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madeit designer spotlight Plushka

Tell us a bit about yourself

My name is Katia Donohoe. I was born in Vladivostok, which is in the Far East of Russia on the boarder of China. I came to Australia to study Business Management 5 years ago and now live with my husband in the eastern suburbs of Sydney. I work full-time at my husband’s helicopter business and craft is my passion and something I do after work.

madeit designer spotlight Plushka

Can you explain your craft/art and the material you like to use?

I love felt and fabric, drawing and making toys, linen and cross-stitch. Handmade for me is all about quality and unique feel of items made by hand. All my felt toys are hand stitched and although they are created with the same pattern, I try to give them individual characters.

I try to use cross-stitch in my designs where possible, as that is the first craft I learned and it quickly became my passion. It’s a very traditional type of embroidery that I hope people will see more as cute and decorative than old-fashioned.

Where do you get your inspiration and what is your creative process?

Nothing inspires me more than a stash of beautiful fabrics, bright colours, textiles, traditional crafts, photography and I am also influenced by French and Japanese styles. 

For my felt toys, I usually pick fabric first and then look for the perfect felt to match. I cut the shapes out and keep them together until I’ve got a minute and feel like making a toy. I’ve got a few piles like this as I make all sort of things that involve using different materials and techniques: cross-stitch, crochet, felt, fabric, ribbons and I even have an unfinished quilt somewhere.

I find it very helpful to keep a journal of my colour inspirations from the beautiful magazines like Country Style and Frankie.

How long have you been creating and how did you get into craft/art?

Craft was always part of my Russian heritage, and making things was a part of my life since I started cross-stitch classes at the age of 12. My culture taught me to treasure handmade craft and creating something helps me not only indulge my creative side but also honour my heritage.

I started selling on Made It at the beginning of 2010 and have enjoyed myself immensely! I discovered a craft community and met so many talented people, here, in Australia. 

How did you come up with your business name?

My grandmother loves baking, and one of our favourite recipes is ‘Plushka’ - a sweet and savoury pastry which has a pretty heart shape. That’s why I chose this name for my craft business as a symbol of my love for everything made by hand. Plushka became a label for felt toys, accessories, homewares and cross-stitched items.

What resources 'have or do you' use to help your creative pursuits (i.e. groups, classes, shops, websites etc)?

I love shopping online for my fabrics and felt but nothing compares to a good shopping trip. Melbourne is the best for fabric shopping but with Calico&Ivy opening a few months ago in Sydney, it quickly became one of the shops I love visiting.

The majority of my fabrics however are purchase online, there are some great online shops out there with so much choice! I love Australian fabric designers and enjoy working with hand printed linens. I get inspired by their beautiful fabrics and use them in my creations. For example, linen by Yardage design is used to decorate my crochet baskets.

My blog helps me a lot as I can ask my followers for advice and get a response on the new designs. I use Flickr to store my pictures online that I can later use for my blog posts. It’s very easy to use and it’s also a great way to connect with likeminded people.

What's your best advice for someone starting up?

Just get creative and have fun, you never know where craft can take you! Making enough stock, can be stressful some times and you still need to have a normal life so I keep my little craft business small and manageable. I focus on my Madeit shop, Shop Handmade in Canberra and do Mathilda's markets occasionally. I still feel that it’s just the beginning of my craft journey and there are so many new things that I want to make and so many possibilities.

Moving forward is very important, setting goal and planning will help you to get through quite month of the year when it feels like you are not progressing.

If you’re like me, and English is not your first language, stating an online business or even a blog might seam an enormous task but  I learn so much since I started. You just need to overcome the fear of making a mistake and start slowly. Eventually, you language skill will catch up!

Do you have any advertising/promotion tips for sellers to be successful?

I would probably start by thinking about an image that you want your business to portrait. The first step is creating a banner, logo and business cards that are made in the same, later recognizable, style. It’s totally worth investing in!

Blog is my a virtual extension of my creative space where I can share my creativity with other likeminded people, customers and meet other business owners. Many customers told me that love ready my posts on how their item was created.

I recently started a Facebook page and although it takes a bit of my time, is a great marketing and socializing tool! I love my ‘likers’ as they are very helpful and supportive.

Can you share any lessons that you have learned the hard way?

Have a routine from day one! One experienced craft business owner once told me: “Today I’ve got a hair clips day. I want to make enough hair clips to last a few markets and tomorrow I will move to skirts.” I didn’t realised how frustrated sometimes I am with different projects asking for my attention on the same day.  Sometimes I wish I had 3 people at least working for me as I want to make toy, cross-stitch, reorganize my space and sew at the same time!!!

The best advice that I was given is to write a list and keep adding new project you want to do but just have one or two a day!

Some people make their items ‘made to order” which is a great way if you don’t have much storage space but I try to sell what I’ve got in stock as I find it easier.

What do you like to do besides creating?

I try to spend more time with my husband, talk to my mom on the phone for hours as she still leave back in Russia and I see her only once a year.

I love shopping for fabric and other craft supplies. The process of searching and buying, looking and admiring and getting inspired by the patterns and colors of whether it's ribbon or fabric is very enjoyable and give me some time off crafting. 

I recently started a Craftumi shop as I wanted to share my passion for beautiful textiles, stationery and books. That's how Plushka's Makery was born (www.craftumi.com.au/plushka).

What is your favourite music, television show, film, book, website?

Music: I listen to the different music depending on my mood but do enjoy Robbie Williams and Depeche mode.

TV: I don’t watch TV that much but do turn it on to see Bones series when I have time.

Film: Sweet November is my all time favourite.

Book: The last book I read was Eat Pray Love.

Website: I’ve got so many great blogs that I follow! I always read www.craftmba.com - it’s a very helpful website for the designers and crafters that just starting.

What would be your perfect day?

Early breakfast with my husband then trip to our friends farm in the west where we chat, relax and enjoy the spectacular view of the valley. We visit fabric shops and vintage stores on the way back. Sometimes just enjoying each others company while driving home is great.

The perfect day would finish with a dinner in the French restaurant in the city and walk near the beach.

Who is your favourite madeit seller, explain why in less than 10 words?

Giftscreated - fellow toy maker with cute babushka doll mobiles and other delights.

Plushka visit store

27 February 2011

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