Tuesday, August 28, 2007

I'm a happy customer! (Etsy Product Review)

(a.k.a. No, I did not buy glittery brown sugar...)

Since becoming a seller on Etsy, I've also been a regular buyer there as well. Most of what I've bought has been things that I can't make myself, or things that I think will make good gifts for my friends and family members. I've always been really pleased with the items that I bought for myself, and those I have sent things from Etsy have told me they were pleased as well.

Yesterday, though, I think I got the yummiest smelling package ever. I used to buy a lot of homemade soaps and lotions and things from people who were local to Carbondale (or nearby), but since I moved, and they don't sell online (!), I've had to look for other options. I also discovered not too long ago that I'm very fond of salt scrubs, and so I'm always looking for new ones to try.

So yeah, yummy smelling package! The package was from Bradli, and it included some soap samples and a salt scrub that I had ordered from her. Well, I opened that package up right away, and dove immediately for the salt scrub. I opened it, and realized that although it wasn't what I had been smelling, oh my goodness it smelled even BETTER than yummy smelling soap!

I don't know enough about soap making, scents, or essential oils to pinpoint exactly what smell I've fallen in love with, but I don't really care. This stuff smells amazing, and I can't wait to use it! (Unfortunately, I got a stupid paper cut on my finger last night, and thus didn't want to stick my hand into salt this morning. Sometimes, I am awake enough to make coherent decisions at 6 a.m. :) )

The soaps all smell delicious as well, I should point out. I got a sample pack, and didn't request any special scents. So far, I've tried kiwi (really nice and subtle, but still fruity smelling) and peppermint grapefruit (surprisingly good combination... I was leery at first on this one). I've got four more to try, which I'll probably save until the first two samples run out. One of them smells like pumpkin pie, so that one will definitely get used this fall! :)

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Etsy Seller Profile: WireTree

While you can find plenty of shops on Etsy where the seller is very good at one specific art or craft, you can also find a good number where the seller has two or more distinct arts or crafts, and is very talented at both forms. Etsy Seller WireTree, also known as Beth Goss, is one of the latter category. While I was first drawn in to her Etsy shop by her gorgeous photography, I soon found myself looking at her jewelry selection as well. I almost never switch the pairs of earrings that I wear each day, but looking at some of the earrings available at WireTree is beginning to make me think differently about that choice.

Beth originally hails from New York, though she has lived in other parts of the United States before choosing to settle down in the Seattle area. Like many Etsy sellers, she has many other obligations and interests outside of her crafts. In her case, she had been interested in jewelry making for quite a while, but that hobby had fallen by the wayside as the rest of life got in the way. As Beth accumulated a large number of pieces of jewelry that she had made, she found Etsy and was delighted with the ease of setting up a shop there. Photography was another hobby, which she also discovered had a potential to sell well on Etsy, so she has been adding more of her photography to the shop as well.

My favorite thing about Beth's jewelry is the way in which she shapes the wire into little spirals and curlicues. Many of her earrings are very simple affairs, with just a single bead on each earring, but the spirals and curlicues draw your attention to the painstaking precision and elegance of each earring. She also uses this style on some of her necklaces, while others are more traditionally beaded strands. I also like the abstract designs of her pendants, again echoing the simplicity and elegance of the earrings--just a few beads sprinkled into the design, while the wire does most of the "talking."

Beth's photography similarly shares the simple elegance of her jewelry. Nearly all of her photographs are of natural scenes--trees, flowers, and beautiful sunsets are among her most common subjects. There is nothing elaborate to the scenes that she photographs, but the pictures come across beautifully. Matted and framed, these photographs would make an amazing addition to any room of the house.

If you fall in love with Beth's work, but want something just a little different from what she has available in her Etsy shop, she is happy to accept custom orders for jewelry. She is currently experimenting with some new sterling silver earring designs, so there will certainly be more new things to see at WireTree in the near future.

Beth's Blog

Monday, August 20, 2007

Etsy Seller Profile: KimberlyAtStir

The first time I saw one of Etsy seller Kimberly Van Dyke's photographs, it took me a moment to realize what I was looking at. It was one of the photographs from her "Personification" series, and my eyes wanted to believe that the starfish on the beach was an actual starfish, rather than a person body painted to look like a starfish. Of course, once my brain and my eyes were on the same page, I couldn't stop looking. With the wide variety of creative photography (as well as hand-painted silk accessories) available at the Etsy shop KimberlyAtStir, you are likely to keep looking as well.

Kimberly, the creative genius behind KimberlyAtStir, has lived both in New York City and Seattle, but has been making artwork her entire life. From a young age, she worked in her grandfather's studio, learning painting and pottery. She says that around 4 or 5 years old, she discovered that art wasn't just a playtime thing, and that it could be really fabulous sometimes. She went on from that early revelation to get a BFA, and has been selling her artwork for the past three years. Her shop on Etsy, KimberlyAtStir, has been around only for a short time, but offers a wide spectrum of her photography and hand-painted silk accessories.

