Needle Felting has only recently cropped up on my crafting radar. I’ve given it a try once after getting a little kit in a Crafty Creatives box but found it pretty hard to get the hang of and make some neat and presentable. This is why I couldn’t wait to feature the lovely Brynne on I LOVE Handmade, the items she makes are not only incredibly cute they are also so neat and perfectly formed that it seems hard to believe that they started life as a big mess of wool fibers. I’m a sucker for cute animal crafts and one of my favorite items in this shop is Bernie the Brown Bear, I think he would make the perfect desk companion! Brynne very kindly agreed to answer some of the I ♥ Handmade so without further ado I shall hand over to her…
Tell us a bit about yourself
I’m a Lifestyle & craft blogger, Devoted wife, Mama to two pugs, Photographer, and Small business owner. An Etsy enthusiast, Believer intolerance, Eternal optimist, and Lover of all things vintage and handmade.
How did you first discover your love for crafting?
I have always been an artistic person but I didn’t explore my creativity until I was in high school. After I got married a few years ago, I desired an outlet to express myself and ultimately desired a way to work from home. My husband introduced me to Etsy and my gears started turning. Early on, I discovered needle felting from my mother-in-law and after months of trial and error, I grew to love it. Needle felting can be very therapeutic if you enjoy it. I find creating and sharing what I make incredibly rewarding.
Where do you draw inspiration from?
Mostly animals! I love cute, little animals. Anything cute! It’s pretty easy to see that my designs are a very simple interpretation of real-life things made to be (possibly) cuter than they are in a normal setting. I’m inspired by art, illustrations, wildlife, nature, and childlike imaginative wonder.
What is a typical crafting day for you?
A typical day for me is very busy! Even though I work from home, it doesn’t make my schedule any more lenient. I can have anywhere from 5-20 open orders at any time. I spend the majority of my day needle felting while watching whatever is most interesting on Netflix while spending time with my two sweet little pugs. On top of my household to-do’s, I keep up with two blogs, manage my Etsy shop, and work on various graphic design projects. If it’s a postal day, I get all of my finished orders packaged up and either Dan or I take them to our little post office before it closes. Some days I’m making mostly wooly forms, while other days I’m doing tons of detail work. I tend to work in ‘sections.’
How do you organize your time?
Staying organized is critical to both success at running a home business and an overall feeling of accomplishment and productivity. If I wasn’t organized, not only would I have trouble keeping up with my shop, but I wouldn’t feel good about the state of my home or find the motivation to be productive. Thankfully, I am fortunate enough to have a spare room dedicated to my crafts. I have my workspace, my desk for business purposes, a cubby shelf of all my supplies, and plenty more storage for everything I need to be creative. It is the same for the rest of my home, everything has a designated spot. If only it were easy enough to keep my husband on that train of thought
Are you a tidy crafter or a messy crafter?
As much as I would love to tell you I am a tidy crafter, it simply isn’t true. While I am very much organized, my needle felting area tends to look like my pugs had a party with my wool. I’m always needing a different color, or somewhere to sit my sketches, or my camera is in the way. At the end of the day, the living room is a disaster. But I have a bin that has the sole purpose of putting all of my ‘current’ wool in and once that’s tidied up and scissors, pens, and rulers go back in the coffee table, it looks like a home again
What is your favorite product to make?
I just recently made Francis the Fox and he happens to be the most adorable little wooly I have ever made, in my opinion. I had so much fun making him that I just have to say he is my favorite. I couldn’t be happier with how he turned out. I also love making new woolies. It’s not those I’m already selling get repetitive, but there’s always that joy of creating something new, photographing it, and adding it to the shop.
What would you deem your biggest crafting success?
About a year ago, I got a message from a buyer who wanted forty needle felted ninjas. That order totaled over $500.00. It was incredibly inspiring as a small home business owner that someone could care so much about my products. That would be my biggest monetary success at one time.
But speaking figuratively, I would say that every sale is a success. I know that sounds cliché, but I certainly don’t mean it to be. My husband and I are normal people, no millionaires in our family, we live in a rental home and while we love our simple life full of love and realism, we are thankful for the times when we feel like what we are doing has a purpose. And although you could say that a little felted animal doesn’t have a purpose, little things make people happy. And I have always believed that life is about the little things.
What do you find is the best tool for promoting your work?
Etsy, a hundred times over. Without Etsy, I wouldn’t be anywhere. One day, we hope to move to Austin, TX, where I am confident I’ll have more opportunities to sell my products in a face-to-face environment. But for now and probably always, an online marketplace will forever be the best way to gain exposure for a brand. I also have a craft blog centered on DIY’s, felting, crafts, and home décor that helps get the word out for me, as well.
What advice would you give to someone wanting to start their shop?
For an online shop, a seller 100% needs amazing photos. I would say this would be equal to an amazing product. The reason is that a buyer cannot touch or feel your products. They can’t try on shoes or clothing, they can’t wear a piece of jewelry first and they can’t hold a wooly animal to see how it feels and how perfect it would be as an ornament on their tree. Product photos should show everything you want your buyer to know. A photo draws someone in and the description should reinforce why they love it. Photos should be taken in natural light (never with flash) with good contrast and little distraction.
Secondly, customer service. In today’s world, we typically buy from huge corporate companies that make their money by monetizing people’s desire for a convenient world. If a chain superstore loses a customer due to a complaint or a lack of customer service, they have millions of other customers already in the checkout lines so it’s not always a pressing issue. For handmade products, it’s different. You’re oftentimes buying directly from the maker or from a consignment shop who’s success wholly depends on your business. In that environment, you’ll find that customer service takes a dramatic turn for the better. My advice would be to take notice. In the end, people return to shops where they feel appreciated and a sense of connection with the owners/employees because you are always going to be able to find a similar product somewhere else.
Does anything tempt or distract you away from crafting?
There isn’t much around here to distract me, which can be good and bad. We live in a very small town and as a one car family with a husband who works a lot, I’m usually very focused on my work. Now and then, I find I’ve spent a little too much time on Amazon or searching for a house shoe stolen by a pug but it’s keeping motivated that makes me productive.
Bright or Pastel? – Definitely pastel. Bright colors make me nervous.
Careful Planning or Creative Chaos? – Careful planning. I’ve always been an organized non-risk taker.
Sparkle or Shimmer? – Shimmer. My husband hates glitter. Ha!
Hand-stitch or Machine-stitch? – Machine stitch, unless I’m sewing up a destroyed dog toy.
Tea or Coffee? – Tea. White Pear Tea by Revolution is my favorite.
Early Bird or Night Owl? – Night owl. I’d stay up all night if Dan would let me.