert one’s attention from it and don’t bind it to a certain style, or you should have an integral image, where every detail on a picture helps creating it. I’ve seen a lot of beautiful shops using both clear and figurative photos, it’s the matter of taste and imagination only. But a photo absolutely must fulfill it’s main mission: one should immediately want the thing he/she sees on the picture.

bonnie 2

Little Black Dress

What is one piece of advice you’d like to give fellow makers about running a successful creative business?

We live in a time which is rewarding and thankless at the same time. Internet and a lot of platforms (etsy, dawanda, zibbet) gives us an oportunity to tell the world about ourselves quite easily. But this easiness could be misleading – for at the same time it’s making the competition enormous. That’s why it is very important to think very earnestly about things you do.

I never allowed myself to take my job light-mindedly, I never thought of myself as an hobby-handmaker, one of the crowd who’s registered on some platform. From the first day on, I tried to work like every minute I could get a call from Gallerie Lafayette or Selfridges, asking something like: We are thinking about representing some new designers, could we see your work? 

 

Where do you see yourself in 5 years time?

Gallerie Lafayette…J   Seriously, a small niche-label, and customers who see the world a little bit the way I see it. This makes me happy now and it will make me happy in 5 years, and in 10 years too.

 

You can find Bonnie’s Cinematheque online at:

Instagram – instagram.com/lora_radloff

Facebook – facebook.com/BonniesCinematheque

Pinterest – pinterest.com/loraradloff