Have you heard about Gove mania!? Brighton Etsy seller Katrina of Snorkers Imaginarium crocheted the now famous Michael Gove pin cushion! She posted it on her blog, facebook and Etsy and the rest is history! Her blog post has now had over 21,000 facebook likes, she has been featured in The Argus, the Metro, Have I Got News For You, Meridian, BBC Sussex Radio and more!! Read on to find out how Etsy helped convert the coverage to actual sales…
Firstly please introduce yourself and what you create…
My name is Katrina Stiff and I run Snorkers Imaginarium, where I design, make and sell things that I think of. I started crocheting in November 2011 and set up as a small business in May 2012, initially making simple things like cushions, hair clips and amigurumi creatures. I designed a doll based on Hercule Poirot and found that he was quite popular, so began to focus on the idea of crochet portraits, which are very time consuming to design but absolutely my favourite part of what I do.
The past couple of weeks have gone a little crazy with ‘gove mania’! What made you come up with the idea, and did you ever imagine it would become so popular?!
It has been absolutely crazy!! The idea came about one morning when I literally sat up in bed with the idea of Tory voodoo dolls in my head! I must have heard something I didn’t like on the news on the radio before I fully woke up. For the record, I don’t believe in voodoo, I just thought it would be a bit of fun at the Tories expense and that a few hundred people might see it! I designed the head part and decided to make him as a pincushion so that it would be a functional object and so that the sticking in of pins would be justified. I make an octopus pincushion which works well, so decided to give Gove the octopus base as a little extra joke (make of that what you will) and thus the Michael Gove Voodoo Pincushion was born. In my wildest dreams I would never have imagined it would be so popular, but it clearly struck a chord with a lot of people! A lot of my recent customers have been teachers and if I get a little bored of crocheting the same thing over and over again, I remind myself that I’m facilitating so many people safely venting a little spleen and feeling a bit better about things.
What has been the highlight of ‘gove mania’!?
It’s hard to pick one moment but if I can have three, I would say the first would be the day after I first posted the photo on my blog (www.snorkersimaginarium.com), when it first started to go viral…I was glued to my laptop all day, refreshing the browser every minute or so, watching the ‘likes’ go up by hundreds at a time (currently that blog post has over 22,000 facebook likes). I couldn’t believe it – it felt totally surreal!! The second highlight would be my interview at BBC Sussex radio, simply because it was a good new experience and something I was scared of before but felt empowered by afterwards. I’m happy to hide behind the internet most of the time so I felt quite brave for not wimping out of the interview, and everyone there was so nice – I’m really glad I did it. Thirdly would have to be being featured on Have I Got (A Bit More) News For You just because I love that show and making it onto that felt brilliant! Paul Merton didn’t seem to think my pincushion looks like Michael Gove which was a bit odd but the audience laughed and clapped when it came up on the screen, it brought a whole new crowd of admirers and I got paid for the privilege! I was a bag of nerves waiting for it to come on though!
Have all the press features actually been converting to sales, and if so are these mainly through Etsy? Would you say Etsy has been a great shop window for you, and really helped to convert the features to purchases?
Yes, absolutely – in fact I’ve had to put up a shop announcement stating that I can no longer guarantee Christmas delivery because I have so many orders! I love my Etsy shop – it’s my favourite way to sell – it’s well run, the quality of items available is very high and it’s reasonably priced for sellers too. My one indulgence since this all happened was to treat myself to a necklace based on the molecular structure of serotonin from Made With Molecules on Etsy. I’d been coveting it for months and it is absolutely gorgeous and worth every penny, so I can absolutely say that Etsy is brilliant whichever side of the sale you are on.
How are you going to keep up with making them all?
Basically I will be crocheting day and night for the foreseeable future! It’s a dream come true as crocheting is one of my favourite things to do in the world – aside from the joy of creating, I find it quite meditative and can almost feel the tangles of my mind unravelling as I work. Having said that, if orders continue to come in anything like they have done these last few weeks, I will recruit a helper in order to speed up delivery times. People are prepared to wait a while as they know each one is made by hand and takes several hours to make, but there are limits and I want all my customers to be happy ones.
What is your next plan for a crocheted character?!
At the moment I don’t know. I have lots of ideas but not much time to try things out at the moment, because I’m so busy making Michael Gove pincushions among other things – it’s something I will be mulling over while I work between now and Christmas. I welcome any suggestions! In fact if your readers have any ideas they are welcome to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org!
How can we find out more and purchase?
The link to my Etsy shop is http://www.etsy.com/uk/shop/SnorkersImaginarium (or http://bit.ly/govevoodoo if you want a shorter link) and I have a website (www.snorkersimaginarium.com) and a facebook page (www.facebook.com/SnorkersImaginarium) – anyone wanting to be kept in the loop regarding future products should follow my facebook page as that’s the one I update most regularly, while anyone who subscribes to the mailing list on my website gets a free pattern to make my little crochet octopus (which doubles as a pincushion)!
I’ll be releasing the pattern to make your own Michael Gove Voodoo Pincushion for sale soon, so anyone wanting one for Christmas can make their own (as I can’t guarantee xmas delivery now), or give the pattern as a xmas pressie!