Creative Musings

Meet the Maker – Tricked Kicks

Chucks, Cons, whatever you want to call them, Converse shoes have stood the test of time and keep reinventing themselves.. All because of makers like Michelle.. Taking a staple and turning it into a trend. Meet Michelle and her company, Tricked Kicks.

Please tell us a bit about yourself and one interesting fact.

I am a wife and a mom of 3 amazing kids ages 12, 10 and 7. I am a dance mom and a baseball mom. My husband and I have been together since we were 16 years old. I am a teacher and love crafts!

Where did your business idea come from?

I had seen a pair of the baseball blinged Converse shoes online and thought, “I must have those shoes!” So I decided to make them and then (with the encouragement of family and friends) decided that this and other styles like basketball, soccer and hearts would be wanted and loved by others.

How do you balance parenthood with your business?

Being a mom will always come first and yes I do find it tough to balance my time. I do try to do most of my work during the day while the kids are at school because once they come home I know that I won’t be able to get anything done. I also include my kids into my business. They love helping me prepare the shoes to be blinged, sort the rhinestones, and package the items to be shipped. They are great helpers and it is fun times spent together.

How long does the average item take for you to create?

I would say, on average, it takes me about 90 minutes to complete a pair of shoes. The more intricate designs do take longer, and the simpler ones I could create in about an hour.

Do you receive many custom orders and if so, how much input do clients have?

I receive many custom orders. In fact, most of the inspiration for new products comes from customers requesting custom orders. I do love to get these custom orders as it does make what I do more interesting. My clients have lots of input from what design they want, to words or numbers added on to the shoes, and in a colour of their choosing. I work closely with my clients to ensure that they are getting exactly what they are looking for. My favourite response that I got from a custom order from a mom of the Bat-Mitzvah girls was: With tears in her eyes she said, “How did the woman know EXACTLY what I wanted?”

Do you ever make anything for yourself?

YES! I am my best customer! My daughters and I will not walk out the door without wearing our Tricked Kicks and of course we have pairs for all occasions. I especially love wearing my baseball blinged Converse shoes to my son’s baseball games!

Want some bling for yourself? Follow Michelle and her Tricked Kicks online!

Website: www.trickedkicks.com
Facebook: www.facebook.com/trickedkicks
Instagram: @trickedkicks

Meet the Maker – Lost Book

Journaling has always been a great way to calm your mind, release stress and just keep memories intact. Sure there are some great mass produced journals out there but have you ever seen a beautifully handcrafted journal? Allow me to introduce you to Eve and her Business – Lost Book.

Please tell us a bit about yourself and one interesting fact.

I’m a mom of three older children, and married to my love.

I have always loved books, reading, and writing. I would stay up late and sneak-read my latest novel (usually fantasy fiction). Now my teens do the same! In school, I found nothing more exhilarating than a stack of blank paper with which to pour out creativity. I like that I can recreate that for others.

Where did your business idea come from?

I’ve journaled since I was 13. It was really hard to find creative journals with covers that inspired! I started recovering my journals. Then I wanted pages to match the covers, so I learned how to bind. And since you can only keep so many….

How Does your work reflect your personality and overall approach to life?

I think my love of books and fantasy shows up on my journal covers and pens. I love to upcycled objects and add small fitting details to my work. The mystery/adventure kits involve my love of storytelling in an involving and creative way. I also love how things are done in the old days. This the quill and inks were a great, applicable edition to our store.

How do you balance parenthood with your business?

I have always struggled with this. Many times I’ve not gotten the balance right. I’ve even tried to stop crafting but I’ve realized that it’s part of who I am. My kids are teens now making it easier to manage my time, but they still need me and so does my hubby. I try to set designated times to focus on them. I take breaks from crafting and tackle housework. I take days off for fun times with them. They in turn try to involve themselves more in my crafting too: they come to shows, help me load items, listen to me obsess about the whole process, and love me in spite of me.

What would you say has been your biggest learning curve since beginning your business?

I think I’m still learning it, haha! Creating is natural, but the business end of things is harder. It’s like having two jobs: one to make things and one to sell them. I like them both, actually. I especially like the one on one interaction with customers at shows.

Where do you get inspiration for developing new products?

