February 15, 2007

Interview: Ellen Hutson - Part One

If you haven't discovered Ellen Hutson and her fabulous gallery, blog -- Simple Dreams, AND her awesome store, please let me introduce you!! These 2 cards are just a tiny example of her elegant work. I have purchased from Ellen's store several times. Ellen is a dream -- she offers top notch products, A+ service, and is a soo nice. By the way, I have never met Ellen and have no affiliation with her other than as admirer and customer!). So sit back, and learn a little about Ellen Hutson! How did you get interested in paper crafting and stamping? Five years ago, I tore the cartilage in my hip socket. I went from being an extremely athletic individual to having difficulty even standing. A month after my injury I was invited to a friend’s home for a little stamping session. After many months of rehab, testing, etc. they still had not diagnosed what was wrong with me. The pain was over-the-top and I had to quit exercising. I also gave up my, by then, part-time interior design business because I just couldn’t tolerate the pain. I needed to fill the creative void in my life and remembered my little stamping session. I started investing in stamps and playing with them. Friends were “boggled” by what I was doing with my stamps and they asked if I would start teaching classes. After about a year of “free-lancing” I met up with an old college friend that had started her own Stampin’ Up! business and she asked me if I would be interested in joining in the fun as a way for us to get together more frequently. So I signed on. Eventually, I came to realize that being a Stampin’ Up! demonstrator wasn’t the right choice for me and determined that I would find my own destiny. That is when I began looking for other ways of trying to make a living using paper crafting as my base. It was at this time that I began submitting to publications. My first submission was to Paper Crafts and my project was accepted, in fact amazingly enough, it turned out to be a cover piece. Talk about shock! I can now laughingly tell people that I have been a cover girl and a centerfold! What connections do you have with other companies? My first “connection” was with the Lockhart Stamp Company. I designed a template for a paper shoe. In looking for a company who had a stamp that I could use on coordinating pieces, I discovered the Lockhart Stamp Company. I fell in love with these stamps and contacted Karen Lockhart, the artist who draws these adorable images. Karen lives only 20 minutes from my home and we made an immediate connection. I do not work for Lockhart Stamp Company. Karen and I are business associates. There is no expectation that we need to be totally exclusive to each other. That is the power of an excellent relationship. Our belief is that if we support each other then good things will come to both of us. So that is precisely what we do. When we get together to share ideas you can almost see the sparks fly at times – LOL! I am not an exclusive designer for any one company. I have the freedom to create for whomever I would like. I do work closely with many wonderful companies such as: Karen Lockhart of the Lockhart Stamp Company, Dave Brethauer of the Memory Box Company, Nichole Heady of PAPERTREYink; I have a wonderful relationship with Create-a-Cut, A Muse, Scor-It, the stencil company, and more. To me it is all about relationships. If I feel that I can fulfill a need for a company, then I do my best to do that! In return these companies, these people, have been good to me. They treat me with the same kindness and respect that I treat them and my customers. How did you come up with the idea of the store and how long did it take you to go from idea to reality? The store developed to fulfill a need. Stampers were not able to find the Lockhart Company Stamps easily. They weren’t always able to find the gadgets I would talk about – the Teflon bone folder, the Create-a-Cut, the twinkle stickers, the dry embossing stylus set, etc. After some heavy contemplation and numerous requests I decided that perhaps I could fill a need that was missing. It took a great deal of behind the scenes work to start up this venture. I can not even begin to calculate the number of hours that went in to developing “the store”. I can attest to MANY hours of writing descriptions, editing programming, learning and writing programming - it has not been an easy feat. The relationships I have been developing with the guests that frequent my store has been awesome!!! I get cards thanking me for what I have done, beautiful little works of “heart” and I try to let my customers know how special they are to me by including a hand made thank you note with each one of my orders. It truly is a pleasure to get to know these individuals over time. I might not get to know them on the first order, but with time I am developing relationships with women all over the country. This business allows me the privilege of going places I might not otherwise go, and meeting people I might not otherwise meet. All this and I can still be here for my daughters and husband. I am blessed! What is it like to run a business? What are the pros and cons? I’m a one woman show right now. My employees are my family members. My girls help me – they help me stuff the bags, cut the ribbon for the thank you notes, and they have some ideas of their own that will hopefully be coming to the store soon. My husband has chipped in and helps package and tape boxes, enter information into the computer to get it shipped – our family is a team. I am truly delighted by this aspect, because I believe it is instilling a quality of ownership within my girls. They feel a part of this little business of ours and know that what we are doing together is going to help with their college educations. It’s a wonderful life lesson. This is the biggest pro. The biggest con is definitely the hours I keep. Many nights I don’t get to bed until 1:00 or 2:00 a.m., only to get right back up in a few short hours and start all over again. How do you select products to sell? I have to LOVE the product! I don’t want to see it in every other spot on the internet. I keep trying to seek out items that will allow individual creativity to flow. Innovation and quality are two factors that I find important in selecting the products for my store. Tomorrow: Part Two of my interview with Ellen

7 comments:

  1. Wow, the cards are beautiful, really special and the person? Just as beautiful and special. Can't wait to read more tommorrow!

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  2. I love Ellen's store as well and was introduced to Lockhart stamps from her blog. She is such a talented person. I didn't know all of this about her, so thank you for sharing a bit of how she started.

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  3. Wow Joan, thanks for bringing us such a great interview. I have heard snippets about Ellen and her store, but never all that much. Now I will have to check it out...what an inspiration. Thanks!

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  4. Thank you for the very insightful interview with Ellen. She seems like a lovely person and she is a wonderful designer.

    Mary

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  5. Joan,
    I have been reading Ellen's blog for some time now. How great for you to feature her on yours! Can't wait to tell her I saw it :)

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  6. Ohhh my goodness those are beautiful! Ellen sounds like an amazing person too. Very interesting reading, thanks for sharing...will have to check her store out too!

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  7. ellen is amazing! i have never met this woman, yet her sincerity and friendliness comes across in every purchase. she offers tips and thoughts that enable you to become a better stamper. her visual aids are outstanding and her kit directions are like she's sitting with you snd helping. a very talented,gifted woman! i have many lockhart stamps(my 1st i purchased at a little stamp store because it was unique)and they are great! Wonderful interview.. looking forward to part two!
    janice (smitty)

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