JW: I have the genuine pleasure of being able to interview, self-funded independent company owner Jennifer Griffith. She’s owns an accessory business where she had makes things such as perler bead art, bows, custom hats, and fan art items, such as Doctor Who, video game and anime novelty items. Thank you for joining me today.
Jennifer Griffith: First off I would like to thank you for having me for this interview! It’s so wonderful to be able to speak to those who may not know what we are about and would like to know more so thank you!
JW: What made you want to start making these novelty items and accessories for sale?
JG: To answer your question it started out of boredom. I have always been an active crafter, from the time I was a small child, about six, I have loved to create. With community groups like Girl Scouts and 4-H I found a place to learn to sew and create something new out of something that may have been broken. Fast forward to 2010 and I was tired of the convention scene. Don’t get me wrong I love conventions but I was feeling out of place, like I didn’t belong, maybe outgrowing it? Friends suggested I should set up an artist alley booth since I like to meet people and talk more than stand in line for autographs. So I tried it out, did pretty well and now it’s my new hobby I work towards every year. I get to do something I love and can support my hobby, it’s a blessing.
JW: When and where do you usually get the opportunity to make the items you create?
JG: This is something people may not know about me. I have a very close knit family and I love them very dearly. My grandmother is literally the center of my family and my life. She had a bad fall in 2011 and has been suffering from what they kindly refer to as dementia. To me she is still the same person, she just can’t remember things as well and sometimes she is not herself. To say it lightly after the fall we realized we couldn’t leave her home alone. My family rotates turns with her and I usually get weekend duty. While I am with her that is when I craft. It makes the time go by quickly and she is amused at what I can come up with. So usually every Friday or Saturday night you will find me at my grandmother’s oversized kitchen table working. Crafting has become more than just a business or a hobby; it is what keeps me moving forward and it gives me a solace I can’t find some days. Be thankful for those in your life and always try to be patient with them because you never know what will happen.
JW: How do you get advertising about the things you create to the public?
JG: Advertising is a tricky devil to figure out. With mass media it has become a blessing and also a curse. Generally, I rely on word of mouth, convention appearances, my webpage and my Facebook page. Mass media is a blessing because we can post updates and create giveaways that really pull in interest and introduce new people to our products. It is also a curse because Facebook is constantly changing its layout and it makes it hard for people to see things we post. Also just dealing with some selling sites can be a pain because someone will always offer your product for a different price and it won’t always appear in a web or site search. Good advertising is also expensive. I am glad for our Facebook following though, they are a wonderful group and the best way to reach me is always through it.
JW: As far as expanding your clientele, would you mind having a much larger base you do now or would you rather stick to a smaller niche of customers?
JG: A larger base would be amazing but I’ll be honest and say that I’d rather deal with a few good customers than a large group any day. Our mass sales come from conventions which is what we prepare all year for. We gladly take commissions year round and get back to our customers within the hour but realistically I couldn’t handle a huge number of clients each day. My business is my hobby so I don’t always have time to make a 4 foot grumpy dwarf. (Literally) What my current clientele understands is that I will help them as soon as I can and the best that I can and I often include free gifts but dealing with a huge base would become a job! I do admit though I have a few other perler artists that are joining our ranks that will gladly assist so if we do gain a larger following we can keep up with demands and still provide a quality service. In essence, I love where we are right now, if we grow in the future that is wonderful and we will be there for our customers.
JW: Is there any craft that you do that you would say you execute particularly well?
JG: Honestly there are quite a few that I love doing more than others. In fact, I know I have sewn at least 200 bows in the past two years. I hand sew everything and take pride in hiding my stitches and it’s something I have well mastered. Also I have gotten very good at perler. We have over 35 colors in beads and can create just about anything now. I love perler and would gladly work on projects with it for days. I do have to confess, I have been making perler and sewing since I was eight years old so I’ve had a lot of needle pricks and iron burns over the years!
JW: What are the best sellers in the things that you create?
JW: Would you ever consider expanding your business in terms of employment? For instance, would you ever hire others to help you create things on the regular basis?
JG: I actually have considered this and have recruited two artists to help me whenever need be. We are now located throughout the state so anything that we need to make can be made even if I am not able to work on it. The excellent idea of one of my artists was he wanted to share booth space for his own perler art so now we both can get our work to the public as well as help each other. My other artist loves the idea of keeping busy and he gives me business and financial advice on how to run Kittiyes Kreations. It’s just amazing.
JW: For others who make their own accessories and novelty items, what advice would you give them?
JG: For anyone out there reading this that wants to start their own business there are a few things you need to know.
- You will not be an overnight success.
- Beware anyone who wants to resell your items for you. Do not assume Etsy, or eBay will skyrocket you.
- Be patient. By all means you can try these things but just don’t expect to get rich quick, or get rich at all. Any artist will tell you (if they are honest) that if you break even, you did good. Don’t expect to quit your job and do your art full time.
- Start a Facebook page and get lots of pictures of what you do! Don’t expect people to search through blurry or empty picture albums. Post lots of pictures and post often.
- Hold giveaways, they work to bring in new customers.
- Be open to new ideas and communicate with the community you are marketing to. Don’t be afraid to sell at a convention if you can or even festivals. Don’t undersell yourself but don’t overcharge customers. Don’t be discouraged if you arrive somewhere and someone else is selling items like yours; remember that what the customer wants they may not have.
- Most of all enjoy yourself! Don’t make a hobby into work and do not stress yourself out. If someone wants to place an order that is beyond what you can do, time or skill wise, PASS ON IT. If you are unable to do the job to their specifications you will lose money, time and a customer. Do not worry with people who come in the last second to get something done. You are your own boss don’t let anyone rule your business.
- Get business cards and have fun. Of all things just have fun. If you put your mind to it you can do it, don’t go for this unless you mean to. This is something that takes time, effort and hard work but if you stick with it you will be rewarded.
JW: Thank you so much for taking to the time out to do this interview Jennifer!