Eva Baricz is a Hungarian crafter, living in Portugal where she designs and makes costumes and costume accessories, mostly for children, and sells these online at BHBkidstyle.com. She is inspired by nature, children’s stories, and the unlimited imagination that children have.
“Nature, children’s story and kids unruly imagination are what inspires me. There are so many animals out there that one can make a mask or costume of. Even if a particular animal might not be popular in general, if it happens to be a character in a story, I think it is worth making at least a mask of. Reading, acting out and re-telling stories for children and/or with children is not just educational but great fun as well, not to mention the endless imaginative plays. And if there is no story about an animal, I am sure there will be created one soon by a child.”
Her business was not really planned, but just happened:
“I never planned to have a business and the fact that now I own my online shop has happened by chance. I used to hand-paint t-shirts for my children and it was my friend Kerrin from Sigmosaics who encouraged me so that I opened my online shop on Etsy six years ago.
However, what appealed to some did not grab the attention of the wide audience and my shop was not doing very well.
The fate of my business has changed by the coincidence of receiving my first sewing machine and the need for a lion costume for my daughter. The costume was a success and I really enjoyed making it. More to the point, my little market research has proved that there was a need for masks and dress up costume accessories for children. So I took the plunge, abandoned my not very successful t-shirt business, and started making costume accessories for kids. My research has paid off and now I am a proud owner of my own web-shop where I sell masks and costume accessories for children which are designed and made by me.
In short, becoming a business owner has happened by chance but becoming a fairly successful business owner was the result of some conscious decisions.”
We asked Eva about her early years, where did her crafting or designing come from, and were told that it is ‘nothing special, anyone was doing this’.
“All the women in my family did knitting or crocheting. My grandmother was a seamstress and made dresses with her own pattern. My mother was very good at drawing. She was a shop window designer but earned her living as a seamstress for a while, too. I was always interested in sewing but did not do any of it until I got my own sewing machine. I wish I had the knowledge of making my own patterns for dresses.
Making and creating something was always around me, although I did not consider it crafting at the time. It seemed to me – and probably to anyone who is my generation and was bought up in Central Europe – that it was just something that one naturally did.
I did some embroidery but it did not really caught on me. What I really enjoyed doing was rug making and knitting.
My really first business venture was knitting. I started knitting for money when I was 15. My classmates commissioned me to knit them jumpers, scarves and hats. Knitting is something I always enjoyed.
My first proper hand-made project was a rug featuring two mushrooms. I was very happy and proud when I finally finished it. It was quite a tedious work to do for a 7 year old. Making the mushrooms were OK but I still remember how bored I was doing the background, which was the bigger part of the rug, with the same colour. It took ages.
So, finishing the rug made me feel that I have achieved something big and I was very proud of it and I was glad that I did not give up. And probably that is the best thing about crafting. It gives you a sense of achievement.”
I don’t know about you, but making a rug at age 7 does sound special to me! And now we wonder if that rug still exists… no smartphones or facebook available, so no photos?
BHB Kidstyle is Eva’s full time job, and before you get jealous you may note that it is not exactly a 9 to 5 job.
“Running your own business gives you the freedom of making your own decision and it is really just up to you to make it happen. However, running your own business is not a 9.00 to 5.00 job and it is not just about creating. It involves a lot of administrative, marketing and bookkeeping work and when there is work to do, it has to be done regardless if it is week-day or week-end, if it is 3 o’clock in the afternoon or 11 o’clock in the evening.
If you have a design in your mind, you can follow it up and create the item. And because you like making what you do, the creating and making part of business running is enjoyable.”
However, if you love what you do she tells us that it is worth it:
“BHB Kidstyle is my full time job. It probably provides me with as much money and twice as much work as a traditional job would do which might make some wonder why I am doing it. Well, the answer is quite simple. I also get three times more satisfaction out of it as if I got from an ordinary 9 to 5 job.”
There is a lot of research and marketing needed for a business. Eva worked in the foreign trade business before working for a language school where she was responsible for organizing English language courses for companies. The knowledge picked up there about customer care is used every day.
“When people are thinking about having a hand-made business, they usually are just thinking about the making and creative aspect of it and not the business side of it. However, it is not enough to make something, you also have to get people to buy it. Whether it is from a brick and mortal shop or from an online shop, it involves a lot of researching and marketing work.
But no matter how well you plan, sometimes there are factors and circumstances that one just can’t predict and the business might not survive.
A friend of mine who had several successful businesses told me two things.
- Running a business is a risky business.
- You are not considered to be a good businessman/woman unless you failed twice but managed to get up and start everything all over again.”
We already figured out that for Eva running her business, despite long and irregular hours, is very satisfactory, since she loves what she is doing. What keeps her going?
“My customers are my biggest motivators. I am quite slow at turning my ideas into reality.
I would never have made my first bird costume if I had not been approached by a customer asking to make her one. I had been meaning to make a chipmunk or squirrel mask and tail set for a year but I needed a customer to push me to make one. There are projects and ideas that have been on my mind and my to do list but I know that without a push they will not come to life.”
In our many talks with artists one thing that always strikes us is that the most difficult projects seem to bring the most satisfaction. Among what Eva considers her main achievements this trend is once again established:
“As a craft person, I would say that probably the bird costumes are my biggest achievements. They seem to be quite popular and not many people make them.
No wonder why. It takes a lot of time to make one.
As a designer (even though I don’t really consider myself one) I am most proud of my zebra mask and swan mask. It is quite difficult to make a mask of an animal that has a long face without making the mask covering the nose and the mouth area. However, the zebra’s stripes helped me create the impression of the long face of the animal without actually making the mask too big. I just about managed to make an acceptable looking donkey mask but for the life of me, I can’t design a decent looking horse mask that would not cover the whole face.
The swan mask I am proud of because, apart from a few special ones, most bird faces are featureless.”
Eva really appreciates well crafted products and art:
“I admire anybody who can make me go “WOW!” no matter how supposedly ordinary that job or craft might be. Whether it is carpentry, dressmaking or pottery, whether it is an illustration or architecture design. I admire those who can take any kind of work or craft to the level of art. Mind you, art is subjective …”
Eva grew up in Central Europe, but is now living in Portugal:
“Portugal has everything that one might consider to be the ideal place to live. It has a reasonably warm climate and sea (well, ocean to be more precise). It has a rich cultural and historical past and its natural beauty offers a lot to the outdoor loving folks. The people here are very children centered and therefore it is an excellent country to bring up a young family.”
However, they do say you can take a person out of a country, but never the country out of a person:
“What it doesn’t have though, is the crispy dry cold winter and snow and this is what I miss the most.”
And we found out something about her working space that we do not hear many artists saying:
“I am probably the only crafter who is happy with her studio space. It is light, it is big enough for my needs and has enough storage area. What I would really like to have though, is a room where I could do my product’s photo shooting and endless number of children to model them.”
And finally, some advice for other artist:
My Mum used to tell us when we were kids : “Everything is possible. You just have to want to make it happen.” Well, we all know that life is not that simple but basically what it means that if you work hard you can achieve a lot.
And this is where her motto comes from:
“If it doesn’t work one way, try it another way.”
Visit her shop at: www.bhbkidstyle.com.