Thursday, September 8, 2011

Retro Rita Interview: Handmade Success with Lee-Ann Edwards of Whoopsie Daisies

Hey all!

Retro Rita here and I'm super excited to introduce you to Lee-Ann Edwards from Whoopsie Daisies!  Lee-Ann creates personalized, one-of-a-kind tooth fairy pillows, home decor pillows and other lovlies using vintage, retro and rescued fabrics.  Whoopsie Daisies first caught my attention with her steering wheel covers ~ so unique!  Hope you enjoy my chat with her:

Retro Rita:  Tell us about your products, Lee-Ann
Whoopsie Daisies:  I use rescued vintage and retro fabrics to create one-of-a-kind items ~ my product line is constantly evolving.  I have made and sold many things including pillowcase dresses, aprons, kitchen hot pads, pajama pants, coffee cozies, fabric pumpkins, crocheted hats, fabric flower pins, diaper/wipe pouches, burp clothes, tooth fairy pillows, steering wheel covers, and rear view mirror cozies.


Retro Rita:  What inspired you to create such unique car accessories?
Whoopsie Daisies:  I live in Texas where the heat in the summer is frequently over 100 degrees, which makes a steering wheel extremely hot!  I did a little research on steering wheel covers, and discovered that no one was making them in cute, retro/vintage prints.  I decided to start selling funky steering wheel covers for hippie chics wanting to expand their vintage vibe!  I have plans to create a “Road Trip” Line to Whoopsie Daisies, including the steering wheel covers, rear view mirror cozies, and other possibilities such as luggage tags and tote bags.

Retro Rita:  What is your best selling product?  What makes it such a great seller?
Whoopsie Daisies:  Probably my fabric pumpkins, which I sell in the fall.  During the year I search for funky green/gold/orange fabric that I can use to make the pumpkins.  Last year I also began selling white pumpkins, which were a nice, stylish alternative to the more outlandish 70’s fabric.  My customers like the pumpkins because they are easy to use as gifts.  Typically, the pumpkins sit out for decoration for several weeks ~ which puts them in front of many people.  Word of mouth seems to be my best source of sales of the pumpkins.

Retro Rita:  Describe your creative (work) space and share with us what you like about it.
Whoopsie Daisies:  My creative workspace is my dining room!  I have an amazing old oak dining room table that I would one day like to use for something besides cutting fabric (don’t worry, it’s well protected with cutting mats!).  The one thing that is great about my room is that my family doesn’t fuss too much about me taking up so much space ~ and, I can leave my projects out all the time.  With two kids vying for my attention, often times I am only able to sew/create in 10-minute increments.

Retro Rita:  Apart from creating your gifts and accessories, what do you do?
Whoopsie Daisies:  I spend a lot of time chasing my kids, husband and dog ~ I am a stay at home mom to a girl, age 9 and a boy, age 5.  I am a wife to a hard working husband.  I enjoy cooking, particularly baking.

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?
Whoopsie Daisies:  Hi Speed/Wireless Internet has completely changed the way I do business.  In 2005 when I began my business, Dial-Up Internet was my only option.  Now, I can use my e-mail, Facebook and Twitter on the go, which is great!  With so many social media outlets now I can connect much easier to my customers and others with similar interests, all while sitting in the car pool line at my children’s school.  I squeeze in my actual sewing time in small doses ~ especially in the summer with my kids home from school.  During the school year, I schedule my sewing time while my son is in pre-school.  It’s never easy and I almost always feel that neither my business nor my family gets enough time from me.  However, I love having my own business, I love hunting for fabrics and sharing them with others.

Retro Rita:  What does handmade mean to you?
Whoopsie Daisies:  Many things ~ it means passing down, teaching and preserving skills.  It also means creating an appreciation for the time and skill it takes to make something by hand.  Many times I pick up a piece of old embroidery and wonder at the time involved in making something so small.  It is also a means for me to express my creativity.  I have been “making” things since I was a small child.

Retro Rita:  Why should people buy handmade?
Whoopsie Daisies:  Personally, I like to buy handmade because it makes me feel good about supporting a small business owner.  I also appreciate what it takes to make something by hand and operate a business.  I don’t think someone should buy handmade simply because it’s handmade.  I believe they should buy it because it is unique and quality made.

Retro Rita:  How did you get started in the handmade market?
Whoopsie Daisies:  Growing up in Indiana, I was very active in the 4-H program, and competed for 10 years.  That gave me exposure to arts & crafts, sewing, cooking, photography, horses and many other things.  I also grew up around antiques, which fostered my interest in vintage.  Once my daughter was born in 2002, and after having been on a sewing hiatus for many years, I pulled out my grandmother’s sewing machine and started playing around with it again.  I decided to start sewing children’s clothing initially, and evolved to using only vintage fabrics.  Now, for my business, I sew primarily gift items for adults and children from rescued fabrics.  Once I discovered Etsy (and Hi Speed Internet) my business grew.

Retro Rita:  What are your hopes and aspirations for your business and where do you see yourself in the future?
Whoopsie Daisies:  Of course, I always want my business to grow.  My hope is that I will be able to help support my family more with the profits from my business.

Retro Rita:  What handmade possession (other than gifts from your children) do you cherish most?  Why?
Whoopsie Daisies:  Great question!  I have a collection of vintage aprons.  I imagine their original owners didn’t think much of the gravy stain down the front, or the singe marks on the hem – but to me, they tell a little bit of the story of that woman’s life.

Retro Rita:  Tell us about your aspirations of becoming a Fly Girl and guitar-playing rock star.
Whoopsie Daisies:  I love music!  I cannot imagine being in a world without it ~ music motivates me, calms me, connects me to my past and makes me excited about the future.  I love how music can take you back to a time in your life that you thought you had forgotten.  I also love how music can help make connections between people.  In my handmade business, my love of music has actually opened up a whole other segment of people and potential customers.  I feel it’s important to follow your other interests if you are an indiepreneur.  You never know where you might find customers, and life long friends!  Right now, my interest in music lies in Indie Artists such as Sam Bradley, Bobby Long, Marcus Foster, Lee MacDougall, among others.  I am inspired by their spirits and will to follow their dreams in a seemingly uphill pursuit.  I also appreciate the act of creating something (in their case, music; in my case, steering wheel covers!), and putting it out in the world.  It’s a very vulnerable thing to do.  I doubt that I’ll ever be a true Fly Girl or Guitar playing rock star ~ but I can dream, right?

Retro Rita:  Thanks for your time, Lee-Ann.  I think you're a rockin', super creative gal!

I certainly agree with Retro Rita.  Hope you'll visit her Etsy shop, her blog and Facebook page!  AND, leave a comment here or on all or any of my September blog posts and you'll be entered to win one of Lee-Ann's steering wheel covers.  Each of your comments counts as one entry, so the more you comment, the more chances you have to win ~ yay!  I'll randomly draw the lucky winner September 30th.  Good luck!


Paula Parrish said...

Hello Cindy,
First I would like to thank Rita for introducing us to Lee-Ann and her creative handmade products. I hopped over and visited her Esty shop; I love the coffee cozies and the steering wheel covers. Count me in the giveaway.
Smiles, Paula

Missy said...

I love these steering wheel covers! I hate the ones at the store. She should make matching seat covers too, LOL

Jenny's Heart said...

Those are so cute! I would love to have one :)

Julie Harward said...

Very fun and cute things...good ideas! ;D

My Vintage Mending said...

What great seamstress it. Anything made from vintage goodies is a treasure...smiles...Renee

Tisha said...

Her steering wheel covers are SUPER CUTE :)

Sizzle and Zoom said...

Wonderful interview.