|or, “The Future’s So Bright I Gotta Wear Shades”By Carol Amoruso, HAV Editor
Finding yourself on the Crafty Chica’s web site is like being a fly caught in a kaleidoscope. You’re dazed by a crazy quilt of links and channels, an Esperanto of Spanglish, ‘hoodisms, neologisms, and good ol’ American slang, and page upon page of dizzying graphics. The C.C. does an eye-popping job of marketing her blinding prism of toys and trinkets, doohickeys and ultra cool/kitsch home fittings, not to mention her books, blogs, broadcasts and newspaper columns, lifestyle, her husband and kids.
With her love of garage glam and Chicana chic, the C.C. proves that all that glitters isn’t bling.
We contacted the C.C., asked her if she might answer some questions for the Hispanic American Village, and whether we might cut and paste bits of her glitzy gestalt into a tidy little gift package for our readers. Sure, she said. The pastiche is pasted (as in, you know, “That’s not an emerald: It’s mere paste!) together thusly:
HAV: SO, CRAFTY CHICA, WHO ARE YOU?
A.K.A. Kathy Cano Murillo (right), I’m a mom, wife, artist, author & left-handed middle-child binge crafter Sagittarian.
HAV: BUT, WHO ARE YOU REALLY?
The real me is a chica who is truly addicted to glitter. And chocolate. And American Idol. On the down side, I must confess, pastels make me gag, but I still respect them and the people who love them. Peace, love and glitter is my motto!
HAV: HOW DID YOUR BUSINESS, WITH ALL ITS OFFSHOOTS, COME TOGETHER?
I’ve always been crafty, but I never imagined I’d be making a living at it. Basically, here’s how it came together:
1990 — I marry my best friend Patrick Murillo—also an artist as well as a musician—and we vow to live a life of arts and culture.
1995 — Armed with an AA degree in marketing, a knack for creative writing, and an excessive knowledge of pop culture, I work my way in to the Arizona Republic newspaper. At the same time, I’m running an art business at home with Patrick. In December, 1999, I’m asked by the Home editor to write an arts and crafts column.
By 2000, I’ m hooked on crafting. I launch CraftyChica.com in 2001 to preach the gospel of cool crafts to the masses. Gannett News Service picks up the column, where 50 papers run it each week. I’m approached by a book editor and sign on to write my first two books. I’m hired to paint pieces for the cast and media gifts for the film, Frida. During the day I work at the paper. At night I go to school. In the middle of the night I write my books. Patrick cooks and does laundry and keeps our art business running. I paint on Sundays. Summer of 2003, I get my BA degree in Business Mgmt. I become a features reporter, entertainment writing is incorporated into the gig, and my first book is released. My parents throw me a party!
HAV: WHAT’S THE MAIN INGREDIENT IN TURNING YOUR OWN LOVE OF CREATING THINGS INTO A THRIVING BUSINESS—TURNING YOUR AVOCATION INTO YOUR VOCATION?
Only go with what makes you truly happy. Never go for something just for the sake of raking in cash. If you have the gift of creativity, don’t blow it by trying to knock off the latest and greatest invention. You’ll only belly flop and it will sting your soul (and savings account). Instead look and see what has not been done yet, and go for that – always strive to be original.
You have to devote time and energy into finding your style. Whatever it is that you decide to make – trust me – the magic will come from the energy and innovation you put into it. Devise a product that is as individual as your fingerprint on polymer clay.
HAV: AND, HOW CAN ONE FIND THAT STYLE?
Here are some Crafty Chica tips for finding your signature style:
Experiment – Don’t just go “Wow, those juice bag purses are everywhere. I’m going to start a business making some!” Instead, take time to try out different genres such as mosaics, sewing, painting, etc. See which comes natural for you. Consider pricing the supplies (low), time factor, and availability of resources.
Know yourself – Make a list of all the tangible and intangible things that you adore. Also, what you are great at doing, the colors that give you goose bumps, your favorite quotes, fashion style, etc. Write up a one-line mission statement of what you are all about. Now translate that into a tagline of what you want your designs to represent.
Research – If you see something that is already for sale in a retail store, chances are it is on its way out, an upgrade is coming soon. Artists, as well as buyers, are always evolving, growing and searching for the next best thing. Plus, you don’t want to be a Copycat Cindy, do you? Instead, look between the retail shelves. Go to the bookstore and flip through some crafty books. What hasn’t been done yet? Now use what you learned from Step 1 and 2 to come up with something that is super craftificent and most of all NEW.
Go back and experiment more – Play around with your supplies and sketches until you come up with something wonderful and brag-worthy. It can be as easy as a line of t-shirts with snarky sayings or as detailed as elegant necklaces for kitty cats. Just think different!
HAV: HOW IMPORTANT IS ‘BRANDING’ OR FINDING A GIMMICK THAT WILL IDENTIFY YOU AND YOUR WORK?
Make a list of what makes you unique – think about things you like. It helps even more if you can come up with a mini-mission statement about why you are doing what you are doing. Try to find a name that represents that. It also helps if it has a ring to it – for example, I know a teen who launched a line of her work called Cassy’s Sassy Jewelry.
HAV: YOU HAVE A VERY TIGHT ORGANIZATIONAL STRUCTURE: YAHOO SHOPPING, PUBLICATION RIGHTS, MASSIVE PRESS COVERAGE. HOW DO YOU GET IT ALL DONE?
I make use of all pockets of time (i.e.: the middle of the night when everyone is sleeping!). I make a to-do list and follow through with it.
HAV: WHERE DOES THIS STUFF COME FROM? DO YOU HAVE A FACTORY?
A lot of people think that. Actually, my husband and I create each item by hand in our beloved Phoenix living room-turned-art studio (all while watching hours and hours of cable TV). We literally buy the supplies, make the product, glaze it, pack it and ship it all by ourselves.
HAV: WHAT ARE YOU UP TO NOWADAYS?
My web site receives more than 1.8 hits a month. I now have a total of six published books, with two more on the way. I’m working on my own product line of art supplies. I wrote my first novel, The Crafty Chica Chronicles. My newest crafts book is Crafty Chica’s Art de la Soul: Glittery Ideas to Liven Up Your Life (Rayo/Harper Collins)
Let’s see, what else is up? Oh – I’m heavy into American Idol zone these days – I write a commentary column on the show for The Arizona Republic.
HAV: DID YOU HAVE A HARD TIME WRITING A NOVEL? HAVE YOU SOLD IT?
I’ve spent two years on the “Crafty Chica Chronicles,” and now it is finally going up for sale to book editors!
HAV: IS EVERYONE CRAFTY, JUST WAITING FOR THEIR CREATIVITY TO SURFACE?
I believe everyone is born with some form of an artistic gift. But it won’t just appear in top form from one day to the next. You have to have fun, relax and let it flow. And when it does, you have to appreciate it. You can be crafty to express yourself, to display your memories, to make extra income – all kinds of reasons. The key is to remember that the more you do it, the better you will become. Keep your mind open to try new things and supplies and techniques. Take classes, read books.
HAV: WHAT WOULD YOU MOST LIKE TO ACCOMPLISH THAT YOU HAVEN’T TACKLED YET?
I have two dreams right now that I’m actively focusing on – having my first novel published and having a line of Crafty Chica products at stores like Michaels and JoAnns!
Visit the Crafty Chica’s website at CraftyChica.com