Each month we feature one of our awesome & successful IndieMade sellers. This month, get to know Polly Danger!
In a nutshell, what do you do?
I’m an accessories designer with a line of purses and wallets, a jewelry line, and a line of sewing notions. Everything I sell is made by hand, by me, in my home studio just outside of Portland, Oregon.
How did you get started & how long have you been doing this?
I’ve always been crafty, but what really got me started was spending a year in Tokyo in 2005. Sewing and crafting was so much more common there that it was easy to have access to amazing supplies, and I had plenty of time to experiment.
When I came back to the States the handmade movement was beginning to bloom and I found myself drawn to a growing community of independent designers and crafters. Like many others I tried to get a desk job, something that would put my college degree to work, but inside I yearned to dedicate my days to sewing, cutting, and playing!
After graduating and making a few attempts at finding a copywriting job, I landed a sweet gig at a craft studio. It was a wonderful learning experience and it gave me the confidence to take my crafting to a new level. I left the studio in 2009 and have been a full time crafter/designer ever since.
What’s your creative inspiration?
I’m obsessed with color and fabric. When I see a color that inspires me I think about it for days and try to incorporate it into my current project. Once I’ve found a shade that I love it’s almost impossible to find that exact shade anywhere else, especially in fabric, but traveling down a color path usually leads me to beautiful alternatives.
I have a beautiful vintage feedsack in a rich navy blue with flowers of dark melony pink, and leaves of chartreuse, which I’ve been trying to match for several years. While none of these are my “signature” colors, I find myself exploring other fabrics in these colors and no doubt they’ll find a place in my winter lineup.
Where do you want to go next?
There are so many things I want to do next! I’ve made some time this summer to work on sewing for my home, and since my husband and I are getting ready to start a family, home goods and baby things are at the top of the list! Also, now that my home office is painted, video tutorials are definitely in my future.
What’s the best part about what you do?
The best part is vending at great craft shows. I basically live for the shows, spending the in between time making product and planning my booth because the shows are such a huge part of why I do what I do. The shows give me the opportunity to get out of my house and meet with other creative businesses, and more importantly, they give me the opportunity to connect with my customers.
When I sit at home and sew, photograph, post, and ship, I have no idea where my creations are going, but when I sell at craft shows I get to feel the customer's excitement when they shop my booth, I get to hear valuable feedback about what they love and what they’re looking for. I watch their shopping patterns, not only what they purchase, but what they don’t purchase, and where in the booth they wander. It’s this feedback that helps me fill holes in my product line, helps me decide what to sell wholesale, and how to make the best use of my packaging.
What one piece of advice would you give to others who are just starting out?
Explore! When you’re first starting out you really don’t know where any paths will lead, so my advice is to play, experiment, and enjoy the creative process. It’s easy to feel pressure to sell lots, and to earn enough money to justify the money/time you spend on what was recently just a hobby. But the most important thing is to find your creative voice, to find your unique style, and that can only happen when you give yourself permission to explore and enjoy.
What’s your favorite anything?
My collection of vintage hardbound books. I love everything about them from their faded spines, to the lightness of the paper inside. My favorite of favorites are the pocket editions which just make me want to sit in a tree with an apple in one hand and a faded blue book in the other. I know that some book collectors keep their books behind glass, but for me there’s just nothing like reading a first edition of Little Women or Alice in Wonderland.