Some of us are lucky enough to have found our passion at an early age. For Elaine Perry of the Woolly Rabbit this was the case. Elaine has been an artist since she could first hold a pencil, having folded several sheets of A4 paper into sketch books before going around her home drawing the furniture!
In 2012 Elaine took the first step towards turning this passion for art and creativity into a career by teaching herself how to paint animal portraits in pastel pencil and soon people began to commission Elaine to paint their pets. With a passion for creating that surpassed drawing and an enjoyment of 3D work, when Elaine came across needle felting in 2014 she began to hone her skills in this new discipline too.
At the start of 2019 Elaine took her passion for art one step further, opening an online shop specialising in needle felting. With a shop that supplies both needle felting equipment, as well as her own sculptures gives The Woolly Rabbit a unique balance. Elaine gains her inspiration from Rabbits and hares, saying I’ve had pet rabbits for over a decade and there’s just something about them I like, wild looking ones in particular. I like to push myself to develop my skills further and am easily motivated to try new things. I never run out of ideas as I’m so easily inspired by nature and other wonderful artists”. This specific inspiration means Elaine has a unique niche that is recognisable as The Woolly Rabbit, alongside standing out against many needle felting equipment businesses as most are just suppliers, not artists too.
This balance within the business is an aspect Elaine plans to keep as she progresses, hoping to grow the felting supplies part of the business while beginning to exhibit her woolly sculptures.
“I’d love to spend all day everyday creating realistic looking animals to sell and exhibit.”
Spending time to hone the skills and develop a good niche has clearly paid off as Elaine has seen success this year by taking the plunge to launch her online shop…in which her Christmas needle felted decoration workshops sold out! (As well as having booked several private groups too!).
When we asked Elaine about her biggest success as an artist so far we were so pleased that she didn’t only tell us about the great success of selling out, but also said “and have started to grow my Facebook and Instagram accounts from scratch.”. Taking on a new challenge like taking the plunge to open a new shop or building your social platforms from scratch can be a scary first step. It involves having the confidence to make yourself visible and learn a new skill. So often these small but vital steps are overlooked as something that has to be done rather than a success but they deserve just as much credit if not more than selling out!
There are so many challenges, both big and small during starting a new venture. For Elaine, like many small business owners, the biggest challenge was self doubt. Elaine told us how she dealt with this doubt and it’s a solution we love…
“The biggest challenge has been self doubt. I have had to learn to reframe those doubts and ask myself if I were someone who could keep moving forward regardless of those doubts, what would I be doing next? This usually helps me to keep going in the right direction. I would say to someone else to consider what they could do rather than what they feel they cannot do.”
We’re so excited to have been able to interview Elaine who has had such an interesting journey leading to The Woolly Rabbit with successes, challenges and everything in between.
So from an artist who’s out there doing it right now learning and growing a still very new but certainly up and coming business… here’s Elaine’s piece of advice for someone starting a creative venture…
“It takes time, time to hone your skills, time to get noticed, time to learn the admin skills you will need, the marketing skills required to get seen, time to find the right people who will help you on your journey… Don’t be disheartened and keep trying till something sticks.”
To see more artist features and local businesses see more of our blog posts.