Monday, June 28, 2010
I personally get kinda tired of looking at my own stuff sometimes. The same fabrics, the same shapes, the same, the same.... going to new shows and being exposed to new customers sometimes helps. So does looking at the wonderful work other accessory crafters are doing.
I first met Betty through our Etsy team and was taken with her cute designs and unique business arrangement. My mom and I can hardly agree on the color of the sky, let alone an artistic atheistic. However, they make it work out and have some wonderful bags to prove it.
Beyond the luscious fabrics and attention to detail, the practicality of Bette's Bags can't be denied. I especially love the Purse Pocket Roll-up Organizer! These little guys are awesome. You pile all your stuff in it and stick it in your purse. Then, when you switch purses, you pull that out and put it in the other purse. No more leaving behind your favorite lipstick or that pen you always need. And, for $10, no way I'm going to try to figure out how to make one myself, I'll just get one from Betty.
In addition to the sewing, Betty has developed a line of knit accessories and even sells the patterns. I love that she doesn't mind sharing the secrets so you can make your own!
Read on and learn more about the background of Bette's Bags.
Q~How did you get started?
A~ Maggie, my daughter/partner, complained for days about seeing another woman carrying her very expensive "Designer" brand new bag as soon as she walked out of the store. As a Joke I made her an Original One-of-a-kind Bette's Bag so that she would stop complaining. She liked it and used it. When friends and co-workers asked her where she got her bag, she suggested that we sell them. So we started with out with just one design at local Holiday craft shows.
After a while we developed more designs and set up a table at the Arlington Court House Market once a month....the rest, so they say, is history. We do shows throughout the year and continue to design new styles as well as adding hand-knit accessories to our line.
Q~Why do you continue?
A~We still enjoy what we do! It is our avenue to express ourselves creatively as well as offers us an opportunity to be a part of a very special group of artists. My greatest pleasure is meeting and building friendships with other artists and craftsmen at shows and markets.
Q~What is a great success story?
A~Having people "inspect" our work and share with me that they recognize it to be a very high quality. One that I will never forget was a woman who was raised in the Amish faith (know for their hand-made quilts). She not only appreciated my work but she purchased several items as gifts for her daughters. I will always remember our conversation and her very kind and supportive words.
We were also very proud to be voted as third runner-up in the Washington's City Paper's Best of DC 2010 Reader's Poll of Best Local Crafter. Now that was a surprise and a great honor!
As far as a successful product goes I would say the our "Purse Pocket Roll-up" probably gets the most questions and attention. It's such a simple little accessory, but very useful.
Q~What is one of your greatest failures?
A~SO many to choose from. Failed designs are a normal part of the creative process that I have come to accept.
Q~Where do you get your inspiration?
A~I draw my inspiration from listening to friends, co-workers, family discussing what they like, what they need, what I should make next.
Q~Why do you make/create what you do?
A~We typically make what we would like to carry. We joke that every "new bag" that we make is our "Favorite so far"...until we design/construct the next one.
Q~Where is your favorite place to sell? Or Favorite show?
A~In the DC Metro area Ballston Arts & Crafts Market is a great market. It has great location and demographics, friendly vendors and artists, supportive management and very supportive shoppers.
In the Baltimore area I enjoy the Squidfire Shows (Holiday & Spring Marts). Squidfire has more of an edgy - hip vibe, very stimulating show.
Q~What is one thing you love about your business?
A~Connecting with our customers. So many have become friends.
Q~What is one thing you loathe?
Q~What is your dream about your art?
A~To be able to devote my time and attention to Bette's Bags full time.
Q~What is your mission?
A~To continue to develop and grow as an artist and as a human being.
Q~Where are you based?
A~Our actual Studio is in my home in Bryantown, MD. It used to be Maggie's bedroom but the fabric, sewing machines and purses have officially taken over.
Q~Where would you live if you could live anywhere?
A~Pittsburgh, PA. It is very supportive of the Arts and is the friendliest city int he US.
Q~What would you be doing if not this?
A~ I'd be crafting and creating something. I've been sewing and crafting all of my life. Creating is a part of who we are. Maggie has started her own Photography business this year and it's doing very well.
Q~What is next?
A~Only "the Force" knows.
Q~What is your favorite question to ask people?
A~Ohhh, That's really nice. Did you make that?
Q~What is your answer to that question?
A~Why yes I did. Thank you!
Q~ What is the airspeed velocity of an unladen sparrow?
A~ African or European?
To learn more about this talented artisan, the following links can be used to:
Purchase a bag: www.bettesbags.com
Find a show: www.bettesbags.blogspot.com
Friend on Facebook: Bette's Bags Fan Page
Purchase through Etsy: www.bettesbags.etsy.com
I also got to know Betty through being vendors at the Ballston Art & Craft Market. It is the second Saturday of each month and she will be there on July 10th. Please come and meet her in person and see these darling bags.