Sunday, March 23, 2014

Buy Handmade vol 100

This week we find ourselves in Austin TX..

Name: Taylor Hart
Age: 33
Occupation: Crochet Guru

Tell us a little about yourself. 
Jeez... it's always tough to talk about yourself. Welp... I'm originally from Columbus, Ohio.  My husband Matt and I moved to Austin, Texas a little over 5 years ago and never looked back. We live in a little "hip community" on the eastside of town that is up and coming. It's really quite unique. We have a little two bedroom home with a HUGE backyard with a nice little garden and some chickens. Oh, we also have two puppies Lucy and Sophie. I taught myself how to crochet from a clever little book I bought... at the time I worked for the City as an Ambassador taking calls and had a lot of spare time on my hands so I thought it would be "neato". I picked it up really fast and started making little "plushie" toys for people around the office. Everyone really seemed to enjoy them so I started charging for them. (A girls gotta make a little cash on the side am I right?) What started as a "little hobby" turned into a small side business.... which turned into full time gig. One day the Mister and I thought it would be hilarious if I made a crochet taxidermy head for our house.... just for laughs. It turned out weirdly cute and everyone that came into our home loved it. So I took the idea and "ran with it". Now I sell in several well known boutiques around Austin and in Houston area. The business has really taken off and here I am.... enjoying every single minute of it!

When did you start creating and how long have you been on Etsy?
I've been crocheting I wanna say since 2004 and had a online store through Big Cartel but never successfully sold anything. I've been on Etsy since 2011 and it's been quite the "learning experience".... which sounds bad but it's really not. Things just take time.... I learned to have a lot of patience. Starting your own business is all about making mistakes and learning from them. Etsy is a great way to sell your handmade goods.... you just have to take time to sit down and learn the right way to utilize it. It's really a great tool to have. Social Media is a BIG part of how I get myself "out there". I swear.... half the time I'm taking photo's and posting them on either Facebook, Intagram or Google +. The other half is actually producing the work. 

How did you come up with your business name, is there any special meaning behind it?
It's a sad sad story from my childhood. Ha ha! It's not really that sad....  just one of the few horriffic things that has happened to me as a young awkward pre-pubescent girl growing up in Columbus, Ohio. I'm pretty sure I was in middle school and there may or may not have been a popular rap song that was released right about this time with the lyrics containing the phrase "You ain't nothing but a Pigeon" in it somewhere..... Welp, some young man (I don't use his real name because then that would give him too much credit) came up to me on my daily walk home from school and told me "I was nothing but a Pigeon". Gasp! Now this may not seem to be a "big deal" to other people but to my young developing mind it was tramatic! I was "plain Jane". I wasn't special... beautiful or talented in any sort of way back then... well not to my knowledge I wasn't. 
To my parents I was.... but that didn't matter. I wasn't an "exotic bird" of any kind.... just a dumb old Pigeon. So you see how that may have effected my character development as a young teenage girl in the early 90's. I thought it was pretty clever and quite frankly... it sound good. 

Has your Etsy shop become your full time job? If not, would you like it to be?
To be honest... I think I would be scared if it did become a "full time job". I usually make the majority of my sales through the boutiques that I sell at and trade shows. I love doing trade shows.... it gets the ol' heart pumping ya know? I love to meet new people and chat with them. I like to see who I'm selling to and get to know them on a personal level. Quite often they are into a lot of the same stuff as me. Trade shows are also a good way to "open more doors". I would love to sell more on Etsy than I am now but I also have other goals that I'm striving for in the future. Maybe even in the near future. Curious? I'm actually working on a pattern book right now. It's a time sucker... but I've always wanted to publish my work. It's gonna take a lot of time.... don't hold your breath.

How would you describe your creative process?
I love being around other interesting and creative people... my husband, friends and people I surround myself with are all very talented in their own ways. They help me when I need to bounce some ideas off them... and I do the same for them. They are also really great about telling me the truth... like when my idea is a total piece of crap. They usually do it in a nice, sublte way. I also love music, movies and the outdoors. A lot of my creative process is about pushing myself to do new things as well as doing things I don't necessarily want to do. I've become very "comfortable" with being "uncomfortable". Let's face it... if I never pushed myself to do anything new or different there would be no "Nothing but a Pigeon". Everyday I try to do at least one thing out of my comfort zone whether it's business related or not. It helps develop character.

