Ashley, when did you start blogging and selling from your Etsy stores? Did one of these inspire the other?
I started blogging and selling on Etsy around the same time…about 2.5 years ago, however, I kept them very separate from each other for a long time, blogging was kind of my family updated and Etsy was my crafty outlet. It wasn’t until 6 months ago that I finally let them come together under the same name and root of inspiration, and renamed my shop and blog, My Little Sunshine.
Do you have a particular way to find inspiration for new products handmade store?
I don’t have a system or way of being inspired. It mostly happens organically. I see something pretty in a shop window or magazine, I see the seasons changing and want to capture it’s beauty, or my eye is drawn to a particular fabric or object and my mind just shoots off with ideas from there!
I read that part of your profits go to a non-profit organization. Can you tell me a little more about this and how you decided to get involved?
Gladly! 15% off the profits from My Little Sunshine goes to a ministry called Heartline in Haiti. This organization does so much to support women and children in Haiti, but the aspect that I am involved with is one that for obvious reasons is near to my heart. My Little Sunshine supports a program at Heartline that teaches women to sew. The idea is to teach them a skill and business practices in order to equip them to be able to make a living for themselves and their families. For many women it is a second chance, a new beginning.
Do you have any tips for other Etsy sellers on preparing for the holiday season?
Be uniquely YOU! Take time to sit and brainstorm fun gift ideas for the holidays, what are things that you would be buying for the holiday season? Colorways for the holidays? Affordability always goes a long way, especially during this time of year. Brainstorm ways to offer attractive pricing, but don’t sell yourself and your skills short!
What do you do when you’re not sewing or blogging?
My husband and I are always on the go, being a military family there is never a dull moment! I enjoy long walks with my hubby and our pup, Bob. We do a lot of traveling and exploring of new places and things and like to entertain friends and family-we get lots of visitors!
If you love playing with buttons, fabric, paper and found objects, the pages of Stitch Craft Create magazine will be a welcome retreat for the senses. The premier issue of this magazine releases today, October 18th! It’s themed around the holidays, which is the perfect setting for creative gift ideas and wrapping trends like those featured on the cover.
Remember these handcrafted beauties from our Q&A with Shannon Miller last week? After hearing about all the preparation that goes into starting a new magazine from scratch, I was so excited to preview an advance copy last week! I’d actually read about this magazine on a couple other blogs, and you can tell that each of the contributors is especially grateful to be featured here. From cover to cover, the magazine is filled with fresh, holiday inspiration.
Isn’t it fun to make crafty things for a fellow crafter? If you’re involved in a creative group like a quilting bee and are looking for holiday gifts, there are lots of ideas in this issue for handmade collections (like the color jars, below) that are so beautiful, they’ll produce more handmade gifts! But they are actually pretty enough to just sit out on the table.
Although I love paper crafts and can often be found pinning creative gift-wrap ideas, I am most inspired by creative sewing projects. And the variety of fabric crafts in Stitch Craft Create does not disappoint.
Favorites include the Winter Mint Jersey Shag Pillows from Vanessa Christenson of V and Co. and the Felt Flowers Fabric Wreath by Danielle Burkleo of Take Heart.
When I interviewed editor Shannon Miller about the new magazine, she explained that the projects were tied together with a color palette of a “fresh, vintage-inspired collection of mint green, light blue, red with lots of white and touches of golden yellow.” The color scheme is very fresh, and makes me want to bypass fall and head straight to winter. And that NEVER happens.
The variety of projects inside ranges from holiday decorating to papercrafts, sewing and embroidery, entertaining and party ideas, yarn crafts, handmade gifts, accessories and packaging ideas. It’s enough to interest a variety of multi-crafters without scaring anyone away with too-technical projects. Overall, I’m very hopeful that this magazine makes it to issue number two (which will depend on initial response to newsstand sales and online orders), because I’d love to become a subscriber.
Out of 566 entries (wow), the winner of a copy of Stitch Craft Create magazine plus a bundle of crafting supplies is…
Entry #144, Liz Taylor! Congrats Liz, and please check your e-mail!
If you’d like to snag a copy, the magazine releases to craft stores TODAY, October 18. Or you can order a copy online right here. Thanks for all of your entries and the feedback on Rafflecopter.
Light Me Up: Sometimes it’s the little things that make a home, like this cheap candle makeover from Raechel at Finding my Feet.
Trick or Treat: Stacy shares a simple tutorial for a lollipop topiary at her blog She’s Kinda Crafty. What a perfect way to pass out candy for trick or treaters.
Come to Mummy: Here’s another fun way to pass out lollipops for trick or treaters or classmates. Japanese masking tape plus flat lollipops make these spooky sweet Mummy Lollipops. Get the tutorial from Jessica at Zakka Life.
