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Friday Interview with Unwaveringfaith

Natural Kids: Friday Interview with Unwaveringfaith

Friday, June 27, 2008

Friday Interview with Unwaveringfaith

Today's interview is with Jenn of the Etsy shop Unwaveringfaith, or Faith as we have nicknamed her in the ongoing team threads. Jenn has many unique and beautiful items in her shop, created with love by both Jenn and her children. I think you'll enjoy getting to know "Faith" !

Tell us a little bit about yourself and how and when did you get started with arts and crafts?

~My name is Jenn and I homeschool five of my six children. We mostly unschool, but we love to incorporate Waldorf and Charlotte Mason methods into our learning. I live in Tennessee on a beautiful piece of property and we spend most of our days outdoors, weather permitting.

I remember helping my aunt base paint the ceramics she sold at local craft shows years ago. And man, she was good! The best ceramics painter I have ever seen, to this day! I always enjoyed making crafts, but nothing major. My main joy in life was writing poems and short stories. If you had ever told me I'd be a fiber artist someday, I would've laughed!

I started making Waldorf dolls for my daughters and other family members a few years ago. Everyone loved them and said I should try to sell them. My first doll sold for $30 and I was so excited! Not long after, I started making the flower fairies and gnomes. Then I taught myself to knit. I dabble in a little of everything.
What is the main thing you make and sell in your store? What else do you make and/or sell?

~Whatever tickles my fancy! I guess I am mostly known for gnomes and flower fairies, although I really enjoy needle-felting and knitting. I make Waldorf dolls from time to time. There is nothing I won't try to do or learn. My shop is a little different than most of the others, in that it is all about family. It's not just my started out as just me, then became me and my mom. I really loved doing this with my mother for a time. We grew closer and collaborated on everything. She had a lot of great ideas and was very talented and in high demand with her original gourd homes. I miss her as part of the team. I really miss her gourds in my shop. What is there now is all that is left and I will probably never have more. It's very sad for me, but that time of my life is over now.

Now my husband, my son and my daughters all make things for the shop. We are diverse in our interests and talents, so we have a lot to offer, I think. My husband and son make wooden things. My husband is a very talented artist and paints wooden keepsake boxes. My daughters love to draw and make cards and paper goods for the shop. It's fun to to create and work together. I teach my children everything I know and enjoy helping them learn how to make new things.
Who if anyone has been instrumental in helping you hone your craft?

~No-one. I have never taken a class. I am self-taught in knitting (you should see how I hold needles, HA!) I taught myself needle-felting, I am sure I do that wrong too! I have never looked at a book. I have looked at Waldorf doll patterns to make them, but I always try to make them my own by tweaking the pattern or leaving something out. My girls got a book on pipe cleaner fairies for fun one year and I didn't like them, so I came up with a different fairy. I now use pipe cleaners under my needle-felted Strawberry dolls and sometimes make Bendy dolls in that way. But I prefer the flower fairies to be "dainty" and beautiful, not thick and bulky. They are very strong and stand up to lots of play, though, don't let their appearance fool you!

Where do you get your inspiration?

~You know the answer! My children, of course! They are so imaginative and amazing! We will sit and talk about things we enjoy, things we wonder about. We talk probably more than anyone I know! I throw ideas off them..."Hey, what about this....wouldn't this be cool...", etc. and they give feedback. If they like it, I'll try to make it. If it works out, I let them "test" see how it holds up to play, how it is to play with (fun or boring?), if they like it. Do they think it needs more work or is it good just as it is? Then I make the final product based on their opinions. They have a lot of mommy-made dolls and things because of this! :0)

What are your favorite materials?
~Wool, of course! I am very allergic to it, especially raw wool. I break out horribly with hives, itch all over and cough and wheeze. When I first began working with wool, I'd cough every night. I finally went to the doctor to find out what was wrong. (I wasn't correlating the two) They ran tons of tests, everything came back fine. I was in perfect health. But because I was coughing, I had quit working. After about a month of not working, the coughing fits had stopped, so I started working again. Guess what? Yep, the cough returned. I was determined not to let the allergy ruin my creativity and my business. I toughed it out. To this day, wool is my very favorite material and I will never put it down! And I am happy to report, the reaction is not as strong anymore. I can work with clean wool easily and do so almost every day.
What advice would you give other Etsy sellers and those interested in opening up a shop?

~Never give up! When I first started out, my dolls did not bring in much money. I didn't care though because I enjoyed it so much. The gnomes I made did not sell at first, now I cannot keep them stocked. The more you work, the better your product becomes. Do not get discouraged. If your heart is in it, keep at it. It will shine through your product and people will know. I have a loyal customer base. I love what I do. I will never stop, no matter what! Even if I didn't sell a thing, I would do this for friends and family and continue my charity efforts (it brings me such joy) I have made things to take to local hospitals for sick kids (dolls and other things that can be played with easily in bed) and for newborns in the nursery (knit hats)

What advice would you give to beginners in your craft?

~Promote yourself as much as possible. I am only just beginning to realize how important this is. It gets your name and your product out there. People start wondering who you are, then they buy from you, then they tell others about you and then it spreads from there. If your products are nice, you'll get the same people again and again. This builds a loyal customer base. Also, ALWAYS be super polite, friendly in conversations, willing to fix any mistakes and willing to help your customers in any way possible. They *WILL* remember how they were treated, how quickly you shipped, the way the product was packaged, etc.
What is your Etsy shop address and name? Where else can we find you?

Nature's Enchantment~Handmade Toys and Gifts

That is the only place where I sell.
I am a team member of the Natural Kids blog

I also have my own little blog...
Barefoot in Tennessee~The simple life ramblings of a homeschooling mom to six children

Thank you for this interview and for taking the time to read it! I feel honored.

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Blogger TheSingingBird said...

Great interview Faith and Fairiesnest! It feels like we're visiting with you and your family and watching you make the toys and gifts for your shop. You are a wonderful example to your kids in doing what you love and it's easy to see they will follow in your footsteps. :)

June 27, 2008 at 11:52 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I loved reading this interview! Allergic to wool and still felting--that's just amazing :) Love getting to know you better, Faith!

June 27, 2008 at 12:41 PM  

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