I have always been working on one cottage industry or another. I love making things that people can use, and I love keeping shop. Hazel Village, the most recent project, sets a new record for slow and steady growth; always before I spent a bunch of money buying supplies and otherwise getting established, and then no one bought anything and/or I got bored.
2. What made you open your shop and why Etsy?
Last April I made the first of the woodland creatures. It was a tiny brown mouse. Something about it was very satisfying, so I made more and soon there was a small community of them sitting on my bureau. In May I took a booth at a local market, and I sold six of them! I was so excited. By then I had also listed them on Etsy, where I sort of expected them to sit and languish. But also in late May, I got my first order! Also very exciting. I got a couple of orders in June and July, then more and more every month. I recently sold my 150th animal on Etsy! I love that Etsy has allowed customers to find me, because marketing is definitely not my strong point (see former statement about no one buying anything from prior cottage industries. Also be the animals' facebook fan.) Also, I love the way customer service merges with basic good manners to make people extremely nice to each other.
3. Do you sell your toys anywhere else?
I sell them at markets, lately at the Brooklyn Flea which has an excellent collection of flea market vintage things, crafts, and amazing food vendors. Also I'm in a few stores: Urban Alchemist and Acorn in Brooklyn, Petunia Babies in Queens, Branch and Birdie in Portland, Oregon, and Romp and Endeavour Toys online.
4. How did you choose your shop name?
I wanted something that sounded both wild and settled, that suggested a magical fairy tale unknown but was not too scary. Also I didn't want it to be too long. The names of some former cottage industries have been Jane Van Cleef Clothing Company and Climate Change Preparedness Center. Those are bad for URLs, bad for logos, etc.
5. What are your favourite things to do?
Making things, especially sewing, especially hand sewing. Watching TV while making things. Eating food while watching TV while making things. Archery and darts, neither of which I'm terribly good at. Walking around the city at a very brisk pace. Also, most mornings I walk to get a delicious latte from the cafe, and then go a few more blocks to the post office. I enjoy both of those errands a surprising amount.
6. What inspires you?
Seeing kids interact with the animals.
7. Which of your critters is the most popular?
Definitely the foxes. People like that they're soft, and also that they're a little bit unusual as stuffed animals go. I'm working on raccoons now, which I think might be appealing in a similar way. If I do say so their striped tails are mighty cute.
8. If you could learn one new craft what would it be?
What a great question! If I had any sense the answer would be web design. As it is, maybe weaving? Or machine knitting? Machine knitting I think.
9. What handmade possession given to you do you cherish?
When I was in college my baby sister wrote me a letter. She was 4 or 5. It says, "Dear Jane, How are you doing? I miss you. I hope you have a good time in school. Love, Grace." Which is nice. But the special thing about it is, every letter is illuminated with a picture of a thing that starts with that letter. So all the O's have little legs and tails so they look like otters if you suspend your disbelief. And all the U's have umbrellas sprouting from them. One of the P's has a tiny playground, with a slide and swings and tiny kids attached to it. And one of the T's has tiny ticks standing on the horizontal part. It's a little hard to read but it's amazing.
10. Name 3 other Etsy shops you love to visit.
This is actually a list of 4.
There are only a few variations on one idea, but what an idea!
Ninon: Amazing stuffed creatures. They're expensive because each one is one-of-a-kind.
The Small Object: Something about it is so satisfying.
And my new obsession, Nutfield Weaver: Who makes really beautiful tea towels, that seem like they should be much more expensive but I guess once you get the loom going it all works out.
Thank you to Hazel Village for being my featured Etsy shop this week. How can you resisted these cute little guys? I love each and every one of them. I can picture a little boy or girl with a little Hazel Village critter tucked under their arm, taking it everywhere they go. When you go and check out this shop make sure you read their descriptions, they will make you smile.