Our last Treasury Challenge brought our very first tie! We are actually congratulating 2 shops this week for their fabulous treasury making skills Baban Cat and Oddball Art Co.!
We have decided the best way to handle a tie this time around and all future instances is for both winners to win the entire prize lot equally. So this week you will see both shops on the side of the blog, include both shops in this weeks Treasury Challenge treasuries and of course give each winner a featured interview blog post. The only thing that will happen differently is we have decided to keep things as fair as possible and give both winners their fair time at the top of the blog is to split up the interviews a couple of days a part. So today I have prepared a fabulous interview with Cat from Baban Cat and on Thursday Steve aka Arty Sandp will be posting his interview with me aka Oddball Art Co. (it would be a little too odd for me to interview myself lol)
So if you haven't already go grab yourself a yummy drink, sit back, relax and get to know your fellow team member from that lovely little shop Baban Cat....
~ My Interview With Cat ~
Can you tell us a bit about yourself and your shop?
I’ve worked in the education system all of my working life. Most of that time was spent with the disaffected and the disinterested and that was just the teachers!! Seriously though, I worked with pupils who had been excluded from school or were school refuses. I also worked with the local hospital providing education for pupils in their own homes.
I went back into mainstream teaching for a while until I realized that although I was spending over 50 hours a week at my job, contact with the children didn't amount to half of this time. I then worked for a conservation charity providing outdoor education. In Wales! I spent most of my time dressed in waterproofs and wellies!
It was after attending training courses in business start ups that I decided to open my shop.
Baban is Welsh for baby. Cat, that’s me. It doesn’t quite translate as Cat’s baby. I hope to watch it grow.
What inspired you to open your shop?
My daughter opened my shop for me! It lay empty for about 5 months before I listed anything.
I wanted my shop to showcase Welsh organic wool except there’s increasingly less of it. There are so many sheep in Wales and I know quite a lot of organic farmers but the wool is not good for spinning.
Organic cotton has proved to be a more reliable material but that shifted focus away from my initial plans.
Besides designing & creating things, what do you do?
I’m owned by two rescue cats so they are pretty demanding. ‘Feed me NOW!!’ is a frequent call.
I gave up full time work in January and have tried to avoid supply teaching. At the moment I’m enjoying just being and having a life.
Where, who or what does your influence come from?
My earliest influences came for the women around me. My mother crocheted the most intricate patterns. She would make crochet vases that she would soak in sugar water to stiffen. Embroidered tablecloths where also one of her specialties. I've was always surrounded by creative women. My aunt was a seamstress so she made all my clothes.
Those women came from a make, do and mend generation that thankfully seems to be returning.
I’m not the sort of person who latches on to a particular look or designer. I have eclectic tastes.
Right now I love the work of Karen Ruane.
What inspires you to be creative?
Boredom. I can’t just sit and do nothing. I get great satisfaction from seeing a project finished and having something wearable or useful out of it.
There’s always something that I want to do or a skill I want to learn.
Sometimes it feels like overload. There aren’t enough hours in the day.
How do you get out of a creative rut?
Do something else! I go for drives, weed the garden, shop, to a gallery, anything.
I’m in the middle of sorting out my workroom. I've painted walls, put together shelving units, thrown out all the accumulated paperwork from two jobs and now I’m itching to get on with a project that’s been churning around in my brain!
When did you first discover that you were or wanted to be an artist?
One of the subjects I studied at school was art/embroidery. I wanted to go to Art College when I was 15. In those days you didn't need A Levels to get in. I could have left school at 16. My parents were dead set against it. Their arguments ranged from there being no jobs in art, to Art College being full of drop outs and drug addicts. So I studied textiles as part of a degree in education and met loads of drop outs and addicts both during training and in my years as a teacher. But I did have a job!
Can you describe your creative process for us?
I try to use organic materials but they can be hard to find. They lend themselves to working in certain ways.
With crochet I’m still relearning and have lots of stitches I want to try out. I adapt these with the processes I already know.
I’m starting to make notebooks of stitches and techniques. I make lots of notes on scraps of paper. I note down hook or needle size, yarn weight, tension, stitches used and alterations to the initial instructions or patterns.
The actual making is the relaxing part!
What is your most cherished handmade possession?
That’s a difficult one because I’m not a keeper of things. There have been times when I have been utterly ruthless in my decluttering. Some of the knitwear that I made for my children when they were young I rescued when my husband was ‘clearing’ out the attic.
I've also kept a portrait of me that my daughter painted when she was in Primary school. It’s in that studied style before they get too inhibited to put paint to paper. She captured my hair perfectly!
Where do you see or want your shop to be this time next year?
Hopefully I will have had some sales by then! I want to be more focused and develop a distinctive range.
I’d like to start dying my own wool because it’s difficult to get the range of shades and weight from commercial wool companies.
Where would you like to be in ten years?
What is your best advice to newbie Etsian's just opening their shops?
As a newbie I’m probably not best placed for giving advice. I've found joining Teams a great help. Make treasuries and when you do, convo the shops you've included. Look at successful shops and learn from best practice.
Don’t overlook your policies.
When I opened I hadn't realized just how important great photos were. I’m taking new images and loading them gradually.
With the new relevancy search ensure your items are tagged in the way that buyers think when searching. Look at your shop stats to see the terms used to find you.
Don’t rely on people finding you. Be proactive – blog, tweet, FB.
Economic times are difficult so don’t be disheartened. Keep listing and don’t give up.
Where else other then Etsy can you be found on the net?
I have a Blog
and also a UK based shop on Folksy
You can check out my Flickr page too
Do you have any coupon codes that you would like to share with our readers?
For team members EAWT-20 for a 20% discount.
I also have a code for repeat buyers – but you have to buy something first to find that one! J