Each week we invite a different Etsy seller to visit us at our home; The House of Mouse, where all the mice live. This weeks guest is Dutch based Fashion Designer and textile artist Bai from ThongbaiTatong.etsy.com
Bai has joined us for lunch in The House of Mouse. We sit together at the long wooden table in our kitchen, breathing in the wonderful cooking smells as Chris the Chef mouse bakes fresh bread and prepares all kinds of tasty treats for Bai and our family of mice to enjoy. He loves that we have guests every week, because he gets to show off his culinary talents to new people. Anna grabs a piece of bread fresh from the oven, looks down at her notes and starts the interview:
Welcome to our home Bai! Thank you so much for talking to us today.
Thank you for inviting me. Sorry I am a little late. But anyway I am here now ;) Oh.. and the bread smells so nice. You must be Chris the Chef. I know you. I have seen your pictures on Etsy before. Nice to meet you.
We'd like to begin by asking you a little bit about your Etsy store and what it means to you: when telling someone about your shop for the first time, what do you say about it?
Oh, do we begin now? OK. I hope you don’t mind me eating while talking. This bread is so yummy!
About my Etsy shop? Everything that you see in my shop is the products of my love and passion for design and arts. When you love something so much you would even do it for free. And my clothes and bags are something that I would make for free.
Ohh, this is such a yummy bread. You guys are so lucky to have Chris in the house cooking for us. Sorry but I have to take another piece now. Cannot help it. Yummm.. umm..
Seriously, I would make my clothes for free! But it is so great that people are willing to pay for them. And I am grateful to these people who help me pay my bills. It enables me continue to create more and more of what I love, and to spread the love.
Would you share a memory with us of when you first fell in love with your craft?
Good that you ask. I have been looking at this lovely wooden table and the wooden chairs we are sitting on now. They are practical and the design is really amazing. I thought of my father straight away. He is a very talented carpenter. When I was about 12 years old I had to make something for my art and craft subject. I wanted to make a very big wooden key of about one foot long, with some hooks attached to it to hang keys. My father taught me how to draw the design on the wood and how to carefully saw the wood and sand the piece so it would be smooth and neat. I watched him and listened to him. There was so much love. And my key was so amazingly beautiful.
Maybe I can take some pictures of your table and chairs and send to my father. May I?
Sure you can! This table has been in my family from when my grandfather made it many years ago. I am sure he would be happy to know that you like it so much.
How do you plan for a new item in your Etsy Shop, if at all? Do you know how something will look before you start?
I make what comes in my mind and usually begin with a sketch. When I have a great idea about something, let’s say a dress, I spend a lot of time drawing. My designs involve a lot of decorative elements, especially appliqué. In each sketch I place the decorative elements on different parts of the dress. Then I decide which design looks the best. Out of one design I usually make at least two dresses from different color combinations. I have many meters of many different kinds of fabric. It allows me to be as creative as I want with my design and fabric combination.
Actually I just saw someone walking past. Was that Heather the Artist Mouse? I love how she dresses herself. So cute and artful. Just tell her if she needs a place for her work placement she is welcome in my studio any time.
(Heather peeks her nose through the doorway looking very pleased that Bai noticed her clothes. She wore her best things today. She does a little twirl.)
Your shop is your full-time job, we know this takes a lot of careful time management, how do you keep yourself organized?
When I design something new I make a number of it for my stock. Only when I have enough stock I list the product for sale. That is why I only have 30 products for sale even though my shop is already one and a half years old. It takes about 2-3 days to design something from start to finish. But I usually need another 2-3 weeks to make the stock, before this product is put in the market. During these 2-3 weeks there is no pressure because I focus only on one thing. There is also no deadline and I only have to work as hard as I want and can. The quality of work is also better when you do not sew in a hurry.
I want to be able to list something new often like a lot of sellers do too, especially when I know I already have the design and the photos have already been made. I feel the itch. But I have to concentrate and stay patient. I wait. When things are already in stock they are also ready to ship. If you read the customers’ Feedback in my shop, you will see that the ‘fast shipping’ has been much appreciated.
I offer made to order and custom orders only on items that are easy to make and therefore less time consuming. It is stated on my shop policies that I ship my orders only on Tuesdays and Fridays. Between the two shipments I can spend some hours for custom orders. And the rest of the time I just focus on my new designs and stock.
We do hope that you're a keen Etsy buyer as well as seller. What is one of your favorite shops on Etsy and why?
Only one shop? Oh.. this is so difficult. It is just like asking me which mouse in the house I like the most. I love them all but if I have to choose I would say I love Chris the Chef mouse because he makes the best coffee in the world. Wink Wink! Chris, my dear, you wouldn’t have just one more cup of coffee for me, would you? Oh you are a darling.
Only one Etsy shop? Then I will say gufobardo by Stefania Morgante from Italy. Most of her products are original pieces. Stefania is a trained artist. And you can see how much she loves her work. Each line is drawn with skill and joy. You can see it. And I can see it because I own a few pieces of her work and I love them so much.
We'd love to get a little snippet of your home life, please describe your home in just 5 words.
Musculus Maximouse gets terrible midnight cravings. If he were to raid your refrigerator right now, what treats might he find there?
Grapefruit juice, yoghurt, and cheese.
If you were a mouse living in The House of Mouse, which one would you be and why?
I would love to be Happy Birthday Mouse because I will get to go to different birthday parties with singing and dancing. Would be great fun.
Thank you so much for taking the time to visit us, Bai. Please let us know how we can find you on the internet by sharing some links!
You are welcome. And thanks so much for the lovely food and drink. I really enjoyed the interview.
My personal website: www.thongbaitatong.com.
My blog www.thongbaitatong.blogspot.com
My twitter: thongbaitatong
My Facebook: thongbaitatong
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