Thursday, 2 April 2009

Let's meet ... ffflowers!

I've known Helen for *ages* as a fellow UK seller, but is her newest innovation.

Cats or dogs?
I love the independence of cats – dogs are far too needy for me – but sadly I am allergic to them so I will have to say neither.

Star Wars or Star Trek?
Definitely Star Trek TNG – I just love Patrick Stewart’s voice!

Fruit or chocolate?
Can I have bananas and chocolate? Or better still, chocolate covered bananas… yum!

Favourite colour?
Last year I went to a big textile show with 2 friends – an old friend and a new friend – and they ended up arguing over what MY favourite colour was! The old friend insisted I loved blues, the new friend swore that I liked natural browns and neutrals better. So I guess the answer is, I like all colours, depends on the situation. (And I’m not too sure about pink…)

City break or weekend in the country?
City break – I am a total townie! I love galleries and museums and too much fresh air makes me sneeze.

Soaps or documentaries?
Our TV only seems to work on the Sports channels. Mostly I ignore it.

That's so strange. Our TV is quite the opposite ;-)

What brought you to Etsy? Tell us about your shop (or shops) Do you sell anywhere else?

I first discovered Etsy nearly 2 years ago through reading various blogs. I was at home having given up work to spend more time with my 2 sons, looking for something to do with myself. After 6 months or so I plucked up the courage to open my first where I sell mixed media art and cards, and then handmade sketchbooks.

(Niftyknits remembers using one of hmsdesigns' lovely seascapes in one of her first ever treasuries)

It is still there, but sadly neglected at the moment. I realised that the photographing/listing took up a ridiculous amount of time and to have a shop that was in any way sustainable I would have to make some repeatable products. So I carried on experimenting – I just love to be making things – until I came up with my flowers. It took a fair bit of trying to get them just right and also to decide on the yarns to use; some which look as if they will be good just don’t work at all. And at the beginning of this year I opened and so far, so good!
I also have a shop on folksy selling a mixture of items from my 2 Etsy shops, but that is sadly neglected too at the moment.

What’s the favourite item you’ve made so far?

Every time I make a new colour flower that is my favourite! But I am also very keen on the mixed paper sketchbooks I make for my hmsdesign shop. I know I should do a lot more drawing than I do but too much white paper makes me nervous, so the different pages help somehow.

What has been the most useful lesson you’ve learnt so far?
Don’t undersell yourself. Make sure you consider every bit of work you put into an item – it soon adds up - from buying materials to making to photographing to listing, before you set the price. You may still decide not to charge for every minute of your time, but you should be aware of it. If the rush does come, you want to make sure you are making a reasonable return for all the hard work you are putting in.

If you could start again, is there anything you’d do differently?
I don’t think so. Maybe I would have had a bit more confidence in myself! It would have been nice to know then what I know now, but this past year or so has all been a learning experience I wouldn’t have missed.

How do you see your store developing?
More flowers, bigger flowers, really big flowers, smaller flowers, flowers with leaves… I would also like to expand my range of mixed media art in my hmsdesign shop – when I have time… There are so many things I would like to try!

What have you been doing today that I’ve interrupted?

Not ironing shirts.

What’s your top marketing tip for today?

Photographs are everything! And particularly the first picture; this need not show everything about an item, or even very much of it all, but it needs to be enticing and above all, a beautiful picture in itself. And join a team – they help so much.

Thanks Helen! For more, check out, and of course Helen's three shops:

And finally...don't forget to click here to enter yesterday's competition to win your own meerkat!


Helen Smith said...

So excited to be featured - thank you Heather!

Krystle said...

THIS WAS GREAT! its so finny too beacuse i was totally browsing through her shop this morn.

My Mother's Garden said...

Another great interview Heather!
Helen's flowers are absolutely vibrant and gorgeous!

Linden said...

What absolutely beautiful flowers!!

Great interview and great advice - especially re photographs, I'm still trying with mine but will take the plunge this weekend and crop to details for my first ones.

Helen, I am with you all the way re bananas and chocolate - just the most heavenly combination.....

Bagladee said...

Beautiful work she's so talented.