The phrase “Never Grow Up” has never been so beautifully encompassed by anyone but Susi Ryan, owner of The Felted Gnome Knows, the magical shop that will fulfill your deepest wishes of whimsy and merriment. Susi carefully creates adorable gnomes, fairies, hats and masks through the difficult art of needle felting. Truly the works of magic, Susi rekindles the child in all of us with the love and silliness that would make Peter Pan proud.
What got you started? Where did you begin?
I started working with wool when my daughter and I picked up a felting kit at a local yarn store. We were making all our own Christmas gifts to exchange and we made a cute little Santa. There was something about the wool in its unspun state that excited me. I felt like I could make anything I could imagine. I started contacting local farmers and purchasing local wool, eventually buying raw and processing it locally. I hand dye most of my wool as well. I expanded into wet felting and making fantastical hats, scarves and shawls.
What do you hope people will receive from your products?
I hope that my work sparks that sense of wonder and whimsy that we forget to nurture in our everyday lives. I hope that every piece makes a giggle, smile and joyous fun ring out when it is displayed or worn. I hope that the customer looks at it and thinks “that just makes me happy.”
What inspires you?
My daughter inspires me to create magical beings, animals and fun wearable art because she loves being a kid and doesn’t want to grow up to fast. She is a pixie of a girl and loves to model my hats. I enjoy the wonderment and giggles to my work produces in customers young and old. Everyone, I believe, needs a little whimsy in their lives.
What do you always try to keep in mind while you create your products?
Wool has a life of ts own. Each breed of sheep has a certain characteristics that come out in the wool. Some is better suited to magical creatures and others to fantastical hats. I never know what little face will come out while I am sculpting. It is as if the creature was just waiting to be brought to life and the wool guides my needle to make it so. The wet felted pieces too have their own personalities that originate in the wool. Every creation is a surprise.
Where do you hope your business will go?
I hope that my business will continue to grow and customers return again and again to collect my work. I don’t see myself going into wholesale or hiring others to assist me because to me my work is one of a kind art. It can’t be mass produce or replicated.
What advice do you have for those just beginning to sell online?
Success doesn’t happen overnight. It is important to put yourself out there in the virtual world. Make sure you take ownership of your name. Open instagram, facebook, pinterest and twitter accounts. Register them in your business name. Pick a few to be very active in, it helps draw people to your work. Show your work in process!
Do you sell offline too? Where else can we find your stuff?
I sell offline at local craft fairs and local shops. My masks and slippers can be found at Champlain Leather, Burlington, VT. My wool sculptures and mobiles can be found at Grand Isle Artworks, Grand Isle, Vermont. My birds can be found at The Birds of Vermont Museum in Huntington Vermont. My little pocket hedgehogs, sheep and hearts can be found at Boutilier’s Art Center, Burlington, VT and my local wool supplies, needle and foam that I sell can be found at Vintage Inspired Lifestyle Marketplace, Flynn Avenue, Burlington, VT. I will be at the Big E Vermont Handcrafter’s Gallery in the Vermont Building this September and I will also be at The Vermont Women’s Festival of Crafts and Vermont Handcrafter’s Holiday Fair in November.
What is the most fulfilling aspect of your business?
Making things that I love as a full time job.
What’s your favorite thing about CraftLaunch?
I love that I can integrate my blog, my etsy shop and information in one spot that looks professional and it is easy to manage. I also love the tech department at Craftlaunch- they are super responsive and just all around fabulous.
The Felted Gnome Knows: thefeltedgnomeknows.com