We were happy to chat with Dana of Peacock & Fig from oceanside city of Victoria, British Columbia, where she designs and sells cross stitch patterns. On her website she also creates tutorials for stitchers to learn techniques and tips.
When did you turn your craft into a business?
I have always been creative and done art and design since a child, and I did four years of art and craft training in New Zealand. I left the world of art to serve my country in the Canadian Armed Forces for seven years. I was an air force intelligence officer, and I was injured during my service which unfortunately prevented me from continuing my military career. After my medical discharge from the Canadian Armed Forces almost 2 years ago, I rediscovered stitching as I was unable to draw and paint "normally" anymore due to my injury. I realized how therapeutic and calming stitching is, and I started offering tutorials in Nov 2014. A year later I started designing my own patterns, and I have been focusing full time on my business since my military release. More and more people are discovering my patterns each month, particularly since I started designing "elegant snarky" patterns featuring vintage illustrations paired with sassy quotes.
How did you come up with a name for your store?
Originally, my business was called Handy Little Gadget -- it's a nickname my Dad used to call my Mum, she's little and crafty like me. I decided to rebrand as part of business training I did with Renae Christine in early 2015. I chose Peacock & Fig as my art heavily features teal (peacock) and purples (fig), and where I live is directly across the street from a giant park that is famous for its crazy wild peacocks that roam around. Peacocks were also featured often in Art Nouveau era art and design which I adore, so I wanted to have a slight vintage vibe to the new name.
How did you start selling on Etsy?
Originally I started my website for the blog tutorials, and that has always been the main "home" of Peacock & Fig. I chose to start an Etsy shop a year ago almost as an experiment, I wanted to see if Etsy shoppers would enjoy my patterns the same way those who purchase from my website do. I still predominantly direct people to my website as I can share all my free tutorials and tips there as well as my patterns, but I also enjoy connecting with shoppers on Etsy as they are usually very clear about what they want which often sparks ideas for new products and tutorials.
Do you talk to your customers? Do you run your website or blog, social media?
I love talking to my customers, and even those who are only interested in the free tutorials are great to talk to. I have a large following on YouTube, my tutorial channel is very popular, and I've had many people proclaim in cross stitch Facebook groups "Omg, you were the one who got me into stitching because of your YouTube videos!" I send an email weekly to my Peacock Lounge mailing list about new tutorials, new patterns, giveaways, new freebies, etc, and I've also recently started a Peacock Lounge Facebook group. I love getting customer feedback, I like providing tutorials and designs that people want to see (and I ask for feedback from my customers). I also love receiving photos of customer's stitching projects from my patterns, whether they're in progress or finished. It makes me happy to see others happy with their projects.
What’s your most favorite product?
I'm loving the reactions people have had to my most recent collections, Vintage Sass and Spirited Animals. They're all inspired by the Victorian era, but feature modern cheeky quotes and expressions. One of my most popular patterns that I really like is "Maybe Wine Will Help," featuring a beautiful wreath of roses with that sassy quote in pretty calligraphy. That pattern and my Miserable Cow pattern generate a lot of laughter and positive reactions.
What are your future goals?
Currently I'm working on a new collection of patterns, that will be launched within the next few months. I haven't released the name of the collection yet, I tend to keep the designs under tight wraps until the collection launch. For the most recent launch of the Spirited Animals collection, the video I released at the launch got over 4000 views in 24 hours on Facebook alone, that completely blew my mind and showed me how much people were anticipating the collection. I'm also working on some commissions for large embroidery companies, and I've had patterns featured in magazines such as Cross Stitch Crazy. I'd like to continue to create designs and tutorials for people, and continue to design and contribute to industry magazines and needlework companies. I'd love to get stitching more "out there" in the public sphere. A lot of people assume cross stitch is just for old ladies, but there are thriving communities of stitchers popping up at an amazing rate. Reddit has a huge cross stitch sub-reddit, and there are many specialty "snarky" stitching groups on Facebook. There are also new magazines being launched, such as the upcoming magazine by the very well-known Mr X Stitch (Jamie Chalmers). Stitching is so incredibly relaxing, and there's something inherently joyful about creating something with your own hands. I'd love to get involved with celebrities like Taylor Swift (who is an avid stitcher) to help promote the craft to a new generation.
What’s your process from an idea to a finished product?
I usually take about a month "off" between launching one collection and starting to think about the next -- I need time to decompress as with my injury, I have to be very careful to not overwork myself otherwise it badly flares up my chronic pain. In the meantime, I create new tutorials, and start looking at what's trending currently to get new design ideas percolating. Once I've done enough research to have a direction narrowed down, I create rough drafts of graphics and designs I may use in the next collection. After playing in my art and design software (I use a combination of ArtRage and Photoshop), I upload the design drafts into my cross stitch software. I use MacStitch and WinStitch, I use two computers when designing (it's the same software, but Mac and PC versions). It can take me anywhere from a few hours to a few days to complete each design, I usually release my collections with 8-10 patterns at a time. After the designing is done, I do the sample stitching which can take several months. I photograph the samples for my website and Etsy listings, and then I create the PDF patterns. Once the collection is launched, the sample patterns are usually sent to one of my distributors (they are sent around to various needlework trunk shows and trade shows to promote the patterns).
Where and when do you find yourself most creatively inspired?
The only "problem" with being a designer is you find inspiration everywhere, so it's hard to switch off. Victoria is an incredibly beautiful city, and my home is surrounded by stunning architecture, gardens and parks, and the beautiful inner harbour is only blocks away. I have a pretty cheeky sense of humour, so I'm always making quick-witted "insults" to friends and family, which sometimes become the basis of a new pattern design. I love the contradiction of elegant design with cheeky quotes, people seem to really respond well to those designs. I keep getting told I need to feature my adorable service dog Coco in a pattern, we'll see. :)