Sunday, August 26, 2012

Buy Handmade vol 19

This week I travel North to Victoria, British Columbia, Canada

Name: Kate McCurrach
Age: 28 (as of Aug 25th!)
Occupation: crafter/blogger/science enthusiast and weekday morning barista

Tell us a little about yourself.

I am a crafty gal born and raised in beautiful British Columbia (Canada) and currently residing in our province’s capital! I love creating, designing, illustrating, painting, and packaging all sorts of cute and colourful (mostly science themed) goods and peddle my wares online, in shops, and at craft markets.

When did you start creating and how long have you been on Etsy?

I've always loved making things with my hands and after graduating with a degree in cellular, molecular, microbial biology, I ran into a few health problems. My plans to change the world of science were put on the back burner and with three months of modified bed rest I started crafting. Internet selling was the next step. After all, I am overly enthused about everything science and figured the best way to spread my excitement was by selling cute science crafts! My creating has since spread into all sorts of geekery and I continue to explore new media and techniques (although I do have a soft spot for illustration, felt embroidery, and crochet). I am a strong believer that science + cute (generally in the form of anthropomorphized wide set eye smiles) = awesome!  It has been almost four years since I started creating handmade goods for resale and am as passionate about crafting and science as ever!

How did you come up with your business name, is there any special meaning behind it?

When I decided to start selling on Etsy in 2008 I knew I wanted to find a name that helped identify myself as a science geekery shop.  I also really wanted something to be quirky and catchy and although I came up with a ton of fun names when I went to open my store online, I found that many of the names I was aiming for were already taken! I ended up choosing “scientific culture” since “scientific” mentioned my underlying theme and the “culture” half could reference both manifestations of civilization or cell growths (like a bacterial culture)! Hooray!

How would you describe your creative process?

I have always been an enthused and excitable person and find that my creative process is sort of like a huge burst of crafty passion! I will have a light bulb moment of inspiration and immediately get my thoughts onto paper in list (and often doodle) form.   After eagerly spilling the details of my potential project to my loving (and ever supportive) partner Fraser, I will rush out to pick up supplies (if they aren’t already available in my craft room) and get creating!  Of course, just like with most outburst of creativity, some projects are more successful than others but regardless of the results it is almost always enormously fun and if nothing else, highly entertaining. 

Where do you get your inspiration from?

My inspiration varies depending on what type of craft project I’m working on.  The majority of my illustrated designs come from conversations I have with friends where I constantly anthropomorphize objects and decide how much cuter the world would be with little smiling objects (ex. happy glassware).  Fraser always seems to fuel my creativity by filling my imagination with a positive happy spin on life (or as we call it “sunshine and kittens”). 
 Most of the inspiration for non-drawn craft projects stem from the internet.  I am admittedly very addicted to blog reading, pinterest, and sites like craftzine and love seeing what other people come up with! I do seem to go through phases where I’m obsessed with a certain crafty trend (i.e. dollies, pom poms, chevron stripes, and geometric shapes) and try to come up with ways to incorporate them into something I can sell at a market. Throw in some muted jewel tones or a ton of wool felt and you’ve got one potentially amazing craft project waiting to happen.

Do you also sell your work at craft shows? What shows have you taken part of, and do you have a favorite? 

I have been doing craft shows and markets for three years now and totally love coming up with display ideas and being able to meet customers in person. I actually took the plunge into markets based on an email my bestie Lindsay gave me advertising a small (conveniently free) market in Kelowna.  Since then I’ve participated in the biannual “Fabulous Finds” markets in Kelowna, the Artisan’s Square Market in Kamloops, and am currently participating in the Bastion Square Sunday Market since I’ve moved to Victoria.   

·         How long does it take you to prepare for a show? Do you have any special methods of getting ready?

Much like most elements of my life, my organization is entirely list based. I brainstorm what I’d like to have prepared (or in my case – over prepared) for a show and write a prioritized list of what I need to do in order to make that happen. When I started doing markets a few years ago I would craft up a storm and have many sleepless nights as I excitedly and frantically tried to prepare enough stock.  Now that I’m a bit more experienced I find I have enough product in my craft room to fill the majority of my booth and can just casually craft up a few new items for a month or two before I am ready to set up.

