Posted on

Friday Feature with Asperjasper

Tell us little about yourself!
I am a stay at home Mum to two little boys (Asher and Jasper). We play and read and visit friends and parks and dig in the dirt and sand a lot 🙂 There is also a large amount of train and car action around here.

I am originally from England and moved to the States to be with my Californian husband who I met on a painting trip to Italy. We fell instantly in love and 15 years later, we still adore each other.
I have a painting and drawing background. I completed my BFA in England and my MFA in the States. Since I started needle felting I haven’t picked up a paintbrush!


What do you make and how long have you been creating?
I make needle felted toys and collectibles for all ages and have been felting since October 2008. I began needle felting after watching a YouTube video on the subject and was instantly hooked.

What inspires you?
Anything and everything. Color and texture is very important to me and sometimes just buying a new color roving can inspire me to make a certain animal or egg set.

What got you started working with wool?
I was looking for ideas of natural toys to make for a friend’s little girl for Christmas. I came across needle felting and just took to the craft right away. I love the feel of wool and the many textures and colors you can find out there. I really see it an alternative to paint.

How long have you been on Etsy and how has it been for you so far?
I signed up in April 08 as a customer and then started selling in October 08. It’s been a fun ride so far with crazy busy spells around the holidays!

What advice would you have for other Etsians?
Make the best most professional product possible. Be different from everyone else. Take great pics. Take care of your customers. Open up Facebook fan page 🙂

What do you hope to learn/gain/contribute from being part of the Natural Kids group?
I love that I can be a part of a group of like-minded artists who have a passion for creating safe and wonderful products for our children. Being a part of this team gives the customer an easy go-to place to find those specialized things.

What thoughts do you have for parents on the importance of natural toys for creative play?
The environment is completely different in a room with natural toys than in a room with battery-operated plastic toys – quieter, more beautiful, and inviting in a very different way, and the child is calmer because of it.

Your items can be found where:
http://www.asherjasper.etsy.com
http://www.flickr.com/asherjasper
http://www.faecbook.com/asherjasper

Interview by Beccijo of The Enchanted Cupboard

Posted on

Friday Feature with Beneath The Rowan Tree

Tell us a Little About Yourself:
I am a mother, a minister and a natural toy maker. I work full time out of the home, and pretty much full time again when I get back home! It is exhausting, but I love every bit of what I do. We live in a small town in Northern Ontario~ the kind of small town where everyone knows you (and talks about you)~ and we love the community and the natural highland setting of rocks and trees and lakes. Life is good.

What do you make and how long have you been creating?
I work with wool, silk and wood and make a range of natural toys and accessories. I like variety and love to try new things, so I hop about a lot! My staple products are playsilks and silk based toys. My artistic outlet is felting.
I have always been creating. I was a creative kid (in a not-so-creative family). I began dyeing and hand painting clothing 3 years ago and sort of fell into the natural toys because the philosophies surrounding them resonated so deeply with me as a parent. It has been a wonderful journey of claiming my creativity and beginning to see myself as an artist.

What inspires you?
Everything. The seasons. My daughter~ I notice that as she has grown, so have I made toys to reflect her developmental stages and needs. I love colour and texture, I am drawn to them. I am also passionate about the need for children to grow up slowly and to be empathetic people.

What got you started working with natural materials?
I started making some alternative items for our home and fell in love with the natural materials. And then I made too much for our home and friends and sort of fell into business!

How long have you been on Etsy and how has it been for you so far?
I will have been on Etsy for 3 years at the end of this month. I started when things were smaller, for which I am thankful! Etsy has been very good to me. With natural toys we have a niche that thankfully is (almost) untouched by resellers and the like and we also have a strong and committed niche market.

What advice would you have for other Etsians?
Make what you love. If you make what you love, the highs and lows and frustrations of Etsy and small business won’t matter so much because you will feel your time is well spent on creating something of value. I realized early on that if I was going to spend the time on creating and marketing, it had to be *worth* my time both financially and ‘spiritually’ (for lack of a better word). Be persistent~ keep at it~ things always ebb and flow. Connect with others.

What do you hope to learn/gain/contribute from being part of the Natural Kids group?
Being part of the NK Team has been wonderful for finding a sense of community in the vastness of the Etsy marketplace. It is wonderful to share with other like minded folks about our passion for the natural life for our kids.

