Monday, August 18, 2008

Designs by Victoria/Miss Victoria’s Vintage

Name: Victoria Shaffer
Shop Name: Designs by Victoria/Miss Victoria’s Vintage
Shop Link:
Location: Tukwila, WA
Ships To: Everywhere, although international customers should contact me for shipping costs before purchasing.

What inspires me?

I’ve been an avid reader since I can remember. It’s my mother’s fault. She was reading me the Chronicles of Narnia and The Hobbit before I could do so myself, and no matter what there was always the money for a new book. She was a librarian, and I’d go with her to work all summer long and spend the entire day curled up in a book cubby with the stack of the day. So I’m always dreaming of fantastical far away places and the people who inhabit them.

It’s hard to pinpoint one area or idea as a single source of inspiration. My subconscious is my greatest ally. It remembers little things that I see or read, and little things that I’ve got stashed away here and there, and when I’m in that grey netherland between wide awake and either falling asleep or waking up, suddenly *poof* all the pieces come together and there’s a grand idea. It plays havoc with my sleep patterns, but I consider it to be all in a good cause. Most of these ideas end up improbable to make into reality, but the process of trying is so much fun that I don’t mind, and I absolutely love taking random odd bits and bobs and making them into a unified piece.

How long have you had your Etsy shop?

I created the profile for my Designs by Victoria shop in February of 2007, but it took me about 8 months to actually start listing pieces. My vintage shop was just begun at the beginning of August, as I’ve got this terrible habit of picking up fascinatingly nifty stuff at yard and estate sales and thrift stores and such, when I’m supposed to be looking only for supplies.

Is this a job?

This is currently a hobby, although it would be fantastic to be able to make it my job. I’d love to be working for myself, but I’m in a tough crowd, as jewelry is a very populated category. That’s why I’ve begun branching out into a few other areas, like photography.

How did you get into your craft?

In college, I was working in a little boutique in the French Quarter of New Orleans, and we got in some new merchandise, some wine glasses with wire-wrapped stems. I didn’t think they were very well done, and apparently I voiced this opinion one too many times to my coworker, because one day she told me “Like you could do any better!” I took this as a challenge, and a month later presented my boss with some of my own work. The store sold my work for the rest of my stay in the city. When I decided to make a go of this as a business, I realized that I needed a bit more variety of wares, so I began the jewelry making, and nowadays that’s my main line, as the jewelry is so much easier to transport. I am starting to work on costuming pieces as well, with hats and parasols being my main love, and this year for the first time started showing some of my digital photography.

I love variety, so you’ll find many completely different styles in my shop, with lots of one of a kind pieces. I love the creation process, so I’m always wanting to try something new, and also don’t want to get into the rut of making the same things over and over again.

For most of my career as a business, I’ve been concentrating mainly on craft shows and fairs, so this world of internet commerce is a strange new beast to me.

What interests me in Steampunk?

I’ve been playing “dress up” for as long as I can remember. My father used to teach theater, and the school bus would drop me off at his office after school. I’d haunt the costume department, and beg fabric scraps from them, and go home and make outfits for my dolls and my model horses (!). For myself, I started first thrift-store costuming, sometimes with alteration, sometimes not, for the pieces I found. About 6 years ago, I bought my first sewing machine and progressed to making my own outfits. What’s completely endeared me to the Steampunk aesthetic when I discovered it was the openness, where your creative imagination is your only limit. Although Victorian is the general time frame, you can also cultivate a style from the 20’s or 40’s, or the 22nd century, and still steam it up.

What advice for new Etsy sellers?

Three simple things:

1) Your shop appearance is very important. Take the time to fill out your profile and shop announcement, as well as the details for each piece you are selling.

2) Don’t undervalue yourself! I see so many artists with amazing work, selling for peanuts. What we do is work, just as much as a job in any other industry. Ask your friends what fair prices are, do research to see what similar items are selling for, and make sure you’re correctly calculating how much in materials you are putting into each piece.

3) If you have questions, ask for advice. There are lots of folks out there who’ve been where you are, and plenty of them will be willing to give you pointers.

Anything else you would like to add?

Create because you love to do so, share it because you delight in inspiring others, and take inspiration from what others love and share with you.


TotusMel said...

Lovely piece, wonderful advice and an inspiring story. Thanks!