Welcome to the first installment of the Featured Artist Friday portion of my blog. I will be introducing you to one Etsy artist and their shop every Friday for as long as I can continue to get shop owner's who are willing to participate. I hope that you will enjoy this new segment of my blog and will return to meet more amazing artists each week. Please show these artists some kindness and check out their shops. Who knows, maybe you will find something that you just can't live without ;)So grab yourself a cup of tea, coffee, or your beverage of choice; sit back, relax, and let me introduce you to Pearl, the proprietor of Crystal Pearl . Pearl is one of our Etsy neighbors from across the great pond. She and her husband live in Sussex, UK. Pearl describes her shop as offering " high quality vintage jewelry and unique one-off upcycled and hand embellished items of clothing using a variety of materials, such as faux jet, amberite, metallic buttons, acrylic buttons, ribbon, synthetic fur and 80 year old glass Chinese trade beads specially imported from Thailand. CRYSTAL PEARL does not use real animal fur in any of its creations. We previously owned an Ebay store and attained 100% positive feedback, i.e. 334 satisfied customers. Negative feedback was nil, so clients can genuinely buy from CRYSTAL PEARL with confidence. Our aim is to make shopping at CRYSTAL PEARL an enjoyable experience and your satisfaction is of paramount importance to us."
Tell us about your art/craft. What is it that you create? I offer unique one-off upcycled and hand embellished t-shirts, dresses, skirts and lingerie using a variety of materials, although I do not use real animal fur in any of my creations. Each piece is hand stitched and every garment is of a different design, hence you will never find another one exactly the same
How long have you been doing this? What led you to start creating your art/craft? I have been making my own clothes for over 30 years, but only opened my Etsy shop in June 2009. Being between jobs, I suddenly had more time to spend honing my creative skills and that is how my Etsy shop was born.
Are you the only artist/crafter in your family or does it run in the genes? As the proprietor of CRYSTAL PEARL, I come from a family well versed in the art of needlecraft. As a child, my mother made a lot of my clothes herself, my aunt was a seamstress who worked in the centre of London (the Singer tailor's dummy used in some of my Etsy photos was given to me by her and was modeled on her exact physical dimensions.) Also, from a very young age, I made dolls clothes to my own design, tablecloths, etc., As I grew older, I studied needlework at secondary school and continue to make clothing for myself to this very day.
Is your art/craft your full time job? If not, what else do you do for a living? As I am currently between jobs, I can work on my Etsy shop fulltime. However, I am normally employed as a Medical Secretary and am actively seeking part-time work to fit in with my Etsy work.
What do you like to do in your spare time? In my spare time, I enjoy mushroom hunting, forest/beach walking, reading and all things French.
Is there anyone you would like to thank for being your biggest fan/supporter/cheerleader? I would like to thank all those who have featured me in their blogs, all those who have hearted my Etsy shop and also my long suffering husband who puts up with my crafting obsession.
You make and sell several different types/lines of your work. Which do you find yourself most drawn to and why? Whilst I enjoy the beading work I do, I find the upcycling side more creative, as I can use my artistic nature to produce a completely new garment from an existing piece. (See Juicy Olive T Shirt as an example of Pearl's upcycling)
On average how long would you say it takes you to complete a piece? The length of time taken to complete an individual piece varies greatly depending on whether it is an embellished piece, e.g. beaded, or an upcycled piece. As a general rule, the upcycled pieces take longer, as I am having to design, measure, cut, pin, tack, then machine stitch the pieces into place. However, some of the more intricately beaded items can take a substantial amount of time also, depending on the number of beads/adornments being added.
What is your favorite item from your shop? Why? My favourite piece is my Juicy Olive T-Shirt which is an upcycled creation. I love the colour combination of olive green and turquoise, plus the beading on the bottom.
Can you describe for us your creative process and or what a typical day is like in your studio. A typical creative day will start around 8.30 a.m. when I check my Etsy shop's statistics whilst drinking my first cup of tea. Then it is on to the creative part. Depending on whether I am upcycling or embellishing, I will either get out my sewing box, beads, buttons and any other adornments, plus the item of clothing I am going to embellish and work out what pattern I will produce by placing the adornments in different ways on the clothing until I am happy with a particular design. If I am upcycling, then I adjust my sewing machine and get to work designing, measuring, cutting, pinning, tacking and machining. I will take a quick lunch break and, then start photographing, editing and listing any completed items for my Etsy store. Once this is done, I will start on the promotional side of things by commenting on the Etsy forums, Twittering, Facebooking, Flickring and updating the many other craft and fashion sites where my work is displayed. A couple of glasses of chilled white wine later and I am ready to fall into bed.
What motivates you to create? I find creating to be a very therapeutic pastime. It's something which totally absorbs me and leaves no room for outside worries or concerns. It allows me to become totally immersed and is a natural outlet for my artistic nature. I get a great buzz out of being able to share my creations with my fellow Etsians and also the rest of the world in general.
Do you do custom requests for your art? I would be happy to do custom requests if someone liked a particular piece, but wanted it in a different size, colour or bead/pattern combination.
Etsy related questions
How did you discover etsy? I discovered Etsy by accident whilst surfing the net.
How do you promote your business? I spend a lot of time promoting my business through Twitter, Facebook, Flickr, blogs, Burdastyle, USTrendy, Etsy forums and treasuries, business cards and a lot of other craft and fashion websites. It is very time consuming, but it has to be done if you want your shop to be seen in the marketplace.
How much of your time would you say you spend on average doing etsy related business? My average working day has been about 11 hours and I would say that about a quarter of that is spent doing Etsy related business and a quarter spent on outside promotion, the other half on creating and producing new items for my shop.
Knowing what you know now about online selling and running your own business, if you could start all over from scratch would you do anything differently? Knowing what I know about online selling, I would probably think more carefully about what is already being successfully sold in the marketplace and tailor my talents towards that. I would also be stricter about taking breaks from my work and promoting the store, as it is all too easy to become totally absorbed to the exclusion of all else.
Do you have any advice for other artists? Whatever your particular artistic skill, I would say give an online store a go. Persevere and give it your best shot, but make sure you have fun whilst doing so. If you don't try, you never know what you might achieve. Make the most of the free advice given by fellow Etsyans in the forums, as others have ways around potential pitfalls which can save you a lot of time, money and heartache. Above all, enjoy what you do.
Where else can we find you online and/or locally (i.e galleries, boutiques, etc.)? Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/home.php?#/pages/CRYSTAL-PEARL/105801815097
Who are some of your favorite Etsy sellers or indie artists? Mistyridge, MysticWynd, Flairforfashion, Honeycombveils, YaffaDreams
Is there anything else that you would like for people to know about you or your shop that has not been covered in these questions?
Thank you very much Pearl for answering all my questions. I wish you the best of luck here at Etsy.
Thanks also to all my readers for taking a little bit of time out of their busy day to meet a new seller. Lets all give Crystal Pearl some love. Stop by the shop, look around, and welcome her to the neighborhood.
Don't forget to check back next Friday to meet another great shop owner.