FuZing the Creative with the Consumer
Featured Artisan Auntie Jill

By Handmade FuZion on 4:00 AM

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Where are you located? Rutland, Vermont

How long have you been creating handmade items? I learned to sew when I was 4 years old, and have been creating hand sewn items since then. I officially started selling my work under the name "Auntie Jill" on January 1st, 2008. (It was my New Year's Resolution to get my work "out there" and actually sell it rather then just making them for friends and family.) By April I was sewing plush toys full time as my only job.

What type of products do you offer? I make stuffed animal (plush) toys from patterns I have designed myself and have also made plush airplanes, lighthouses, and pillows by customer request and some clothing - although I prefer to focus on plush toys.

How did you decide on your company’s name? My nephew once got upset at my step-dad for calling me "Jill". He thought that my name was "Auntie Jill" and was offended that anyone dared call me something else. It was really cute and since my nieces and nephews are a source of great inspiration, I decided it was a good name for my company.

What is your motivation? Kids of all ages. I have a degree in art and a ton of training and licensing in childcare and child development, but it has been my personal interactions with babies and kids that has really taught me what they like and dislike and I use that experience to design my patterns and select fabrics. I worked in a crises center for a while and realized that what I care about most in life is comforting kids and making them smile. I hope my work does this for all the kids who receive my toys.

What do you enjoy most about creating handmade items? I get to give a little of myself with everything I make - I get to put a little love into each toy and I really believe that it makes my toys a little more special then something you could buy in the store.

Which items are your best sellers? My snuggle bunnies sell the best.

How do you market your products? I've taken out ads in Craft and Venus Magazine, and use Twitter, but have had the best responses through bloggers who have a following of young parents. I've done give-aways and provided products for reviews to a few bloggers and have had great response from those.

What are your favorite features on Handmade FuZion? What new features would you like to see? I think its really easy to use as a seller, and I have the impression they really care if their sellers succeed or not and invest not only in their own success, but the success of their crafters.

Do you have any advice for other artisans? Be passionate about what you are making. It shows. Also let the perfectionist inside of you find its voice - even if it means you're not making a profit at first it will pay off in the long run with more repeat customers and more customer referrals. If I make an item that doesn't turn out perfect I find a way to fix it or I don't sell it. I also take the time to attend to all the tiny details that I figure the average customer doesn't even notice - because some of them do and I feel better about the product I sell if I know it is perfect.

1 comments for this post

her rainbow zebra is adorable!

Posted on January 28, 2009 at 12:29 PM