Today’s interview is with Ann, of Harvest Moon by Hand. Enjoy!
Tell us little about yourself!
I am a stay-at-home mom who homeschools my two daughters (ages 9 and 7). Both of my daughters were born in China, and adopted at 11 months and 10 months respectively.
I have always enjoyed crafting – especially embroidery, needle-felting, needlepoint, crocheting, and cross-stitching. I hope to pass the joy I feel when I craft along to those who purchase my items. My other interests include: photography, traveling, reading, cooking/baking, and bird watching.
My home is in Scandia, Minnesota (a small rural town about 35-40 minutes northeast of downtown Minneapolis and St. Paul) on a ten-acre hobby farm. With a miniature horse, pony, two dogs, and five cats…there always seems to be a lot of activity here.
What do you make?
The most popular item in my store is by far the translucent window stars. These are some of the first items that I started with when I opened my store, and I continue to add new patterns and colors each month.
I also sell:
– art kits and supplies for creative people of all ages (children to adults);
– all-natural children’s toys (e.g., felt food, small stuffed animals that tie into children’s books);
– supplies for sewers and homeschoolers (e.g., fabric-covered buttons, needlebooks, patterns);
– handmade gift items (e.g., fabric gift bags, eco-friendly postcards, greeting cards featuring my photographs, Christmas ornaments);
– paper bags made from vintage children’s books; and
– educational supplies (e.g., postage stamp sets).
In addition to these items, I also do custom orders based on what people see in my store or on my Flickr site.
How long have you been creating?
As a child, I loved to color, draw, and do crafts. My parents were very supportive of creative expression, and registered me for summer school arts and craft classes. When I was junior high, I took a lot of art classes – including pottery, calligraphy, and rug making. Now as a mother, I enjoy crafting with my daughters and seeing their enthusiasm for expressing their creativity.
What inspires you?
I am inspired by the creative work that I see on Flickr and Etsy. I also like browsing through craft books and magazines that I check out of the library.
Living in a rural area, I’m always inspired by nature and wildlife.
Last, I’m inspired by my daughters. It’s interesting to see what they use when they play, what their play centers around, and what they tend to gravitate towards when we go shopping. I try to create all-natural items that they and other children would enjoy playing with and using.
What got you started working with the window stars?
When my daughters were younger, I took them to a weekly program at the local Waldorf school. The windows were decorated with a variety of the sun catchers, and I thought they looked so beautiful with the sunlight shining through them.
While the children were playing, the parents would attend a “class” about different topics. One session was focused on creating a calming and beautiful home environment for children. I immediately thought of the stars and how they could enhance different rooms in the home.
How long have you been on Etsy, & how has it been for you so far?
I opened an account in February 2008 after reading about Etsy in our local paper. In Spring 2008, I began listing items in my shop, Harvest Moon by Hand. Being a part of Etsy has been wonderful. It has given me an opportunity to create and sell my work to people around the world.
What advice would you have for other Etsians?
Try to stay visible by listing often, by listing a variety of items, and visiting the Forums. Include your business card and a small promotional item with each order.
What do you hope to learn/gain/contribute from being part of the Natural Kids group?
Being a part of the Natural Kids group keeps me aware of the breadth of natural, eco-friendly toys and home furnishings that are available. If people are looking for a place to get a well-made, handmade toy that they will be safe for their children, I always refer them to the Natural Kids website.
What thoughts do you have for parents on the importance of natural toys for creative play?
Because both my daughters love to play and use their imagination, I make many of their toys by hand – all from natural materials (primarily wool and cotton). Knowing they have quality, safe (and lead-free) toys is important because I know they won’t adversely affect their health.
Natural toys – in addition to being safe for children to play with – also seem to be more open-ended which fosters deeper and more imaginative play. Children are not limited by what a toy does (e.g., makes a particular sound, can only be used one way), but rather can use natural toys in multiple ways in their play and daily life.
PHOTOS ON FLICKR: http://www.flickr.com/photos/picturesbyann