Interviews


Today we talk with with Liana from Mixed Plate Blog. I try to get to Mixed Plate every day to see what Liana has dug up. Her finds always make me smile :)

This is one in a series of interviews with indie bloggers. You can find previous posts here:
Indie Shopping, Scoutie Girl, Goldschool, Awesome, Indie Fixx, Modish, Anything Indie, Miss Malaprop.

Mixed Plate Blog has become quite an asset to the indie community. How did it get its start?
Mixed Plate was started basically because I’m on the computer all the time now that I’m a business owner. The more people that I get to deal with and visit with online through different communities/forums, the more I realize how amazing they all are. I felt this need to share things that I think are great with others. I guess it’s my way of supporting fellow business owners.

Has it changed at all since you began? How?
I think it has changed in that I’m a little more focused now on what I want Mixed Plate to be. It was a lot more random in the beginning since I was just starting out and testing the waters. Now that the response is good I feel that I have a duty not just to myself but to the readers, designers I feature and sponsors to keep it interesting.

What has been your favorite thing about running Mixed Plate?
My favorite thing about running Mixed Plate is being able to “meet” a lot of new and interesting people. The internet and email can be a funny thing. Through Mixed Plate I’m able to chat with folks, not in person or over the phone, but I still feel as though I’m making new friends and learning a great deal from talented artists and designers.

What do you look for in the sellers you highlight?
Honestly, I would love to do features on everyone that contacts me. I think that what I look for is a small, independent business. I like to feature items that are handmade and unique. With me, it’s all about quality items that I like or that I think the readers will like and supporting whoever I can in the small business community.

The indie community has many advantages over mega-retailers. Which do you feel is its strongest? Why?
I think the fact that folks in the indie community know what it’s like to be a small business is what the advantage is. Meaning that they have limited budgets (for advertising, for creating their products, etc.). This alone is one of the strongest things because it means we’re all in the same boat. I believe this is why the indie community is so supportive of one another and encourages each other as opposed to simply seeing each other as competition.

What is the biggest challenge we face?
Well, the mega-retailers! I’ve seen a number of wonderfully talented indie artists who have had their designs copied and used by big retail stores. When large companies do things like that and folks purchase from them, it really is a challenge for the indie community. Sure, you can buy the mass-produced product from a mega-retailer because it’s probably marked at a lower pricepoint. But that’s exactly what you’ll get – a mass-produced product that has no actual human touch and love put into it. Folks that make things by hand…well, their creations are priceless!

Where do you see the indie community in five years?
Oh, it’s going to be bigger and better than ever. There has been such an indie movement recently in that folks are now becoming more aware of what the whole independent community is about. I believe there are many people out there that want to support true artists and designers and love handmade goods. Getting the word out via the world wide web and now with more and more magazines focusing on the indie styles will help the indie community grow stronger.

What was your most recent indie buy?
I just ordered some goodies from Papered Together. I’ve been visiting her shop for a while now and have been holding back…not any more! :o) I’ve also purchased some lovely prints from Inside a Black Apple. Emily is so great!

What was your all-time favorite indie buy? What made is so special?
Uh-oh. That’s a hard one. I have a special love and spot in my heart for everything that is from an indie business or is handmade. I just can’t choose.

You also create and sell on On a Friday and now Punk-n-Pie. Can you tell us a little about them?
On a Friday was my first “real” business. It was my first attempt at selling my goods online. I create hanapr1earrings.jpgdmade jewelry designs and paper goods there. It’s just a great way for me to have that creative release when my day job has no real creativity involved. I started the On a Friday website in September 2005.

As for Punk-n-Pie, well, it’s my apr1legwarmers.jpgnewest baby. I’ve been putting this company together for quite some time now. I thought I’d open a brick-and-mortar here in Honolulu. However, being a small business owner, it just wasn’t in the budget. Getting the inventory and the site together was a huge challenge and involved many nights with little (or no) sleep. Punk-n-Pie is a place for me to sell things that I can see as an alternative to the stores you may find in the malls and something that has a little more style. February 1, 2007 was Punk-n-Pie’s Grand Opening!

