Q: What is La Muse Kalliope? Can you briefly describe your business for us?
A: LA MUSE KALLIOPE is about celebrating YOU through our products, such as our best-selling Interactive Dragon Monsters, which are unique plush characters that have multiple opportunities for interaction, and the plush Les Musettes, Personal Lil' Muses.
LA MUSE KALLIOPE celebrates YOU with creations designed to strike your happy and creative cords to bring out the absolute best of each person.
Making the Dragon Monsters interactive is an original concept. Furthermore, using a unique construction method of my own making, Ori-Sculpture, I combine origami methods in my soft sculpture plush creations.
LA MUSE KALLIOPE uses hundreds of different premium quality fabrics and materials to make our plush creations with the goal of making that special one that a customer can directly connect with and make their own.
Also available are baby clothes and t-shirts with my designs and other accessories.
Q: Some artisans develop their products to meet consumer needs, while others craft products based on things and/or experiences that inspire them. What is the inspiration behind your business?
A: In my case, it's a combination of both. My very first creation, later known as Les Musettes "Personal Lil' Muses" was made with a piece of my Mom's clothing following her passing from Pancreatic Cancer. My reluctance to make something banal lead me to create the first Musette character with an innate ability to inspire love, happiness and creativity like a loving mother. So, you can say my product came about in response to satisfy a personal need that happens to be a niche in the market.
I am nothing if not multi-cultural. I grew up in Taiwan and Hawaii, lived in Japan for a few years and spent a decade in France, where I worked for a luxury brand before returning to the US where I made the NYC Metropolitan Area my new home. All of my creations are inseparable from my multi-cultural background, from the vibrant colors I remember in Hawaii to the designer fabrics I use, to the incorporation of origami in my construction methods, and to my belief in making high quality and unique items that are meaningful. I'm inspired by beautiful things, both tangible and intangible. That philosophy of bathing in a universe of goodness and spreading happiness is the raison d'être of LA MUSE KALLIOPE and it's creations. We are passionate about celebratingthe uniqueness and positive energy of each individual who cross the paths of Interactive Dragon Monsters and Les Musettes.
Q: Oftentimes, each artisan has a different strategy and objective for their business. What are the next steps for you and your business?
A: Right now, the bulk of our sales comes from the Holiday season (Union Square Holiday Market). A next step for LA MUSE KALLIOPE is to establish and maintain strong foothold in wholesale and retail sales throughout the other 11 months of the year as well as a stronger online presence. We want to take a balanced approach into expanding sales so we allow ourselves flexibility to switch focus to what's working better at any given time. Besides sales and marketing, production is an area needing major overhaul. This year, I ended up doing all productions myself except for one month in early Summer during which I trained two hired help. It's very difficult to find seamstresses who can do high quality work with efficiency. In 2016, the first half of the year will be devoted to hiring and training production help. My goal is to free up production time to allow me to give the much needed attention to other aspects that are imperative to growing my business.
Q: Can you tell us some of the partners you have made? Retail stores where we can find your product?
A: LA MUSE KALLIOPE sells our products on our own website and through Etsy. Otherwise, LA MUSE KALLIOPE is entering its fourth year of having its own Shop at the Union Square Holiday Market in NYC. Through Union Square Holiday Market we are grateful of our many return and new customers from all over the U.S. as well as other countries. It is a great opportunity to reach such a wide and diverse customer base.
Q: As many artisans look to grow and further develop their businesses, do you have some advice that you can share with fellow artisans?
A: My advice would be to follow what works while also taking risks. For instance, Interactive Dragon Monsters was not the main product when LA MUSE KALLIOPE began. It attracted its own attention and a little more focus on it allowed it to take off and develop a life of its own. I had to put aside my original vision to follow what was working. This isn't always easy to do. This is the same with taking a risk to develop and expand your business. It's not always easy to do, and, of course, you must do your best to make it a calculated risk. Hire that extra help, buy that material in bulk, spend the extra money for a lucrative market or space to sell. The only way to keep moving forward is to mix in a big leap along with all the measured steps. It may be scary at the time but overcome that uncertainty and you will see the rewards!
Also, dare to be different and be innovative. For me, an artisan is someone who excels at what they do with a passion. Have the courage to think outside of the box anddevelop unique ways to do what it is they do, the art they create that no one else has done before.
Having an unique product is not all. You need to find sales and marketing channels to sell your products so you can continue to follow your passion to create. Hand in hand, you will also need to find a trusting party either in-house or outsourced to build the inventory you will sell.
Last of all, believe in yourself and your unique product. If you are an artisan like I am, I know you will want your product to reflect your philosophy and values.
Special thanks to Jean for sharing with us. You can find her products showcased on her Etsy shop at La Muse Kalliope. And, details of her special product GIVEAWAY are below, as well as directions on how to enter!
Jean is generously giving away Two Dragon Monsters with loops to make into Christmas Tree Decorations (Valued at $38!) especially created for this raffle! You'll get one Shaggy Ninja I Heart You Dragon Monster + one Camouflage WannaBe Dragon Monster with Mustache and Glow-In-The-Dark Fangs and a Unicorn Horn. This comes with illustrated instructions on how to interact with them.
This is one giveaway you do not want to miss, especially if you are looking for holiday presents for children or the young-at-heart. Winning this set might help you check off a friend or loved one!
Enter to WIN La Muse Kalliope's Giveaway here (or below)!