Tell us a bit about yourself?
I’m Mel Paton, a 32 year-old crochet designer from Perth, WA. I also work as a primary school teacher in the public school system. I love both jobs, but have reduced my teaching load this year to have more time and energy to ‘make’. I have no kids, but I do have a live-in boyfriend and a dog.
Can you explain your craft/art and the material you like to use? I crochet modern accessories for all ages! I make fingerless mittens, scarves, cowls, hats, legwarmers, hair accessories, iPod covers, tea cosies and more. My favourite yarn to use is pure Australian wool. It’s such nice quality and really warm too. I also love alpaca yarn from Peru, but because it is quite expensive I save it for special items. With my extra bits and pieces like buttons and brooch backs, I try to use recycled wherever possible.
Where do you get your inspiration and what is your creative process? With crochet being such a versatile craft, inspiration for my designs comes from everywhere. You can make so many different shapes and forms from crochet, so there are seemingly endless options for what I can make. I am constantly coming up with new ideas. Some ideas are a bit silly, like my Nozy nose warmer and pom-pom headband. Vintage patterns are also an inspiration, such as the pattern I found for an awesome 70’s crochet bikini I am currently working on.
How long have you been creating and how did you get into craft/art? I did art units at university as a part of my teaching degree, and started off my teaching career as a primary school art teacher. I learnt to knit many years ago, but never got very good at it so took up crochet instead a few years ago. I taught myself to crochet with a good book, patience and a determination to master it.
How did you come up with your business name? Um, it’s my name. I also use another business name: melpdesigns.
What resources 'have or do you' use to help your creative pursuits (i.e. groups, classes, shops, websites etc)? Ravelry.com is a great resource for people who knit and crochet. There is a beautiful yarn shop in Perth called Calico and Ivy that stock the most dreamy wool. I highly recommend the book ‘Stitch’n’bitch Crochet’ for anyone wanting to learn to crochet; it really helped me.
What's your best advice for someone starting up?
• Don’t worry if you don’t get many (or any) sales initially. It took me about 6 months before I started to get regular sales.
• Keep improving your art/craft skills.
• Keep improving your photos. Good photos are essential when selling online!
• Be willing to post worldwide.
• Find out how it much it costs to post your items.
• Get some inexpensive business cards made up.
Do you have any advertising/promotion tips for sellers to be successful? Use flickr to show off your product photos. Create a Facebook fan page. Hand out business cards to friends and family. You never know where your next sale will come from. Blogs can also be a great promotional tool (you can visit mine here). You can make inexpensive business mini-cards at Moo or Zazzle that you can also use as swing tags for your products, right from your computer.
Can you share any lessons that you have learned the hard way? Spend time thinking of a good business name , shop name and logo. It’s important to keep consistency so people will remember you, so it’s hard to change later on if you decide you don’t like it.
What do you like to do besides creating? I love traveling. I visited Italy in January and will hopefully go somewhere else in Europe at the end of the year. I also enjoy cooking, although I wish was better at it. I can never get the timing right! For fun times, I love to watch cult comedy series, listen to music, karaoke with friends or play with my dog.
What is your favourite music, television show, film, book, website?
My favourite music at the moment include Pains of Being Pure at Heart, Neko Case, Espers, Vivian Girls and Broadcast.
I love my cult comedy TV shows such as Spaced, Flight of the Conchords, 30 Rock, Peep Show and The Might Boosh.
My top books are The Bloody Chamber by Angela Carter and The Road by Cormack McCarthy.
My fave movies are The Life Aquatic, The Elephant Man and Withnail and I.
What would be your perfect day?
Wake up after a restful ten hours sleep in some exotic location far from home to breakfast in bed. Proceed to spend the day tasting new and delicious food and wines in between visiting exciting and interesting places. Finish the day with a sundowner in some location with magic views, then party the rest of the night.
Who is one of your favourite madeit seller, explain why in less than 10 words? Narelle – high quality custom jewellery and excellent customer service.