Happy Friday everyone! This week's feature has the sweetest story Ever! Karen moved from the US to France, and there her creative story unfolded with her
Here's the lady herself
Read on and be inspired.
1. you told me a little bit of your story earlier on how you travelled around then you started upcycling books, can you tell us more? and please tell us about how you started? How did you learn your craft? Why did you start? What do you sell?
This whole thing started when I moved to France in October, 2010. I met my husband in Brooklyn, NY in 2007. He's French, I'm American. Three years later, I took the plunge and agreed to move to France with him. We wanted a calmer life with time to work with our hands and pursue personal projects. I worked as a documentary film editor in NYC, which I loved, but the hours are intense. So I was ready for a change and excited for a new experience but I spoke no French. Needless to say, finding a job was going to be challenging but a friend inspired me with his success on Etsy with
. He was very supportive and encouraging and it also seemed like the best fit for my
I started trolling the local flea markets, looking for inspiration and found myself gravitating towards the gorgeous old books. Many of them were a bit damaged on the spine or some pages missing and so weren't collectible anymore. People just wanted to get rid of them and I found myself buying them up with the hopes that I'd figure out what to do with them. From there the idea to upcycle them was born. I bought books on bookbinding and watched tutorials and taught myself. I practiced for quite a while to work out the kinks of using old books instead of crafting the journal from scratch.
2. What inspires you? Is there a special place that you like to go to get inspired? What is it? Any favorite galleries or exhibits that inspire you?
I'm inspired by what I find at the flea markets. Ideas pop into my head and I don't always know where they came from. For example, I saw some vintage lace at the flea and thought it would be pretty cool to incorporate that into a wedding guestbook. I mean, that's not too crazy, lace, weddings, adds up. How to use it in a unique way though was the challenge. I'm also very inspired by some of my incredibly creative customers. I love working with others and if they have a vision, I'm game to try to create it.
3. Who is the biggest supporter of your craft/Art & business?
My biggest supporter is my husband, without a doubt. He's pitched in and helped when I was overwhelmed with orders. He also makes the hand-stamped brass nameplates for the book covers. The second most supportive person is one of my clients actually. She is a huge fan of my work and bought many journals, each one more challenging to make than the last! She really makes me a better, more creative journal maker. I have a few special pieces that I created for her and one of my custom orders is named for her as well. It's pretty amazing to have a stranger come into your life and affect you so profoundly!
4. Are you part of a crafting group?
Craft groups aren't as big in France. In Paris you'll see the trend more but in Lyon it's only just starting to happen. There was an Etsy type crafting event recently, hosted by a fantastic Etsy jewelry maker, but I wasn't able to attend. Maybe next time.
5. What do you enjoy making the most?
I love stepping outside the usual a bit, for either journals or guestbooks. I love working on any journal where the buyer wants illustrations included and gives me some free reign to add what I like. My other favorites has to be my Retro Journal Series. They are so fun to make and I admit I love to burn paper. A little oddity of mine. When I put the first one up for sale, I thought it would just sit in my shop. Burned pages, pieces of reclaimed paper, antique science or literature books...was it too much? It's turned out to be one of my best sellers.
6. What is your busiest season and how do you cope with the orders?
I've only been in business for just over a year so I'm still seeing trends here but last year it started at the end of April with wedding guestbook orders. I had just started offering guestbooks and was completely unprepared for the onslaught of orders. I ended up getting a friend to help, another expat from Brooklyn, who pitched in by packing orders, going to the post office, and buying supplies. Oh and by bringing homemade snacks! She moved back to Brooklyn though so I'll need to find another assistant for this summer :(
7. What do you like to do for fun?
Travel. Definitely my passion and my husband is the same. We also love camping and go just about every summer. This year we plan to do a long road trip through the south west of France. I can't wait!
find this item
8. Do you have a crafty room?
No, I wish. Currently I have a work corner in our living room. I'd love to have a room all to myself with a door to shut. Or even better yet, my own separate studio. Hopefully soon!
How would you like your future crafty room to be?
I want lots of shelves and bins, everything wonderfully organized and at my reach, a small desk for business, a huge table for working, good lighting and huge windows. And as mentioned before, a door that I can shut when I'm done for the day.
9. How do you find selling offline? How is it in comparison with selling online?
I haven't done too much selling offline. I've participated in a couple of local vintage markets and this Christmas I was honored that some of my neighbors bought journals to give as gifts. They found out about my work because I use the buildings staircase as my background in my photos. I was "caught" a few times while taking pictures and that led to interesting conversations about what I do. The ability to talk face to face, to see the customers reaction personally, is a great experience. However, I love the online experience, the ability to interact with others all over the globe is pretty incredible.
Find this item
10. Do you have any tips for people who want to start making their hobby into their business?
Do what you love but also do your research. Is there a market? Is that market flooded? What can you offer that is different? It's a lot of work but also very rewarding.
For more gorgeous journals, please checkout Karen's Shop