The DC area is really shining this week! First we feature Christina from SmokingHaute, and today we have Jennifer from CraftyStitches! Jennifer not only creates some beautiful stuff, but she’s business savvy and engaging too! Talk about a triple threat! I have to say, I wouldn’t mind getting a gorgeous monogrammed jewelry roll if I was a bridesmaid 🙂 (And if I ever get married, you BET I am contacting Jennifer first!)
According to her Etsy intro, 25% of all sales from the CraftyStitches store will support Our Lady of Hope Catholic School from now thru December 2011. How wonderful 🙂
As always, click any photo to learn more or to purchase!
How long have you been selling on Etsy? How did you become interested in creating your own handmade products?
I opened an Etsy account on 10/11/2007. I had no idea what I was doing. I accidently browsed upon it when I was lazy at my job surfing the internet… heee I remember many of those days. **I hope my old bosses are not reading this!
I listed one little handmade business card wallet in stainglass window fabric for $5 with free shipping because I didn’t know how to do shipping stuff. In 1 hour it was sold to someone in Singapore. Yes free shipping to Singapore for a $5 item was a giant loss. But I tell ya, the feeling that I sold something – someone appreciated what I made – OMG I was ecstatic. No, I was literally jumping out of my skin. I wanted to quit my job and start this path. Of course I didn’t quit my job right away because that would be crazy right? Well sales were slow, craft shows were rainy, cold, and getting difficult with 2 little toddlers. I had put CraftyStitches on a hiatus.
Then, in the Winter of 2009, after 2 moves and relocating back to the Washington, DC area (lovin’ it) my girlfriend decided to open up my packed up love for quilting and sewing. She said I should start it back up. I told her that I didn’t want to but she started taking pics and posted the items with me and literally forced me to open Pandora’s box. I told her, “Girl, please, you don’t know what you’re opening up.” There is a sacred sense of creative spirit inside my giant plastic purple tub. I was working at a good job and I really enjoyed what I did for a change. I didn’t want to wake up my designer monster spirit. I was still reluctant after a few sales. What really got me going was joining the local DC Etsy Team. It was a chat space where I could vent my frustrations, showcase my stuff, get the cheerleaders to support and rebuild CraftyStitches. My girlfriend even helped me formulate my own business marketing plan and structure my products. So off I went again.
Now as the Captain of the CREST (Capitol Region Etsy Street Team) Artisan team, I am especially grateful to all my team members for their support. I am much more involved and in the Art of doing Business in Crafts. I completed courses at the local Business Incubator Centers and Women’s Business Centers about finances, business plans, and even submitted into my first business plan contest (wish me luck) – results are due 11/4 (that’s today!)
So right now I am very focused on CraftyStitches as a full time gig. And now I also get to live my dream of spending time with my girls after school. I have to say… it is just as tough as having a job except now I can be with my girls while I work in my studio.
What is your signature product?
“My claim to fame” (so to speak) product is my trademarked and copyrighted “The Perfect Bridesmaids® Travel Jewelry Roll I have sold over 3000 of the travel jewelry roll. It was a basic overnight success. This item was created in April of 2010 when a coworker asked me to make one for her. The next thing I know, I am sewing and sewing like a mad women. CraftyStitches is now staffed with 2 part-time sewing assistants and 1 marketing assistant and of course plus me. I can’t believe how fast we’ve grown. I am still working on new ways to do what I do but I think we have come a long way from selling that first business card case to Singapore. Today, some of our popular locations include Canada, Japan, Mexico, Finland, and the UK. I plan to grow CraftyStitches into real time studio and DIY space for the novice and designers promoting sewing and quilting to girls, women, boys, and men. Join our sewing and quilting DIY movement as we launch our line of CraftyKits™ where you can sew or quilt your own accessories in less than 30 mins all in one kit.
What inspires you?
Everyday life and problems inspire me. For example, the other day I pulled up to my favorite local coffee shop and when I passed by this parked car, I noticed that in the back of the driver seat where there is usually a pocket to put/hide all your junk. Well, it’s filled to the brim. (oh, believe me, it’s just like mine). Then it dawned on me. I can sew something to make that car look much nicer and for the child/adult who sits in the back to be entertained by this bag of goodies. I’m still working on this prototype … so stay tuned.
What are some of your favorite colors/patterns/design aesthetics? How do you incorporate them into your work?
