Elle Aime Interview + Advice
Did you download this month’s wallpaper from Lisa Manuels? She is a such a talented artist and I was so thrilled to discover that she also owns a shop in Rotterdam! Read on to get a glimpse at her fabulous shop and her advice on getting your work into retail!
What is your store name and is there a story behind it?
My shop is called Elle Aime, which is French for ‘she loves..’. Of course I only sell things I love. But that’s not all! It’s also pronounced the same way as my initials are; L.M. (Lisa Manuels)! So I think this name is perfect for my little shop (although lots of people now call me Elle). I did not come up with this name myself, unfortunately. Laura Manfre, an illustrator from France, did and she permitted me to use it (Thank you, Laura!!).
What do you love most about what you do?
I love almost every aspect of being a shop owner, but working with other creative talents is the most inspiring and fun thing to do. I also give and organize lots of creative workshops and that’s a great way to work with and meet other people who are also in love with everything handmade, crafty and creative!
What makes your store unique?
Everything I sell is handmade or can be used to make something yourself (materials like beads, masking tape, etc.). It’s made either by myself or by other people from around the world.
I only sell and make things I would buy myself. So my store is actually something like a room full of my favorite things (which makes it a very girly shop!). This way all of the products go together very well.
I think the unique aspect of my shop is the combination between selling handmade products and teaching other people how to be creative themselves.
How do you select the items you sell?
If I would want to have/wear/use it myself and if it’s something that is obviously made with love, I would want to sell it in my shop. I think about whether it is a product that would sell in my shop; jewelry pieces and cards are best sellers. Of course I don’t want too much of the same product, so I’m always looking for things that are a little different and things that would be a nice addition to what I already sell.
Important things which I look at when selecting a product are; the packaging of the product, if the price is reasonable and at the quality of the product. Of course the quality of a product is hard to define when you can’t hold it in your hands, so good pictures and a clear description of a product is a real must.
Any tips for artists to get in stores?
Yes! I already mentioned some of them, but here they are;
There are two ways to get in stores; when you contact the owner of the store or when they contact you.
When you want a store to contact you;
- great products
Obvious; Make your products stand out, be original and be proud of what you make! Make them in the best quality that you can achieve.
- great pictures
Make sure the pictures of your work (that are on your website, blog or in your shop) are of a good quality too. Use natural light as much as possible and make pictures of different angles of your products (what does the back look like?).
- visibility/a personal touch
The fun thing about handmade products is the fact that a ‘real’ person, instead of a big factory/company, made it. When I find some products that I would like to sell I would want to know who made it and where he or she is from. It’s also nice to read about someone’s creative process; a product will be much more interesting when you know something more about how it’s made and who made it.
So I think it’s a good thing that when you have a (Etsy/Dawanda/Big Cartel/etc.) shop on the web, that you also have a blog, website, facebook page and/or something like that to inform everyone about who you are, what you do and, for your potential future selling points, if you’re up for wholesale!
- correct and updated info
Make it easy and possible for a store to find and contact you. Make sure it’s very easy to find your e-mail address and links to other places where a person can find more info about you and your work.
When you want to contact a store yourself:
- the right ones
Search for some shops where you would like to sell your products; I think it’s best to make a selection and not contact any random shop that pops into your mind. Find shops that would want to sell your work, because it will fit in with the rest of their products.
- e-mail them
Write them an e-mail with a description of you and your work, add contact information, a link to your website or blog and also add some pictures. If I can immediately see the products it’s much more interesting than if I need to look it up myself (busy schedule!).
Don’t be afraid to show your work to others, if no one will see it, no one will buy it!
Also tell them why you think your products are suitable for their shop and what you like about their shop.
What items in your shop are you loving right now?
That is a tough question! I love everything in my shop..
One of the products I really, really love and that I sell from the beginning of the shop are the jewelry pieces by Gamma Folk (or Lily Piyathaisere). I think her work is a perfect combination between an old technique (embroidery) and modern design (I love the color combo’s and geometric shapes!).
My mom also makes some products for the shop; crocheted bow brooches (big and chunky, but also teeny tiny ones!), handmade glass cupcake and mushroom pendants (cute!) and more lovely handmade goodies. She taught me very much about crafting, creativity and setting up a creative business. I’m always proud to say ‘my mom made that!’ when someone’s looking at her necklaces!
Any tips for following your dreams?
Yes; just go for it! That is very easily said, but it’s so important to get in action and not wait for something or someone else to start living your own dreams. Not everyone has the opportunity to start their own shop, but you can start small and work to where you want to be. I make lists and write goals all the time. I’m very good at procrastinating, so lot’s of those to do things never get done, but it gives me a good feeling to get some order in my head and to sort out all of the ideas I have.
When you want to achieve something you just need to sit down (with some tea and a slice of red velvet cake, that will definitely help), write about what you want and then figure out what you need to do to get there. It doesn’t matter if you take baby steps, the important thing is that you’re taking them!
Do you have a favorite quote?
The only quote that pops up is ‘Nobody puts Baby in a corner!’. Haha, I guess I don’t really have a favorite quote. But.. Not putting yourself or let someone put you in a corner is a very good lesson, I guess! Don’t let anyone tell you that you can’t achieve your handmade/creative goals; if you want to, you always can. I need to tell myself this once in a while too.
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