What thoughts do you have for parents on the importance of natural toys for creative play?
Kids know how to play. They need to play to learn and grow and develop themselves as compassionate and competent people. Open ended toys enable the child to lead the play and natural toys connect them to earth itself and teach the values of simplicity and diversity in a world that markets so strongly to children to become consumers.

Items found:
http://beneaththerowantree.etsy.com
http://hyenacart.com/fresh (congo stocking the 9th of every month)
http://hyenacart.com/beneaththerowantree (3rd Anniversary party on May 26th!)
Blog:
http://beneaththerowantree.blogspot.com
Facebook:
http://www.facebook.com/BeneathTheRowanTree
(giving away a silk a day in May to FB fans)
http://daydreambelieverwear.etsy.com
Our second shop, with positive tees for kids

Interview by Beccijo of The Enchanted Cupboard

Posted on

Friday Feature with Pinkhouse Handworks

Tell us little about yourself!
I am a wife, mother, gardener, crafter and Montessorian. I live with my husband and 2 year-old daughter in a small town in Central Texas. We enjoy playing, walking, making music and trying to take life slowly. I was a Montessori child and then a Montessori guide for ten years. I am currently home full time with my daughter. Montessori philosophy and life is our passion. It influences how we spend our days and what we choose to have in our lives.

What do you make and how long have you been creating?
I learned to crochet and knit as a child. Since then I have pursued a number of other avenues for creativity. I love to needle felt, sew, spin yarn, draw, sculpt clay and paint. Currently I make and sell what I call Montessori Baby Toys, which at this time, consist of crocheted rattles, hanging toys, sewn pouches and wooden toys for infants and toddlers.

What inspires you?
I get inspired to create when I learn of a new technique or pattern. I also love to see what others have created and get inspired to try something similar. My daughter has been a great inspiration to me. I love making toys for her and am excited to one day teach her how to knit, crochet, needle felt and spin.

What got you started working with Montessori Baby Toys?
While I was pregnant, dear friends who had taken the Montessori training for ages 0 to 3 years lent me their training albums. The albums suggested beautifully simple toys to offer to infants. I set out to make these for my daughter. In finding the parts and creating the toys for her I found that they made a nice little collection and thought it might be nice to offer them to other families interested such toys. I gradually brought together the little collection of five toys and began to sell them. Since then I have added other items and continue to have more ideas for items to offer in the future. In 2009 I had the Montessori Baby Toys bag and Circular Rattles tested and they are safe according to the new CPSIA guidelines.

How long have you been on Etsy and how has it been for you so far?
I joined Etsy a little over two years ago after a friend sent me the link to her shop. It was before I had even started making my toys. I just thought it was a wonderful place to purchase handmade items directly from sellers. Becoming a seller on Etsy has been so wonderful. I tell people about Etsy all the time because I know that everyone will love it. I love being directly connected to my customers. Making baby toys is a really special work and being connected to the parents and family of babies all over the world is an amazing feeling. Through Etsy I have had the pleasure of selling to families in North America, Europe, Asia and Australia. What a treat to ship a package to a far away place and to get to add that place into my awareness.

Early this year I got to join the Natural Kids Team on Etsy and have found it to be so educational. The team has so many amazing sellers with the same feelings about offering beautifully handmade items for children. I learn so much from that group and have felt more connected to Etsy in general by belonging to the team.

What advice would you have for other Etsians?
I think Etsy sellers continue to learn from each other continuously. Buying from other sellers and seeing how they package their product and what they include in the shipment is a really good way to learn. I find it especially helpful to read the Etsy Success emails. I love that Etsy connects the sellers to such great information about all aspects of selling such as photography, taxes, promotions, tagging etc. I’ve found so many great blogs and web sites from reading Etsy articles.

What do you hope to learn/gain/contribute from being part of the Natural Kids group?
When I requested membership to the Natural Kids Team I was looking for like-minded folks who share ideas and help to support each other’s shops. The camaraderie and sharing of ideas and information has been so much more than I had expected. As a new member I am still learning the ropes and hope to get to be more of a contributor in the future.

