Today is a momentous day! Today I present to you my first in a weekly installment of Etsy seller interviews. These interviews will provide you with some super-fun and informative insight on my fellow Etsyans who work hard and produce wonderful things to share with all of us.
So without further ado, the lovely Christina. The brains and heart behind Firelight Fusions!
My name is Christina, and I live in Seattle, WA with my husband, my dog, and my cat. My favorite colors are purple and silver. In the Fall, I'll be attending DigiPen Institute of Technology and beginning my Bachelor of Arts in Game Design. My secret sinful beverage is Pepsi... I try not to drink too much of it when I'm working my magic but I'm addicted!
So, my dear, how long have you been a "crafter"? Is it something you've always been, or did it happen to you later in life?
I used to make things and go to craft stores with my parents when I was little, so I guess it's always been there. The biggest predecessor to becoming a perfume maker was probably my tendency to take everything in a bathroom - shampoo, conditioner, mousse, anything liquid - and turn it into 'potions' that I would proudly display to my family. I think they thought it was too cute to get mad at me for!
What drew you to Etsy?
I have a friend who started her shop about a month before mine: UnityWorks. I had always considered making a shop but I didn't really know where to begin. With Unity's help, I was able to figure out the first steps towards making a name for myself on Etsy.
Your products are, for the most part, video game related. How did you get into video games?
This is another thing that started when I was just a kid. My dad and I used to spend hours on the Super Nintendo, playing everything from Super Mario Bros to Jurassic Park to Donkey Kong Country. I eventually graduated into new systems and single player games, and I've never looked back.
Is there a particular game you just absolutely adore? And why do you adore it so?
There are a lot of video games that have special meaning to me or are associated with important times in my life, but I'd have to say "Monster Rancher" is the one I have the most fond memories of. It's a cult classic game for the PlayStation 1; you produced unique monsters by inserting music and game CDs, and then you raised the monsters on your ranch and battled them. I adore it because it has an incredibly creative game mechanic for producing new monsters and I think more games could use that kind of ingenuity.
What video game character is most like you and why?
Oooh, that's a tough question! Maybe Tifa from Final Fantasy VII. I grew up as the girl-next-door/tomboy type. My favorite form of exercise is to pound away at my heavy punching bag in my garage. I also think we have the same sense of responsibility and a similar no-nonsense attitude when something is important to us.
What made you decide you wanted to make perfume?
I used to collect scents from Black Phoenix Alchemy Lab, which is a very popular perfume oil website. For our wedding anniversary two years ago, my husband decided to give me some of my own essential and fragrance oils and some empty bottles. I just went crazy with it. I now have almost 55 different fragrance/essential oils on my shelf and counting!
When you're coming up with your scents, how do you decide which character to draw inspiration from?
It varies. Sometimes I try to think of iconic characters that I believe have very distinct characteristics that would make a great perfume (Princess Peach was my first in that category!). Sometimes it's just a character I've always loved, like Shy Guy, and I want to honor that character by crafting a scent for them. And sometimes, I just make the blend without any character in mind, smell it, and realize that it represents a certain character to me - that was the case with Lara Croft.
What is your favorite base scent to use in men's fragrances?
I like to change it up, but I think my favorite note is Egyptian musk or patchouli. Egyptian musk is so subtle and sweet but still so masculine. Patchouli is one of those scents that many people hate when they smell it independently, but when it's in a men's fragrance, they love it - and probably don't even realize that it's there, if the fragrance is crafted well!
What is your favorite base scent to use in women's fragrances?
I've always been a sucker for vanilla. It seems like you just can't go wrong with vanilla. I also enjoy working with ginger because it's an extremely complex base note that can smell completely different depending on the top and heart notes.
In general, how much trial and error is made before you find the scent that perfectly captures the character you're trying to, well, capture?
Sometimes I get it on the first try, but not often. It usually takes at least two or three tries before the scent smells 'right' to me. This is especially true of men's fragrances; I think that it's easy to make something smell feminine, but it's hard to get just the right balance to make perfume oil that smells like cologne.
Have you had any strange character requests from the Etsy community?
