Tell me about your shop.
I make one of a kind purses, wallets, and other bag type stuff from suiting fabrics and cotton prints. My goal is to create timeless designs that will never go out of style.
How did you get started? Have you worked in other creative areas before the kind of work you’re doing now?
I have been sewing for most of my life, but had never considered that it could be profitable until after Katrina, when I moved to Los Angeles and discovered the Fabric district. There were so many fabric stores and the prices were crazy low.
I spent the next two years selling handmade lingerie in the dressing rooms of strip clubs and honing my sewing skills. When I moved back to New Orleans, a nurse friend of mine asked me to make her some scrubs. I had some fabric left over, so I made myself a shopping bag. it was the first bag I’d ever made, and I was so happy with it, that I completely changed my focus. I’ve been making bags ever since.
Is there a story behind the name of your shop?
Well, the name of my shop is the first and middle name that my parents gave me. My dad’s reason for naming me Christian is that he thought I would get more respect in the business world if I had a masculine name. Of course, he didn’t know then that I would be going into business making things for women.
I added my middle name to title to clear up any misconceptions about my gender and to make sure that people didn’t think I was selling purses that believe in Jesus. Also, I think it has a nice ring to it.
Do you work alone? With a team? Do you engage your family or friends in the work? What is your process? How do you ensure you get your work done yet still have a life?
I am a one woman operation for sure. I shop, cut, sew, photograph, package, and ship. I print business cards, design ads and shop graphics, and make sew in labels. I even built my own website.
I have a background in special effects makeup, where I learned to make molds for props, and I’m working on sculpting and casting my own plastic purse handles.
Where do you sell your work? Which venues are your favorites? Do you prefer selling online or in person? Do you attend shows or fairs? Is your work in a gallery or brick-and-mortar store?
My shop is here, http://christianmarie.etsy.com, at Etsy. I love Etsy, but I can’t promise that I will be there forever. I link to them through my own domain, http://christianmarie.com, so that people will always be able to find me even if I switch venues.
I definitely prefer selling in person. It’s difficult to accurately convey things like size, color and texture with photographs and text.
Do you have any favorite handmade shops or sellers you’d like to recommend?
Here’s some super talented New Orleans folks:
Byapryl makes gorgeous gemstone and metal tree sculptures.
Hurricane Pottery has some very cool and unusual pieces.
Bobsandbits makes the cutest little furniture for kids.
What inspires and motivates you?
I wouldn’t say that I’m motivated and inspired so much as I’m obsessive and compulsive. :) I have dreams about sewing. My friends have to repeat themselves because I’m always thinking about how to improve some design. I sew because I have to.
What do you wish I had asked you?
“What do you love most about your craft?”
Making patterns is, by far, my favorite part of the process. It’s like doing a three dimensional puzzle. I see the finished bag in my mind, and then I have to break it into pieces and figure out how, and in what order, the pieces go back together. I have a very analytical mind, so it suits me perfectly. There is no better feeling than having a pattern come out perfect on the first try.
Thanks Christian! And if you would like to be interviewed next, just head over to DIY Interview.