Monday, December 29, 2008

Approaching Storm

I love mountain storms...We had about 6 inches of snow overnight and wind blown drifts today. There is such beauty when the snow is fresh and pristine. Pines with snow covered branches, snow piled up on the roof of the bird feeder and the fence rails, and the wind blowing hard enough to form white dunes in the pastures. This is a picture of the approaching storm, blowing in from the west over St. Mary's Peak in the Bitterrot Mountains of western Montana.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Montana Farmwife


The day begins with boots and jeans
The cow gets milked and weve got cream

Kids off to school with books in hand
I get on the tractor to work the land

To see the sunrise is beyond any words
The antelope running to gather their herd

There's a newborn baby flying right by me
With eagle abound, what a site to see!

We plant our crop with Lord at hand
Hoping for grain to bless our land

No time for play just time for living
I give my kids the gift of giving

Summer is gone winter is near
No where else I'd rather be... than here.

-Linda in Montana

Our thoughts are with our Etsy teammate Linda and her family as they pack up over 100 years of family memories. Their move off the family farm into the 'city' will be a big adjustment for everyone.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

From California, With Love

One of our goals as an Etsy Team with a blog is to showcase other Etsy stores. We put up the challenge for our team members to find one of their favorite stores on Etsy and interview them. Here is the first installment, with Alix of Treehouse28, a very successful custom clothing store for women out of California. Alix was interviewed by Allison of Allison Kallaway Designs.

Alix, What sort of training do you have in fashion design?
I don't. But I have to say my life experiences have helped. My Mother was a fashion model and I grew up having this innate sense for style. I used to take clothes and alter them by cutting them up and remaking them at a very young age. I drove my family uts, as everything anyone bought for me never remained in its original state. Later on, I worked on sets for fashion still shoots as a body art illustrator (fake tattoos, body paints, (etc). It was great exposure to the inside workings of the fashion industry. I have always been creative, and this all came very naturally to me. My designs are very simple, which may bespeak of my lack of training in fashion design, but I believe it actually helps me. I get to push the envelope with what I am able to do. It keeps the simplicity, but adds to the edginess and uniqueness.

When did you start making clothing? When I was old enough to operate a sewing machine. For anyone other than myself? About three years ago.

Where are you from? Connecticut.

What did you do before? I was a photographer, body art illustrator, scenic designer, and painter. I have always worked for myself.

Other than Etsy, where do you sell your clothing? I have a new website that sells ready to wear clothing. I have occasional trunk sales. I have a few scattered wholesale accounts. Primarily though, I stay very busy with Etsy and the custom clothes. That is my baby.

Do you have people helping you make your clothing? For the new website and wholesale orders, yes, I do. I essentially have two different companies under one name. I have a commercial space that is a facility for anything that is not Etsy-related. All my set pattern items are produced and managed there. For Etsy and the custom clothing, it is all me, myself and I at my home studio.

What is your most successful marketing technique? It is not something I have done personally; it is what others do for me! The blogs and articles, features, etc. are really great at driving up sales volume. I am really not a strong business person, but rather more the creative quirky type.

There are a lot of us who are new to Etsy and on-line selling, do you have any advice for those of us starting up? Believe in what you do, know your product. Use it, wear it, and test it out personally before introducing it to the public. Consistency is vital. Customers will keep coming back if they know that every time they buy a product that it is solid. Good customer service is essential. Stay on top of all questions whether by email or voicemail. Learn to lose a bit. If something goes wrong, make it right, no matter what, even if you are out the cost of the item. Great imagery is very important. You can have a fantastic product, but it won't sell unless you invest the time and energy into the way it is shown. For every pic you see in my shop, I have gone though and edited out 50 others to get to the one that works.

The next few questions about the art/inspiration side of your work:

What inspires you to make clothing? The designing of new pieces, and the day to day cutting and sewing is such a creative process. The custom cutting is a real finesse thing. I enjoy tailoring each design to fit the particular customer’s needs. My customers are what inspire me. I have made clothes for so many different types of people from all around the world. Not only are they different in body type, but also in lifestyles, age and ethnicity. I have mother / daughter customers. The fact that my clothing can resonate with different generations is so rewarding. I have had women who ride Harleys and like to pack my clothing in their side bags. There are roller derby teams, professors, artists, teenagers, moms, and grandmothers.

How often do you create new designs? What sort of process do you go through before you put out a new style. It is random, depending on my schedule and how loaded it is. I have two children that keep me busy in addition to running a full time business. I feel lucky that I don't have deadlines. I would sink.

Do you do any other art or craft?
Photography is a serious passion of mine. I absolutely love creating the imagery. I shoot all my pieces on self timer, with me behind the camera as well. It really is a one man operation. Complete control. Complete creative freedom.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Montana Booty Queen!

And, no, she's not the queen of the Pirate Treasure, Carolyn of lilbabythangs creates adorable booties and patterns for even the beginning sewer. And she's a true Montana Momma!

Camping on a mountain-top for 5 months with 6 boys, ages 2 to 19, and keeping your sanity would definitely rank as a ‘most memorable experience’ . . . and it certainly is one of Carolyn's. As she says, it is all worth it, as long as she is home in Montana.

Carolyn calls much of western Montana home and says, “I need green, the woods, the sound of the breeze through the trees, the streams babbling, the animal and bird sounds to soothe my soul, my nerves and allow me to hear myself think.”

Carolyn has lived around the United States, including Arizona, Nevada, Utah, and Pennsylvania - she finds her best inspiration in Montana. And she must be very inspired! Carolyn makes the sweetest baby booties and wonderful patterns. Carolyn has even had several patterns put in the Clotilde catalog! Congratulations to Carolyn on her amazing work.

Carolyn puts a great amount of effort and joy into crafting her patterns. She says, “I enjoy the pattern drafting and getting it perfected on the computer so it will print up nice, the most, [of her creative process].”

Lilbabythangs are created by Carolyn when she has peace and quiet, order and no interruptions! She says, “I have things in order, so I clean up and clean off - I just don’t put away well, till I have to. And I really hate interruptions.”

I think the lack of interruptions are paying off, even though Carolyn has recently moved - don't worry, she's still in Montana :-), lilbabythangs recently made a new high-flying bootie pattern called Soft Landings, complete with wings to glide in on!

Thank you, Carolyn, for sharing your creativity and yourself with BSMET and Etsy!