Saturday, November 21, 2015

T.E.S.T. Interview: OohLaLaBeadtique

We hope to introduce you to all the great etsy sellers to be found right here in Toronto. Here at the T.E.S.T. blog, we plan to interview them all. This is the 89th in our series and is with Kvetka from OohLaLaBeadtique.

How did you get started with jewellery making -- what is the first thing you remember making? 

I was attending OCAD and heavily into a Goth Scene. There was no online shopping in the early 90’s and the only places to find Goth clothing and jewelry were couple of stores on Queen Street W.  Needless to say due to the unique nature of Goth style, price tags attached to clothing and jewelry in the Queen street shops were not meeting my student budget. So I and my girlfriend decided to improvise. We made our own Goth outfits and jewelry. We discovered a small bead shop called Arton on Queen. Today Arton is big, back in the 90’s the selection of beads and jewelry supplies they carried was very limited, so we had to get creative.

One of the first jewelry pieces I made was a black velvet choker with a large Gothic cross. I could only buy a gold cross in Arton, which was not very Goth. So I used silver nail polish to paint over the gold metal. I made a pair of black crystal chandelier earrings to match my necklace.

Do you have any other creative outlets? 

Yes of course. I’ve been nicknamed “Martha Stewart.” I love knitting, sewing, baking, renovating old furniture, designing websites, and the list goes on. My biggest and foremost passion is painting and drawing. I’m always torn between jewelry making and my fine arts. Do you do this full time, or is it a side business? In the past two years my jewelry business has became a full time job.

What would your ideal work day look like? 

I definitely love starting my day with an early morning walk with my dog. Fresh air and a little physical activity right in the morning gets my juices flowing. Once back in my studio, I grab a cup of fresh warm coffee and I work on my crafts. I especially love sunny days. I have big windows in my studio and I’m in complete heaven when I face the windows and I work on my crafts. I shut off my phone and I don’t look at any emails. I like working undisturbed. I prefer catching up on my correspondence, client requests, Etsy teams, social network promotions, etc, in mid-afternoon after my craft work is done. My ideal work day would be conflict free, easy going clients, smooth supply delivery, and no Etsy team conflicts to mediate (I’m a Captain of one Etsy team, and leader of 2 other teams Daily Promotion and Beaders and Beadmakers of Etsy).

How does your design process work? 

It starts with inspiration. That comes sometimes from the oddest places. I’m looking at some metal screws in a surplus store, a carpet pattern in a hallway, or someone with an interesting piece of Jewelry. I snap pictures with my iphone, draw sketches in my journal, and write notes about color combinations and materials. Then I rush to my studio at the earliest opportunity I get, sometimes in the middle of a night. There is no way I can sleep if I have a new project in my mind. Regardless the late hour, I start working on it. I consult my journal notes, look at pictures I took, browse through my supplies and select what fits my project ideas. I lay out my beads and jewelry-making components on the beading board and I shuffle them around. Then I start stringing my beads, or wire wrapping them. Often I restring them to see if another design might work better. There are times when I fight with my work. I put my project aside, take a break, and do something completely unrelated to crafts. I return back to my design in half a day or in 2 days. Usually this works and the final idea comes together nicely. Sometimes I’m so pleased with the final design, that I start making different color or material versions of it.

What is your best seller? 

Rosaries. Initially I intended on making jewelry and accessories for personal adornment purpose. One day I was approached by a friend who requested a custom order, a rosary necklace for her boyfriend. I really enjoyed the project and I thought why not make real authentic rosaries. My concern was if anybody else besides my friend would be interested in buying the rosaries I made. I listed few on Etsy and to my surprise they sold quickly. I’ve decided to make more. Subsequently I started receiving emails from my clients, telling me how much they enjoy using my rosaries. I found this incredibly fulfilling. It’s nice to receive positive feedback from a client who enjoys wearing her necklace, but it is a completely different feeling to receive feedback from a client who enjoys praying with a rosary I’ve hand made. My rosaries are the best seller, and I enjoy making them the most.

How would you like to see your business grow in the future? 

Selling my handmade jewelry I’ve learned the ropes around being a small business owner, and how to sell my own hand made work. Over the years I’ve experimented with different Jewelry making techniques, and materials. At this point I feel I need a change, I need to move on. My aim is to transition my business from jewelry back into Fine Arts where most of my education and professional training lies. I would like to focus more on painting and drawing, and occasionally pick up rosary custom orders. I’d like to set up and run a residency program for artists and craft makers, somewhere in the beautiful Canadian outdoors, and have a variety of creative people attend my residencies - artists, actors, musicians, and crafters. I dream of having a small art gallery where the residency participants can exhibit their work or even put on performances.

How do you compete with all the other jewellery makers, what makes your work stand out? 

I do my research and look for items that are in demand but not many jewelry makers make them. I try to stay on top of current fashion trends, and events. I make pieces that are current. And of course I have my own style, and it reflects in my work. I offer free repairs on the jewelry, and rosaries I make. I do custom orders, and work very closely with my clients. I ask them as many questions and I get the right measurements to ensure proper fit and client satisfaction.

Can you share some marketing tactics that have helped you reach out to potential buyers? 

I wear my own Jewelry as often as I can. When I do outdoor shows I make sure to wear solid neutral colors, like black or gray outfits, and I accessorise with my own colourful jewelry pieces letting them stand out. I give my jewelry pieces away to my family or lend them to friends when they are attending larger events like weddings, concerts art openings and so on. When I list my Jewelry pieces online, I tell a story about the materials, colors and so on. I’ve lent my jewelry to a fashion show, and also for a photography shoot. I’ve donated my Jewelry to charity for autism that a friend helped to organize. I’ve donated some rosaries to a parish priest to give away in church. I research my consumers and present appropriate jewelry to appropriate demographic. I use social media to promote my Jewelry. And I always make sure that I have plenty of business cards in my wallet to give away wherever I go.

Do you sell at markets in the GTA? How do you choose which markets to participate in? 

Yes I’ve participated in many markets in GTA and all over South Ontario over the years. I do my research before I sign up for a market. I try to attend it in person the year before. I talk to participating vendors. I read vendor reviews. I talk to organizers and I ask them where they promote their events, how many years they have been hosting the event, how many people they expect to visit their event. I look at the event program. I prefer to select events that don’t have commercial vendors who import products, or events that have a handmade arts and crafts section. I research the demographic and verify if my products will be suitable.

How do you create a booth to attract buyers? 

I use 10 feet x10 feet space or canopy. I set up my table in a U-shape, with me standing inside the U so the traffic of people is walking outside the U. I use my business colors, black and bright pink to keep a uniform look. I create levels on my tables with the highest in the back and the lowest at the front. I keep my set up organized and tidy and I make sure it is aesthetically pleasing. I make sure all my items have prices and are easily accessible. I always have an extra person or two to help me during the whole event so my customers don’t have to wait for service. In the evening I drape Christmas lights around the top of my canopy. I scout the market ahead, and if possible I request a spot for my booth that will get a lot of traffic. To get the best spot on the market, the key is to apply for an event early, and also keep good relations with the event organizers and other vendors.

 Check out the other items available from Kvetka in her Etsy shop.  

You can also find her at:
www.oohlalabeadtique.com 
www.facebook.com/oohlala.beadtique



Interviewed by Natalie of HaversackLeather on November 20, 2015 in Toronto.

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