OOAK Spring: Embroiderwee & Clayshapes

I’m not actually in the spring One of a Kind Show this year but I thought I’d give a shout out to the fellow artisans who have been on the blog in the past. (It’s complicated. I was in the show, then we were leaving the country for a year and I wasn’t, then the situation changed and I’m still here in the country and not in the spring show. Just as well as I’d rather take the time to chill for a bit than try to sell warm hats to people who only want summer!!!)

And just a reminder that these folks have given advice for newbies so if you’re showing in the upcoming One of a Kind Show for the first time, check out their fellow artisan features (near the bottom of each post will be newbie advice).

For this year, I thought I’d let you know about my fellow artisans and the new products they will have with them at the show in a couple of weeks!

Embroiderwee (fellow artisan feature here) has a new Facebook page. Shawne will be debuting her new appliqué pillows and her lovely embroidered pouches. I just love how her product line has expanded since I’ve known her. Check out Embroiderwee at booth N20 in the Rising Stars section.

Embroiderwee pillows 

Clayshapes (fellow artisan feature here) has an adorable new Bee Collection! From Leslie:

“New for Spring – a collection of bee-inspired dishes and magnet sets. I’m so impressed with these hard-working creatures, who pollinate the plants that grow most of the food that we eat. We would be starving without them! Save the Bees!” Check out Leslie in the Etsy section at table P48J.

Clayshapes bee magnets Bee dish

Fellow Artisan: Minouette (EtsyMIC & OOAK)

I met Ele Wiloughby last fall at the Danforth East Arts Fair. She is an east ender like myself, one of the fantastic captains of the Toronto Etsy Street Team, and the main organizer for the upcoming Etsy: Made in Canada at the MaRS Discovery District. Ele will be at MaRS next Saturday, 10am – 4pm with her art and textiles.

(Click on images to go to Etsy listing and view larger image)

things from secret minouette places

Products: linocut fine art and textiles

Price Range: $15 – $200

How did this all begin?
I’ve been printmaking since I was a small child. I’ve always loved art on the one hand and science on the other. I started selling on line in 2007.

I view my shop as a Cabinet of Curiosity, filled with all sorts of specimen of flora and fauna, with the odd imaginary creature thrown in, much like in historical wunderkammer. I find the intersection of art and science, or science and magic to be inspiring. I am also making my own idiosyncratic history of science – in linocut form – focusing particular attention on some of the underappreciated heroines of science. I am work science in to the media I use and have started making prints which are thermochromic and change colour with temperature, or which employ electrically conductive ink and electronics.

What advice do you have for a first-time One of a Kind Show vendor?

I like the advice I got from Lisa from Girl Can Create which was to give it three years to really evaluate how the show works for you. It takes time to grow an OOAK audience. From my own experience I would also advise to make as much as you can, and yet do not crowd yourself into too small a place. The days are long and you don’t want to be squished!

Do you have a favourite OOAK show moment/memory to share?

My favorite part so far has been putting faces to shop names and meeting my fellow artisans! There’s a great OOAK vendor community.

You can find things from secret minoutte places on Etsyblogspot, Twitter @minouette, Facebook, and Pinterest.

(All images used with permission.)

Fellow Artisan: carolyndraws (EtsyMIC)

Carolyn Verkuyl will be at Etsy: Made in Canada in booth #102 at the MaRS Atrium in 9 days!

Products: Letterpress stationery, handmade Super Magnets, calendars, art prints and other fun paper goods featuring my illustrations and quirky life observations

Price Range: $5 – $40

How did this all begin?
I am trained as an art director (advertising) and for years used my illustrations to create engaging campaigns for a variety of clients. But I always drew in my spare time too. Making for friends turned into a full time job when I got an antique letterpress and began using my illustrations to brighten cards and other paper goods.