What thoughts do you have for parents on the importance of natural toys for creative play?
In our family we select items for our home that are made from natural materials such as fabric, paper, natural fibers, wood, metal, glass and stone. To us it is important that we can recognize what material an item is made from and possibly even who made it! We spend as much time as possible at home and outdoors playing, reading, cooking and exploring. We have set up our whole home to be accessible and safe for our daughter. We adhere to the principle of rotation when organizing our home. We have out only small amounts of toys at a time and each toy has it’s own special place. We rotate toys in and out of the cabinets and closets based on our daughter’s interest, abilities and the seasons. In living our life in this way we have found that our daughter is deeply connected to nature, is creative with language and with her toys, takes care of her belongings, has good control of her body, has a deep sense of confidence and is independent and joyful.

Your items can be found where:
Etsy shop: http://www.etsy.com/shop/pinkhouse
Web site: http://www.pinkhousehandworks.com
Facebook page: http://www.facebook.com/Pinkhousehandworks
Catalog: http://www.michaelolaf.com/

Interview by Beccijo of The Enchanted Cupboard

Posted on

Friday Feature with Willowbaus

Tell us little about yourself! 
I am a beekeeper’s daughter, born in a tent, and grew up in the desert and high desert of Arizona and Eastern Oregon. Now I am a mom staying at home with my two toddler boys while my husband goes out to defend the safe passage of wild salmon through the dams and rivers.

We live a stone’s throw from the Willamette River just outside of Portland, OR. Our life is pretty much centered around the river and the woods around our house. Yes, we live in the burbs, but we fantasize about getting back to the country someday soon- a barn filled with rusty objects and a tire swing hanging from a weeping willow are a must for any rowdy boy or girl!

What do you make and how long have you been creating?

I make classic toys with a modern twist. I began with selling bird mobiles like the ones I made for my boys when they were born, and have moved onto sailboats, balls, wagons, and other ideas as time goes on. I like to keep with the idea of wood and colorful natural fabric, and being as eco-conscious as possible. I am a nut about toxins around my children and our beautiful river, and I am perfectly comfortable with my boys licking and chewing on the products I make.

What inspires you? 
Beautiful fabric, my children, other children, elements in nature like wind, water, fire, and as corny as it sounds- innocence! I love that my son doesn’t know the words gun or knife- they are pokers and shooters;) I just want my toys to help children hold onto that sweetness.

What got you started working with fabric and wood?
I have been sewing for years, working as an apparel and accessory designer and dressmaker for a decade prior to having my boys, so the fabric part comes very naturally. The woodcutting is done by my husband, uncle, father in law and a Buddhist monk that is a friend of a friend. I’m pretty much always recruiting woodcutters. I am terrified of power tools, but hope to take a class soon and get over that! That said, I think like a sculptor and love the process of taking a rectangle of fabric and a hunk of wood and transforming it into something beautiful and fun.


How long have you been on Etsy and how has it been for you so far? 
I just had my 1 year anniversary on Etsy. I think it is an absolute God-send for people like me who have the need to be a worker bee and have a creative outlet, but want to be home with their children. I have a hard time thinking about going back to the 9-5 life now that I know I can earn a living on my own. The customers are usually very creative as well, and wonderful to work with. It is a lot less stressful to make toys than to make clothing, toys are pretty much a happy pill.

What advice would you have for other Etsians?
I think it is really important to take your customer feedback seriously. I have greatly improved my product and presentation since the beginning thanks to some great comments and feedback I have received along the way. Also, remember that the customer is always right. Knowing that makes it easier to figure out how to handle situations (lost packages,etc.) when they arise.

  • Another thing is to make something unique. When I have a new idea, I do a search for it first to see if anyone else is doing it already. If so, think of a way to do it differently.
  • Also, make sure to put a fair price on your items- pay yourself and you will be happier doing it. 
  • Last, network by joining teams and doing showcases. Being a part of Natural Kids has been the best advertising for me.

What do you hope to learn/gain/contribute from being part of the Natural Kids group?
I have gained a lot of exposure- to the point that I will be focusing my advertising budget here going forward.
I love having the network of people that are pretty much in the same shoes as me that I can ask questions to, and hopefully answer questions for.With a busy shop and 2 boys 3 and 1.5 I am pretty overwhelmed at the moment, but I hope to give back to the team more in the future.

