I am starting a new section here in my blog and I'm calling it "Feature Fridays." This new section, which will feature some of my favorite handmade shops, hopes to inspire you with stories, dreams and even creative spaces of some of the most promising and talented artists on the block.
Today, I have the privilege to introduce to you Notebooks Etc.. Don't be fooled by its name - this is definitely NOT your ordinary notebook and office supplies store. This is a shop where you find high quality paper products with uber cute illustrations by its wonderfully skilled artist, Reg Silva, and at wonderfully affordable prices too!
I just LOVE this little Daydreamers' To Do List memo pad! It's simple, cute, useful, and clever! Now, why didn't I think of that?? :-P
Without further ado, here's my interview with the lovely seller, Reg:
1) Please tell us a bit about yourself.
I'm a freelance illustrator / graphic designer and I've been doing the freelance thing for over a year now. Prior to that, I was a motion graphics artist for a TV network in the Philippines for but after three years, I got burned out and resigned to explore and pursue illustration.
2) You are very creative. How did you discover your talent as an artist?
Thank you! It has always been in me, I guess. I've been drawing since I was a kid, even on my bedroom walls (which made my mom mad). I slacked off in school because instead of listening to the teacher, I'd be drawing on the margins of my books. I also joined a few art contests when I was young, some of which I won. But I really found my passion for art when I discovered and taught myself Adobe Photoshop and HTML/web design in high school. Tinkering with Photoshop to make graphics for my webpages paved the way for a Multimedia Arts degree in DLS-College of St. Benilde for college where I further enhanced my skills and learned animation, video editing, CD authoring, etc. My first love has always been drawing and design, though.
3) Who or what is your inspiration to start this business?
I was working a fulltime job at the TV network and I knew I wanted out. I didn't have a fallback plan or another job to transfer to but I just really needed to get out of that dead end job. I came across Etsy by accident a month before I resigned and I immediately thought Etsy was something I can do on the side for both fun and profit. I saw the things that were being sold on the site and I said, "I can do that."
4) Are you running this business full-time?
No... or not yet? My main thing is freelance design / illustration. Clients find my work on my website or Flickr account and they hire me for their design needs. My Etsy shop is just a sideline; it's great for when freelance projects are down to a trickle which is the case sometimes. When a client job comes in though, I practically set aside my shop and focus on the project. I do hope to allot more time to my shop in 2010, though! I think I'd like to have it be my main thing and maybe I'll just do freelance client work when I feel like it.
5) How do you find inspiration for your designs?
This is always a hard question to answer. Sometimes I just sit at the computer and an idea will form out of nowhere or I'll doodle without thinking on my sketchpad and out comes a potential illustration. Other times, I will need to scrounge around the Internet for inspiration via various design/illustration sites I frequent. Sometimes I think of a funny phrase or a quote and I'll work an illustration around that.
6) Was there any major obstacle/ difficulty in starting and running this business? How did you overcome it?
My initial problem was knowing what to focus on. When I first came across Etsy, I had 632,582 ideas running through my head on what I could make and sell. I sort of hoarded supplies and tried my hand at various things-- claying, cut paper art, soapmaking, selling supplies, rubber stamp carving, etc. My place was a mess and I kept jumping from one thing to another as soon as the novelty wore off. I had crafting ADD. I wasn't really getting anything done. It took me a year before I thought of and finally decided on the one thing I truly loved the most: notebooks and other paper goods. Once I decided on that, I closed down my first Etsy shop (which had no direction/identity), bought the supplies and materials I needed, and opened my current shop. Having a shop direction helps in deciding which products will work and which won't on my shop.
7) How do you go about promoting your stuff?
I don't do paid advertisements at the moment. I just post some of my items on my Flickr and Twitter and I've had some sales from those sites. It also helps that I have my own blog/website as I get visitors to my Etsy shop coming from my domain. But I haven't paid for any advertising-- yet. I told myself not to avail of paid advertising this year as I want to see how far I can go without it. Right now, with no paid advertising whatsoever, I've had 99 sales in a span of 9 months which I think is pretty good considering I don't devote as much time as I should to my shop. I plan to advertise on Craftcult next year though; I've heard good things about that.
8) Name 3 of your most favorite things in your own shop
#1 My Under the Sea print, which I just listed. I have this displayed in my studio and it's so cheery and happy.
#2 The Daydreamer's To Do List because I like daydreaming and making lists.
#3 My Cupcake Bears stickers. They're so freaking cute, in both my biased and unbiased opinion.
9) Most favorite things in other handmade shops
#1 Dear Miss Puss print by MarmeeCraft
#2 Hello I Love You print by Juliapott
#3 And because I have a major sweet tooth, Chocolate Covered Caramels by FatDaddySweets . Too bad I'm overseas so they can't ship to me.
10) What advice would you give to fellow artists and home-based craft businesses?
I encounter a lot of people wanting to do something similar and set up shop on Etsy or give up their day jobs to pursue what they really want to do... Yet they don't do it because they're too busy asking too many questions and entertaining uncertainty. They think it's too hard or it's such a chore to set things up. Well let me tell you-- the hardest part of getting started is ACTUALLY GETTING STARTED. Once you plunge right in, the hard work is done for the most part.
11) How do you envision yourself to be in 10 or 20 years?
I'd hopefully be married with kids then and still doing what I'm doing. I'd love that.
Last but not the least, here's a sneak peak at Reg's creative studio:
So neat and tidy... don't we all wish we have workspaces like that?! :)