I get new ideas everywhere! Trying to keep up with them is the problem. Customers give me new ideas, found objects inspire new thoughts, yesteryear and it’s fascinating gadgets, nature, and need. Once I made journals, I needed to write in them. I was dissatisfied with the random pens in the house to write in my nice journal, so I created new lines of pens: the bead pen, the metal pen, the different styles of feather pens, and the authentic quill and ink.

How long does the average item take for you to create?

My journals take anywhere from 1.5 hours on up. The classic book journals usually take 1 hour whereas the metal journals (made from upcycled pop cans) can take 2-3 hours or more. Sometimes the creative ideas come quickly and other times, it takes a while to get the creative juices flowing.

Do you have a favourite item in your store?

Many! Particular journals and pens, but especially the metal journals-the colours!

What is the story behind your business name?

I dreamed that I was in an old bookshop, desperately looking for one specific book (which I had no idea what it was-I’d know it once I saw it). Finally, I found it! It was the last and rare and tattered copy of the Bible. Definitely a lost book in our society and a treasure beyond compare.

Can you describe your process and how long it takes to produce a piece?

The metal journal:

  1. Find an upcycled book cover in the color I desire. Cut out the pages (these are also upcycled).
  2. Tape the inside binding.
  3. Select, wash out, and cut a pop can to lay flat. Choose a design to emboss. Either emboss by machine or by hand.
  4. Color the metal with inks, embossing powders, paint.
  5. Glue metal to cover, add book corners, details.
  6. Print pages, sew, glue. Cut pages to size. Add book bands (those colored fibers on the ends of the book binding), add ribbon bookmark.
  7. Glue into book with end pages, add details. Sometimes I guild the page edges and distress the book edges.
  8. Add business sticker and price tag.
  9. Photograph and list online.

Describe your work-space and your top tools are.

I am slowly talking over our basement! I have 4 work tables, and a sewing/printing room. I hope to turn the third room into a small shop to sell locally. In my studio, creativity= mess. I usually spend the first few minutes of my day reorganizing before diving back into it.

My top tools are scissors, my utility knife, my embossing machine, and my paper stack cutter.

Do you receive many custom orders and if so, how much input do clients have?

I receive some custom orders which the customer has much freedom to input. I do have a knack for fitting a product to the client, though and appreciate it when clients value my creative input as well.

Do you ever make anything for yourself?

Yes, but not enough. I often snag a journal or pen when I need it but rarely just make one for me. I make other things in the house like handmade soap (yes, we crafters are usually creative in multiple fields!).

Do you have a favourite designer? Who is it and why?

Most of the designs that catch my eye are eclectic. Tim Holtz of the scrapbooking world has great style. Another inspiring artist is Tammy Kushnir who published The Elemental Journal.

Any advice for a new Handcrafted Maker who is setting up a shop?

The hardest thing to overcome is your own despair/discouragement. Look at what things are selling on the market today. Some of them are crap! And they’re selling! If they can do it, then there’s no reason that your beautiful creative ideas can’t sell even better!

What is your bestselling item? Why do you think it is the most popular?

My best-selling item are my creative journals. These are journals made from upcycled book covers and found objects to make a whole new look. I believe these are most popular both for the new finished lol but also for the creative ways old objects are used (a broken earring and piece of metal, a shell and beach glass). There’s also nostalgia attached with these objects.

Are you managing wholesale accounts and attending markets alongside your direct sales? If so, how do you balance your work day?

I’m not currently doing wholesale but I am attendant markets. Truth be told, you can only direct your focus one way, fully. So during market season, my online shop slows down a bit. My hope is to generate enough business via shows that I can do mostly online business in the future.

Do you have a home studio or do you work at another location?

I work at home. It can be distracting some days, but honestly I need to be distracted out of myself and my work. I can be entirely too focused, haha!

Do you have other hobbies?

Writing (I’ve got one fantasy fiction manuscript done and an working on the sequel), knitting, spinning yarn….

Do you do this full time? If not, how do you balance your day?

I consider it a flexible full time. I have chronic pain that prohibits me from work outside of the home, so here I can manage my time around my health and my family’s needs.

What has been the most challenging aspect of being a creative business owner?

Lack of startup funds, having to dig up info on how to sell online (no money for all those advertising to make you rich online!).