Looking for ways to add some Halloween fun to your decor? On Craft Buds we’ve featured Halloween printables, fabric pumpkins, and owl smores. Lots of other crafty sites have been working hard on Halloween tutorials so we’ve put together a collection of Halloween themed pillows.
The tutorial for these pennant pillows is at Tatertots and Jello (and these could be cute in colors to match your decor or for any season!).
Here’s a fun recipe for adults and kids alike–owl smores! Let’s just start off by saying, when the items below are the ingredients, you know the final product is going to be good!
To make these owls you’ll need graham crackers, Reese’s peanut butter cups, candy corn, M&Ms, and large marshmallows. To get started, use a sharp knife to cut off the top 3/8″ of each peanut butter cup (PB cups). If you’re having problems with the chocolate peeling off the bottom of the PB cups when you take off the wrapper, try putting them in the fridge or a cool place so the chocolate isn’t as soft.
Line the PB cups up on half a graham cracker so the rounded part hangs just off the bottom. Use the tops of the PB cups you cut off in the step above for wings. Since you need two tops for one set of wings, only half your owls get wings and the other half are wing-less.
Tear a large marshmallow in half and place above the PB cup on the graham cracker, sticky side down. Smush it down a bit to hold in place.
Microwave until the marshmallows start to puff up. On my 1100 watt microwave, it took 13 seconds for two owls. At this point the chocolate should melt enough to stick to the graham cracker. Press a candy corn between the marshmallows and into the PB cup for the owl beak.
Lastly, press in M&Ms for the eyes.
Keep going until your flock is complete!
For a different style of owl without the PB cups and different eyes, check out this post at Living Locurto. I’ve seen other s’mores owls out there but I think Living Locurto’s author Amy gets the credit for the original idea.
Have you ever wondered what it would be like to work for a craft magazine? Please welcome Shannon Miller to Craft Buds today, who has so much insight to share with us into the world of craft magazine publishing!
Shannon is the Art Director for Sew Beautiful magazine and Editor-in-Chief of the new Stitch Craft Create magazine, with the premier issue that hits newsstands Tuesday, October 18.
There’s also a giveaway for your chance to win a copy of the new issue plus craft supplies you can use to make several projects from it!
Shannon, when and how did you get started as the Art Director for Sew Beautiful magazine? What does your job entail?
After I graduated from the University of Alabama, I worked as a graphic and web designer for a government contractor. But while I enjoyed the people I worked with and learned so much, making things like posters about missiles and corporate business cards wasn’t exactly my dream job. A little over 3 years ago, I saw a small employment ad online for a graphic designer with an interest in sewing, which sounded completely up my alley – I am an avid crafter in my free time!
To my delight, I landed the position as art director for Sew Beautiful magazine, and working here for the last several years has been an irreplaceable experience. Sew Beautiful has been around for nearly 25 years and is published by Martha Pullen Company, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Hoffman Media, a special interest publishing company. Here at SB, we have a very small staff, so everyone does a little bit of everything – there is always something to do! I am responsible for the general look and feel of each issue, which includes everything from assisting on editorial planning to photostyling and, of course, magazine layout. I’ve also designed and written several project articles for SB as well; helped us get started in social media platforms; and gotten involved in product development and promotion.
Can you describe your day-to-day work life? Do you work in an office setting or remotely? With a team of other people?
I work in our Martha Pullen Company office in Huntsville, Alabama, where I share an office with Courtney Kyle (MPC graphic designer and Stitch Craft Create art director) and Stacie Turner (web designer extraordinaire). My work days are extremely varied depending on where we are in the production cycle of Sew Beautiful, and now, Stitch Craft Create. At the beginning of a cycle for SB, I spend many days working with my editor, Kathy Barnard, on photoshoots at our photographer’s studio or on location. Since SB is a fine sewing publication with its roots in heirloom, we shoot everything from children in sample garments to styled product shots and detailed stepouts for each article. We often work up to a year ahead of time; for instance, we recently completed many of our spring and summer photoshoots, since they will be in production in the dead of winter when it’s still quite ugly outside.
During the editorial and layout phase of SB, I work on page layout, putting together the puzzle pieces of photography, text, instructional figures and/or stepout photos and any other content into the allotted page count for each article. I also prepare the pullout centerfold pages that are in each issue, which contain pattern pieces, templates and additional instructions for some articles. Each article is proofed several times and then each pages is prepared for printing. Once the magazine is gone to the printer, we work on follow-up articles or videos that we have decided to put on our website, and immediately jump in on the next issue.
