15 October 2010

Artist Interview :: SewnInspirations

001. Tell me about yourself: What’s your name? Where do you live? Do you have a family or any pets? What is unique or special about you? Hello! I’m Cheryl and I live in beautiful northern Virginia with my husband, two elementary school-aged boys and two hermit crabs. I love the outdoors, so you will find me playing sports with my boys or weeding and reseeding my vegetable garden. I also spend numerous hours volunteering in my boys’ school and in our community.

002. Tell me what you create: What type of art do you do? How did you get into this type? How long have you been crafting? Where do you get your inspiration? What makes your art stand out from others? Is this your full-time job or just a hobby? I design and sew decorative pillows in small collections to ensure a quality one-of-a-kind pillow. I also have a children, tween and teen line. I discovered a passion for pillows after searching store after store for pillows for my sofa. The pillows were uninteresting, weren't the right color and of poor quality. So, I decided to make my own. I received so many compliments that I began a business creating one-of-a-kind decorative pillows. The fabric I purchase inspires me. I love working with many types of fabric from decorative to soft fleece and flannel. My process starts when I place all of my fabric on my cutting table and start matching up the complimenting fabrics and begin dreaming up its design. I like to have some traditional sizes and styles and end up with a few “wow” pillows per collection. I make my pillows stand out by choosing to add a complimenting decorative fabric on both sides, in many cases. I want my customers to get a “two for one” type of pillow. When they tire of their “look”, they can simply turn a few of the pillows over to give the room a new look. My family comes first so I work my business part-time with full-time intentions for the future as my children grow.

003. Tell me about your handmade art business: What is your shop’s name? How did your business start? My shop’s name is Sewn Inspirations. I started this business after receiving many compliments on the pillows I designed for my own home. (see story above)

004. Tell me about your customers: Who is your target audience? What type of people do you consider when creating your art? My target audience ranges from young children to retirees since I provide many products from Tooth Fairy Pillows to Decorative Pillows. I also make sure that I have a wide range of fabric selections; modern, casual, formal, animal print, etc.

005. Tell me where I can find your art: What sites do you sell your product from? Do you write a blog or run a website? Can your product be found in any brick and mortar stores, markets, or bazaars? You can find me on my own website, on Etsy, and on my new home décor blog. I also sell at Reston market on Saturday mornings and various craft and art shows throughout the year. I have had my products in numerous boutique home décor stores and in a chain of family owned toy stores (unfortunately, because of the economy, they have closed) over the years.

006. Tell me about your support: Are you a member of a team or guild? Do your friends or family help you? Or do you work alone? I don’t officially belong to any teams, but have groups of support online and in person with whom we bounce ideas off each other. My wonderful friends offer their opinions on my new product ideas, price points, etc. My adorable boys help with various small jobs and are “learning the ropes” on how to run a business. My supportive husband is an angel for putting up with fabric and pillows tumbling out of my studio when I become “overstuffed” with pillows.

007. Tell me about your favorites: What blogs or websites do you enjoy following? List some of your favorite artists and their shops. Which piece from your shop is your favorite and why? I occasionally read blogs that I have bookmarked when I can find a moment. Websites I visit are home décor based that may show the newest trends or colors. I also read Southern Living. All of my pillows own a piece of my heart but if I am to choose one, I would choose my original design, the Sleep-n-Stash Pillow, with the complete internal “secret” pocket, because of the story behind it. This was originally made for a soldier’s return to Iraq to keep his letters and photos inside. Now it is popular for children to teens to stash their special items inside - trading cards, music players, retainers ( that is what a Mom found in her son’s pillow recently), etc. Going back to the original roots as to why this pillow was created, I now have a link on my website where a portion of the proceeds will go to the USO for every pillow purchased.

008. Tell me anything else: What else would you like people to know? Any advice you’d like to offer other sellers? I want to make a difference in the way you view your home. I believe that by adding a few pillows to your sofa, bed & chairs, you can create a whole new look without the high cost of buying new furniture. I design, sew and deliver the pillows right to your doorstep, all without the hassle of searching numerous stores for the "perfect" accessory. All you need to do is decide which style and size best suits you and the quantity needed to make your room look distinctive.
Bits of advice that I have learned along the way (I am still learning every day):
~I would suggest that anyone thinking about starting a business, choose a venue that makes you truly happy. I design and sew pillows because it makes me happy, when I step into my studio, my stress just melts away.
~Stay strong. It is very difficult to operate a business where you are in complete control from making the product, marketing it, etc. You will hear negative comments, make sure you find a strong support system to get you through.
~Photos. As you hear over and over again, clear, sharp photos are important. I am in the process of retaking all of my photos because I discovered a new way to make them crisper.
~Keep adding to your shop. I have a running list that has new ideas. Keep a notebook handy to jot down these ideas.

Well, that concludes this great interview with Cheryl of SewnInspirations. If you like what you see, please leave a love note (aka a comment)! Interested in getting featured like this artist? Click here.

[♥] Margaret

1 comment:

  1. Thanks again for featuring my shop! Your blog is awesome. It's so much fun learning about other artists, that's so nice of you..