I know I say this all the time but I am excited about today's post. Its not the usual post about a knit or crochet designer. Today my blog post is about and from a friend who was also a mentor to me at one point in my life. Her name is Sharon along with being wife, mom, grandmother is also a pretty amazing seamstress! Today I asked Sharon to write a little bit about her business so I could share it with you. You might ask, what does this have to do with crocheting or knitting... you'll see for yourself!
Without further ado:
"I’m a crafty kind of gal. I enjoy all kinds of creative activity so it was natural that I would try my hand at sewing. I had basic lessons from my mom as a girl, but the first thing I made totally on my own was a tailored suit jacket! What was I thinking? It turned out great and I couldn’t believe how I could make something like that from a pattern. Sewing became an even bigger part of my life when my two daughters were born. There’s nothing more fun than sewing for little girls! Eventually, I took up other crafty pursuits and sewing became an occasional diversion.
Two years ago, I designed a purse liner for a large hobo bag that I had. I was tired of the big black hole! I could never find my keys or lipstick! The liner I designed fit my bag and my life perfectly. It made such a difference in my my day. It had several pockets to hold everything I carried. It kept me organized! I loved it and decided I would never go back to randomly piling items in my bag! Interestingly, people began to notice my liner. They wanted one for themselves! So I made one for a friend, then another. Within a short time I had developed an Esty site and was selling purse liner/organizers. But it was slow going and I was looking for a unique item to carry in my shop that would generate more traffic.
One evening I attended an Essential Oils class that a friend was holding. As I sat and watched the teacher teaching about oils, I noticed that she didn’t have an appropriate way to store or carry them. Someone had kindly made her something to hold her oils that had little pockets, but it was really not adequate. Immediately I thought, “I can improve on that!” I was highly distracted the rest of the class time and couldn’t wait to get home and start designing! It wasn’t long before I had developed a pattern and a system for holding the oils that I thought worked better than what was presently offered in the market place.
I talked with my oily friends and developed a list of criteria. My friends wanted a bag that opened wide, so bottles were easy to store and easy to see. They wanted to be able to carry several sizes and types of bottles in the same case. They also wanted elastic loops so their oils would stay upright in their appointed places to prevent leaks and the bag needed to be padded to protect from bumps. I thought that laminated cotton would be a great addition to make the bag wipe clean. It wasn’t long before I had a working model that people loved! I called it an Essential Oil Dumpling! I offered a Mother’s Day give away on my Needlebean Facebook page which brought in over 30 orders in a couple of weeks and had me frantically sewing round the clock. I was off and running! Since then I have honed my design and added options for loop sizes as well as Mini Dumplings for 6 or 8. I’ve recently added an extra large Dumpling which will hold a tube of pain relief cream or what have you.
Choosing beautiful materials is key to providing a product that is not only functional but also lifts the spirit! I wanted my bags to be cute and classy. But I also knew I would be sewing the same bags over and over. I wanted fabrics that would not only bring joy to my customer but also hold my interest, too. So, I choose what I love! I’m always on the look out for lovely fabrics. I buy most at local fabric stores. It has been a challenge to find laminated cotton that has small enough prints in appropriate colors to coordinate with my relatively small bags. Most laminates have large prints which work well for table clothes or rain coats but not so great for my little Dumplings. I have half a dozen go to laminates that I use regularly.
Etsy is not only a great place to sell items, its also a great resource for materials. I buy all my laminates from Etsy shops. A favorite shop is Laminates (www.laminates.etsy.com). I also purchase all my zippers from Zipit (https://www.etsy.com/shop/zipit). They carry YKK zippers at prices far more inexpensive than local fabric stores. Etsy has also given me the opportunity to interact with my customers. Its a unique community, where the handmade item is appreciated and celebrated. Customers enjoy the opportunity to be part of the design process and I enjoy making them happy!
Customer review: "Love, love, love my bag! The fabric colors are bright, the patterns coordinate with each other-and it holds my roller ball bottles and my 10 ml/15 ml bottles. Shipping was fast, too. Great product, great service.” ~Joy
Now I sell the occasional purse liner but I sell a lot of Dumplings. I have several sizes and am always happy to take custom orders. You can find me at: www.needlebeandesigns.etsy.com and Needlebean on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/pages/Needlebean/740279926050328?fref=ts. Facebook messaging is the easiest way to connect with me! Drop me a note and we can talk Dumplings!"
*As always photographs are property of the owner and not to be used without permission
Sharon and I have known each other for a long time. She's a good person to have in your corner! Her story about how she got started in her business mirrors my own. Though we work with different mediums, knowing someone appreciates your work gets the creative juices flowing.
In my opinion you'd be hard pressed to find a better product or a more professional business woman than at Needlebean! She has never been slipshod about anything she has attempted. Now in my world my knitting bag and my handbag are pretty much the same thing... HUMMM I may have to contact Needlebean about an organizer for my knitting bag? .... Stay tuned ;)
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**Opinions expressed on blogs about which I write are the opinion of the blog authors and DO NOT necessarily reflect my own opinion.