I stumble across so many amazing artists when I am cruising around Etsy everyday and it was really a pleasure to come across Gigi Minor from my very own town- Tucson, AZ- she has a shop called Pinks and Needles. What drew me in was the cottagie frothiness that is carried over into every element of her shop- presentation -packaging- graphics- lets not forget product.
Describe what you sell.
I'm expanding my business in a few different
directions but my "pin toppers" are my most popular items. What's a pin topper? ( I bet a few of you are wondering...) it's basically a tiny little hand sculpted surprise on the top of a sewing pin! Think of it as a little "bling" for your pincushion! It may be a cupcake or a piece of fruit, a little birdie or even a fancy platter with a slice of cake : )
What is your real life like?
Well I can say this for sure ~ it's busy and getting busier with the holidays approaching. I'm married to a wonderful man, no kids (yet), we have 2 old lady cats (Priss and Tanzy) and a Silky Terrier Chester Copperpot. I have so many interests it's ridiculous! I love to go thrifting up in Catalina! Baking, interior decorating, gardening, web design, sewing clothes for my Blythe dolls, travelling (although we never seem to find the time to go out of country any more), watching movies, making something that cost a dollar look like a million bucks, building doll houses, I've just started to dabble in writting my own patterns for pincushions, the list goes on and on.....it's safe to say i'm not a person who ever gets bored! There's too much fun stuff out there to learn and make!
What is your process?
Step #1: Making the pins! I hand sculpt each pin without the use of a molds. My materials are very simple: polymer clay, my hands, a flat surface, pins and most importantly LOVE!
Step #2: Baking the pins! I usually like to fire up the oven about 2-3 times per week ~ especially since the warmer weather is approaching I prefer to bake in larger batches.
Step #3: Varnishing! This is the part that requires a lot of patience!
First I will varnish the pins and let them dry but it's funny sometimes the varnish dries really slow and I have to wait a day or more to apply a second coat. Then wait again. So please note this is usually the part I'm waiting on myself before I can move on to the next step : )
Step #4: Packaging! I know this probably sounds funny but this is my most favorite part of the process because I love pretty packaging and seeing something come together is the most rewarding : )The first step is to design the little card stock each pin is tied to. I use fabric and scrapbook paper a lot for the initial concept as my background design. I also love to use different computer graphic programs like Print Artist and Fireworks to get the job done. Each design has it's own little card and I hand cut each card after I print them out, punch tiny little holes and then tie each pin on to secure it in place. A little piece of tape is applied to cover the tip of the pin so no one gets hurt! I have now started to sign and date the back of each card too : )
(Hopefully we're on) Step #5: Each pin is then put into a small ziplock bag and off to the "presentation" box it goes. Each box will be tied with a coordinating string and a Pinks & Needles hang tag with a seasonal flower.
Business Goals and Vision...
Ha! This is a great question? One that I ask myself daily - also one that my parents ask me very frequently. It's somewhat of a "catch-22"
because since it is only wee little me who makes everything I feel like I I were to hire help and go bigger it wouldn't be an indy business like it is now. Which I love! Handmade items are the best for so many reasons! That's the one thing BIG BOX stores don't have ~ items made with love and passion. I really have to take it day by day and ride the wave while I can so to speak because I know I won't be making pin toppers forever! What's really important to me is that I create things that I know my customers will enjoy so I am open to adding new things and expanding what I offer! I have yet to sell any paintings ( one of my true passions is painting on canvas, but I haven't had the time : )
How do you market your business?
I think flickr has been a huge catalyst for me. That's where most people find me and then that trickles into etsy and so forth.
I was asked by Sarah (owner of Quilt Fabric Delights) to make pin toppers for the "Pincushion of the Month Club" and that's brought in a ton of business. She does advertise it in magazines etc. Check it out ~ it's really cool:
Also Sandi Henderson of Portabellopixie was my very first pin topper order back in February of this year! She was the one that really got me up and gunning to open my etsy shop Pinks & Needles! For those of you who don't know who she is...she's a licensed fabric designer for Michael Miller Fabrics. Her newest line Farmer's Market is out now and it's fabulous! She featured a few of my pin toppers to accent her cupcake pincushion pattern on the front cover!
Even though I won't be attending Silver Bella this year, one of my friends Cheryl Dack of http://www.confectionsfabric.com/ will be handing out tons of samples for me! I also have a few people that do the big quilt shows and pass my cards out ~ other than that I'd say good old "Word of Mouth".
Do you subscribe to any business related blogs, zines or magazines?
I honestly don't really subscribe to any! I know this may comes as a shock but if I have any extra time to myself I go to fun links (unrelated to business per say):
For Doll Stuff:
What inspires you?
Hmmm....everything but the kitchen sink! My husband Naiche (pronounced "nay-chi"), whose my rock! Nothing phases him and he never gets bent out of shape. He's a retired golf touring professional who is very involved with the "Green" movement, which in turn makes him a very caring and innovative person! Movies (Romantic Comedies), Re-Runs (the OC), Flickr (eye candy on every page), bright and vibrant colors, shabby chic, fruity smells, California (my home State), my parents (my Dad is literally a walking encyclopedia and my mom is the most grounded person I know), Retro and Vintage Styles, my animals, out of print books, cakes and bakery items in general...gift wrap, ribbon, blank canvases, flowers and last but not least eating healthy salads every day! I know it may sound silly but I really do notice a difference in how I view every day life when I eat better!
Who is your favorite musical artist?
I have many favorite bands and am constantly changing what's in my CD players. I really love old records from my grandmother's era, Musicals like The Sound of Music, West Side Story, South Pacific, My Fair Lady etc. Newer voices like Amy Winehouse (even though she's a hot mess as they say ~ her voice is like butter! I'm not much of a country fan but I love Johnny Cash! My niece Lauren is so amazing I could listen to her sing all day long!
Here take a listen
What are two of your favorite things from your shop?
Strawberry Cupcake Ornaments: ( second picture)
Kawaii Deery Fawn Pincushion Set: (third picture)
Am a fan of these places...
Pivot12: Art Gallery
Love Lee Soaps
Off the Wall Graphic Art
Cutest Stuffed Plushies
Find seller at...
Tons of my photos are on flickr: everything from my thrifty finds, Blythe Dolls posing for the camera, things that I bake etc...
My blog Pinks & Needles: