My name is Susie Davis. I live in a small town in central North Carolina called Erwin. It was best known for manufacturing Denim, thus acquiring the nickname, Denim Capital of the World. I moved here from the Chicago suburbs with my son in 2001, remarried, bought a house, built a 10×10 barn in our backyard and loaded it up with my art supplies! It is in this cozy space I make my art.
I have many loves. First was painting with Dr. Martin Dyes which is a form of watercolor. Next came stamping, then wreath making.
When I was in my teens, I worked holidays and summers in my Dad’s gift shops in Chicago, Illinois. He and Mom saw my potential in my freehand floral blank greeting cards. Although they sold an abundance of American Greeting cards, they offered me my own little space to sell my floral cards. I used (and still do!) a Rapidograph pen with black india ink and brushed on the brilliant colors with the dyes. I sold out all the time, it was great fun at that age to be a little entrepreneur! I even had some special orders from customers who wanted more specific styles.
As I grew, married, and bought a house, I made great friends with neighbors who started having those delightful house parties…you know the ones, Tupperware, Pampered Chef and you guessed it, Stampin’Up. I remember thinking, ugh… I am NOT going to spend all this money on these stamps! Little did I know that I would become hopelessly hooked. As a result, my barn/studio houses a full 12 drawer Container Store storage unit filled with stamps. Most recently, I use these for Christmas gift tags which I sell at craft fairs seasonally. I have all the essentials for making Santa’s beard puffy and his stocking hat glittery!
And finally, the fabric wreaths. I actually started out years ago using either white or natural grapevine wreaths and attaching bows made of that wide roll out raffia in various colors. I recall getting cramps in my hands unrolling that stuff! Then, I met with a sorority sister who lived nearby, she showed me a wreath in her son’s nursery she bought and I just fawned over it! She figured out how to make it and shared that information with me. I loved it so much, I went through the motions of searching for patterns that were “just right” and went to town! Fast forward, the wreaths are the best sellers in my shop. I have seasonal, baby, school, and plain color-themed wreaths. Please check them out! You will not find two of a kind, so just know that what I offer online at the time is all I have.
I coordinate colors in my paintings which carries over into my small freehand floral notecards which I also sell on ArtFire. When I create my designs, I paint them with the dyes and the india ink in my barn/studio and then bring them inside where my computer is situated. I scan the art and do any adjustments on Adobe Photoshop then bring it over to Illustrator to set up the cards to be printed. I take the printed pieces to the studio and cut everything by hand with a cork-backed ruler and X-acto knife. They are cut perfectly, if I do say so myself!
I fold them and sweep the bone tool over the edges to make the folds crisp. I am very particular with what goes out to my customers. When I worked at my Dad’s shops, I learned that the customer is always right. Give the customer a good product with superior customer service and they will always come back. I live by this standard. My Dad would be proud!
Years ago I had the privilege of working at a fabulous art studio in the city of Chicago. There, I met numerous artists and learned the trade. I began as an apprentice then made my way into sales. I was the liason between the artists at the studio and the Art Directors at the Ad Agencies. One of our artists created the original Turtle Wax turtle! Things have changed drastically in the art studio world as everything is now computerized. It used to all be done by hand. For example, incredible air brush artists placed ashes on the tip of a cigarettes by airbrushing it on…or changing color on transparencies. I learned SO much from those various interesting and talented artists. It was a very special time in my life.
I landed a customer service job with an Art and Drafting Supply Company based out of Massachusetts. I was able to adhere to my standard to always give my all when it comes to keeping my paying customers very happy. That lasted a beautiful 8 years, as had my prior job at the art studio. I made lifelong friends and was able to be in the field I always adored and for which my passion ran high.
