~by me, myself and I; the author of this blog :) My name is Cheri Hage. I sew items and sell in an Etsy shop, “Oodles of Whimsy”. Most of the shop is a variety of Pincushions. My husband (Rick) and I also sell pincushions on our wholesale website, “Oodles of Pincushions”. We create what we refer to as, “oodles” of pincushions (that’s where the names came from). This is a hobby and cottage industry; I work at home.
What part of the craft/hobby do you like best ?
It is hard for me to define what is the most enjoyable part of this endeavor. I absolutely LOVE picking out fabrics, so shopping for the “supplies” is very enjoyable. The down-side is that it is difficult to find proportionately correct tiny prints that work well for our Finger Pincushions so it can be frustrating. Of course, there’s always the danger of being side-tracked by discovering fun, new fabrics that I have no business looking at but there they are, just waiting for me.
I really do enjoy the act of sewing by hand and it is a great way to unwind at the end of the day. But when we have a rush order, speed-sewing by hand gets painful very quickly ! It is satisfying to pack up the completed order and there’s that great sigh of relief that it is all DONE :)
How long does an order take to fill ?
Well, for the Finger Pincushions, if we are starting from scratch with no stock on the shelf, here is the procedure… We have a desktop fabric cutter to cut our pieces. Rick or I run that to get a stack of circles to work with. Rick usually drills the holes in our wood bases and applies the finish to them. When they are dry enough to not stink up the house, we are ready to begin :) Typically we put on a nice movie to watch while we work. I sew and stuff fabric pieces. Rick cuts and ties elastic for the bands. Items are matched by colors (cushions match/coordinate with the bands) and they are glued in place. We can easily do 25-50 at a sitting, but must take breaks to stretch our legs and shoulders. We work in a production-line method; cutting 50, sewing 50, tying 50, rather than one at a time. We average 100 – 200 a week, just working in the evenings.
Any amusing stories connected with this craft ?
1~ When asked what I “do”, I say that I make pincushions. People think I’m kidding. I’m not.
2~ When shopping for fabric for our Finger Pincushions, it’s important to keep the scale of the fabric print compatible with the size of the tiny cushion. The finished cushion top measures about an inch across. This really limits what fabrics are practical to use. The printed design has to be close enough together that it is seen within that one inch window. Consequently, when I’m at the fabric store, I walk around with my fingers posed in the universal “okay” sign (touching the tip of the pointy finger t the tip of the thumb). I use that finger-circle-window to view an inch of fabric and check for proper proportions. This makes me look a little foolish (or maybe a lot). Sometimes I get asked, “Uh, can I help you ?”. Often they watch me and say nothing; keeping me at a safe distance.
Who are your customers and how do you get found ?
There are two different customer bases. I sell custom colors/sizes in small quantities in the Etsy shop. The buyers are typically purchasing for gift-giving. I’m often told it’s for a wife, sister, teacher or Secret Sister from a Quilt Guild. Sometimes it is for someone new to sewing. I love these stories :)
For bulk orders, I periodically contact quilt shops via email, sending them photos and product info with a link to the website. This works well and does not cost anything except time. On occasion, I have had an immediate response by email or phone with an order !
When I visit a new fabric or quilt shop, I do take a couple samples in my purse. At some point I get asked, “What are you making with these fabrics ?”. I explain about our pincushions and take out a Finger Pincushion for example. I don’t push a sale, it’s more of a show-and-tell conversation. People who have never seen one are usually delighted to hold a Finger Pincushion and immediately try it on. Sometimes they ask about placing an order, sometimes they just comment that it’s cute and hand it back. I usually let them keep one and also give them a business card for future reference. If there are any shoppers watching, they come over and want to see it and try it on, too.. That really helps the owner decide to buy some !
Any tips for selling ?
Do your research. Keep good records.Try to find ways to purchase your supplies economically; look for wholesalers or buy in bulk for less. Use discount coupons, or get put on a mailing list to receive dates of sales and specials. Keep track of where you ordered your supplies last time and how much the prices were. Keep a list of the places that order from you. Do they have a big sale every April or Special Holiday shopping events ? Note when and where so you can offer an order to be ready for their scheduled events.
Never approach a shop about buying or consigning your items without making an appointment. They are a business and have probably planned out their day. Common courtesy is for you to ask permission to have a small chunk of their time :) Call and make an appointment. When you meet with them to ask them to consider your items, be prepared for their questions: pricing (both the buying and average selling prices), minimum order, packaging (they may need items in individual baggies or with a hanger or display), shipping (will you mail or deliver an order ?), processing time.. They will sometimes ask what these sell for elsewhere. This is for them to get a ‘feel’ for the selling price in their area and whether or not it sells at all. Bring samples to your meeting with a copy of the prices for them to have, as well as your business card and contact information.
***Something to consider: What if it works ? What if they order a couple dozen items ? Hopefully you’ll have done your research and have the supplies set up and ready to go. Make sure it’s something you like making over and over and…. Sometimes we get an order for 600 pincushions at a time. I really do like making them :) I enjoy the work. They are still a fun project even though we’ve made oodles and oodles of them.
My typical breakfast ? Oatmeal or Fried Mush. My favorite breakfast dining out would be scrambled eggs, hash browns, bacon and sausage gravy :)
Etsy Shop: OodlesOfWhimsy.etsy.com
Bulk website: OodlesofPincushions.com
Email: Cheri@OodlesofPincushions.com I would love to hear from you !
If you would be interested in being interviewed here, please contact me :)