During the production of Stitch Craft Create, my workdays were fast, furious and full of coffee! Any given day was devoted to developing our style guide and planning editorial content to working with contributing designers, physically making crafty projects, shopping for photography props and attending photoshoots, writing and rewriting copy and getting a head start on promotion through social media. Our whole production team was incredible in helping one another manage our existing duties; the Christmas issues of SB and SCC were due to print within a week of one another, and Courtney was also wrapping up a special holiday issue for yet a third publication. It was a tad stressful around here, but with lots of chocolate breaks, we did it!
You mentioned that Stitch Craft Create has been a dream in the making for several years. Can you tell me a little bit about the vision behind this new magazine?
The vision for this new magazine was first introduced to our team a couple of years ago by my incredibly creative supervisor, Leighann Lott, our VP of Creative Development for Martha Pullen Company. We brainstormed together to develop a proposal for a new craft title that would inspire, encourage and motivate the contemporary multicrafter, and we dreamed that it would apply a positive, can-do attitude to living creatively as well as offer fresh, fabulous project ideas and features. Our dream market was on-trend crafters who are interested in all things handmade, and internet-savvy women who are in touch with what’s hip and fun in the modern crafting industry, and don’t feel they have to stick to one genre of craft. We also knew that “crafty” was no longer a word with negative connotations, and we wanted to bring that to life in a newsstand publication.
For the premier issue, how did you go about selecting projects and deciding on the look and feel of this new magazine? What can readers expect to see inside?
Since our aim was always to explore a wide variety of crafting genres, we knew we needed a way to tie everything together so that the final result wasn’t a confusing mishmash of projects. It was also extremely important to us that we stick to a clear style guide, one that could carry over not only different types of articles, but different applications such as web, product development and other media. It occurred to us that choosing a loose color scheme for every project and article in the issue would help draw everything together, so we chose a palette that we felt would be appealing and popular for this season – a fresh, vintage-inspired collection of mint green, light blue, red with lots of white and touches of golden yellow. I had been very inspired by the “look books” being created designers and artisans to help customers visualize their brand; so before we even started contacting designers and working on photography, we made a one-page style sheet in PDF form that could accompany our editorial outline as a visual guide for the book. On it, we included our logo, Pantone color swatches, six inspiration photos and a handful of key words and phrases. Having that style sheet on hand was, I think, one of the best decisions we made, and the response from our commissioned designers was very positive; they found the direction helpful, and we referred to it ourselves throughout the production process to help us stay on track.
As far as selecting projects for the issue, we wanted to pull at least one thing from each of the major crafting topics that are popular right now; so inside, readers will find papercrafting; sewing and embroidery; felt and yarn crafts; fashion accessories and seasonal decor; holiday entertaining, gift-giving and packaging ideas; and other features such as new craft gadgets and a feature interview with the lovely Anna Griffin. A preview of the Table of Contents can be found on our website; we tried to jam as much inspiration into each page as possible! There is certainly a lot to be seen and read in these 130 pages.
Sounds great! When can we expect to see the next issue out?
Well, our Holiday 2011 is a “test” issue – so please, go snag a copy! All joking aside, we are extremely hopeful that sales are strong so that we can justify creating another one. If that is the case, we would like to aim for creating a second issue in late spring. I’m already envisioning a bright, energizing issue with pages that are bursting with amazing color and design. Shameless self-promotion warning: you can order a copy here, or buy one on newsstands at most craft, hobby and bookstores across the U.S. starting October 18!
What is something that most people don’t realize about your job?
When you work with a team, what you produce is only as good as your weakest member. I am so lucky to work with such incredibly talented individuals who have as much passion for what they do as I, and I know that any of our success is a direct result of that! Having good communication with your fellow staff is something that should NEVER be underestimated. We kept in check from Day 1 of the production of SCC with regular meetings, constantly updated check sheets and mini-goals to get us to our seemingly impossible print deadline. And, setting the standard for high morale and a “we can do this; we are awesome” attitude is the best way to keep up the pace on productivity! Without our efforts to keep one another positive and on-task, combined with each team member’s genuine enthusiasm for making Stitch Craft Create a reality, I’m not sure our final product would have been nearly as fabulous.
Well, aren’t we lucky? Shannon has put together an amazing giveaway bundle of craft supplies (a $65+ value) for one lucky winner! It includes:
To enter to win all of this goodness, please use the easy new Rafflecopter form! (We’re trying it out, just for fun. U.S. entries only, please.)
And if you just can’t wait to check out this mag, you are in luck. Stitch Craft Create can be ordered online or purchased on newsstands in book and craft store across the U.S. starting next Tuesday, October 18. And on that same day, we’ll announce a winner!