I am a hockey mom, a realist and an illustrator. Put those three together and I find I have all the inspiration I need in the every day. I love coming up with new ideas for cards and magnets and putting marker to paper. Those scribbles in turn become paintings, illustrations and plates for my press. I find there’s no shortage of people out there who love a uniquely Canadian and caffeine-deprived point of view on this life and I enjoy making them smile (and meeting the like-minded online and in person at shows). When I’m not hurdling piles of laundry or hockey equipment, I draw. And draw. I test my ideas on family and friends and the “not bad” ones join the fray in a booth or online soon enough. I print all of my stationery myself, one colour at a time, on my antique letterpress using my own fonts and illustrations and my magnets are all made by hand in Toronto Canada.

www.carolyndraws.comInstagram & Twitter * etsy.com/shop/carolyndraws

What advice do you have for a first-time One of a Kind Show vendor?
My best advice would be to pack as much enthusiasm as you do product. Go in organized and prepared to learn a lot about your customers, your product and other Makers. Take notes on everything. Also, you cannot have enough lighting or snacks. And comfortable shoes.

I did this blog post about my first time at the OOAK.

Do you have a favourite OOAK show moment/memory to share?
I love the moments just before the Show opens every morning, when the floor is quiet, my booth is set up, my tea is hot and the promise of the day ahead is great. It’s my favourite time. But so is the end of the night, when I can finally get off my feet, tell my husband about all of the people I met and get ready to do it all again the next day 🙂

(All images used with permission.)

Fellow artisan: Red Thread Design (DEAF & OOAK)

I’ve known of Devorah Miller for a while through a friend, and I’m pretty sure I bought one of her lovely dresses many years ago at the One of a Kind Show for my niece as well. We met in person this past weekend at the Cabbagetown Art & Crafts Sale, had a great weekend, and are looking forward to another great weekend coming right up at the Danforth East Arts Fair this Saturday and Sunday from 10-5 at East Lynn Park near Woodbine Station. Come on out and check out the art, handmade goods, food, children’s activities, music, and pick up a Red Thread dress for your wee one!

Caterpillar Dress Corduroy Shirtdress Summer Breeze Dress

Red Thread Design

Products: Children’s clothing, most of which is designed to be multi-season and to last for years. I also make baby quilts, mostly using the scraps left over from my dresses and tops.

Price Range: $20-$64

How did this all begin?
I grew up with a textile artist mother who taught art classes in my house, so my interest in creating with fabric started very early. Red Thread was born in 2004, while I was working full-time as a writer for an architecture firm. On maternity leave with my second daughter, the desire to quilt and sew again overtook me. I started making patchwork dresses for my daughters, like little living quilts that we could use and enjoy, but soon started designing more simply, to enjoy the beauty of wonderful fabrics without such time-intense labour. I love the creative design process, the satisfaction of making things by hand, the connections with my customers, and the challenges of being an entrepreneur. That’s kept me happily working away at this for ten years!

The name “Red Thread” was inspired by a lovely Chinese proverb I discovered when I adopted my daughter Samantha from China in 2003: “An invisible red thread connects those who are destined to meet regardless of time, place or circumstance. The thread may stretch or tangle but will never break.” I love the image this conjures of all of us being interconnected.

I don’t design clothing because I love fashion. For me it’s all about the joy of gorgeous fabric and colour. Children know instinctively what they like, and they’re not self-conscious about pattern and colour. I love the freedom that designing for children gives me to use wonderful vibrant fabrics, and the challenge of making clothing last a long time, even though it’s designed for active, growing bodies. I believe that for all of us, surrounding ourselves with colours and textures we love, and wearing well-made clothes that make us feel great, just make life better.

I’m currently designing my first line for women (to launch in Spring 2015) and am trying to capture that love of beautiful fabric and colour in a way that’s really wearable, even by more self-conscious grownups!

What advice do you have for a first-time One of a Kind Show vendor?
Preparing for One of a Kind Show for the first time can be very stressful. My advice is to take some time and calmly think through everything a potential customer will experience from the time they approach your booth. What do they see? Is it well lit, so your product stands out? Is there some product close to the aisle that they can touch or admire to entice them to step in? Are there beautiful images showing your work in action, to reinforce that your work is valuable/luxurious, or practical, or adorable?

