Congratulations to Tatjana, who won the $20 gift certificate from Karen Marie Designs. Thank you all for entering, and thank you Karen for participating in Friday Features.
In today's segment, we are featuring another Karen, but with a completely different type of product. Today we are featuring MONSTERS from Karen's Monsters on Etsy.com!!! But don't worry, they are very kid-friendly monsters.
Here's a little more about Karen and her monsters.
TDB: How old were you when you started sewing, and who taught you to sew?
Karen: My mom attempted to teach me to sew when I was 6 or 7 and I hated it. It wasn't until high school and especially college that I really learned to love sewing and then it was all by hand. It was only in the last few years that I started sewing on the sewing machine again and in fact had to relearn everything my mother had taught me about the sewing machine.
TDB: Why monsters?
Karen: One of my roommates became obsessed with Sock Monsters. He started making them like crazy. I was telling my sister about them and she not so casually asked about Bunny Monsters. So I had some fleece and felt lying around and made my sister the first Bunny Monster. Afterwards I made them for friends who encouraged me to sell them.I decided to make more monsters specifically because I think they represent the other. I think we're all attracted to things outside of our own world, and perhaps a little afraid of it too. My monsters are a safe other that helps us broaden our world view. I think it's especially important for children to be exposed to things that they're unfamiliar with, which is why I make all of my monsters kid-safe and friendly. But I find so many people of all ages are attracted to my monsters that it's gratifying to know that I'm not the only adult that loves playing with fascinating toys.
TDB: From where does your inspiration for the monsters come?
Karen: Since I was very very little, I've loved going to the fabric store. All the colors and textures. It was the only place where I was allowed to run my little hands over everything. My inspiration often starts in the store looking at new fabrics and imagining how they'll feel all stuffed with poly-fill. If I'm making monster types that I've made before, I just start pulling out fabric and laying pieces across each other until I find the combinations I like best. I keep a stash of eyes, mustaches, hearts, etc in a drawer that I pull out as I'm cutting fabric.My husband is my best inspiration for new designs. He says at the most unexpected times, what if you made a ... and then I find myself sketching that idea until I have a design that I have to make. I also love hearing suggestions from customers and friends. And custom orders are always fun and often lead to a new design. Inspiration may come at the most random times, but it's always transformed by my sketches and all of my designs are created and recreated in my sketchbook.
TDB: You've been on Etsy for 6 months now. What have you learned?
Karen: Sometimes I feel like I'm learning something new every day. I started selling at local markets about a week before I opened my etsy shop. I love the strength of crafting community both at markets and on etsy and have found such great resources there. I've recently joined the NewNew Street Team, which is amazing. For the nuts and bolts, I think I finally have my shipping prices adjusted correctly and a system worked out so that I don't stress when I need to ship anything. The pictures are so important, but sometimes it takes up an incredible amount of time. I wish that someone had told me in the beginning to get a tripod as it would have saved me so much time in figuring things out. Right now I'm trying to figure out advertising. How much money and time to spend on it and the most effective approach. So far I like Project Wonderful Ads , my blog , and plug boards.
TDB: What's your favorite monster to make?
Karen: Whichever one I'm working on at the moment. Though seriously, I think my frog monsters and shark monsters tie for that honor.
TDB: What do you do when you're not creating monsters?
Karen: I work part-time as an accountant. But the more interesting things: I play capoeira I draw, I read comics and lots and lots of books, and I play with my adorable cat. My husband and I love to eat sushi and we spend a lot of time outdoors when it's warm out. We also travel a lot, mostly to visit family and friends, but last year we went to Chicago, North Carolina, California and Hawaii, so it takes us all over the place exploring. This year we hope to visit England and Portland, OR too.
Now for the fun. If you want to win "Orion" the Shark Monster (shown here), take a look in Karen's shop, and let us know which monster is your favorite. Please leave only one comment per person, with a valid email address. If we can't get ahold of you, we will draw a new winner.