Interview with Suz of polkadotmagpie Etsy Shop
I am a master printmaker, gardener, cook. I grew up in the Chicago area, Cubs fan! I am Midwest through and through. I had a small farm in Illinois and raised fancy animals, and sold eggs and produce to local restaurants. I have two grown children, one grandson, and 2 grand cats. I am married to a custom folding knife maker and designer. Between the two of us, we could pretty much make anything. Every day I wake up facing the beautiful Sandia Mountains…and every night they turn watermelon pink that they are named after. R & B, Jazz, Standards, and Urban “come to Jesus” music are my listening partners while working. Clarissa Clarissa Pinkola Estés inspires me, and I listen to her on CD, and podcasts while making jewelry.
I had planned to paint and make prints in my old age. aka, can’t stand on my feet. But I had a stroke about a month ago, and have lost the ability to draw a circle. I keep trying everyday, hoping those parts of my brain will hook up. Thank goodness there are guides for such things. It would behoove me to learn photoshop for this reason. I now consider myself in the “Non Neurotypical” as my friend Temple Grandin so aptly puts it.
Etsy Shop: polkadotmagpie
1. How did you get interested in cats? How old were you when you had your first kitty?
My first cat brought me a Chicago city street rat and placed it in my crib the morning after I came home from the hospital. That as cat owners know is the highest possible honor. My Mother was horrified…but the pediatrician assured her is was a good thing. “Pretty Face” (my not very original brother named her that years earlier) slept in my crib at night.
2. How did you discover Etsy? Did you consider other ways to sell your products?
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Martha Stewart featured some Etsy sellers years ago. I’ve tried other craft sites…none bring me what Etsy has. I am part of a team on Etsy. “Project Embrace” and some of my items I make have proceeds donated to ACS or HFA. It’s a lovely and supportive team–no snarkyness . ~ is that a word?
3. Do you sell your products in a local store in your area?
No. I used to sell all my work through galleries. But in an economy like this…I know they are not doing well. So I cut out the middle woman/man. Plus I work hard enough…if I wholesale my products…I have to work twice as hard for the same dollar.
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?
Etsy has put me on their blog, and before that gift guides. I now am a treasury making fiend. I am on a team that makes treasuries, so that has inspired me too. In searching for items for treasuries, I have found incredible items on Etsy. My favorite is a space ship…life size, single seater. I love being featured on blogs…it brings a whole new set of people to my shop.
5. Do your customers ever give you new ideas for products?
6. Have you thought of featuring a Ragdoll cat is some way? (Had to ask.)
Ha! Well, I just made a cat charm and it’s a wide body kitty. It will be made out of silver, bronze or copper. So the rag doll colors would be tough. I love Ragdolls…my good friend VL in New Hampshire has “Buzzy” who slept with me at night when I visited.
7. Are you a one wo/man show?
Boy am I! I share a shop with my husband who is a knife maker. Sometimes he helps me solve a problem in production. I have tried getting help…but no one cares about quality the way the owner does. It’s my name going out there, so I am a stickler for detail. I have just ordered dies made by a local machinist for some of my most popular personalized sellers. It will save me time, not $$. Time is the one thing I can’t make more of.
8. Do you have a blog?
9. Do you do custom ordering? Can someone return it if they don’t care for it?
I just had my first person who wants to return a copper personalized bracelet because it “smells like pennies.” (imagine that) So I gave her store credit. Although most sellers would not do this with an item already personalized. But 1 out of 460 is pretty good … so I am doing it.
10. Can you share a story with us behind any of your products that you especially enjoyed working on?
I make 90% of my jewelry out of recycled materials. Knife scraps from my husband’s drawers, and ugly bronze valences that came from my new house. The word has gotten around. So now I get boxes of scraps from other knife makers, supply houses, and vintage Etsy sellers. I have boxes of some of the most interesting materials.
I started my company after retiring from the tv/movie biz in NM as a costumer. I wanted to call it the “Recessionista Jewelry Company.” All my items are under $200…most under $60. I know from being a costumer how much costume jewelry was made during the depression. And for all who are aware….we are in another depression not a recession. I knew people would want something special, but don’t have a lot of discretionary income.
One of my favorite items is made from titanium scrap, and REAL airplane parts. It’s a bird…one of the silly ones I made up. I say in the listing “he’s flown before!” I have superconductor cable from the super collider they closed in Texas. Meteorite, damascus steel, mamoth ivory, hippo tooth. All the animal products I use are from old taxidermied, or extinct animals. I was offered Ray Skin…and I turned it down, because I was a diver and love stingrays.
Currently I am working on a NASA Space piece for a contest honoring the space station that is ending in 2011. I will incorporate all the materials like carbon fiber & titanium that were invented and used by space age technology. Plus a dash or meteorite! 🙂 The cat charm I just designed after my 16 year old Maine Coon “Columbus” who passed away this summer.