My SooBoo Designs business came to light when I was let go of my position at the local NC private university in their graphic department. My friend really pushed me into starting my own website. Doing so, I could work from home to be there for my son before and after school. After opening a big independent site, I found and chose another venue – ArtFire.com, which was then new to the Artisan circle online. I got in early and I have enjoyed listing with them because of the one low monthly fee. There are no per item fees and I loved this about ArtFire since I had so many, MANY listings. I love that I don’t have to worry about SEO or any of those things that this old dinosaur has no clue how to figure out on her own.
The thing that made my fonts stand out was they were all done by hand.
So, in the beginning of starting my business, my friend had two different shows at her home to promote my personalized stationery items. I would make boards of samples of personalized tags, luggage tags and notecards. This was a WONDERFUL time because all those women who came to those shows were young Moms with kids who needed cute, personalized calling cards or bag tags that the Mom would use as birthday cards, or to give other Mom’s to make play dates, etc. The Moms would choose the colors, maybe a sport the child was in currently, and the design for inside the font. The thing that made my fonts stand out was they were all done by hand.
Personalized items are seriously one of my favorite things! I have even incorporated this style by painting the lettering onto Debutante stools for my girlfriend’s daughters. So cute! I have also painted wood letters, children’s chairs and stools and even a little round table to match. Those items are auctioned off at various church or charity silent auctions always creating a buzz and a good amount of money for them! And I continue to ask myself, “What do I want to do when I grow up?”
I have been recognized by a couple of bloggers. One was A Mom in Red High Heels and Social Moms.com …this latter one was the one with whom I had a discussion about the importance of giving back in my life and business. At that time, I came across an organization in Illinois, called SuperSibs! Sadly, it is now closed, it dealt with siblings of kids with cancer. Those children are often looked over because all parental attention was necessarily spent on the sibling in the hospital or at so many doctor appointments. This organization was created to show these siblings of the ill that they are not forgotten. I was very sad to have gotten the letter that said it just wasn’t getting the recognition or funds to survive.
I have begun my quest for a new charity to which I will give 5% of my sales. So far, I am leaning toward Guiding Eyes for the Blind out of NY. It matches guide dogs with those blind individuals who need trained dogs to help them in their daily lives. It seems like a PERFECT match for me. See, I am a sorority girl. I am a Delta Gamma and our philanthropy is Service for Sight. I also LOVE animals and know the importance of having a pet in your life. I am in the process of acquiring pamphlet materials on the organization so I can include it with every order I ship, hopefully creating awareness for this organization!
Owning my own business has taught me plenty. I had to shut down my first website, which I worked COUNTLESS hours creating, I just could not justify paying what I was paying for hardly any business coming through that site. Since ArtFire offers many payment options through the shopping cart, I closed down the costly authorizenet.com account and use what ArtFire offers. I have also learned that you MUST keep up with your listings and try to make your photos as unified as possible.
What does my future bring? I am constructing lists of realtors in the area, as well as children’s shops/boutiques where I might interest those target markets. For the Realtors, I personally think it would be a great idea for them to hang a wreath on the door of a recently sold house for a nice surprise gift when the new owners roll up to their new home. And regarding the children’s stores…I just ADORE the kid’s fabric wreaths I create. The colors are so precious and I can always picture one of these 16” diameter soft, lightweight wreaths to hang on the wall where the changing table is. Is it just me who thinks these are good ideas? We shall find out!
By having my own e-commerce site, I can enjoy gardening, shopping for fabric and ribbon, crafting and riding my bike.
I really love working from the home. It has enabled me to be there while my son, now 20 and a junior at UNC, has grown, to have a smile on my face when my dear husband gets home from work, and for me to do household things when I need to. By having my own e-commerce site, I can enjoy gardening, shopping for fabric and ribbon, crafting and riding my bike.
If you are a beginner with ArtFire, WELCOME! It’s a great community. We will help you along the way, whether it be ArtFire employees or other informative Artisans… you will get the answers you need when they arise. ArtFire does all the legwork for you once you’ve uploaded all your great photos of your work and done all the listing requirements. Just make sure you use good meta tags!
Thank you for reading my story. It was fun to go through this process and I appreciate the recognition!