Tuesday, 24 February 2009

Q & A with Rowan of Kitschen Sink

I am delighted that Rowan of Kitschen Sink has agreed to be interviewed for my latest fashion Journalism assignment. She makes gorgeous and fun jewellery that is great for girls with their own individual sense of style. You can find out more on her blog, Etsy or Folksy. I was also really excited to find out about Folksy the British equivalent of Etsy - you learn something new every day! Her are the questions and answers.

I love your jewellery, how would you describe the style of your jewellery?

I tend to use 'whimsical, kitschy, funky & fun'. I try to use as much colour as possible, avoiding earthy and natural tones. In terms of the materials I use, I like plastics and found objects. I'm really trying to make an alternative to boho/blend-in fashion that seems to be everywhere. The high street is taking over and there is little available for alternative fashionistas to just pick up on a shopping trip.

Why did you decide to start making jewellery?

I have always been creative. My Grandma spent lots of time teaching me how to paint, knit, collage and so forth.Fast forward a couple of decades and I'm in short-term unemployment. I saw some over-priced, simple earrings in a boutique and thought 'I could do better than that'...

Where do you get your inspiration from?
I love the colour schemes and designs on club-night fliers, and advertisements in teen/young women magazines. I also love the style of Gwen Stefani and Kelly Osbourne, they aren't afraid to wear what they like or succumb to the everyday, mundane 'boho' look the high street attempts to flog us. I like to check out what's being worn on the streets of Tokyo and around Harajuku station, Japanese street fashion seems so much more fun than anywhere else!

Do you consider it a job or hobby?
I consider it to be a hobby - since I still enjoy it! I do work a 9-5 as well as being part-time self-employed, but dream of one day doing this full time, selling lots of Indie crafters' work as well as my own, perhaps with a small tea room selling fresh cute cupcakes.

How do you go about selling your jewellery?

I sell at craft fairs, on Etsy and Folksy (online areas for selling hand-made goods) and in bricks-and-mortar shops, so I cover as much ground as I can.

What have you found the most effective channel for selling jewellery online?

Folksy has been the best so far. It's still in Beta stage, but because it's relatively new and currently only those in the UK can sell there, your work doesn't get buried as quickly as on Etsy. A lot of work has to be put into your own marketing though, which I'd rather spend making new designs!

You seem to have quite a lot of followers, what type of person buys your jewellery (if there is one type)?

It's difficult to say, because I don't know the online buyers, nor do I get to meet those who shop in the bricks and mortar. At craft fairs many are buying as gifts, but I know those who are buying for themselves tend to be young (17-25) and funky and willing to make a statement.

How useful have you found having a blog in promoting your jewellery?

It's really useful. You can post up ideas and get opinions, promote others' work and potentially get the same in return, write snippets about your day - I think it's good for people to get to know the person behind the product. I also have columns with links to the various places I am linked to (shops, social networking areas, etc). I don't have a website of my own, so for now, this is a great starting block.

On your blog, you mention the rise of indie crafters. What is an indie crafter and why do you think they are are on the rise?

'Indie' refers to 'independent', but mainly to those involved a more 'urban' stream of crafting. I think most people hear 'craft' and it conjures up images of crocheted doily's and knitted dolls. Indie craft is all about taking traditional techniques and mixing them with today's trends. I constantly hear sad stories about independent shops in the UK being closed to make way for more 'lemming' stores (for instance, Leeds' Corn Exchange, which will be sadly missed). Every high street becomes the same, every person of every high street looks the same... but finding an alternative is so much easier now, as Internet access is so readily available. Handmade goods can only be made in limited amounts, so the shopper knows they will own something that's not likely to be worn by anyone else. Documentaries naming and shaming chain stores that exploit child workers abroad and in turn force the buyer to take some responsibility also help us.

How useful have you found communicating with other jewellery makers in the online community in terms of technical /business/ marketing information?

The online community is amazing. I'm not sure I'd even be in business if it wasn't for the Internet. I started off using Craftster... now I use Crafteroo which is more for the UK based crafter. It's been a God send - no one in my family owns a business so I didn't have the first idea about taxes, registration and so forth. There's always someone willing to give their experience there, and I can pass mine on to more junior members too. Subscribing to other blogs also lets me know about other possibilities, such as publishing books and new networking sites. I also end up seeing lots of goodies to spend my money on! Twitter, Facebook and Myspace are also great places to show off your work and get new clientele.

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