Monday, July 7, 2008

Spotlight On ...

Rhena of Lars and Addie!

1. Tell us a little bit about who you are and your life up to this point in time.

I grew up in Washington DC before moving to Madison, WI to go to college. After living there for six years, I moved around a bit. I've lived in London, a few towns in Thailand, and New York City. I've finally settled in Minneapolis with my husband almost two years ago. We just bought a new house a few minutes away from my sister and her family. It's nice to be near family and settled enough to own a sewing machine or two!

2. Besides your fantasy creative life, what else are you doing currently?

When I'm not sewing and knitting, I'm a writer.

3. What do you offer in your Etsy Shop?
My tagline is "Bags and such. But mostly bags." That pretty much says it all. My bags are fabric with some sort of appliqué on them. My knitted bags are felted and I'm getting into adding needle felting to them. When I say "and such" I mean things for the home like coasters and napkins. I'm going to be expanding this section in the months to come.

4. Where do you create?
I used to work on the dining room table in our tiny apartment. In our new home, my husband and I set up a space in one of the extra rooms for me to work in. Even though we're having work done on our house, my husband made sure that space for me to work was one of the first things we got finished. It's great to have an area separate from where I write so that one creativity doesn't distract me from the other.

5. Where do you get your inspiration from?
I get inspiration from other artists like those who create fabrics and yarns. I also spend a lot of time looking at other art, photographs, and the natural world around me. I also get a lot of inspiration from the learning process. I'll often pick up a new pattern or project not because I'm going to sell it, but because I can learn a new technique that I can incorporate into my designs.

6. How did you learn how to do your craft?
I've taken two sewing classes a number of years ago. Otherwise, I'm pretty much self-taught. The internet is such a great resource!

7. How do you promote your wares?
I just opened on Etsy, so I'm just getting starting with the promoting. I maintain a regular blog and try to visit other blogs and to comment there. I also keep photos -- both handmade items and other topics -- on flickr. I carry business cards with me at all times and send a few of them with each order. I definitely have to do some more, but in the meantime, fortunately, my friends, family, and customers are great champions of my work!

8. What has been the most important lesson you've learned since you started selling your own creations?
Promoting on and off Etsy is super important, but the bottom line is that if I'm not creating and if I'm not creating items that I love and am happy with, it's all for naught. I have to make sure that I always leave time to actually make things and not just promote. I have to create items, not only to keep my stock up but also to keep my sanity.

9. Is there any advice you can give others who are just starting out?
For an on-line store, photography is the single most important element of your shop (aside from having a great product). Your customer can't touch and hold your product, so you have to compensate for that by taking great pictures. Don't use a flash, use natural light, use all five photos spots, and edit your photos before you post.

10. Do you have any favorite Etsy artists you'd like to promote here?
Luna Feliz
is a fellow Minneapolitan who sells really cute Chinese take-out boxes. Sinister Bags are also here in Minneapolis. She makes great vinyl bags (a material I would never have the guts to work with!). My Handbound Books makes great journals, which as someone who can't work with paper at all and who is, ironically, a writer, I respect a great deal. Orange Moon Toys makes these great shadow puppet toys, which I will definitely buy if we have kids one day... or maybe even if we don't have kids! I have to give a shout out to Studio Wonjun. She's from Thailand, living in NYC and has one bag that's been on the front page about a zillion times -- but also has a bunch of other crocheted items that are really cute:


Jennifer said...

Those bags are beautiful! So fun :-)

Rhena said...

Thanks, Jennifer and thanks, eaoc for the feature!

Unknown said...

The bags are so great!

Rhena said...

Thanks, Sedie. I love your hats. I've been on a vintage button kick lately for a new line of bags I'm working on, so you might find me in your shop before too long here!


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