Meet Our Vendor: elle crée
Often people leave UCU feeling inspired to make stuff. To get their creative mojo flowing. What better way to do so with some awesome kits. We are really excited to have some great new kit vendors including elle crée! She has beautiful work that could be fun for the whole family! We are so excited for this show!
Who are you and what do you do?
My name is Rachel Austen and I’m an illustrator based in PDX who makes paint-by-number kits and shadowbox night-lights. My illustrations are vintage-inspired and often nostalgic. I love coming up with products to make from them that inspire creativity and imagination in their recipients.
What’s the latest thing you’ve been working on?
I just released a paint-by-number kit called “Frida with Flowers” which features the beautiful and inspiring Mexican artist. It has already become one of my most popular kits. The bright colors are really satisfying to paint!
What was your first memory of making something?
I’ve always loved creating things and seemed to develop an entrepreneurial spirit pretty early. By the time I was 14, I was already figuring out how to sell hand-painted wooden jewelry and polymer clay miniatures at local craft bazaars and consignment stores.
What is your favorite new product for 2018?
I’m really excited about a new series of paint-by-number kits featuring well-known activists – César Chávez, Martin Luther King Jr., and Rosa Parks. My kits are geared toward ages 13 to adult, and I hope these kits in particular can be used to inspire underrepresented young people to use their creativity to make the world a better place.
What do you love most about craft show vending?
Running your own small business can be full of ups and downs, successes and failures. I like being at craft shows so I can see the way people react to my products and to be reminded that what I’m creating can bring a lot of joy to other people. At a recent show, a customer who bought one of my paint-by-number kits said to me, “Hey… thanks for thinking of this.” People are really encouraging and it helps keep me motivated to press on!
Is this a full-time business for you?
This business is full time and I’m really grateful I have this chance to make a go of something I absolutely love doing! I’ve tried running small creative businesses on the side before and there’s just never enough time in the day to really make it successful. I’m only a year into selling my kits full-time, and I still feel like there’s not enough time to accomplish everything I’d like to do – but at least I’ve got a better shot at it!
Where do you see your business in 3 years?
I just started selling paint-by-number kits wholesale in the Pacific Northwest and to a few boutiques beyond. In three years I’d like to be selling wholesale all over the country. I also have a dream to branch out into other illustration-based product lines like wallpaper, wrapping paper, or fabric.
What’s something you’ve learned through running your business in the past 12 months?
I’ve learned to listen to my customers and to adjust my product based on their feedback. I started out making 12×16 paint-by-number canvases that would take about 20 hours to paint. I figured out pretty quickly that that felt a little overwhelming to the average person, so I redesigned my kits for an 8×10 canvas with pre-printed designs in the background. Now the kits only take about 4-5 hours to complete, but the customer still has the satisfaction of having created a frame-worthy piece of art!
What’s your favorite item that you sell?
I think I love my Peter Pan shadowbox nightlight the best – probably because it took so long to come to fruition. The night-lights were one of my first business ideas back in 2016, but it took 18 months to actually get them made. After figuring out it would be too expensive to have them manufactured locally, I decided to build them myself and had to learn to use a table saw and CNC router. There was blood, sweat, and tears involved in their creation – literally. The Peter Pan design is my favorite because it was my first and J. M. Barrie’s classic children’s story is still one of my favorite books. I wanted to bring some of the wonder that I remember feeling the first time I read it to life in this little diorama.
Be sure you are following us on Instagram for your chance to win your very own “Frida with Flowers” 8×10 paint-by-number kit – comes with artist-quality rolled canvas, set of custom-mixed paints, and brushes! Get your creative mojo!