Monday, September 12, 2011

new feature//

This is my first installment of a new feature here on the blog, interviews with designers! mostly, if not all, on etsy. Since i am a designer, i thought that other designers would be just as thrilled as i would to get some helpful and topical information about designing plus having a business on Etsy. You know, designers telling designers about designing and stuff. It's why we watch Project Runway.

First up, is Alix from treehouse28 .  Alix is made-to-order(large sizes too!), clean and simple pieces with a neat serged edge. I have owned a shirt from her shop and i wore it all the time! (i lost too much weight and no longer could wear it-sob). The craftmanship is superb, the sizing is right on, super comfortable, and great, versatile designs. Here is her interview:

deb: hi alix! thanks so much for letting me ask you questions about your business.
first let me ask, how did you come up with that name? finding names for a business on etsy seems to get harder and harder, with people opening more and more shops...

alix: I lived in a tiny apartment on Avenue B, lower east side of Manhattan. It was so small... you could literally stand in the center, lean and pivot, and could touch all of the walls. The one redeeming quality of this place was that it looked out onto a large oak tree courtyard. Called it my treehouse. It was here that I got my first computer, and my log in password was treehouse28.
Fast forward 15 years... when opening up my Etsy shop, I typed in treehouse28 for username. Not realizing this was to be the shop name.. and the rest is history!

deb: How did you decide on your niche i.e., solid colors, in jersey, made to order....?

alix: the niche sort of fell into my lap:)) really, i think simplifying everything helps. i need to stay in what i am in so i can produce what i do all on my own. people do also tend to gravitate towards the simple things... i have noticed. over designing seems to be what sinks clothing lines that are small and can't handle the volume.

 deb: good point. i just discovered this after having too many different things in my shop without much cohesion.
how long did it take for your shop to really start turning a profit?

alix: When i first opened a handful of years ago, I thought making enough to pay for groceries every month would be my goal. I think it was in the first two weeks I realized I could set my goals higher. Within a few months I was Etsy's featured artist. I went from a few orders a day to several pages of orders a day. While I have not had a busier time since, It was then I started turning a profit and have yet to stop!

deb: that is amazing!! do you set hours for yourself to work each day, or take certain days off?

alix: After year two of working around the clock, literally... I had to set some boundaries. My children are in school until three every day. I work Monday through Friday from eight to three. It took some time to learn how to manage properly so I stay focused on work, as I work from home. I take weekends off. I never ever work on the weekend. Never. I will work a few nights during the week if needed to ensure I get weekend time in with the family.

deb: i think this is essential too. how long does it take you to make one garment on average?

alix: There really is no average... it all depends on the specifications of the customer. Sometimes certain measurement requests, fit requests... take a bit more finessing. I cut, sew and then try on a fit mannequin to ensure the proper fit. It would be easier to estimate this if I were cutting from patterns, the same cut every time...

i think getting measurements or having several sizes available is the way to go. i didn't, and got so many emails asking"do you happen to have this is such-and-such size?" it's the way i'm going next.
one other thing i love about your shop is your photos. do you have a photographer do them? i like how some of them, the ones with you in them, blur a little. can you tell what's important to remember about photos on etsy, especially for designers?

alix: I am the photographer:) Imagery is HUGE for me. It is almost my favorite part of my job. I started off shooting on self timer, reluctantly using myself as the model. Recently I have hired models, and got lucky with direction. I was scared I would not take on this role very well... conveying what I wanted to see... but I was really happy with how it went. Like my clothing, I like to keep it clean and simple. I use a white drop, no cluttered back rounds. It, to me, is the best way to showcase your work clearly. I love to play with the negative space, creating shapes and movement of the models and clothing that are unique and creative. The images become more about the clothes, than about the models in them.. which I think helps customers visualize themselves in them.

 deb: your photography is wonderful! i have been using a white sheet, which isn't big enough. i need to invest in a drop! i have used models(actually friends) but i am so shy at directing, so i know what you mean. i don't particularly like using a dressform, because there is no movement. i liked it when you were in the shots, you have such a great look! we have a very similar aesthetic.
so lastly, is there any other words of wisdom you would like to impart to other designers out there, on etsy?

alix: I am a humble type.. so imparting words of wisdom does not come easily:) But, if there were any... I would say to keep true to what you believe in. Design and sell what you, yourself would wear and love. Believing in your work is the driving force to success:)

deb: thank you so much, alix-for being so kind and gracious! it was my pleasure to talk to you. i wish you continued success in all aspects of your life!

alix: thanks to you too!!! can i get your blog url? love to check it out. thanks again!


Sunny Carvalho said...

I totally LOVe treehouse 28! Totally my style! Thanks for sharing the write up. Nice to meet you by the way!

deborah said...

nice to meet you too! message me if you are going to be in birmingham some time and would like to meet up=)