Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Featured Artist - The Curious Pug

This week’s featured artist is Alycia of The Curious Pug, http://www.curiouspug.etsy.com/. Alycia creates adorable felted accessories including iPod holders, pincushions, and brooches as well as tile necklaces (see pictures here for a sneak peek). So, if you’re in need of an original Valentine’s Day gift for that special someone or just a trinket for yourself, then head on over to her shop. In the meantime, read on.

1. The Tote Trove (TTT): So, The Curious Pug. Interesting name for a shop. How did you come up with it, and what is it that makes pugs so curious?

Alycia (A): Well, the natural expression of a pug is a curious one, with raised eyebrows and a constant look of concern. To me, that concerned look has something to do with wondering when the next treat is coming! But, I named my shop The Curious Pug because my pug's name is Cyrus Bean, and he usually likes to sit near me when I'm sewing or creating something. He looks curious about what I'm doing and is probably wondering if it involves a treat or new toy for him. So, it only made sense to name my shop The Curious Pug in his honor :)

2. TTT: Your shop features a variety of items, including iPod holders, card holders, pincushions, magnets, and jewelry. How did you become interested in making so many different kinds of products? Which are your best sellers?

A: Originally, I wasn't planning on selling all these types of products, especially the felt ones, which are now taking over my shop. I originally wanted to sell glass tile magnet sets and pendants, but it was my husband who suggested I make iPod cozies. I'd made myself one a while back (a very crude and rather ugly one), so I decided to practice my stitching and eventually came up with all the designs and patterns in my shop! From there stemmed the felt brooches. All my cozies started selling like crazy before Christmas. Although I continued to sell some of my glass tile work, the cozies remain my top sellers. :)

3. TTT: According to your Etsy profile, your love of crafting began as a child. Back then, did you ever imagine that you’d end up turning your passion into a business?

A: No, I didn't, although I always enjoyed crafting, as it was a creative outlet for me. I never really thought about others wanting to buy the things I'd made. But I'm so happy to know that things are different now and that others enjoy my work enough to invest in it. It makes me feel all warm and gooey inside!

4. TTT: Your work features pop culture favorites such as Batman and Pop Tarts as well as cute and kooky designs like your snails and cacti. Where do you find inspiration?

A: I usually find inspiration in fun, bright colors and things that I know I'd enjoy. I like to take real life objects and turn them into something cute. Most of my design ideas just kind of pop into my head at random times. Other times I'll sit and doodle things that come to me and eventually choose something I like to take to the next step, which is sewing.

5. TTT: What is your favorite item in your shop?

A: My favorite item is my cactus pincushion. I think it's really cute and something that no one else has seen before. Plus, I'm a collector of cacti and succulents and am working on my green thumb!

6. TTT: What items, if any, would you like to add to your shop?

A: I'd eventually like to add more different types of card keepers with some cute snaps and button closures. I finally got around to buying some buckram. Now I just need to learn how to sew a straight line with my sewing machine! I'm much more comfortable at hand stitching as I can take my time on each individual stitch, LOL.

7. TTT: Describe your creative process. Do you follow a routine, create when inspiration strikes, or a little bit of both?

A: I think I have a little bit of a routine, in that once the inspiration strikes, I go through the same steps to come to my final piece. So I guess the answer is a little bit of both! But I usually won't do anything until I’m really inspired to make something. I don't want to feel like I'm being forced to sew something. I'm stubborn like that, LOL! I’ll usually think, okay, I want to make something cute. What are some things I find cute or interesting and would have fun making? Then from there I draw up my ideas on paper until I come to one that I really like. After I come up with the best design and size, I cut it out for a pattern. I'll get all my materials together and cut them out to see what the finished item will look like. Usually, the first item I make is the prototype, which lets me know what I need to do better for next time. So if I mess up on it, I don't feel too guilty. I just take note of what I need to do next time.

8. TTT: What is the best thing about running your own business? The worst?

A: The best thing about running my own business is that I can work when I want and make what I want. The worst is figuring out how to draw in more sales. Also, I really hate going to the post office, as silly as that sounds! There's always a line and someone with a million items to mail in front of me! Okay, that was an exaggeration. :)

9. TTT: How did you discover Etsy?

A: I'm not really sure. I’ve had an account since 2007 to buy craft supplies and gifts. There's a pretty good chance I found out about Etsy through another online community I hang out at, Two Peas in a Bucket.

10. TTT: Do you sell your work in venues outside of Etsy (i.e, other sites, craft shows, etc)? If yes, then how does selling online differ from selling in person?

A: At the current time, I haven't yet ventured outside of Etsy. I don't have too many items to display if I were to go to a craft show because my shop is just about 3 months old. Perhaps I’ll try in the future when I have a decent sized stock!

11. TTT: Who is most (emotionally) supportive of your business?

A: My husband. He’s the one who gives me feedback and ideas on the things I make, and I trust him. Also, my mom and sister got to see what I do when I went home this past Christmas. I took a bunch of felt home to sew, and they got to see my stuff in person. My mom was really impressed, and she was so proud of me because she was the one who taught me how to sew!

12. TTT: Are there any new artistic/creative skills you’d like to learn?

A: I'd love to learn how to make better use of my sewing machine! I'd also love to learn how to knit. Oh, the possibilities. :)

13. TTT: Tell us about life outside of The Curious Pug. You can gab about your hobbies, family, pets, or anything else that strikes your fancy!

A: I enjoy playing pool, going to the movies, taking Cyrus to the dog park, and reading. I'm totally hooked on the Sookie Stackhouse series, which is what the HBO show “True Blood” is based on. I'm also into radiology and science, as I'm an x-ray tech. I used to scrapbook, though that hasn't been something I've kept up with for the last few years. My interests and tastes are constantly changing.

14. TTT: What are your hopes for The Curious Pug in the future?

A: My hopes would be to have some consistency in my sales and to have one of my treasuries or shop items make the Etsy front page!

15. TTT: BONUS QUESTION. Just for fun, if you were stranded on a deserted island and had to eat the same thing every day, what would it be? You can pick a drink and a dessert, too. (I find that dreaming up a whole meal makes this game more entertaining!)

A: Oh boy, I love these questions! I would have to say a soft shell carne asada taco loaded with cheese, cilantro, and refried beans. For a drink, I'd have a delicious Paulaner Hefeweizen beer. And for dessert, which must always include chocolate, I'd eat Reese's peanut butter cups!

Thanks for stopping by to find out more about Alycia and The Curious Pug! Still curious? Find out more at Alycia’s other web sites:

Blog: http://curiouspug.blogspot.com
Twitter: http://twitter.com/thecuriouspug
Facebook: http://facebook.com/thecuriouspug
Flickr: http://www.flickr.com/photos/curiouspug/


Lori Citsay said...

Adorable stuff!!! You are very talented, Alycia.

capitalcitycrafts said...

Such a cute shop! Thanks for sharing!

The Tote Trove said...

As always, thanks for reading! :)

Carrie said...

Adorable! I love the poptart ipod holder!!

Made by Melissa said...

So cute! I love that pop tart cozy!

Laura, Pet Scribbles said...

Congrats Alycia on the nice feature! I love that you named your shop after your pug Cyrus Bean (a great name, by the way!)

Deepshade Creations said...

Aww, I love it! I have to agree, the cactus is my favorite too!

The Tote Trove said...

Thanks for reading, guys! I was so enamored of Alycia's collection that I purchased one of her brooches. I'll be sure to post about it when it arrives!

The Curious Pug said...

aww thank you for the lovely feature, tracy! and thanks for the compliments everyone :)