What thoughts do you have for parents on the importance of natural toys for creative play?

I just took a big stand against the TV when I noticed first hand how my older son would pretty much start drooling on himself while sitting there watching cartoons. Very upsetting to see!

Now that we are TV free, it is amazing to see how he has become much more engaged in the world around him. I consider battery plastic toys to be like the TV- it all spelled out for them, they don’t have to think when using them. With a wooden car or boat- the world is a river or street, they make their own sounds and their brain is doing the work. I just gave my sons the simple wooden horses that I sell with the wagons (from TNT toys, another Etsy shop)and they just love the solid smoothness of the horses and carry them everywhere.

Your items can be found where:
http://www.willowbaus.etsy.com

Interview by Beccijo of The Enchanted Cupboard

Posted on

Friday Feature with Nushkie

Tell us little about yourself!
I like to joke that I’m a recovering New Yorker. I live in Los Angeles, (the hot, hot, San Fernando Valley, to be specific), with my husband, my 5 1/2 year-old daughter Eva, Cutie our cat and my ever expanding organic kitchen garden. I grew up in a family of very creative people. My Mom started acting at 55 and was a working actress on TV and in film ’til the day she passed away a few years back. She used to sew all my costumes and many of my clothes growing up…without patterns. When she decided to do something, she did it, and when she decided to fulfill her life-long dream to act, she never let her age or lack of formal training stand in her way. My dad has the entrepreneurial spirit, he always taught my two brothers and me to never take no for an answer. When he decided to stop touring as a jazz pianist and settle down to raise his family, he painted his name on a store and made a deal with the Lowery Organ company (think keyboards, not livers, lol) to loan him one instrument at time until he sold it. Years later he was the number one dealer in the entire US. He always told his sales folks, “Don’t look at your customer with dollar signs in your eyes. Instead think, ‘How am I going to bring music into this person’s life.'” That’s how I run my business; I think, how am I going to bring the most beautifully crafted woolly creations into my customers lives for them to enjoy for generations.

Ok, what I didn’t learn from my folks was how to be short-winded, lol!

What do you make and how long have you been creating?
Through the technique of needle felting, I create soft sculptures (gnomes, sheep, etc), hanging fairies, and three dimensional wall hangings or tapestries, which I have coined, “Sculptural Wool Paintings.” I used the finest wools and other natural fibers I can get my hands on and them poke them with a single barbed needle into magical entities. I have been working in this way since about 2005, but I have been creating all my life. It is really a rediscovery of the visual and tactile arts I studied when I was much younger and utilized as a graphic artist more recently. Over the years, I have pursued many areas of creativity: I am a published writer, have performed theatrically on stage from NY to Edinburgh to Baku and produced my one-woman shows in LA and Amsterdam. I produced three films, starred in Opera, sold movies at Cannes, performed stand-up and hosted a cable tv show…the bizarre list goes on. When I had Eva, and started making her toys and gifts for the teachers at her Waldorf school, I got kind of addicted to this art form. I find it very rewarding to see my creations come to life in my hands and touch the lives of others. The beautiful and heartfelt praise I receive from my beloved customers is very fulfilling; it tells me that my art moves them, and that’s what’s really important to me. The world needs a great deal of healing right now. If my work can inspire the imagination, or simply allow us to see the world through a child’s eyes, perhaps we will find new ways to approach our very adult world problems.

What inspires you?
Elsa Beskow, Sybil Von Olfers, Renoir, August Rodin, the commitment to beauty and natural materials that I share with my fellow Natural Kids Teammates, people who can still be moved by beauty, the innocence and inquisitiveness of children, the buds on my apricot tree, Howard Zinn, Emma Goldman, Isadora Duncan, may daughter, my husband, you for taking the time to ask me these questions!

What got you started working with Needle Felting?

