Sunday, November 30, 2008

We-Are-Fam-i-ly! Interview with Model Citizen**

1. What is your name and what is your Etsy store?

2. Apart from creating things, what do you do?

I live with my boyfriend, Austin (yep that's his name) and Todd the road manager of his band , Lions. It's a really creative place to be! There's music in the air all the time. During the day I work as a booking agent, booking local bands all over the country. By night I devote my time to Model Citizen or I volunteer at The ARCH (Austin Resource Center for the Homeless), which is seriously fulfilling & ultimately satisfying. Other than that I enjoy playing badminton, trying out new recipes, blogging, thrifting, dancing at the Second Sunday Sock Hop & makin' mischief!Some of my favorite things to do in Austin? Swim in the springsPicnic at the Cathedral of JunkDinner @ Polvos on 1stCamp Camp @ Bouldin Creek.

3. What first made you want to become an artist?

I'm not sure how to answer this question. The world is cram packed with inspiration. It started with my Mom though. Growing up she was very creative. She made clothes, jewelry, belts, you name it. I get my creative streak from her, every little girl wants to be like her Mom. She has always encouraged me to indulge my creative side. Which was a good idea because I wasn't so hot at math or science, history was a bust too... I just couldn't memorize those dates! I often ditched other classes to hang out and create in the art room during high school. I think that's where I seriously became addicted. These days if Im not getting a lot of drawing or crafting done I am pretty cranky. Do what you love right?

4. Please describe your creative process how, when, materials, etc.

Well, after work I sit down and I draw. Maybe I draw 50 things and I end up feeling like 49 of them are no good. But then there is one that shows promise so I decide on a color combo & shirt design or dress option, make an order from american apparel. After printing I have to transform myself into some kind of a photographer & model at the same time. Which is fun and frustrating. I generally model everything on that is on the site because it's hard to schedule other people in the middle of the night when I do most of that stuff.

5. What handmade possession do you most cherish?

In my kitchen I have a handmade porcelain scissor holder that belonged to my great grandmother. It is light green and lavendar with little pansy's and scissors hand painted on it and covered with a light iridescent glaze. I'm guessing it was made in the 20's or 30's. Did my great grandmother make it? I'm not sure. I wish I knew. I think of her every time I go grab my crafting scissors.

6. What advice would you give to artists who are new to Etsy?

Don't give up! Relist often so you show up in local listings :D Give your items interesting titles.Use ALL of your tags!Add a new item at least once a week. At the very least.Visit the forums & Storque - it'll answer all of your burning questions & give you a little inspiration too.And I wish it didn't have to be said, but...Don't rip other people off!

7. What are your favorite features on Etsy? What new features would you like to see?

Well, I LOVE the Shop Local feature & the Time Machines!Those are my favorites. And who can say anything bad about all the awesome articles in the Storque?!Occasionally I cruise the Treasury, but I find it to be overwhelming and the titles are often misleading :(As for features I'd like to see: Stats! There are few things I wouldn't do to be able to use google analytics on my Etsy page. Thanks!

You can also catch Bonnie Rue on her blog at

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Stories Wanted!

If you are up to an interview and would like to introduce yourself and your Etsy shop, please contact Tina at Thanks!

Makers of Handmade Toys Could Face Costly Mandatory Safety Testing

I've just heard about the impending changes to toy regulations imposed by the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act (CPSIA), and it's very disconcerting. Because of the problems and dangers caused by imported toys with high lead content and unsafe small parts, primarily those imported from China in 2007, the Consumer Products Safety Commission (CPSC) passed the CPSIA this past August.

The CPSIA sounds great in theory, because we all want children's toys to be safe. However, it does not take into account all of the safely and responsibly produced toys made in the US, Canada, and Europe, many of which are made by cottage industries on a shoestring budget. The CPSIA's changes would be extremely costly to small-scale toy manufacturers such as myself and many of our fellow Etsy sellers. For instance, the fee that testing labs are charging to assure compliance with the CPSIA is $4,000 per toy. Those who can't afford to pay such fees will be operating illegally once the CPSIA takes effect.