Once they’re engaged by your product and you are helping them find just the right thing, where will you reach to grab exactly what they want (is it out on table, stored under a table, in a bin), and how will you complete the transaction? What will you put in their bag? What does that bag look like? (hint: branded bags, even just with a sticker or stamp, are a very good idea)

Last but not least, how will they find you again? If you are able, capture their email address so that you have a way of communicating with them in the future. This is immensely valuable and should not be overlooked. You can do this with a book to sign, ballots for a giveaway, whatever works for you. Don’t forget to email your list of wonderful new customers to thank them after the show!

If, when thinking through all of these things, you still have questions, get in touch with a current exhibitor. I’d be happy to answer any questions about the show and I know many other exhibitors would too! This is a very supportive community and there is a wealth of information being shared and discussed, so don’t hesitate to reach out.

Do you have a favourite OOAK show moment/memory to share?
I have so many one of a kind moments. I have had customers buying clothing from me for children soon-to-be adopted, and then meeting those children and seeing them grow. I have met amazing people who do charitable work and have collaborated with some of those people on fundraising projects. And I have met generous vendors who stepped in to help when another vendor needed a hand – sometimes in a big way. I have customers who have followed my work for ten years through this show, and some customers and vendors who have become close friends. Sometimes tears are shed in my booth, when a customer catches up with me about the past year’s events. These connections are my favourite thing about doing this show.

Red Thread’s website is www.redthreaddesign.ca. You can also find Red Thread Design on Facebook Instagram, Twitter, YouTube, and on her blog.

Baby Twin Set

(Images from Devorah Miller used with permission.)

Fellow Artisan: thunderpeep designs (DEAF, EtsyMIC & OOAK)

Michelle and I met online via Etsy and the Toronto Etsy Street Team, and we met in person last September at the Danforth East Arts Fair, where she was my neighbour. Her cards and stationary are full of fun. Check out thunderpeep designs at the upcoming Danforth East Arts Fair on September 13 & 14 at East Lynn Park, and at the end of the month at the flagship Etsy: Made in Canada (a nation-wide collection of pop-up markets) sale at the MaRS Atrium on September 27 from 10am – 4pm.


thunderpeep designs

Products: I design quirky paper goodies. Everything from greeting cards to notepads to giclée prints.

Price Range: $4.00 up to $45

How did this all begin? 
I’m a Graphic Designer by profession and working on my own pieces was always a way of keeping my sanity. From there it’s the same story you hear so many times, people loved what I made for them and wanted to buy some to give to their friends and then I discovered the amazing world of Etsy and online selling and it opened up so many possibilities.

There are 2 things I truly love in this world (well ok, maybe more than 2 but for the sake of this interview and in regards to my business I’ll stick to these 2) Strange folk tales from far off lands and really dumb jokes. They’re both kind of like magical escapes. I think we could all use a little bit of extra giggles in our lives, so I try to add a bit of that magic into all my pieces. Some just make you laugh, some might make you believe. Usually a new design will spark from either a story I’ve read, about some unusual tradition based on an old folk tale (or it gets added to my overflowing idea book!) or from a silly saying I’ve heard or said – I seriously think in terms of greeting cards these days. It’s not uncommon for me to have a notebook with me anytime I’m with friends so I can jot down all these words and then when I have some quiet time in my nook I’ll play around with the words and add in some designs until it comes to life.
When I’m thinking of new products to add to my line I try to think of things that people need. A lot of my work has a very Nordic/Scandinavian style to it and one of the key components in their design esthetic is functionality. I’ve recently started to add in invitations to my product line, there’s a definite lack of seriously fun invitation sets out there and not everyone can afford pretty custom invites. I wanted people to have something really cool to send out to their friends and family so I’ve been adding blank invites for kids and adults birthdays, summer dinner parties, Thanksgiving and New Years parties (but custom designs are still available of course!)
thunderpeep has evolved recently into more of a surface design company, as I expand beyond just stationery. I’ve always had a love of patterns, from nature to architecture to fashion – I have kind of always seen life in patterns. As i sit down to work on new designs I’m starting to think more and more about where it can be applied.