I was at a Waldorf faire, a May Faire, I think. I saw these beautiful little fairies and thought…”I can do that.” So, I went home with some wool and rubbed it a lot and actually made a fairy. My next move was to poke wool with a regular needle, to no avail. I am not one for following directions. I tend to jump right in, so, no, I didn’t have a felting needle and had no idea why I had to buy one til my very brash, hilarious friend Amy told me…”It’s barbed, you idiot.” That was a real “ahah” moment. So, I broke down and spent .60 on a needle and that was that. I was making things for everyone, tapestries, fairies, scarves, purses, hair thingies…I am convinced there is nothing that can not be made from wool! My favorite early project was Eva’s butterfly wings for Halloween four yeas ago. I stabbed, beat, threw in the tub with scolding hot water…I was going to make those wings without asking anyone how if it took me all night…and I did it. Many lessons learned. I guess you can surmise that I have not taken any classes in felting; it is against my nature.

How long have you been on Etsy and how has it been for you so far?
I joined Etsy Feb 8, 2008 after some dabbling on Ebay. This interview comes at my two-year anniversary. It was slow at first, but as I have improved upon my craft and added items to my shop, my business has continually increased. I think folks trust that when they get something from me, they get a box with my integrity wrapped up inside. I will not send anything to anyone that is not my absolute best effort. In this awful recessional time, I probably tripled my autumn/Christmas season this year as compared to last year. I am so grateful for that business!

What advice would you have for other Etsians?

Remember when you create that any kind of creative block is the difference between wanting to be brilliant and the proverbial blank page. Let go of judgment, trying to do it “right,” when you’re creating and your true ideas will manifest. Please stay original, so when that s
ale comes through, you know you own it. There are literally hundreds of thousands of shops just on Etsy they could have shopped at, but they chose yours. It is an honor. Always remember that. Respect your customers and always deliver them your very best. Never take them for granted and communicate with them with gratitude. Several of my customers have become my friends, and isn’t that what having your own one-person shop is all about, relationships you build through your creations? Don’t give up. Start with on item if that’s all you have and just re-list it til you have something else.

What do you hope to learn/gain/contribute from being part of the Natural Kids group?

I really enjoy being part of a group of artists who believe that they, too are part of the healing process in the world. How do they do this? By choosing to work with natural materials that come from the earth and will return to the earth when their time is done…and that time will last for generations! I love that the finished products of their labors are toys, for example, that ignite the imagination. What I gain from this marvelous group is the positive effect of a critical mass of folks creating in this way and promoting together. I have benefited greatly from this association and hope that my participation helps other in the team as well, through promotion, purchases of their work, etc. I love tweeting about my teammates creations, and catching treasuries to feature them when I can. Once I get past all the deadlines that seem to keep popping up, I hope to contribute more by working on the website committee. I also hope the reputation my shop has earned over the past two years will reflect positively by association to all the other teammates. Finally, I have benefited so, by the deep friendships I have made with a few of the members. Thank you!

What thoughts do you have for parents on the importance of natural toys for creative play?

Where do I begin? Children’s minds are rooms with no walls. Every idea, story, instance, taste, smell, etc…that enters the room of the child’s senses is fodder for play, for them to move around the room, turn upside down, dismantle and rebuild. That is how children process and learn. Natural toys ask questions of children, “What am I? How will you play with me?” In this way their rooms, so-to-speak, stay open and continue to expand. The channels between the left and right brain, so needed for both academic and social/emotional “success,” get strengthened, they learn to problem-solve, to create, to apply whatever they have learned elsewhere in their own individual way, and to, well, think! Ingenuity comes from finding a new way to use something; open ended toys give children this opportunity. Conversely, when you offer a toy to a child with rules as to how it is used, or which plays for the child through battery-operated gadgetry, the walls begin to close in around the child
. He/she no longer has to think, to create, to imagine; it is already done. Natural toys also bring the elements of nature, such as wool, silk, wood, etc… to children, gently caressing and encouraging their senses of smell, touch and sight in a way which promotes a calming sense of being part of the world. This adds to greater sensitivity, empathy and social well being; conversely, digitized toys, etc, remove the child from nature, desensitize him or her to touch, sound and smell, and have a more anti social effect, where the child feels more strongly bonded to the lights and sounds than to friends. Open ended, natural toys promote leadership and ingenuity, as the child “owns” how he or she plays; the others promote passivity or aggressiveness, and rule following. It’s hard to be creative when you have to be correct. Though, sometimes at dinner, that’s helpful, lol.

