Village Weaver – Phyllis Leck

by admins on April 24, 2009

Name of Business: Village Weaver
 
Owner/Proprietor: Phyllis Leck 

Town/State: Bristol Maine, Pemaquid Pennisula  


Q&W:How long have you been making your product?   

 

Phyllis: 20 years.  I was a painter when our son came along and my husband was away for 4 months at a time so I began to work with fiber instead of paint. I have been weaving since I first got married 32 years ago. Andrew then was a commercial fisherman and I taught myself. I have been a business here in Maine for 20 years and enjoy it still.  Recently, Phyllis’s weaving business was included in a new book Crafting a Business by Kathie Fitzgerald of Sterling Publishing.  I create items for the home to be used, not just to look at. I live with all my textiles and Andrew’s iron all around us.

 

 

 Q&W:How did you let people know about you & your product?

 

Phyllis:I started with a local shop and then shows, now I have my own shop/ web site. 

 


Q&W:
Do you sell to retail shop owners? (Wholesale).

 

Phyllis: Yes, and I offer a unique item to each shop so there is not repetition, customizing.

  

Q&W:Can you explain why you choose to or not choose to sell wholesale? 

 

 Phyllis:I like to take the shops color palette and create textiles for their customers.  

 

(as seen in June 2007 Country Living magazine).  This flag is woven from new and recycled materials 100% cotton jean materials. The size of the flag is 18″ x 24″.  This flag is to be hung on the wall and includes a rod pocket. The rod pocket can use up to 2″diameter rod.

Q&W: What made you decide to sell or not sell wholesale?

 

 Phyllis: Working with the shop owners is a great experience, they promote your work. 

 

Q&W: Do you have any advice to other vendors/artists on working with shop owners?

 

 Phyllis: Listen to their needs and their customers requests this will lead you to what works.

 

Bedspread, Pillowcases and Bedskirt

Bedspread, Pillowcases and Bedskirts

 Q&W: Is it important to forge relationships with shop owners?

 

Phyllis: Definitely! I know my shops very well and for years. We have become friends and keep in touch with what is going on in our lives as well as about the product I produce. 

 

Q&W:  Do you educate your buyers on your product?

 

Phyllis: All the time! I try to explain the process of my work and how they can present me and my product. (I educate my buyers) through photos, samples and now my blog!  (It is important to educate your customers because it) Updates them and keep you fresh and memorable. 

 

Q&W: Have you ever participated in a trade show? 

 

Triple Check "Jaggerspun" Wool Blanket

Triple Check "Jaggerspun" wool blanket

 Phyllis: Yes, and always apart from my husbands booth, he sells wrought iron.

 

Q&W:  Do you have any advice to fellow artists on how to prepare for a show?

 

Phyllis: Lay out your work in an approximate layout of your booth and be ready to change.  Carry extra tape, staples, pens, paper to draw ideas out (My) tips on displaying products would be to make it light weight and colorful.

 

Q&W: Can you describe benefits to selling wholesale, especially in a struggling economy?

 

Phyllis: Less travel to make the same amount cause when you are doing a weekend retail show you are wholesaling the item to your self  and what a risk for 3 days!  Get the orders and stay home!

 

Q&W: If you sell to shop owners, is it important to be discriminative on who you sell to?

 

Phyllis: It depends on how much time you have and inventory. If you have an intense labor item you do not want to sit and wait for a check, find a shop that pays COD.  But if you have a lot of one item and can wait for an internet shop to sell your work and pay you –go for it, unless it links to your internet shop then it is good networking.

 

Pillowcases

Pillowcases

 

 Q&W: If you sell retail as well as wholesale, do you see any competitive conflicts with your shops that carry your items?

 

Phyllis: No, as I pointed out before I create a unique look for each shop.

 

Q&W: Do you have any advice for shop owners & artisans on weathering a poor economy? 

 

Phyllis: Keep calm, don’t be negative that only turns people and artisans away, when they come to shop they want to be uplifted and they will return again knowing what a good experience it was. 

 

Q&W: Do you advertise? 

 

Phyllis: No, I network.  Blogs are free.

 

 Q&W: We have heard time & time again, that during this tender economy, handcrafted goods are still selling strong.  Has this been true for you & if so, why do you believe customers are paying more for Made in USA versus imports? 

 

Phyllis: The hand made item is real and has a story. Knowing there is some one behind each piece. 

Shown here is how it is woven on the loom with the shuttle being passed back and forth in between the threads to create a web.

Q&W: Is it important to love what you do? 

 

Phyllis: Most definitely, cause it helps you to push through the wall of long hours and sweat.  I find inspiration from my store owners and their customers.  I also create for the “coastal” clientele in my area (Maine).

 

 Q&W:  What makes an artist stand out in your mind? 

 

Phyllis: Their ability to adapt. 

 

Q&W: Should shops keystone hand made items? 

 

Phyllis: Yes.

 

Rag Rugs featured in July 2007 Country Living Magazine

Rag Rugs featured in July 2007 Country Living Magazine

 

Q&W: Can you recommend any good shows, literature, magazines and books for creative inspiration? 

 

Phyllis: Etsy.com and I am still learning about others, I belong to a team on Etsy.com that is a group of inspiring folks sharing their creativity.

 

Q&W: Do you have a favorite quote?  

 

Phyllis:Hands to work Hearts to God.   

 

 Q&W:  What do you think American artisans/venders can do to make themselves more marketable/sellable?     

 

 Phyllis: The way things are going apart of customer service is the limiting of editions and offering customization. 

 

Phyllis in Print

In this Book(Crafting a Business: Make Money Doing What You Love) you’ll read Phyliss’s story and see photos of her, her loom and the things she makes, along with the stories of 29 successful other women. A brand new book!!!

 

 

 

 

 

Photo by Sherwood Burton

 

Phyliss’s new studio from where she works and sells her new items, Photo by Sherwood Burton. This space is attached to her new home on the Bristol Rd. (Rte 130) in Bristol, Maine. She works on a 60″ wide four harness direct tie up loom and an old 40″ Union Loom made for heavy beating in creating rag rugs.

 

 

Doorway to The Village Weaver Shop

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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