Name: Rita Leung from Smeeta
Website links: Smeeta on Etsy, Noticle blog
What do you make?
I make lots of different things... but as for what I make to sell that would be mostly felt brooches, toys, and bags/purses. I was encouraged to be creative with what I had when I was a kid (read: no money for fancy toys! Oh wait... that's now too! haha) so I've always that "well, if I can't buy it, can I make it?" mentality.
What or who inspires you?
What doesn't inspire me should be the question here I think! Whether I see something that is so fabulous that I want to try making it myself, or whether it's something so horribly designed that I know that I can make a better version, I find that I'm constantly inspired by the things around me. I think particularly in the spring and fall I'm influenced by the natural environment and I love all things Japanese so that definitely plays a part in my style and design.
Also, when I go shopping for supplies, rarely do I have an extensive list of things I need to purchase. A lot of the time the things I make come from being attracted to a particular material. When I go to the fabric store, if I see something I like and really want to use, I think, what can I make with this?
How did you get started?
I guess I've had a bit of an entrepreneurial streak ever since I was a kid. When I was 12 one of my best friends and I started "R & B Odd Jobs". We went around the neighbourhood stuffing mailboxes with our photocopied fliers offering services such as babysitting, garden work, dog walking etc. We ended up with only ONE gig all summer which was cutting grass for my friend's dad's friend. Hah!
As for the craft selling, when I was fourteen I learned how to make my own little weaving loom out of cardboard and wove a bunch of purses. My mom sold all 6 of them for me at $15 bucks a pop. I was hooked! First off, I really enjoyed the process of creating, and then secondly, I realised how satisfying it was for other people to like my work enough to pay for it. Mind you, they probably only bought them because they were my mom's friends... but hey, it was that little bit of encouragement that planted the seed for my crafty future!
What are your favourite materials to work with?
Currently that would be oil cloth. I do have a bit of a love/hate relationship with it though. I love the way it feels and looks but I hate the way it sews! I also really enjoy working with felt. It comes in such pretty colours, is soft, and is non-fussy to work with.
What is the hardest and most favourite part of crafting?
Hardest: Not being able to figure out what you're doing wrong while making the same mistake over and over again. For example, I was not a happy camper when I first tried sewing in zippers.
Favourite: Holding the finished product in your hand and just feeling proud because you created something (you think) is awesome.
List 5 of your favourite links and why you like them
flickr: In addition to the crafty stuff, I also love taking photographs. This is a great wealth of inspiration not to mention a great site to find really cute pictures of cats. meow. p.s. my flickr is here: http://flickr.com/photos/smeeta
keyofgrey: did I also mention that I'm into music? Key of Grey is run by my boyfriend and is a daily blog with music gear reviews, questions and answers about producing music, and general music banter.
facebook: I was hesitant to join at first, but am so glad that I did! It's really helped me connect with so many people and made organizing my 10 year high school reunion soooo much easier.
etsy: I think this one is pretty self-explanatory. It's a place I get to sell my wares, and sometimes, more importantly, a place I get to *buy* goodies! It's so easy to get lost in browsing all the incredible things that people make.
icanhascheezburger: no explanation required. hehe.
Do you have any advice for those in the biz?
Two words: TIME MANAGEMENT. Learn it. Do it. Or else get sucked into spending 6 hours too many surfing the net and only 1 hour being productive. Lesson learned. :P
And a few more words: spend some time to really think about pricing. In general, things always cost more than we think they do to make and sell them. It's not only the cost of the materials and the time you put in creating - there's so much more involved. For example, are you going to charge for the time it takes to design your product, purchase supplies, photograph, list, promote, package, and ship your items? Also, there are the cost of packaging materials, your tools, electricity, internet bills, camera, and so on. Eeps! I'm still not sure if my prices are what I want them to be or what they should be, but for now, they will suffice!
Do you consider yourself an artist or a crafter?
Yes, these are different. What I am at any given point depends on what I'm doing... I consider myself both an artist and a crafter. However, for the business side of things, I would say that I spend most of my time as a crafter.
Craft for me is something that is generally done with your eyes and your hands. You can craft without designing your own product and you can also make several of the same item. To be a skilled crafter is to be able to produce something of high physical (and preferably aesthetic) quality. Art, on the other hand is emotional and very subjective. It might be difficult to quantify the quality of a piece of art whereas you could simply say a craft is either well made or it isn't. I would say a lot of the people in this business are both artists and crafters. It's a very good combination. :)
(photo images courtesy of Rita Leung / Smeeta)
If you are interested in being featured, please send us an email at info(at)gotcraft(dot)com.
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