A crafty friend of mine asked if I’d heard of The Ugly Kitty. I hadn’t, but with a name like that I had to track this shop down. I sat down (virtually) with Renee and asked her about her business, her pets, and her favorite causes.
Aimee: Let’s start with the pets in your family.
Renee: Keiko (aka NormalKitty) is a sweet but whiny short-haired charcoal kitty my friends found as a stray. She’s been part of our family for about 3 years. Quasi (aka UglyKitty) is the star of the show. Due to a cleft pallet, she has a pushed up nose, one small, blind eye, and sneezes a lot. I adopted Quasi from the local shelter about 2 years ago and, after spending two weeks under my bed, came out of her shell and is now a very attention-demanding, but loving kitty.
Aimee: And Quasi is the inspiration for the UglyKitty Fund? Tell us a little about that.
Renee: The main animal cause I support is the Cool Cats Rescue Shelter in Annapolis, MD, the no-kill shelter where I adopted Quasi. On uglykitty.etsy.com there are three listings for the UglyKitty Fund: $1, $5, and $10. People choose a donation amount and “purchase” the item. All money raised from the listings goes to the shelter and people receive a 1-inch UglyKitty button and a thank you card from Quasi for their generosity. Since its start in October 2006, we’ve helped raise over $1500 for the shelter.
Aimee: What else do you make?
Renee: I grew up in a family of artists and have been creating for as long as I can remember. In addition to the UglyKitty Fund buttons, I make rolodexes from recycled paper, custom screen printed wedding invitations and stationary, tote bags, pillows, aprons, and magnets to name a few things. At times I wish I could narrow down my interests into one style or type of item, but there are just so many things out there I like and I know that I wouldn’t be able to focus on just one thing.
Aimee: What inspires you?
Renee: The bulk of my inspiration comes from patterns. I have a slight obsession with fabric and stationary (especially all the scrapbook paper designs now available). Whenever I hit a creative block, looking through all the fabulous color combinations and repeating patterns in fabric or paper always gives me that added push.
Aimee: How did your business get started? Who got your first products?
Renee: If I had to pick the exact moment when my business started I would have to say June 6, 2007, the day I joined Etsy. I’ve always loved art and creating, but it was always for personal use. Having an outlet like Etsy has opened me up to an entire world of selling handmade goods and it still amazes me that people like my work enough to want to own a piece of it!
My first Etsy sale was to a co-worker of a friend. My friend sent his co-worker my link and she purchased a necklace. On a slightly larger level, my first products went to friends of my aunt. She owned a gift/craft supply store when I was young and she would let me hang up things I drew. I was always excited to sell something and I only later learned that she would give people change and ask them to buy my pictures.
Aimee: How much time do you spend creating each day? How about marketing and other business stuff?
Renee: I probably spend about three or four hours a night actually crafting/designing and another two hours answering emails, listing new items, getting items ready to ship, and promoting the shop.
Aimee: Thank you so much for taking the time to answer all my questions. Do you have anything else you’d like to add?
Renee: I don’t have anything else to add, but Quasi would like to say *meep, snarf, snort, snarf* which I believe means “Thank you for giving us an opportunity to talk a little about helping shelter cats and thank you to everyone who has donated!”