Brenda of Phydeaux
I first found Brenda on Etsy when I was browsing through the knitting pattern listings...my own knit and crochet patterns are really pretty basic so I don't consider myself a designer. Brenda is definitely what I consider a designer...and a pretty awesome one at that. She designs and sells knitwear, handmade home decor, knit and crochet patterns, and THE MOST amazing hand-crafted buttons I have ever seen, yes, EVER! You can find Brenda in several different places...
I am so glad that I decided to do this interview series, I am learning a lot from these lovely ladies of Etsy, 1st Interview with Nikki of BondGirlCreations26 Etsy Shop
and 2nd Interview with Gennifer of sageandmage Etsy Shop
Sooooo.....today is all about Brenda, her lovely kitties, her knitwear, buttons and patterns.
1. What is life like at your house? (husband, pets, children, etc)
Life is fairly quiet at chez phydeaux, with just me and my two kitties, Molly and Fiona. We live where the Santa Cruz mountains and Silicon Valley meet, which is a pretty amazing place. After a busy day in the rat race of the city, I get to listen to critters all night long (oh, coyotes and the like).
2. What is your morning routine?
I'm more of a night owl, but do pop out of bed, check my business and Etsy shops, get ready for my day job, feed kitties, and head out the door. :) I remind myself every single morning that the sooner I get up and go, the sooner I can come home and get to work (I work halftime right now for my day job, and then my business fulltime evenings/nights/weekends)!
(I love that she says "halftime" instead of "parttime", I've always felt that "parttime" sounds like you're not working hard....don't ask me why I think that.)
3. What hobbies do you enjoy?
Once upon a time, I loved to knit and crochet as hobbies. Luckily, I still love doing both, and really really miss them, particularly knitting, when I'm swamped with the business side of my business.
I am really trying hard to make more time for this thing I keep hearing about, "relaxing," including my other hobbies/loves: cooking, gardening, family history research, writing and reading. I have so many wonderful books to read!!! Soon. I will soon read an actual novel.
4. How did you become a designer?
I have always, always created. I cut out and hand stitched little dresses for my Malibu Barbie when I was in grade school. I knit, crocheted and embroidered as a little kid. I love to draw and paint and have done so as long as I can remember. I thought I'd be a world famous artist growing up. I took home ec classes in junior high and high school, which is finally paying off!
I seriously crocheted during my teens/20's and picked up knitting every few years, but more seriously five or 10 years ago, and super seriously in 2007, as I was deciding what kind of creative business to start. I started my little knitting business with serious, big intentions, but had no idea how much I would learn or how my business would develop. Amazing! Terrifying! And so much fun!
So, I suppose I was born an artist and ended up a designer, though the two are not necessarily mutually exclusive!
5. How did you start your etsy business?
Someone - I'm not sure who anymore - told me about this great website called "Etsy" back in 2005 or 2006. I would periodically get lost in the jewelry and plushie listings for hours. Another friend kept telling me I should sell on Etsy, but I didn't even consider it. I did finally place my first order in 2007, probably for earrings (knowing me). By the end of 2007, I was dying to do something creative, after years of working a 50+ hour/week job in university management plus completing my own college education evenings and weekends. I spent Christmas week deciding between jewelry (I made my own jewelry for years and years) or knitted scarves. I honestly thought that knitting would be less expensive - that I would spend less money on yarn and fiber than on beads and findings. Ha ha! I opened my shop in January 2008 and the rest, as they say, is history.
6. How does your creative process work…(where do you find inspiration?)
Creativity, for me, comes from just about anything. While watching a movie last week, I was suddenly mesmerized by the rich, vibrant colors in the sets and costumes, which inspired a whole new line for Fall. Yarn always inspires me - a huge knitting expo like Stitches West is one big inspiration-fest!
I'm also inspired by texture: fiber, knitting stitches, nature (leaves, bark, the lilies in my back yard), new beads, you name it!
And my many (many, many) stitch pattern dictionaries and other sources play a huge part in all of this, particularly when I'm not feeling very inspired at all, just to get the creative juices flowing again.
