Interview With Vanessa Lauria Of Pidge Pidge Etsy Shop
I run pidge pidge out of a cozy third floor apartment in Rochester, NY with my boyfriend and grumpy cat, Pigeon. My sewing machine and I are sandwiched between an old floor loom and a giant stack of fabric in a tiny red room. There you’ll find me hand embroidering quirky pet portraits, weaving scarves and looking out the window watching the neighborhood pups walk their owners.
Etsy Shop: pidge pidge
All answers are copyright of Vanessa Lauria.
1. How did you get interested in cats? How old were you when you had your first kitty?
I’ve always loved animals- especially dogs and cats. We got our only family kitty when I was 8 years old. Wesley (named after Wesley in the Princess Bride) was a cute orange tabby who spent most of his time sleeping, sunning his fat belly in the window for 15 years.
We adopted Pidge as a kitten 3 years ago from a local shelter – Lollypop Farm. She’s half calico, half tortoiseshell and has the attitude to prove it! I hope she’ll mellow out one day and learn to enjoy company- but for now I’m happy she loves stalking birds from the window and snuggling me at night- even if she thinks it’s just for warmth 🙂
2. How did you discover Etsy? Did you consider other ways to sell your products?
I learned about Etsy from my friend Rachel (redprairiepress.etsy.com). She helped me set up shop and encouraged me like crazy. Besides Etsy, I have started doing local craft shows. I love the 2 ends of the spectrum- knowing people all over the Internet can visit the online shop and getting to meet people at craft shows is so inspiring.
3. Do you sell your products in a local store in your area?
I don’t have anything in stores- but occasionally am invited to be a part of exhibitions. I’ve been able to show my portraits and scarves at galleries in NYC, Minnesota, Chicago and Tokyo!
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?
My goal is to be able to give pidgepidge 100% of my time and efforts- a quit-my-day-job goal. I am working towards that – hopefully increasing the craft shows every year and popping up on blogs from time to time. A custom pet portrait I appliqued as a wedding gift of 2 cats getting married made it onto craftzine.com last year- this really upped the traffic on my Etsy shop.
They often do unintentionally! For scarves: I am always inspired by the different color combinations and fashion sense of my customers. I keep a notebook at craft shows to jot down ideas for scarves.
For portraits: I keep the unchosen sketches of commissioned pet portraits for future ideas.
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.)
Maybe in a future pet portrait 🙂
8. Do you have a blog?
I love showcasing new scarves and portraits on my blog – www.pidgepidge.blogspot.com. I have a place to show and tell commissioned pieces, the latest antics of my cat and occasional cooking adventures. I also have a hard time editing the photographs I take for my shop. I use the blog to post other views/styles of my work.
9. Do you do custom ordering? Can someone return it if they don’t care for it?
I do commissioned scarves and portraits. Most recently, I finished a custom scarf for a friend of mine who simply provided me with a cutout from an Anthropologie magazine and a tag from one of her favorite coats for color inspiration. The last portrait I finished was a combo of two kitties- one dressed as a hobo, the other a dapper gentleman with suit and top hat.
I take as many steps as I can to avoid my customers from being unhappy with their product. We discuss ideas at length and make decisions from sketches and color swatches before I go ahead with the finished product. I always send photographs of the finished piece for approval before shipping out. So far, so good 🙂
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?
Making the appliqued wedding portrait was a great experience. I love finding scraps of fabric with different textures- from vintage lace to corduroy. The groomsman is Mr. Sammy- the biggest, fluffiest, friendliest cat I know. The portrait took a month or two and was a gift for dear friends. We made our bridesmaid dresses and walked down an aisle of pine needles at an organic farm in New Hampshire. So beautiful!