Monday, September 27, 2010

Crafter Profile: Jennifer of Isette

This week’s Crafter Profile is with Jennifer, who by day works as a museum coordinator, and by night somehow finds time to create and run three Etsy shops, including Isette! Read on to learn about her process, inspiration, and her advice on when its right to turn your crafting into a business. Plus some awesome pics of her Renegade Austin 2010 booth, and my favorite items available at Isette on Etsy.

Tell us a little about yourself… Where you’re from? Art background? Why you started Isette?

I’m from Minnesota, but I’ve been in the Chicagoland area for the last 10 years. My education is actually in Anthropology and Humanities - I’ve loved studying human nature and material culture for as long as I can remember. “Stuff” is fascinating to me - why people keep make, collect, show and dispose of objects like they do. That’s how I ended up a museum curator!

I’ve always had a creative streak as well, and did an art minor in college. I tended towards the more sculptural and functional arts - basketweaving, pottery, bookbinding and jewelry are all things I’ve explored.

Lets get the important facts out of the way first — where can people purchase your items?

Well, on-line you can purchase at my Etsy site - . I’m also fortunate to have some retail locations - you can check out if there is a shop near you at my website (The website sometimes takes a little bit to’s there, and I’m working on that :) )

You can also find me on Facebook:

and now Twitter! :

Why the name Isette?

Isette is actually a derivative of my grandmother’s name, Izetta. I’ve always thought the name was unique and beautiful!

Where do you find inspiration?

I draw inspiration from the world around me - and I am fortunate that the world around me includes a 100+ year old museum collection that I'm given free reign over and a typography obsessed graphic designer husband!

What does your creative space look like?

I love my office. Right now it looks like a hurrcane hit it as I’ve been frantically prepping for Renegade Chicago, otherwise I’d send a photo. Functionally, my favorite pieces of furniture are a couple sets of Alex drawers from Ikea. Aesthetically, I have a lovely antique headboard framing my desk. It’s one from my mother-in-law - always one of good taste!

Can you explain the laser cut process for those of us who are not familiar with it?

Lasers can cut a variety of materials, from acrylic to wood, even leather! The laser cuts what I tell it to, like a great big cutting printer. The design process is actually what takes the longest - dreaming up the design, drawing it, cleaning it up in the computer and then plotting the path for the laser to cut. Design is a surprisingly long process for me, which is why the laser is really an important tool for me to produce my work. My designs are better for the amount of time I put in them, but the end product for the user is not exponentially more expensive because of it.

Do you have a favorite piece or design you’ve made since starting Isette?

I’m starting to go bigger than I dared to previously and I love it! I’m just starting to get some of these pieces in the Etsy shop, like the Ornamental necklace ( and hopefully have them available on-line in October!

How do you advertise or promote your shop?

I’ve been very fortunate that word of mouth has been amazing. I’ve advertised at craftcult and craftopolis as well and have seen good results.

You have a couple other stores on Etsy, tell us a little about those?

Beadoodles is my first business, pretty much started back when I first learned how to make jewelry! It is also where I cut my teeth on Etsy - I started that shop August of 2005. Beadeux was a natural step - I have gotten a lot of great wholesale contacts and found suppliers I love, so I keep it stocked with items that I regularly use and order a lot of. I like to think of it as one of the smallest supply shops on Etsy - that way I can be assured of the quality!

How do you like to spend your time when you aren’t creating for Isette & Beadoodles, or collecting supplies for Beadeux?

Ha! There’s not much time after that with my full time job! I’m lucky to have a supportive husband and a lot of great friends that will take me out when I need a break.

Favorite childhood craft project?

Man, anything with glue. I really wasn’t much for coloring honestly, but glue, paper, and clay were some of my favorites.

What have you found to be the most fun, and the most difficult parts of running a creative business?

I really do love meeting people. So getting out there for shows, like Renegade, is always a fun experience. Also, just seeing something that is in your head come to life is amazing.

Difficult? Well, realizing that you’ve not been able to make anything new for weeks because you are filling orders, doing paperwork, or just plain busy. So I’ve been working hard to regulate my schedule to have set aside periods for “creating” “accounting” and “having dinner with my husband” ;)

And finally, any advice you’d give others wishing to turn their creative talent into a small business?

Realize the difference between a hobby and a business. It is something you like to do, and would do it even if you weren’t getting paid? It’s a hobby, and enjoy it for what it is even if it brings in a little extra money. If you want to start a business, be more critical of your processes. Is it feasible to be making 100 of these? Is your pricing good for wholesale? What if you are a hit, can you sustain it? So it’s a matter of knowing what your goals are!

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