But design is about form and function. Most of what I do ends up being about problem solving. I may work out the technical issues behind a new design for months prior to actually finally creating a working prototype that I don't hate. Or revisit a design after picking up a new technique or skill in order to improve it!
7. What one thing do you keep close to you at all times?
What a great question! I suppose the true answer is ... my eyeglasses, which I have to wear during all waking hours (being blind as a bat!). When at home, the answer is also my trusty laptop, which I use in some form nearly all day! Or yarn ... I'm surrounded by more yarn than I can probably knit up!
8. Since starting your etsy store, what one thing are you most proud of?
Oh gosh, I knew NOTHING when I first decided to open my Etsy shop. Nothing! I'm rather proud of every bit of hard won knowledge I've mastered! But the most unexpected accomplishment, I think, is the development of my knitting pattern business. First because it's so not what I started out to do, second because I was never able to follow patterns myself, so being able to write them is pretty big for me! I was pretty excited to write patterns for scarves and cowls and now I'm pretty blown away when I write a pattern for a lace shawlette!
9. What is one thing you would do differently (in your etsy business)
Another great question! More time acting, less time analyzing. I am easily frozen by analysis paralysis, researching things to death, rather than just DOING things. This year, I'm working on making things happen rather than planning how to make things happen.
10. Is there anything new you have an idea for or are currently working on to add to your etsy store in the future?
Yes! Several new things! Which I wish I could tell you about! I can't imagine doing the same thing over and over forever. Or five years. I started out knitting super easy scarves, using the most beautiful yarns I could find. Now I'm also creating knitting patterns, making buttons and ornaments, and knitting lace shawlettes. The sky is the limit - I love testing that limit!
(If you want to keep an eye on what Brenda has in the works, you can follow her website like I do)
11. Mickey Mouse or Bugs Bunny? (why)
Bugs, all the way. I grew up with both Bugs and Mickey, but think about the best Bugs Bunny episodes! The wonderful red furry monster with the black sneakers. The Wagnerian opera with Elmer Fudd signing "kill the wabbit" to the Ride of the Valkyries. Bugs Bunny is pure win.
12. Handmade vs Manufactured (your thoughts)
Both. I know, I know, the PC answer is probably "handmade." However, not everything is practical (or possible) handmade. I've worked in medicine for more than 20 years - the technologies and science that save millions of peoples' lives every year are often based on natural or handmade sources; however, massive deployment does require manufacturing. Not just for medicines, but for syringes, IV tubing, imaging equipment, you name it.
I'd prefer to see more responsible and ethical manufacturing. I do always support local agriculture in addition to handmade, vintage. I can go on and on about why you should only buy free range, organic, no hormone, etc. eggs.
And I have a huge and well loved collection of handmade earrings!
13. What is one piece of advice you'd give to other women who are fortunate not to have to work outside the home?
I do work part time outside of my home (California is expensive!), but love love love working from home most of the time!
My top piece of advice for anyone working from home is this: work! You can spend time on forums, Twitter, playing Farmville, etc., but schedule that as a small part of your day. Spend the majority designing, making, testing, releasing. You will be amazed at how much your productive increases. Mine skyrockets every time I turn my computer off in order to crank out the work!
I have to balance that with this piece of advice: have fun! You can burn out really quickly working around the clock. Take a break, go outside, breathe fresh air, go for a walk, go out for lunch, hug your spouse, play with your kids. You'll rejuvenate yourself with new energy and creativity in addition to just being happier and healthier.
What I love most about her website is that she offers advice and tutorials on knitting. As for her knitting patterns, not only are they gorgeous items to knit, but her patterns are very easy to understand, and if you have a problem, she'll walk you through it with her superior customer support.
Brenda calls this photo "Secrets"...and it really does look as though the one kitty is whispering to the other.
So Thank You Thank You to Brenda from ME...thanks for taking the time to do this interview, for providing me with lots of great knitting knowledge AND all the wonderful inspiration!!!!!