this week we chat with elaine from ellie's treasures who makes gorgeous items using recycled fabrics and wool ...
Please introduce yourself …
I'm Elaine and I sell handmade treasures for my shop, Ellie's Treasures. I live in a rural village in Lincolnshire and truly love the peace and beauty that is around me. Life is busy, but I'm not one to stay still for long - I love a challenge!
How would you describe your work / style?Most of my craft items are hand-sewn using recycled fabrics, buttons and decorations where possible. I also sell little woollen ponies for which I use donated wool.
Who, or what, inspires you?
I am constantly looking at crafts in magazines, blogs and from other sellers to get inspiration and to just completely admire each person's individual style.
Do you sell your work? If so, what helped you decide to start selling your work?
I sell my crafts through my online shop with Folksy, it's called Ellie's Treasures. I planned to start my own website for Ellie's Treasures perhaps a year and a half ago, but it was taking far too long to get going with far too many other commitments getting in the way. Just before Christmas 2009, I decided to look into opening a shop through an established shopping site and came across Folksy through Zoe's blog. Zoe owns Top Floor Treasures.
Where can I buy your work?
You can purchase my crafts from Ellie's Treasures on Folksy, the direct website is elliestreasures. I'm more than happy to do custom makes too, just contact me through the shop.
Do you have a website or blog address?
As yet I don't have my own website but I do enjoy blogging and currently have three active blogs! One is about daily life, another for my garden, chickens and veggie plot and my third for my crafts and shop. The main web address is: elliestreasurescrafts
How did you learn your craft? How long have you been creating?
I think I've picked up the sewing bug from my Mum. She's always enjoyed mending and altering her clothes and has always hand-sewn too. Sewing for me goes back to senior school years when I starting sewing classes at year 7. Sadly, my fear of sewing machines also came from these lessons, but I remember having to make a skirt at school and longing to make a pair of shorts at home using a second-hand electric Singer sewing machine. It was a total disaster as the material Mum gave me to use as practise was a pair of old curtains that turned out to be rotten! The sewing machine kept smoking and sparking and my love of sewing went out of the window for several years.Having said that, "make do and mend" has always come naturally to me. Making things for pleasure and later to sell is a relatively new thing. The idea of the Patchy Pockets keepsake wallet came to me one night and I made a couple to see how they came together. A few months later a friend suggested running a stall at the local Christmas craft fair and that pushed me into making more Patchies and other pretty seasonal things.
Is there any other craft skill you would like to learn?
I'd love to do weaving. Again, I remember having a quick go at this at school and really enjoying it. Also, I'd like to try encaustic art as a blog friend is very skilled in this and produces the most amazing pieces.
Anything exciting planned for 2010 you’d like to share?
On the craft front, I'd like to do some craft fairs this year, perhaps around Christmas time to give me a few months to build up some stock.
I couldn’t do this if it wasn’t for …
My husband. It was his idea that we look into starting Ellie's Treasures online and spent the next year and a half really pushing that I do something with all the crafts I was making and storing away! Also my friend who initially suggested the craft fair - that sparked off the interest in selling I guess.
Describe your perfect day.
Having a morning lie-in would be a real luxury followed by a relaxing day of pottering about the house and garden finishing off with a meal at my favourite Indian restaurant in the evening.
Describe your proudest moment.
Oh, that's difficult. Proudest craft moment - my first sale I think!
What do you do to relax?
Potter about, enjoying the animals and tending to the veggie plot.
Marmite … love it or hate it?
Absolutely hate it!
What animal would you be, and why?
A cat. I have three and could quite easily have plenty more. If I was going to be a cat though, it would have to be in a happy home so I could sleep for as long as my cats sleep for, just waking for attention and food!
What’s your weakness?
Chocolate. I hide it away from others so only I can get to it when I desperately need it (which is often).
How do you keep motivated?
Good question. Friendly messages left on my blog or through my shop really boost my confidence as does seeing that people are adding my crafts to their favourite list. The mega motivator of course is when I get a sale, this really makes me want to keep going! I put everything I have into each item I make and I'm very critical of everything I do, but the idea that perhaps someone else will enjoy that item too is the top thing that keeps me happy in what I'm doing.
What do you wish you’d known when you first started out?
That there's such a lot of work that's needed to run a tiny business like mine, it's not just making and selling! I spend more time marketing than making I think.
What advice would you give to someone just starting out?
Persevere. When you think how many wonderful hand-made crafters there are out there selling in cyberland, just to get one sale is truly marvellous, to get more is fantastic. Don't give up, believe in yourself, learn from others and tell everyone about your goods as much as possible.