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Today’s interview is with Anissa from IndieShopping.com, a blog of fabulous finds and possibly the most comprehensive indie shopping directory out there.

This is one in a series of interviews with indie bloggers. You can find previous posts here:

Scoutie Girl
Goldschool
Awesome
Indie Fixx
Modish
Anything Indie
Miss Malaprop

Indieshopping.com’s reviews, articles and interviews have become quite an asset to the indie community. How did the website get its start?
Indieshopping.com got its start in February of 2005. I was also running my other site Femminastyle.com at the time, and in searching for places to advertise, I realized that there weren’t many affordable places for small indies to be featured.

Has it changed at all since you began? How?
When the site first started, it was primarily focused on the newsletter. Now most of the content is in the blog and we’ve added a lot of different features like the shopping directory, gift guides, Spotlight on Emerging Designers and monthly contests.

What has been your favorite thing about running indieshopping.com?
Just being able to help other small businesses in getting the word out about their products is great. I love receiving emails from people I have featured or who have advertised with the site. Knowing that my newsletter and/or blog is getting these artists and designers sales is a fantastic feeling!

What do you look for in the sellers you highlight?
I look for unique items, things that I haven’t seen anywhere else. Quality is also very important to me and a nice website that is easy to navigate is always a plus.

The indie community has many advantages over mega-retailers. Which do you feel is its strongest? Why?
The time and care that indie designers put into their work is by far the best aspect. The quality of their work, the little touches like packaging and handwritten notes, you will never get that kind of special treatment from a mega-retailer.

What is the biggest challenge we face?
I think the biggest challenge is getting your work noticed by consumers. It is getting easier though as more indie blogs and sites come on the scene. Plus there are a lot of online and print magazines that are now focusing on small businesses. N.E.E.T Magazine is one of my favorites. (more…)

Today’s interview is with Jan DiCinto from Scoutie Girl, a blog full of indie finds with a fine-arts bent. Scoutie Girl is also Typepad’s featured blog for March 25, 2007. Want to know more about Jan and her blog? Read on…

This is one in a series of interviews with indie bloggers. You can find previous posts here:
Goldschool
Awesome
Indie Fixx
Modish
Anything Indie
Miss Malaprop

Scoutie Girl is becoming quite an asset to the indie community. How did it get its start?
Scoutie Girl is a melting pot of a few things for me: the many personal bookmarks I’ve made over the years when shopping for unique items, the indie designers with whom I’ve exchanged links for my own indie business and the desire to cross-promote all of the above. Plus, it’s much more efficient to send someone to Scoutie Girl for indie shopping ideas rather than sending 20 links in an email (which has happened too many times to count!).

Has it changed at all since you began? How?
Scoutie Girl is a new endeavor, which started in January of 2007. And believe it or not, in that short amount of time certain things have evolved! Initially, I thought I would only feature indie designers with their own ecommerce websites. But there are many, many online (and brick & mortar) boutiques selling/promoting the work of indie designers, too. Their belief in and preference for the indie designer should not go unnoticed, so I have added items from shops like this as well.

What has been your favorite thing about running Scoutie Girl?
Definitely the feedback from the designers about their posts. They’re *very* appreciative of the layout and descriptions used to promote their work, which is important to me. They also love the overall vibe of the blog and how it sets their work off in a professional light. Yay! As a business owner, I know which plugs have gotten Daisy Janie the most traffic that translated into sales…so I really try to optimize the posts based on that knowledge.