What do you hope to accomplish in the next year? No limits! Where would you like your business to go?

My hopes are to be able to make more sales online, repeat sales, newsletter. I’m hoping to do more shows next year and streamline that whole process. It would be lovely to be more publicly and locally recognised, for sure. Also, I hope to have my in house store, up and running.

Red or White?

Red! All that I do creatively involves colours: bright vivid colors. I think I’m part magpie or something, lol.

Come visit Eve at our Made in Canada Market on September 23rd or pop by and give her social channels some love!

Etsy: www.LostBook.etsy.com
Facebook: www.facebook.com/thelostbooks
Instagram: @the_lost_book

Meet the Maker – Blue Lake & Rocky Shore

Looking for comfy cozy home decor? Look no further than the nearest “Blue Lake & Rocky Shore” 😉 Read on to learn all about Jillian and her company…

Please tell us a bit about yourself and one interesting fact.

I live in Richmond Hill, Ontario with my husband, two kids and two dogs. Before I had my children, I worked in the IT field in downtown Toronto. After becoming a mother, I decided that I really didn’t want to return to that career, with the commute and the long hours. I started really getting into sewing many years ago, and decided that I’d like to try and make a living doing what I love. I initially started doing alterations for people in my neighbourhood, but soon decided that I needed a better creative outlet. After coming up with many design ideas for decor products, I decided to take the plunge and start making my own designs to sell to others.

I grew up on a lake in Northern Ontario, and as a result, am continually inspired by the landscape of the Great Canadian Shield. I love creating items that remind of me the outdoors and of being at the cottage (or “camp” for us Sudburians!) I’ve lived in Southern Ontario for many years now, but I still like creating items that remind me of home.

How do you balance parenthood with your business?

Working out of my home has been great in allowing me to be available to my kids when they’re not in school. I can set my own hours and work when it’s convenient for me. My kids are older now – 18 and 14, so it’s not the kind of hands-on parenting that younger children require, but I still want to be here for them. Before my daughter got her driver’s license, it was great to be able to chauffeur her and my son to all of their after school activities. If I’d been working a typical 9-5 job, that wouldn’t have been possible. This business has allowed me a lot of flexibility, for which I’m grateful.

My daughter is set to move away for school in September, but my son will still be here and I feel very lucky that I can be around when he gets home from school every day.

Do you have a favourite item in your store?

I think my favourite item would have to be the Lumberjack Pillow Cover. It’s red and black buffalo plaid flannel, and it’s made to look like a buttoned-up flannel shirt. The buttons have moose on them, for an even more outdoorsy look. I called it the Lumberjack because the flannel shirt look reminded me of what a lumberjack might wear to chop down trees. Because it’s flannel, it’s soft and cozy, just like a good flannel shirt should be.

What is the story behind your business name?

My business name, Blue Lake & Rocky Shore, comes from a line in an old Canadian classic song, called, “Land of the Silver Birch.”

The song goes as follows:

Land of the silver birch

Home of the beaver

Where still the mighty moose wanders at will

Blue lake and rocky shore

I will return once more…

Can you describe your process and how long it takes to produce a piece?

I keep a sketch book handy and I am constantly drawing pictures of the ideas that pop into my head. Usually when I get a new idea, I’ll spend some time drawing different versions of it, until I find one that I think will work. Then I make a prototype. Sometimes I’ll have fabric already that works for what I want to make. Otherwise I’ll get what I need and start cutting and sewing. Sometimes I think I’ll be making one thing, and then during the process, I change it into something else. Maybe I was going to make a 14″ x 14″ square pillow, but then I decide to make a bolster instead. How long it takes entirely depends of how intricate the design is. Products with appliqués take much longer than those without. Once I’ve finished sewing, I’ll decide if it needs anything else – trim or buttons or some other detail. Once I’m satisfied with how it looks, I make note of the design elements and keep all of these in a pattern file on my computer.

Describe your work-space and your top tools are.

My work space used to be a combination of my kitchen and dining room. I used to keep all of my materials upstairs in my master bedroom and my current projects spread out on my dining room table. I would haul my sewing machine into my kitchen each day to work. Needless to say, this was not very convenient!

