Tell us a little about yourself and your creative business.
I live and work in Sofia, Bulgaria. All of my life I have been a full-time artist. I have never worked in an office with a fixed work day. I work at home far way from the crazy city life. Ten years ago I started making needle felt dolls and some wet felt projects. I think felting is my true love.
How did you get your start?
I was at a craft festival and one of the artists used a needle for felting knitted hats. I asked to try and made one sheep. That was the first doll. Since felting was not popular at the time, it was hard to find needles. Finding clean and nice wool was also a problem, but I did it. I learned to dye and gradually I had everything necessary. I started to sell in my family's gallery and a few small shops in Sofia. The financial crisis had made the art market too small in Bulgaria and at the same time I found Etsy and tried it out. Soon I started to sell totally online.
Where do you get your inspiration and what has been your biggest successful moment so far?
My inspiration comes from nature.
First I must say that I love my job because my customers send me back so much love and positive emotion and that gives me more inspiration and happiness. Some time ago I had a custom order to make a portrait of the Bulgarian Ombudsman with his favorite dog. They sent me a photo of when they gave the doll and the emotion was caught on the picture.
What challenges do you face selling online?
First was culture shock because buying and selling online is not popular in Bulgaria. Second is that because each of my dolls is handmade and have its own mode and character and it takes time to make the dolls and to photograph each doll.
What advice would you give someone just starting out on Etsy?
To make their own products. Some of the younger sellers search and see "Oh, this seller sell 200 yellow pillows, I'm going to make yellow pillows too." But of the market is full of yellow pillows, maybe it's better if they make purple pillows!
Thank you Mariana for sharing your story and you lovely dolls with us. Of you'd like to see more of Mariana, check out her Facebook page and Blog.
Each week we select a new Etsy artist to feature. If you would like to be considered, just send Zoica or me a note via Etsy convo.
Thanks for stopping by...
Until next time,