Our next member interview features the talented husband and wife team Kimi and Stacy Sandberg of Grahtoestudio. Stacy and Kimi handcraft hair forks and other accessories from exotic wood. Their shop is a feast for the eyes offering very unique and high quality hair toys made of many different kinds of rare and exotic woods. Kimi is a founding member of The Treasury Tree and a former leader. If our team had a team mother Kimi would fit the title. She is a dear sweet person with a kind word for everyone and a larger heart than her home state of Utah. I have had the extreme honor of working with Kimi and Stacy on some collaborative projects and can attest to the incredible integrity of these fine crafts folk and the impeccable workmanship of their products.
We are all artisans, artists, crafters, sculptures, DIYers, but what does it take to go from a hobby to business?
WOW! big question! WE actually had dreamed of doing our art full time for years. After we both lost our jobs within months of each other in late 2008 and early 2009 I started our etsy shop up as soon as I could because I needed something to do and we needed income! We have always been artists and we had done several craft fairs here and there between working, so we had some product to list in our new shop. However we knew nothing about selling online. I got some help from fellow etsians, but it was a tough year. We had to learn photography, how to play nice online, how to join Twitter and Facebook and make a blog. Wow, I had been a dental assistant for 13 years and this was so foreign to me!! I still have so much computer stuff to learn. I was blessed to join Handmadeology University on a scholarship that year, and Timothy Adams is a great teacher!!! That first year, we had 109 sales, TOTAL. Shortly after that things started to take off. We began to get orders and focus more on what people wanted and off we went!
How do you do it? We designed our hair forks according to what we visually liked and what felt good in our hair! We are very influenced by Art Nouveau, and several artists that we love like M.C. Escher, Salvadore Dali. We love tribal designs and organic flowing lines. Kim actually went to school for art, and Stacy worked in cabinetry the last 20 years.
What are your inspirations?
Mostly nature, hair and each other! We see a color or shape, and it takes off in our imagination. We talk or draw it into existence, then make it! Some things work out great, other things flop and we hammer them or burn them in memoriam! Alot of times our inspirations come to us in dreams.
What is your greatest marketing genius? HA! I wish we had some of those! I haven't done that well at marketing us yet but but I do think that the best way to market is to find the group you are targeting and get in with them some how. We have paid for ads that did nothing for us, and we have had someone on one blog make a comment about our hair forks and get tons of traffic from it! So it is all about target audience for us. We have a very specific product mostly for long haired folks. We do have a few other items that are general. The key is getting the traffic to your shop and we have found that a few good reviews have helped way beyond some of the badly placed expensive ads. Another wonderful marketing tool is to make your packages/packing really special. That has gotten us so much positive feedback and referrals! People love to get a package that feels like a present! You are creating these wonderful items. Pack them as the gems and works of art that they are! By putting in just a little time you can find or make some wonderful packing materials! I know for me, a beautifully wrapped package will send me back to a shop, so that's why we do that too!
Tell us more about your products?We strive to make a hair fork or sticks that are for very long and thick hair. We aim to make heirloom quality pieces that will not break with hair stress, that are comfortable while looking stunning. I LOVE the early 1900's combs and hair decorations that were worn then, and that was a big influence in making our forks bold and big. We did not want them to be like many others we saw that are small, dainty and breakable! We also love to decorate our forks in a way that no other hair fork makers are doing, with custom inlays, decorations, and very detailed designs. Stacy is a genius with his hands and can even carve a chain in a toothpick!
On our blog we are doing a series on our studio and on Stacy's hands, they are very special hands..he lost 4 fingers on his left hand over 14 years ago!
WE absolutely LOVE what we are doing now, and being able to do this full time is a fabulous dream come true..and LOTS of hard work. There are no days off when you work for yourself. There are no punch out and leave it at the office days. It is always with us, and sometimes it is really stressful. But we love what we do, and we do what we love as the poster says! We occasionally grab a Netbook, and head for a KOA in a neighboring beautiful area. We live in the most beautiful state of Utah! We can drive to several national parks easily in a day, including the Grand Canyon. We love to camp and keep our travels simple, enjoying the journey and the destination. We try to do that in our lives as well! We hope that our love of creating is felt in every piece we send out.