I urge you to read all about this issue on the website of The Handmade Toy Alliance. They have a very informative article posted on their home page, along with ways you can help, such as endorsing The Handmade Toy Alliance's proposals to improve the CPSIA. Let's all get the word out about the CPSIA's restrictive measures that could force many wonderful, independent makers of handmade toys out of business!

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Birdhouse: A Lovely New Gallery in East Austin

On Saturday I went out with a few friends for a fun stroll through the East Austin Studio Tour (E.A.S.T.). We saw so many cool spaces filled with fantastic art, and got to talk with many of the artists. One of the highlights was talking with the founders of a brand new gallery called Birdhouse. Their mission is to be a gallery with true community spirit, showing artists of all kinds that may have difficulty breaking into the scene and showing at other high-profile galleries in town. They are a great bunch of folks & have a beautiful space. Check it out next time you're in the neighborhood! Shown are works by Jen Frost-Smith & Kevin C. Foote.

If you have anything to report from E.A.S.T., please share! Whether you were a participant or a spectator, it would be great to hear from you. If you have photos or reviews from the tour that you'd like to post, contact Beth to become one of our blog authors. It's easy & fun!

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Crummy Economic News? Support Local Artists!

It seems that we can't avoid the negativity. Everywhere we look, there are more signs of an economic downturn. The experts may call it by a bunch of different terms, but we all know what it is.

Austin has been a bit shielded from the worst of the crisis thus far. The housing and job markets have been holding up comparatively well. Even so, in recent weeks I have heard of cutbacks and layoffs at several major employers here. My own family and several friends have been directly affected. Now we are beginning the holiday season, and retailers are expecting that consumers will be spending less this year. I know many of you reading this are trying to make your dollars stretch more and more.

I read an article in Yoga Journal this month about thoughtful giving, and the gifts described in the article were not necessarily expensive. Some were homemade, one was a lucky vintage find. I also was browsing on Etsy lately, and thinking about the wide variety of wonderful things that can be found there. It occurs to me that by being more mindful in our giving, we can stretch our dollars AND give great gifts.

This holiday season, I challenge you (and myself!) to avoid the last minute rush to the mall or some big box store to hastily fill out our gift list. Instead, let's do some good by supporting local artists and retailers, and find some great deals on original items that will hold some personal meaning for you and your loved ones. In the process, we can help provide income to local people, and help get them through the holidays, as well. I always feel good knowing that when I buy from someone at a craft or art show, I am directly supporting them and helping them pay their bills. Sure beats contributing to the bottom line of some big company, that won't miss my few measly dollars one bit!

With all the layoffs and slowdowns, many local artists are counting on holiday sales even more than the big guys. So as the mad rush of the holidays begins, look for local artists on Etsy, and check out the list of Austin area shows and events on this page (just to the right of this post) and get out there and support some local artists. When you do, your gift will count twice!

Friday, November 14, 2008

We-Are-Fam-i-ly! Interview with Polished Two*

1. What is your name and what is your Etsy Store?

My name is Tracy Owens Chasteen and my Etsy store of jewelry and accessories is PolishedTwo.

2. Apart from creating things, what do you do?

Outside of my crafty endeavors, I have an office job working in business development and marketing. When I take time off from work, I love to travel, shop for vintage treasures, attend bead shows, and spend time relaxing with my husband in the Texas Hill Country.

3. What first made you want to become an artist?

I have been doing crafts for as long as I can remember. It may have started in art class in elementary school, but I also remember spending a lot of time at home building with Tinker Toys, making homemade play dough, and even painting T-shirts with puffy paint. I spent a lot of weekends with my mom at her office. She would be working on a deadline and I would find lots of crafty things to do with her office supplies. My mom can sew and crochet, so she would make a lot of doll clothes for me and my friends. I never had the patience to sew, but I started making doll clothes by repurposing my own clothes—cutting sleeves off sweatshirts to make doll dresses or cutting the tops off of socks to make tube tops. Then in high school and college I was obsessed with art rubber stamps. I had thousands of them! I made cards, stationery, and even designed my own line of stamps to sell. When I moved to Austin, I never really unpacked the rubber stamps, but the amazing jewelry I'd see in all of the great indie boutiques we had caught my eye. I was inspired to move on to my latest art…jewelry making.