Your items can be found where: http://nushkie.etsy.com

Interview by Beccijo of The Enchanted Cupboard

Posted on

Friday Feature with knittingmomma

Tell us a little about yourself!
Well, I am a homemaker first. With six children that learn at home, a wonderful husband of nearly 18 years, and a homestead to keep, I am very busy with our daily life. I have always enjoyed working with my hands – sketching, painting, building, knitting and crocheting. All throughout our home can be found my works in progress. A basket with a sewing project, another basket filled with yarn and knitting needles or a half completed project on a counter. I do my best to weave my handwork throughout our day.


Our family’s primary income is our handwork business. My husband, myself and our children all help to create natural fiber toys and rustic décor.


What do you make and how long have you been creating?
I make mostly hand knit toys and I crochet the bags for our branch toys.
With the birth of each of our children, our family gradually began a process of moving towards a more natural lifestyle. I began to read Mothering magazine and the articles I read spoke to me and I realized that there were alternatives to mainstream living which I didn’t feel comfortable with. As I researched natural living, I was drawn to waldorf education and also the amazingly beautiful, yet simple play things associated with a waldorf inspired home or school. During this time, I created a simple knitting gnome pattern and starting knitting lots for my children and for sale.

What inspires you?
I enjoy the magazine, Living Crafts, looking through the natural toy catalogs and simply searching through etsy to get glimpses of the amazing things others are creating. I also love to watch our children play with the simple open-ended toys that we create. It is wonderfully gratifying to see them create all kinds of scenes with simple branch blocks and some hand knit dolls, for example.


What got you started working with wool and wood?
I knew when I began knitting gnomes that I would only use natural fibers. Wool is my fiber of choice and all of our toys are stuffed with wool roving. As our family began the process of working towards a more simple, homesteading lifestyle we incorporated my husband working with branches to create natural toys for children. What is so wonderful about both of these fibers is that they can be composted – they can be returned to the earth if for some reason they are no longer loved.

How long have you been on Etsy and how has it been for you?
I actually began with Etsy shortly after it started in 2005. However, it wasn’t until last year that we began to actually sell in earnest on Etsy and really build our business. It has been amazing for us.

What advice would you have for other Etsians?

Don’t expect to sell out your first week, although you certainly could. But realistically, it takes time and effort to begin selling regularly. List or relist products daily and read as many articles that you can in the community section of Etsy.

What do you hope to learn/gain/contribute from being a part of the Natural Kids group?
I hope that natural fiber toys, clothing and other goods will become mainstream. My wish is that parents will realize the importance of organic cotton touching their baby’s skin and the importance of only buying items that are made of natural fibers in keeping with being mindful of our earth. As a group, we have the ability to reach a wider audience.

Your items can be found where:
http://knittingmomma.etsy.com

We blog at http://plainandjoyfulliving.blogspot.com

Interview by Beccijo of The Enchanted Cupboard

Posted on

Easter/Spring NaturalKids Team Blog-A-Thon

The NaturalKids Team was started by woodmouse in 2007. Early members included faerierebecca, fairiesnest, cozycottage. It was a small group, with a small presence on etsy. Since that time members have come and gone but our mission has stayed the same. To be a group of sellers dedicated to creating natural products for children. We are a diverse group of artisans who make natural toys, utensils, clothing and accessories for kids. Our sellers work with materials from the Earth, such as wool, cotton, silk and wood. Our goal is to support, promote and have fun together while building our businesses. 

One of our 1st Team Blog Post read as below and it is still true today….
We are a diverse bunch from all over the globe who have at least one thing in common:  we all work with natural materials in our products for children.  Oh yeah, and we’re all pretty darn crafty & talented too!  Wool, wood, cotton…just simple materials direct from the Earth.  


So who are we?  
Some of us are mothers of small children.
Some of us are mothers of grown children.
Some of us make dolls, some of us make hats, some of us make toys.
Some of us have been selling our wares for many years.
Some of us are just starting to discover our talents and start selling.
Some of us work with natural materials for environmental reasons.
Some of us work with natural materials as part of the Waldorf educational philosophy.
Some of us work with natural materials because we believe they are healthier and safer.
Some of us just like working with natural materials.
Some of us sell our wares for a living.
Some of us sell our wares as a hobby.

