This is the 1st post in a continuing series called “Meet and Greet”. We’ll be sharing the results of interviews we’ve conducted with fascinating folks in our niche, that you either know about already,
or will want to know more about.
Simply put, Vicki’s business is selling hand dyed fabric. She currently offers cotton fabrics in a variety of textures and patterns through her online Etsy Shop. Her specialties are gradients and monthly color palettes, and alert readers probably recall that Vicki’s magical fabrics are featured in our purple & gold Quattro (below, on right) that was discussed at length in a previous post. (I’m sure she can hook you up with some if you’re interested.) Later this year, she says that she will be offering online fabric dyeing classes.
Vicki lives outside Richmond, VA with her husband of 20 years, and is a self-described fabric fanatic!Through the magic of an internet connection, Vicki and i recently talked at length about her career, her studio and much more!
Vicki, I know you had a career prior to starting your on-line business. What was your former job like and how did you get started in business on your own?
Almost a year ago I “retired” from corporate America. I know it is currently fashionable to bash corporations in all forms but I had some great jobs and opportunities at some wonderful companies. I spent the last 12 years at a Property and Casualty insurance company as a Vice President of Special Projects. I managed our corporate insurance program, several acquisition projects and a large company restructuring. Those jobs gave this girl from a small Virginia town the opportunity to see a lot of the USA and to spend several weeks over 2 years in London. If not for health issues, I would probably still be there.
I knew that I wanted to make some aspect of my hobby into a new career so I spent that last few years of my work life trying different things to figure out what would be best for me. That was a very important step. If I had started with my first idea I might have totally ruined my hobby. Fabric dyeing was the perfect business for me. I started it before I quit work so that I could give it a test drive to see if I was compatible for self-employment and it gave us a few years to get our finances in order.
What inspires you? What do you do or where do you go to seek inspiration for your work?
Oh gosh, everything inspires me! I live in a rural area with lots of beautiful scenery; I love to browse photos on the web for inspiration for my gradients and fabric palettes and I get inspiration from the books I read. I also find a lot of inspiration in the work that others do in our large online fiber community.
Tell us what a typical day is like for you.
The first thing I do every morning is go to the basement and ride my recumbent bike for 10 miles. I try to get my exercise over with before I am fully awake. I hate exercising but it really helps me manage my allergies and asthma. As an added incentive, I only allow myself to read my magazines if I am on the bike. I have my breakfast smoothie while I go through my blog Reader and respond to any customer emails…or watch the birds on the feeders. After that I spend an hour getting some additional exercise of some kind doing something around the house or in the yard. I don’t let myself get too sidetracked with house work. After that the day is MINE!
I’m in the dye studio 1 or 2 days a week. On other days I might be ironing or posting fabric to my shop, quilting, making samples or writing. Late afternoons and evenings, I’m often back on the web or doing some sort of hand work. I try to leave the weekend for my own projects or taking photographs or, in the Fall, watching football.
What is your work space like?
Vicki was kind enough to send us fabulous pictures of her work spaces. For example, the photo to the right displays the pressing table that she and her husband built by combining 5 cabinet kits from Target. For a virtual tour of Vicki’s sewing areas, click here.
I am so lucky to have 3 great work spaces. On the mail floor of the house I have my sewing room (about 13’ x 17’). This was designed to be the family room of the house. In the unfinished basement I have my dye studio and my longarm studio. Those 2 spaces together are about 600 square feet. Let this be a lesson to anyone wanting more studio space. No matter how much space you have you will grow to overfill it! My husband actually offered me the living room for expansion. It was tempting but I knew that I would cram it full too so I declined, for now.
My spaces are not fancy. I am definitely a function over form girl! I like white and gray colors for walls, cabinet and flooring. That way I know that nothing, other than my clutter, will interfere with what I am working on. For me, the most important investment is lighting and we’ve added extra lighting to all three spaces.
What are you most excited about right now?
I am excited about everything. I made this career change June 1, 2010 and as I creep up on my anniversary I still have more ideas and plans than I can possibly get done. I get up every day looking forward to “working”. I love getting emails from new customers looking for something custom dyed and they have give me some wacky challenges! I am excited about all of the things that Terri Stegmiller and I are doing at 3 Creative Studios and I am thrilled to have my fabric featured in one of Studio Kat’s new bag designs. Every single day is a joy!
Do you have a secret hobby or pastime?
I don’t know if any of these things are secrets but I love bird watching, taking photographs, reading history and biographies and my biggest vices are that I watch a lot of TV and eat excessive amounts of chocolate.
SPEED Round Questions
1- Who is your hero? My Mom. She worked full time while raising 4 children (5 if you count my Dad on some days!) and her parenting skills can’t be beat.
2- Tell us something on your ‘bucket list’. Honestly, I don’t really have one! I am doing what love every day, what more could I want?
3- What is your favorite color to design with? As a fabric dyer I love all colors. I wear mostly red and black but I work with all colors. I try to dye colors that my customers love so that usually means a lot of autumn colors and blues. Often I will challenge myself to work with a palette that I may not use in my home. It’s a good exercise and I encourage everyone to work with a color palette outside your comfort zone from time to time.
4- What book is on your nightstand right now? I read while I exercise in the morning and am currently reading Champlain’s Dream. I listen to audiobooks while I sew and I am listening to Thunderhead (Preston/Child).
5- What can make you smile, even on the worst of days? My husband, Chris and my best friend, Anne are always reliable. I also have a large circle of friends, both local and virtual! While I have a lot of health issues, none are particularly life-threatening. They are just limiting. A long time ago I chose to focus on the positive side of that. Since I can’t be outside a lot or do much traveling, I have lots more sewing and dyeing time. It only takes a little pile of fabric scraps to make me smile!
Where to find Vicki on the web
Vicki’s newsletter- http://3creativestudios.com/newsletter.htm
Vicki’s website (with Terri Stegmiller)- http://3creativestudios.com, they feature a Guest Artist every month and have LOADS of free projects and several ongoing challenges.
Did you enjoy meeting Vicki Welsh? If so, why not leave a little shout out to her in the comments section below?
And as usual, please feel free to forward this post to your friends. (There’s some links below to make that easy for you.)