Kimberly says that her "Personification" series was one of her favorite series to work on. For this series, she body painted models to look like common objects: a starfish, a cheetah, and a cello, among other items. By superimposing the photographs of the painted models into appropriate settings, several of the pictures in this series really do make you look twice, to see if you are looking at the real thing or a human posing as the real thing. Aside from the "Personification" series, Kimberly has created several other series of photographs, all of which have produced some spectacular results.

If photographs aren't your thing, you may instead enjoy Kimberly's hand-painted silk accessories. Baseball caps and ties will appeal more to the male crowd, while her custom hand-painted silk scarves would be an elegant and colorful touch to any woman's wardrobe. Whether you prefer an identifiable image or a more abstract design, chances are good that Kimberly will be able to create a custom scarf that will please you or the woman in your life.

In addition to her shop on Etsy, Kimberly also has a studio in the Pioneer Square area of downtown Seattle, which also doubles as a gallery. The studio, Stir, can be found at 216 Alaskan Way S, and is open on the first Thursday of each month as a part of Seattle's First Thursdays Gallery Walk. Whether you see her work online or in person, it is sure to delight and entertain the viewer who appreciates the human form and the wonders of body paint.

Stir Boutique

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Etsy Seller Profile: Rekoj Design

In a world where it seems as though everyone wants to own the same clothes as their friends and the celebrities are wearing, those who prefer their own unique style are a fresh breath of air. For those unique individuals who want a truly one-of-a-kind item, Seattle-based Etsy seller Sara Everett, the brains behind Rekoj Design, has much to offer. Whether you are looking for a hand painted T-shirt, purse, or some other item, Sara's artwork-embellished clothing is sure to be a great favorite.

Sara has been drawing and doodling for nearly her entire life, though the hand painted designs on her Rekoj Design line came about as a result of boredom during college lectures. As she says, "One professor noticed and commented on all the madness in the margins when reviewing my class notes and told me that I should 'do something' with them." In Sara's case, the "something" ended up being an art show featuring her graphic line doodles. While living in Olympia, Washington, Sara was inspired to start painting her designs onto clothing, and Rekoj Design was born.

In Rekoj Design's Etsy shop, Sara has only a few hand-painted T-shirts and bags, but she is happy to take on custom work for people as well. If you have a favorite item of clothing or fabric accessory, Sara can embellish the item with one of her designs. The designs are simple, line-based drawings, but they really add a lot of interest and style to an otherwise simple item. Sara's "Octopurse" is a particularly cute little bag featuring a simple black octopus on a fully lined purse. It's simple enough to go with plenty of outfits, but it's also a one-of-a-kind piece sure to be a conversation starter wherever you go.

Sara is currently working in a slightly different medium than she has worked before, expanding the offerings of Rekoj Design to woodburned pendants. One of her favorites (and mine as well) is a scattering of cherry blossoms across the surface of a small wooden disc. Each pendant is woodburned, accented with acrylic paint, and varnished for long wearability. Sara plans to begin selling these pendants at Bumbershoot, a Seattle arts and music festival, held during Labor Day Weekend.

In addition to Bumbershoot, Rekoj Design will be selling at a number of live venues over the next few months, as well as through Sara's Etsy shop. If you're in the Pacific Northwest region, you can find Rekoj Design at I Heart Rummage (Seattle) on September 16th, and at three I Heart Indie holiday shows: November 24th at the Seattle Center Pavilion, December 2nd at the Wonder Ballroom in Portland, Oregon, and December 9th at the Majestic in Bellingham, Washington.


Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Etsy Seller Profile: SuperFunPetStuff

Every pet owner is always looking for the best items for their pets, whether those items are food dishes, bedding, or toys. For those who prefer to buy handmade goods rather than mass produced items for their pets, finding what their pets need can be difficult. Etsy seller Jennifer Chang, the creative hands behind SuperFunPetStuff, has a few solutions for owners of both cats and dogs.

Jennifer has been making handmade items for ten years as a part time job, and for the past two years as a full time job. She began as a high school math teacher, but after burning out in that profession, she returned to school for an MBA and ended up running two businesses--SuperFunPetStuff and JennTile. Although Jennifer says that she spends more time, and makes more money, on her tiling business (JennTile), she has five pets of her own, three dogs and two cats, so it's not much of a surprise that she would create items for pets as well.

