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The Face Behind the Graphics Fairy

Graphics-Fairy-ButtonblacksmallIf you’re a crafter, odds are you’ve heard of The Graphics Fairy blog.  But how much do you really know about what goes on behind the scenes there?

The Graphics Fairy is a free, online resource for vintage, one-of-a-kind graphic images, as well as inspiration for an unending number of graphic transfer projects.  These projects run the gamut from ones you might create for yourself and for your home to projects you can create for resale.  Either way, the blog is an invaluable resource for crafters looking for just the right image to finish off their project.

Say Hello to Karen

graphics fairy bio pic karen watsonThe person behind The Graphics Fairy is none other than Karen Watson. 

A self-professed lover of all things vintage from a very young age, Karen has managed to turn her love of vintage images into a thriving online community where she shares two new vintage clipart selections daily, adding to her already bursting-at-the-seams library of 4,ooo-plus vintage images.  Her blog has become so popular as a go-to website for crafters and home décor DIY-er’s that she ultimately created a sister blog, The Graphics Fairy DIY Projects for the Home. The sister blog is a place where Karen can share more transfer ideas and feature her readers’ projects as well.  These candle wraps are a recent example of a reader-featured project using Karen’s vintage graphics.

graphicsfairy candles

In today’s world, Karen’s approach is truly a refreshing one. Her goal, simply stated, is to share what she loves doing with others.  According to Karen, “I want [the blogs] to be more of a community, where people can hang out, get ideas and inspiration from each other, and get their creative juices flowing!” 

She’s even gone so far as to institute ”Brag Monday”, where once a week a different reader project is featured on the blog.  Over 150 readers’ projects have been featured thus far. They include painted furniture, pillows, and paper products such as this recently featured greeting card.   

graphicsfairypatrioticcard

The fact that she has over 33,000 Facebook fans and more than 40,000 Pinterest followers is a testament to Karen’s incredible contribution to the crafting world.  Karen’s friend and colleague, Donna, of the acclaimed Funky Junk Interiors, recently got to spend some one-on-one time with Karen.  According to Donna, all you have to do is look around Karen’s home to appreciate all her talents. “I loved studying her graphics studio, where I could see for myself the love and devotion she puts into her work.  From having a true blue knack for staging a home that is beautiful but also meant to be lived in, right down to how carefully she selects her vintage inspiration, getting behind the soul of the Graphics Fairy was a gift in itself!”  

Tutorials and Images Galore

GraphicsfairytransfermethodsAnother example of Karen’s generosity when it comes to how-to’s is her readily shared instructions for image transfer methods, of which there are many.  After you’ve downloaded your image, be sure to check out her post entitled “12 Easy Image Transfer Methods” before going any further.  Just click on the image to the right to take you there.  It’s a great resource for both first-timers and seasoned image transfer crafters. 

If you’re interested in finding a specific image for a project, you can search The Graphics Fairy by category (of which there are currently 94) ranging in scope from “Angels and Fairies” to ‘Vintage Numbers Clipart” to “Weddings.”   Some of the most popular images fall into the holiday category such as Easter, Valentine’s, Halloween and Christmas. Other favorites, some of which are shown below, include vintage labels, typography, French ephemera (my favorite) and sheet music. 

GraphicsFairy wine sign

 

graphicsfairy bee cupboard-1

 

Graphicsfairybirdybag

graphicsfairyteacup

What’s Next?

Who knows what’s next for Karen a/k/a The Graphics Fairy?  As Karen states, “I’m finding that as a blogger, you never know where you might be heading next.  Things change constantly and you have to be prepared to keep up with all of it.  Also, surprising opportunities sometimes show up in your inbox, and that can take you in a whole different direction.”  I can’t wait to see what new and different opportunities present themselves to Karen in the future.  But for now, both The Graphics Fairy and The Graphics Fairy DIY Projects for the Home are chock-full of ideas and tutorials for unique vintage graphic image transfers.  And with Karen’s help, the possibilities truly are endless.

Pat Bravo: Heart and Soul of a Successful Designer

Passion.  That’s the word that best describes Pat Bravo. She is driven by her passion. Her heart overflows with generosity. With the help of her husband, she has drawn on these very things to build a successful fabric and textile manufacturing company, Art Gallery Fabrics, from the ground up.Pat Bravo bio pic

Early Years

Pat Bravo was born in Argentina. She began sewing at nine years old and attended sewing school when she turned thirteen. Following sewing school, she enrolled in law school but dropped out after three years and took painting classes. It was during this time that she met who, after 30 years, she still calls “the love of her life”, Walter Bravo.

Discovering Her Passion

Pat and Walter moved to the U.S. in 1989, where Walter worked in the clothing industry. Pat describes this time as very difficult for her, as she struggled to adjust to a new culture. When her husband gave her a sewing machine, that all changed.

