Tell us a bit about yourself
Hi, my name is Melinda. I live near beautiful Lake Macquarie, NSW where we spend hours in summer fishing, picnicing, jet skiing and canoeing. I live with hubby and my three boys aged 18, 15 and 9. Creative Wishes is my passion and I absolutely love making and creating but I also work part time with mothers and babies. The best part of my job is being able to cuddle soft, squishy innocent babies. I like gardening and my suburban backyard is full of vegetables, fruit trees and flowers. I belong to a local community garden too. I enjoy cooking but only when I want to and can often be found with my head in a book.
Can you explain your craft/art and the material you like to use?
I hand make toys and games for creative play. My toys and games are fun and colourful. They are also educational with a big emphasis on encouraging imagination and creativity. Creative Wishes toys are made to be played with over and over so I make them durable and of course safety is a top priority. Each new product gets a good road test prior to being released for sale. I like to think of kids running around while wearing one of my pirate, princess or super hero hats pretending to be a fairy or super hero.
I work a lot with felt and use a combination of wool blend felt and eco felt. Felt is such a great fabric and the colours are amazingly bright plus it doesn’t fray! I sometimes sew on my sewing machine but really enjoy hand sewing. Most of my felt play food is hand sewn. Just recently I have made a range of items for mums because mums need spoiling too.
Where do you get your inspiration and what is your creative process?
I have a huge list of toys and games I want to make when I get the time. I get a lot of inspiration from seeing kids pretend playing. My pirate items came into being when one of my sons wanted to go to a party as a pirate and I began making felt play food when seeing kids having a tea party with their dolls and teddies. I get inspired by magazines and advertisements too. The colours of the felt inspire to create certain things. I have had some grey felt that I brought a while ago because I thought it would make a very cool knights shield and dagger.
How long have you been creating and how did you get into craft/art?
As a young child I remember sitting by my nan as she sewed away on her old singer sewing machine. As she sewed I would play with her big jar of spare buttons, sorting them into colours and sizes. Nan taught me to knit and crochet. She also gave me a love of vintage, recycled and handmade things. Since then I have tried scrapbooking, card making, cross stitching and mosaics. I began Creative Wishes when my youngest started full time school. I wanted to be able to work from home and so I could be available to take him to school and home, be there for special assemblies, sports days and to help out in the classroom.
When I began selling my craft and sewing I tried a range of things from coasters to cards to cloth books. Creative Wishes then evolved into being predominately toys and games. They are so much fun to make!
How did you come up with your business name?
The creative part of Creative Wishes comes from my love of sewing and being crafty. The wishes part came about because when my kids were younger they couldn’t walk past a dandelion in seed without picking it, blowing it and making a wish. Their little faces would light up as if they had come across a pot of gold and they would proudly present it to me as if they were giving me a valuable treasure. The dandelion represents a kid taking something and using their imagination to make it what they want it to be. So that humble weed, the dandelion is the inspiration behind the Wishes part of my name.
What resources 'have or do you' use to help your creative pursuits (i.e. groups, classes, shops, websites etc)?
I have read and I continue to read a lot of small business and creative handmade business sites online. My favourites are Leonie Dawson Amazing business, Amazing life site www.leoniedawson.com and Jess form Epheriell’s Create and Thrive www.createandthrive.com
I use Leonies business year calendar and each month I write in my goals for the month and plan out when I will blog, send out a newsletter, make new toys etc. It really keeps me on track and inspires me to keep sewing and creating.
What's your best advice for someone starting up?
• Be creative and be original!
• Try a few items to see what sells before making big batches.
• Don’t just list and wait for sales to come your way but actively promote, whether to friends and family or online such as facebook, twitter, blogs etc.
• Spend the time taking great photos of your items, a beautiful photo can really sell your item.
Do you have any advertising/promotion tips for sellers to be successful?
I have a newsletter list for people to subscribe to so they can be kept informed directly about new products, sales, special offers etc. I also have a blog where I post about kids topics and Creative Wishes news.
I give my toys and games away as presents for birthdays and Christmases and this has lead to further sales and interest. If you make items that can be worn then self promote by wearing them.
Can you share any lessons that you have learned the hard way?
Some months sales can be slow and this used to really discourage me. But now I look at these slower times as a great chance to sew more, develop some new products and work on my shop with the knowledge that busier times will be ahead.
I have also learnt that when I am launching a new item to make one or two and see how they sell before making a whole batch. I still have some of my very first items that weren’t great sellers in a cupboard somewhere.
What do you like to do besides creating?
I like reading from fiction to non fiction and used to often visit book shops but now by book shelf is overflowing so I borrow from the library. I also like trying new recipes in my Thermomix. I enjoy gardening and especially growing my own fruit and vegetables. I am constantly battling with the birds and possums who really love my garden too. I enjoy spending time with my boys and have got to say that teenagers are great fun!
What is your favourite music, television show, film, book, website?
Music – Eva Cassidy, Frank Sinatra, Pete Murray, Red Hot Chilli Peppers.
TV – Modern Family, Out Sourced, renovating shows like The Block and I am a sucker for cooking shows too.
Film – I like chick flicks but sadly I get out voted here and end up watching way too many action movies.
Books – Currently I am reading a book called Every Parents Nightmare about an Australian boy imprisoned in Bulgaria. Sophias Choice, The Shiralee, The Girl With The Pearl Earring have all been favourites.
Websites - Madeit, Create and Thrive, Australian Thermomix site, handmade kids cooperative
What would be your perfect day?
To wake up in Venice, enjoy a coffee and croissant at a little cafe, spend the day walking and exploring the streets and alleys, visit a glass blowing studio, enjoy a gelato or two and watch the sun set over the water. Its nice to dream!
Who is your favourite madeit seller, explain why in less than 10 words?
TheForestFlaw - because I absolutely adore the adorable characters and think they are so unique.
Creative Wishes visit store
20 May 2013