Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Feature - eebits

Names: Will and Elizabeth O’Connor
Shop Name:
ebits eco-friendly handmade jewelry

Brief Product Description:
eco-friendly jewelry and more

What is unique about your product? We use eco-friendly materials, packaging, and keep a green shop. Our products are very affordable for everyday wear, and nothing is off limits. Right now, we’re making jewelry with recycled guitar picks, and we’ve been known to make jewelry from leftover Lego blocks, recycled bottle glass, and anything else that we can think of.

How did you get started? Elizabeth was in a car accident in July 2009, which resulted in losing her job. Since she was unable to work and stuck at home, she began creating jewelry to keep busy and feel productive. Friends and strangers commented on how we should sell our jewelry, so that’s what we’ve been doing. Since our main objective is not to make money, but to have fun and to have others enjoy our products, we keep our prices as affordable as possible.

Where do you get your inspiration? From our kids, from nature, from other crafters, and mostly out of thin air.

What excites you most about your work/shop? It’s great to be able to make jewelry in our house while the kids are playing, sleeping, or making a mess.

Describe your workspace/workroom. We do not have a designated workspace, which makes life interesting. Usually, there are various trays of beads and findings on out-of-reach counter tops. We use ice-cube trays, cleaned egg cartons, or any other containers we can find around the house to work with. We also use all recycled packing materials.

Which do you prefer: online sales/marketing or face-to-face sales/marketing? Why? Face-to-face sales are preferable. Certainly it’s less work to bring your products and allow people to see them in person than to try and portray their value in photographs and online descriptions. But since we have two small children and “day jobs,” it’s not always practical to make it to live shows. We are somewhat limited to online sales.

Where would you like to see yourselves in 5 years?
Aside from healing from the accident, I think we would like things to stay pretty much the same. Obviously, our kids will be older, but perhaps we will have another child by then, and perhaps not. We’d like to keep the jewelry business because it is fun and we hope that people enjoy our products. We consider it “art therapy.” We’ve also thought about hosting Jewelry Parties, where our friends can select the beads and materials they like, and we will construct their jewelry for them.

What do you feel is the most important skill you use in your business every day?
Sense of humor! Between the children and recovering from injuries, we are so thankful for all that we have. When things don’t go as planned, all we can do is be grateful that we have each other. When we make mistakes, we try to laugh and learn, and we hope that we’re teaching our children to do the same.

What do you like about EtsyAustin?
If making jewelry is our Art Therapy, then EtsyAustin is our Support Group. As a newer member of the team (we joined last Fall), we didn’t know what to expect. But we have received invaluable advice and support from the team. Even folks who have never met us are willing to provide their support. This may include loaning us a table for a show, or suggesting helpful hints for our business, and everything in between. Despite the variety of people on our team, we are all committed to each other's success. We expected just a small amount of competition between team members, but it’s just not there. It’s the opposite. We all support and encourage each other. It’s an amazing environment that we’re lucky to be a part of.

What do you think makes EtsyAustin Street Team unique?
The EtsyAustin Street Team is as Weird as Austin. The products and artisans that make up the team are so varied—from baby products to screen-printed items, to needlecrafts and jewelry. There are a lot of us who make jewelry, but we were surprised how unique each jeweler is from the others. The team has very experienced artists who create extremely valuable art pieces, and there are folks like us, who make everyday fun stuff. And Team EtsyAustin members make everything in between.

Describe something about yourself that may be a surprise to people on the team.
Will is from California, and Elizabeth is from Michigan. We met in the San Francisco Bay Area in 2000. We have two young boys, Max (5) and Sean Henry (18 months). We live in Pflugerville (between a Rock and a Weird place).

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