Welcome to the second artist interview on miscellany!
(1) Tell us about yourself: I am Cheri Hage, owner of Oodles of Whimsy. I reside in Goshen, Indiana. My husband Rick, and I have 4 adult children. We have just one remaining at home. He’s a whiz at creating graphics, wrestling computers and designing websites; working out of the attic office. He set up our website and blog. (If you ever need his services, I can get you a great deal – splitwebdesign.com.) Business schedule: I usually work on both our online businesses and sew in short batches of time during the day. I’m a night-owl so I read, write or work on projects until 2am if I’m on a roll.
(2) Tell us about what you create: Second only to being with family, I really love sewing, crafting and quilting. Rick and I create OODLES of pincushions in a wide variety of shapes, sizes and materials (and that’s where our business names stem from). We have tomato-style pincushions, patchwork cubes, linen with doilies, even a fleece porcupine. We sell in bulk to independent quilt shops across the USA. Our smallest and most popular item is the Finger Pincushion. We have been making these for over 15 years. On a side note, Rick and I enjoy going to Amish farm auctions. We buy furniture items in need of TLC which Rick repairs and refinishes to resell. We love Antiques, often coming home with miscellaneous boxes that have small hidden treasures in them. I take the lone teacup, sugar bowl missing a lid and lightly tarnished silver vessel and turn those into pincushions, too.
(3) Tell us about your handmade art business and your customers: Our wholesale business is OodlesOfPincushions.com, where we sell to retailers and distributors. We have two Etsy shops: (1) Oodles of Whimsy (oodlesofwhimsy.etsy.com) ~ pincushions, sewn items and supplies. And (2) Oodles of Vintage (oodlesofvintage.etsy.com) ~antique and vintage goods. As with most artists and crafters, friends and family kept telling me I should be selling the many different craft items and things I made; so I searched for places to do that. We did start out participating in church and school bazaars, Farmers Markets and craft shows. We tried consignment and sold at a couple brick and mortar shops along the way. At present, we prefer not to do the shows or pay someone else to sell our items. We utilize word-of-mouth, the internet (we didn’t have it when we started!!) and visit in person to sell our pincushions and antiques. We’ve met some lovely people over the internet through the years. I have a notebook with lists of quilt shops I contact by email, introducing our pincushions. (I spend hours online gathering shop names and contacts across the US. Some are places we’ve been to, bought from or receive their newletters.) Wherever we go, we take pincushion info, price lists, business cards and samples to give out to shops we visit. We are not pushy about it at all. Anytime we buy fabric, we are asked, “What will you be making with this ?” and that opens up the conversation for us.
(5) Tell us where we can find your art: In addition to our etsy shops (see links above) and website, I have a blog called Oodles (because if I’m not sewing or writing I’ll explode). Topics there include: Sewing, Selling your Crafts, Interviews and “It really happened..”
(6) Tell us about your support: I was involved with a wonderful quilt guild years ago. It was a great resource and support system that I would recommend for anyone at any level of sewing. Being with a group of like-minded folks keeps you motivated and encouraged. I learned a lot from the women I met there. At present, I don’t have the time but maybe one day I’ll return. My family is very supportive of my crafting. All four of the kids (3 boys and 1 girl) took a turn sewing, cutting or counting product to package as they were growing up 🙂 Rick and I have no employees, ours is a 2-person operation. We are one of those rare couples that love to work together !
(7) Tell us about your favorites: Blogs and Websites I adore: thepioneerwoman.com, bustleandsew.com, sewcanshe.com, victoriaelizabethbarnes.com, the-feathered-nest.blogspot.com, abeautifulmess.com, and missouriquiltco.com. I don’t have a favorite pincushion in our shop, but enjoy making all the different styles (lots of styles so I’m never bored). I do like introducing people to a container of Finger Pincushions because usually, they’ve never seen one before and these do have a certain cuteness factor, probably due to their petite size.
(8) Tell us anything else: If someone had told me 15 years ago we’d still be selling finger pincushions now, I would not have believed it. You’d think that the market would be saturated at this point. But, we’ve never met a person who’s seen them before (except in a catalog or online). To me, that’s amazing. I’ve been sewing forever and love to see new tools and products that help improve a craft. It was only 2 years ago that we purchased a fabric cutter with a die (made by Accu-quilt) to cut our finger pincushion fabric for us. Before that time, we cut thousands out by hand. Rick had suggested buying the cutter to save time but I was reluctant, thinking it was extravagant. Finally we splurged and he is right, the cutter is so helpful, quickly cutting dozens of pieces in just a few strokes ! It is a great tool for us (I still hand sew all those finger pincushions, though..). Now I am sold on it; one should be open-minded and give new methods a try. If you are an artist or crafter, do it to keep sane. Teach others so they can have fun. Make extra pieces for gifts. Research how to buy your supplies in bulk or order with friends to save money. If you have a craft that you like and have worked to perfect it, you should consider selling. To get paid for something you like to do is a rare thing.