Interview With Judy Johnson of Bay Colony Designs Etsy Shop
My loves in life have always been miniatures, animals, and sculpture. I think I liked miniatures because you could have so many and still have room for more! I began sculpting when I was about 5-6 yrs. old. My first sculpture was modeling clay, animal that was about 4 inches tall. I guess some things just don’t change.
I have a degree in commercial design and continue to take art classes any time I get the chance! I love being a stay-at-home mom AND making art for a living. I am married to my wonderful husband, Johnny, who seems to say the right thing at the right time. My son Nicholas (6 yrs) is the one I turn to for critiques. If I get an “Ahhh, can I have it?”, I know my art piece it is ready to hit the market. I hope to continue making needle-felted kitties for a very long time.
Etsy Shop: BayColonyDesigns.etsy.com
All photos and answers are copyrighted by Judy Johnson 2010.
1. How did you get interested in cats?
When I was growing up we lived in the middle of nowhere. Therefore, any stray animals that needed a home came to our house.
2. How old were you when you had your first kitty?
I was about 4 years old. My Dad still displays a photo of me at that age with three kittens crawling all over me.
3. How did you discover Etsy?
My step daughter, Sloane Solanto, is an artist and in 2007 she opened her shop. (http://www.etsy.com/shop/SloaneSolanto) She gave me all the information about Etsy. At that time I didn’t think I needed any more activities to fill my day. It wasn’t until a year later that I decided to give it a try. I’m sure glad I did! I love Etsy.
4. Did you consider other ways to sell your products?
Yes, I have distributed original quilting patterns in quilt shops and I have an exclusive relationship with a vendor that travels the quilt show circuit selling my watercolors.
5. Do you sell your products in a local store in your area?
No at this time, I only sell my cats through Etsy.
6. Have you been successful at selling your products on Etsy?
I started out selling patterns and watercolor paintings. Although I was successful, I wasn’t as successful as I wanted to be. I think that is because of my competitive side. I watched other artist selling on a daily basis. I wanted to do that!
Then my husband said “Make cats.” I am so glad that I listened and wondered why I
didn’t think of it. I have met so many nice people in the cat world. I love sculpting with wool and each cat makes my heart sing.
7. Have you always been successful, or did you end up getting a lot more traffic after being featured on a specific blog?
I have noticed a sizable difference in the traffic on my site when being mentioned on a blog or website.
8. Do your customers ever give you new ideas for products?
I love it when customers want custom and special orders! I love seeing their kitties, and hearing the stories behind them. It helps me put extra life into my sculptures.
Have you thought of featuring a Ragdoll cat in some way? I have not considered featuring a specific breed. But, I am open to the idea if anybody has suggestions, write to me. info@BayColonyDesigns.com
9. Are you a one woman show?
Yep, I work by myself. I keep company with the finest competition quilters on my computer during the day. I watch, The Quilt Show, the quilting world has provided mountains of inspiration and tips to achieve quality. Quilters also keep me going with their examples of generosity and kindness.
10. Do you have a blog?
It is not running at this time.
11. Do you do custom ordering?
Yes and I also do special orders. Such as scale miniatures for doll houses, dogs, Christmas ornaments, etc.
12. Can someone return it if they don’t care for it?
No one has ever asked for a return. But I do have a policy in place. I want customers to be happy.
13. Can you share a story with us behind any of your products that you especially enjoyed working on?
My most recent favorite was a beautiful grey striped kitty that had recently passed away. The owner was simply heartbroken. She wanted a kitty pincushion made, but couldn’t bear to look at her photos. After a couple of months she wrote and said she had put 1 photo in the mail. I made the kitty pincushion and mailed it off to her. She has written to me and it seems as though she has new life in her. It feels good when a piece of my art can make someone feel so much better.
I also feel the need to give back to the cat world. Therefore, I have found the Hope for Life Rescue. (http://www.hopeforliferescue.com/home/adopt.php) It is a local rescue in Virginia Beach. At the end of the year, a portion of the proceeds from each kitty sold at my shop goes to helping the kitties there. Here are two kitties from the rescue.