Renaissance Austin of Raghouse International!
What an amazing young woman she is! After reading her interview, I found myself quite inspired and I'm sure you will too. Be sure to visit her shop where you find some beautifully and professionally crafted works of wearable art!
1. Tell us a little bit about who you are and your life up to this point in time.
Hi everyone! I am Renaissance Marie Austin and I am just an all around artsy person. When it comes to the visual and performing arts I am totally consumed. I was born and reared in Los Angeles and was a peculiar child, quiet, and shy, very sentimental and passionate about dreams and life. The first thing that I discovered about myself was that I had a gift of singing. I started hand sewing when I was very young pulling curtains off the window and making skirts out of them. By the time I was 12 I made a complete outfit by hand. I got my first sewing machine when I was 15 and at a friend’s yard sale, but somehow my knitting and crocheting took over my sewing in 2000 and it was fiber arts all the way.
2. Besides your fantasy creative life, what else are doing currently?
Currently I am writing and producing music as well as getting ready to start a new job, so I will be working for the man putting in my servant time for a year or so.
3. What do you offer in your Etsy Shop?
I offer a lifestyle everyone is worthy of and longevity of style and comfort through my original knitwear and crochet fashions, accessories, and jewelry.
4. Where do you create?
I create everywhere! At home, in the car, at the studio. Wherever I go my needles, hooks, and yarn go with me.
5. Where do you get your inspiration from?
I get my inspiration from God, texture, color, what’s going on socially and environmentally in the world, mood, emotion, and inspirations from others.
6. How did you learn how to do your craft?
I learned crochet from my grandmother when I was eight years of age and just took it and ran with it. When she saw that I caught on well, she would have me sit with her and show me new things. We still share our love for crocheting even now. After avoiding knitting for some years, I finally taught myself how to knit about two years ago. I am so glad that I learned crochet first because I was able to pick up on knitting very easily. I recommend that to anyone who wants to learn both or just knitting, to learn the basics of crochet first.
7. How do you promote your wares?
I do a lot of promoting on Etsy of course, Myspace, email blast and mailing lists. I’ve had a local following for some time now and am so grateful to those who have grown with me. They are so happy to see that I am online now. I also do a lot of word of mouth wherever I go. Business cards, postcards, promotional items, anything that they can make use of and remember me by. I am a walking advertisement at all times. I used to have my whole living room set up as my physical boutique, but have now move everything to my back room, except for my hats and a few displays. This way when people enter my home they can still see what I do. They ask if I make the hats and I say yes and then tell them about etsy!
8. What has been the most important lesson you've learned since you started selling your own creations?
Wow, great question. I learned first that having a gift or many gifts and talents is so important because if you put those talents to use you never solely have to rely on anyone or any job. Being shy I’ve learned how to sell to people where before I was uncomfortable selling things to people. I’ve learned buying patterns of different ethnic groups. I took a Branding and Marketing course that really showed me why I wanted to create the business that I have. When I say Raghouse International is a lifestyle, it’s about living life with texture, comfort and a healthy glow. It’s in what you wear, what you eat, and the art that you love. This is the mood that I offer to people. I truly learned that you have to stand strong against the people who don’t believe that crafting can be highly profitable or even believe that what I do will go anywhere. I learned to be the example to those who are afraid to go after what is really inside of them because they believe that they will fail. I find myself telling others all the time that if you believe you will not fail. I never ever thought I would fail and by my example people are inspired.
9. Is there any advice you can give others who are just starting out?
Yes. I would say first to be confident and have determination. You always have to motivate yourself even when there is no one around to motivate. Without confidence, motivation, and determination you will have not will to move forward and you have to have that. That is the first thing. Be very patient with your craft whatever it may be. Never think that you have arrived with the best product because there is always, always room for growth in your skill, just as I am still growing. Be humble always and don’t let your skill blow your head, especially if you are really, really good at what you do. Truly find out where you belong. So many people suggested ebay to me and I was so unsure about signing up there. I am glad that I waited because when I found etsy, I knew that this was where I belonged. This was my niche. I knew it. I felt in my heart and in my spirit and since opening my shop, etsy has been very good to me. So know in your heart that you are making the right move, going to the right marketplaces, festivals, and being in the right place even online. Know you market and brand yourself. It’s one thing to make something and say this is nice and it’s another to make something that the consumers will love. Listen to your customers because often times they see things that we can’t see from a consumer’s perspective.
10. Do you have any favorite Etsy artists you'd like to promote here?
Oh yes. I am a huge lover of wood. I just don’t know what it is about wood. These are some great shops. Orno, Paradise Hill Designs, and Sketchbook. I also love all the Etsy Artists of Color.