Friday, 20 April 2012

max & ellie/ an interview

Do you remember the oh, hello friend shop swap in which I participated? Well, here are the photos from my partner, Melissa from Max & Ellie! The main reason I was excited about doing this shop swap was the opportunity to learn from a fellow artist who carried items similar to mine; well, in this interview and our short exchanges I've learned much already! Something I'd love to point out is Max & Ellie's branding, just look at the clean, streamlined presentation; professional yet distinctly handmade is how I'd describe it--as were all of my conversations with Melissa. She was great to work with and always quite prompt in her replies.
I had a marvelous "Max & Ellie experience" and look forward to future exchanges! So, without further ado,

the interview

Thanks so much for participating in this mini interview, Melissa! I really enjoyed my experience with Max and Ellie and look forward to sharing it with my readers. Please tell me a bit about yourself (who you are/values etc...)

Hi Elena!  I'm glad you enjoyed the swap; they're addicting, aren't they?!  So, a little bit about me...I am a stay-at-home mom to three little ones.  Our kindergartner is a major tomboy, our preschooler likes to play in my make-up, and the baby is a real sweetie-pie, thank goodness!  We live in the beautiful and rainy state of Oregon.  We own a few acres out in the country that we hope to build a small hobby farm on someday, but in the meantime, we try to pack as much into our tiny backyard as possible!  Right now, that includes 5 fruit trees, 5 raised garden beds full of radish and pea sprouts, a hot box full of lettuce, strawberries that have spread all over the place, 4 chickens, and a bunny.  And a shed.  And a composter.  And the remains of a greenhouse.  It sounds like we have a big backyard, but I assure you, it is tiny!!

How did you get started in selling your crafts? What was the inspiration behind the adorable shop name?

My sister Emily and I both fell in love with Etsy over 4 years ago.  We talked for months about how fun it would be to have a shop together before finally deciding to just do it.  We tossed around ideas about things we wanted to make, and that was that!  We've been doing it ever since!  And choosing a name for the shop took almost as long as choosing items to make and sell.  We test drove a few (I don't even remember what they were!), but Max & Ellie was the clear favorite.  Max is Emily's little boy, and Ellie is one of my girls, and they are only 5 weeks apart in age.  And they were newborns when we were getting all of this up and running!

What is your favorite thing about what you do?

I love making things, but I would quickly run out of room to store all of my creations if I weren't selling them.  Having an Etsy shop allows me to have fun making things AND pay for them AND get rid of them so that I can make more things!  And I love hearing feedback from customers who tell me how much their child loves their apron, or seeing people I know wearing something I made for them.  I love it!!

How do you balance/prioritize your time between working on your shop and home life?

That is a constant struggle, isn't it?!  One of the things that I love about Etsy is that it allows you to go at your own pace.  I admire people whose creativity supports them 100% financially, but right now I'm OK with my shop being a hobby that pays for itself, and Etsy caters to both types of shops equally well.  Sometimes I'm on fire creatively, and I am so excited to make and list things in the shop.  And sometimes I have to put it on hold to do laundry or give the kids a bath or plan a birthday party.  And I love that I can take a break and come back whenever I want to.

Can you share with us a bit of the goals/plans that you have for your business?

I'm super comfortable with how busy we are right now--which is not very busy!!  My kids are little and I want to be able to spend as much time with them as possible, so I'm OK with my shop not being at the very top of my list of priorities right now.

When we first opened our shop, we stocked it full of cute stuff...and then it drove us crazy waiting for sales!  The items we had weren't selling quickly, and we felt like we should wait to make new items until the old ones sold--which isn't very fun!  So a few years ago, some friends and I started putting together a big handmade boutique--Bliss Handmade--twice a year in our city.  I sew like crazy getting ready for that every Spring and every Fall, and I always have lots of great items leftover to list in the shop.  So far, it is a system I'm completely happy with:  my shop is always stocked, but I don't worry if things aren't selling quickly because I know I have another boutique coming up that I can sell at.  It has taken a lot of the pressure off and made it easy to focus on having fun making things!  And between the online shop and the boutique, nothing hangs around for long, and we get to make lots of new stuff.  And that's the whole point of this!

Right now, I have a hobby that I love that supports itself, and that's exactly what I want to have for now.  When my kids are older maybe I'll be ready for my shop to become more, and then I'll have to come up with a new plan!

Thank you again for participating, Melissa! Before we conclude this interview what advice would you give to those who are aspiring to have creative businesses of their own?

I think you need to think long and hard about what your goals are, because your strategy will be completely different if you want a business that can support your family rather than a hobby that pays for itself and gives you a little spending money!


Lulu the Baker said...

I didn't know this was even on here Elena! So fun, and what a fun swap. Good memories! I've been meaning to post your spotlight, but now I'll wait until your shop is up and running next week!

Elena said...

Oh, dear, I thought I had sent you the link--so sorry!

It was such a pleasure to be your partner in the shop swap, I learned much and use the items you sent just about every day!


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