Friday, 15 April 2011

Feature Friday - Not Just Handbags

Wow Friday's come round quick don't they.... quite scary that we're halfway through April already and all the Bank Holidays are gonna make it seem a short month!

So this week my feature is all about Elissa from Not Just Handbags.

Describe what you do,when you started doing it and what made you decide that was what you were going to do.

I design and create handbags and homeware.  I actually started my current business as I had planned to go on to do Graphic Design when I finished my Art & Design course, however, due to cutbacks for adult education I was unable to find a place on a course.  The lady interviewing me at one college commented on the handbag I had, which was made from an old tweed jacket.  She said that it was very unusual and when I explained my hobby she said that I could probably find a good market for my work.  As no-one would give me a place on a course I decided to see if she was right and it actually worked out that she did me a favour and I absolutely love what I do now!

What makes you different from other people selling/ doing the same craft?

I use all kinds of different materials and I also like to upcycle, therefore I will use anything from an old pair of jeans or a curtain!  I like to think of it as giving an item a new identity and new purpose.

Where do you get your inspiration/ ideas from?

I read a lot of fashion magazines, all in the name of research of course! However, I also love history books particularly social history and have a great love of vintage handbags.  My inspiration also comes from art in particular I love modern pop art.

Do you do this as your business full time or is it just a sideline?

This is my full time business and I have worked extremely hard, lets just say it has been a very steep learning curve!

Where do you make your items, do you have a craft room/ studio?

I currently have a half a dining table, however, I have been hinting very heavily for my own studio in the garden which is my dream.

Where do you sell and how do you market yourself?
I currently sell online and via a couple of stockists.  Online marketing takes up an enormous amount of time as I use every free online marketing tool that I can in the form of Flickr, Facebook, Twitter, Blogging, Craft Juice and the list goes on. 

Where do you see yourself in 5 years time?

Hopefully working from my studio in the garden!  Ideally I would like to be selling my pieces primarily through stockists.

Do you have any advice for people out there who might want to start a craft hobby/business?

I would say do it!  Nobody in my husband's or my family has ever had their own business so needless to say it was a little daunting.  However, there is plenty of help and information out there and I always believe that life is too short to have a job you hate.   One thing I would say is do not underestimate the amount of time you have to spend promoting.  I see so many people asking on forums why they are not getting any sales and it turns out they opened their shop and expect people to just find them.  You have to imagine that you are one person in a very large stadium and to get noticed you have to shout very loudly!

This week's  random question - if you could invite 3 famous people round to dinner (dead or alive) who would you choose and why?

Coco Chanel - Amazing woman and an inspiration both as a person and a designer.  A true testament to what a woman with very little resources and talent can achieve.
Rosa Parkes - A true heroine and someone who I use as an example to my girls of someone ordinary who instead of accepting a very bad situation said No and helped to change history.
Peter Kay - as he is hysterical and I imagine he would have us all in stitches!
Wow that would be a random dinner party!!

If you are interested in finding out more about Not Just Handbags here's a few links:-

Folksy Shop


Peony and Thistle said...

Great interview! Thanks for sharing!

Margaret said...

Really interesting interview, thanks!:)