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Shop Talk :: Quernus Crafts

Every Wednesday The Folksy Blog will be finding out a little bit more about one of our sellers in our ‘Shop Talk’ series. This week we’re talking to Kirsten from Folksy shop Quernus Crafts

“Quernus Crafts! – Unique cute and quirky polymer clay animals “

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Quernus crafts is a menagerie of tiny animals made from polymer clay.  Each ‘wee’ animal is carefully styled and detailed to give it a very big character.  The pieces are photographed beautifully.  Close ups, on a plain white background with natural lighting allowing customers to see the smooth textures,  rolled strands of  mane and the signature beady black eyes, bringing all of these characters to life.  Kirsten has created a very collectible set!

Could you describe your shop?

I actually have two shops – I opened Quernus Crafts in September 2009, and in July this year, I opened The Snail Emporium. Quernus Crafts is where my full range of cute creatures can be found. When I created the Snails, they were in danger of overrunning the rest of the creatures, so they really had to have their own shop!

In both shops, I’ve aimed for a uniform look uncluttered look with clear photographs (I use Picasa and a natural daylight bulb for best results). The Snails each have a name and a short biography to bring them to life.

Is this your day job?

Running this business is my day job, although I also do a lot of work for UK Handmade as well, having been deputy editor and now focusing on business development. Until last summer, I was a lawyer, but I have to say that I’m working more hours now than I ever did before (but I’m also a lot happier!) I also recently joined the Found on Folksy team, and have lots of fun exploring the amazing talent and creativity which can be, err, Found on Folksy :) I am completely committed to raising the profile of the wonderful handmade community in the UK

Have you been into craft and the handmade lifestyle for long?

I’ve been making things all my life in my spare time, but it’s only been in the last year that I’ve really devoted myself to it now that I have the time and energy. I’ve always been a great fan of buying handmade from real people – there’s something so special about treasuring someone else’s skill and care, and you know you’re going to get something no one else has.

Where do you promote and sell your stock?

I often get contacted directly through my website (www.quernuscrafts.co.uk) for commission requests, and I also get a lot of repeat custom, as well as commissions from friends of existing customers who have seen my work and who want a wee creature of their own. I also go to a couple of craft fairs each month in the Yorkshire area. Some of my wee creatures have camped out in a few shops and galleries, but I’ve been so busy with commissions that I haven’t had a chance to build that side of things as much as I’d like! I also work with Hope Pastures, a horse and donkey sanctuary in Leeds, and make up wee horses based on the residents as part of their adoption package – that’s brought me some other commission work too.

As for promotion, I keep my Folksy shops regularly updated, and I have a lot of fun with the Facebook pages I run for both Quernus and the Snails (what a good name for a band!). I just love it when people join in and have fun too – not only do I get a lot of inspiration from it, it’s also the best sort of promotion to do!

Do you have plans to expand your business in the future?

I would like to get my work in more galleries and shops, so that’s next on my list. I’ve already been approached by a few outlets already, but have been too busy with commissions this summer. The commission work is building up nicely and I’d like to develop that more – there’s something wonderful about recreating the personality of a loved pet in miniature form, or coming up with character cats (like Star Wars Cats or the Wizard of Oz Cats) that you know will just make people smile! And I’m very smitten with the Snails – I think they’ll have their own TV series soon… :)

What advice would you give to someone thinking about opening up a shop here on Folksy?

Be patient, be consistent and treat it like a proper business. Folksy is like having your own shop, so treat it as such – make sure your photography
is good, your product descriptions are helpful and tell a ‘story’, and keep your shop regularly updated so there’s always something new to see.  Take time to get your banner right – first impressions are really important. Overnight successes are rare (it certainly hasn’t happened to me!), but if you keep doing what you love, and actively promote your shop offline, then the chances are you’ll start to reap the rewards. And above all else, enjoy what you do – I do think people buy in to that more than anything else!

We’d love to hear your comments!

Get in touch and let us know who you would like to see interviewed in our Shop Talk series, or if you have an idea for an article you’d like to see on the Folksy Blog – hilary@folksy.co.uk

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Lynsey aka Swirlyarts September 1, 2010 - 7:04 pm

Hah, Quernus and the Snails is just calling out to become a children’s TV show with all your wee creatures in there! Maybe with some chickens as guests sometimes! Great interview btw :)

Jay September 2, 2010 - 1:35 pm

Great interview Kirsten, very interesting and I’m off to have a look at Snail Emporium

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