She fell in love with quilting.  She started out learning the traditional techniques, but soon ventured into art quilts. Her creations progressed from landscape to the more abstract. As she searched for the right fabrics for her designs, she discovered that the available color palette in the batik fabrics she used were very limited and insufficient for her needs.

Filling A Need077-Red Oriental

Her landscape quilts required lots of shades to use for rocks, trees, etc. She found a book and taught herself to paint fabric.  Her results were stunning and when she shared the fabric at her local quilt guild, she sold every single piece. She began selling at quilt shows in her home city of Miami and other cities with great success.

In order to reach more customers, she made the decision to open an online store. It became impossible for her to meet the growing demand. According to Pat, “some days I was painting up to 80 pieces a day.” Wow! Can you imagine?

She decided to try selling fabric at the Quilt Festival in Houston. Her husband accompanied her on this trip. When he saw how large the demand for her fabric was within the quilting business, he encouraged her to make the leap into manufacturing commercially.

Going WholesaleAN-16 Belle Epoque

Walter had just sold his apparel company in New York and was looking to start a new company in Miami.  Art Gallery Fabrics was born in 2004.  Pat was still selling online, but soon stopped when the wholesale business took over.

Her first collection was called Oriental and was only one print in three colors.  Pat was apprehensive attending her first quilt market as a wholesaler.  With only her small collection, she feared ridicule from others in the industry. She created two more collections made from hand painted panels that were very successful.

Her next collection was made entirely on a computer and was called Belle Epoque. From then on, she has never hand painted again. Everything is done on a computer and hand drawn using Adobe Illustrator.

LB-1102-Flowerpop-Zesty-500px LillyBelleGrowing The Design Team

Bari J was the first outside designer brought on to Art Gallery Fabrics by Pat Bravo. This is what she had to say about Pat –

“I met Pat back in 2009 when my first line of fabric came out. I was with another company at the time but we both knew that if the stars aligned and we could, we’d want to work together. I was so thrilled when that happened. Pat is a huge creative talent in her own right, but she is also a gifted creative director. She and I seem to speak the same language when it comes to design, and she’s been able to pull my very best from me… even when I thought it wasn’t there. Pat is full of passion and heart both personally and professionally. It’s an absolute pleasure and honor to work with her.”

Success In Business

In a live chat, Pat told Pattern Review that she believes three things for success in business; good product, honesty  and a lot of sacrifice working long hours.  True Up says this about Pat, “she broke into the business in true DIY style.”

Lately Pat has begun aggressively marketing herself as just another designer for AGF.  Soulful Eyes is her personal design blog where she shares her inspiration and love of design.

Passion For DesignLogo Pat Bravo

Anais Crowley, Social Media Director for AG, says -

“Pat is a very passionate person. She really pours her soul into every line, every flower and every color choice. Coming from a background that has always been heavily influenced by an eclectic mix of color she has taken that into her collections. Pat is a person that strives to gain knowledge of various cultures and she transforms that knowledge into her collections. Her style is ever changing but with a familiarity and devotion to her true style.”

Inspiring OthersPat Bravo & CKC

What impresses me most about Pat is her desire to help those around her.  Her passion is contagious.  Despite everything that she may have going on, she is always accessible to her colleagues and customers.  She is generous with her time and talents.  I asked Shannon Donoghue of Create Kids Couture pattern company what it was like to work with Pat -

“Pat is one of the nicest and most helpful people in the industry! She mentored us through Quilt Market and if it wasn’t for her we would have been SO unprepared. She is so passionate about her work and when you speak to her it’s contagious. You can’t help but get excited about her fabrics when she talks about them. We’ve had the privilege of using her fabrics on our Fall 2012 line of paper patterns and they just made the patterns!”

What an inspiring example of what passion and hard work can accomplish. She is not only passionate about creating her own beauty, but in becoming the inspiration for others to do the same. It is clear that Pat Bravo truly gives her whole heart and soul to design.

Who inspires you?

Join Me Tonight For Summer Biz Sessions!

Imagine having a dream team of savvy business women, crafty business women, I should add, by your side.  Do you think that listening to their stories and following their lead could help your business? Imagine that you could ask them any questions you had. How much do you think you could learn from them?

Well, you don’t have to imagine that happening, and you don’t have to wonder about how much you can learn from them. You can just start learning!

Every Tuesday night at 9pm Eastern you can join me and some of my favorite business women for The Summer Biz Sessions! And if you can’t make a live session, don’t worry. I’m recording the calls and you will be able to listen online, as well as download the Mp3 of each of call.

Some of our guest speakers include:

You can learn more and register by clicking here!