Since that time, some of us are fathers.

To see more items from The NaturalKids Team go here!

Thank you for reading and now join in the fun to take a trip to see what you may find at these NaturalKids Team Members Blogs! Happy Spring!!!
Visit these Blogs:

 

Posted on

Friday Feature with Handfull


Tell us little about yourself! 

Rebecca is a self-taught seamstress. She started following music shows in high school and immediately was drawn to the crafty crowds in the parking lot selling their way to the next venue. Rebecca is genetically programmed towards fashion and color. She is a true inspirations in all realms of the word CRAFT. She has sold hundreds of her own creations to adults and is now, as she is raising her daughter, focusing on hand full’s children’s collection.
Susan started sewing at the age of eight. By 18 she was sewing her sisters wedding dress. The dress turned out beautiful; but the experience sent her to do some soul searching in the outdoors. Fifteen years later she gave birth to twin boys and felt it was her motherly duty to begin sewing again. Within months, and yards of fabric, she upgraded her machine and is now stitching and making the patterns you see at hand full.

Rebecca and Susan are long time friends and forever dreaming of what craft to indulge in next. Right now they are dreaming up simple organic clothing patterns and colorful designs.

What do you make and how long have you been creating?


Free-spirited eco-wear for kids!  hand full’s clothes are made of a  blend of hemp and organic cotton hand-dyed in a variety of rich colors inspired by all things kid— red wagon, carrots and bed-time to name a few.   Intentionally zipper, snap and button free, they are roomy and comfortable and made to grow into, out of and passed on.  Pants become capris, dresses become shirts, and all of the clothes are designed to be layered and interchanged.  Every piece of hand full clothes are mindfully made by people who love kids, clothes and each other.  hand full has been in business since November of 2008, although we have been co-creating our crafts since August 13 of 2005–the day we met.

What inspires you?

Our 3 beautiful children!    As we started to design our clothes we wanted them to be kids clothes– not adult clothes made for kids.  We felt like there was plenty of time of our kids to wear  button-down shirts and jeans when they got bigger.  Our clothes are made to look and feel great in the activities we like to do with our kids–hiking, climbing, camping, biking, walking, gardening and of course, playing.  We also wanted our kids to want to put on our clothes on–and to our liking, they do!  They love them and once we made them for our kids, people started to ask us to make them for theirs–and here we are, just making simple, well thought out clothes for kids.

What got you started working with Fabric?

S: I remember first learning to sew when I was 8 years old.  I bought a cabbage patch doll for my birthday and wanted her to have new outfits.  I asked my mother to help me and soon I was on my own creating backpacks, swings, buntings, you name it.  Laura Lynn was going to have it all.  I think I stuck with fabric because of its ease and usefulness.  It does not take long to cut, stitch and have a completed item that you can wear right out of your sewing studio.   Clothing is a basic need, and I have always been grateful that I can make my own clothes.  Not only that, how lucky am I that I can design too?  I cannot remember the last pattern I bought–needless to say, I probably should have bought more…
R:  I love color– and my mom always said that “we didn’t know how to sew.”  Being a bit of a rebel I had to prove her wrong!  I asked my boyfriend’s mother in college to teach me and immediately got my own machine– it was all over.  I love fabric– I collect it and am slightly obsessed.  I knit, crochet, scrapbook, stamp, embroider, bead, make candles etc…. but I always go back to sewing because I love the fabric and like Susan there is a sense of immediacy when creating a garment– you walk into your studio with a piece of fabric and walk out with a pair of pants, that
is so cool.

How long have you been on Etsy and how has it been for you so far?

We have been on Etsy for just over a year now.  It is a fantastic place to showcase our items.  With very little site maintenance we have a great venue that anyone can find.  It also comes with an “Etsy” world of support.  We both enjoy the camaraderie, chats, and our favorite: “live shop critiques”. 


What advice would you have for other Etsians?  


R:  Since my day job is counseling I try not to give advice after school hours.  But, I would say have fun and embrace the community.  Getting to know the community has been so helpful to us.  We are also a big believer in paying it forward, buying handmade and taking risks with new items.


