With almost 1,000 sales in just over a year, YOU gNeek is filled with truly unique items. Shirley blends her love of crafts and science to make extroardinary gifts.
1. Can you tell us a little about yourself?
I am a full time mom, dabbling inventor, passionate product developer and lover of tiny tools, instruments, and toys.
2. How did you get started with your craft?
I love working with my hands and making things and creating something new. I also love crafting and science and so I enjoy working with all sorts of instruments such as levels, compasses, magnets, rulers, screws, knives, torches, calipers, etc. One of my prized possessions is a McMasters-Carr catalog which is 3528 pages of tools, materials, fasteners, fittings, machinery, parts, etc which I love to thumb through and learn about all the different supplies used in every kind of industry.
3. When did YOU gNeek launch?
I launched YOU gNeek in September 2008 with a few items I made for myself. Although I had no experience or product on hand, I registered to sell my items at the Boston Christmas Craft Festival 2 months later. That forced me to create, package and promote a bunch more items. I ended up with 3 product lines with over 100 different products in the 2 months!
4. What inspires you to create?
If I see something wonderfully small, I try to think of something useful to convert to that size or shape. If I see something useful, I am forever trying to miniaturize it. If I see a tool I like, I will try to convert it in my mind into a multi-tool and get the designs narrowed down so I can purchase material to make a few to see how they come out. If I see something fun, I will play with it and replicate it with more features or alter it to be portable and wearable. So basically shopping and browsing inspires me!
5. How many hours a day are you able to spend on your craft?
Sadly I can only work on it when my son is sleeping so technically I work from his bedtime til morning. So anywhere from 2 to 11 hours a night. I don’t get much sleep sometimes. . .
6. Are there any other forms of arts/crafts you would like to try in the future?
If there were more time in a day, I would try welding, casting silver and gold, engineering and creating with electronics (I know it isn’t really an arts/craft but I would use the skills to make great unique, I mean YOU gNeek fun stuff!) I have learned quite a few crafts so far but I am not a master in any of them so I really can appreciate true artists and craftspeople.
7. Care to share some short or long term goals with us?
In the short term I am trying to finally get the deal I’m working on done for tiny vintage lighters. I have been sold out of my popular Vintage Lighter Cufflinks for over a year but I should be able to have a small amount in by November and maybe more in February, maybe earlier. In the long term, I hope to list the other 300 unique items I have developed and see how popular they become. I am also one day going to use my online store as test marketing for my inventions selling short run productions of my various consumer products. I also hope to maybe one day include in my site a sort of online museum of functional jewelry past and present and maybe even future!
8. Is your craft a hobby, a business or both?
Right now, it is both a hobby and business. Running a business is a full time job but don’t have time for every aspect it so I cannot devote full time to this just yet, otherwise I would be more aggressive in marketing and advertising.
9. How many venues do you currently sell at? (online, galleries, craft shows, etc)
Right now I am only selling online on Etsy and launching my online store November 1st at www.YOUgNeek.com.
10. Is there anything else you would like to add?
If there is a tool or fun toy or educational instrument that you or your readers love and find useful, let me know about it at firstname.lastname@example.org. I’ll add it to my to-do list and one day, I may make and send you a mini version of it you can wear.