Wednesday, January 21, 2009

International Interview, 1/21/09 - Anna Greaves aka thehouseofmouse

Where were you born & raised?
I was born in Oxford, England but my family moved around a lot when I was a kid. We didn't really settle anywhere for more than a couple of years so it is hard to say exactly where I am from. We moved around the south of England during that time and eventually stayed put for 8 years in a village south of London called Haslemere.

Where are you now & what led you there?
Now I live in a village just outside Amsterdam in Holland. I followed my boyfriend (now husband) over here 5 years ago when he was offered a great job he couldn't refuse. I imagine I will be following him to other countries too, he speaks 6 languages so there is often new opportunities popping up - and I can sell my craft no matter where I am in the world.

What types of creations do you sell in your Etsy shop?
I make little felt mouse ornaments for adults and collectors over 14 years. I make my mice in many different characters based on movies, tv, job and hobbies, culture and much more. Each one is unique and has it's own little personality, I love that they have little stories they tell me as I am making them.

What's your educational background, as it relates to your work?
I studied Fine Art at university before becoming a professional oil painter for 4 years (you can see my paintings at During that time I learned how to run a business - they don't teach you useful stuff like that at uni, you have to figure that out on your own. The mice kind of happened by accident just at a time when I was becoming disillusioned with the Fine Art world - it is all so very serious! - I made the mice as Christmas gifts for my family and my Etsy shop took off from there.

How'd you get started creating?
I have been crafty and creative my whole life. There are artists, musicians and actors on both sides of my family so I was always encouraged to try out my ideas. I can't imagine not having a head full of ideas!

What's your muse, or what turns that little creative light inside you on?
When I first started making my mice the inspiration for each one came from my friends and family, since I made each mouse with a certain person in mind. After Christmas I was inundated with other suggestions from the people that received them! I regularly think of other mice to make while doing my everyday things, I’ll be watching a movie and think “Oh, a Supermouse would be cool!” sometimes it is from finding an object and trying to see it from a mouse-size point of view. For example the Gladiator Mouse's shield is actually a particularly ugly earring I picked up at a car boot sale. Suffice it to say the ideas hit me all the time. I also regularly get suggestions from people visiting my shop or MySpace page. And there is continued stream of suggestions from my friends. I have a little book I always carry with me to keep my ideas in. As for switching the light on: I feel crafty and creative all the time - I think that little light switch is stuck in the "on" position!

Do you belong to any Street Teams? If so, which ones and why? If not, why not?
Yes I belong to 3 street teams. The European Street Team, this team was the first one I joined after getting encouraged to do so by a seller I bought from. The team is very active, making team treasuries, running weekly challenges and chatting in our team thread all the time . I get a real sense of community and support from this team. I doubt I would be so happy on Etsy if it wasn't for them.

I also belong to the EFA (Etsy for Animals) team. I donate 10% of my profits to the animal sanctuary that I got my cat Nicki from. I believe in the ethos of the team to support animal charities and well, we all love animals too! I don't have as much daily contact with this team because most of them are on a different time zone to me, makes chatting a bit difficult!
Finally I founded the Sellers Assisting Sellers team about 6 months ago.

Team SASsy is made up of members who volunteer their time and energy and help new and struggling sellers on etsy. The team list is organized by areas of expertise, shop type, location and languages our mentors speak so sellers in need can find the perfect mentor to help them out. I am very proud of this team I put together, which is made up of some very talented and knowledgeable people.

Recommend your five favorite shops on Etsy.
Only 5? Oh this is going to be tough...

What are your three favorite creations from your own shop?
Oh that’s a tricky question, that’s bit like asking someone which of their children is their favorite. I love them all! If I HAD to pick right now I would say it’s Nona the Cellist Mouse because I made her to represent my mom who is a great Cellist and Cello teacher. Naomi and Milo Junior - Mother and Baby Mouse because that little baby just makes my head explode with all the cuteness. And finally I love Axel the Executioner Mouse with the little severed mouse head - there is something so funny about the macabre with the cute, it makes me giggle every time :)
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For more The House of Mouse news, and your chance to vote for the next new mouse in my store please check out my blog

Thanks so much Anna!!


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