CraftBoom’s! Most popular posts of all time (well, the last 8 months anyway)

Thanks to everyone who has popped in for a read/subscribed/linked to/commented on CraftBoom! Your response to this blog has been wonderful :) I’ve been rooting around in the CraftBoom! stats and I thought it would be useful to put the most popular CraftBoom! posts all together in one place. So here you go:

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I couldn’t think of suitable pic to go with this post so I thought this one would do as a close 2nd . Yummy :)

Crafting Heroes Interview with Alicia Paulson of Posie gets Cozy: crafter and author!

Woo Hoo! Here is another fabulous Crafting Heroes Interview hot off the press. I am really loving these interviews. Like you, I am finding them so inspiring and full of great advice on how to run my own business. For those of you who don’t yet know, I asked the lovely readers of my other blog to vote for their favourite Crafting Heroes and LOADS of them responded, it was great! There are more wonderful Crafting Heroes interviews in the pipeline and this one is no exception…

This time the I’m interviewing the lovely Alicia Paulson. Lots of you will already be regular visitors of Posie gets Cozy; her truly cosy corner of the blogosphere where you ‘ll find luscious photography, thoughtful and sensitive observations, yummy recipes and hand craft. In our interview Alicia shares with us her experiences of starting up and running her Craft Business.

I hope you enjoy her interview :)

Here’s Alicia! Alicia lives in Portland Oregon with husband Andy, 2 cats, and a cute woofer called Clover Meadow
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CraftBoom!: How long have you been in craft business?
Alicia: I started Posie in 2000, and have been doing it full-time ever since.

CraftBoom!: Where/how do you sell your items, and do you work from home?
Alicia: I sell my handmade items exclusively through my web shop (rosylittlethings.com). I do sell my crochet patterns wholesale to a few yarn stores in the U.S., Canada, the U.K., and Australia, but I’ve never had time to properly market those. And yes, I have a studio in my home and I make everything there.


One of Alica’s crochet patterns; the Snowbunny Hat. Too cute!


CraftBoom!: What made/inspired you to go into craft business, and what were you doing before?

Alicia: Before I started Posie, I went to graduate school in creative writing and was working as a book editor when I was in a serious pedestrian/auto accident and needed several surgeries over many months to repair my foot. I spent most of the next year in bed, recovering from surgery and learning to walk again. Through it all I continued to work part-time as an editor, but my injury left me permanently disabled, and my life had changed dramatically. I knew that I wanted to find work that would accommodate my new reality by giving me, among other things, flexibility, as well as a sense of control again. So Posie was a direct result of my efforts to recover from that terrible time. It was my silver lining, and it still is that. I never forget that.

CraftBoom!: How did you finance the start-up of your business?

Alicia: My husband was changing careers at that time, as well, and I don’t really remember how we did it. That time is kind of a blur. We didn’t think of it as “financing”; I think we just thought we were living, and doing whatever it took to get by until he was out of school, and until I was able to contribute financially to the household. Mostly we just felt we were regaining control of our lives, and doing whatever we had to do to make that happen. That’s always felt more important than the money. The money we’ve sort of . . . slapped together, however we could.

Absolutely darling Country Girl Clothespin Doll making kits.

CraftBoom!: How do you decide what you are going to sell?
Alicia: My products have always evolved out of whatever I am making for myself, whatever I am crazy about at the time. It seems to work in only that way for me — in order to make a thing, I have to love it, and so my work is almost always inspired by something personal. The inspiration behind something is a huge part of that something, for me. Some memory or experience will inspire me and I’ll get an idea of how to manifest that inspiration, and the two — the inspiration and the literal translation of it into craft — sort of push each other forward until the craft takes on its own life. I’m always very excited to see what the “thing” is going to turn out to be. That feeling of not-knowing exactly what it’s going to be motivates me consistently. When someone else likes what I’ve made, I’m always so pleasantly surprised, since I’m almost always just trying to please myself, and translate something personal.

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Alicia’s newest bag; the Tanglewood. Yum yum! A future kit perhaps?

CraftBoom!: When did you realise that your craft business had real potential?
Alicia: Oh goodness. I don’t really think that way. As I said, I started my business entirely because my life demanded it, not because I thought I had a good idea. I have plenty of days where I wish I was getting a real paycheck, believe me, but they are fewer and farther between. For the most part, I am just doing what I love, and hoping for the best. I don’t think I can really do anything else, so I just keep my fingers crossed! When I started Posie, it was just a coincidence that a crafting renaissance was happening concurrent with my own personal changes — I had no idea, for the most part, that there was a new crafty movement taking place out there in the big world. So that was a happy concurrence, and the timing of things has proven to be a great asset. But I would have done it anyway. Making things is part of my genetic make-up. Everyone in my family does this, and has done for as long as I can remember. There was never a time in my family when someone wasn’t selling something mailorder, starting a new side gig, selling homemade cakes, or designing business cards. It’s sort of just what the Leronemos do.

