1. Tell us a bit about yourself.
I'm 41 years old, I've been married to my husband for 11 years and have two primary school aged boys. I was born in the City of Nottingham, UK; and now live on the outskirts of the city in an ex-mining town called Eastwood which was the birthplace of the writer D. H. Lawrence. I now work part time as a Dinner Lady/First Aider at the school which my children go to.........which fits in nicely around school holidays, prior to that I was a care assistant on a spinal injuries unit.
2. What made you open your shop and why Etsy?
I started making bears, initially for myself and close family, but after many requests by friends and family I decided to do it in a more business-like manner. We initially dabbled with Ebay, testing the market with the bears to see if they were saleable and to seek feedback from buyers. The response was very good but as we all know Ebay is primarily an auction site and serious crafters aren't going to get the required level of remuneration to make it financially viable........especially when you are using expensive, top of the range components for your products. Hence we sought out a better environment to sell our wears.
3. Do you sell your bears anywhere else?
Yes, we have our own fledgling website at www.Lisabears.co.uk which is a work in progress! We've also tried craft fairs and placing our bears in local shops on a sale-or-return basis with some success.
4. What are your favourite things to do?
Beyond day-to-day life the children come first, leisure wise we love walking, gardening and cooking. Or if we're feeling more lazy it's a good film or listening to some music.
5. What inspires you?
Our primary inspiration in life is to provide a safe and happy life for the boys, I'm using my handiwork as a method to supplement our family income as the craft work fits in well around family life. What keeps me going making bears? I love the feedback that we get from some of our customers, we've made a few friends along the way.......quite a few in the USA; and more recently we've been asked to make a bear in aid of ovarian cancer research by Ovcare which will be auctioned in Australia this November. I like that a tiny bear can either bring happiness to someone else's life or help a bigger cause.
6. Which bear is your favourite to make?
I don't have a favourite, we've constantly looked for new sources of materials and are always developing new patterns. We're not mass producers of bears and don't want the bears to end up looking uniform.......although even when we do use the same pattern, because the bears are totally hand stitched they never come out the same even with the same material!
7. I love mohair bears. Why did you choose mohair fur for making your bears?
Purely because it's a quality natural product.......and feels lovely. If you are buying a treat for yourself or a loved one you want to know that the materials that it is made out of are distinctive and luxurious. Manmade, synthetic fibres? Mmmmm, not sustainable, and maybe I'm a snob but mohair/alpaca vs nylon ect - need I say any more??
8. If you could learn one new craft what would it be?
I'd love to learn a craft all the family could get involved in like old fashioned dry stone walling or hedge laying.
9. Which handmade possession given to you do you most cherish?
I'm sure my husband would agree it's a handmade leather tortoise that his Gran bought before she died, it's been passed on to us and sits on the fireplace in pride of place. It's just one of those very sentimental possessions which brings back memories of a very special person!
10. Name 3 other Etsy shops you love to visit.
To be perfectly honest there is a massive range of stuff out there on Etsy and so many talented people. If I had to pick a style of product that I like to buy it would be celtic designs, three examples of shop that produce products that I like are: Ajax Hawes, Glass Graphics Studio and Nelly Van See.
Thank you to Lisabears for being my featured favourite Etsy shop this week. I just love handmade mohair bears. A friend of mine and her Mum make them and I use to go to the bear making shows with them in Australia. That is when the love first began. The thing I love about Lisabears bears are their little faces. They are always so smiley which makes me smile. Nothing worse than a grumpy bear. Each bear is a one of a kind with a name and a personality. Go on over to this shop and see which bear steals your heart.