Interview with Cari Tetzlaff of heartfeltwool Etsy Shop

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Catnip Cat Toy - Purple Mouse Hugging Heart
Catnip Cat Toy – Purple Mouse Hugging Heart

Interview with Cari Tetzlaff of heartfeltwool Etsy Shop

By day I am a cat adoption counselor for my local humane society. By night I am a catnip toy seamstress! My husband is allergic to cats, so we have house rabbits who don’t much care for toys. Making felt catnip toys for those with feline companions is a way for me to give a gift to animals who enjoy them while simultaneously giving back to homeless cats by donating 5% of my sales. By purchasing from my shop, you are literally put food in the dishes of homeless pets.

homemade cat toys

Etsy Shop: heartfeltwool

1. How did you get interested in cats? How old were you when you had your first kitty?

I was six years old when I got my first cat. My dog had just passed away and I was heartbroken. My poor mother drove me in a snowstorm to pick up my new cat, Mittens, who was a blue Abyssinian. Mittens recently passed away last year. Unfortunately my husband is allergic to cats, so I am not able to have any more, but I am a cat adoption counselor at my local humane society so I get my kitty fix at work!

2. How did you discover Etsy? Did you consider other ways to sell your products?

Catnip Cat Toy - Panda holding bamboo
Catnip Cat Toy – Panda holding bamboo $7.00

I was referred to etsy by a friend. It’s a wonderful way to connect consumers with my work. I also sell on Art Fire, consign in local boutiques and sell at craft fairs.

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3. Do you sell your products in a local store in your area?

My products are available in Oshkosh, Wisconsin at Dainty Daisies and Caramel Crisp Cafe.

4. Have you been successful at selling your products on Etsy?  Have you always been successful, or did you end up getting a lot more traffic after being featured on a specific blog?

Under the Sea Catnip Cat Toy Three Pack - Squid, Crab and Starfish $17.50
Under the Sea Catnip Cat Toy Three Pack – Squid, Crab and Starfish $17.50

I have done well with online sales, but I make the vast majority of my sales in person. I think it helps customers to be able to pick up my products to examine the quality and the intricacy of some of the stitches and embroidery. When a customer buys from me directly at a craft show, I am also able to help with the selection of an appropriate toy. Many of my cat toys appeal to specific cat play-styles. For example, I have many smaller toys like the panda or mouse that are idea for carrying, toys with legs like the squid that are perfect for tossing, and larger toys like the tooth and pretzel that are wonderful for bunny-kicking.

5. Do your customers ever give you new ideas for products?

Catnip Cat Toy - Cheeseburger $8.00
Catnip Cat Toy – Cheeseburger $8.00

All the time! Many of the catnip toys available in my shop started out as custom orders. I recently did a custom order of gnome catnip toys that will soon be available as a regular item in my etsy shop.

6. Have you thought of featuring a Ragdoll cat is some way? (Had to ask.)

I’d love to have photos of Ragdoll cats playing with my toys on my Facebook fan page. Many of my customers have uploaded fan photos. Cat people are the most wonderful customers. They are always willing to share pictures of their cats playing with my toys.

7. Are you a one wo/man show?

Catnip Cat Toy - Soft Pretzel $8.00
Catnip Cat Toy – Soft Pretzel $8.00

When I get overwhelmingly busy preparing for upcoming craft fairs my husband occasionally helps me with some of the prep work, but otherwise all of the toys are completely hand-stitched by me! I take satisfaction in seeing projects through from design to completion.

8. Do you have a blog?

I do! I must admit, though, my Facebook fan page is updated with much more frequency.

9. Do you do custom ordering? Can someone return it if they don’t care for it?

I love to do custom work. If there is a quality issue I am always willing to work with customers to make things right. If you are not happy I want to make you happy. Generally speaking, however, if I do a custom order that I cannot resell in my shop, I expect the customer to understand that I can replace an item but I am not able to issue a refund.

10. Can you share a story with us behind any of your products that you especially enjoyed working on? Maybe because of the story behind the kitty?

Catnip Cat Toy- Cthulhu - H.P. Lovecraft Fans $7.00
Catnip Cat Toy- Cthulhu – H.P. Lovecraft Fans $7.00

My favorite catnip toy is the catnip Cthulhu. For those who many not know, Cthulhu is a literary mythical creature created by the author H.P. Lovecraft. Lovecraft is considered by many to be the father of modern horror. Cthulhu is an ancient being who slumbers in the depths of the ocean. When he is awakened, mass chaos ensues. The irony of a cat dragging around an effigy of Cthulhu is not lost on me or my customers.

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