Ever have the feeling that you needed to change direction in your life to follow your passion? I think many of us have woken up one morning to realize we’ve walked far down a path that isn’t what we intended to do. For Mandy from […]
Tag: Crafts Business
Meet Nikki: She is awesome!
Nikki, a one time teacher and now professional Mom to two kids and crafter has an unbelievable talent for making just about anything. For years she would encourage friends to get crafty, saying “You could SO make that” when they would see trendy items in stores or catalogs. Today Nikki spends time teaching people how to make things with her fantastic tutorials and simple craft kits. We talked with Nikki recently to find out about her life, her crafty loves, and what keeps her going when the going gets tough.
You might have noticed last week that Meylah, a site I write for and often post about on Craft Ideas Weekly, launched a brand new arts and crafts selling platform. I sat down with Courtney Dirks, one of the founding team members of Meylah, to learn more about how Meylah got started and how they plan to revolutionize the way artists and crafters sell their work online.
Hi Courtney, Meylah is pretty cool…what inspired you to start it?
I never in a million years thought I’d be standing where I am today! For the past few years, I struggled to turn my handmade jewelry business (Courtney Rian Designs) into a well-oiled online machine. During this same time, my husband Jason and his friend Ram were having similar experiences (Jason with his photography and Ram with his son, Chirag’s paintings). We absolutely love so many of the existing online handmade venues (marketplaces) to sell, but we felt there was an opportunity to make selling online more effective and easy. So, we teamed up with some great individuals and decided to embark on an adventure to create the perfect solution based on our own personal experiences.
It sounds like the experience you had selling your own work online helped you develop a clear vision on what was missing from existing craft selling sites. So many of us use several sites to blog/sell/develop communities…it really makes sense to combine those efforts and make it more manageable.
Can you give our readers an idea of what is different about the new Meylah platform and how artists can use it?
To put it briefly, Meylah is a blog platform for creative entrepreneurs (artists, photographers, crafters, musicians, authors, etc. – you name it) with an integrated store so they can sell their products. We have also created an innovative solution called Byte-Syze Learning where you can create your own tutorials (with video and images) to sell in your store or give them away for free to build your brand. You can also use your personalized Meylah site to connect with your social networks like Facebook, Twitter, Flickr and more.
All of us who own businesses know finding funding can be tough, even when you have a great idea. How did you fund your venture…was it difficult?
Funding in my opinion is DEFINITELY the hardest aspect of launching a startup. This is where I run for the hills and thankfully, this is where Ram and Jason feel more comfortable. So far we’ve funded Meylah through our friends, family, and professional networks. We are continually raising money to improve and develop Meylah’s solution as we have many ideas to make it more effective and valuable for creative entrepreneurs.
What is the thing you like best about the work you are doing with Meylah?
It may sound cliché, but my favorite aspect of the work I’m doing at Meylah is connecting with the community. I love conducting interviews, buying products (when I can afford it!), reading and commenting on blogs, managing our Twitter and Facebook accounts, and managing my own Meylah site. Working in an online space is perfect for me because I absolutely love to write and to exchange in dialogue with the creative community online.
Are you crafty? What types of arts or crafts do you do in your spare time? (feel free to link to any tutorials you have created or that you love)
I consider myself to be fairly crafty, but I pale in comparison to the likes of folks like Cathe Holden or Dionne Christiansen. My passion is making wire jewelry. To learn a really basic wire jewelry technique and to see me demo Meylah’s Byte-Syze Learning tool, click here! If you aren’t familiar with Byte-Syze Learning, it’s a tool within Meylah that you can use to create tutorials through video, text, and images. Once you create a Byte-Syze Learning, you are able to sell or offer your tutorials for free. I love coming across online tutorials (like this recipe tutorial by Ree Drummond) that demonstrate the lesson in a step-by-step approach. I can hardly wait to see what people are going to teach through Byte-Syze Learning!
Right now I’m also working on creating some eco-friendly jewelry, which I hope to start selling soon on my new Meylah site, Courtney Rian Designs, but I’m still testing the quality and durability before I make it available to the public.
Fortunately I’m blessed to be surrounded by amazing family and friends that encourage me creatively and even let me drag them to The Paper Zone, to our local bead stores, and even to the world’s largest gem show in Tucson once for the weekend of my dreams.
Who is the most inspiring artist, creative, or business person you know and why?
Ooohhh, tough question. I don’t think I can narrow this down to one, so I won’t even try. Here’s an answer for each category:
Artist: My mom raised me to have a great appreciation for Frida Kahlo, a Mexican painter from the mid 20th century who was married to the famous painter, Diego Rivera. If you don’t recognize Frida’s name, you would probably still recognize her work. Much of it is very dark and gloomy, but I find her to be absolutely fascinating and the obstacles and tragedies she overcame in life are beyond believable.
Creative: Even though I mentioned her earlier, right now I draw a lot of inspiration from Ree Drummond (The Pioneer Woman and “accidental country girl”). She has a fabulous blog, she’s hilarious and her life really seems well-balanced, even as she juggles all her success.
Business: Over the last year I’ve fallen in love with the features offered at the photo editing site Picnik, which has led me to research and want to know more about the original founders as well as their CEO, Jonathan Sposato. When I read this interview Jonathan did with Techflash, it was an affirmation that the original flutter in my heart for Picnik was for a good reason (his profile even mentions that his favorite website is Etsy, so I knew he must be a good guy). I’ve never met anyone from the Picnik team personally, but from every experience I’ve had so far with their services, I’ve been delighted and I hope Meylah can adopt a similar company culture that Picnik exhibits. Recently, I listened to Jonathan give the keynote speech at the Seattle 2.0 awards, and after I heard him speak, I respected him even more. In his speech, Jonathan credited all his success to his team, even quoting that “90% of success is in the casting.” I truly believe that great success is dependent on the people and teams you surround yourself with.