We are featuring Made by Melephant this month. Owner Melissa Fong offers a variety of handmade headbands, scarves and skirts in her shop. She has been sewing for over ten years and it all started when her friend had asked her to make a few skirts to wear to San Diego Comic Con. They were an instant hit and she has steadily added more offerings to her collection since then.
SFEtsy: What's your work schedule/routine like?
Melissa Fong: I am currently working two part-time jobs and taking classes in addition to running my shop, so my schedule changes up all the time and can be a little hectic. I usually work in the day, and I work on my shop at night, whether it's completing orders or creating new products. I don't have a set routine of the exact amount of hours I work on my shop every day, it's just trying to find small pockets of free time to sew when I can.
SFEtsy: Tell us about your work space - where do you create?
Melissa Fong: My "studio" is basically a hobby room where I also have a TV and a computer in addition to my sewing machine and fabric stock. I would love to have a space where I could freely spread out and dedicate all to my shop, but space is limited so I try to make as much use of all the free spots in the room as possible. I only have one table in the room to use freely for sewing, gluing, etc. so whenever I need to sew or cut, I need to rotate my tools around depending what I need at that very moment. My fabric is stored in bins around the room labeled with each particular theme or fabric.
SFEtsy: What tools do you use that are absolutely essential and makes a huge difference in your day to day process?
Melissa Fong: I would not have a shop at all if it weren't for my Kenmore sewing machine. I bought it over ten years ago from Sears and it's still going strong! Other essential tools include my titanium fabric scissors by Fiskars, pin cushion and pins, measuring tape, an iron, and cutting boards. When I make headbands, I use a bodkin and a Turn-It-All set, which makes sewing headbands so much easier. I'm not a fan of the safety pin method to turn fabric tubes inside out, so thank goodness for the Turn-It-All!
SFEtsy: How did you get involved with Etsy?
Melissa Fong: I've known about Etsy for a long time, and I always had the desire to open up a shop, but for the longest time, I didn't know what I wanted to make. Then a few summers ago, my friend asked me to make her some skirts for San Diego Comic Con. She loved them and got lots of compliments on them, so I decided to try my hand at selling them on Etsy. From there, I expanded to headbands, scarves, and mouse ears.
SFEtsy: What is your biggest challenge related to your Etsy shop? (optional)
Melissa Fong: My biggest challenge at the moment is time management and dedicating enough time to run my shop. There's so much I want to do to expand and grow my business, yet I feel like I never have enough hours in the day to keep up with the work I want to do for my Etsy shop. My business is primarily a hobby and I love it, but perhaps one day I might want to grow it into something bigger. I would love to start doing craft fairs and shows this year, but dedicating the time for that is something of a challenge.
SFEtsy: What has been your biggest success and/or proudest moment since opening your Etsy shop? (optional)
Melissa Fong: One of my proudest moments has been hitting 100 sales and realizing how far I had come within that time span to be able to sell that many items. Imagining 100 customers coming up to my virtual website and actually having an interest in what I've created is just mind-blowing. The positive feedback I've received as well has been so wonderful and meaningful, and I'm so grateful and happy when my customers are excited and ecstatic about my products. My business has grown so much in the last year and a half, and I hope to expand and grow more over the next year.
SFEtsy: What is your favorite item in your shop (currently for sale or previously sold)? Why is it your favorite?
Melissa Fong: It's hard to pick one favorite, but probably my R2-D2 mouse ears is one of my favorite items I sell, just because he's my favorite character and it was one of the first mouse ears I had created. I also adore the fabric, and am still debating on what to make with it for myself (possibly to wear to the premiere of the new movie).
SFEtsy: What are your favorite tools or apps that help you with your business?
Melissa Fong: I use the Sell on Etsy app to run my business on the go. It's very easy to use and it's super convenient and handy. I also have an Instagram account for my shop that I use a lot to promote my business, and whenever I need to take product photos or pictures for my Instagram, I use Camera+ to edit my pictures. I also use Microsoft Excel for my bookkeeping, and I order my business cards from Vistaprint.
SFEtsy: What crafting skill(s) do you wish you had or hope to learn someday?
Melissa Fong: I love sewing, but someday I wish to build upon my sewing skills and perfect my alterations skills. I have lots of dress patterns, specifically vintage, that aren't exactly my size, and I'm mostly self-taught so I wish to dedicate some time one day to learning the art of altering patterns.
SFEtsy: What's next for you?
Melissa Fong: I'm always working on new designs for the shop. Someday I would love to sell in person at a show, but for now I'm sticking to online because it works better for me and my schedule.
Made by Melephant can be found on Instagram @madebymelephant
Friday Features are run by Raji of Red Kerria Designs. To see your own shop featured, please contact her.
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