Featured Zibbeter - ACraftyArab
Meet Koloud ‘Kay’ Tarapolsi, owner of A Crafty Arab and a Libyan American who creates art and crafts to promote a positive image of Arab culture.
We are thrilled that Kay has chosen Zibbet to display her work. Please enjoy the interview, leave Kay a comment, and then use the Share tool so others can read it, too.
Tell us a bit about yourself?
I’m a mom of three wonderful girls. I want them to grow up being proud of who they are and feel comfortable in their own skin. After our family decision that I become a stay-at-home mom, I had to revisit myself and decide what I wanted to do. I have always been in the art field and knew I needed to continue creating with art. Then 9/11 happened and the world was changed forever. I felt that I could take the stereotype of what an Arab and/or a Muslim had become in America and help change it. I particularly wanted to display the positive aspect of our extraordinary rich heritage to my daughters. I began by making greeting cards in Arabic and sending them to my friends, coworkers, neighbors. Everyone loved my cards and asked to buy them so that was how A Crafty Arab was born. Since then I’ve created cards in Farsi and Urdu. Now I’m adding a line of fun and bright education products. I started by developing my Arabic Alphabet Animal poster, and I will soon add numbers, shapes, foods, and colours, to the line. This product line will eventually include flashcards, placemats, board books and more educational tools. All products will be available for schools and other moms who wish to promote our heritage.
Apart from being ‘creative’ what do you do?
It so important to teach your children that we are all on this planet together and need to help each other. I’m very active in my daughters’ lives as a Girl Scout Troop Leader and an Art Docent in their school. I’ve also been an Art Docent at the Seattle Art Museum for 17 years and have been Board Director of the Arab Center as well as an Art Commissioner for the city where I live. I also started a non-profit in June 2001 to promote Arab artists called Arab Artists Resources & Training. I love volunteering and giving back to my community.
What inspires you to do the kind of work you do?
My mom inspires me. She has a PhD and is active in her community and I admire her immensely. Because she wears a hijab, people look at her and speak to her in a way that is full of misunderstanding and distrust. I hope to change that through my artwork and crafts.
Do you look up to anyone? Who? Why?
I look up to any crafter or artist out there that step out of the ordinary. I love to see new combinations of mediums that step so far out of the box that they are in a circle with never ending possibilities. For example, Kathy Cano Murillo does such an amazing job of taking the Mexican culture and making it fun, bright and colorful in such an uplifting way. I would love to create an Arab crafts book someday and have her do my introduction. That is a life goal.
What other passions do you have in your life?
St Augustine once said “the world is a book and those who do not travel, only read the first page” and I’ve used that as my motto for life. Travel is my passion! I’ve been to 45 of the 50 US states, North Africa, Europe, Mexico and Canada with Australia and Japan as my next dream vacations. If I had unlimited funds I’d take my girls traveling the globe. My current top travel wish is that things settle down in Libya soon so I can visit family that I haven’t seen in over 30 years!
What do you like most about Zibbet?
My favorite part of Zibbet is the staff. I love that they are so responsive, whether in email or on the forums. I had a specific request on another website to add Eid (a Muslim holiday) as a choice of categories and it’s been three years that no one has helped. I asked on Zibbet and it was taken care of within a few months. Imagine having a landlord that came over in the dead of winter to fix your heater on the day it broke instead of saying he’ll get around to it this summer!?! I was in shock that staff here really cared about making the site work for their sellers and immediately decided that this was the place to be.
What ‘new’ things would you like to see added to Zibbet?
I would love to see how many times an item has been viewed next to it in the shop front. We can currently see Individual Item when we are in My Zibbet, but I want to see those numbers next to items not in my shop. I love to use the Share It button under each product to promote other people’s items, so it would be nice to see what isn’t getting traffic and listing that for them.
How do you promote your work?
I am a social network junkie. I am on Facebook, Twitter, Flickr, Kaboodle, TeachStreet, LinkedIn, StumbleUpon and Blogspot. I include my Zibbet business cards in every thank you note to customers (even if they buy from my main website or another website) and I have been known to pass them out to strangers in craft stores. But the number one way is that I always sign my shop link with my name. Not just in the Zibbet forum but also other places that I post. The more that people see the word Zibbet, the more well known it will be.
How would you recommend other Zibbeters make the most of Zibbet.com?
The best thing you can do for your shop is to fill it with your wares. The fuller the shop, the more you show up on the search engines and the more options you are giving your customers of things they can buy. If you have a Basic Shop, there really is no excuse for not having 50 items in it and if you have a Premium Shop, you should have a minimum of 200 items. Oh, and check your SEOs to make sure you are showing up on the search engines!
In the future I’d like to be…
Well known as a crafter who has brought Arab crafts into mainstream America. I want to be on morning TV shows to showcase Ramadan crafts and in magazines with tutorials on kid’s Arabic projects, and of course more traveling!