What do you look for in the sellers you highlight?
Top-notch execution and mind-blowing creativity are first b/c both of these suggest passion, dedication and a desire to be in business earning an income. Scoutie Girl has a definitive slant toward fine art (designers with degrees who may be established but are still in the realm of “indie”); my background as an artist propels me in this direction. And finally, I’m young at heart, but I’m heading into my 40s. What lit my candle 10-20 years ago is dramatically different now. Designs that transcend lifestage categorizations are very appealing to me. *All of the above are on a sliding scale of course! (more…)

methenerd, originally uploaded by daniellemaveal.

Today’s interview is with the lovely Danielle Maveal from Goldschool, home of indie finds, movie recommendations and generally fun stuff.

This is one in a series of interviews with indie bloggers. You can find previous posts here:

Awesome
Indie Fixx
Modish
Anything Indie
Miss Malaprop

Goldschool is quickly becoming an asset to the indie community. How did it get its start?
Honestly, I always forget to bookmark websites when I find something really cool. For some reason I’m delusional and think I’ll actually remember that thing when I want to buy it. I figured starting a blog would help me catalog these finds while promoting indie arts and crafts.

Has it changed at all since you began? How?
Well it hasn’t been to long since I started Gold School so I can’t really answer this yet. I guess we’ll all have to stay tuned to find out!

What has been your favorite thing about running Goldschool?
I love love love comments. One reader said I made her miserable day happy by suggesting a shop with the cutest stuffed creatures. That really rocked.

What do you look for in the sellers you highlight?
I’m a sucker for cute. I’m also a sucker for clever. A ceramic wastepaper basket that actually looks like it was made from crumpled up paper? How can you not share that? I think people who really love to create show that in their work – they are striving for ingenuity. I adore that.

The indie community has many advantages over mega-retailers. Which do you feel is its strongest? Why?
Creativity! Innovation! We’re the underground, we rock.

What is the biggest challenge we face?
Selling ourselves short. While I love finding the perfect handmade item for under $20 – how the heck can anyone live off of that?? I’m probably guilty to some degree and know I have to raise my prices soon so I can afford to go to the dentist. Ha!

Where do you see the indie community in five years?
I see indie crafters still working away. Hopefully we won’t be all the rage in the mainstream. I like our little community.

What was your most recent indie buy?
I just bought a beautiful letterpress printed card from Palindrome Press and also a pattern for a cute little handbag pattern from Plain Mabel.

What was your all-time favorite indie buy? What made is so special?
Ohhh tough question! I would say the plaque I purchased from Dead Bird at the last Renegade Craft Fair. I secretly bought it for my boyfriend for Christmas. On Christmas morning we discovered we had both bought one for each other. Now I have them hanging behind my desk – they really make me smile.

You also create and sell your own jewelry, including the famous fake diamond ring. Would you like to tell us a little about your own work? Do you have any new projects on the horizon?
Ohh I like that description,”famous”! I make jewelry for pretty much the same reason I make my blog – to share all the little quirky things that make me happy, hence my mine line “Happiness”. I am in the process of making some new pendants with 18k yellow gold and silver and continuing my new vintage tattoo series. My boyfriend suggest I start a “Sadness” line in opposition to my never ending “Happiness” line but I’m not sure about that yet.

Today’s interview is with Sarah from Oh My That’s Awesome, a blog full of extremely cool stuff, much of it indie–I highly recommend checking it out if you haven’t already. She answers for both herself and her cowriter, Wendy.

This is one in a series of interviews with indie bloggers. You can find previous posts here:

Indie Fixx
Modish
Anything Indie
Miss Malaprop

Ohmythatsawesome.com is emerging as quite an asset to the indie community. How did it get its start?
I came up with the idea for Awesome in November 2005 after having a really bad day. I tend to find a lot of creative energy in really bad moods which is one reason I maintain seven weblogs. I had always shuffled this idea around about a non-shopping shopping blog that focused on great handmade stuff and indie shops instead of just featuring $400 silk bathrobes and $800 men’s wool coats. I’d never gotten around to it, so that day I just opened Typepad about 10am on a Tuesday and by Wednesday, Wendy and I were posting away. In a couple months we had 1,000 page views a day and in 6 months we’d quadrupled that number with very little effort.

