Friday, 12 November 2010

Feature Friday - Jessica Van Den and *bespoke*

Featured Artisan today:

Until September 2008, Jessica Van Den wasn't crafty at all. That changed when she was given a novel about a woman who owned a yarn store in New York. It inspired her to start knitting - and it all went from there! She now works at her jewellery business  and her blogs full-time, as well as launching *bespoke*

Please tell me more about *bespoke*
*bespoke* - a lovely little zine all about handmade, vintage, photography, art, micro-business, eco-friendly goodness and much more – all in a sweet little A5 sized package that you can take anywhere!
Issue 1 of *bespoke* features gorgeous photos and artwork; interviews with a number of successful full-time crafters - including a feature on those who use upcycled/recycled materials in their work; an interview with Liss Winnel from the blog Daydream Lily; a Summer Lovin' feature of handmade products; cherish - stories and photographs of cherished handmade and vintage items; vintage crafts - this issue it's macrame, and much more!
*bespoke* is for those who live and love a creative, crafty life - and especially for those who sell their craft as a hobby or business!

That sounds great! Where can I find it?
can I read your blog, follow you on twitter or like you on facebook?

How did you get the idea for your zine?
I love blogging, but I really wanted to create something tangible - and hence *bespoke* was born! A lot of folk are doing e-zines recently, but I wanted to make a print magazine that would last. When I put the idea out there, I was happily amazed by the positive response, and I ran with it!

What does your day look like?
 Well, currently I work all day, every day, with the occasional ½ day off here and there. I’m a night-owl, so I tend to wake up around 9, and hop straight onto my computer – usually I’ll do this in bed, with my laptop, and my husband Nick will bring me a cup of tea. During this time, I’ll respond to any urgent e-mails; re-list items that have sold and send thank-you’s to my customers; check my blogs for stats and comments, catch up with my online friends on twitter and forums; and write down any orders that have come in.
f I have jewellery orders to make, I’ll then start work around 10:30 or so, and work through until all the orders are complete. I generally hop on the laptop briefly every hour or so to keep on top of e-mails, and give my fingers a rest from filing, sanding, polishing, bending and engraving!
I’ll pack my orders and drive to the post-office by about 4pm, and then come home, have dinner, and get back on the computer until bedtime. I usually try to have at least an hour or so off in the evening to just hang out with Nick, watch some DVD’s or read a bit of my latest SF novel (I’ve always been a sucker for a good science fiction story!). I head to bed around 12 or so.  I also usually try to devote most of one day on the weekend to working on and scheduling blog posts, when my inbox is a little quieter!
Do you have any tips for other artisans/crafters?
Just do it! Don't dither around trying to get everything perfect before you start – you won't. Just launch yourself out there, keep working hard on making more awesome work, and keep sharing it. 
Selling online, the absolute key is your photography. Learn how to take clear, captivating and enticing product shots. Never, ever use a flash! Have a consistent background and look to your photography – and stick to it.
Join twitter, and use it. This is, hands down, the best thing I've ever done for my business – let alone my sanity! I have made so many friends (and sales) through twitter, and there is no way I could have launched *bespoke* so successfully if it wasn't for the power of twitter and the connections I've made. It even landed me a radio interview (!
Mostly – have fun and keep creating! And take time off – this is something I'm terrible at, but I always feel refreshed for taking a break. It can be really hard to do when you are busy, but you have to realise that no-one is going to tell you it's your 'day off' – you have to make it happen. I got really sick for a day a while back (Nick said he knew I was really ill because I didn't even get on my laptop) and it made me realise that the world will not implode if I'm away from the computer for a day.

Thank you so much for the great interview! Be sure to head over to right away!

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