Featured Zibbeter - NiftyKnits
This week Zibbet would like to introduce you to Heather, the owner and creator of Nifty Knits.
You may have met Heather in Zibbet’s Community Hub where she takes an active part in sharing her ideas and supporting other Zibbeters.
Heather lives in Kent, UK where her meerkats have enjoyed some fame.
All of Heather’s knitted meerkats are her own designs made using her own patterns. She loves a challenge, so if you would like something besides one of her famous meerkats, you can contact Heather about placing a custom order.
Be sure to check her section called “not a meerkat” where she shows and sells other creatures such as unicorns and reptiles. She also has a whole section for Christmas.
We are pleased to have Heather as a member of Zibbet and we hope you enjoy her interview.
Tell us a bit about yourself?
My name is Heather, and I live with my husband in Kent, UK, in a beautiful area known as the Garden of England. We have three grown-up children and (much as we love them) we enjoy being empty-nesters! A customer on facebook amusingly described me as a “professional meerkat knitter” and I guess that’s true. The photo shows me with English comedian Harry Hill and the meerkat look-alike I knitted of him, at the finals of his TV show competition in the Spring of 2010 – I was one of 5 finalists from 10,000 entries!
Apart from being ‘creative’ what do you do?
Niftyknits is my “day job”, but I’m lucky enough to be able to knit on my sofa, in front of the TV. It’s hard, but someone has to do it I watch an outrageous number of Star Trek episodes each week while knitting, though I don’t *always* wear my uniform sweater. We walk in the surrounding countryside each day and drive to the coast to walk by the sea most weeks. We also enjoy going to local auctions – I’ve just opened a vintage shop to pass on some of my finds before they take over the house!
What inspires you to do the kind of work you do?
A great deal of my inspiration comes from my ever-increasing social network. I started knitting to relieve the stress from my former life as a teacher; and as the stress dissolved, my creativity blossomed. My first meerkat was designed after watching Meerkat Manor on TV and before long people were asking me to dress them in costumes. At first I resisted, but as you can see from my shop resistance was futile! My tagline is “You name it, I’ll knit it” and I have not yet been beaten. I don’t only knit meerkats, but they are my most requested knit.
Do you look up to anyone? Who? Why?
In the 3 or 4 years that I’ve been selling online I have learnt a huge amount from other sellers. I admire and appreciate those who take the time to help others along the way, and try to do the same myself. I believe we all benefit from building a stronger community. On a more personal level, I look up to my husband. He does my post office runs, writes my newsletters, looks after my website and is a constant support. Not many men would engage in wool-shop discussions on the correct shade of wool for a lizard, or whether Supergirl Meerkat looks better with or without hair (Thanks Philip!)
What other passions do you have in your life?
I have a real need to be outside during each day, whatever the weather. I love being in the countryside or by the sea, and often find that if I am “stuck” while creating a pattern the solution will come to me while walking.
What do you like most about Zibbet?
How long have you got? Most important to me, when I started, was the simplicity of the monthly fee. It’s great to know that we can list as much and as often as we like, without worrying that the bill is going to get out of hand. Now that I’m more established I really appreciate how easy it is to get answers from Jonathan and his team, and the way they very clearly listen to us and are developing the site in a way that enhances both the buying and selling experience. The community of sellers is very friendly and mutually supportive.
What ‘new’ things would you like to see added to Zibbet?
I would like to see the community linked more directly to our shops or buyer profiles. I’m easily confused, and right now I’m not always sure who I’m talking to!
How do you promote your work?
Like many sellers, promotion isn’t my favourite part of the job – but “build it and they will come” just doesn’t work. I use facebook and twitter and my blog but try to build relationships first and foremost. Social networks are called “social” for good reason, in my opinion, so I prefer to chat and wait for my virtual friends to ask me about my work, I’ve had several commissions this way. Don’t tell Harry Hill, but I didn’t actually watch his show before being featured – my virtual friends told me about the competition and were behind me all the way. I’ve had other TV enquiries, radio and magazine features since then, so I’d encourage everyone to look out for opportunities and build your networks.
I like to feature other sellers in my blog – although this isn’t promoting *me*, it is promoting Zibbet, so it all helps! I send out a newsletter with details of new knits and special offers and share the link to sign up for it at point of sale, on my sites and in my email signature. Right now while my zibbet shop is new I’m making good use of the “sale” feature and offering discount to attract buyers here!
How would you recommend other Zibbeters make the most of Zibbet.com?
Like much of life I think the more you put in, the more you get out. Get involved in the Zibbet community and help promote the site as a whole – there are so many ways to get Zibbet out there. Of course making fabulous original products and showing them off with great photos and descriptions is important – but not if nobody knows you’re there.
In the future I’d like to be…
Still happily knitting, but living by the sea! I have a long-term plan to write my patterns out thoroughly enough to sell, but that isn’t going to happen until I’m no longer interested in making them myself – and my “to-knit” list shows no signs of shortening.