Saturday, February 13, 2010

Saturday Artisan: BastilleBleu & BastilleBleuBijoux

Meet another talented artist on Etsy: Nikki of BastilleBleu & BastilleBleuBijoux. She makes beautiful lamp beads.

Here is another thing why I love handmade: not only you get one-of-a-kind product capturing the artist's passion, but also how the product is packaged and presented shown the personality of the artist. Find out how Nikki saves money during this recession time and at the same succesfuly promotes handmade.

Tell us a bit about yourself and what arts/ crafts that you make?
Im a wife, mother of two grown sons, dog lover, and reside with my prince of a husband in a 100 year old farmhouse in Milwaukee, WI. Im also a lampworker, or more commonly known as a "glass bead maker". Ive been doing this for 3-1/2 years, self-taught, addicted and completely in-love with lampworking! I cant imagine doing anything else, and frequently dream about creating cool looking beads. I opened shop on Etsy two years ago and Ive been having so much fun I havent looked back since. Last year I opened up my jewelry shop featuring my hand-torched lampwork jewelry designs and although it was slow at first, its definitely getting noticed a little more.

What is your favourite item in your shop?
It varies from day to day as I try not to repeat my bead designs or jewelry designs so that they remain to some extent, one-of-a-kind and special to each buyer.

How does your day go in general?
That too, varies. A typical day would be, getting up early to take the beads that I made the night before, out of the kiln and clean them and polish them. I string them onto wire and photograph them, and then edit them on photoshop so that the colors in the photos are as "true" to real life as possible and I add my shop name. Then comes the listing of each set and jewelry piece, which for me can be the toughest part trying to come up with interesting things to say about the piece, or worse... coming up with a name for the item. This roughly can take from 2-4 hrs and I havent even begun torching yet. Some days are dedicated to making my own puffy pillow boxes that my lampwork beads are packaged in, or printing out my own bagtags.... and other days, its all about promoting my shop on the forums, my blog or facebook, creating Treasuries, and browsing other shops and hearting them. When its all said and down, I typically spend 14-16hrs a day doing a job I "truly" love, which in my opinion, is what I call total BLISS!

What inspires you?
Im inspired by color, whether it is in nature, a clothing catalog, the newest color trends each year, random photographs in magazines, my dreams, other lampworkers and artists, or just a random thought of "what if".

What is your goal for 2010?
To continue to love what Im doing, and maybe if the heavens allow it, I can start to make a profit doing what I love.

How do you promote your shop?
I definitely take advantage of the forums for promoting my shop, as there are a number of posts asking sellers to post their sales, giveaways, blogs, etc. I also use my fan page on Facebook, my blog, and Twitter... in fact my new items can draw 30 views to that listing in under 30 seconds at times just by posting on Twitter. I also hand out a LOT of business cards and do as many craft/artisan shows as I can.

Any advice for a newbie running his or her on-line shop?
Its slow at first, its definitely worth the wait! Take advantage of the forums, make connections with other sellers to help spread the word of your shop and so you can do the same for them, patience, and definitely check around to see who your competition is and where their price point falls at for the same types of items that you sell, and most importantly... have fun, because if it's not fun (and your not making tons of cash) then you might want to ask yourself what are you doing it for?

During this recession time, tell us one thing that you do to save money?
Try to do EVERYTHING handmade, including your business supplies. I save quite a bit on packaging by making my own bagtags, recycling stuff I get from other sellers I buy from like bubble wrap, jewelry boxes, tissue paper, and ribbons. And when Im not recycling, Im making my own packaging from cardstock and other recyclable items... even my own crinkled shreds.

Visit her shops: bastillebleubijoux and bastillebleu! Let me know what is your favorite. And I'd love to hear from you on what you learn from her.

Happy weekend!


  1. Nat,
    Thank you, thank you, thank you a million times over for the truly wonderful feature you've done on my shops. Im truly honored to have been picked to this time around and cant wait to read about the next round of talented artisans you tip your hat too! :)
    Happy Valentine's Day and have a great week!

  2. You're most welcome, Nikki! It is my pleasure to feature your amazing talent. And thank you for sharing a bit of your personal life and your tips on how to run a great shop.