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Small Designs Magazine

Small Designs Magazine

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Funky style shoes for happy people - Interviw with Rhonda Savage from Seriously Savage Online Store

„If you can imagine it, I can paint it!” – Rhonda Savage
Despicable Me 2 - Good VS Evil
 Indeed Rhonda is one of the most talented painters I’ve ever seen. What she puts her mind to, she spreads it with paint on any surface. The painted shoes are the most famous products she has. The images make me smile every time I look at them, even if I am sad. Perhaps, Rhonda’s positive attitude is extended in her paintings and from there, they end up touching the viewers heart.  I talked to Rhonda about her life, her online shop and where does she find her inspiration. 

- Who is the person behind Seriously Savage?
I'm Rhonda Savage. Full time artist, mom of 2 boys, 7 dogs and 3 cats named Dammit, Get Down and You Too.
Rhonda Savage

- Where did you get the idea for your business and when did you get started?
I've always painted my shoes. I put flames on my Converse before THEY put flames on their Converse... And one day I painted a pair of Lilo and Stitch shoes for myself and thought, "Hey, I wonder if anyone buys these?". I Googled "Custom Painted Shoes" and was blown away at what I saw and was immediately hooked. I wanted to try it.

- How did you come up with your brand name?
When telling people my last name, they'll say, "Seriously? Savage?" and the name just naturally came about.
- When did you start painting shoes? Or when did you realize you have a talent?
I started painting shoes to sell about 1 1/2 years ago. I just plunged into it and put a few creations up on Etsy.

Custom made shoes
 - What goes into making a painted shoe?
I like to start with a white shoe and paint a custom background. I use heat set paint so as one set of shoes dries, I'll start another and work between the two. I do a rough sketch with a pastel pencil so I know just where to place the characters. If I'm happy with the placement, I pencil in the design and begin to paint. I work in layers. I try to avoid boring, one dimensional paintings. Once I'm done with the painting, I go into any small detail work, apply a UV protection to help keep the paint fresh and package them for shipping. Some shoes can take a few hours, others with sketching, painting, dry time, etc.. can take up to 15 hours or more. Of course, in between time, life happens and things get busy so a shoe can actually take 3 days or so to finish completely.

Custom made shoes
 - What is your favorite thing to paint?
If I'm doing canvas work, my favorite subject are Native American children and War horses. For shoes, I love to do Disney characters but I will do almost anything requested.

Custom made shoes
- Which one is your best seller? My best seller has been the My Little Pony Cutie Mark shoes.
A close second are Despicable Me Minions and The Little Mermaid.

"The Little Mermaid"

- How do people get in touch with you? Where do you sell? Do you have a site or blog?
People can find me at my Etsy shop at They email me through the site with shoe ideas and we come up with a neat, unique pair of shoes. I've never found time for a blog or a lot of social media promotion by myself other than Pintrest and Stumbleupon. I rely on Google searches. Chances are, if you Google "custom painted shoes", you'll find many of my creations.

"Despicable Me"

- Do you run your business full-time? How do you like being self-employed?
I do run my business full time and I love, LOVE being self employed. If I need to take off for a day, I can. I'm home for my kids and I love being my own boss. I worked in a dull gray cubicle for too many years. Now, if it's a nice day, I can pack up my shoes and paints and go work outside in the yard and enjoy the sun. Some days I work 15 hours. Others maybe one or two. It all depends on how many orders I have ahead of me.

- Do you have some tips for other small business owners, creatives and people who like to become their own boss?
Custom made shoes
My best tip would be, "Just do it!". Don't over think things. I'm my own worst enemy in that department and have learned that you just need to plunge in to what you're doing, ignore the critics, embrace the praise and most importantly, have FUN! Don't compare yourself to anyone else but do a bit of research to make sure you get the most out of your efforts for your business.

- Are you participating in or managing any projects you would like to talk about?
Right now I'm just in the zone for Christmas. Concentrating on getting orders out and delivered before the holidays.

"His first dance at the Pow Wow"

- "I have a dream." What's your dream?
My dream was always to be recognized as an artist. I get kudos for my shoe paintings but some day I would like to have my own canvas paintings and creations in a gallery and hope people like them just as well.
"Native American War Horse"

- What are your thoughts about the handmade trends that are rather new and growing?
I love to see handmade items and am happy for all that are trending at any time. That means people are passionate for something they create and buyers appreciate a homemade item rather than a store bought, mass produced trinket.

- I see a lot of people starting their handmade business. What do you think makes you stand out from the crowd?
I think having a wide variety of items to show makes a person stand out. People are visual animals. You can say you can paint anything but people want to see it.

- Is there anything else you would like to tell me about yourself?
Besides painting shoes, I have also restored and painted cars and travel trailers. The cars I've done are the Andy Griffith Sheriffs car, Dukes of Hazzard General Lee and my favorite, the Scooby Doo Mystery Machine. 

