Artfire Artisan Spotlight: Heather, RedRoseConfections
Posted by pauljvguillaume on 07/18/2011 at 12:39:40
Please start by telling us a little about yourself and your studio.
I had been in the retail bakery business for fifteen years and have always had a passion for sweet things. After deciding to turn to the retail corporate world it was not even two years later that myself as well as many others were laid off. It was in that dark time that I, with the help of my husband, found my happiness again through creating treats that make people happy. I decided in 2010 to strike out on my own and make chocolates by my rules and create what I want without restraint. I found freedom through confection.
My studio is a collection of my love of chocolate and making people smile. It is full of my signature chocolate barks, items that are smothered in chocolate, chocolate cupcake picks, plain chocolate pieces and even some more intricate pieces. Chocolate is one of the ways I express myself as an artist and treat my work as masterpieces.
If there's one thing that defines you, what is it?
I am defined by my ability to look outside the box and create products that are unique and edgy as well as carry more common items. I search around to try to find the most unique molds that you won't find anywhere else so that I can provide something for any occasion. If I don't carry the mold and a customer wants it, I have purchased them especially for them to complete their special order.
Inside my shop you will find anything from Celtic crosses and skulls to pastel butterflies and roses. I also make cookies and chocolate cover them also! My work is noted for having something glittery or that sparkles to give it a little something extra.
What role does your family play in your art?
My husband is my inspiration to all my work. It is he who pushes me to be all that I can be and has stood behind me. He is my muse and our love for each other comes through into my pieces of chocolate. On top of all these things, my husband and my friends are my taste testers who get to sample all of my new barks and cookies before I put them in my shop. What my customers order has been (happily) taste tested and family approved!
Where do you live and what is it like?
I live in Pennsylvania, the city of champions, complete with the Pittsburgh Steelers, Pirates and Penguins. The weather here is a surprise from one day to the next. It has been sixty degrees one day and a sky full of snow the next. You never know quite when to pack up your seasonal clothes. All and all, it is a beautiful city and I love it here.
Where did you learn your medium?
I first learned cake decorating and basic baking and chocolate work when I worked in a retail grocery store as an apprentice. During that time I made cakes and icings and made chocolate pieces and drizzles for over cakes and edible showpieces. Learning how to write on cakes with icing made it very easy to do the detail work I do on my chocolates. Over the years I honed my skills and began to teach myself how to paint and manipulate chocolate into works of edible art. It was a lot of trial and error and a lot of reading that has gotten me to the point that I am today.
What are your goals with your ArtFire studio?
The goal of my studio is to become a shop where people will turn for all their holiday and special occasion needs. Instead of typical flowers, I'd love to see people giving the gift of my edible roses for something different. It is my hope that increasingly more customers will patronize me and other artisans as their awareness grows to the handmade community. The chocolates that are purchased from me are made with love and detailed care, not mass-produced as you find them to be in retail. This is what makes me stand out and is my point of pride. I turned on the oven and heated the water for the double boiler and mixed the chocolate. I used a paintbrush and bags to paint the details on your candy and tied each bow on each piece. I take pride that I did it and not a machine. Every piece will be slightly different and to me, that is the best part.
How did you come to find a home on ArtFire?
I was reading Woman's Day magazine when I came across an article on selling online and ArtFire was one of the shops listed. When I read that you could set up a free account, I thought I would give it a shot. After realizing the wonderful community here, within a week I decided to go all the way and be PRO. Prior to the article I had been curious on how I could go about getting my chocolates to people out of state and this was my solution. There were many other venues to choose from to sell but there were so many fees and so little support that ArtFire was the natural choice.
What is the best piece of advice you can give other artists?
My advice to other artists is if it seems like you will never get your first sale, don't give up and never stop promoting yourself. Use social media, use blogs and most importantly read the 45day guild for ArtFire. That guide as well as many of the others hold a wealth of knowledge and teach you how to be well on your way to being successful. Remember that every person that you speak to either virtually or in person is a potential customer.
Why do you think that buying and selling handmade products benefits society?
Buying and Selling handmade benefits society because it is supporting a change to the distribution of wealth from large chains to individuals. You are not buying from a machine; you are buying from a person that crafts each piece that you purchase. It is easy to go to a store and pick out a gift, but it says a lot if you go through the effort of contacting an artisan with a request and they make something specifically for you. Everything that you have is one of a kind and that is what makes it special.