Thursday, April 28, 2011

Mermaid Lane Perfumes

I'm giddy about today's featured shop, Mermaid Lane Perfumes!  I'm a fan of any and all things good-smelling, and Mermaid Lane Perfumes is the place to find unique scents made from healing and organic ingredients.  Each perfume is made from organic jojoba oil, vitamin E, and a proprietary blend of natural botanicals.  Owner Stacey will even create a custom perfume for you upon request... how neat is that??

Green Roses Mermaid Lane Natural Organic Perfume

CM:  Tell us a bit about yourself...
S:  I was an in house lawyer at a tech company for several years before "retiring" to have kids. They are 4 and 7 and amazingly, have yet to spill a perfume bottle. I hail from Southern California, but have lived happily in the Bay Area for the past 14 years.

Azure Mermaid Lane Natural Organic Perfume

CM:  What got you interested in making perfume?
S:  I never liked perfume until I smelled the "real" stuff while honeymooning in Australia, where essential oils are very popular. Synthetic perfumes have always given me a headache. I started collecting essential oils from all over the world until my collection grew to over a hundred, and I figured I needed a way to justify my habit.

Lavender Rose Massage Hair Body Oil - Dream

CM:  How did you learn to make perfume? Did someone teach you?
S:  My first glimpse at how perfume is made was in Grasse, France, the perfume capitol of the world. From there, I experimented. I was born with perfect pitch and played piano competitively for 15 years. When I started paying attention to scent, I realized I could also smell pitches, though scents are so complex that it's not an exact science.

CM:   I love wearing perfume, but wouldn't even know where to start in terms of making it - what's the process like?
S:  For me, the process starts with a concept. For example, after we watched Snow White for about the five hundredth time, I thought, what would a walk through Snow White's forest smell like? I think, evergreens, blackberries, crisp, clean air, clover blossoms, seven little men with beards (just kidding), and roses, to signify Snow White's innocence and beauty. My latest natural perfume, Fir Berry, is built around this fantasy forest concept. I used bulgarian rose, bright citrus notes, Canadian fir needle, long pine, and several other aromatic woods in this bright, jammy perfume.

White Stars Mermaid Lane Natural Organic Perfume

CM:   In your opinion, what's the best thing about selling on Etsy? The most challenging?
S:  Best thing about selling on Etsy is the amazing community of creative people you get to meet (like you!). It's hard to start a business. Being among others who understand what it's like is both reassuring and inspiring. Hardest part is when I wake up to an empty inbox. But that motivates me to shake a tail feather.

Paradise Mermaid Lane Natural Organic Perfumes

CM:  What's your favorite item in your shop right now?
S:  Favorite item in my shop is my Lagoon natural perfume, based on what I thought the Mermaid Lagoon from Peter Pan would smell like (all the Disney references are coincidence, really). It's a blend of neroli blossoms, petitgrain, and lime. But I don't tell many people that because I'm secretly hoarding it.

Lagoon Mermaid Lane Natural Organic Perfume

CM:  Do you have a favorite shop or item on Etsy? If so, which one(s)?
S:  I have lots of favorite shops, I could be shopping all day. I'm digging the clothes on idea2lifestyle - totally my look. What I sell off Etsy goes straight back into Etsy - a brillaint marketing plan, those Etsy VIPs!

Thank you, Stacey!  Keep checking Kézi and Friends... more great shops to come!

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Reclaimed Trends

Today's featured shop is not only stylish, but eco-friendly!  Reclaimed Trends specializes in rustic handcrafted wooden items, such as shelves, frames and birdhouses, which are made from reclaimed and repurposed wood.  I love the look of the aged wood - the naturally shabby feel makes it seem as if each item has a unique and storied past which is beautifully present even in its re-imagining.