What advice do you have for a first-time One of a Kind Show vendor?
I have 3 pieces of advice for OOAK first timers:

Enjoy the process: From the application to the booth setup to the long days. You learn so much about yourself and your business during these times. So many people get overwhelmed and forget to take it all in. It’s such a fun time even in the midst of all the stress leading up to it. Even the application for the show, it’s makes you take a look at your business from the outside in. And take loads of notes during the show. You learn a lot about your customer base and not to mention, how to run a successful creative business from the other vendors who’ve been doing the show for a few years.

Marketing: SO important. Before, during and after. Make sure you have clear and catchy branding (it’s worth the investment) Every single person who steps into your space is a potential customer. Probably not that day, but maybe the next. Or maybe a month down the road. Have a great handout (either business card or postcard with a great photo of your product or catchy graphic) that makes it easy for them to remember you and be able to find you when they are ready to purchase.

Comfy shoes, healthy snacks and helpers: Seems kind of obvious but you’d be surprised how long a 12 hour day truly is when your on your feet most of the time. A couple pairs of comfy insoles inside your shoes does wonders for your feet, back and mental health. Healthy snacks and a place to hide them might seem obvious too, but you don’t always have a lot of time to get out of your booth for a proper meal (unless you have really awesome helpers) and no one wants to shop in your booth if you’ve got a mouth full of food. THat’s just gross. Something easy and tidy to eat. Helpers!!!! You get helper badges. Use them! Even if you can’t afford hired help, take advantage of all your friends coming by to say Hi. Take 10 minutes to run to the bathroom, or just get outside. You may think you can do the whole show yourself, you can’t. You will go kookoo.

Do you have a favourite OOAK show moment/memory to share?
I don’t have just one favourite moment, each one has had it’s moments. Meeting people have bought things from you online, someone saying they got one of my cards from a friend or stories from people who have bought and given. Seeing my customers come back every show to say Hi and see what’s new. ALL the amazing booth buddies I’ve had and become friends with (and their siblings!). Being able to share my experiences with new vendors. These are all great things that I will cherish but really, my favourite moment so far was getting interviewed on Breakfast TV (way too early in the morning) and meeting Frank (I totally have a crush on that guy!) Right out of my comfort zone but I never would have had that experience without OOAK.

You can find thunderpeep designs on blogspot, Etsy, Society6Spoonflower, Facebook, and Instagram.

(All photos used with permission.)

Artisan: Lynn’s Lids

I keep doing fellow artisan features, but I just realized that I haven’t actually done one of these posts for myself. So, just in time for my 3 big September sales (Cabbagetown Art & Crafts Sale, Danforth East Arts Fair and Etsy Made in Canada at MaRS), here goes:

Lynn's Lids felted wool dryer balls Lynn's Lids felted wool Toronto iPad sleeve Lynn's Lids needle felted wool Santa ornaments

Artisan Name: Lynn Wyminga

Products:  hand knit, waterproof & windproof felted wool hats, tea cosies, iPad sleeves, sheepy wool dryer balls, natural wool catnip balls, Christmas tree toppers and ornaments, either hand knit then felted wool yarn, wet felted wool roving, or needle felted wool roving.

Price Range: $10-100

How did this all begin? 
A few years ago, I picked up knitting again for the first time in 20 years. I made scarves for my kids’ stuffed animals, then scarves for my kids, husband and brother-in-law, but I didn’t need a scarf (my brother had knit me one!) so I browsed through the patterns at my local yarn shop and came across a pattern for a felted wool hat. I am a hat lover, so I figured if I could keep myself in hats (instead of buying them), I’d be set! So I made a bowler and during the felting process, I was kinda hooked. That transformation is a bit thrilling every time it happens. Anyway, I wore the hat out (and promptly made myself another) and friends kept asking me to make them one, and eventually Lynn’s Lids was born. (I had to take nearly 2 years off for treatment of 2 cancers, but when I was strong again in the fall of 2012 I started in earnest.)

I am inspired by many things, but nature is a big one (take the sheep on the dryer balls!) and necessity is another. The dryer balls idea came from the David Suzuki Foundation newsletter since I needed a smaller ticket item to sell at markets. They are a great gift since they are environmentally friendly (reducing dryer time) but even if the recipient isn’t interested in that aspect, they are just so darn cute (I had a non-English speaker order them on Etsy and they didn’t know they were for the dryer until they received them with my note – they had just bought them as fibre art!). I have made a lot of them, and as of yet I haven’t tired of it. I’m making the right product, I guess.

