Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Creating Success around the World - Learna from Banjo and the Sparrow

Welcome to Creating Success around the World
The worldwide blog hop tour, that introduces you to creative people from all corners of the globe.

Creating my way to Sucess

Every Wednesday our hosts on each continent will introduce some inspiring creativity from their corner of the world.
Here's the hosts:
Jill in Australasia
Jill in Australasia
Daffy in Asia
Daffy in Asia
Today's guest is Learna from Banjo and the Sparrow
    in NSW, Australia
Hi! My name is Learna Benson and I live in the beautiful hills of the Blue Mountains in NSW. I am a mum of two gorgeous little children, Ava who is nearly 4 (she’s my little sparrow) and Banjo who is nearly 1. This is where my business name Banjo & The Sparrow was born.

From as long as I can remember I have always loved creating. I can remember my parents buying me my first oil paints and canvas at about 9 years old and I adored Friday afternoons in year 4 where our teacher Mrs Tongs would think of different and fabulous art and craft projects to get us involved in (it certainly beat maths and geography lessons).

The creative gene runs in my family. My Nan was a wonderful artist who continued to sell her pieces well into her 80’s, and together with my children she is the inspiration to do what I am doing now.

I started this venture thinking that I was going to attempt to sell my intricate marker illustrations and prints, however, something has taken me along another path for the moment and that is creating jewellery pieces using vintage and retro treasures such as photographs, books, atlases, postcards, playing cards and basically anything that can be stuck down and turned into a refreshed piece of everlasting wearable art. I’ve just discovered some amazingly beautiful vintage tiles that I’m using for rings and brooches and for the backings for my necklaces. The tiles were in my husband’s Pa’s bathroom in a house that is 70 years old. Pa kept the unused tiles in his house all that time.

For as long as I can remember I have LOVED everything vintage so this is such an amazing opportunity for me to blend my two loves: art & craft and all things vintage.

I use all original vintage goodies 99% of the time which I think adds to the appeal of my pieces. When someone purchases a piece I try to add a little back story to the piece if I know it’s history such as the names of the people in the pictures, the age of the picture and so on.

The pieces are French Polished by a professional French Polisher giving them a beautiful sheen and very professional looking finish.

I love the fact that the pieces that I find hidden away in dusty corners of antiques shops or second hand stores get a new lease of life and are cared for again by someone. It’s like adding another chapter to its already extensive life.

I produce pieces for woman, men and children so I think I have something for everyone. I’m currently searching for vintage yarn to make little crochet flowers for little girls clips and brooches.

I also have a range of jewellery that I have drawn my original art works onto. They’re quite geometrical and are pieces using just black archival markers or either geometrical colour blocked pieces using artist’s pencils and markers. These have also been quite popular, especially the bangles.

After having my little ones I had this immense urge to get creative again. After years of working full time and paying the mortgage something in me was telling me that I needed to make some time to use the creative part of my brain again. My brain wasn’t turning off with so many ideas and I felt incredibly restless until I put the ideas into action.
It’s been a roller coaster finding the time that is required to make all my goodies and setting up my store but it is so satisfying, especially when people give me such positive feedback.

For about two years now it has been my plan to set up my own store on Madeit which is such a fantastic site for Australian art and crafters to sell their wares. It took a long time to get there but finally my store, Banjo & The Sparrow was created. I’ve only been up and running for about 3 weeks now but I’ve been surprised by how popular it’s been. I thought it would take months for someone to buy something but I was inundated the very first week which was overwhelming as I hadn’t prepared myself for it.

Madeit have been so supportive, picking one of my pieces to appear in the newsletter which goes out to a huge amount of people. Some of my pieces have also been picked by staff and also other madeit stores which has also given me extra exposure.

I have also set up a store on Etsy , the site is SO big I don’t think it will be anywhere near as profitable as Madeit but I figure you have to be in it to win it.

It is my plan to create my own website where people will be able to purchase goods directly from me, however, that is in the slightly too hard basket for the minute so it’s on my ever growing to-do list a little further down the track.

As I’ve only been on Madeit for a few weeks I’m enjoying seeing the sales coming in, but, it will take a while to recoup my initial outlay to create my initial pieces. I do believe in the saying you have to spend money to make money. One day I hope to confidently say that I’m making a reasonable profit.

I’ve already had an order from a lady in Melbourne who has created her own handmade Australian and Kiwi souvenir site for some Aussie and Kiwi inspired cufflinks and also a lady who has her own online children’s boutique store for little girls necklaces and brooches. This is incredibly exciting and I can’t wait to see how they go.

This whole experience of selling my creations has already been a steep learning curve. At first I purchased things that I really didn’t end up needing. I’ve tried to incorporate these things where possible so that I haven’t wasted my money. Postage costs have also been a big problem as I initially under quoted and was losing money. The other thing I’m struggling with is pricing my items. A lot of people tell me I should be selling my products for more, however, in these uncertain financial times I feel like I have to price my items so the price is affordable for people.
Another problem I had at first was getting the process and finish on my products right so that they looked amazing and held up well but with a lot of trial and error I finally have the process down.

I’ve learned that things often happen by chance and it’s about being in the right place at the right time. What will be will be and with a little hard work good things will come.

My aim is to have a sustainable small business creating unique and beautiful pieces and to be able to keep being a stay at home mum, who is able to make a bit of pocket money on the side whilst dappling in the creative arts. If this became a full time endeavour then I would be ecstatic as I couldn’t think of anything more satisfying than doing something I truly enjoy for a living.

My friend and I are working towards having a stall at some of the local markets in the Blue Mountains. It will be interesting to see how my pieces will be received and I’m hoping that it’s an avenue to get my name out there in the community. We’re on a waiting list to have a stall at Magpie Markets in Lawson on the 17th June so hopefully we’ll get a spot. Come and check it out and I might see you there.

When I get some spare time, (ha!) I do plan to delve more into my ink and marker illustrations. The fact that they take so much time to complete isn’t working for me at the moment, but I’m sure I’ll get to it as some point. I would also love to dapple in oil painting as this was the main medium that my Nan used. I wish she was still here to mentor me. I would also like to find the time to do some art classes to teach me the fundamentals. I’m self-taught at everything I do and sometimes I think it would be nice to know some tricks of the trade.

The biggest goal that I want to achieve is that ‘perfect’ balance between family and creating and selling and to get a great reputation for making quality pieces that everyone can treasure and appreciate and also to keep pushing my creativity to see what I can do next. The sky’s the limit!

Please come and check out my Madeit and Etsy stores at:

I hope you like what you see.
Thanks  for your lovely answers Learna - and for sharing your beautiful work with us!
Do go and visit Learna's Madeit shop and check out more of her wonderful creations!
If you would like to be featured in an interview - then please contact your continent's host! 
Each featured guest here on Creating my way to Success, will also receive one week's free advertising in my sidebar as a thank you for your post!

1 comment:

  1. Very interesting person,thanks for introducing Learna Benson


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