August 12, 2013

Interview with Pearl from Gray December

Today I am really excited to get to share with you a newer etsy seller who opened up her store earlier this year. I first stumbled upon her shop when I saw a set of her ombre measuring cups pop up on the etsy main page. 

I was instantly smitten and started adding so many of her store's items to my favorites. After reading her answers to my questions, I can tell she is going to be very successful on etsy.

I hope you enjoy getting to know more about her as much as I did!

P.S....Click on any of the photos in the blog to be taken to that item in her etsy store!

Tell us a bit about yourself and how you got started.

My name is Pearl Sturtevant, I live in a little coastal town in California and I will be 20 years old this month.

I've always liked the idea of running my own business and being my own boss. I started helping a friend of mine who has a successful pottery business on Etsy with shipping her orders in early 2013, and became interested in opening my own shop. My sister had also recently opened her Etsy shop (GiselleNo5) selling handmade clay stamps and was doing so well, it was exciting to watch her business grow and see the joy she was getting out of it. It's daunting though, to start your own business, so without their pushing me to do it I probably never would have! But on Febuary 19, 2013 I finally opened my little shop, GrayDecember, selling hand painted pottery. I am so glad I did, I am slowly but surely gaining confidence and listing more designs. I have had 14 sales so far, including an order for 15 measuring cup sets! It is exciting to send little pieces of yourself to places like Australia and Norway, I love that Etsy allows me do that.

Apart from creating things, what do you do?!

I love to draw, play guitar, read and watch old movies. I have a big family and am the youngest of seven sisters so spending time with everyone is one of my favorite things to do, we have so much fun together it's ridiculous! I love hanging out at their houses and playing with my nieces and nephews.

Where does your inspiration come from?

I love simple yet beautiful patterns, designs, and colors. Nature is a perfect source of ideas, I have things in my shop that were inspired by ladybugs, zebra print, coral, chrysanthemums, cherry trees and even crocodile skin.

Also, I get inspired by seeing what colors other people like and how they use them. For example, I usually don't like mustard yellow but then I look at my sister's kitchen where she has it paired with a gorgeous vivid aqua blue and I love it! So now I have plans to do a measuring cup set in those colors.

What does handmade mean to you?

To me, handmade things are so special, unlike anything that ever comes out of a factory. Handmade means enjoying the result of someone else's creativity and ingenuity in your own home, and there is nothing as beautiful as that.

How would you describe your creative process?

It varies. Some days it involves blasting great 80's music and painting whatever designs pop into my head, other times I carefully plan out exactly what I want to do and ask others for input first. Both extremes work well, so I just go with it. 

What handmade possession do you most cherish?

Oh that's easy! When I was five years old I found an absolutely beautiful hand carved wooden elephant with the most amazing intricate imitation ivory inlays. It was buried in the field beside our house, someone must have left it there or lost it. It is like nothing I have seen before and I won't ever get rid of it. It is old, weathered, imperfect and in places even broken, and I love it.

How do you get out of your creative ruts?

Ask for ideas! I will often get stuck and feel like I have run out of creativity. Whenever this happens I have found it is a huge help to ask my family and friends "What should I paint on this?" They have ideas that would have never occurred to me! My funky "Hungry Monster" dinner plate was my sister's idea, it has been very popular and I would have never thought of that! 

Where do you see yourself and your business in a few years?

I would love to have my own studio. I imagine a cute little workspace packed with supplies and new designs, where I can be creative and not have to worry about making a mess. I see myself branching out and finding new things that people love. I am about to start a second Etsy shop, called LittleMissive, that sells custom notes inside of hollow painted eggs. I am excited to see how I can get creative outside of pottery!

What is the best and worst thing about being an artisan?

Being your own boss is the best but also the worst I think. I love being able to do whatever I want and be creative but staying motivated is a challenge. Sometimes I wish I had someone telling me to get things done!

What advice would you give to other artisans trying to sell their wares?

Honestly, it's all about the photos. I can't stress this enough! Never underestimate the value of a great listing photo, it makes a WORLD of difference. I have had items that weren't getting a lot of attention even though they had been on Etsy for months. After I took a better listing photo they have completely turned around and become popular. Taking photos of your items can seem daunting but you don't have to be a professional photographer to get great shots, all you need is determination, looking to constantly improve, and willingness to research helpful hints if you get stuck. And it doesn't have to be complicated or expensive! The white background in all of my photos cost me $2 to buy and make. It's just a white poster board taped to a L shaped cardboard support. So simple and cheap but it looks amazing in photos!

What is the most popular item you sell?

Hands down - my orange, coral and pink ombré measuring cups. I can't make enough of those! They have been so popular I just can't believe it - they have been featured on the front page of Etsy, in the Etsy email, in several blog posts and websites, in the Etsy trending items, and were even representing the entire Kitchen & Gourmet section of Etsy for a while! It's funny to think that they were the result of a complete accident, so to speak. I had almost run out of glaze and only had a little bit of pink, red, orange and white to work with that day. So I layered them on and they looked all blotchy and mottled and I thought they would turn out terribly. But they came out of the kiln looking really cool, and I listed them and I was shocked by how much everyone liked them!

What are your top five books, movies, musicians and websites?

Oh no..I can only pick five favorite books?

A Good Year by Peter Mayle
The Secret Life Of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd
My Sisters Keeper (anything by Jodi Picoult really)
Gone With the Wind by Margaret Mitchell
The Color Code by Taylor Hartman

I love singers like Micheal Buble and Ella Fitzgerald. A lot of my favorite music is classical and oldies, with newer bands like The Fray and Imagine Dragons thrown in the mix.

I especially love old movies like Rear Window, How To Steal A Million, A Room With A View, and You Can't Take It With You. (And pretty much anything with Audrey Hepburn or James Stewart)

Some of my favorite websites are (obviously) Etsy, Pinterest, and DeviantArt (where I post my drawings)

Where can we find you online and off?

My Etsy shop - GrayDecember 

Thanks so much Pearl for letting me interview you this week! I hope everyone is as impressed as I am with her pottery (I told you the ombre measuring cups are fantastic!) Stop by her etsy store or her facebook page and say hi!

Have a great day everyone!

~ With Love, Ashlee ~

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