Featured Zibbeter - Nunofelt
Nancy Schwab, aka Nunofelt, has a background in fabric painting which led her to create a seasonal line of nuno-felted scarves using all-natural fibers and fabrics. She calls it “painting on fabric with fibers.” Her unique designs are based on color, fiber and textures that fit the season including bamboo in warm weather months, merino wool and real cashmere in the cold weather months. Her scarves are the perfect accessory and gift, unusual, unique, organic and handwashable! Nancy has experienced great success selling her designs and has sold over 5000 designs online, at galleries, craft shows and in boutiques and galleries. Treat yourself to a Nunofelt Scarf today!
Enjoy our interview with Nancy…
After working for several internet companies in the SF Bay Area, I’ve been running my own creative business for the last 10 years, going full-time in 2007. While it was a risky move, and not without its problems, there’s nothing as satisfying as being your own boss with flexible hours without the wasted hours of commuting!
I used to paint fabric accessories, branching out to upcycled clothing, all because I was a life-long sewer who could never find fabric designs I liked!
My medium changed to nuno felt when I took a 2-day workshop from the woman who invented the technique, Polly Stirling. It collided, literally, with my intense desire for a huge creative challenge, and I’ve never looked back. (My collection of unused fabric paints is a testament to this huge change in my preferred medium.)
My nuno felt designs are sold at 30 craft shows each year and at several boutiques and galleries as well as online.
Since the retail world is changing so rapidly, I do think that most craft shows will disappear, and many small stores and boutiques are rapidly closing, that selling online will be one of the major outlets for artisans to sell their products. The successful online sites will be those that marry the needs of their sellers with shoppers who have been and always will be big fans of the handmade product.
The “hook” with nuno felting is that it’s really a culmination of my years of artistic experience because nuno felting is all about creating a brand new fabric out of loose fibers and silk to make a fabric that never existed before! It’s even more captivating because the very process of felting, which is all manual and uses only soap and water, is completely organic, and no design can be duplicated, ever. Everything is new each time I create.
What inspires you to do the kind of work you do?
There’s something intoxicating about the creative process when it dominates your thoughts as well as your actions. If I am not actually creating the physical product, I’m thinking about it, both consciously and unconsciously.
When I am in “production mode” it can be based on defined design ideas, or be inspired by the materials (the fibers I use) but it is almost always inspired by COLOR.
When I get a new shipment of fibers, they often set me on a days-long creative marathon, because I work best when the ideas are fresh.
My work is different, better, and I work better because I’ve been able to perfect the technique. This past year has seen the biggest change because I design several new scarves each month for a museum gift shop, and this regular, ongoing gig pushes me to create totally new designs as often as possible.
Do you look up to anyone? Who? Why?
I always appreciate artisans who we all recognize as “being at one” with what they create, no matter what it is. A painting, a piece of jewelry, or a felted scarf. It’s a joy to discover that someone is creating exactly what they were meant to create.
My other personal inspirations are a very creative family; my mother is an accomplished painter, my brother is a digital artist, and my sister is a ceramicist.
What do you like most about Zibbet?
Zibbet is a great marketplace for handmade because it’s getting better all the time. The addition of several seller tools means that the site is constantly looking to improve, and I think it has a great future.
What ‘new’ things would you like to see added to Zibbet?
Sellers of handmade online are desperate for more efficient and accessible tools for marketing their products right on the site that hosts their stores. Whether it’s paid advertising spots or the ability to apply for front page features, it’s absolutely essential for sellers to be able to promote themselves right next to where their products are sold.
It’s no longer effective to ask sellers to do all their marketing off the site, because those techniques are old, overused, and simply don’t result in consistent or increasing sales.
The handmade site that figures that out will be the one that comes out on top.
As Zibbet gets bigger and attracts more sellers and shoppers, I’d like to see transparent attention to quality control. The reputation and success of any online shopping site will be ultimately decided on its attention to the quality of what it’s sellers are selling.
How do you promote your work?
I use all the tricks that most sellers use, but find that the time spent on them is no longer worth the effort because they don’t drive actual sales. This includes FaceBook, Twitter, and a blog. I would much prefer working with the host site to develop seller promotion tools right on the site so that shoppers can easily find what they want all in one place.
The over-saturation of sites for selling handmade has only created more confusion for the shoppers. If shoppers can be engaged from the front page to the store, the site will satisfy the shopping experience as well as give sellers what they need to be successful.
That’s traffic leading to actual sales. Couldn’t be simpler, but almost every site misses the keys to great shopping online. Great promotions, easy search and shopping, and secure and simple checkout.
I also promote at 30 craft shows a year and at stores and boutiques in the Bay Area.
How would you recommend other Zibbeters make the most of Zibbet.com?
Communicate your needs as a seller. Believe me, we all have a list of what we need and it’s often the same!
In the future I’d like to be…
…living in a casita in Mexico selling my nuno designs to the local stores and locals while hosting weekly workshops in my backyard!