Tell us about yourself and how you became an artist..
My name is Wanda Hirsch and I live in Derry, New Hampshire with my 4 business partners.
• My husband, who is my patient teacher, providing me with all the skills needed to use saws, drills, and power tools.
• My 8-year old daughter, who is a great source of inspiration and full of wonderful advice. She is still asking for business cards with her name on them. ☺
• My 5 year old identical twin boys, who always provide me great feedback along with lots of wonderful hugs when I am feeling a bit tired.
As a child, I grew up in rural Maine climbing apple trees, skipping stones, balancing on old rock walls, and creating lots of gifts for family members. These gifts ranged from paintings and collages to wood boxes and baskets – you name it, I did it. My most precious creation, to this point, was a painting of my grandfather’s childhood farmhouse (very amateur I must admit). However, it was hung proudly in my grandparent’s home until they passed away and now hangs in my mom’s home. My grandfather used to say he wouldn’t sell it if someone had offered him a million dollars. This filled me with such joy! This is the same feeling I have today when I send one of my products to a mom creating a special nursery or a parent and child working on a “big kids” room.
An Artist? I would call myself a designer and creator. I have a degree in nutrition and worked several years as a Registered Dietitian. First, working in a hospital, then teaching low-income inner city moms, and lastly working on a breast cancer research study. It was 6 years ago that we moved into our 1830’s New England farmhouse and I rekindled my passion for designing and creating. With lots of imagination, a little non-toxic paint and colorful papers, I was able to transform neglected bedrooms and old dressers into creative, fun designs that my children adore. When I started “redesigning” my children’s bedrooms and furniture, I knew it was time to extend my craving for design into products for others. So, here I am designing, creating and loving life!
At Maple Shade Kids you will find unique, earth friendly wooden children’s décor and art. In my designs, I strive to elicit joy, nature and love by combining the natural beauty of wood grains along with fun patterns and colors in paper. This combination creates such a happy and organic feel.
How did you become inspired to make your wares?
My motivation to create comes from my desire to bring a little bit of love and happiness to a person’s home. I tell my husband if we ever become independently rich (yeah right!), I will continue to create, but give my products away. It fills me with so much pleasure to know that I can bring a smile to someone’s face. I get excited to take a beautiful piece of wood, turn it into something that is fun and unique and have it placed into a special child’s room.
I’m inspired by beautiful paper, colorful fabric, the beautiful 200 year old maple trees surrounding our home, the little critters living in them and many amazing children’s illustrators. My children have learned that it can take a bit of time to get through our nighttime ritual of reading books as I often stop on each page and think out loud of the how the colors and textures work together. I’ve rubbed off on them as you will often hear them say things like, “Mommy, look how beautiful this picture is. I just love the colors!”
What are the materials you use in your products?
My products are created from a combination of FSC-certified wood and rescued wood. FSC certified wood is sustainably harvested wood coming from well managed forests and certified by the Forest Stewardship Council. The FSC works to eliminate habitat destruction, water pollution, displacement of indigenous people and violence against people and wildlife. Most of the rescued wood I use in my designs comes from a ship builder’s scrap pile. .
Any Advice for anyone interested in starting to sell on Etsy?
Etsy is the perfect place to set up shop and try selling your handcrafted products, vintage items or crafting supplies. It is full of so much support and community! I would recommend that anyone interested check out “The Etsy Seller’s Handbook”. It is full of great information, both for the newbie, (which I still consider myself) and the veteran seller. You can find it at:
My personal advice:
• Create a product that you love and that makes you proud.
• Learn how to take great pictures. Pictures are so important when it comes to selling on-line. Again, refer to the Etsy Seller’s Handbook for some great picture taking tips!
• Think of the whole package! Packaging is the extension of your product. Give your customers a feeling they are receiving a gift versus just a product. Try to put as much love and thought into your packaging as you do your product. Carefully wrap each purchase, enclose a personal thank you letter or card, and maybe give them a small gift letting them know how much you appreciate their business. I believe this type of care and concern, along with a quality product, is what brings customers back.
• Find balance. Don’t work too hard or too little, write lists, set small daily goals, and have fun!
Where can people find you and your products?
Currently, I am strictly selling on Etsy. It’s perfect for me, and fits into my lifestyle beautifully!
Any easy Earth day tips you want to share?
Avoid harmful cleaning products
• Along with spring, comes spring cleaning (who has time, right?). Well, if you do get the spring cleaning bug, try to ditch the harmful chemicals. Vinegar and baking soda can be used to clean almost anything. Mix in a little warm water with either of these and you’ve got yourself an all-purpose cleaner.
Avoid buying plastic water bottles.
• Billions of plastic bottles are thrown in the trash each year and take up valuable landfill. Save some money AND the environment by drinking from the tap. If you are travelling, use a steel water bottle filled with tap water.
• Try to buy organic when you are able. It isn’t just about avoiding the yucky pesticides that can make us sick. It is also about helping protect our waters and soil, and about creating a healthier environment.
Use reusable sandwich bags/containers
• If possible, avoid or decrease the use of plastic baggies. There are lots of icky toxic chemicals needed to make them and it takes lots of energy to manufacture and transport them. Instead, opt for reusable containers and/or earth friendly reusable sandwich/snack bags. They are available in so many fun colors! Etsy has some great options to choose from.
• Think twice before buying new. I have to confess: One of my favorite pastimes is turning worn furniture, sometime left on the curbside for trash, into pieces I love. Our home is filled with reused stuff. My grandfather’s old wood desk now is my “business station”. An old kitchen table (that came with the house) now works as my art work table. An old buffet from my grandfather’s farmhouse is now painted sunshine yellow and is used to store my children’s school papers, bills, and office supplies. An old window now serves as a unique picture frame. It feels great knowing that I have prevented so many items from being thrown into land fills, plus they are quite unique!
Buy Natural Gifts
• I can’t pass up this opportunity to say buy handmade natural gifts! It’s a win-win situation. We are supporting talented artists AND as a consumer we receive a unique product, full of love that helps preserve our earth by avoiding the mass production of products. This cuts down on global warming in addition to avoiding all that plastic packaging and annoying twisty tags that are nearly impossible to remove!
Together we can make a difference!
• If each of us reduces a bit, recycles a little, avoids toxic cleaners, buys organic/local occasionally, reuses once-in-a-while, and buys natural often, we can make a positive change for our environment and the health of ourselves and families. Happy Earth Day!
Thank You Wanda for a Great Interview!
Visit www.mapleshadekids.etsy.com to see more of Wandas work!