I’m really excited about introducing this weeks #FeatureFriday as I’ve been a huge fan from the moment I set eyes on Natasha’s delicate, intricate and stunning paper cuts. I think you’ll agree after reading this that her work is beautiful and would make a fabulous addition to you home, or a lovely gift for a loved one… young or old!
Hi! Could you introduce yourself and tell us a little bit about you and your Etsy shop? I’m Natasha and I live in London, Maida Vale to be exact. Natsula Designs was born out of a desire to live a fulfilled and happy life. I have lived a colourful and exciting life thus far – I have worked in Advertising in New York, as a Sports Therapist in London and I’ve been a Dive Instructor and Boat Tour Leader in Thailand (my favourite place to be is under the water).
With each job I’ve been searching for a sense of fulfillment and contentment and although each job has given me a different sense of myself, something has been missing. It’s taken me many years to realise that being creative is what nurtures my soul, so I’ve set about doing just that and I’ve never been happier. I take great pleasure in creating my artworks and, in turn, I hope they bring joy and light into people’s homes.
In my Etsy shop I sell original artwork, as well as fine art limited edition giclée prints of some of my original works, and greetings cards which have extra embellishments making them even more special. My collages are for both little ones and grown ups!
Are you working full time on your art? I’d love to work on my art full time, but realistically that’s not possible at the moment. My main job is as a sports therapist, but I’m self employed so I make my own hours and am lucky enough to have free days where I can concentrate my efforts on my art.
How did the name Natsula Designs come about? I live with my wonderful fur baby who makes me laugh and feel loved every day. She also shares my company name… I’m Nat and she’s Sula and so Natsula Designs was born!
Sula is gorgeous! She is my beloved, black, soft and furry four-legged cockapoo friend, who makes me laugh and feel loved every day!
Cockapoos have such a beautiful nature, she is gorgeous! Sula is five now and a true companion. She makes me laugh every day and is incredibly empathetic – reading my moods better than any human. When I’m happy she’s happy, when I’m sad she comforts. Where I go, she goes!
Tell us a little bit about how and where you work? I work in my kitchen, which I’ve set up as my studio as it’s lovely and bright. I use predominantly authentic Japanese chiyogami papers for their vibrant colours, luminescence and texture. They bring the collage alive. I also use Italian marbled papers, which are beautiful and also reflect my heritage. I use a scalpel or scissors to attentively cut out my shapes.
Tell us a bit more about your Italian Heriatge? My father is Italian and now lives there as do all my relatives. My brothers and I spent all our school holidays in Italy as we had a family home just outside of Florence. I love everything about Italy – the delicious food, the warmth of the people, the stunning countryside! It flows through my veins – I am super passionate about things, have a fiery temper! and talk with my hands! I don’t get to visit now as much as I’d like – probably about 2 times a year, because of work commitments and my fur baby!
What inspires your work? I’m greatly inspired by nature, colour and form. All my artworks are driven by nature and colour and each piece has a great deal of movement either in the subject matter or by virtue of the shapes I form with the paper.
When are you at your most creative? I’m a morning person – up at the crack of dawn, which is when I’m at my most productive. But this means that by early evening I’m useless! And usually in my pjs and slippers after my last little walk with Sula around 7pm! My ideas come to me in all sorts of ways – sometimes they hit me while I’m in bed unable to sleep – I always keep a notebook on my bedside table to jot things down. Other times, I will be inspired by something I see in nature, as I’m walking Sula. Sometimes, I will be working on a piece and suddenly go in a completely different direction.
Do you ever get creatively blocked and if so what do you find is the best way to get ‘unblocked’? I think every creative person becomes blocked at some point. I often get stuck and start to panic thinking I’ll never have any more ideas! But they come…. as soon as I let go of that panic. I do something completely different – go to the gym, walk Sula, meet up with friends – just allow myself to relax and then the ideas get a chance to form.
I imagine the scalpel is the most important tool in your toolbox? I love my scalpels! Some people collect shoes – I collect blades! The length of time it takes to replace a blade really depends on what I’m cutting, i.e. the type of paper, and how long I’m cutting in one go. But generally I’ll change them once a day.
