Sunday, October 13, 2013

Buy Handmade vol 77

This week we head off to New Mexico

Name: Lauren
Age: 24
Occupation: You're lookin' at it
Etsy Shop: kindplush

Tell us a little about yourself.

My name is Lauren and I design and sew plush toys. I live in an old adobe casita in beautiful New Mexico with my husband, our daughter, two dogs, a cat, and a flock of chickens. I collect vintage sewing machines and old funky clothes. I enjoy living far away from the city, up in the mountain.

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

Like most everyone who creates, I started at a young age. I was using my mother’s old beige Singer before I knew how it worked. I’d shove wads of fabric under the presser foot in hopes of a miracle, and in return I’d receive thread balls and broken needles. Eventually, my grandmother taught me the basics one afternoon, and I figured out the rest from there. She also taught me how to paint with acrylics. She never told me where she learned to paint, but reflecting on it, she must have watched a lot of Bob Ross. I had a failed jewelry shop on Etsy before I opened kindplush in January of 2013. 

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

My husband fronted for a heavy metal band when he was younger. They called themselves “Kind”, and he used the word as a moniker even after the band was no more. The only thing stopping me from launching my brand was the lack of a name. He told me I could use Kind, but I wanted something that was my own. This went on for some time, but I couldn’t think of anything I liked. He eventually said, “Don’t not use it just because I used it. It’s a great name.” I gave in, eager to get my business off the ground. I added “plush” to the end spontaneously while I was making some graphics, and kindplush was born. This new word I created truly made it my own.

Has your Etsy shop become your full time job? If not, would you like it to be?

Working for somebody else has never suited me. I’ve done it, but it’s hard to stay motivated. The path to true success lies in your ability to carve your own path. I may not have a regular paycheck, but I have the freedom to create. Working for a boss is a thankless venture; I am the captain of my own ship.

How would you describe your creative process?

My favorite projects are the ones that are born from nothing - no plan, no finished product in mind, no pre-selected fabrics. I just start sewing and see where it goes. Other times I’ll sketch, but I don’t feel that process is as natural. I’m really into the improv sewing now. I guess making patterns got boring for me.

Where do you get your inspiration from?

A lot of my designs are based on the fabric I have at the moment - the color and texture will tell you what it should be made into. I don’t usually gather inspiration from within the medium, but there’s an incredible movement in the plush world right now. There are so many talented plush makers out there, and I love to see what others are creating.

What is your most cherished handmade item?

I'd have to say the baby quilt I made while I was pregnant. I made it from old pillowcases because I couldn't afford to buy new fabric. It was the first quilt I had ever made, and it is totally beautiful. I cherish any handmade item that comes my way, even if I have no idea who created it. Just a simple crocheted doily at a chain craft store becomes endlessly precious - because it’s not about the doily, it’s the story behind the person who made it. Anything made by hand embodies the essence of the person making it - that’s what makes handmade things special.

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

I like to spend time outdoors, and I like to be around animals. I love camping, hiking, or just taking a long walk with the dogs. I like to dance, and I like to sing at karaoke bars - both of which I do shamelessly. I was a musician for many years, but that’s fallen to the wayside, as being a mother with a home business takes up about 200% of my time.

Was there ever any other job you dreamed of having growing up?

I took a lot of classes in high school and college for film editing and studio production - that’s what I really wanted to do. Every project I was assigned in school, I always asked if a video presentation would be acceptable. You’d be surprised how many times they said yes, considering I often used the opportunity to insert extremist messages and unrelated propaganda. It was my protest against the mindless journey of the public education system - but in regards to the question, I’d be great in advertising.

Five years from now you will be…

Living on a self-sufficient farm in a different country. I want a flock of sheep so I can create my own wool textiles. I’m really interested in cob house construction, and I would like to build my own someday. I’ll probably still be sewing, if not for others, then for my family and myself. I’d also like to devote my time to other creative projects I’ve been contemplating, like wood working, silversmithing, and creating a fictional persona. I'm really inspired by Andy Kaufman's Tony Clifton.

Describe yourself in five words:

Easy-going, resourceful, outspoken, ponderous, independent.

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?

Smashing Pumpkins, Enigma, Elton John, Operation Ivy, and these crazy binaural beat tracks that induce lucid dreaming.

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

Don’t create expectations. Your business will not be the best it can be the moment you create it, so don’t stress trying to achieve the impossible. All successful brands take time to grow. Let your brand develop naturally, and know it inside and out. I’m still working on this myself, but think about how much time I just saved you!