The Scooby Doo Mystery Machine

I drove it for years and had wooden cut outs of the characters that I would set up and people would come take pictures with Scooby and the gang. I would like to make another one to have as a portable shop. I will one day soon!
On a personal note, I love to get out and see and do things. The open road calls me quite often and adventures without a map or a plan are always the best kind.

Thanks to Rhonda from Bakersfield, United States for this lovely interview. 

To see more of here art work, check out her online shop:

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

GatoJewel - Experimental jewelry for independent people from Ukraine - Interviw with Yulia Gato

  Finding new and fresh jewels may be a challenge nowadays. The sea in this market is wide and deep. Only in one handmade site there are over 1 million jewel online shops, some with ordinary items, some with unique. Even so, the challenge for a designer to bring to the public something fresh and inovative is huge. The presure may to some, to others it’s a reason to be artistic. It is said that an artist shows his talent better when he has few oportunities than a million. And that is because only then he uses his talent at its best.

 Wanting to cross the mass jewelry trends with the same old diamond ring and the usual necklesses, Yulia Gato and her huseband, Slava brought to the public a rather steam-punk trend. They opened the door to a room in which you can see that the metal can become something else, something from another world, a fiction story.  The high quality of the materials and the impeccable and meticulous finishing, transform a piece into a work of art.
But how did this business start? I found out from Yulia herself. 
Who is the person behind GatoJewel? 
 The name GatoJewel was created by two people - me, Yulia, and my husband Slava, we are married and together in love already 9 years.

 Where did you get the idea for your business and when did you get started? 
 My business idea was born out of my daily work - I'm tired of doing glamor jewelry, I wanted to do something different, the honest and real.  And as result we open in April 2013 our online-shop.

 When have you started making jewels? Or when did you realize you have a talent? 
 I am a hereditary jeweler and my first ring I made when I was 12 years old - under the guidance of my father, but I seriously started making jewellery when I was 18 years - and now, I already have 22 years in this branch.

 What goes into making a jewel?
 Most of the time it takes to search and ponder ideas, I almost do not draw sketches (well, unless it is very necessary to the customer).   
The beginning - a piece of wax
I do not use 3D and other hi-tech stuff – only classic handmade jewelry technique. The model comes from my imagination. I start cutting into the wax, then the wax models the metal.

The last step - Casting all in silver
 Then comes the finishing of the metal product - polishing, stone setting, oxidation, and everything else that is intended. On average, the production of one ring may takes to 7 working days, not counting the time to find and purchase materials -  if I need something special.

 Where do you get your inspiration? 
I draw inspiration from everywhere, it usually comes suddenly and unexpectedly!
Do you also make custom jewels? 
Yes, sometimes. Even jewelers are sometimes very hungry :)) But I strongly prefer to work with clients who trust me and my taste - and of course for every client I come up with something special and unique. 
How do people get in touch with you? Where do you sell? Do you have a site or blog? 
I am open to discussion :))  I am selling on Etsy
and some others. Also my husband makes for me a little portfolio ( there you can see also my old works

Do you run your business full-time? How do you like being self-employed? 
Jewelry takes all my working time, and sometimes even the rest too : ) I have always worked as free lance , even when working with different companies – I manage my time as I want and can not imagine any other option.

Gato Jewelry's most desirable rings
Do you have some tips for other small business owners, creatives and people who like to become their own boss? 
Do not be afraid. Start practice your favorite activity as a hobby in your spare time, and if you feel that it can grow in a business and provide you with money, too - leave your boss and become your own boss.   

"I have a dream." What's your dream? Tell me! 
The dream of course is global and naive, as befits a real dream  - that people become kind-hearted and honest, not only to themselves but also to other people and animals. And to finally realize that they live in the only world, in which will live their children and descendants and have ceased to destroy this
What are your thoughts about the handmade trends that are rather new and growing? 
Manual work is always in demand - especially in an era of conveyer production and global advertising - because there are always people who do not want to be like the others and have their own style and taste. A jewelry industry - it is still a mass production that does not do what is beautiful and unique, but the fact that may be easily made and make many-many sell. Well of course a jewelry giant makes unique jewelry - but their prices are unavailable to ordinary people. Make unique individual products for those who can appreciate this kind of work and with procurable prices - that's the fate of single masters.  
Thanks to Yulia from Kiev, Ukraine for this lovely interview. She also has an Ezebee shop. To see more of here art work, check out

Tuesday, November 5, 2013 - great place to sell your artwork

The internet is full of handmade sites that an artist can use to sell his unique products. However not all of them are going to bring you closer to the public. 
One of the most helpful for a starter artist is The site offers small designers a free place to sell, a community and a lot of advices on how to grow their business. And the most important offers visibility in the big ocean of the handmade trend. 
I talked to Christina Muller, the social media and PR of Ezebee, who explaned me more about the site and how does it help small businesses grow.