Wow that’s a lot of blades you get through! How have you found your Etsy journey so far? I opened at the end of last year, but I would say that I really focused on it from the beginning of this year and it’s been a bit slow if I’m honest. Now I’m not the most patient person so perhaps I need to relax and wait to see if things pick up! Fingers crossed they will! In the meantime I’m exploring other avenues. As my Gran used to say – “Don’t keep all your eggs in one basket!” Very wise words!
You say your Etsy shop has been a bit slow… did you do the Etsy Resolution course or have you been involved in any business courses that are aimed at helping Etsy shops…? Yes, I did the Etsy Resolution course and other business courses, but I think the problem is that Etsy is becoming very saturated. And I think a lot of shops have suffered with the new algorithm they introduced a few months ago.
How do you find working on SEO in your Etsy shop? Have you used Etsy Rank yet? I find SEO quite difficult – probably because it’s boring and I have a short attention span! I’ve used Etsy Rank too to search for keywords. I probably need to spend some time on Etsy and tidy the SEO up but it’s finding the time!
How do you find the social media and social networking side of owning your own business – do you find it time consuming? I often wish I could clone myself multiple times so that one of me could be working on the social media, another me could be creating, another me could be marketing, another me could be working on the website… and the list goes on. As a one man band, I sometimes get overwhelmed by how much there is to do, and I find it hard to prioritise things, as in my mind they are all important.
I totally feel your pain! The Leapup shop and my other Etsy shop Rose Filtered are facing exactly the same challenge. It feels a little bit like spinning plates at the moment, if you lose focus on one area, it drops and you never have enough time to focus on one area as much as you would like – aaaarrrggghhh!
Anyway tell us a little bit about the local shop where you sell? I’m actually selling in a clinic! My friend is an osteopath and owns a clinic close to me. My cards do really well there and I’ve just put my framed children’s pieces on display and they are also doing well! I’m so grateful to Byron and Sophia for being so supportive of my work and giving me this wonderful opportunity.
That sounds fantastic and it just goes to show other Etsy sellers that sometimes it’s good to think outside of the box. It may not need to be the traditional ‘gift shop’ that you target, maybe products could sell in more quirky/unusual places that are less saturated, where maybe other people haven’t thought of selling?
Any lessons learned so far that you would like to share with other Etsy makers or online sellers? Don’t give up!!! You just have to plug away and power through and believe in yourself and your products.
Good advice which I’ll try and take on board myself! Your favourite make so far? Oh, that’s a tough one! In my children’s range I love “A Touch of Magic” – and for the adults I’ve just finished a 3D paper artwork which I’ve now hung in my bedroom and don’t want to sell!! It’s called “Dragon Eye.”
I think your work is beautiful ‘Dragon Eye’ is stunning! My fave make is your piano with birds flying out, I absolutely love it… are you musical? My brother is the musical one! I played as a child but was too impatient! I wanted to be able to play like a professional pianist but without having to practice. My grandmother was musical and I remember sitting next to her as a child practicing and playing duets.
Your best seller? The Fairy Range in my Children’s collection – in particular “Winged Dreams” and “A Touch of Magic.”
What’s next for your shop? I’m currently working on preparing some of my original work to sell as limited edition giclee prints.
They are beautiful and well worth a look! Where can we come and say ‘hi’?
Etsy Shop: www.natsuladesigns.com
Thank you so much Natasha for taking the time to contribute to our #FeatureFriday, I hope you’ll come back and let us know of your future collections and successes.
Dear readers, if you have a moment, Natasha’s shop is well worth a look, her prints and original papercuts would make such stunning gifts for loved ones. If you’ve read this far please help us to spread the word of Natasha’s beautiful work (by sharing this short link: http://wp.me/p7dAyG-ca on Twitter or Facebook). It’s incredibly difficult as a sole trader/small business to get the word out and to get your work seen, so any help with this would be very much appreciated. Thank you!
Next week Laura Bittles from Ip Dip Design joins us and trust me, with her bold and cheerful doodles and prints, you’re in for a real treat! Her work is the prefect ‘pick me up’ and I really hope you can pay us a visit and come and say hi!
PS you might also be interested in reading about some beautiful geometric designs that are showcased on our Rose Filtered #FeatureFriday blog post. If you get a chance pop over and meet Natalie North Design…