CraftBoom!: What things do you do to market your business?

Alicia: To be honest, the only thing I try to do is do good work, and take good photos, and stay on top of the day to day maintenance of my web sites. I’ve been very lucky to have received some really generous editorial coverage, and when editors call I try, as much as I can, to respond quickly and efficiently. But mostly I just try to be exactly who I am, and do the best work I can, and know that the work is what matters, and if it’s good, the interest will follow. I truly believe that. The work is the most important thing. If you can be confident in what you’re offering, then I think the marketing kind of takes care of itself. I just try to put the best quality work I can do out into the world, and I’m grateful any time anytime pays it some attention. I can’t stand it when things don’t live up to their hype. My goal is to always deliver more than anyone expects.

A lovely embroidered tea cloth like this should make doing the dishes slightly more bearable. Make your own with this fab Dishcloth Tutorial.


CraftBoom!: What things do you know now that you wish you knew from the beginning?
Alicia: Gosh, I don’t even know. Everything is so organic, I can’t separate my not-great self-employment experiences from the lessons they’ve brought into my life, however painful at the time — and some have been really painful! Though I’ve made a thousand mistakes, I can’t see how any of it could’ve happened any other way. I think self-employment is all about learning by doing — to a large extent it’s an exercise in volleying at the net. But at the end of each game, or set, or match you really do feel like you’ve earned your knowledge. If anything, I wish that I had not invested in a brick-and-mortar store. It was never my passion, and it definitely set me back financially in a way that has taken a while to recover from. So I learned that, if you’re going to do it, you have to love it. If you feel like you might not love the day-to-day, prosaic details of whatever it is you think you’re going to try, you probably won’t, and . . . well, I try to see into the future in that way now. One of the benefits of self-employment is getting to have control over these things, the way you might not when you are working for someone else. So what I don’t make financially, I try to make up for in sheer enjoyment. If I’m not enjoying myself, then it’s sort of miserable, and who needs that.

Beautifully embroidered head scarf.


CraftBoom!: What do you love most about running your own craft business, and what do you like least?
Alicia: Well, I love being able to truly turn my ideas for products into a fairly immediate reality. I think that is very cool. Because my business is so small, it is incredibly flexible — I have a capricious nature, so being able to change things up all the time really suits my character. That said, I’m trying to get a bit of a longer life out of the really good ideas — doing finished products, as well as patterns, and kits — something for everyone, all born of the same basic idea, since developing an idea well takes a significant commitment. You want to get some mileage out of it. And if it’s good, it will hold up to the deconstruction, I think.

What I like least is trying to juggle everything myself, all the time. I hate being the only one who knows what’s going on. If I have a problem, or if there is a something stressful or complicated, I really miss being part of a team that can work together to get something solved — or at the very least, offer commiseration! I wind up telling my husband EVERYTHING, and luckily he is a great listener. But generally, he isn’t available until the end of the day, and sometimes I really miss just having someone THERE to talk to, in the moment. Working alone can be lonely sometimes. Generally, being the loner I am, I love it, but some days — agggh. I just have to get out.

Here is Alicia’s up and coming book Stitched in Time (available Nov 08)


CraftBoom!: What advice would you give to newbies who want to start their own craft business?
Alicia: What seem true to me now are really cliches: Follow your heart. Stay true to your own vision. Observe the Golden Rule. Trust your instincts, no matter what “advice” anyone is giving you. Go slow and stay steady. Don’t worry what other people are doing. Do your work with sincerity and passion, and know that the experience of doing it is its own reward. When the money’s not there, make sure you are getting paid in happiness.

CraftBoom!: Are you satisfied with the income that your craft business brings?
Alicia: Well . . . alas . . . some days, it’s all just payment in happiness, baby.

CraftBoom!: What are your plans for future growth?
Alicia: I’d like to do more books and more patterns and kits. I’m always conflicted about taking things to the next level with bigger production, or licensing — I don’t know if that is the right thing for me, but it may be a possibility. When I have time I love to play with fabric designs, so that’s sort of a dream of mine, to do a fabric line. But mostly, in 2008, I want to have a balanced life: good friends, good food, good books, good work, and some extra time for doing nothing much. That’s my idea of success. You need a year like that every once in a while, and 2008 is mine for that, I think. . . .

Aw!! Hello woofer! What gorgeous eyes you have and the crochet ripple blanket is rather nice too.

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Thank you so much for your thoughtful interview Alicia. Keep up the good work with your gorgeous craft, I hope you continue to love what you do, and I hope your upcoming book is a great success and the first of many. Best of luck with everything you do. :)