Bill Ritchie, the creative mind behind Reclaimed Trends, has this to say:

Beautiful Rustic, yet Modern (Sm/Med Sized) Wood Shelf
made with reclaimed Humboldt Milling Company Old Growth Lumber 

CM:  Tell us a little about yourself:
BR:  I was born and raised in the Midwest (Kansas & Colorado). I grew up with a fair share of time spent living in the country and smaller city. As far back as I can remember I was making things out of wood and other “found” objects. It was probably at age 15 that I took a real or more serious liking to wood working. Up until then I was an avid plastic model enthusiast. I turned my first bowl on a wood lathe at age 16 and the rest is history. Although I’ve worked in the construction industry for the last 20+ years, it’s only been the last 4 years or so that I picked up my love of woodworking. I’m able to have a small shop in my garage that allows me some “therapy” from time to time.

Beautiful pair of X-Large Vintage Victorian Styled Gesso Picture Frames 

CM:  What drew you to working with reclaimed wood? What inspires you to create the particular pieces you make?
BR:  I like to think that I was chosen by reclaimed wood instead of me choosing it. My line of work allows me to be able to reclaimed most of the wood and other objects I use. I guess it really came natural for me to reuse things that would normally be discarded and on their way to a landfill. I love a rustic look and what better way to get that look than by using old reclaimed lumber and found objects? I also believe that the wood has a story to tell and if it would have been discarded, so too would its history. For me nothing feels better than to “rescue” something from sure destruction, clean it up and upcycle it into a piece of art. I’m inspired by all things nature. I’m also inspired by Architectural designs and to create something useful out of something discarded.

My motto is: “Reclaim, Recycle, Upcycle and Reuse.”

The "Mountain Chalet" reclaimed Humboldt
Milling Company wood Birdhouse w/electrical insulator perch 
CM:  Where do you find the wood and other materials you use for your items?
BR:  Most of the materials I find are from actual remodel jobs that I have worked on. The current wood I use came from a beach house built in 1906. We did a complete interior remodel of this house a few years ago. I decided to keep this old growth lumber as it was in fantastic shape & had too much character to go to a landfill. Plus, it has an historical history too that adds to its flare. Sometimes I find materials at estate sales, garage sales, flea markets and online.

Natural Rustic Large Wood Shelf made with reclaimed
Humboldt Milling Company Old Growth Lumber 

CM:  What is your work area like? Outdoors? Garage?
BR:  I work both in my garage and outdoors. My tools are kept in the garage, however, I usually end up pulling them outside and working on projects in the great outdoors. This gives me more room to work, plus the warm feeling of the sun keeps me in “tune” with nature.

Limited Edition 1 of 6. Gorgeous Natural Rustic Wood Framed Mirror
made with reclaimed Humboldt Milling Co. Old Growth
Lumber & vintage mirror.

CM:  What is the best part about selling on Etsy for you? The most challenging?
BR:  Best part: I think the warm atmosphere and the “like minded” artists give Etsy a since of community. We all can find something we have in common. I also think the fees are very reasonable and fair.

Most challenging: I’d say the listing application of Etsy is a bit outdated and cumbersome. Not being able to schedule or even use a 3rd party lister means I’m not free to pick and choose the times to post my listings. It doesn’t allow me to work on it if I only have 15-30 minutes of free time and save it for editing later. All I want is to be able to save & schedule my listings as it would be easier on my schedule!

Large Trinket/Shadow Box Shelf

CM:  What's your favorite item in your shop right now? 
BR:  Probably one of my rustic wood framed mirrors or the large trinket/shadow box shelf.

Exquisite Natural Rustic Large DOUBLE Wood Framed Mirror
made with reclaimed Humboldt Milling Co. Old Growth
Lumber & vintage mirrors. 

CM:  Do you have any favorite shops or items on Etsy? 
BR:  I have a ton of them, but here are a handful:

A big thank you to Bill!  Stay tuned... We have some fantastic shops lined up!  And of course, I'm always looking for more, so spread the word and keep on following Kézi and Friends... maybe your shop will be next :)

Monday, April 25, 2011

Eltee Creative

Headed by friends Liv and Tanya, Eltee Creative offers unique, custom invitations, which are perfect all those special occasions.  Their lovely designs are simple as well as classically elegant, but never stuffy or ordinary.  Personally, I think Eltee Creative should by on anyone's radar who is looking for unique invitations at affordable prices.

