Monday, October 3, 2011

Etsy 817 Artist Spotlight- Book-Inz

Meet Etsy817 artist Ky Nguyen of Book-Inz

What is your Etsy shop name and link?

What do you make and sell in these shops?
Fabric, magnetic bookmarks that clip onto your book’s cover, staying ON your book so you don’t lose it.

Where else can we find you online or off? 

Book-Inz Fall Schedule
Oct 15 & 16 - Martin HS Fall Craft Show
Oct 22 - Haltom HS Craft Show
Nov 5 - Trinity HS Craft Fair
Nov 12 & 13 - Funky Finds: A Holiday Shopping Experience
Nov 19 - Paschal HS Holiday Gift Market
Dec 3 - Celebration Community Church Craft Fair
Dec 10 - etsy817 Handmade Holidays

What inspires you to create your art?
Function.  I am an aesthete; however, it just can’t ‘look’ pretty, it has to be functional as well.  I enjoy particularly clever functioning artistic works and Book-Inz was a natural off-shoot of this.

When did you start your business and what inspired you to do so?
October 2010.  Pat had borrowed a book from a friend, who keeps her books meticulously fresh and spotless.  She had lost her bookmark and used a popsicle stick, which cracked the spine and ruined the book.  An old, irreplaceable book.  When we left, my head was filled with ideas about how to make a bookmark similar to the ribbons on Bibles and dictionaries, but still let it go from book to book.  A few prototypes later, Pat had it on her book when she went to the doctor and the doctor asked if I could make her some to buy for her kids.  Pat called me on the way home and asked me to get it patented and we started selling and never looked back.

What were you doing career wise when you decided to create your own business?
I had just been laid off.  A couple weeks into the creative process, I was hired for another position, so I immediately went to having two jobs during the holidays!

What has been your biggest obstacle so far and how did you overcome it?
Time.  I work a full-time job and then Book-Inz.  There is never enough time to get everything done in the time I need it to be done.  Pat & I split the duties of production and that has made things easier.  We take things with us to work on at work on lunches.  We’ve talked about hiring someone to do the pre-production process (ironing, cutting, sorting, packaging) but it’s still in the talking stages.  We have such high quality standards that each time we’ve taken up a family members’ offer to help, we’ve ended up trashing their efforts.  It’s not that we don’t appreciate the effort, we just have a particular standard and nothing but that standard will do for us.  So the tasks that are not as important but just as vital to production are things we’d like to let go of and focus more on the actual production part of things.

Have your friends and family supported your dream?
To an extent.  My family has offered numerous times to help out with the sewing (see above) but we’re way too picky about the way things are sewn.  I know a large number of our friends use their Book-Inz and it makes for great advertising!

What are the positives and negatives about being your own boss?
Working a full-time job and then producing Book-Inz, as well as marketing, packaging, preparing for shows, keeping up with supplies…I wish there were three or four of me. 
As far as positives, I know that whatever I’ve created is mine.  It’s an accomplishment to just put your work out there.  And I’ve done that.  Went from 0 to full on fear of failure in no time flat!

Where do you work from?
Home, mostly

Have you been using social media to grow your business?
Yes.  I blog frequently and we have a Facebook page.  I subscribe to several crafty business blogs and have found the tips and articles to be mightily helpful and inspiring.  And the advice is priceless!

How did you learn and acquire the skills you use to make your business successful and/or how do you continue to grow and learn?
I subscribe to a TON of small biz/crafty biz blogs.  I’ve learned about photography, lighting, product placement, SEO, marketing, PR, scheduling, etc.  My day jobs have given me the business skills – administration, organizing, legal, etc., to know what I’m doing and how to find the information I need.

What's the best piece of business advice you’ve ever been given?
I was told to check out for show opportunities.  Without being at shows, I would never have met all the fantastic artisans nor have connected with etsy.

What memorable responses have you had to your work?
Frequently, someone will comment “why didn’t I think of that?!” and Pat will respond that you have to reach deep down into your inner nerd and I didn’t have far to go!  It’s such a thrill to know that others find my creation functional and clever enough to add to their possession.  And I absolutely love when the kids come in, look around, ask for a Book-Inz and the parent tells them to keep looking – inevitably, the kids come back to our booth and finally get their Book-Inz.  Anything that gets people to open a book and read is a good thing to me!

What do you like about your work?
I’m a very right brained thinker at work, it’s all intellectual.  I think having such a left brained opportunity helps keep me balanced as a person.  I have the best of both worlds with my work and my Book-Inz.

Professionally, what’s your goal?
Haven’t really thought about having a goal.  I have found that creativity breeds more creativity!  I have so many projects I’d like to explore but I want to make sure Book-Inz is healthy enough before I go out on another limb!  And by healthy, I guess that is a goal – I’d like to see Book-Inz become self-sustaining.  By that, I mean that I’d like to see a point in time where Book-Inz is self-financed. 

If you had it to do over again, what, if anything, would you do differently?
Start buying materials wholesale SOONER!

What’s your favorite color?

What’s the best piece of non-business advice you’ve been given?
Love it or leave it.

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