To be a professional crafter in today's economy you have to have a deep love for the craft that you do, an obsession. You cannot work at it a little here and a little there, you have to think about it almost night and day. Your handcrafted items fill you with pride, the actual physical craft is something you take pleasure in doing, you find inspiration for your craft in everyday things, you are always on the lookout for a new twist to your work, these are the signs of obsession.
I am a professional folk art crafter. I have been doing this for almost 15 years and I still love doing it. I enjoy the thrill of the craft show season; meeting new people, reconnecting with loyal customers, the nervousness I still feel at the start of each show, the personal satisfaction in knowing that people like what I do, all of those things are what keep me doing this job. I didn't start off saying I wanted to be a crafter when I grew up, it creeped up on me slowly and took me by surprise.
I was a statistical analyst for an oil field supply company and I quit my job to have a family. When all my sons were born and my husband was away on business trips I found myself looking for a hobby to help fill my evenings and to express my creative side. As all of us do, we find something that interests us and we try it. I have always been an artistic person and my grandmother taught me how to sew, knit, crochet and do needlework when I was a girl, so I had a good start at crafting. I did the usual things, painted tee shirts, did ceramics, counted cross stitched many things, but then I tried my hand at painting wooden items and found something that I loved. My husband was a huge help to me, he loved to work with wood and he was always eager to cut out a project for me. I spent many hours at the craft stores and looking at all the pattern books for my next endeavor. At the time I had three small sons, all under the age of 4, and he told me I was so cleaver I should "do something in my spare time" to make some money. I guess he didn't know that with three small sons, a husband that traveled and a house to care for there wasn't really much "spare time". So years go by and my sons are all in school and my sister and I start doing crafts and selling them in a craft mall, we get invited to do a craft show and we are a huge hit! Nothing feeds an obsession more than success.
As our popularity increased it was obvious that my sister and I each needed to go in different directions. That was very scary, my sister was always the one I counted on for knowing what was going to be a hit at the shows, she was always dead on, but we both knew it was time to change and move forward. So I signed up for a craft show all by myself. My husband asked me what I was going to name my new venture and I told him "My Spare Time Designs" and he looked at me and said "Is that directed at me?" and I told him "Directly!" So my little company was born. Many things have changed since that first craft show, we are still doing wooden items, but other mediums have been added. I think that is the key to being in the business 15 years, change! If you don't keep things new and fresh your customers will notice and you will find your sales down. Keep moving, keep changing, keep growing - it's all a tale of obsession!
Come by and visit us at http://www.mysparetimedesigns.com/ or at one of our Fall Craft Shows.