There's more to handmade than just the technical aspect of getting the supplies and putting the pieces together. I think the people that are truly artists and artisans stand out. It takes the right balance of talent, originality, promotion, and perseverance to crest the wave on the sea of handmade. The shops that do rise to the top have that extra certain something.
While we can't define it, you know what I mean. The French call it je ne sais quoi. The two people I'm featuring in this blog post have it. In spades.
There are hundreds, if not thousands, of shops on Etsy, Folksy, and other similar handmade marketplaces. I could show you shop after shop of blurry pictures, products that look hastily slapped together, shops that lack any sort of quality control or even consistency in theme. Where is the artistry behind them? Without these key ingredients, these shops cannot hope to express their artistic efforts to any effect, let alone be successful.
At the other end of the spectrum are the shops that are the complete package. They've got excellent photos, fantastic quality, consistency of theme, and a superb attention to detail. I'm going to show you two shops that fit that description.
I've been a fan of Kate at Lili Popo at Glass Mountain on Folksy for a while and she is one of my "go to" shops when I'm talking about how to do handmade right. Kate is an artist. She makes beautiful illustrations which she turns into amazing little magical ornaments and embroidery patterns. I want to own them all. Desperately!
These sweetillustrations made using pens, watercolors, and pencils, like Maisie's Flower Stand are offered on paper in the form of frame-able art which also sometimes include accents of embroidery.
Maisie's Flower Stand by LiliPopo
It's so sweet! She is so sweet, with her little red shoes and her polka dot muffin hat and her ever so softly pinked cheeks!
Some of Kate's illustrations are offered as embroidery patterns so you can add a little of their magic in your own way to whatever you fancy stitching the designs on.
Mary Jane with her umbrella by LiliPopo
Mary Jane reminds me a little of Mary Tyler Moore, though I can't really say why. She just does, which in turn gives me a connection to this little girl with her giant umbrella. That connection is something else that contributes to the success of artists... their artwork reaches out to you and evokes an emotional response. In my case, the fact that Mary Jane reminds me of Mary Tyler Moore throwing her little hat in the air on 70's television gives me a warm fuzzy and makes Mary Jane that much sweeter.
And some of Kate's sweet little girls wind up on delightfully appliqued sachet ornaments.
Orange and Red Lavender Girl by LiliPopo
It was these ornaments that really hit home for me the power of the right combination of talent and advertising. Lili Popo like many of us, is on Facebook. (I sometimes feel like a stalker on there as I tend to watch closely what's going on with people and shops I greatly admire and wish to emulate.) I saw a Facebook post saying these ornaments were available in the Folksy shop, about an hour after they were listed. I clicked directly and promptly found them sold out. Big YAY for Kate, but big boo-boo face for me. Sold completely out of stock within an hour. Thankfully she'll be making more in the future because I simply can't resist them. And obviously I'm not the only one.
There's something about these adorable little bits of whimsy. What is It? I don't know, maybe she puts love in each one. Her own brand of whimsical British-accented love. Whatever it is, It exists and she's got it. I'm betting that while she works hard, it's a labor of love. And I'm betting that she puts pen to paper and these little dolls simply flow out across the page. Kate has mad handmade skillz!
I'm going to leave you with this last image from Lili Popo because it's one of my favs. That hair is beyond adorable.
Twelve Dancing Princesses by LiliPopo
Another super successful handmade artist is Shelly from
Shelly makes insanely cute patterns for felt plush dolls, like this pocket pixie.
A Ginger Melon Pocket Pixie
Just look at that face! That tiny tilted smile! Those eyes! That petite little dress with it's tiny buttons and lace edging. Not to mention those ginger locks!
If she isn't already tugging at your heart strings, I know this little one will.
Sleeping Fox by Gingermelon
Try not to squee too loudly as you'll wake the little darling. Did you ever think a green felt fox could be so adorable?
There's just the right combination of colors, quality products, sweetness, attention to detail, and skill that makes Gingermelon so successful. Nearly 8700 admirers on Etsy are not wrong. In fact, Shelly is doing it so completely right that customers don't want to chance not getting their felt colors and quality right. To that end Shelly has guest curated a felt color collection at Benzie Bazaar. You can purchase a pre-packaged compilation of colors that will work with just about any of the patterns at Gingermelon.
Consistency is also one of the ingredients to handmade success. Every image by Gingermelon harkens back to fairy tale times and sweet, enchanting dreams. These warm fuzzy feelings that well up in us is what keeps us coming back for more.
Shelly has no lack of ideas either with her most recent line of Fairy Tale dolls, in which Lil' Red was my favorite.
Little Red Riding Hood by Gingermelon
That little basket of flowers with the tiny french knot flowers and the red laces on her shoes. Those little details are one of the things that makes Gingermelon dolls so spectacular.
Shelly's latest patterns, which I can tell you are eagerly awaited by her fans, are for a line of International dolls.
Geisha & Palace Guard by Gingermelon
I fell in love with that Geisha and her tiny sandals instantly.. and that Palace Guard? *swoon*
Shelly also reaches out to her fans quite a bit. By that I mean she has giveaways of finished dolls and patterns alike. You can also find her on Facebook getting feedback from her fans about preferred design features for upcoming patterns. Keeping in touch with your fan base is integral to getting those sales and keeping customers coming back. Further, Shelly happily posts to Facebook creations customers make with her patterns.
I have to share one last image from Gingermelon, again one of my favs.
tHe sCaRiES by Gingermelon
Even a departure from her "normal" style with these quirky little dolls (which Shelly refers to as the "kookiest things" she's ever made) are consistent in quality, attention to detail, and are jam packed with cuteness.
If you're like me and looking to do it right, these two women are setting the standard beautifully.
Many thanks to Shelly and Kate for being such incredible influences in the handmade community.
All images in this post are used with permission from the artists.