What do you hope to learn/gain/contribute from being part of the Natural Kids group?


s:  Honestly, I can hardly keep up with the Natural Kids group.  I am continually amazed with the energy and integrity of all you creative artists.  (When do you all sleep?)  The Natty Kids depth of knowledge is so helpful to us.  I feel now that I give little and soak-up most.  I do hope to get to a point where I can reciprocate ideas and inspirations. 
r:  I feel similarly to Susan and have been struck by how lucky and honored I feel to be part of such an amazing team.
 

What thoughts do you have for parents on the importance of natural toys for creative play?

s:  A child’s mind is first.  The toys (or clothing) are an extension of the child’s essence.  The energy that comes through the child brings a toy to life.  Therefore, keep it simple and natural and hear the sounds of the child.  Nobody want to hear a noisy toy.


Your items can be found where:

www.handfull.etsy.com

Interview by Beccijo of The Enchanted Cupboard

Posted on

Friday Feature with Woolies

Tell us little about yourself!
I’m an old married lady (lol), with two teenage boys. We live on a little ranch, with two horses, four dogs and two cats. Periodically, we have other animals – various rodents, goats….I really want a desert tortoise. We’re from the east coast, but now live in the wild west – southwest Arizona. I love the wildlife here, and the mountains. The heat – not so much! I work full time for an advertising agency, but have the wonderful luxury of a home office – which gives me time to lurk on etsy all day. Don’t tell anybody!

What do you make and how long have you been creating?
I am a knitter. My Mom taught me to knit when I was a little girl. I used to knit baby clothes, but when I opened Woolies on etsy almost three years ago, my shop evolved into stuffed animals. I can remember saying (a LONG time ago) to my sister in law that I was always searching for patterns for softies. Finally, I found some great ones, and have developed some of my own as well. I also sew, and make some softies at the sewing machine. Everything at Woolies is made from natural fabrics. I’m a yarn junkie, and could easily develop into a fabric junkie. And then I got into jewelry making, but that’s a whole ‘nother story.

What inspires you?
I can still remember what it felt like to be a small child and hug/hold my stuffed animals. I went everywhere with them. (I still have one, Lucky, a horse). What a comfort my animals (both stuffed and otherwise) were to me, during a difficult -and  a bit lonely – childhood. I want my animals to provide the same sort of comfort and love to children. My stuffies are all very good listeners – just in case you wondered.

What got you started with making knitted and soft toys?
Hmmm, might have answered that one already? I am a true animal lover. And a true lover of anything soft and squishy (which includes cookies and brownies). It was natural that Woolies became knitted soft toys. And I have my Mom to thank for teaching me to knit.

How long have you been on Etsy and how has it been for you so far?
It will be 3 years in just a couple of weeks. It has opened an entire new world for me. I love it here.

What advice would you have for other Etsians?
If you really want your Etsy shop to be a business that provides an income, you have to treat it like a business. Selling on the internet is a vast undertaking. I do not pretend to fully understand SEO, for example, but am trying to learn. Don’t expect all your sales to come from buyers on Etsy. I recommend reaching out across the world – via advertising – to reach your target audience.
If I could tell shop owners just one thing – treat your customers like you would want to be treated. Excellent customer service is the best thing you can do to grow your business.

What do you hope to learn/gain/contribute from being part of the Natural Kids group?
It wasn’t that long after I started to sell on Etsy that I discovered the Natural Kids Team  – and it was like meeting your new best friends without even expecting it. Like minded women (mostly), making incredible, wonderful, items for kids. From natural materials. Ecstasy. Now that we have our website up and running beautifully, I just want to continue to grow with the team. I was leader for about a year and a half, and I’m very happy to relinquish that role!

What thoughts do you have for parents on the importance of natural toys for creative play?
Children’s imaginations are incredible things. I love to see a child come alive, with a natural toy in their hands. I think a big set of natural blocks is one of the greatest toys a child can have – let them imagine a city or a fort or a tunnel. One day I’ll write a book – Plastic is the death of the human race. (lol).

My items can be found at:
http://woolies.etsy.com
http://busterandboo.etsy.com
Also several toy stores and online stores.
My blog: http://woolies-woolies.blogspot.com

Interview by Beccijo of The Enchanted Cupboard