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Friday, March 13, 2009

An Interview with Julia from MommysMonkey!

Tell me a little bit about your background in arts and crafts.

I have a long history in hand crafted items as small businesses. I originally started by designing and hand crafting unique hats for babies and children (Ratty's Hats). Sadly, 10 years ago people were still afraid to 'go out of the box' with their kids and my creations often went unappreciated!In university, I created a very successful pet treat and accessory business called "Treats for Furry Feets". I spent months creating, from scratch, gourmet pet treats from all natural (and when possible organic) ingredients. My fur kids were thrilled to be my taste testers! When I started my honours placement I had to let the business go, there just wasn't enough time in the day for both.

When did you first start creating things?

I was always described as a 'creative child" - I think that was people's polite way of saying I was weird! I learned how to sew when I was 10 on my great grandmothers original sewing machine. It was the first Singer electric model and had one stitch - but that baby could sew through anything! When I was 14 my mom bought me a brand spanking new machine that seemed so luxurious with it's 12 stitches. I used that machine until its sad end this past fall (over 17 years). I love to sew and make 99.9% of my items without a pattern - shirts and a diaper stacker are pretty much the only time I felt I needed one (I got that 'knack' from my great grandma).

What were the first things you created? and how did your creativity progress from there?
It's be a long journey through the creative land. But Mommy's Lil Monkey started when I went on maternity leave last January. I was hugely pregnant, stuck at home, and BORED - I started sewing blankets, diapers and other items for my pending monkey. When Jacob arrived and we were out and about I got so many compliments on the blankets and questions of where I got them - I figured it was worth trying to sell them! I loved being able to sew while Jacob napped, and creating Mommy's Lil Monkey gave me the much needed brain work out a new mommy needs! Since then my best friend joined me with LilyBugz and we have been expanding our line as our little ones have grown. We create out of the needs we fill for our own monkeys - and hope that it fills the needs of other mommies too!

Is this your only business or do you do other things as well?

I start back to work in (ACK!) twenty days. I am a retail manager for a large Canadian communications and entertainment company. However my background is in social work and film studies - go figure! I do also dabble in collecting and selling vintage pieces - and LOVE a good church rummage sale!

Do you still dream about making other things? If so, what?

I would love to be able to knit or crochet. My grandmother is the most amazing knitter I have ever seen - she is 87 and can knit a sweater in a day. Her work is unbelievable and unlike anything you would find in even the finest boutiques. I tried learning how to knit when I was a teen but succeeded in trying it into knots and bending the needles!

How did you hear about Etsy?

An old friend of mine suggested I take a look when I was searching for sock monkey items for the nursery. I was amazed when I saw the site and couldn't believe I had never heard or seen of it before. I didn't start to sell on Etsy until July of 2008 - I just didn't feel my items were ready for such a high calibre community.

Any words of advice to others?
Do what you love, don't under value your product, and never deny yourself the need to stockpile fabric!!! You never know when you might need that beautiful floral print that's on sale :-)

How will the new law by CPSIA affect you and your shop?
Being Canadian I will still be able to sell within Canada and all other countries but the USA. However 75% of my customer base is in the USA so my store sales would be affected. I don't rely on Etsy as a source of income (unlike so many affected) -- but rather a reinvestment into more materials every time I make a sale. My shop will probably carry less stock and I will cut back on how much I produce and post for Etsy. I worry that many of the suppliers I purchase from through Etsy may no longer be able to sell their supplies. That means I will no longer be able to create - and I need to let my creative energies flow!

What would affect me more is that the many friends that I have made through team Etsybaby would be losing their livelihood and be unable to create and sell the things they love. I worry about the families who rely on their arts and crafts, the public libraries, the second hand stores, the increases on prices in general - especially in these increasingly hard financial times. I wish as a Canadian I could lobby my members of parliament to get involved - but we have such little say in what happens to our neighbours even though it affects us too! I have been spreading the word to my fellow Canadian crafters and buyers to let them know what is happening and most are in disbelief. The CPSIA laws have not received the global coverage they should - which means most outside the US are completely in the dark!

I hope you enjoyed learning more about MommysMonkey! I know I did. Take a few minutes to browse through her shop...she has some adorable things!


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