I thought this might be the opportune time to share my interview with Hilary of Crafty Robot with you. Hilary makes and sells all sorts of sewn accessories and housewares, but it’s her Monster Stockings that have made her shop so well known and one you must visit this holiday season.
Read my interview with Hilary for the Indie Artist Fixx series below.
1. What’s the name of your business and what do create and sell?
My business is Crafty Robot. I make sewn accessories and household goods; most are one-of-a-kind and many use vintage or recycled materials.
2. How did you get started with your craft?
I have been interested in sewing for as long as I can remember, but didn’t pursue it seriously until a semester abroad in college, when I used my copious free time and the patient instruction of a fellow exchange student to begin sewing clothing, by hand.
3. How did you get started with your business?
I stumbled into business with Monster Stockings, which began as a one-time gift for a friend. It was so well-received that I refined the pattern, added two more designs, and offered a handful for sale in 2003. Much to my surprise, the stockings sold out quickly, and almost before I knew it I had a viable product line on my hands!
4. What else do you do besides Crafty Robot? Hobbies, other arts & crafts you do, other businesses etc.
Crafty Robot is not yet a full-time job; I work in the administrative department at a gallery/studio serving artists with disabilities. When not at work or in front of my sewing machine, I indulge in a love of cult movies (especially horror), and a passion for entertaining – I’m a member of the Hostess Underground, a group dedicated to the party as an art form.
5. Tell us one funny/goofy/silly thing about yourself.
I like to think of myself as fairly literate, but I have a serious, embarrassing weakness for trashy novels. Really, super-horribly trashy novels like Gothic suspense and Jackie Collins.
6. What do you love about what you do? What do you not love so much?
I love all aspects of design: from the visual satisfaction of determining the perfect fabric for a project, to the practical challenge of refining production techniques to make my vision a functional reality. Selling and promotion, on the other hand, are very tough for me – I’m not much of a saleswoman! I love the current boom for online selling, as this gives me a chance to present my wares to a wide audience without the stress of direct sales.
7. What blogs and mags do you read and what shops do you shop at? List as many as you want.
I’ll limit myself to three of each, or I’ll never stop!
A Dress A Day: an amazing source of inspiration to anyone interested in fashion in general, vintage in particular, or sewing. Thrift Shop Project: one
intrepid thrifter’s detailing of her finds. I’m genetically predisposed toward thrifting, and it’s fascinating to see what someone else will hone in on as a treasure amidst the junk. Design*Sponge: eye candy with an indie bent. What could be better?
Urban Renewals in Allston, MA: my favorite local thrift store; a dependable resource for craft materials, costume and “everyday” clothes, as long as you’re willing to dig. Sew-Lo Discount Fabrics in Somerville, MA: discount fabrics piled high – great prices and some incredibly strange and unusual finds, if you can handle the risk of being buried in a fabricalanche! Concord Antiques Gallery in Concord, NH: a good old-fashioned New England consignment shop, with everything ranging from overpriced “vintage”kitchen gear that’s more rust than anything, to incredible undervalued buttons, clothing, and the weirdest knick-nacks you’ve ever seen.
8. Were you an artsy craftsy kid? If so, what kinds of things did you do?
I did all right in art classes, but wasn’t actually all that interested in arts and crafts as a kid, nor in putting in the time to learn to sew until much later.
9. What’s your favorite decadent treat?
I have to pick one?!? At this time of year, I’ll go with Candy Cane Jo-Jos from Trader Joe’s.
10. What does indie mean to you? You can give a literal definition, choose to be a little esoteric or a combination of both. 😉
An indie business, to me, is one where the principal owner(s) still do a good portion of the actual production and/or design of goods, or contribute to services offered in some direct way on a regular basis. I think there is value when each employee of a business (including an owner) both contributes to and benefits from the success of the business in a real, tangible way. I believe that the connection between the work one does and the value it creates can become lost in a more corporate setting, often to the detriment of both the business and its employees.
11. What are you reading, watching and listening to?
Reading: “Laura Possessed” (a 1974 ‘novel of romantic suspense’ – see my confession above!), and back issues of “Bon Appetit” for holiday baking inspiration. Watching: “Lady Vengeance” from Netflix, and I’m really hoping to catch “No Country for Old Men” in the theater soon. Listening to: Yma Sumac
12. What are your inspirations?
I’m sorry – this is going to be a cop-out, but, almost everything. Old movies. The haphazard color combination of two winter coats hung next to each other. The shape of a vase in a store window. The way a particular fabric drapes when it falls off the overcrowded shelves in my studio. I never know what will spark an idea.
13. What’s next for Crafty Robot? Any new plans or products that you want to share?
I’ve recently begun studying patternmaking and I hope to start creating my
own vintage-inspired clothing designs. Making clothing for myself is what lured me into sewing to begin with, so I’m thrilled about the possibility of offering apparel to customers as well!