Tell us about yourself and what you offer in your shop?
My name is Rachel and I run Project31 Fiber Arts. I live in Cape Girardeau , Missouri with my husband and our cute little cat, Lo. I work at a photography studio during the day, and spend all of my nights either with my husband or weaving in front of the tv. I watch more movies in a week than most people watch in a month! And in my shop, I offer hand-woven scarves, and I have just begun to make hand-spun yarns. My recent obsession has been infinity scarves, so just about everything that comes off of my loom becomes an infinity scarf!
How did you come up with your shop name?
My shop name comes from Proverbs 31, the chapter about the wife of noble character. The chapter mentions that the wife makes thread and clothes for her family, so I think it is a cool connection. I also wanted a name that I could be happy with for a long time in hopes that this turns into a life-long business. And Project31 will always be a little reminder of all the qualities that make a godly woman and wife.
How did you get started?
I have wanted to learn how to weave ever since I read East by Edith Pattou when I was younger. The main character in the book loves to weave, and Pattou described it so beautifully that I knew it was something I just had to try. So, after years of wishing, I was finally given a loom for Christmas by my husband and in-laws. And I am hooked! So now I’ve started Project31 as an outlet, because I have way more scarves than I could ever possibly need.
Describe your style in as few words as possible:
Simple, classic, fun.
What do you do when you’re not on Etsy or creating?
When I’m not weaving, I am hanging out with my wonderful husband. We spend most of our time at the movies, on long drives in the country, or just hanging out at home with our adorable cat, Lo. I also spend a lot of time dreaming about living on the beach.
What is your favorite feature on Etsy? Why?
Etsy is a great site with so many great features. But I think my favorite part is the featured seller interviews they post regularly. I’m on the front page everyday, checking to see if they’ve posted a new interview. I just love to read other people’s stories, and it’s refreshing to hear about their success in the handmade world.
Well, if you’ve ever visited my shop, you can probably tell that almost all of my inspiration comes from summer. I love everything about summer, so I automatically migrate towards colors that remind me of it. I also knew as soon as I started weaving that I wanted to work with lightweight fibers that can be worn year round. Because who wants to make something that they can’t enjoy during their favorite time of year?
What is your best/most successful marketing strategy?
My shop has only been open about a month or so, so I don’t have any great strategies yet, but I am always busy marketing through Etsy teams, Facebook, my blog, and just word of mouth. My family has also been great about telling people about my shop, so that’s a wonderful tool to have.
What handmade possession do you cherish?
Well, my most cherished possession isn’t technically handmade, but to me, it counts. For our first anniversary, my husband bought me a beautiful bookcase. And it is kind of handmade because it took him hours to put together. This is significant because our anniversary is in July, I came home from work sick that day, so I was taking up the living room, and the air conditioner in our apartment is also in the living room. So, he spent hours in the back room with the door closed in July with no air conditioning. And it is one of my most prized possessions because it houses all of my other cherished possessions: my books.
Do you have any advice for newbie sellers?
Never give up! Never surrender! I am only about a month into this, but already, it can be tough to find the time to get your name out there and do all of the marketing and business-type stuff. So my advice is to just get it done; it will be worth it in the end. But also, never forget your love for your craft.
What are the greatest challenges and greatest rewards to running your own business?
I’m not really sure yet, since I’m so new to this. But I feel like everything I do towards my shop gives me such a great sense of accomplishment. It’s also really nice to know that I’m on my own time. If I need to take a break, I take a break. If I want to work on something else, I do. I like working by myself. But, at the same time, I am working on my own time, of which I never seem to have enough; my day job and my life tend to interfere quite a bit.
What does handmade mean to you?
Blood, sweat, and tears. (Hopefully not on the item you’re making though…) To me, handmade is something that a real, live person put work, time, and care into. So, I guess handmade doesn’t specifically have to be an item that doesn’t stem from commercial beginnings, but its something that someone has to invest in to create the finished product. So, even though my bookcase was bought in a store that came with all the pieces needed and a decent instruction manual, it is still handmade to me because of all the work my husband had to put into it to make it what it is. Handmade is personal.
Any last words?
Love what you do. If you don’t love it, just do something else, because you can’t stand behind something you don’t love.
I've been pretty excited about this feature and I'm so glad Rachel could share about her shop and love for her craft! Isn't it inspring to hear stories like this? Leave a comment below, check out the shop, and look her up on FB!