·         Describe an experience from a show (good or bad) and why that pushes you to continue with your work       
The first big craft show I did was Fabulous Finds.  I had been preparing for months and once the weekend finally rolled around Fraser and I loaded up the car and headed to Kelowna (a good 2 hour drive from our home base in Kamloops) to participate. Once arriving to set up the atmosphere was buzzing with positive crafty energy and full of amazingly talented and interesting artisans! I loved being able to network and discuss craft selling with my peers and once the doors opened and cusomters started piling in it just got better! I had an overwhelming response to my booth and couldn’t help but gleam from the first four hours of super ego boosting compliments! It was such a nice change from the summer bazaars I had been doing in Kamloops where 1) it was painfully slow and 2) most of the potential customers would just tell me my items were overpriced.   I even met some lovely shop owners who wanted to sell my goods on consignment and by the end of the weekend I was ready to quit my day job and take on crafting full time! Of course, once the excitement settled, I realized with all the chronic health problems I suffer from I am not ready to leave my cushy health benefits package…but it did make for one heck of a weekend.

What is your most cherished handmade item?

After my sister bought me a “learn to crochet” kit in high school fell in love with hooking with cotton yarn.  I used to make up my own patterns and projects I shared on Crochetville (well before diving into blogging) and this past winter I had a week of renewed crochet love when I made myself a granny square lampshade.  It took an awful lot of trial and error and after battling the picky “how the heck do I attach this thing to this makeshift lampshade” dilemma – it was finished. My labor of love granny chic lamp was complete and it still warms my heart with kitteny softness each time I glance at it.

Apart from creating things, what do you like to do?

Much like many of the crafters out there, I have a soft spot for blogging. I really like being able to share my crafty adventures online and although I mostly ramble off about a million different projects I never find time for, it is certainly an enjoyable past time.  When I’m not crafting, or writing about crafting, you can find me shopping at locally owned quirky shops, accessorizing budget fashion outfits, socializing over a pot of tea, bird watching, nature loving, bargain hunting, concert going, or Murder She Wrote watching! Okay, so the Murder She Wrote thing is totally just a phase I’m sure I will get over once I’ve made my way through the 265 episodes on Netflix, but you get the idea…

If you weren’t an artist, what would you be and why?

When I was a kid I was determined that science based jobs were where it’s at!  Even though I kept up with my artistic endeavors, I love the challenge of academia and as I mentioned earlier finished a Bachelors degree in Science.  I worked a few lab jobs during my education (at a water microbiology lab and a genetics lab) and if I hadn’t suffered from some serious health problems would probably still be working as a scientist.  Becoming ill was actually the turning point in my life since the three months of modified bed rest gave me ample time to craft up a storm and lead to the opening of my Etsy shop! Sure I still love science, but being happy and healthy is my main priority in life and lab jobs just don’t fit the bill anymore. 

Five years from now you will be…

In five years I hope to be fulfilling my dreams of being a highly educated crafty housewife.  I’ve already got a BSc and a ring so I figure it is a very plausible goal to aim for.

Describe yourself in five words:

creative, interesting, happy, thrifty, and enthusiastically passionate

Carrying on with the five theme, if I were to turn on your <insert whatever type of music player you use here>, what five artists/songs would I see on your recently played list?

Much like most areas of my life, I go through phases but right now my most played artists include: Mother Mother, Metric, Dan Mangan, Rufus Wainwright, and The Beatles

Lastly, do you have any advice for anyone thinking about opening their own shop or participating in craft shows?

Enjoy what you do. If you are passionate about making something it shows and being able to share (or even perhaps sell) something you’ve put some loving energy into is an amazing feeling! Focus on the details and treat each purchase like it’s your first.  Think about what you look for in an etsy shop or craft booth and try your best to exceed expectations! If success isn’t thrown at your right away, don’t fret – keep plugging away with your work and don’t get discouraged.  Try to get feedback from customers and peers and roll with what works! If a certain item is a really hot seller than consider experimenting more in that direction. Keep positive!

Yesterday was Kate's birthday, so go on over to her blog and wish her a Happy 28th!! Love ya, Kate!!

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