Isabella Engagement Party Invitation

CM:  Tell us about about yourselves...
L&T: Eltee Creative is made up of 2 graphic designers, Liz & Tanya (El & Tee) living and working in Brisbane Australia. After working in the commercial world for many years, we both felt that we needed an outlet for our creativity in a less restricted/commercial form. We still wanted to be able to share our work with the world but needed to have our own artistic freedom, so we mixed a bit of business with pleasure and formed Eltee Creative.

Delia Engagement Party Invitation

CM:  Liz and Tanya, how did you two meet? How did you start working together?
L&T:  We met in Graphic Design College in 2005 and have stayed close friends ever since. Although we've often shared our trials and tribulations about the design industry with one another throughout those years, we officially started working together in November 2010, when the idea of Eltee Creative was just being born.

Josephine Wedding Invitation

CM:  What's it like to work together? Do you each have different roles?
L&T:  We each have offices set up in our own homes and live approximately 40 minutes away from each other, but with the beauty of IM, email, texting and Skype, it's so easy to communicate with each other so this distance doesn't create too much of a problem. Liz will often drive over to Tanya's office if they need to collaborate or do some manual work with the invitations, and since we're only very new, we've had to take turns going back and forth to each other's houses to get things done. Otherwise, we communicate a lot by email and give each other to do lists. We'll generally share the design tasks and divide any admin that needs to be done. Liz has slipped into the role of marketing and social networking management and Tanya manages suppliers, printing and design. We both try to do the same amount of design work when we can. We both have different working styles and aesthetic tastes which creates a diverse range of products, but our personalities fit quite well with each other - when Liz is a bit frazzled, Tanya takes the reigns and calms things down, and vice versa. We try to keep communication as transperant as possible and we both know that our day jobs/real life take priority and we fit in Eltee Creative work where we can. It's working pretty well so far.

Stork Baby Shower Invitation

CM:  What drew you both to creating artistic invitations?
L&T:  We came up with the idea to create invitations after seeing countless friends and family struggle to find really lovely, unique, personal and affordable invitations. We have both been in love with paper since our childhood and had missed working with it after spending years in studios with digital files. We still have our day jobs, but we'd like to eventually be able to run Eltee Creative full time.

Viola Engagement Party Invitation

CM:  What's the best thing, in your opinion, about selling on Etsy? The most challenging?
L&T:  I can't just name one, I have to name 2 best things: The first being that we love the autonomy of selling on Etsy.While every store has the same template, it is far easier for us to adapt to this and just use all of Etsy's selling tools than to have to create our own E-Commerce site from scratch. The second best thing are the people on Etsy - the buyers and sellers - there is a wonderful and genuine atmosphere of community and support in the Etsy marketplace.

The most challenging aspect of Etsy is by far, getting noticed and getting sales. We are still starting out so it will take a little while for us, but because the marketplace is full of sellers with amazing items, it is so easy to drown into anonymity. Getting noticed is something we're working hard on doing better, and it helps that there are fantastic networks, teams and blogs (like this one!) that are willing to promote and support sellers :)

Penelope Wedding Invitation

CM:  What's your favorite item in your shop right now?
L&T:  Our favourite item in our shop right now is our 'Abigail' wedding invitation:
It's so traditional and elegant and is printed on beautiful stock with a gold shimmer. Designed by Tanya :)

Abigail Wedding Invitation

CM:  Do you have a favorite shop or item on Etsy?
L&T:  We have so many favorites on Etsy - it's hard not to! If we have to pick one though, We love the elegant items from Timeless Paper. Amazingly beautiful and creative work!

Vivian Wedding Invitation

Thank you Liv and Tanya!  Stay tuned for our next featured shop....

What Would YOU Like?

Hi All,
I'll have a featured shop post up later today, but for now, I want to hear what you think:

What would you like to read about on this blog?

You can give me your feedback on the right side of this page --->
(And if your topic of interest isn't listed, feel free to make suggestions in the comment section of this post).