Although she has been selling in other venues for longer, Jennifer started her Etsy shop early in 2007, and finds that her pet feeders and "catnip canaries" are two of her most popular items there. The "catnip canaries" are small, fuzzy, yellow, and shaped like a canary. Inside the canary is nothing but catnip, and cat owners have their choice between organic catnip or non-organic catnip. Since the canaries contain nothing but catnip, there is no harmful stuffing for a cat to ingest if the canary comes open. As most cat owners know, cats are great at ripping open their toys, so giving them a toy that is safe for them to tear open is always a good idea. Of course, if you prefer a different shape, SuperFunPetStuff also offers fish, caterpillars, mice, and several other critters, all stuffed with catnip. Can't choose just one? Try a gift pack, with several different catnip-stuffed critters.

Of course, SuperFunPetStuff isn't entirely about catnip and cats. For the dog owners, Jennifer also makes raised dog feeders, which keep your dog's food and water off of the floor. Aside from looking super classy, these feeders also keep other critters out of your dog's food and keep your dog's feeding area a little more tidy. The pictured dog feeder has a granite top and a vintage base, and is designed for a larger dog. But don't despair if you have a smaller dog. In her JennTile Etsy shop, Jennifer offers a custom made raised feeder for a dog or a cat, built to the size and color specifications that you provide. Jennifer enjoys making these custom raised feeders, as she recognizes the importance of the right size feeder for your dog or cat. The color choices are a nice touch for the pet owner who wants to coordinate their pet's feeding dishes with their home decor.

Even if you don't have pets of your own, the items at SuperFunPetStuff would make great gifts for friends or family members who are pet owners. The catnip toys would make a great stocking stuffer for any pet lover, and the custom height pet feeders would certainly be a well loved gift for the holidays or any other occasion. If you are one of the rare people who have no pet lovers in their life, you may find something you or someone on your shopping list would like in the JennTile Etsy shop instead. Regardless of which of Jennifer's shops you choose to visit, you will be able to see the mix between creative and practical items that makes both of her shops so appealing.


This article is also found at Associated Content: here.

Friday, August 10, 2007

An update on my upcoming articles

I've sent out questions to people who expressed interest in having me write an article about their shop. Of the ones I've sent out (right around a dozen), I've gotten five back so far. I've managed to write one of the articles out of those five, and hope to finish up a few more articles over the weekend.

Right now, I've got that one article submitted to Associated Content, and I am awaiting their response. The waiting part is one of the difficult things about Associated Content, for me, because I tend to be pretty impatient. (And yet I've made three full sized afghans, and countless baby afghans... hmmmm...)

I am waiting, however, because I would really like to have the articles both here and there, as I suspect they will reach two vastly different audiences if I can "cross-post" them like that. And reaching two audiences equals more sales for my featured sellers, and perhaps more sales for random Etsy sellers that people stumble across by looking at Etsy after reading my articles. Win-win situation, if you ask me. :)

So if you're horribly impatient for something to read, might I direct your attention to a couple of craft-related articles that I've already written?

Tips on Making Your Own Cheap and Easy Valentines (a seasonal article, but it could also be used to jumpstart some ideas for other holiday cards as well)

How to Make Coordinating Christmas Stockings for Your Family (after all, it is about time to start thinking about Christmas crafts, right?)

Making Your Own CD Cover (hey, this one is good any time of the year!)

Monday, August 6, 2007

Welcome to Shop Etsy!

I first learned about Etsy a couple of years ago, though I only knew of it in passing. On crafty message boards all over the internet, it was always mentioned as a great place to go to sell your crafts.

I don't know what took me so long to get my own shop going.

I joined Etsy in late November of 2006--a little too late to get in on most of the Christmas rush, but early enough to get a few sales before Christmas. Regardless of sales, however, I was pretty well hooked from the moment I actually visited the site. For me, it wasn't really all the super neat applications that the site provided. It was much more about the ability to sell my crafts year round, rather than only at holiday craft fairs.

As I spent more time on Etsy, I found my second favorite thing about the site--the sense of community that it had developed. Until very recently, I had never met any other Etsy sellers. Despite that, there were still fellow sellers that I felt like I had gotten to know, through their shops, the forums, and the chatrooms.

I moved to Seattle recently, and found that there are plenty of other Etsy sellers here. A bunch of us have gotten together to revive the Seattle Street Team, which we now call EtsyRain. (Hold that thought, I'll come back to it momentarily).

Crafting is only one of my passions. Another of my passions is writing. Around the same time I started selling on Etsy, I also started writing for a few paid writing sites. I'd like to think that my writing, particularly my writing for the internet, has improved in the past 10 months.

And then we get to the junction of my passions, and we discover the purpose behind this blog. I've decided that I am going to start writing about Etsy. More specifically, I'm going to start writing about the people and the crafts that make Etsy one of my absolute favorite websites. Starting with the ladies (and gentlemen) of EtsyRain, this blog will examine shops and sellers in detail.

My goals in all of this? To help my fellow crafters reach a new audience, one that they might not have otherwise reached. To bring new buyers (and sellers) to Etsy. To improve my writing skills even more. And, of course, to have fun. :)