Where do you get your inspiration from?
Jeez, this is another tough one. I hate to sound like a cheese dick but my Husband Matt is a big influence on me. He is my best friend and partner in crime. Um... I love fashion. That's a big one as well. Sleep helps a lot to. You know, the older I get the more sleep plays a huge factor in my creative process. I often dream I'm crocheting... I'm not joking. I enjoy my "down time". I love to garden and play with my dogs. 

Do you also sell your work at craft shows?
Yes! As I mentioned above a BIG part of my sales come from trade shows. I'm preparing for The 2014 Renegade Craft Fair SXSW Edition taking place March 13-15th. Eeeeep!

• What shows have you taken part of, and do you have a favorite? 

I've participated in The Blue Genie Art Bazaar in 2012 and 2013 as well as The Cherrywood Art Fair in 2013. This March I'm showing at The 2014 Renegade Craft Fair 
SXSW Edition. This is a first and I'm pretty nervous. I always get nervous before shows... it's "my thing". Austin Flea is another one I participate in quite often. I was also really into First Thursday on S. Congress. 

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

Crocheting is pretty time consuming so it takes me months to prepare in advace for a show. I'm talking like 4-3 months in advance. How do I mentally prepare myself? It's quite unique really.... 
1. Eat right
2. Sleep a lot
3. Watch Netflix a bunch
4. Buy tons of Yarn (that's always important)
5. Have your Husband give you hand massages ever night
6. When the show gets nearer try not to freak out.

• Describe an experience from a show (good or bad) and why that pushes you to continue with your work 
Oh man. So many thoughts are swirling through my head right now. I've been to some pretty disorganized shows before.... it was a mess really. Always plan on something going wrong. You just have to know that there are going to be "bumps" along the way and you have to "roll with it". Nothing is perfect and really.... why get upset about them. All you can do is take it with "a grain of salt". I've had "shipping debacles" and "crazy customers". Really crazy!!! I lost a little sleep over it and had some heartburn but I learned from each experience. I've also had wonderful shows as well! People just tend to remember the bad ones.... The point is "it's all a learning experience". You just have to "push through it" and hopefully you will make it out unscathed.

What is your most cherished handmade item?
I ended up keeping one of my first faux taxidermy heads from back in the day. The other ones I sacraficed to the Crochet Gods and harvested the yarn and polyfil for future projects... but I kept just one. It's pretty sad and pathetic but Hey, I didn't know what I was doing. I like to keep it as a remeinder of my "humble beginnings"... and it's fun to laugh at.

Apart from creating things, what do you like to do?
What don't I like to do? That may be a shorter list. I love to plant things and watch them grow. I love my chickens and my puppies. My favorite thing to do is sit outside with my Husband and watch them play. I love BBQ's with my people. I love tubing down the Guadalupe River in the Summer sipping on a nice cold brew. Music and dancing in the kitchen while I cook. I have a few dear friends that I enjoy laughing with. We understand eachother "sick sense of humour". I love to play dress up... that never gets old. I love singing in the car while I'm driving and don't care who sees it. I love cuddle time on the couch with my Husband and dogs while we watch Netflix. There's more where that came from.

Was there ever any other job you dreamed of having growing up?
When I was a wee girl I wanted to be a singer or actress. When I became older it changed to Marine Biologist.... now I don't really know. All I know is I want to be happy. I try to live everyday to the fullest and not sweat the small things. The older I get the more I realize that I may never know what I want to be and I'm okay with that.... I just want to be a good human being. In the end.... I would like to live in an airstream trailor with my Husband traveling. Living simply and off the grid as much as possible. 

Five years from now you will be…
I see myself living where we are living right now. Five years actually can go by super fast! I see us with the pups hanging out having a good time. Of course I want my business to expand... but I'm not sure in what direction at this point. It's still pretty new. I do want to have a few books published by then. 

Describe yourself in five words:
Oh no! Do I have to?

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?

Ha ha! This is going to really amuse some people... other people might find it quite sad.
Hall and Oats "Out of Touch"
Nu Shooz "I Can't Wait"
Wham "Everything She Wants"
Empire Of The Sun "Walking on a Dream"
Crystal Castles "Vanished"

I surprised you on those last two didn't I?

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

Yes! If you love it do it. Learn as much as you can from other people or through your own experiences. You gotta just dive in. It's scary and you may be broke for a long time. You'll get used to it. Push yourself to try new things. Do this in a daily basis. You'll never find out what wonderful things that may come your way if you never try. It's a learning process and you will run into obsticles. Don't beat yourself up too much. Dream BIG and be positive. Get good sleep. If at first you don't succeed... you know where this is going right? Try again. You are going to make mistakes... you're human and it happens. Try not to let the little things get you down. Be excited... this is an exciting time in your life!!