Name: Diane Serviss
Occupation: handmade knitwear designer
Etsy Shop: http://pixiebell.etsy.com
Tell us a little about yourself.
I was born and raised in Northfield, Vermont into an extended family of dairy farmers, professional chefs and stewards of the land. Handmade has always been close to my heart. I am a self-taught knitter and crocheter and the head designer for our brand, Pixiebell. I am a mother of three teenage daughters, and I am lucky enough to have been married to my best friend and business partner for 20 years ..and counting!
When did you start creating and how long have you been on Etsy?
From a very young age I knew I wanted to do something artistic with my life, but it always seemed like everyone else had a different plan for me. It seems that when you show aptitude for certain things, then those things are expected of you and other dreams get pushed down deep, instead of explored. It wasn’t until my 30’s that I really started allowing myself to try different crafts. I taught myself to loom knit in 2005, needle knit in 2007 and crochet in 2009. I opened up on Etsy in 2007, when I realized my home was starting to get overrun with knitted items.
How did you come up with your business name, is there any special meaning behind it?
I used to chat on a rather large chat network in the late 90's, my original name was stinkerbell. Something occurred to my account and I could no longer use it, so mIRC began signing me in as my backup name, pixiebell. When I eventually found Etsy a decade later, I was still visiting the same network and friends were asking me to make items for them, so, to make it easy to find me, I just used my chatname on Etsy too. It’s just a coincidence that I ended up designing a pixie style hat that ended up being our best seller.
Has your Etsy shop become your full time job?
Yes! Our Etsy shop is the sole income for our 5 person family. It employs both my husband and myself full time and our eldest daughter seasonally.
How would you describe your creative process?
Most of my patterns derive organically. I begin with a shape in mind and go for it! On rare occasion the design will work out right on the first try, but usually I have to remake the item several times before I am satisfied with the shape, size and fit.
Where do you get your inspiration from?
I am really inspired by movies, especially movies filmed during cold weather. Often I will pause a film just to talk about the knitwear or shapes of the hats the characters are wearing. I’ll mull the shapes over in my head, trying to redesign a more updated interpretation. You can quite literally see influences from Dr. Zhivago and Bridget Jones Diary 2 in my work.
What is your most cherished handmade item?
My grandmother had 9 children, she used to knit them sweaters and as they would outgrow the sweaters, she would frog the yarn and create afghans from the pieces. I have one of those wonderful afghans, handed down to me after she passed. It now belongs to my eldest daughter, but I will always remember the naps I took as a child, wrapped in a blanket that felt like a legacy, a warm hug from all of my aunts and uncles.
Apart from creating things, what do you like to do?
I enjoy spending time with my family, traveling with my husband and volunteering. My husband and I volunteer as Booster Club members for our local high schools JROTC program. As a veteran, my husband is a mentor to these great kids, we accompany them to parades, rifle shoots, athletic competitions and academic competitions.
If you weren’t an artist, what would you be and why?
This is a question that has stumped me my whole life. My formal education was geared toward medicine, and I suppose I could have continued down that path, but it was never truly what my heart wanted. As a kid, I either wanted to be an artist or an archaeologist ..I still think that might be fun. I am fascinated with how people used to live, the possessions they owned, the tools they used. Imagine whomever unearths my home from rubble someday ..what are they going to think about the dozens of frightening knitting needles in my stash! LOL
(Why YES! That is Ty Pennington wearing one of their hats that will be aired in an upcoming episode of Extreme Makeover: Home Edition)
Five years from now you will be…
I will be traveling the country in an RV with my husband. Since I can knit anywhere ..I might as well go see everything.
Describe yourself in five words:
Conscientious, curious, determined, competitive, observant
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?
Kings of Leon – Use Somebody
Julie Doiron – Will You Still Love Me In December
Ours – Sometimes
Schiller (featuring Kim Sanders) – Distance
Tom Waits - Alice
Lastly, do you have any advice for anyone thinking about opening their own shop or participating in craft shows?
Read everything you can about marketing and search engine optimization and how to better present your items to your potential buyers. Invest in attractive displays and professional photography or at least a good camera and learn about editing programs for your photos. Put your best foot forward!