Interview with Sasha Kulakova of sashakulakova Etsy Shop
Hello, I’m Sasha Kulakova, this is both my name and my little “brand” name. I’m a Russian artist.
I grew up in an artist’s family and this formed my interest in art from an early age. As a child, I was interested in what my relatives were doing: clothes sewing, toys making, wood work, weaving, ceramics, tapestry, quilting, drawing and painting. My interest grew as I got older and I eventually got 3 degrees in the arts: BA in Graphics design, BA in Interior design and MA in Fashion design. I’m also a member of Association of Designers of Russia, ICSID and IDA. Therefore, I worked as a fashion designer for 6 years, while also teaching fashion at University and as a designer at advertising agency.
For the last 4 years I’ve been self employed and it has been a very busy time! I have had about 30 joint exhibitions and a few personal shows. I worked with a number of galleries and show rooms. In addition, I worked for Russian magazines about handmade/craft products. Furthermore, I illustrated books for children and run my own online projects. I have also written my personal book about my handmade designs and products which is expected this autumn.
Last year I moved to the UK and I now work in my home studio. I sell my products in Etsy Internet shop. I study English in my free time and I’m currently working on my second book.
Etsy Shop: sashakulakova
I remember my first kitty, my mother brought him home when I was 3 years old. He was a sunny-ginger male kitty with a fluffy coat. I was expecting him and I was very happy when he was finally brought to our home. However, after one month, I got sick. The doctor told me I was allergic to all animals and I would never be able to have a pet again. Unfortunately, my mother had to return the kitty to its original owners.
I was very sad about this and longed to have a kitty some day…
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In my first year at University, my friend’s cat gave birth to little kitties and they suggested I take one of the kittens. Although, I was hesitant (because of my allergy), my friends reassured me that if anything went wrong, they would take the kitty back. I agreed and took her home and named her “Comsa”.
From that day forward, Comsa became my best friend and Muse. She was always interested in my creative work and tried to participate in her own “kitty” way.
Comsa lived with my family for 15 years and died 2 years ago. After that as fate willed, my mother, (who lives in Russia), got 3 cats. They are very fluffy but I could never play/live with them because of my allergy, which has never completely passed. Now, my mom shows me them on skype video – this is our “cat thearpy” 🙂
Please describe your creative process
Ideas come at the most inconvenient of times especially when I have no pen or paper to write with. I always have to fuss about searching for a pen and a paper :).
When I have an initial idea, I start to think about materials it could be made of, I think over all the details of technical implementation. This process can take from a few days to a few months. When everything is considered, I create sketch, pattern and finalise proportions. Then I create it “in one breath” and it’s finally complete.
How did you discover Etsy? Did you consider other ways to sell your products.
I found out about Etsy via Internet blogs when I was living in Russia 2-3 years ago. Unfortunately, I could not open my own store on Etsy because Paypal doesn’t work with Russian sellers. However, having recently moved to the UK, I was able to open my own shop on Etsy and I’m now selling my very own handmade products.
I have thought about selling my products in other ways, for example, when I was living in Russia, I sold my designs at craft fairs, showrooms and art galleries. At the moment, Etsy is an ideal way to sell my products, but I’m always open other suggestions.
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?
I’m very new to Etsy, as I only opened my shop a few months ago. In that time I had only made 2-3 sales. However, thanks to an article recently published about my work in Moderncat.net, I have sold all my stock in a couple of hours and, as a result, my designs have become very popular!
Do your customers ever give you new ideas for products?
Yes, I would say always. Good customers are like good Muses 🙂 A lot of ideas are inspired by customer feedback or when a customer wants a specific product made and provides interesting design ideas
Have you thought of featuring a Ragdoll cat in some way?
No. I don’t have a cat at the moment, but I hope it will be a possibility in the near future.
Are you a one woman show?
Yes and no 🙂 I work as an artist and all my products are designed and created by me, but I can’t go without the help of my husband. He really believes in me and in the products I make. My husband takes photos of my work, assists me when I need to communicate in English with customers and also helps with technical issues. He is awesome!
Do you have a blog?
I recently started a blog in English on blogspot.com, but I quickly realised that I needed my own website with a blog and other essential sections. Currently, I’m focusing on creating and launching my own website so watch this space.
Do you do custom ordering? Can someone return it if they don’t care for it?
Yes I do create customised design. It’s great to make something specific for a customer.
Of course I accept returns! I want to make every customer happy. If something is wrong with my product(s) I will provide a full refund once the item has been returned to me in its original condition.
Can you share a story with us behind any of your products that you specially enjoyed working on? Maybe because of the story behind the kitty?
There are a lot of funny stories and they happen quite often. For example, after being featured on Moderncat.net, one customer asked to make a black cat. Although I had never made a black cat, this one turned out very cool. This particular customer has her own black “soul kitty” just like I had mine (Comsa). Later she said she has many adopted cats and one of them named Sasha, just like me 🙂 Feline Sasha has blue eyes, like I do. What a wonderful coincidence!
Thanks to Moderncat for the find.