Last fall, we had our basement finished and I now have a whole big section of it as a dedicated work space. I turned the unused space under the stairs into a closet where I store pillow forms and shelves of fabrics. It’s great to be able to close the door and not have all of that clutter out in the open. I have a sewing table, and big storage hutch and a nice, big cutting table. Most days I’m down in my studio working, listening to music or podcasts (true crime are my faves!) It’s such a pleasure to have this space to work in.

My top tool is of course my sewing machine! I also love my rotary cutter and mat. They make straight cuts a breeze.

Do you receive many custom orders and if so, how much input do clients have?

I receive many custom orders and clients typically have as much input as they’d like. I recently made new couch cushions for someone’s cottage, and she chose the fabric herself. Sometimes people will ask me to make a personalized blanket for a baby or child, and other than telling me the child’s name, they leave the design up to me. Or sometimes they’ll give me an idea as to the room’s theme, or something the child really likes, and then I’ll take it from there.

I’ve also made a few memory quilts. In those cases, the clients handed over their items and didn’t see them again until the quilt was complete. I think they liked the surprise.

Do you ever make anything for yourself?

I try to sneak in a few projects for myself once in awhile. I used to make clothes for myself pretty regularly, but I’m too busy for that now. Being tall, it was great for me to be able to make things that actually fit me properly. Usually if I have a little time for a personal project, it’ll end up being something for one of my children. One tradition we have is that I make them pyjamas every year for Christmas.

What do you enjoy doing in your free time?

I’m a swimmer and have been swimming with the Richmond Hill Masters for the past 14 years. Not only is it a great workout, but we’re a very social group and I’ve made amazing friendships with my fellow swimmers. I am also an avid reader and have belonged to a book club for the past 13 years. As much as I love reading, it’s really the other women in the book club that make it so much fun. My favourite thing to do on a Friday night is to binge watch whatever series I’m currently into on Netflix. I especially like the Nordic noir shows from countries like Sweden and Denmark. I also love British mysteries – whether in television or book form.

And of course spending time with my family is number one!

Trail hike or lake swim?

Definitely lake swim! I had the wonderful privilege of growing up on a beautiful lake in the city of Sudbury, called Long Lake. Every day in the summer I was in the lake, swimming with friends. We had a peddle boat that my best friend and I would take on adventures down the lake. In winter, my father would shovel a huge rink on it and flood it with the hose to make it smooth for skating. We’d also snowmobile and cross-country ski on Long Lake. My bedroom faced the lake and at night, I’d fall asleep to the sounds of the water. I can’t imagine a better place to live than on a lake. Trail hikes are nice, but lake swims are the best!

Come meet Jillian at our Made in Canada Market on September 23, or check her out online at

Etsy: https://www.etsy.com/ca/shop/BlueLakeRockyShore
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Blue-Lake-Rocky-Shore-552639408267681/
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/blue_lake_and_rocky_shore/

Meet the Maker – 9 Senses

Please tell us a bit about yourself and one interesting fact.

I am a down to earth person. Nature, is one of the most meaningful things to me. When I connect to nature, I am alive and inspired.

Where did your business idea come from?

I started 9Senses in 2015 to share my passion for products that comfort the body and mind.

I’m a mother of two beautiful girls who inspire me everyday. One of my daughters as it so happens is on the Autism spectrum and is a sensory seeker, meaning she is very sensitive to stimulation from her environment.

To help her, I spent countless hours learning to make natural, soothing products that she would find comforting. I started with handmade soaps, and then branched out into other bath and body products.

Like many other entrepreneurs, 9Senses started as a part-time passion project. However, I’ve found that many other people in my community of Maple, Ontario (and beyond!) enjoy my products and I’m now fortunate enough to make 9Senses my full-time life’s work.

Family is very important to me. That’s why it’s such a joy that my two daughters and husband work alongside me to build 9Senses into a values-driven business that touches the lives of more and more people every year.

How does your work reflect your personality and overall approach to life?

I am a people person. Love to meet new people, hear about their stories.

I do connect with parents about their everyday difficulties. I get such a good sense of accomplishment when parents share how much help their kids get from my weighted items.

If I contribute to make a positive difference on these kids life’s my day is great. Working always to make a smile at the time.

What would you say has been your biggest learning curve since beginning your business?

Learning about the best markets to go to. Reaching people who appreciates handmade and natural products. Making a lot of items for inventory on the slow down time. There is always room for improvement. Test and retest all items.