Thanks, and see you back here soon!
Christine, Kézi Handmade Jewelry

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Max and Magnolia

Sunday's featured shop is Max and Magnolia!  Now, I'll admit, I'm not a mom, but the adorable onesies and baby items in this shop make me swoon.  I love that they aren't the typical gender-specific pastel pink and blue -- and the graphics?  Forget teddy bears and think drum sets and roller skates.

The woman behind Max and Magnolia is Rebecca Lee Brownstein, who lives in Pasadena, California with her husband and two young boys.  Here's what she has to say...

Drumset Stencil Onesie

CM:  Tell us a bit about yourself...
RLB:  After 7+ yrs working as an HR Director on Wall Street I really looked at my life and decided working 14 hours a day wasn't how I wanted to spend the rest of it. I told my then-boyfriend if he was serious about us being serious then I wanted to be back closer to my family on the West Coast. Fast forward 5 yrs and I am now a Domestic Goddess (my preferred title)  working from home in So. Cal. and caring for 2 little boys (3yrs & 1yr), 1 husband (35 going on 12 most days) & 2 dogs. I'm lucky most days if I get 1 complete hour to myself for my Max & Magnolia products, but I wouldn't change it. (ok, maybe I would ask for 1 more hour).

Pacifier Clip

CM:  When did you start sewing and/or making clothes? Did someone teach you, or did you teach yourself?
RLB:  I grew up with a mom who could quilt like nobody's business. She did show me a few tricks but I was way too impatient as a kid to absorb enough of it. These days practice, a really good machine & sticking to stright lines helps.  Just kidding, I have gotten much better over the last 5 years and actually make a bunch of clothes for my boys using their dad's old clothes. As far as my dyed/stenciled onesies are concerned It started with a craft night at my house & a great group of friends. 2 of the gals showed us how to dye & voila an idea popped into my head. Add that to a fabulous friend who agreed to co-own an Etsy shop and  there you have it. From there most of it was trial and error for us. Hours were spent perfecting the dye process, trying out stencil designs, and testing paint products. A lot of chocolate and diet coke was consumed as well. Sadly, my friend moved away and couldn't dedicate time to the shop anymore. Thank goodness for FaceBook to help us keep in touch!

The Elephant in the Room Onesie

CM:  You started making baby clothes because of little Max and Fallon Magnolia. How old are these two now? Still young enough to wear your adorable onesies?
RLB:  Max & Fallon Magnolia are now 3 1/2 (please be sure to include the "1/2" or  they will be very upset). Max is 20 days older than Fallon Magnolia. Although he can't squeeze into a onesie anymore, his little brother Tate can so he is now my go-to-model. and just so Max isn't left out I do make the same designs for him on t-shirts. Naturally they both have their own custom I SPY bags & LOOK BOOKS as well.

Earth Day Onesie

CM:  What is your works space like?
RLB:  My works space is not quite big enough and never has enough storage, but I do get my own craft table in the corner of the family room & have slowly taken over the storage closet as well. Being organized is key to making the most of the space I've got.

I Spy Bean Bag

CM:  What's the best thing about selling on Etsy? The most challenging?
RLB:  I love the forum Etsy offers for so many talented crafters, artists, bakers, etc. Where was I on that idea? It's fabulous to be able to shop and know that I'm buying from someone who really puts a lot of work into what they do & that I'm getting something really unique and cool in return. I hope people feel the same about my shop.
My challenges with Etsy change. For a while it was managing my shop, then they came up with new options to help with that. Then it was being patient. I felt like I hit a plateau and the sales were not exactly pouring in. I found myself thinking I needed to start making things that were selling in other stores. Lame, right? It might not sound like a challenge, but it is. The childrens market on Etsy is really saturated so it can be easy to start thinking that way, and it sure seems like a few stores may have done just that. but then I thought, that's not what Etsy is about is it? It's about showcasing your own unique stuff or twist on something. So I'm sticking to what I think is cool and hopefully it works. On a plus, things have really picked up lately :)

Childs Artist/Crafting/Baking Apron

CM:  What's your favorite item in your shop right now?
RLB:  My favorite item in my shop right now is my Look-Book. My boys absolutely adore theirs and love flipping through the photos of family members or their favorite toys I've put in them. I think because I see how much they enjoy them it makes the time that goes into them worth it. They really are a labor of love because they are one of the first inspiration items I had from my children but just didn't get around to making them for some time. I like thinking of other kids toting theirs around in the car or to church like mine do.