Let's face it - considering the product I make, nothing anyone can throw at me is any stranger than the stuff I've come up with myself. I've certainly had some suggestions that presented a challenge. I had a request for a Garrus, from Mass Effect, scent. Luckily the person who asked for it had some idea of what she thought it would smell like: desert-like, blue, clean. I haven't made the blend yet because I'm waiting for some ingredients to come in but it's definitely one that I see being difficult!
As a perfume fan, I know people can get kinda wacky when describing scents. What is the weirdest and/or funniest feedback you've ever gotten on one of your scents?
Oh, wow. I think the funniest feedback (not on my page, but said to me in person) was that the early blends I made of Firaga smelled like 'cleavage'. That cracked me up! I think scents are all about coming up with creative and inspiring ways to describe the scent. That's why many of my scent descriptions are so abstract, especially the Elements set. Look at BPAL's website - I think a large part of their resounding success is finding extremely poetic ways to describe a fragrance blend.
What gaming system is your favorite and why?
I play most often on the XBox 360 because I get the largest sense of community from it, but my favorite console of all-time is probably the PS2. I spent so many hours on that console playing some of the best games I've ever played. I still sometimes pick up 'new' (read: really old ones I've never played before) PS2 games and play them, that's how much I love that system.
As a member of Etsy's "nerd" community, do you find yourself purposely pricing your products lower than you could in order to make them accessible to fellow nerds?
Absolutely, yes. Many perfume oil makers just repackage the stuff they buy from wholesale manufacturers and then still resell it for $15 for a 1/2 ounce bottle. I am making the blends myself from many ingredients as well as using jojoba oil as my base, which is more expensive but never goes rancid like grapeseed or almond oil, but I charge only $8 for a 1/2 oz bottle. It's more important to me to share my blends with other geeky folk and hear their great feedback than to make a profit on the sales.
What is your best selling scent, and did it come as a surprise to you?
Yoshi's Island has been very popular; not a surprise because it's a great blend and Yoshi is a popular character. I've been surprised by how many people ask for samples of Shy Guy, and by the number of people interested in the Final Fantasy Elements scents. It's hard to say what will catch someone's attention!
What is your favorite way to promote your shop? Facebook? Twitter? Forums? Something else?
I think Facebook has a lot of potential, but I don't have a lot of followers yet. If you can build up a following and make sure people don't hide you on their friend feed, I think it can be a great tool for keeping customer loyalty.
If someone just starting on Etsy were to come up and ask you for only one, single piece of advice, what would that advice be?
Join teams and stay active on the team forums! It's so fantastic to meet new friends and talk about the things you enjoy while also appreciating each other's shops and helping each other make sales. Building a network and a community is critical, and you can do that most easily by joining a team full of other people who love the same things you do.
Are you working on any new projects you'd like to tell us about?
I have a lot of ideas up in my brainspace that haven't actually been developed yet. At the request of a fan, I'm going to be making some Sailor Moon themed scents. I am also trying to expand into other kinds of scented products, such as the sachets available on my site, so I'd like to make some simple themed soaps.
When you're having a "pamper me" day, what is your ideal meal and dessert combo?
The meal has to have mashed potatoes as a side... Yum! I eat too many desserts as it is, but if I get to choose anything, I'll choose a hot fudge sundae. Even the cheap ones from McD's make me so happy!
What kind of music do you like to listen to while developing your products?
I'm in love with a wide variety of music genres, but the music that really gets me in the mood to be productive is dance or electronica music. You can't argue with a great beat.
Do you have anything else to say to the salivating public before we wrap things up? Really, anything at all you want to say, just go ahead and say it.
Hmm, well, if anyone wants to connect with me, my blog is gamergirlriot.blogspot.com/ and I am always open to making new gamer and geek friends. Besides that, I want to say 'thanks' for taking the time to interview me, this was a lot of fun! I look forward to reading your future interviews and blog posts!
Thanks so much, Christina. All you readers out there, if you love me, you'll go visit her shop and buy lots of stuff. ;) Seriously though. Show your love for the nerd crafter community!
Until next post, have a nerdtastic day!