Where do you get inspiration for developing new products?

In addition to providing quality bath and body products, 9Senses sells products that strive to improve the quality of life of young people on the Autistic spectrum. These include weighted sensory therapy products such as blankets and lap pads.

My goal is to make these available to children who need them and to make a positive difference in their lives. From every sale of sensory therapy products, I will donate 5% of the proceeds to Autism York Region Chapter.

Describe your work-space and your top tools are.

My work space is a bit tight now. As I am growing I decided that is time to renew my basement and make it 9Senses studio only.

From an industrial and regular sewing to 2 big assembling tables lots of shelf’s for supplies I do need more room to fully use my time.

What is your bestselling item? Why do you think it is the most popular?

My charcoal soap has been my best seller for the past year. Charcoal is very popular these days and people loves the results of the soap bar.

9Senses Flaxseed & Lavender heat-able neck pillows are always a good seller as well. Nowadays everybody has the need to relax and support for that neck and shoulder tension.

Also my weighted items are starting to be very popular. More and more people are coming to buy or just get my information to share with their families or friends. Sadly but more and more families are affected by autism everyday.

A vacation relaxing on the beach, or exploring the local culture?

At the moment I would love a relaxing vacation on a white sand beach with my family.

Nothing relaxing me better than the sound of the sea the turquoise of the water, the sun. All of that is a great source of inspiration as well.

You can find Mila’s calming creations at our Made in Canada Market on September 23 or visit her social channels!

Etsy: www.etsy.com/ca/shop/9senses

Facebook: www.facebook.com/9senses.ca

Instagram: www.instagram.com/9senses

Meet the Maker – Lovely Element

 

Have you ever looked at something and thought “How the heck did they do that?!” Well, Alice of Lovely Element will make you think that for ALL of her creations! A paper-crafter Extraordinaire, Alice takes Origami to the next level! Take a read below to find out more about her wizardry 😉

Please tell us a bit about yourself and one interesting fact.

I have been a crafty person since I could remember as a kid. During my spare time I like to work on different kinds of craft projects that involve sewing, paper craft, drawing, fashion design, computer learning and more.

Where did your business idea come from?

The Origami crane symbolizes peace, long life, good luck, prosperity, love & joy. In 2010, my special year, we used origami crane as our wedding theme. I used fabric material to fold paper cranes for table centre pieces. I also made tiny paper cranes and placed them into small glass bottles as wedding favours to our guests. Since then I got more ideas on making tiny little cranes and putting them into small glass vials and making them into wearable pieces. Two years later Lovelyelement Origami Shop was born.

What was your inspiration to start selling your creations?

The reason why I really started selling online was because of my dad. He was a knowledgeable person and also a maker. He used to work in accounting, tailoring, and toy design. He had a factory for plastic toys where he made his own designs, toy moulds, and produced them. Growing up I always thought one day, I have to make things I love and enjoy and be like my dad to start my own business. I also enjoy the feeling when people talking about my work. The feeling outweighs the final end product.

Do you have a favourite item in your store?

The micro origami lucky paper stars necklace is my favourite piece. It took me the longest time to create and finish. Each paper star is made from 1 mm wide origami paper and I have to make sure 6 stars are all the same size and shape. If any of them look like they do not match with the other paper stars, I will re-do it. I love to have a clear finish for each paper star and a perfect fit for each glass vial.

Any advice for a new Handcrafted Maker who is setting up a shop?

I would say good photos of items / products, use good keywords and be unique.

Do you have a home studio or do you work at another location?

Currently I have a home studio / office to make my items and also prepare all shipping packages.

Ice Cream or Cake?

I love cakes especially Japanese cheesecake and green tea million crepe cake.

Find Alice’s amazing paper-work at our Made in Canada Market on September 23rd or you can follow her on all of her social channels.

Etsy: www.lovelyelement.etsy.com
Facebook: www.facebook.com/lovelyelement
Instagram: @Lovelyelement

Meet the Maker – Liliput Kingdom

I LOVE felt creations and am always excited to find a new and interesting thing that can be made of felt.. Hila of Liliput Kingdom takes felt to a whole new level with her animals and food items! Read on to find out more about Hila and her creatures.

Please tell us a bit about yourself and one interesting fact.

