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 Tamsin Thorne from Folksy shop Iwishiwasa
“Iwishiwasa – Cool costumes for Kids!”
This has to be one of the brightest and liveliest shops on Folksy. As Tamsin says in the interview to follow “I think ultimately my shop appeals to all of us who are in touch with our inner child and partial to a bit of dressing up!” – Tamsin has created a truly unique brand, with her banner and action photography perfectly capturing the fun of her work and succesfully bringing her products to life.
Could you describe your shop?
A fun, fab and funky range of dressing up clothes and accessories inspired by and created for kids. The collection, based on superheroes is designed to be mixed and matched so that you can create your own totally unique ensemble. The emphasis is on simple vibrant colouring and design.
Who does your Folksy shop appeal to?
My son and his friends are my constant inspiration, I watch how they play and respond by making things I think they’d like. They’re great critics too and won’t hesitate to tell me if something is “rubbish”, so firstly I hope my work appeal to kids themselves.
Of course it’s adults, usually mums, who will be doing the buying.
I set up iwishiwasa as an antidote to the prescriptive dressing up clothes on the high street. I think my customers are really looking for something different. Mums often tell me that they love my pieces as they allow their children’ to play in a more creative way.
I think ultimately my shop appeals to all of us who are in touch with our inner child and partial to a bit of dressing up!
Is this your day job?
I’m lucky in that I work freelance so I can fit my folksy business into my spare time when I’m not working. I work as a costume designer and maker for film, TV and theatre. Work tends to be sporadic, so I have times when I’m really busy, but this is balanced by longer periods when I can dedicate more time to running my business.
I’m also a single mum (to a very energetic 8 year old boy) and so I do need to work to support myself. One day I’d love to make my business my main source of income, but for now it’s all a bit of a juggling act!
Have you been into craft and the handmade lifestyle for long?
I grew up in a creative house with an artist mum, so drawing and making was a big part of my childhood. My mum had a huge stash of fabric scraps, yarns and threads (particularly remember creating outfits for my action girl!), so I’ve always been creative with my hands.
I went on to train in textile design and of course I’ve always been making things for my job, but until more recently it’s been mainly for work rather than for pleasure. It was when I was pregnant with my son that the urge took me to pick up a pair of knitting needles (a variation on the nesting instinct, perhaps!) and I started to run a knitting group in my local pub. This was my key to rediscovering my handmade roots, and I’ve been compulsively and happily making ever since.
Where do you promote and sell your stock?
I do a lot of direct selling, especially around Christmas time, which I enjoy as I love to talk to my customers and get valuable feedback. I always feel energized by kids reactions to my work which is usually met with great joy and excitement – a huge compliment!
I appeared at Kids Modern this spring and am planning further pop-up sales throughout next year. A lot of my custom is through word of mouth. I get a lot of exposure via blogs, I’ve been reviewed on several websites and will be featured in the winter issue of Handmade Magazine. A lot of people discover me through folksy – being a featured seller has helped to raise my profile.
Do you have plans to expand your business in the future?
I’m planning to expand my current product range to include superheroines and am currently developing a new range based on birds and insects. I’m constantly thinking of new ideas and have a mental sketchbook full of them – my main obstacle is finding the time to make the ideas a reality.
In the future I’d love to be able to do wholesale and expand my output so that I can sell in a wider variety of venues as well as having my own webshop . The challenge is how to achieve this while retaining the integrity of my products as handmade.
What advice would you give to someone thinking about opening up a shop here on Folksy?
While I think it’s important to have refined and roadtested your product before you put it up, folksy is a great place to try out new ideas and gauge their success. The fact that its so easy to set up shop (as well as the low fees) means that you can get something up and running fairly easily and with little pressure. It’s also a very supportive and friendly environment so my advice is to just go for it!
My favourite shops are the ones which strongly reflect the makers personality, so concentrate on creating a unique and personal identity. My piece of practical advice: high quality images are key.
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 – firstname.lastname@example.org