22 October 2013

Guest Post - Rachel of 44Clovers

I am thrilled to finally share with you my first guest blog post from the lovely Rachel Bingham Kessler of 44Clovers

I had the absolute pleasure of meeting Rachel and her new hubby Jubal this summer when they were in Ireland on honeymoon.  Rachel and I have a shared passion for all things wooly so we had a fun filled day shearing sheep ( you can read more about that in this post) and have since kept in contact.  
I have wanted to have guest bloggers for so long now and am super excited to finally be able to share my first one with you.  If you would like to be a guest blogger too just drop me an email.   

So here we go - introducing Rachel from 44 Clovers.  Rachel is a fibre artist and painter living on Peaks Island in Maine.  

What's your earliest crafting memory?

Sitting in the grass with my stuffed Sylvester Kitty, scraps of my mom's fabrics, and my metal school scissors. My mom had been making her own clothes with shimmery fabrics and I wanted to do the same for Sylvetser. I wanted badly to sew with needle and thread but I think I was deemed to young to try so I settled holding the fabric against the stuffed cat and measuring with my eyes where the arm holes should be. I then folded the fabric in each place one at a time and cut slits for holes. I then made a coordinating wrap or diaper for Sylvester's bottom:) I made about 5 of these and carried them in a larger cloth tied up. I'd bring them where ever I went with Sylvetser. Did I mention I was about 5 or 6.

When did you decide to set up a crafty business?

In 2002 I started selling my handspun knitted wears at a local arts college for a holiday fair. I contained doing that for 6 years. In 2007 I opened my shop on etsy as Bosco44. It was in the early days of etsy and I didn't quite get how everything worked. For some reason I picked that name as a user name (old dog from childhood) but I didn't know it was also my shop name. Then I wasn't able to change it unless I closed shop and started again. For a few more years I made things for my etsy shop as I went back to school for art education, (had a visual arts degree already), working many jobs in between from child care  to teaching, and retail. I knew I'd always have an etsy shop but I thought I'd be teaching in a school as well. Many tries later with working for other people and various types of companies, I finally realized a few a things. 1). I don't do well working for others. 2). No matter what job I'm doing as much I like it or believe in it, I still felt a pull to be home creating. 3). No matter what job I had, I was deeply unhappy because I wasn't home creating. See the trend?:) one year ago I left my last full time job at a non profit and set out on the path of creating full time from home and opened my 44Clovers etsy shop. I have one studio in my home where I keep all my fiber related materials and another in the making which was our garden shed. I know have three times as much inventory in my etsy shop and I teach at a few fiber arts retreats a year. And starting very soon I'll be offering workshops in my home.

What plans have you for the future?

In the dream board in my mind, it's to attend some natural dye conferences and take intensive workshops where ever I can find them. If I'm able to travel to do so, I know that could be great. I'm always on the look out for workshops to learn new skills and to enhance my current ones. I also intend to vend at a few new places in the next few years. Places I haven't before.

What are your three favourite products?

Yarn: My yarn is mainly handspun wools raised in Maine and dyed with natural dyes. Some that I forage myself. I've been working hard this summer at creating several colors in larger lots instead of just one of a kind. The larger lots will be better suited for larger projects.

Embroidery: I'm crazy about embroidery. I'd say it was the 2nd craft I learned as a child. I've been working on a series of botanical embroideries that correspond with the plants I use for dyeing. I'm so excited about them as they bring 3 of my favorite elements together. Dyeing, botanicals, and embroidery.

Nuno felting: since I was a child, I've loooooved chiffon silk scarves. My mother had an elderly friend named Mable that we visited often. Mable kept a basket of these scarves and let my sister and I run around her living room throwing them up in the air and watching them come down so softly. Anyway, I've been finding old torn ones at flea markets and antiques shops and I use them for the base in nuno felting. It's a great way to give them new life. I love the texture they give with the silk and the colors. With these I've been working on a series of cowls. Currently there is one in the shop now I've named Waterford after the County:)

What is your biggest difficulty/frustration in running a business?

Gaining momentum each day. Ideas are not a problem but keeping the momentum once i do have it can be tough. I need to make lists constantly and i have to treat myself and what i do as seriously as if i were a company. Deciding on what to create when, getting the word out and self promotion. Self promotion does not come naturally for me.

What is your favourite thing about running a crafty business?

Doing it all by myself! I do really thrive on working at my own speed and on my own. And I feel like anything goes!

What advice would you give to anyone thinking of setting up on their own?

It doesn't have to be as serious as you'd think. I'd say start small. Start with something you have going all ready. Talk to people like your friends and family and ask what they think. It's amazing to me the amount of support my friends and family and advise they have for me. As much as social media can bog me down, I take full advantage of using it. It's all free advertising! And having an etsy shop though some may feel its Intimidating to set up, it is SO easy and cheap!! It is a great way to get started with out investing hardly anything, especially a bricks and mortar. Also, take yourself seriously. Speak with intention about what you do and make. It is amazing the kind of energy we generate by how we speak about outer selves and about what we do.

Finally, if you were stranded on a desert island and were offered one crafty item (supply or tool) what would it be?

A fleece from Donie's (Texel Breeder in Roscommon, Ireland) sheep. I could wash it in the ocean. Make a spindle from a branch if there were trees or bushes and spin it into yarn. Collect barks and berries and plants to dye it. Use sticks to knit it. And then Bam! I've got clothes and accessories for a long time. That was so easy to choose by the way.


So there you go my first guest blog post.  I hope you liked it.

If you would like to be a guest blogger here just drop me an email with a link to your blog.  The only criteria is that you must be set up with a crafty business ideally full time.  Looking forward to hearing from you :O)

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