I’m 38 yeas old, live in the lovely quite town of Richmond Hill, enjoying the sun and the flowers after a long winter. As a new comer the weather is quite challenging 🙂 I have been working with babies and toddlers for almost 20 years. I have a Bachelor’s degree in Education, Anthroposophy and Science. And I love what I do!

One interesting fact – The meaning of my name is the light around the moon. And also like aura. I love my name and the connection to the nature it holds.

Where did your business idea come from?

While studying Anthroposophy, I did a lot of crafting and I began to sew and knit for my pleasure. At first I sewed for friends , birthday gifts and slowly the demand rose and the idea of making a business out of it came up and turned the hobby into a business.

What would you say has been your biggest learning curve since beginning your business?

I think the move to Canada was very significant for me in many levels, of course, also business wise.

From a successful small local business I opened up to the big world, opened a ETSY shop and the business jumped up a step.

I came to Canada a little more than a year ago and I’m still in the process of learning, enjoying the road very much.

Where do you get inspiration for developing new products?

My great inspiration comes from nature and from working with children. I love hiking and I always discover something that amaze me. I can find myself looking at ants for a long time, or looking for the magical shapes hidden in the flowers. Nature allows our imagination to fly freely. In children the connection to the world of imagination is more natural and present, watching a child playing fascinates me no less.

How long does the average item take for you to create?

I sew a lot of animals. The average time for sewing an animal will vary from one hour to one and a half hours.

Do you have a favourite item in your store?

I think so. I really like my secret gnome.

Seeing how this tiny gnome makes adults and children such a big excitement – It’s a big pleasure. It is also one of my first products.

City Living or Country Dwelling?

Definitely country Dwelling. I like to get up early, hear the birds, smell the morning dew (yes, it has a smell) and the closeness to nature fills me and widens my heart.

Find Hila’s wonderous creations at the Made in Canada Market on September 23rd, or you can check out her social channels online!

Etsy Shop: https://www.etsy.com/ca/shop/LiliputKingdom
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/liliputkingdom
Instagram: @liliputkingdom

Meet the Maker – BK Inspired

Please tell us a bit about yourself and one interesting fact.

I am a work-at-home mom of two boys with a wonderfully supportive husband. I’ve been creative my whole life but fell into the belief that a living couldn’t be made from the arts so I tried my hand at many other jobs. None of them really stuck so I am happy to have this opportunity to be home for my kids and do what I love. I am proud to say one of my pieces was published in Pyrography magazine last year!

Can you describe your process and how long it takes to produce a piece?

There are several steps for creating my pieces. The first step is usually creating the design or image that will go on the wood. Most of this is done by hand and some is done on the computer. The next step is making sure the wood is prepared by cutting it to size and then sanding it. Sanding is important to ensure a nice, smooth surface for an even burn. I then transfer the design onto the wood with graphite paper. The next step, the burning, is the most fun! Then, depending on the piece, a finish is applied to the wood to seal it. Most bookmarks don’t take too long and I can get several done in one day. Other, larger or more detailed pieces, like lazy susan’s, clocks, or signs can take a couple of days to complete.

Describe your work-space and what your top tools are.

I wish I had a dedicated work space but unfortunately there are several spaces I use throughout the house to do my work. The garage is where I do the cutting and most of the major sanding. The designing, drawing, and burning is done in the living room, so I am still part of the family if I’m working when they’re home. Product shots are taken in another room that has the best natural lighting. Light sanding, assembly, and applying finish is done in a workroom in the basement. This room is where I store my wood pieces, both unfinished and finished and where I package pieces for shipping. Some days I can be seen moving between all the floors of the house to get the work done.

I have a couple of burning machines. They use tools with attachments called pens. Each pen has a different tip that heats up and allows me to create different looks, texture and shading in my work.

Do you receive many custom orders and if so, how much input do clients have?

Yes! I love doing special orders. Customers have great ideas and creativity and it can be a lot of fun to work with them on their project. I do as much back and forth with clients as they need to get it just the way they want it. Many special requests have become some of my favourite pieces and it’s nice to know the piece I have created means something to them and will be treasured for years to come.

Do you ever make anything for yourself?