Look Book - Child's Quilted Photo Book

CM:  Do you have any favorite shops or items on Etsy? If so, what are they? 
RLB:  I love vintage, retro and comfy. The shops below are currently my top 3:

Onesies Available in Many Coloros

A big thanks to Rebecca!  Stay tuned for the next post....
(All photos in this post copyright Rebecca Lee Brownstein)

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Amy Paterson Film Photo

Today's featured shop is Amy Paterson Film Photo!  Amy hails from Scotland, and has an incredibly lovely collection of photographs.  I fell in love with her work because of the whimsical and almost vintage feel of the photographs, and I think you will too :)

"Bluebells II"
CM:  When did you start taking photographs, and what prompted you to start? What are your favorite subjects?
AP:  I grew up with a Scottish artist for a Father and a cultured Bavarian for a Mother, so needless to say when my dad bought me an SLR Camera when I was about 16, their inspiration motivated me to experiment with film photography and I have loved it ever since!  Snapping at whatever is around me that I find aesthetic, which could be anything from a book to a beatiful view. (My cats crop up a lot too!)  I currently live with my husband and two cats in our humble flat, volunteering most of the time but also selling my prints online at Etsy.

"Wild Strawberries"

CM:  What inspires you? A mood? A subject? A place? What do you hope others take from your photographs?
AP:  Honestly, when I have my camera in hand, almost nothing escapes a photographing.  I get a little snaphappy!  But certainly beautiful views, a pretty face, complimenting colours, things and places dear to me all make me happy to photograph and I just hope that others can enjoy the things I do.

"Alloway Beach"

CM:  What do you find to be the best thing about selling on Etsy? The most challenging?
AP:   I love how Etsy has an abundance of teams and members you can converse with and get help and tips from, it`s like a jungle starting up so it`s good to have people you can go to and give and get advice from.  But because Etsy is such a large place, it can be hard to stand out amongst all these other fantastic shops.

CM:  What's your favorite item from your own shop?
AP:  I think it has to be my "Fireplace" print.  I took this at my dad`s flat.  I had just bought an old Minolta from ebay and I took a test roll around his flat, and they turned out great!  I just really love the colours in this one and all his bits and bobs nicely arranged.


CM:  What's a favorite shop or item of yours on Etsy?
I absolutely love this print.  It`s by Tiny Art Shop.  I have it and another similar one sitting in my basket, waiting until I have a little money spare to buy them!
I`m not really sure why I love them, I just look at it and it makes me gleefull :)


Thank you to Amy!  Stay tuned for the next featured shop!
(All images in this post copyright Amy Paterson.)

Friday, April 22, 2011

Happy Little Handmades

And my first featured shop is... Happy Little Handmades!

I was drawn to this shop because of the color (perfect for spring!), creativity, and the lovely craftsmanship of the bags.  Happy Little Handmades is the brainchild of Julie Smith, a New Yorker originally from Pennsylvania.  Here's what she has to say:

CM: Tell us a bit about yourself...
JS: I grew up in a relatively large family in Pennsylvania. I think I was the only one with a serious right-sided brain. I stayed in PA until about six years ago when I decided to make that scary jump and move to NYC. I can't imagine living anywhere else. While I work in real estate finance I find I can't wait to run out of the office back to my "studio" to keep sewing or knitting. I am a nerd at heart, so I find tremendous enjoyment in researching, studying, and practicing sewing and knitting techniques.

Pencil Case - Spring Floral
CM: When did you start crafting, and what inspired you to start? What are your favorite materials?
JS: My first memory of making anything remotely useful was when I was 8. My grandmother taught me to crochet and I started making these crocheted strips which I then sewed together to make Barbie dresses. Even at that early of an age I knew I really I enjoyed seeing a finished product that I produced.

