Tell us about yourself. Name, location, and general info about you.
I live in the mountains of Asheville, North Carolina and go by the nickname of Moe. (My given name is Melissa, and maybe if you're not from the south you can imagine the slow drawl of people calling me Moe-lissa). I've been designing clothes for the past decade or so under my label SewMoe. I love living in the mountains, as experiencing the seasons change here can be quite beautiful! I have 2 dogs and a wonderfully handsome boyfriend, and we often find ourselves outdoors if I'm not locked in my studio. Since SewMoe is a one woman operation its often hard for me to find free time. I am lucky to have patient friends and a great support system to keep me going.
When did you first know that you wanted to become an artist/crafter? I've always been drawn to art. At a young age, I was a crayon enthusiast. I have vivid memories of drawing/coloring/sharpening crayons. Later, I tried dance and was trained classically as a violinist. I've always loved making gifts and cards. I just really enjoy the satisfaction of making something out of nothing. In my experience, the most fun art projects manifest themselves by accident and the best projects are usually the ones that started off as something different entirely.
Please describe your creative process how, when, materials, etc.. I usually sketch designs first, and draw out the pattern shapes. When I come up with a new design, it is always an experiment. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't. Its never a waste of time if you learn something from it! When designing I focus on comfort and wearability, while keeping a classy and sophisticated aesthetic. On a good day, I come up with something great. On a bad day I curse my machines and try to remember to count to 10. Every day is different, which is ultimately pretty exciting. You have to take the good and the bad and just feel lucky to be able to do what you love.
What is your favorite item that you have made and why? My favorite dress of all time is this lovely purple number I made for a fashion show last year. I don't even like purple, but this dress really took on a life of its own. I started designing it freeform--just draping fabric here and there. The best accident ever. I get so many complements on it whenever its on display. My only regret is that I made it to fit a model whom is considerably smaller framed than me, and try as I might--I can not fit into it. I keep it around as a reminder of what the next dress I design for myself will look like!
What do you do in your free time when you are not being creative? Well there really isn't much free time involved but I love taking the dogs out, collecting feathers, mushroom hunting, kitchen experiments, and ANY trip to the beach...especially if snorkeling is involved.
What advice would you give to other artists who are trying to sell their craft? Just keep at it. Its hard not to get discouraged sometimes, but if you work hard people will notice. It also really helps if you put yourself and your craft in the public eye. I participate in a number of craft fairs just to get my name circulated. Most of my designs are in the $40-$85 price range, which is not normally the budget of festival goers or people that just come to browse (at least not around here). What I have noticed is that often, someone will come back to my website or ETSY store and say "I saw your stuff at a street fair, and now I'm ready to buy something." It took me awhile to realize that often there isn't always the immediate satisfaction of a sale. People will remember you if they like your designs, you just have to make sure they can find you again. Websites like LuvHandmade, indieNC, and ETSY are great for this!
What do you like most about luvhandmade.com? It supports independent artists like myself, and gives us an awesome way to display our designs. I love the unique discoveries section too!
How do you promote your work? Like I mentioned earlier, I set up at craft fairs and bazaars. I usually share a table with friends and just have fun with it. I also maintain a blog (www.sewmoe.blogspot.com) and update my ETSY store often. Business cards are a must, and I always send out a few extra with every purchase so that people can share them with friends. When selling consignment, I make sure to sew my SewMoe label in each garment. It adds a nice finishing touch and is always there as a reminder.
What are your dreams in 5 years from now? I think having my own studio/retail space, with a couple of helpers, sounds absolutely peachy. I would like to be able to take vacations too!