We’ve all been there, we’ve put our current read in our bag to bring with us on a long journey, or to help make the commute a little more bearable only to find that we’ve accidentally damaged our books – and there’s little more soul destroying than knowing that it could have all been avoided if you only had some protection for your book. That’s where Melvis Makes comes in! The Book Buddy is a protective sleeve for books that come in a wide array of fabric choices and sizes! Melvis Makes is a popular bookish product maker on Etsy and I can say from experience that both her products and customer service are amazing!
I couldn’t resist sharing this amazing shop with you all and thought what better way to do this (other than sharing photos on my Instagram page) than to host an interview so that you can get to know the person behind the business too! So, without further ado…
How long have you been sewing and making your Book Buddies?
I started sewing as a teenager, studying textiles at GCSE level and Fashion Design as part of my Art A Level. I then didn’t sew a thing for over 10 years until my friend gave me an old sewing machine. Since then there’s been no stopping me!
I made the first Book Buddy in July 2016 (I think) when I made one for myself and added a mere two to my shop, but they didn’t become a permanent feature in my shop until September 2016.
Where did the inspiration come from to set up your shop and start selling your creations?
In late 2014, my long term relationship broke down and I found myself living alone in my 30’s – my life hadn’t quite turned out as I expected/hoped and I had far too much time on my hands. I found sewing quite therapeutic (as are a lot of creative tasks) but there’s only so much stuff you can sew for yourself! In April 2015, I decided to open my Etsy shop as a way to keep myself busy and hopefully make some extra income.
What inspires you? How do you choose your fabrics?
I’m a complete fabric addict! My living room is slowly becoming a fabric warehouse as there are just so many great fabric designers these days. I didn’t realise that when I opened my shop! When I first started, I knew of just a couple online fabric shops but the longer I’m in business the more fabric sources I find! I now buy fabrics from several countries around the world, including the UK, USA, Germany & Thailand. I’m a big fan of bright colours, bold patterns, woodland prints, retro florals, Alice in Wonderland designs and I absolutely love text/script prints too. I’m also loving the recent spurt in metallic fabric prints!
Has it been an easy journey for you? What have you learned along the way?
I spend a lot of time researching both Etsy/Amazon as selling sites and Social Media. Thankfully as I’d previously written a book blog (Me, Bookshelf and I – it was all the rage amongst it’s 12 readers) I had some knowledge of SEO but everything else I’ve had to learn from scratch and it still continues now. I do some research every day, via online articles, webinars, social media groups and other sources and make lots of notes. When I opened my shop, I thought I’d just sew things, take a few photos and list them online. I didn’t realise how much other stuff would be needed on top of that to run a successful business – I’m definitely heading in the right direction but still have so much more to learn. Oh, and after 2+years of daily crafting, my sewing skills have improved too!
I wouldn’t say it’s been easy, growing a small business whilst working a full time day job is definitely hard work! But it’s also been lots of fun! I’ve now been able to go part time at work, which makes keeping up with orders slightly less stressful and I hope Melvis Makes will be my full time job one day.
Your ‘Fiver Friday’ is immensely popular! What gave you the idea for it?
I follow lots of small businesses on Facebook/Instagram and had seen several other shops feature a Fiver Friday deal. It’s something I considered for a while, and whilst sorting through the huge box of fabric remnants I had, it seemed the perfect solution. I barely make any money from a Fiver Friday sale, the price covers material costs & online selling fees, which is why I don’t run it every week and also why I can’t offer all of my Book Buddies at such a low price, but it’s a lot of fun and also a great way to say thank you to my customers & loyal social media followers by offering them a bargain, whilst making some much needed space in the fabric stash.
The very first Fiver Friday, I wondered if anyone would actually buy one and even added a disclaimer to say they’d go up to full price on Saturday if they weren’t sold … and they sold out in 90 seconds! It’s a very manic few minutes when Fiver Friday goes live!
Do you have a favourite product that you’ve created? Or a favourite fabric that you’ve used?
I absolutely love the metallic Alice in Wonderland fabric from the Rifle Paper Company – it’s so pretty! I’ve got lots of favourite fabrics, that’s why I’m always stocking new designs. I adore the seasonal sloth design that I’ve recently introduced to the shop, as well as the library due date design (note from A Novel Love: that is the design pictured!) and the metallic gold cloud fabric which was one of the original made to order Book Buddies I listed.
My favourite product is (of course) the Book Buddy! I made the very first one to keep my own books in, as I moved house in March 2016 and found myself with an hour’s bus trip each day to get to/from work, whereas I’d previously been getting a lift with a friend. I love reading on my bus journeys, but found that my books were often getting damaged in my bag (which contains the kind of clutter that Mary Poppins could be found carrying!). I didn’t realise when I made the first Book Buddy that there was even a market for them.
What are your fandoms? Do you have a favourite author or genre?
I absolutely adore Alice in Wonderland, especially the Rifle Paper Co book/print/calendar designs and the Pop Vinyl figures! I’m also (slowly) collecting book quote art & prints to frame on the walls in my sewing room.
My favourite authors are Lisa Jewell (ever since I read Thirty Nothing way back in 2000! I’m still in love with Dig Ryan to this day …), Colleen Hoover (I was late to this party but bought November 9 the day it was released in 2015, which instantly became my favourite book ever and I have since gone on to read Colleen’s entire back catalogue) and Jodi Picoult, who is absolutely amazing no matter which topic she chooses to write about. I don’t have a favourite genre, but I flip between romance, chick lit, women’s fiction and more recently, YA. I love finding recommended reads on IG from fellow bookstagrammers and my TBR list is HUGE!
What’s next for you? Can we expect new products from you?
I have a long list of product ideas that I work on whenever I get any spare time, but sometimes I feel like I add more to the list than I take off it! I’m currently working on new mixed media Christmas decorations, combining my love of fabrics with ceramics as well as new elastic bookmarks. I’ve also recently introduced a glasses case range to my shop and hope to add lots more new products soon, but it depends how busy I am with orders over the festive period. Watch this space…
Is there anything you’d like to say to your fans and customers?
Thank you! Seriously, the biggest thank you to everyone who has purchased from my shop, and for leaving gorgeous reviews (they really help to grow my business), for chatting to me on social media & sharing my posts with your friends. A few months ago, I was able to drop a day from my day job to spend more time focussing on Melvis Makes and that wouldn’t have been possible without the support of my customers and followers. I’m so grateful to every single one of you!
You can check out Melvis Makes’s Etsy page by clicking here