June 28, 2009

Introducing another sewing/craft blog

I mentioned a few weeks ago that I was looking to interview another sewing or craft blogger and asked for my readers to either suggest a blog or if they had a blog to leave a comment. Well here is our first interview.

Let me introduce you to Jennifer Lethbridge and her blog Rabid Designs.

She is a regular reader of this blog and is a very talented artist. Here is the interview I did with Jen.

When did you start crafting?

I come from a long line of crafters, actually. My grandmother is a quilter, my mother is a seamstress, they're both quite skilled. Though I was exposed to the skills from young childhood, I felt like neither were the perfect fit for me. I could do the motions (and still can) but there was no sense of relaxation and fulfillment.

When I was about 15 my mother handed me a tiny cross stitch kit that she'd gotten for free. I attempted it without reading the instructions, utterly failed it, and was oddly hooked for life.

In about 1996 I started branching out of cross stitch and into other forms of embroidery. That's when I found hardanger, which is my specialty. I still sew and quilt, but I try to put my embroidery in every piece I do.

I guess you could say I was a late bloomer, as I didn't find what type of needle-arts I was good at until long after my mother did, at the least. I'm glad to take my place among the women in my family who can take pride in our work, and I'm glad that I earned it...even though it seemed I'd never find my fit :)

When did you start blogging?

I've kept personal blogs since about 2002 off and on. I started my craft blog last year because I wanted a place to share my work and connect with other crafters. They're where I get some of my best ideas and keep up with trends.

Do you sell your items, if so tell me about when you started to sell, what you sell and where you sell?

I do, actually. I've been selling my work for about 5 years now. It started in spite of me...I couldn't keep up with friends wanting my work, so they started trying to sway me with barter or cash. I honestly love barter (with people I trust) my crafts, it's more real and natural to me. I do take custom orders, and people know where to find me if they're in the market for a unique, custom piece of embroidery by someone with experience. I draft many of my own patterns, particularly for hardanger, and am able to work with a client to find exactly the colors they want and what type of design fits their room or personality. I've started doing it with sewing as well...drafting patterns and playing with color to help people get exactly what they're looking for.

As for where I sell, most of my clients come to me because they've seen my work either online or in person. My work itself is honestly my best business card. For people who don't know how to get a hold of me privately, I do take custom orders on Etsy, though this is a new thing. My etsy store ( also has some of my pieces that weren't perfect, or ones I played around with with no buyer in mind. It's not where I do most of my business, but it's a nice back up because it's so well-known.

If you sell, tell me about your biggest obstacle to date that you had to overcome to selling your items. Was it the cost of doing business, marketing your business, juggling a family and a business or ?

I have two large obstacles that I struggle with on a regular basis. The first is that I underestimate how long things will take, so I undervalue my work. This is compounded by the fact that other people charge so little for their work. We're not direct competition, because I'm an artisan and they're crafters, but it's sometimes hard to explain the difference to people when they want one of my pieces but they don't understand the difference between the types of sellers...which brings me to my next difficulty: marketing.

I can't stand a sales pitch. They rub me the wrong way, and I think they probably do other people as well. It's part of the reason I rely so heavily on my work itself to show my's no longer me speaking, but what I've done. The sales pitch is precise, colorful, and entirely voluntary. I've tried to understand social marketing and forms of advertising on the internet and off...but I can't figure out how to add my personal touch to those things to make them worth peoples' time to read and learn about, so I don't really market. I just share. Perhaps some day I'll find my own way when it comes to marketing so it can be both ethical AND profitable.

Here are links to a few photos of Jen's items:

Garden party
Garden party detail

Now go on over to Jen's blog and maybe you'll become a regular reader.

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