My friend Mikell Price is a fellow Harry Potter fanatic, and has participated in some of my most nerdy Harry Potter-themed gatherings. In fact, I’d say our love for Harry Potter is one of the bonds that really glues she and I together as friends! Well, that and the fact we are both awesome. Then when I found out she had opened her own online store selling handmade Harry Potter merch, I just had to interview her! So even though this is an “Ask Joaquin” week (it alternates every other Tuesday with “Chum Chat”) I decided to just forget my own self-imposed rules and offer her interview as a special Wizard Week BONUS! Aren’t I generous? But not nearly as generous as Mikell is, for she’s concocted an exclusive special offer for Joaquin the Chihuahua readers…
JOAQUIN: Hey, Mikell! So Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1 comes out on DVD and BluRay this Friday. Are you excited? Think you’ll buy it?
MIKELL: I can’t wait! I will be one of those freaks that will be at the store at midnight and then will go home and watch it. I’m just glad that it comes out on a Friday because I would be taking the next day off work otherwise.
J: You’d even miss work to get it, huh? That’s dedication! Ha ha.
M: I’m still hoping to find somewhere that will be having a DVD release party with games and stuff beforehand so that waiting in line will be more fun. If you know of anywhere, let me know…
J: That does sound fun! I’m sure someplace is doing that… maybe. They should! Ha ha. But I don’t know of any.
M: What are you doing for the release? Wanna party? I’ll dress up like Ginny if you be my Harry (she winks).
J: Yes! Let’s totally party! Oh, but I won’t even know my schedule for that night until Wednesday or so… but if I’m not working I’ll definitely give you a call! But back to the interview here, how long have you been a fan of Harry Potter?
M: When the first book came out in… ‘97?
J: I think. Maybe ’98. Something like that.
M: Well, when the first book came out I refused to read it. My brother was raving about it and I thought it sounded so silly. I don’t really like reading. It was on a cross-country car trip with my family that I was outvoted after much complaining and was forced to listen to the first part of book one on cassette tape. I was so mad and determined to fall asleep instead… yeah… but that didn’t happen. It was about 10 minutes before I was in love. I would have the next tape in my hand so I could switch them as soon as the last one ended. I went home and read the first book over and over until it almost fell apart. My mom still gives me a hard time about it because I was so determined not to read them.
J: So what is it about Harry Potter that you love?
M: I love this series because I feel like I grew up with Harry Potter. I was 11 when the first book came out. (I think… as long as my math is good…) I was dealing with the same kind of things he was in school. Okay, not the magic parts, but kids like Malfoy who thought they were so cool, and wanting to be part of teams, and finding the best friends of my life. I think I secretly wanted it all to be real… okay, I still think I want it to be real. It has intrigued me more than any other created world in all of film or literature. I wanted to be able to be invisible. I wanted a pet owl. I loved the complexity of the world and learning about it with Harry…. Okay… I really am such a nerd… wow.
J: You and me both. No worries. So when did you first get the idea of doing an online Harry Potter-themed store?
M: My roommates were crocheting flowered head bands. I joined in and I wanted a scarlet and gold one to match my gold pea coat and to add a little Gryffindor flare to my life. My roommates started talking about selling them. I asked where they would sell them and they mentioned the Etsy Website. Well, I was having fun crocheting and I figured if I could be paid to do fun crafts and to release my inner HP nerd, then life would be complete.
J: Yeah. Who doesn’t want to be paid for something they do already for fun? Sounds perfect to me! Did it take long to get started?
M: I spent a day brainstorming a name and a logo and opened a store, Mud In My Blood. Nothing happened for a few days, but I was talking with a friend who makes duct tape rings for Etsy and she was encouraging. She said it may take a while; I just needed to be patient. I had my first sale in two days and then weeeeee!
J: Ha ha! Sounds like you were excited!
M: Her store is called Quiet Mischief by the way…and they have some freakin awesome stuff too!
J: I’ll provide a link! So what products do you sell? Do you make them all yourself or do you collaborate with other artisans?
M: My first sale was a headband and a wand. My close friend Nate makes beautiful hand spun wands on a lathe and I offered to put some of his extra attempts in my shop to see if he could get a few bucks for it.
J: Did he?
M: Yeah… like $30… it was sweet. We decided to go into business together. He makes the wands and my products include crocheted head wraps, head bands, pin-back buttons, hair flowers, ministry decree posters, and the occasional garment if the craft mood strikes. Next week we are getting together to have a bottling party. We will be selling a really yummy concentrate that you add to hot water and it makes the most delicious butterbeer. So, keep an eye out for that. We have been discussing a brand name and labels and stuff like that. It’s glittery… and delicious.
J: I will definitely be buying some of that! Brian and I tried making butterbeer once—you were there actually—and it wasn’t so delicious. So I’m curious to taste yours! Do you do any custom orders?
M: Yes. If people have requests for posters, buttons, or wands we can create a custom listing. Sometimes my customers have really good ideas!
J: Is it hard to keep up with the demand while balancing everything else in your life?
M: It has gotten harder since I moved into a house with no internet… I end up staying after school to work on things so I have a connection. That is kinda lame. I realized what my life had come to this morning. I didn’t need to go into the school, and I found myself sitting in my car, in a handicap parking space outside of Barnes and Noble…. with my computer… stealing their internet… for an hour… while I listened to Harry Potter on CD… yeaaaahhh. I turned off the CD eventually because I realized that I didn’t ever want to admit that was happening… and here I am… telling you… wow. My life has come to this… HA.
J: You crack me up. I’m sure it’s not all that bad.
M: In short, it’s ok. I go to the post office on my lunch breaks and I fill orders before I go to bed. If my job went full time, it might be a bit harder, but for now it’s just fun.
J: Has business been good? Are you making lots of money?
M: I think for an Etsy store business has been awesome. We have had 41 sales in about a month and a half. Not anything huge, but still a nice little supplemental income. I think one of the reasons it has done so well is because I use Facebook as an advertising tool whenever I get a chance. I have a page that I maintain and post new product info, sale updates, and coupon codes. I’m getting a pretty big following of a targeted HP nerd group. Yeah… shameless plug here: the page is called Mud In My Blood… look it up. Like it. Love me. The end.
J: I hope lots of my readers check your store out. I plan on promoting you in my sidebar for a little while as well. Do you think you could offer a special deal to my readers?
M: If your readers want a discount, I’m all for it. If they use the coupon code JOAQUIN15 at checkout they can get 15% off their purchase. That code will be good until the end of May. If they want more after that they may have to join my Facebook page… mua ha ha ha! Cough. Excuse me… what?
J: Nice evil laugh, Mikell. You’re really good at sneaking in more and more plugs! So one last question: if you could perform one bit of magic, what would it be?
M: I was gonna say being invisible or flying… but those seem so cliché. I would probably want to be able to brew Felix Felicis. I think having luck on my side all the time and experiencing that feeling of elation would be excellent. There are so many times I could use a little luck. No traffic during my rush hour commute… that would be nice. Being totally smooth and clever and awesome on a date… mega win! What would you perform?
J: Now you’re asking me questions?! Some nerve! Ha ha. Um, let me see… I think you chose the best one. Having liquid luck is sort of a catch-all isn’t it? But, to be different, I think it would be really cool to brew up some Polyjuice Potion and experience life in someone else’s shoes. You know? Be someone else for a little while… And of course, impersonating someone could lead to lots of fun mischief!