Saturday, June 07, 2008

Featured Crafter for June Kristie Norman

Featured Crafter
Kristie & Gary Norman of
Norman's Country Creek
by Denise Bailey

Please tell us a little bit about yourself : Gary and I live in Wabash Indiana. We have 4 children, 5 grandchildren, 2 dogs (one who is a certified pet therapy dog) and an inside bird aviary. We have both taught together in the same elementary school for the past 24 years. I am retiring this year, but Gary will continue for a few more years. He coaches varsity wrestling, and loves beekeeping.

How long has Country Creek been in business?
Country Creek has been in business since 1999. However, our business began to grow when Gary became a beekeeper in 2000. He has about 20 hives and with teaching and wrestling this keeps him extremely busy.

How did you come up with your business' name?
We have a beautiful creek and a small falls running beside our house and we live on a country farm, so Country Creek seemed to be the perfect name. However, I had to name our website Norman's Country Creek, because of the domain name.

Do you sell in other venues?
We attend 9-10 craft shows a year. Our busy season is from September to the end of November. Gary sells his honey/beeswax at local health food stores, school, and customers stop by the house frequently for honey. In past years I have placed products on consignments at local shoppes, particulary my handmade paper note cards.

What kind of products does Country Creek offer to their customers?
I specialize in lamps made from gourds and decanters and lights made from hurricane vases. I have begun making my own lampshades using a very old technique called “cut and pierced.” Since I enjoy painting and making candles, I have combined the two crafts and make painted hurricane candles.

One of the newest products I have online are the oil candle kits. Several customers at our craft shows kept asking why I didn't sell my oil candles on our website. So I decided to offer them as a kit.

Sewing has always been a favorite pastime, so of course I have Raggedy Dolls. I am not a person who enjoys having idle time, so I keep myself busy crocheting in the evening, or during wrestling matches, riding in the car, etc. My grandmother taught me to crochet when I was around 13 and I still use some of her needles and books. I think of her everytime I pick up a new crochet book.
I have always loved to make handmade paper. I hope to add handmade paper note cards in the near future. I sold them for about 5 years, and have had customers requesting them again. I generally make paper from recycled paper, but I have tried making paper pulp from grasses, irises, and certain weeds. I do give paper making demonstrations at local clubs and find it very relaxing to make paper.

Of course Gary offers raw honey in different sizes and beeswax, which is great for a variety of uses.

Are all of your products handcrafted? Yes
Which ones? I make everything but the small tinpunch night lights, and the bases for the Cut & Pierced lamp shades.

What products seem to be your best sellers?
Craft shows and the website are completly different.. The Glass Mini-lamps, and painted hurricane vases are our best sellers at craft shows. However, the best sellers on the website are my raggedy dolls and the painted hurricane globes.

Do you offer wholesale?
I have had lots of requests for wholesale, but haven't decided to offer that option at the moment.

What methods of advertising do you use to promote your shoppe?
I advertise through a variety of online market sites and of course advertise through my own online craft mall site: Honey Creek Market. I am also advertising in the Aug/Sept issue of "Country Sampler" magazine. I always offer discount coupons at all our craft shows.

When sales are slow do you do anything special to try to bring customers in to your shop?
When sales are slow, I try to offer discounts, or reduce shipping costs. But I think the best thing is not to get discouraged, because business will pick up eventually.

Do you have any advice for those who might be thinking about opening an online shoppe?
I have found this business can be very rewarding, yet also time consuming. You must constantly promote, promote, promote and connect with other sites as much as possible. Stay motivated
and don’t give up!

Do you have any advice on what NOT to do?
Don't quit after the first few months, and you MUST advertise. Unfortunately it takes quite a bit of advertising to see a return.

How many hours per day or week would you say you spend working on your crafted products and on your website?
Since I have 2 websites, it takes me about 1 1/2 hours per day on the computer. Now that I am retiring I intend to spend a lot more hours (4 or more) daily working on products, especially my sewing.

Do you have any future plans for expanding your online shoppe? Perhaps opening your own brick & mortar store?
I am thinking about starting another online shoppe sometime next winter. I have a few more ideas, but haven't finalized anything at the moment.

Visit Kristie today at Normans Country Creek just CLICK HERE

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