Has it changed at all since you began? How?
Awesome has gone through several incarnations as we’ve felt our way into a groove for it. The only thing that has ever been consistent on the site is our writing, or our voice, but everything else has been changed drastically. We’re even planning another redesign soon to shake things up in a few months. And the biggest change is that we get paid for it now.

What has been your favorite thing about running Awesome?
I’ve really enjoyed knowing that really simple things we do have a huge impact on indie shops. After our holiday gift guide, we were getting all these emails from people who’d purchased a little $50 spot in the newsletter who were sold out of the stuff we featured and were almost overwhelmed with orders. Every month our sponsors write us with the same stories, and it’s fun to know that we still think of ourselves as a small company but we’re having a big impact for the better.

Your blog captures a breadth of awesomeness, but you seem to talk lot about indie shops. What do you look for in the sellers you highlight?
We both have a really good eye for what’s well-made and what is appealing to a large audience, so it’s really easy for us to see something for a split second and know we’d feature it. Craftsmanship is a big selling point for me because I make a lot of my own accessories (jewelry, purses, clothes even) so I know an lot about materials and technique.

[ed. note: Check out their How to Get Featured page for more details.] (more…)

Interviews continue today with Jen from Indie Fixx. Thanks so much to Jen for participating!

You can find the previous interviews here: Modish, Anything Indie, Miss Malaprop.

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Indie Fixx has emerged as quite an asset to the indie community. How
did it get its start?

I wanted to do something to give back to the indie community that has been so supportive of me. I also wanted to do something fun with my spare time and I thought starting a blog highlighting my favorite indie designs would be rewarding and pleasurable. It has been totally
rewarding and pleasurable, but now I have no free time! ;)

Has it changed at all since you began? How?
Oh, gawd yes, it’s changed! Indie Fixx started out as a small blog with only a handful of readers and has since grown into having a very well established readership. Plus, when I first started, I only posted a couple of times a week, now my readers get antsy if I even skip one day. I’ve also added contests, like the I Support Indie Knockout and Looking for Love contests, and gift guides to further help support and promote indie.

What has been your favorite thing about running Indie Fixx?
Discovering wonderfully talented artists and designers and all the fabulous stuff they sell!

What do you look for in the sellers you highlight?
I really don’t have a set of criteria; it’s mostly based on whimsy. I do look for good, clear images and I also like to try bath and body products first. I also try to think about what my readers would like to see featured.

(more…)

As you know, I’ve been running a series of Indie Community Builder interviews for the last couple of weeks. I’m very honored to say that today’s is with Jena from Modish.

Previous interviews: AnythingIndie, Miss Malaprop.

Modish is such a great asset to the indie community. How did it get its start?
I had recently discovered design*sponge, oh joy! and a few other wonderful design blogs and got to thinking that I had never seen a blog that specifically featured indie designers and handmade goods, so I decided to just start my own! It caught on and gained readers quickly which I’m very grateful for, and seems to have sparked an interest for others to start their own indie shopping specific blogs which I’m also grateful for to help feature more amazing designers, as I can’t feature them all! :)

Has it changed at all since you began? How?
It’s changed in terms of gaining more of a readership and there are some added features like the monthly giveaway, weekly newsletter and the indie shopping directory, but the main tenant of sticking to handmade goods made by small, independent designers has remained the same.

What has been your favorite thing about running Modish?
Being able to help out small designers who may have a hard time getting recognized by magazines and the big design blogs feels awesome! Every time I get a happy email from a designer that is grateful to have been featured or a reader who was able to find the perfect gift from one of my recommendations, I’m just overjoyed! I smile all day long looking at the blog, watching stats from visitors all over the world and getting e-mails from people- I just feel like Modish was kinda meant to be for me.

(more…)

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