Here on the Meet the Maker series we hope to introduce you to the local artists and creators of the York Region. For episode 6, I want to invite you to meet Leslie Ferguson of Mill Street Makes.
Having met you in person Leslie, your character is definitely reflected in your work. What got you started with felt crafts?
Ooh! I do hope you see the pleasure and joy I get from making my felt flowers. Felt as a medium actually happened quite out of the blue. My past careers have included gardener, landscape designer and florist, so I have worked with and loved flowers for a very long time. I originally wanted to develop a small home based business using fresh flowers but the logistics were difficult to figure out. That’s when I started seeing some beautiful felt work on sites such as Pinterest. I tried my hand at playing with different flower designs using acrylic felt and then fell in love with wool blend felt which really set the tone for creating more realistic flowers. I like using bright happy colours, mixed with rustic components and vintage finds.
What has been the biggest challenge as a new Etsy Seller?
Getting found on the site and making sales without previous sales history and reviews! My sales have been happening locally through a Facebook page so I hope that with more exposure I can direct my future customers to the Etsy site solely.
I noticed in your profile and about page that you are a mom. What one piece of advice do you have to other parents trying to balance raising kids, Etsy and day jobs?
Yes! I’m a mom to two young boys and they have been my full time job for the past six and half years. My newly launched Etsy site is still very much a hobby (that I hope will grown into something more in the future). With my youngest attending school more regularly this past year, I have been fortunate to have some time devoted solely to me and my interests. My only advice would be to prioritize those components of your life in a way that makes sense to you and your family without leaving yourself overwhelmed. Start small and wait for time in your life to
open up…when it does – you and your creativity will be awaiting!
Tell me a little about your process — from coming up with a new idea to completed product.
My process is pretty simple – daydream about felt flowers while engaging in rote domestic chores, squeeze in making during any and all free moments of the week. I also like to roam around thrift stores, buying vintage vessels and other finds that inspire new pieces. I look to my garden for what’s in bloom during that season and I think about ways in which I’d like to decorate my own (dream) home or (imaginary) events with flowers.
Any new products in the making for the Made in Canada show in September?
I’m very excited about the Made in Canada show! My flowers and colour palette will be more suited to autumn and will include some “pick you own” bouquets. I also hope to add potted succulents and chalkboard designs.
You can find Mill Street Makes at the Etsy York Region Made in Canada event September 24th in at Aurora’s Cultural Centre. Click here for more details.