I don't know about you, but I get super inspired by hearing stories about successful and awesome indie craft businesses — how they got started, how they stay inspired, their hopes for the future of their business. Here's my interview with Iowa-based sponsor, indie crafter, and friend of the Empire, Dani Ausen of DaniAWESOME accessories.
How did you get the inspiration to go for it and start your own business?
In August of 2008 I was browsing an Urban Outfitters in Scottsdale, Arizona when I came across a collection of beaten up, mismatched, exorbitantly priced, and poorly built peacock feather hair clips and jewelry. I then had the thought that's launched a million crafting businesses: "I can do better than this."
I want to provide a beautiful and well-built alternative to mass-produced, over-priced chain-store jewelry, and I never want to sell anything I wouldn't feel proud to wear myself.
For a few months more, it was just an idea. Then I was asked to be the maid of honor in an Offbeat wedding. literally: Offbeat Home's Cat Rocketship's low-class high-rise wedding. The hairpieces I made for myself and the other bridesmaid were my very first. When the wedding got featured on Offbeat Bride and the photos got shared around, people went wild about the hairpieces. From there, I started selling at a local Des Moines, Iowa craft show called Market Day, and I've kept building up and up with these principles in mind: I want to provide a beautiful and well-built alternative to mass-produced, over-priced chain-store jewelry, and I never want to sell anything I wouldn't feel proud to wear myself.
All your pieces look IMPECABLE. Like the one pictured above — it looks like tiny fairies constructed it — how do you create such awesomeness?As a graphic designer by trade, I bring the same attention to detail to my crafting that I would to a magazine spread or a logo. I carefully select and place feathers in a piece the same way that I would place words or photos into a layout. Though my materials are natural, I try to fit them together geometrically, like a puzzle. I put every piece together myself (with occasional help from friends and family), and there is thought and care in the craftsmanship.
I want my pieces to make women feel beautiful, special, and truly original. No two feathers are alike, and neither are two of my pieces.
Speaking of the feathers, I know our readers are very eco-minded — do you mind me asking where you get them?
Sourcing is very important to me. When possible, I source my pheasant and game bird feathers from local hunters, to ensure that I can put to use what others would throw away.
I also scour flea markets and garage sales to find the costume jewelry pieces and buttons that I use to adorn my work. I love to repurpose antiques… I think of them as the perfect "something old." My peacock wedding fascinators encompass old, new, and blue all on their own!
What are your absolute FAVORITE things to make?
I love to do custom orders. It's truly satisfying when I can make a piece for a bride and have her say "This is EXACTLY what I wanted!"
When designing for someone across the country, I like to consult, have them send me inspiration boards and visual references, and I send them photos at each stage of the process to ensure the pieces come out perfectly. I work with brides on fascinators, but I have made hair clips for whole parties, bridesmaids, flower girls, custom wedding pieces like shoe clips, feather boutonnieres, custom earrings and anything you can dream up.
I love and welcome all kinds of brides. Peacock brides, obviously, but nerd-chic brides, classic brides, vintage-loving brides, and fashion-forward grooms. Yup, even grooms can get in on the action with feather lapel pins. I just love to be a part of the start of someone's new life with their partner. I'm honored every time, and I hope the pieces I create become true keepsakes for the brides and bridesmaids that wear them.
Finally, a lot of our brides are planning on a budget. Wanna offer our readers a special discount? We'd be your best friend!
Discount!? Sure thing…
OFFBEAT DISCOUNT: How about a 10% discount to Offbeat Bride readers through January 31st? Just use the coupon code OFFBEATJANUARY when ordering from DaniAWESOME.
Hey y'all, that discount is only for a limited time — so hurry over to Dani's Etsy site ASAP!