 Who are the people behind
There are two minds behind, Ossian Vogel and Frank de Vries, both entrepreneurs with a mind of online marketing. The ezebee team is made up of about 20 people. The site runs in 7 languages so there is at least one representative for each language and we have a team of programmers and designers working on the site as well.
Where did you get the idea for your business and when did you get started?

 Ossian and Frank came up with the idea for Ezebee in the summer of 2012. The idea was to create a site where people wanting to start their own online business, but did not possess either the skills or the funds to do so. Instead, people be their own boss and offer their products or services online in just a few steps on an international marketplace platform without having to pay for it.
How did you come up with your brand name?
Ezebee come from two words that when put together embody the spirit of the site. The 'bee' represents the sense of support and community. A bee alone cannot do very much, but with help and support from the rest of the hive, they can accomplish great things! Like in business, you cannot do it alone. We think it's important to have a sense of community so, with functions like the wall feed and share options small business owners can support each other. And the "eze" means easy! With all the tools and apps Ezebee offers, running your business is easy!
How does help small businesses? How does Ezebee work? 
It helps small business get started online without restrictions or fees that one may have to deal with on other pages. Users are open to sell what you want, open to share pages with handy buttons, open to blog about their business right within the Showroom! Getting started selling online can be done in 3 simple steps with Ezebee. 1: Open a Showroom. It's free! (Bonus: You can open multiple Showrooms if you have multiple talents!) Be sure to add a logo and a banner to personalize your page and make it more eye-catching! 2: Add products. You can make listings for products and services. Uploading nice pictures and writing descriptive texts really helps fill out your Showroom. There are no charges for posting so add as many items as you like! 3: Spread the word!!! When a new shop opens up the owners don't just sit on the block and wait for the crowd to come. Invite your Facebook friends to your shop, share your Showroom link on your social networks, post it on street signs, whatever you can do to help yourself be found. Hint: Ezebee helps too. When there are nice looking Showrooms with good looking pictures, they are more likely to show up on one of our social media pages ;)
How many businesses are now on Ezebee and from how many countries do their owners come from?
There are over 7,000 Showrooms open on and users from over 84 countries! Most of the users are from Germany, Spain, the US, Brazil and other parts of South America, Canada, France, and Italy… just to name a few.
 I see a lot of people starting their handmade business. What do you think makes some of them stand out from the crowd?
Standing out from the crowd depends on many factors. First of all you have to have a quality product, so put care and time into the work you do. After that, I think a big part of it is having a uniform look. Keep things consistent. Take photographs that are well-lit and in the same style as your other photos. When you change the way you photograph your products, that can be distracting. Don't get me wrong, you should photograph items multiple ways, just as long as the photographs look like they were made by the same photographer. It's also important to have an established brand look. If you have a logo, use that as your Showroom icon. Include it in your banner, on Facebook, twitter (etc.) and make sure you use the same name for all your pages. There is nothing more frustrating that seeing a name on a site, but not being able to find it on Facebook or other social media. Pick a name that is unique and a look that fits your brand and stick with it so that you can be found and remembered by your customers or potential shoppers.
Do you have a favorite product or store on Ezebee?
There are SO many things I love on Ezebee. If you want to see my favorites, check out my pinned products!
Do you have some tips for the small business owners, creatives and people who like to have their own business?
When you have your own business you have to be active! Just because your items now exist on the internet does not mean that they will magically be found. Share your link wherever possible, even consider printing it on business cards. Also, don't be afraid to work with other businesses. It's good to have a competitive spirit, but it's OK to partner up with other businesses and do cross promotions. When you refer someone to a store you like, that store owner can refer you to their customers. Cross promotion can be done on blogs, Facebook, twitter, and can be as simple as sharing a link.
Is Ezebee managing any other projects to help boost the views and sales for its customers?
We are always spreading the word about Ezebee Showrooms on our social media pages. We try to do cross promotion in that way by sharing Showrooms that are active on their social media and talking about Ezebee. Hint: using #ezebee will help us see what you are saying on twitter and Facebook. We also have opportunities for Showrooms to do interviews with us. 
  We like to do interviews with Showrooms that have a great look, interesting products, and are active with their business. We also have a promotion that is currently available to anyone who runs a blog outside of Ezebee: For any other opportunities to partner with Ezebee, please use our Contact page to get in touch:
Does Ezebee have future projects for its customers?
We have recently taken into account what users have been saying and are planning to make changes to the site based on user feedback. We've got big plans for 2014, so keep your eyes peeled for some new features!
Is there anything else you would like to tell me about Ezebee?
Continue on Ezebee and be active! Don't be afraid to visit the forums and start a discussion. We love to hear suggestions form users and are always trying to improve the site to make it better for our users.

Thanks to Christina for this lovely interview. To see the artists, the products or even sign up check out