Tell us about yourself.
My name is Linda Souza and I live in North Kingstown, Rhode Island. I’ve been married for 23 years and have a son and daughter ages 22 and 19. I have lived in Rhode Island my entire life and graduated from both Bryant University and Roger Williams University with degrees in accounting and paralegal studies. I have worked for the same attorney for 27 years as a Paralegal and Real Estate Agent.
What do you make?
I design and make handbags, totes and accessories of all shapes, styles and colors! I sell them on ETSY at www.aggieray.etsy.com
What inspires you & what is your creative process?
Beautiful fabrics inspire me. The look and feel of the fabric is very important. If something is not beautiful and nice to the touch, I will not create an item with it. Of course, my creative process starts with the fabric. I usually fall in love with the fabric first. After I purchase the fabric, I usually lay it out and look at it to come up with coordinating fabrics and the style of the handbag. As soon as that style pops in my head, I then cut into the fabric and sew up a beautiful new item for my shop!
Where is your studio and how has it evolved? What is your plan for it in the future?
My workroom is in my basement. I have a separate sewing, worktable and ironing area. My husband built a beautiful workroom table. I can move from the table (which also works as a measuring, cutting and ironing area) to my sewing machine with ease!
What else do you do? Is this your full time gig?
I work pretty much full time as a Paralegal/Real Estate Agent. I love to create and sew on the weekends and evenings when I have spare time in between spending time with my husband and children. My daughter is in college now and my son works full time. So this is my “empty nest” activity! I also enjoy walking and hiking.
What do you hope to get out of this, what are your goals?
I’ve been creating and doing side work my entire life. It is so important to keep yourself active not only physically but mentally. Since I joined ETSY in March, it has been so much fun networking and receiving such positive feedback. I think I have reached my goal to enjoy what I create!
How do you promote yourself?
I’m on Flickr (http://flickr.com/photos/aggiera)and have a Blog (http://www.aggieray.blogspot.com). I post new pictures of my handbags before putting them in my shop to get feedback. I’ve have done a few Showcases and try to stay active in the Forums. I take great care when I ship my handbags with fast delivery and creative packaging. My feedback has been positive and I believe that has helped my sales.
Any tips for fellow crafters/artists?
You must truly love what you are doing. If you do not love it, then the creative process is lost. Stay positive in the forums and read everything you can about how to improve your sales, pictures and shop. Don’t worry about the competition. You know they are their, take a peek, but don’t get obsessed over them. If you create a beautiful product, provide great customer service, promote your shop, then the sales will come.