Right now I am in love with lace. I want lace in everything I am working with. I was so crazy I made a lace zippy pouch where you can see through it. My daughter loves it because then she can see all her crayons, plastic toys, and cars that she stuffs inside. I love pouches, I don’t know what it is about them. I love making accessories – boxes (yes boxes) and bins – I’m also obsessed with those as well. So I try to incorporate the BOX shape and BIN shape in everything… not sure why. I love sewing that shape. I’m comfortable with it. I know it by heart I guess… Creature of habit… not good.
My favorite color is RED! Ask my girls… they know! “Mommy, would you like me to draw you a red picture?” “Mommy, wouldn’t you love this item in red?”
I’m trying my darndest to exploring other mediums of design outside of textile cottons and fabrics, but I am not too successful yet. I love fabric… my love for fabric is not a good/cheap habbit. I love antique quilting fabrics – the older the print, the more I love it. My stash contains items from the early 20s and oooo God, don’t let anyone even touch my archives. Yes I said it, “Archives” – Rachel Zoe, I’ve got an Archive too.
Who are some of your favorite celebrities? Whose style would match up with what’s available in your store?
I’ve been watching too much Bravo since I started CraftyStitches full time. So right now I’m watching a lot of Rachel Zoe and Housewives of some city… Beverly Hills, New Jersey, etc. I really don’t watch tv I just have it on when I’m working. It makes me feel like I’m not alone and there is some sign of life.
My style is definitely classic with a twist of bohemian. Not sure if that is a name of style or what. Since my father was a tailor and mom was a knitter, I come from the classic training of a tailor’s sewing habits. I do love the tailored look of the darts meeting at the waist and the pleats that flare out at precise locations. However, I also like to throw in a bohemian scarf into that nice looking suit to spice it up a bit. What I do wear a lot when I dress up is prolly Maxx Mara and the grey + red combo. And BLACK, I wear TONS of it.
What is your workroom like? What conditions lead you to create the best work?
My basement studio is approximately 500 sq ft. I have lots of tables, 3 sewing machines, 2 cutting areas, storage, a photo studio and an office area… and the most important part is a play area for the girls to cut/sew their own stuff. I have to fit all that in one space. It’s an absolute mess. Thank God for cleaning crews. My trusty cleaning crew comes once a week to straighten up so I can mess it up. Whew.
I work best under pressure. Really. I usually work in a hypomode. I have to complete my thought/project/working documents in one whole process or I won’t try to go back to it. I think it has to do with some sort of old ADD or something. At least I’m calling it that. I think my work achieves the best result when I am able to completely finish it in one sitting. Otherwise I will lose interest and maybe lose my train of thought. I have had a few projects where it took me months but I think in the end I still sat through 1 whole sitting to complete it. This is why I think the CraftyKits™ will be best for the working moms or working and busy life of a modern woman today. We have to finish it NOW or it won’t get done.
How long does it take to design and create each piece?
So right now may of my items are prepped the night before and completed the next day. When I have a rush order, I try to complete it all in one day.
What is your favorite product so far?
The zipper pouch is still my all time favorite item. I can make a gazillion of these and never get tired of them. Of course, I love love my jewelry rolls – I am not tired of how beautiful they look when they go out the door.
What is the most interesting request you’ve received from a customer?
Most of my customers are brides. So I have to say the most bizarre request for me is to monogram the wedding date onto a gift for their bridesmaids. I tried hard to steer her but she even paid extra for it, so I did it. I know she loved the products and she did it because her future mother-in-law specified it.
What makes your Etsy store different from others?
I’m not sure if I am so different from the others because I do have a copycat who really tries to imitate my listing names, etc. It’s frustrating but at the same time it’s a giant compliment to see that my product made such an impression in the marketplace.
My shop is different right now because I am the only shop that offers a jewelry roll with a monogram patch that stands out. I am also a shop that caters to Bridesmaids Gifts and can turn any of my items into personalized gift sets packaged and shipped in 2-4 weeks. With the new CraftyKits™ I hope to be a one stop shop for all GIFT Parties. You can also check out my website at www.craftystitchesdesigns.com for more about how to throw a sew party for birthdays, showers, office, and school.
Thank you so much for the interview, Jennifer! It’s so inspiring to read about how your business took off and how you are staying successful.