My interview today is with Wanda of SaffronFields etsy shop!
My Etsy shop is one of the most exciting endeavors I've taken on in recent years. I have to confess, I've become an obsessed Etsy shop owner. My morning routine is to take one of the million ideas brewing in my head from the night before and apply it to a project in question. It can be repositioning some of the elements on a wreath or picking up some materials, ribbon, felt flowers, whatever and forming an idea for a new piece. I just have to get those spiderwebs out of my head before going to my day job. This routine, solving design dilemmas, prevents me from thinking about my shop while I'm at work.
2. What hobbies do you enjoy?
Cooking is one hobby that I can call a hobby since my children are grown and I don't have to cook for them twenty four hours a day. I am a nutrition freak, off and on, and not overly nutty about it, so I look for and try new ways of cooking, new foods, which are nutritionally sound, or no,t in the case of desserts. Although I've been doing exactly that for many years, I still continue to explore contemporary trends, new cuisines, new utensils, new ingredients. Perfect segway to my other enjoyable past time, eating! My own cooking, my mother's cooking, my daughter's cooking, restaurant fare, Costco samples, you name it, I'm there! I'm not a picky eater in spite of what one might expect of a concerned health advocate. I believe in balance :) Reading is the next enjoyable thing, maybe it should be listed first on the list. I like to re-read the books I read as a child. Walk in Wolf Wood by Mary Stewart is one I'd like to get back into next. The story is similar to that of Alice's Adventures in Wonderland (C.S. Lewis), where the kids find themselves in a new place experiencing life-altering adventures. The reader will get from this book an armchair view of daily life in a castle in old, old England. Almost like a history lesson. I like to re-read authors I discovered "back when" my daughters were teens. Madeleine L'Engle stands out in my mind. Her stories deal with science and faith at the same time. Amazing writers with similar views of the world. Agatha Christie and the mystery genre are my passion. I've discovered a new genre of mysteries. Written by (mostly) female authors who center the story or a part of the plot around food or cooking. For example, one of the last mysteries I read portrayed the personal chef in a posh estate as the detective with the gardener as prime suspect. As it turned out, the guilty one was the butcher--or was he? My passion for food takes the form of cooking, baking and eating, but also covers areas such as nutrition, sustainable farming, food chemistry and processing thereof, food traditions, culture, writing about food. I am an armchair activist. I believe my new blog is the best place to publish a poem I wrote, Ode to the Bell Peppers,.now that says a lot about my interests.
3. How did you become a designer?
I was born with a gene that literally compels me to make something I can touch and see from an inspired idea in my head. I remember being aware of color, line, balance, shape from a very young age, although I can only say that in hindsight as an adult. I was recognized for my art work from elementary on up through high school and majored in painting in college. I just never pursued art as a career. I loved being a MOM, thanks to Martha Stewart, the inspiration for homemakers all over the world. Dear Martha gave credibility to home making during the days when childcare centers were few and far between compared to today. What she did was show us women and the world that home making is really about designing a good life for others. (I personally feel women should get paid for all they do to keep a home!) I was also a passionate seamstress. I made up my own patterns and designs and just went with it. Aah, youth! So. It's just natural for me to get onboard with the Etsy concept of handmade.
I used to work at the University of Hawaii. One of my student workers started her own jewelry business onIine and kept nagging me to do the same. Two, maybe three years later, I decided it was now or never. I had just made a major move from Hawaii to Las Vegas. Everything was new, new job, new home, so why not new business. I wasn't sure what I would sell because I really wasn't a crafter. I browsed etsy and fell in love with the yarn wreaths. The wreaths were so contemporary and colorful! I thought it would be easy for a beginning crafter to get into. Boy was I wrong! It was a struggle figuring out what supplies I needed, where to buy the supplies, and how to wrap a wreath with yarn, not to mention how to make felt flowers that looked halfway decent. And how to come up with a unique design, and how to get everything to stick together. Hard work and determination is all I can say!
5. How does your creative process work…(where do you find inspiration?)
After starting this business, I've become an Etsy addict. I look at all the shops and favorite pieces that inspire me. I am teaching myself to react as I did as a child creating things with no pressure from the outside world. I trusted my instincts and followed through. Just go for it. Everything I did was meant to be. Today, I try to clear my head from those spiderwebs, and keep my eyes open for ideas. I act on it or write it down. Knowing myself, being too logical paralyzes me into inaction.
6. Since starting your etsy store, what one thing are you most proud of?
My proudest moment was making my first Etsy sale four days after opening my shop with only four wreaths on display. That sale was a pleasant shocker and started me thinking about my line: is this wreath thing the right path for me, do others really relate to my design aesthetic? I realized there are real people out there in Etsy land wanting to purchase something special and meaningful. It is important to me as an artist to make a connection with others, and that first sale sealed the deal.
Periwinkle Sparrow in Flower Heaven Wreath
7. What is one thing you would do differently (in your etsy business)
We are so fortunate that Etsy makes it easy to set up shop. All we have to do is take care of our product. I know that mapping out a business plan is required for success, but, when one is just starting out, how does one know what lies ahead? We can guess, but we really don't have a clue. I have a room full of raw materials that I had planned on using then changed my mind. I could have been more careful with my purchases if I had thought things through. Or waited. But, I'm a doer with no patience. Even the shop name was a last minute grab. I can tell you that I should plan more for my next shop, but whether I can follow that advice is a toss-up. (Meditation exercises, maybe?)
8. Is there anything new you have an idea for or are currently working on to add to your etsy store in the future?
9. Mickey Mouse or Bugs Bunny?
With no hesitation, it's Bugs Bunny. He's open and easy going, a fighter when necessary, and never without a sense of humor and a positive attitude. He's endearingly clever in his speech, a wise guy, and has unstoppable energy. I am just like him except I'm painfully shy and can't run and leap as well.
10. Handmade vs Manufactured:
The topic of handmade versus manufactured brings up many sustainability issues. Both methods are admirable human functions in that they require forethought, experimentation and planning by a human or two. Depending on what our societal needs are, both methods are necessary. Manufacturing is a means to get something done faster, cheaper, and in greater quantities. That manufacturing messes up the environment can possibly be solved through design. Handmade is great on a small scale, but if a product has to fulfill the needs of the masses quickly, for instance, food, clothing and shelter, a compromise can be worked out but products still must be manufactured to meet the needs. Handmade is full of good karma in the right conditions, but is a luxury in many parts of the world. If I invented a wonderful handmade product the world needed to survive, how would I make it in sufficient quantities, and how would I get it to them? I feel there are always two sides to every problem and solution. One method is never going to be perfect.
11. What is one piece of advice you'd give to other women who are fortunate not to have to work outside the home?
As with all my interviews, I hope this one was enjoyable, that you learned something AND that I've helped you to get to know the artist behind the art! I'd love to hear what you think of Wanda's work...