Tell us a bit about yourself.
My name is Chu Ling, I’m Chinese, from garden city Singapore. I have always been enchanted by the beautiful colors and texture of stained glass and so, I picked up skills in stained glass making after I graduated in 1993 with a diploma in Product Design. I used to sell my works at fairs, but now I’m a mother working from home and taking care of my 9 months old daughter. Juggling between my baby and my passion is pretty tiring and tough, but by the end of the day, a smile on my baby’s face and a sweet email from my customers are enough to make everything worthwhile 🙂
What is the first thing you can remember making by hand? How and why did you make it?
My family was still very poor when I was a kid in primary school. I was given only enough money to buy a bowl of noodle for lunch in school. One day, a classmate was showing off her box of 36 color pencils. I looked at my miserable 8 color pencils and sighed. Then I came up with an idea to earn some extra money. I made small notebooks out of recycled papers and sell them to my classmates. I tore unused pages from my old jotter books, cut them into 4/4 and drew lines on them. Then I colored on the leftover cardboards used for my school projects, and used them as front and back covers for the notebooks. After so much work, I managed to sell only 2. I never saved enough to buy a box of 36 color pencils, but lucky me… I won a box of 48 color pencils at a drawing competition, yay! 🙂
What inspires you? Where do your ideas come from?
I love Art Nouveau jewelry. I love the flow of every line, how they incorporate nature into their design, and I admire the skills of these crafters.
What are your favorite materials?
I’ve enjoyed working with clay, wood and acrylic, but currently stained glass is my favorite material. Sometimes I buy more than I sell my glass pendants. I get very excited over a box of scrap glass. The large pieces like 12″x16″ with nice hues and wild swirls excites me the same.
Any tips for selling handmade stuff?
First thing you need to do is to attract potential buyers into your shop. If your designs are no different from other sellers, no one will come in. You need to have a few ‘jaw-dropping’ designs. Second thing is to work on the price, source for good quality and cheaper material, so that you can keep your selling price low. If you are selling online, please take a good, close up, well-exposed photo of your products (look under etsy’s forum page, a nice seller has written some great tips on photography). If none of these helps, I think you need to change your product line.
Apart from creating things, what do you do?
I love drinking coffee, reading magazines, listening to jazz and bossa nova music, play guitar, watch national geographics. I enjoy hanging out with a friend of mine, gossipping, shopping and eating the best foods in town… that’s the only time I’ll splurge.
How can Etsy be improved? Any feature requests?
I offer shipping discount when buyers combine more than one purchases, but some buyers told me that the invoice is fixed and cannot be adjusted, so they have to calculate and use the ‘send money’ in Paypal. I’ve not bought anything yet, so I’ve no idea how the invoice is like. But there were others who were not aware of the shipping discount even though I’ve already stated in my payment details. They proceed to paying separately for all the items but because paypal charges a fee for each transaction, I have to refund all the separate payments and resend them a single invoice. A bit of an inconvenience for me and the buyer. [Etsy’s reply: this is something we’re bending our minds to find a solution to. Since the majority of items on Etsy are one-of-a-kind, if we had a shopping cart people could buy items out from under you if you left them in your cart without checking out. Anyhow, we’ll find something!]
What is your favorite color?
Lime green, orange, pink, red, turquoise…actually almost all colors! Though I don’t quite like yellow, but sometimes when it combines with another color, it looks great!