Other new items come from client requests (tea cosy, cat bed, computer sleeve, various hats), my own needs (iPad sleeve, camera cosy), and sometimes just whimsy (catnip balls, ornaments, Frankenstein hat, cyclops hat, devil hat, dragon hat).

The hats are definitely my favourite. I enjoy making every single one, from the knitting, the thrill of felting, and the blocking. (But not the waiting. Never the waiting.) I especially enjoy creating new designs and patterns, as that keeps things fresh and exciting. Not everything works, but mostly they do (a good example is the baker boy cap, below – which I made up a few years ago but took 3 tries to perfect). It feels great when someone tries one of my lids on and it suits them perfectly. I’ve been wearing my second hat (a bucket hat turned out to be the favourite for me and I gave that first bowler to my mom after a couple of years of wear) for 6 years so I know that they don’t really wear out. Because they are felted to a thick dense fabric, they are very durable, keeping out the wind and rain and I know the wearer will be warm and dry for years.

Needle felting is so much fun that I want everyone to give it a go, so I teach it on a regular basis at my local yarn shop.

What advice do you have for a first-time One of a Kind Show vendor?
Start creating stock early, bring a big bottle for water (it’s dry in there), pack your own food (junk food takes its toll and they are long days!) and ask a friend to come and give you an hour’s break in the middle of each day, if possible (if you can’t afford to hire a booth sitter). Smile and enjoy it. It’s a great time.

Do you have a favourite OOAK show moment/memory to share?
On day 3 (of 5) a woman I recognized from earlier in the show came up to my table (in the Etsy section) and headed straight for the basket of catnip balls, exclaiming to her friend, “I bought one of these on Wednesday and my cats just love it!” and bought 6 more right there!

You can find me on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, www.lynnslids.com, Pinterest, my Etsy shop, and here, on the blog. To find me in person, check out my upcoming markets (via Etsy) or my where page.

Lynn's Lids baker boy cap with flower

Fellow Artisan: County Cupboard (Cabbagetown & OOAK)

Today’s fellow artisan is a dear friend. Helen and I have known each other since the 1990s when we worked together in Kingston, then a decade later when we both happened to be on maternity leave at the same time (and in the same part of the city) with our first children. Now we carpool to craft fairs and bounce ideas off each other as SAHMs and small artisan businesswomen. I love her products and own one of County Cupboard‘s vintage Toronto map pillows, which I picked up when we were both selling at the Spring One of a Kind Show. Helen and I hope to be neighbours at the Cabbagetown Art & Crafts Sale in just over a week and a half!


County Cupboard

Artisan Name: Helen Hawketts

Products: Vintage Canadian map pillows & tea towels

Price Range: $25-$60

How did this all begin?
Inspired by my family’s love of Prince Edward County, and hoping to pivot on an existing mail order business, my original business plan for CC was for it to be a web site where you could buy all sorts of great PEC products. There are SO many talented artisans and craft people in the County, it seemed like having a sampling of them in a ‘County cupboard’ was a logical business idea. My own offering for ‘the cupboard’? Scan a 1930’s map of the County that I had, get it printed onto fabric and sew it into a pillow.

The broader County products web site idea fizzled but a star was born in the map pillow. I gave them to friends & family that first Christmas 4 years ago and soon was asked for other areas, especially cottage country. I now have 6 vintage maps, and one vintage postage stamp design. A new (old) map will be unveiled at this year’s OOAK in November.

I love actually making these pillows & tea towels. I find sewing very soothing.

I’m inspired by the people I meet at shows – my customers are very passionate about these maps. Many are really touched when they see their cottage area appear on a map. It’s really cool to witness and I’ve heard some great stories.

What advice do you have for a first-time One of a Kind Show vendor?
Stay calm, try to enjoy the madness because life can get really quiet when the dust settles. Have fun!

Do you have a favourite OOAK show moment/memory to share?
Love the camaraderie! It’s palatable.