Hey, readers! I have to tell about a funny thing that happened while I was editing this interview. I was inserting the photos (yes, during the work week.... shhhh) and I had two different coworkers walking by my cubicle stop and say, "I just signed our daughter up for her first dance class! She would LOVE that tutu!" and, "Oh, my granddaughter needs that cute little dress!" I had to send them a link to Laurel's Etsy shop and tell them we would both be at the very first Hoosier Artisan Holiday Boutique on October 17. It's true: they were convinced to attend, not out of support for a coworker, but by the lure of adorable AllegrasCloset garments! It's no wonder; take a look at the photos below to see for yourself.
Where were you born and raised? I was born and raised in paradise, otherwise known as Santa Barbara, California.
What's the origin of your shop's name? My shop is named after my daughter, Allegra. A few years ago when the taxes jumped, I really needed to make some money to make ends meet. So, I had this MONSTEROUS fabric stash, because I frequently sew for my daughter. Ok, well that's not why I have a monsterous fabric stash, but that's what I tell my husband when I get home from Clementine's (on Water Street in Franklin; go - you'll love it)! Back to the point, making money after the taxes jumped: I went to my stash of fabric that was supposed to be future clothes for Allegra, made up all the dresses and took them to a craft fair. They sold well there and at all of the craft fairs I went to, but I didn't like having them outside for long periods of time. (I'm just a little OCD about things getting dirty.) So when I discovered Etsy, it was a dream come true.
Where are you now and what led you there? Oh boy. I am alive, I am happy, I am free. I was led here by God.
What types of creations do you sell in your Etsy shop? I sell girls clothing. I have little dresses and dress and leggings sets, little tutus (that are the most popular item in my shop!) and a few sewing patterns that are so cute I couldn't resist!
What's your educational background, as it relates to your work? I have a BA in Dance Pedagogy from Butler University. I sewed in the dance and theater costume shops while I was there, and took classes in costuming, but it doesn't really relate to my current sewing projects for Etsy. I do sew many costumes for Style Dance Academy (also in Franklin), and the classes I took at Butler help me with that sewing, but costume sewing and apparel sewing are two different birds.
Does creating stuff run in the family? Were you taught things on purpose or by osmosis from prior generations? Creating stuff is in my family! My dad is an engineer, my mom worked as a seamstress for several years, and my sister makes the most amazing quilts EVER (and she paints and cooks - it's all amazing)! I'm trying to get her to open an Etsy shop with her quilting (insert devious smile here). Mom taught me to sew and knit when I was little (really little, six years old) and I have loved it ever since. My first knitting project was a scarf that was sadly triangular, and my first sewing project was a peasant blouse that I hated. My mom made me put it on so she could take a picture, and I never wore it again. I think I still have the picture, and I shudder when I look at it.
How'd you get started creating? After Mom gave be the basics of sewing (and I got over the hideous peasant blouse!) I was hooked. I realized that I would make anything I had a pattern for, and that opened up so many things for me. I started working on Vintage Vogue patterns to make things just for fun, and then when I had Allegra, I got into Teresa Layman patterns and smocking, embroidery, etc. Now I can make my own patterns, and that gives me a lot of freedom. I love being able to sit down after all the kids are in bed with an enormous cup of tea and sketch something out that I want to make. Then the next day during nap time I get the fabric cut and the following evening I get it sewn (provided everyone sleeps...).
What's your muse, or what turns that little creative light inside you on? I get a creative high every time I walk into Clementine's. Cami (the owner, who has me in stitches every time I go in!) has a wonderful collection of fabric from the top fabric designers: Amy Butler, Heather Bailey, and Melissa Averinos, just to name a few. I love to look at all of the colors and patterns. Last time I went in I got a few yards of Heather Bailey with a floral design that looked almost Art Deco. That's another thing that inspires me. I love Art Deco patterns, and Erte! I could sit and look at his work for hours.
If you had to pick one fabric to describe your personality, what would it be, and why? If I had to pick a fabric to describe my personality it would be quilting cotton (designer, of course!). Quilting cotton stays in place so nicely... you know, folds and irons well, and I like everything to be neat and in it's place, but still colorful and fun. I'm definitely colorful, and I hope I'm fun - at least sometimes!
Do you belong to any Street Teams (other than the INCrowdteam)? Not yet.
What's your favorite thing about selling on Etsy? I love having my own shop that I didn't have to take out a loan to open (we love Dave Ramsey at my house: his show is on 95.9 WFDM weekdays from noon to 3 p.m.)!
Please recommend your five favorite shops on Etsy.
Show us three of your own favorite pieces, from your shop and work.
Blue Gingham Dress. It is from that first batch of dresses I made. It's a size 18 months and I wish more than anything I had had enough fabric to make a 4T so it would fit Allegra. It is just adorable. There was no specific inspiration, other than trying to find things already in my stash that went well together, although it could have been the 4th of July.
Heather Bailey Dress What can I say? I walked into Clementine's and the fabric was sitting on the shelf calling my name!
Wrap Around Tutu in Light Pink and Yellow These little tutus are really popular in my shop. I love to mix up layers of tulle to get different color combinations, although I always sell more pink than anything else. I get a huge order of tulle and make a bunch up and three days later they're gone. I have another huge order of tulle sitting on my sewing table right now just waiting to be paired with grosgrain ribbon...
Do you sell on consignment? I don't sell on consignment yet, but I would love too. It's one of my summer projects to get started on.
Anything else to brag on? Well, I love to read Threads magazine, and when I don't get a hard copy, I read the email version. So, a few weeks ago I was reading Threads online and there was an ad for the Readers Closet with a picture of Allegra in a dress I had made for her! I had entered it in the Readers Closet not a week before. I had to do a double take. It wasn't really "in print," but close enough for me!
One last question: since you mentioned craft fairs, and the Hoosier Artisan Holiday Boutique will be my very first one, what's the best piece of advice you have for a craft fair newbie? Good luck to you in the Hoosier Artisan Holiday Boutique. I'll be there too, and I hope we'll be able to chat for a bit. My best bit of advice is spend time on your display, plan it out ahead of time so you know what you want to do. And then don't be discouraged if the show doesn't go well. I have had several shows where I have sold very little, but I had a great time talking to other crafters and learning about their crafts and making new friends.
Thanks, Laurel... see you at the HAHB! I'll be the one with a panicked and/or clueless look in her eyes! Tell my coworkers I said hi! Hahaha. -- Stockannette