4. Please describe your creative process how, when, materials,

I'm not very methodical in my creative process. I can be inspired by almost anything and now that I've been making jewelry in various forms for about 10 years, I have a lot of supplies and thousands of beads on hand so that I can create whenever the mood strikes. I buy most of my materials, especially beads, at bead shows that come to Austin and San Antonio. I also buy a few of my supplies from other Etsy sellers and love to browse vintage markets. My creating is generally done in the evenings and on weekends since I work during the day, but I also have to juggle my limited creative time with other Etsy-shop related activities like photographing products, promoting my shop, responding to custom requests, and packing orders.

5. What handmade possession do you most cherish?

I cherish all of the handmade things given to me—especially all of the goodies made by my mom and my sister. But one possession that sticks out in my memory is a doll that my mom made me when I was about five years old. She has blue embroidered eyes and blond hair made of yarn and put in braids. This doll had an entire wardrobe of handmade clothes. My mom made these dolls for a craft show and ended up with a lot of extras, so they became great birthday gifts for everyone I knew! When I recently visited my cousin, she still had her doll too and it really brought back great childhood memories.

6. What advice would you give to artists who are new to Etsy?

The best advice I can give to artists who are new to Etsy is to take notice of shops that are top sellers and see what makes them successful. Many of them share their stories in the Etsy forums or their blogs—including their lessons learned along the way. These are sellers who've sold thousands of items and know what works, so take the advice from the people who know best! The basics include having great photos and product descriptions; offering different price points for the variety of shoppers that will visit your store; always providing great customer service; and listing new items regularly to keep your shop fresh. I started selling daily when I started listing new items daily--or relisting items if I was not able to add something new. Etsy has hundreds of thousands of sellers, so it also helps to differentiate your shop and create your own brand recognition.

7. What are your favorite features on Etsy? What new features
would you like to see?
My favorite features include the Time Machine and the Storque, Etsy's blog. As a buyer, I love the Time Machine because I can see what is being listed and sold at any given time. If I see something I like going across my monitor, I can click on it and find out what else the seller has available for me. If I like a lot of items in their shop, I will add them to my favorites for future shopping. Pounce is another great feature to see what people are buying. As a seller, the Storque is great for catching up on Etsy news, statistics, crafty profiles, how-to articles, and tips from people who do this full time. A feature that I would like to see is more compatibility between Etsy and Blackberry-type phones. Sometimes I wish I could re-list an item from my phone so I could do it on the go!

8. How do you promote your work?
I promote my work by wearing my jewelry, giving out business cards, including business cards with purchases, and adding my product photos to social networking sites.

9. What craft venues have been successful in the past and you would like to share with your fellow Etsy Austin team members?

Before I opened an Etsy shop, my best craft venues were "trunk shows" that my sister and I would host during happy hour. We would lay out our products, provide a signature cocktail, and send an evite to everyone we know. They were quick (only a few hours), low cost, and a great way to get all of our friends together while also selling lots of jewelry. Another great venue to try if you have several other crafty friends is a holiday open house. Similar to the trunk show concept but with several different products, the key to getting our friends to come was to offer free snacks, a keg of beer, and a band playing. If you live in Austin, you probably know someone who's a musician and willing to be a part of your party.

Now that I'm on Etsy, I don't do many craft shows. I am at a great point where I have a balance between my Etsy orders, several wholesale buyers who sell my designs in their retail shops, and my office job. Any time I have left is spent with family and friends. I love to shop at craft venues though—we have a lot of great bazaars in Austin and they are a really cool way to meet fellow Etsy sellers in person. My local favorite is the Stitch show.

Monday, November 10, 2008

New Saturday Market in San Marcos

Kateri of Magpie Gemstones is organizing a new outdoor market at Tantra Coffeehouse in San Marcos, TX. If you're into supporting local farmers, artists & musicians, do check it out!
The first day will be Nov. 22nd, 10am-3pm, and she hopes to make it an ongoing event. For more info visit San Marcos Art.

If you're interested in vending, please email Kateri at Every type of artist is welcome (musicians, gardeners, performers, etc). It's only $5.00 to set up!

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Applications now open to all

Applications for the Holiday Bazaar at the Broken Neck are now open to all. Tell all your crafty friends! Deadline for all applications is November 16th.

Click here to download the application and for more information.