Tell us a bit about yourself
Hello, my name is Leah Littlehales. I live just outside of Mildura in Northern Victoria, with my husband, 3 boys aged 8, 6 and 4 and a little girl who is almost 2. We live on an acre block with lots of pets and garden. I am also a part time community nurse.
Can you explain your craft/art and the material you like to use?
I love to recycle fabrics, "sourcing" vintage chenille takes lots of time, I do love the process though! (visiting lots of Op shops and garage sales). I create soft toys and patchwork quilts for my madeit store and craft markets.
Where do you get your inspiration and what is your creative process?
I have always been inspired by anything handmade / creative, I became overwhelmed with inspriation after the birth of my baby girl! I could finally create all sorts of things that I could actually use.
How long have you been creating and how did you get into craft/art?
I have loved art and craft for as long as I can remember, before my children were born I did lots of cross stitch and patchwork. After my boys were born, I did lots of scrapbooking, after the birth of my baby girl, I wanted to create everything! I began collecting vintage chenille to make my daughter a quilt, it cost me a fortune, so I decided to try and sell some of my creations at local craft markets so that I could aford more chenille, ( I was on maternity leave at the time), that's how my little handmade business began.
How did you come up with your business name?
I didn't really think about it for long, I just used the name Vintage Chenille because that is what all my designs are created with. I do plan to create with alot of other "vintage" fabrics that I have been collecting, I just haven't found the time yet!
What resources 'have or do you' use to help your creative pursuits (i.e. groups, classes, shops, websites etc)?
I love reading craft blogs, I love to see what others are creating, it always makes me feel inspired, there are so many wonderful creative, tallented people out there! Craft forums are also very helpful and informative, as are other crafters that I meet at craft markets and fairs.
What's your best advice for someone starting up?
Be patient, it takes a while to build up a customer base. I often feel discouraged if I don't sell lots of stock at craft markets, but I always hand out my business cards and usually have lots of sales both from home and online after the market.
Identify and research your "target market" as much as possible and enjoy the whole process along the way, I do believe that we learn something new every day and that careful planning hard work usually pays off in the long run.
Do you have any advertising/promotion tips for sellers to be successful?
I think that blogging is fantastic networking tool (you can visit my blog here), I also love taking part in craft markets, I have met lots of wonderful creative people via both of these.
Labeling is important to get your name out there, I use lots of business cards, return address labels and some cute little sew in tags for my toys. I have recently ordered some enviro shopping bags with my logo printed on them, I can't wait for them to arrive.
Word of mouth is usually the best form of advertising, you need to promote your business whenever you can, I am quite shy in "real life" it's not so difficult online, I have added my blog address to my email signature and held some giveaways on my blog, which has led to quite a number of followers.
Donating some of my creations to fundraising raffles/events has also led to online sales and helped to get my name "out there"
Can you share any lessons that you have learned the hard way?
I think that my creations were very underpriced when I began selling, I had not even thought about wholesale, I had to increase my prices quite a bit to allow me to wholesale my items, which is a big part of my business now.
Try not to take on orders that are too large, sometimes I become overwhelmed with orders and can stay up all hours of the night completing them, because the often unexpected events of everyday life have taken up all of my time!
My 4 yr old told me one day that my tags should read, "made by my mum, all day every day!" You need to find a balance, my business became much busier than I had ever expected very quickly!
I am very fortunate to have my very own sewing room, I don't have to pack it all up, I can just close the door on the mess and create whenever I have a spare moment!
What do you like to do besides creating?
I love to garden, bake, visit Op shops and read craft blogs, my 4 children keep my quite busy. This year I have 2 at school, 1 at kinder and 1 at daycare (on the days that I attend my "real" job). Along with their other activities, it is often a challenge to coordinate everything, but lots of fun too!
I enjoy the school holidays, even with all children at home it is quite relaxing, with fun play dates and no "set times" to be here there and everywhere!
What is your favourite music, television show, film, book, website?
Music - I love Country music and Abba!
I usually just listen to the radio when I have the chance.
Recently I attended a Vanessa Amarosi concert which was amazing!
TV - My favourite TV shows would be Brothers and Sisters and Packed to the Rafters.
Film - I don't really have a favourite film, I haven't watched one that isn't G rated for quite some time!
Book - My favourite Author would be Maeve Binchey, but I haven't read a book for a long time either!
What would be your perfect day?
Just a whole day in my own home, which would be sparkling clean, all the washing would be already folded and put away, the pantry and fridge would be stocked with lots of goodies, all by myself!
Who is your favourite madeit seller, explain why in less than 10 words?
Tillytom - I just love Anna's dresses, my daughter has a little collection of them!
Vintage Chenille visit store
4 April 2010