Today marks a new installment of my Monday blog series titled Monday Must-Have. Each Monday I will feature a fellow talented Etsian and his or her phenomenal work. Each featured artist will have his or her own online Etsy shop where you can peruse and admire his or her one-of-a-kind body of work. Hopefully you will find new favorite artists and artisans whose work you MUST HAVE. :)
Today's featured artist is Natasha of DoodleStars.
Who are you (actual name/and or shop name)?
Natasha Reilly, creator of DoodleStars (although the Etsy address is http://Doodlestar.etsy.com The last “s” jumped ship during setup!)
What do you create?
I create handmade cards, hand-painted frames and mirrors, original wall art and journals. Sometimes we compare ourselves and our incredible creations to others and find ourselves lacking, so I strive to create pieces that carry a feeling of celebration and remind people that they are ridiculously fabulous and unique.
Where are you located?
I live in a little cottage – otherwise known as an apartment – in the middle of the Big Apple. I’m proud to say that I’m one of many nice Native New Yorkers. What? I swear, we really are! You wanna take this outside? Hahahaha.
When did you start creating?
I am a writer however I’ve always been obsessed with color and longed to create things like cards and journals. About twelve years ago, I created a piece with words and color that was picked up by Family Circle magazine. Then I stopped. There was no reason other than fear; I kept everything from poems to little characters hidden in journals. After completing an MFA in writing I sent my work out and it was received well. Then after the birth of my daughter, I decided I had to try my hand at creating products. So, I setup my first Etsy shop on December 2nd, 2008 and I haven’t looked back. This venture is a fusion of art and writing and even if I fail miserably I want my daughter to know that you need to follow your heart and your dreams in this life.
What inspires you?
The physical world around me like ocean waves, seashells, the moon, the stars, the sound of raindrops hitting leaves, etc., inspires me. People like you and all the talented artists I have met inspire me more than words can say. There is something so amazing about talking with someone who loves what they do. Whether they are driving a truck, painting, walking dogs or sky writing, whatever it is I am inspired when I see another person’s passion for what they do. I am also deeply moved by the people in my life and those that reach out to help others for no other reason than genuine care for your fellow being.
What is the most time consuming part of your craft?
Many of the cards I make – including the card packs – are made by hand so it takes time to gather all the little pieces and put them together. However, when I think “time-consuming” the idea of promotion is the first thing that comes to mind. It’s incredible how much hard work goes into getting the word out. It’s like standing in the middle of a packed school yard at lunchtime and trying to get folks to listen to a joke. It’s easy to get drowned out by all the other voices.
What is your favorite place to visit in your hometown and why?
That’s hard – there are so many wonderful nooks and crannies in this city. There are two that I can’t decide between. The first is this one section of The Metropolitan Museum of Art that has a fountain and gorgeous stained glass windows. It’s so peaceful. I used to write there all the time – I even cut class a couple times in high school to go there to write! The other is this big rock in a little park near my childhood home which overlooks a lighthouse on the East River. Many of my favorite memories revolve around that rock.
What is your most popular item that you create (and why do you think it is so popular)?
The hippo being lifted by balloons card that I make gets lots of kudos. It’s hard to keep him in my shop! He’s just a simple hippo having fun and I think people connect with that idea.
How do you acquire new clients?
Haha…I’m not sure yet. Right now I spend a ton of time telling people about my shop and on Etsy I try to share my items in forums and respond to threads when people are looking for gifts. I’m learning everyday.
What's your next project going to be?
I have two projects. I’m working on a new line of cards – including an awesome birthday pack - and I’m working hard to finish writing a book.
What types of things do you do to turn first time buyers into repeat clients?
You know I really struggle with “selling”. I make things that I love and I hope people like them. Each and every time there is a sale, I’m so flattered. I love getting to know my buyers so whether it’s a regular order or a custom order I sometimes chat with them in Etsy convos or over email. Once I know them a bit, I send them little treats with their order, useful things I think they’d enjoy. Sometimes based on our conversations or their purchase I will tell them about another item they might like that’s either in the shop or coming soon. I am not a salesman; I don’t believe in selling people things they don’t need. I just like to get to know folks, share my stuff and hope they come to play again.
What do you do when you are not creating?
When I’m not creating I’m hanging with my 22 month old daughter, going to the movies with my husband, spending time with family and awesome friends, eating too many M&M’s for my own good, listening to music, doing yoga, and keeping an ear out for good, naughty jokes.
Is there anything else you'd like to share?
Yes, I started a new blog called the Thursday Sweet Treat. It’s a playground for artists of all kinds and from all walks of life to stay motivated to create new works while having fun. I’d like to invite everyone to stop by cheer, play and enjoy.
Thank you so much for this opportunity, Ruth. I am such a HUGE fan of yours. I’m deeply honored. You rock!
Be sure to check out Natasha's Etsy shop which is full of her unique work! If you're interested in being featured in future Monday Must-Have segments, please feel free to convo me in my Etsy shop or email me. Have a great day!