Currently I'm on a craft binge of knitting and quilt-weight fabrics. I love wool, especially merino for knitting. I love eye-popping prints in cotton. And while I drool over the uber-expensive materials like silk, lace, beaded yarns, I find that being pragmatic about their uses outweighs my need for instant gratification. I am also determined to make my fabric stash equal to my yarn stash, much to the dismay of the boyfriend.

Never Too Early for Summer - Market Tote

CM: What's your work space like? Music? Pets? Indoors? Outdoors?
JS:  My workspace is any space that I can fit a cutting board, sewing machine, fabric and yarn. This means I spill out from the bedroom to the living room to the kitchen. I rarely listen to music when I work, I'm not a good craft multi-tasker in that regard. I like to focus on the project with little distraction. My cat, Woolly Bear, will often give me moral support by sitting on all the tools or materials I need. Thanks, Woolly.

Knitter's Project Management Pouch

CM:  What do you find to be the best thing about selling on Etsy? The most challenging?
JS:  The best thing about being on Etsy is that you can instantly be global. It's also wonderful in that the crafting community is so huge, so diverse that you will undoubtedly find any help or inspiration that you may need.

The biggest challenge also has to the size and scale of a site like Etsy. There aren't just a few dozen crafters that make bags (or jewelry, or prints, or home decor, etc) so making yourself visible and known can be an uphill battle (at least in the beginning). Compounding to that problem is that there are resellers on the site that make true artisans and crafters difficult to find amidst the
thousands of results that are related to your craft.

Petite Box Pouch with Pull Tabs

CM:  What's your favorite item from your own shop?
JS:  It's a tie between my box pouch and my market bag. I've found infinite uses for the box pouch, in fact I have five alone for my tools. I have an oversized version of my market that I use as my daily bag and I can't tell you how great it's been to have my hands free while being able to carry more than I should in one bag! It's currently being utilized as my laptop carrier (and that thing weighs a ton - it's an old Mac) and can withstand the gravitational pull of heavy items. I should try carrying a watermelon home in it.

Petite Box Pouch with Pull Tabs

CM:  What's a favorite shop or item of yours on Etsy?
JS:  I have so many favorites it's ridiculous, but I always gravitate to vintage/retro themed stores.

A big thanks to Julie Smith!  Stay tuned for the next featured shop from Etsy...

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Hello Out There!

As a devoted Etsy seller (and buyer), I want this blog to be all about showcasing and sharing the inspirations, processes and creations of talented Etsians from around the world. 

Etsy is overflowing with creativity and talent, but it's sometimes difficult to hone in on what makes each member special.  So, to kick things off, I'll peruse my Etsy teams and recently opened shops, and randomly select a shop to feature on this site. 

A bit about me...

"Golden Eye" From Kézi
I've been working in Health Economics for the past five years.  Though I majored in Psychophysiology in college, I've always been drawn to the scientific method and research in general.  I'm someone who actually loves programming and statistics; however, the urge to exercise some creativity drew me to creating handmade jewelry in my free time... 

And thus, Kézi was born.
"Julia" From Kézi
I'm a huge - perhaps fanatical - dog lover, so a portion of the proceeds from my shop go to The Humane Society of the United States.  I'm also a big fan of Bikram yoga, the great outdoors, and immersing myself in foreign cultures.  I've been fortunate enough to live in Thailand, Hungary, Austria and Italy.  (Kézi means "handmade in Hungarian.)

"Moonlight" From Kézi
All of these loves permeate every piece of jewelry I make.  I appreciate intricate simplicity, the beautfy of subtle and natural imperfections, and the energy and craftsmanship of jewelry made by hand.  My favorite materials and methods include sterling, vermeil, semi-precious stones, glass and wire-wrapping. 

"Whisper" From Kézi

In the meantime, while I work on my first shop feature, please feel free to check me out elsewhere in the interwebs...

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