Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Retro Rita Interview: Handmade Success with Susan Schneider of Shandell's

Hi all!  Retro Rita here.  I'm delighted to share my interview with Susan Schneider of Shandell's with you today!  (Unless noted all photos belong to Susan.)

Shandell's is the creative home of Susan, a longtime collector of things vintage and a passionate recycler, turning them into things that make you smile.

(Susan Schneider)

Susan's lampshade and vintage lighting studio is chock full of thousands of unique handmade papers, antique wallpapers and other speciality papers she uses in her handmade pretties.

(A peek into Susan's studio)

(Shandell's lamp finials and baubles)

Retro Rita:  Share with us, Susan, how you began your business.
Susan:  I started my business in 1991 by opening an antiques group shop.  I started collecting lots of lamps and other items to turn into lamps, but the problem was I couldn't find cool lampshades to go with them.  I bugged a  customer of mine who was a lampshade maker to teach me, but she said no.  A couple of years later I purchased the guts of the business and taught my self how to make lampshades.  My first shades were made using vintage wallpaper and now I use all different papers from around the world, but my favorites are still the ones I make using my vintage wallpapers.

Retro Rita:   Tell us about your products
Susan:  I have quite a range of products, including lampshades, one-of-a-kind lighting, matchboxes made from vintage imagery, tissue boxes and wastebaskets.  My newest product is "The Original Cloth Cord Swag and Pendant Kits," that allow you to turn your lampshade or just about any found object into a swag light; the materials and compenents of the cloth swag and kit are the same that I use in my own high-end creations and are all made in the U.S. and assembled-to-order in my workshop.

Retro Rita:  Where do you find your beautiful fabrics, wallpapers and other supplies?
Susan:  I am very lucky; my wallpapers come from my collection of over 5,000 rolls of vintage wallpaper.  I source my contemporary papers from local artists and paper makers from around the world.  The fabrics I use are either vintage, silk or linen.

Retro Rita:   What is your best selling product and what makes it such a great seller?
Susan:  My matchboxes.  They are the best handmade gift you can get for under $20.00 and are made in the USA.  They are perfect as hostess gifts and last longer than a bottle of wine or a box of cookies.

(Sampling of Susan's matchboxes)

Retro Rita Note:  House Beautiful chose Shandell's matchboxes as "The Best:"

(How great is THIS?!  Image courtesy House Beautiful)

Retro Rita:   Tell us about your shop and your customers
Susan:  My studio just moved to Pine Plains, New York, to a much-needed larger space.  I have two different types of customers.  I have a wholesale side of my business and those customers are from around the country and include retailers and museum shops, small and large.  My other customers are individuals that walk into my shop and for whom I make custom lamps and lampshades.  I have so much fun creating for both types of customers.

Retro Rita:  Running a business can certainly challenge a person’s time management skills.  How do you manage your time to get it all accomplished?
Susan:  Some days I don’t.  I just have a large to-do list going at all times.  I have two offices, one at home and one in the studio; at home I can get lots of paper work done, including the printing for my matchboxes, and at my studio I do more hands-on work.

Retro Rita:   What does handmade mean to you?
Susan:  Made by an artist who takes an idea and brings it to life.

Retro Rita:  Why should people buy handmade?
Susan:  This country was built on handmade.  I think it is the only way to bring back craft and quality into the daily things in our life.

Retro Rita:  What are your hopes and aspirations for your business and where do you see yourself in the future?
Susan:  I see my self growing both sides of my business and promoting handmade in America the best I can.

Retro Rita:  What handmade possession do you cherish most?
Susan:  A 19th century wallpapered box.  Someone took the time to cover an old candy box with wallpaper to make their world prettier and now I use it to make mine a better place.

Retro Rita:  What is your favorite indulgence (activity, food, etc.) to treat yourself?
Susan:  Spa day ~ facial, massage, pedicure, hair cut.

Retro Rita:  What would you do if you won a ba-zillion dollars?
Susan:  Buy a house with a large yard and get lots more dogs.

(Susan's Jack Russells, Pansy & Tonto)

Retro Rita:  Thank you, Susan, for sharing with us today.  I hope Cindy's blog followers will visit your studio, your online shop and blog!

Friendly reminder ~ only a couple of days left to enter to win this month's blog giveaway!  Click HERE for details ~ good luck!


LAUREN said...

Thanks for the info - always looking for good lampshades!

Julie Harward said...

I loved the things she makes and those cute cute dogs! ;D

Getting Hooked said...

Love the interview :-)

Into Vintage said...

I've admired Susan's beautiful work for some time -- so exciting her matchboxes are in HB. Thanks for this interview. :-)

Sizzle and Zoom said...

That was an inspiring interview!

Sugarplum Kawaii said...

Great interview and the matchboxes are delightful!

Paula Parrish said...

Hello Retro Rita,
Thanks for introducing us to Susan and her amazing handmade products. I am in love with her swag light kits and her matchboxes. I like Susan’s tag line for her business "Things that make you smile" ~ handmade by Susan Schneider. Thanks for letting us know about Susan here in blog land.
Smiles, Paula

Donna said...

Love the interview and the pics of all the handmade goods. Her lamps and matchboxes are adorable!