Disclaimer: Seller Spotlights are hand selected by the ArtFire Staff and contacted personally. We ask sellers to tell us a bit more about themselves and their business through their own eyes.
Pink Camellia Silk Crepe Scarf
My real live name is Susan Morgan Hoth, I have signed my artwork as Morgan since I was a kid, so I figured why stop? Every other family named their daughter Susan back then, so we Susans always called each other by our last names anyway. Plus, my married name is weird.
“A person only has so much wall space, but can always use a new scarf”
I create one-of-a-kind silk scarves using thickened fiber-reactive dye as anyone would use watercolors. Each piece is a singular idea; sometimes I use the same subject like a favorite flower, but I never repeat designs. When I was learning to paint, I experimented with watercolors, oils, pastels — but after a few years found that a person only has so much wall space, but can always use a new scarf. I wanted to create something beautiful that also had a practical use; I went through a period of designing clothing, but forget sewing, clothing is just too labor-intensive for me. I admit to still having fantasies in that direction, and may do some experimentation later this summer. I have made some stunning silk blouses, but decided to keep them for myself.
Morgan Painting Scarves in her Studio
“It’s Just so Sue Morgan” – Nancy Belfer
I fell in love with fabric in 1973 at the end of undergraduate school, and taught myself through trial & error. My mentor was Nancy Belfer
, a prodigious artist and textile design professor; I would take my “things” in for her to critique. She would say, “It’s just so Sue Morgan” which wasn’t much help but was encouraging. I did manage to get the address of Dharma Trading out of her — I had to beg. Now it’s a huge website and I am on a first name basis with the CEO. Their catalog started out as a piece of construction paper…
I never stopped fooling around with dyes and fabric, but as a career teacher I really couldn’t concentrate until summer vacation. I used to weave white rag rugs on a floor loom, then dye them in designs — but stringing a loom was too time consuming for me. Plus, I wanted the rugs to be machine washable, and the rug would wear out before the colors did. Therefore: Scarves. Every woman of a certain age knows why she NEEDS to wear scarves.
Silk Crepe Scarf Teal and Chartreuse
By the time I retired from teaching in 2005, I was able to focus on making scarves and only when I had enough inventory I began to sell them online. This was soon after getting my freedom from the 9 to 5 job. My best customers are those who have bought once and get addicted — and are always women who have a style of their own and apparently just fall in love with a particular piece.
I was published in “The Economy of You
” By Kimberly Palmer, who found me in a US News & World Report
article. I was also featured on MSN.com
and New Online USNews
. Not the type of magazines that really gave me exposure to potential customers, but one thing usually leads to another.
I sell online because I like my privacy and after 25 years of working with teenagers every day and their parents, I am over saturated with dealing with people in person. I live alone with my two dogs outside of Richmond, VA, and would be perfectly happy to do what I am doing into the conceivable future.
Morgans studio, where all the silky magic happens!
When I am not working in my studio, I am with my dogs searching for adventure and inspiration, gardening, and reading. I cover for my teacher buddies off and on, because I get to see old colleagues and bust on the kids. My husband of 35 years passed away suddenly last year, and I have since developed the attitude that planning for the long term may often lead to disappointment and heartache, so I don’t do it!
“Focus on your work and keep making it better.”
What would I say to someone who has just opened an ArtFire shop? Be patient. FOCUS ON YOUR WORK and keep making it better. Don’t get stuck in a rut with your designs. I have a website
floating around in cyberspace and have business cards that I forget to put in my purse. I don’t promote on Facebook. It’s a privacy thing; I stay in touch with friends I don’t get to see very often or at all, and don’t like the idea of advertising there. It works for some. I do a twitpic when I have a new design, but all the promotional stuff eats time, and for me, it’s not what I want to be doing. I manage to sell, but sometimes it takes me days to produce a new piece and am in no hurry. Being in a hurry or desperate to sell sucks the life out of it for me. If I did not have a pension, I couldn’t afford to be as free as I am.
Large Silk Crepe Scarf Bubbles Beads
“I like the ArtFire attitude. It’s economically great, it feels almost free!”
Presentation is important. I designed my own stickers for boxes, return address, and always add a card in the box with a pic of the scarf, washing instructions, signed and copyright date, and a nice lavender bundle. When she opens the box, it’s a sensory experience. Little pointer: I buy great old wallpaper rolls at Habitat Stores and use it to wrap the box. It’s pretty classy and more reasonably priced than other options.
I like ArtFire because I have control over the way my shop looks–and I like the ArtFire attitude. It’s economically great, because I don’t have to pay commission and pay my AF bill once a year. It feels almost free!
Lavender Teal Extra Long Silk Scarf