Whimsical Hair Ornaments:
Interview with Royal Menagerie
Stephanie Lynn, age 25, Massachusetts
RoyalMenagerie.etsy.com. For headbands, crowns, clips, and combs, Alison's shop is the place to be. Apart from her creative fashion pieces, I was extremely impressed with her photography skills. She photographs all her pieces herself, as you'll see throughout the following interview. I hope you enjoy!
Alison wearing two of her beautiful hair pieces.
Tell us about yourself and your style of art. What makes you stand out from other artists?
I love creating hair pieces and other accessories with a whimsical and vintage vibe to them. The most important thing to me is that everything is unique. To this day, I have only made and sold original, one-of-a-kind pieces. It's one of the best parts of buying handmade: having something that no one else has! I feel this makes me stand out from other artists. I've seen lots of other shop owners that sell multiples of one item. It may work great for them, but I'm all about being unique.
How old were you when you started making fashionable hair pieces? Who or what inspired you to get into your craft?
I was 10 years old when I first began making things. I started out making jewelry using natural stone beads and giving them to friends and family for Christmas presents. Everyone adored them, and that inspired me to keep on making handmade items. I explored many ideas, such as clothing, tutus, and many other things. One of these ideas was making floral hair crowns and combs. I began looking on the internet at wedding photos just for fun, and I saw that many brides liked wearing them on their wedding day. I thought they just looked so beautiful and pretty, and I wanted to make some too. I needed a place to sell them, and I found Etsy. That's when Royal Menagerie began!
I noticed you've been on Etsy since February 2010, and you already have a great number of sales. Happy First Anniversary! What made you decide to start a shop, and how has this experience been for you?
Thank you! The experience has been great. Not only was it fun making and selling pretty things, but I think it's taught me some important life lessons too. The main one is that it's taught me how to relate and get along with people.
What are a few challenges you've faced while mastering your craft and running an online shop? How have you persevered through those challenges?
Many times I have come close to giving up. Not long ago, I actually had plans to sell everything in my shop, then close it down. It's harder than it looks to try to make your work different from everyone else, as well as come up with new ideas for new items. The one thing that has kept me hanging on is when I get a compliment on my work. Even when just one person says they love what I make, it keeps me going.
What do you do when you're not creating your new fashion pieces? Are you currently in school? What are some of your other interests, hobbies, and activities?
I do a ton of things when I'm not creating. The most time consuming is school. The second would definitely be the seven dance classes I take each week. (My favorite of those is pointe!) One of my most favorite things ever, though, is photography. I recently got a job as a photographer for a section of my newspaper, but I also have my own website for portrait photography. Doing photography has also inspired me to open up another Etsy shop, Stories Untold Design, where I make card templates especially for other photographers.
What are some of your personal and professional goals for the future? What do you think the future will bring for you?
Right now, my only plans for the future are to graduate high school and college and become a full-time photographer. The rest I'm going to leave up to God!
What professional advice would you give to readers aspiring for a career in the arts or looking to start their own independent shop?
Make sure your work is special. Whatever it is you are doing, there is probably someone else out there that makes similar things, but you need to make yours stand out. One of the most important things, though, is the photographs. If you are selling online, people can't touch your item, try it on, or anything else. You need to portray just how beautiful your work is through your photos. One of the easiest things you can do is to read up on it on the Internet and practice, practice, practice!
Also, make sure you're as kind as you can be to people. You are much more likely to get good feedback from buyers if you're just plain nice.
Where can readers see more of your work and learn more about you and your business?
♥ My Etsy Shop: RoyalMenagerie.etsy.com
♥ My Photography Website: www.storiesuntoldphotography.com
♥ My Template Etsy Shop: StoriesUntold.etsy.com
♥ Royal Menagerie's Facebook Page: www.facebook.com/pages/Royal-Menagerie/330661989752