May 23, 2015

Welsh Weekend: Suze Loves WoolNsilk! & Giveaway


I love woolNsilk, Karen's felted and silk creations are absolutely stunning.


I really like the beautiful color combinations.


Everything is so pretty.


I've asked Karen a few questions to find out more about her and her shop.

Where have you learned your art/craft?

I have worked with textiles my whole life! I started cutting up fabric and making 'clothes' for my doll as a child, and then at 18 I studied a degree in 'Fashion'. I had my own business designing and making women's clothing for a while and then, about 14 years ago became a Textile teacher. I first discovered felting as part of a project I wanted to do with the children in school. Since then I have been self taught, though I have also attended a few classes to see how other felters work.


Could you give a bit of information about your products.

In my Etsy shop I sell a range of accessories. I am a scarf, bag and shoe person!!!! I have SO many of all of these - and if I could make shoes I would too!! Maybe that is my next learning curve :).
The silk scarves are dyed using direct colours that then merge and mix to create totally one- off patterns and shades. Sometimes I get a custom order to replicate a scarf - but they are never identical. Many of my scarves are bought as gifts, or suitable for weddings in the summer, and obviously are popular in the winter months.
I then match up wools with dyed silk to create felted scarves, and have also started to felt onto patterned fabrics to diversify my pieces. My first one of these is so stunning I had to keep it for myself, and I am still hunting patterned silk to create some more like this to sell in my shop.
The brooches are another range as often people like to buy small gifts - especially at Christmas. I hunted out the technique on YouTube and then used the main concept to create my own designs.
My felted Kindle cases were born from a mix of things. Initially I was trying to think of a product that is not 'seasonal'. At the same time I was doing an exam piece that I was embroidering images onto felt, and the piece was so effective I was left wondering where else I could apply the same technique. Wool felt tablet/ I pad cases already exist on the market - but they are usualy grey and corporate looking. So I thought there was a gap in the market for warm, decorative, hand-made cases, especially as wool is soft, anti-static, can be made thick for protection and naturally water resistant!


What inspires you?

My inspiration comes from life and all that is around me. Often through teaching, new ideas are always around us. Trends influence - for example I have had a thing about butterflies over the last 2 years. My next is going to be Zen Tangles - which I discovered last Christmas. I have just completed another exam piece based on abstract monochrome patterns, and want to take some of these ideas into a new product - fans - for the summer months.
The other main form of inspiration is that I just like to 'play' and experiment with fabrics, fibres and colour. Many ideas are born from 'accidents'. Indeed my dyed scarves evolove to a certain degree on their own; it's like each one has it's own intentions and I am simply the facilitator!  


How did your Etsy adventure start?

The birth of my Etsy shop has evolved from a number of things going on at the same time. 6 years ago I became a mother and I continued teaching - but on a part time basis as I wanted to bring up my child and realised that that precious time would go so quickly and never return. On part-time earnings and as a single parent from the off, financially I became very hard up. There is a saying 'Adversity has the effect of eliciting talents which in prosperous circumstances would have lain dormant' (Horace). This is so true. If I was simply teaching full time I do not think I would have pushed myself to open my shop. I am SO glad I did.
My shop does not bring in a huge income at present, and indeed my business plan is based on 'The Elves and the Shoemaker'. I had started playing around with silk dyes, and made my first 12 scarves for a School Christmas Fair at my friend's school. However, that night, we had the MOST horrendous gales, wind, rain and floods - which meant about 10 people went to the Christmas Fair and I was left with 12 silk scarves wondering what to do with them! Some went as gifts - but I seem to have a lot of Vegan friends and family, so 8 were left - and became the first items in my shop woolNsilk. And that is where it all started.
Online selling can be tricky when you sell a tactile item. You need to rely on photographs and feedback. However, as sales increase and fantastic reviews come in, new customers have confidence to buy my hand-made items and I get so many customers coming back for more. My Etsy shop is building slowly and steadily, which is just perfect.


What are your plans for the future?

 There are many positives to having an online shop. It allows me to juggle my time between teaching, child and my own creativity, without having to physically be 'in a shop'. A part of me would love this to be my full-time job - but, I know that I enjoy the social interactions that teaching provides - so maybe part-time is ideal.
 I would like to open a second online shop on DaWanda - as Etsy is still predominantly American, though the UK is catching up :). DaWanda would hit a German and European market where hand-made items are often so much more appreciated compared to the mass manufacturing expectations of some other countries.
Last Christmas I also did a couple of market stalls and My son's School Fair - which were really successful as it gives that hands on/ tactile experience that photographs cannot. So for the forthcoming year and into the future I will take my products to more craft fairs and market stalls around Cardiff and South Wales as it is so nice to also meet my customers face to face :).


What advice can you give my readers?

Having your own business based on creativity often does not bring huge financial reward - but it fulfils a greater reward within your own being which is knowing that you have created something unique and someone admires it enough to buy it from you. There is something far more satisfying with this type of transaction than a regular salary!


Karen makes accessories that will make people look gorgeous.


Wearing one of Karen's products will make you feel confident and feminine, which is something I really like about the shop.


Visit the store to see more of Karen's fabulous work.


Karen has an interesting About page where she explains more about felting. If you'd like to know more about her techniques, you should definitely visit it.


Enjoy shopping!


One very lucky reader of my blog will receive an amazing prize:


This fantastic kindle sleeve will be for the winner of the giveaway.


Good luck!

  I will contact the winner on twitter or via email. If I don't get a reply within 60 hours the prize will go to someone else. All of my giveaways are international. 

38 comments:

  1. The colors are so inviting! They say I'm soft and cozy wear me!

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  2. The colors are warm! Love' em!

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  3. The designs are so unique and creative. I also like the bright, vibrant colors.
    Thanks for the giveaway.

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  4. I love the beautiful colours!!

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  5. Everything they have is so original and stunning.

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  6. I love the colors and textures. Everything is uniquely beautiful.

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  7. These are stunning and interesting pieces xx

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  8. I love the creativeness of the owner.

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  9. Adore the scarves such gorgeous colours. And the kindle covers as I take my kindle everywhere with me!

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  10. O facto de serem trabalho feitos à mão :)

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  11. So soft, touchable and inviting, very snuggly looking just love the pastels but also the vibrant colours are gorgeous too just lovely!

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  12. The quality and artistry are stunning. I can't get enough of products that have been made by hand, with care and love.

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  13. I love everything there is about the shop! I love the vibrant colours, the natural fabrics and the stunning designs of the products

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  14. I love everything there is about the shop! I love the vibrant colours, the natural fabrics and the stunning designs of the products

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  15. the beautiful colours and colour combinations

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  16. The colours and designs go very well together x

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  17. i love how she manages to combine colors i would not have thought would work together and how neat her work is

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  18. I love all the bright colours.

    Megan @ reading away the days

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  19. I love the beautiful pink pieces!! :)

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  20. I love how completely original all the items are

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  21. I love that the colors of the scarves are so vibrant and hand-dyed. Gorgeousness!

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  22. i love the color combinations, as well

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  23. Really stunning unique items. Beautiful colours

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  24. Very unique and absolutely gorgeous items, so clever :)

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  25. Stunning color combinations! I favored this shop!

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  26. I love the soft look of the items; the colors are beautiful too

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  27. I love the felted items, felting fascinates me

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  28. Everything is fantastic and bright and colorful. I LOVE everything in her shop.

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  29. I like the soft fabric! My email is isma_munir@hotmail.com, Thanks.

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