No, not for myself. But I do make things for my family. I created a special clock to celebrate my husband’s 10th work anniversary, and a medieval growth chart, and bookmarks for my kids. I do have one piece on my wall that was originally for sale in my Etsy shop but I loved it too much to let it go. So, in a way, I guess I did make that one for me.

Did you take classes to learn the skills you utilize or are these self taught practices of trial and error?

When I discovered and started wood burning there were no classes available and very few books on the subject. I knew nothing about it and learned by trying and experimenting on my own. I later joined groups on Etsy and Facebook and learned by observing what other artists were doing and talking with them about techniques and burning in general. There is constantly something new to learn or a different technique to try so I will always be growing in this craft.

Find Maya’s burnt masterpieces at our Made in Canada Market on September 23rd or you can follow her social channels online!

Etsy: www.bkinspired.etsy.com
Facebook: www.facebook.com/bkinspired
Instagram: @mayabki

Meet the Maker – Amanda Brittin

If you’re in the market for an inspiring and beautiful piece of jewellery, Amanda Brittin is your go-to! Read on to find out more about Amanda and how she comes up with her creations..

Please tell us a bit about yourself and one interesting fact.

I work with hammer and torch to create hand-forged rustic sterling silver, bronze and gemstone jewelry. With a background in Anthropology and Archaeology, I am very influenced by the jewelry pieces that have been excavated from ancient Roman and Viking sites and this has been the source of inspiration for my recent “Unearthed” series of bronze and silver work.

Although I no longer work in Archaeology, I still occasionally design and install museum exhibitions!

How Does your work reflect your personality and overall approach to life?

Form and function are very important to me! When I go about my day to day life, the pieces of art that I enjoy the most are the things that I “use”, the functional things that are handmade and beautiful and I can enjoy as more than just a piece of art on the wall. I love my visual art too, but I get the most pleasure out of things that I can actually use; things like my hand-thrown tea pot, my funky mosaic toothbrush holder and my lovely hand-made bird feeders. Over my years as an artisan making a big variety of artwork, from floorcloths to mosaics, concrete sculpture to jewelry, this has always been the thing that informed my work – make stuff that is useful and beautiful, whether it is personal adornment or a mat in front of a kitchen sink.

What would you say has been your biggest learning curve since beginning your business?

One of the more challenging aspects of business is to keep on top of business development. I may make beautiful jewelry, but unless I can get it out there in the public eye, no one will appreciate it and sales will not happen. Keeping up with daily activity in social media and maintaining frequent contact with clients has been something that I have had to become quite disciplined with. I have noticed that when I am really busy with other things and don’t keep up with my Etsy listings, Instagram and Facebook feeds, my business can really lag. I have developed a pattern now, where I choose a certain time of day and make sure to post or be active at that time!

How long does the average item take for you to create?

The average sterling silver and gemstone ring will take me several hours to design, but once I know what I want to create, the actual time to make it is usually 2-3 hours. I find that the sketching and mulling over of a design idea is a time consuming part. Once I have solved the problem or come up with creative idea, then execution of that idea comes together fairly fast. Of course, there are always a few pieces that can take a whole day!

Describe your work-space and your top tools are.

I have a very small and joyful studio space that is connected to my house. It is only 9×11 feet in size and I pack a lot in there! I have two work benches set a different heights so that I sit at one and stand at the other. All my electrical equipment and my torch for jewelry-making are attached to these two benches. A floor to ceiling set of shelving lines one wall for shipping and packaging and my music system. My products are nicely set up in a little alcove to the side for clients to shop. I still manage to bring in a couple of lovely plants and have some great artwork on my colourful walls. My favourite aspect of my studio is that I have set up several bird feeders outside my big studio window and I have a pond out beyond those – what a view! How could this not bring joy to me as I work away creating jewelry?

Do you receive many custom orders and if so, how much input do clients have?

I think that the biggest reason for my success is my willingness to work on custom jewelry, largely driven by clients’ special requests. Even an Etsy inquiry as general as, “I saw this rounded triangular ring on my last trip to Latvia…could you make something like that?” will get my creativity flowing and I will try it out for a client with no expectation. Sometimes it works, sometimes it is not quite right, but the times that it is perfect and the client is thrilled, that makes it all worthwhile. I love to experiment and have no interest in mass production work, even though it is more financially feasible, so customized orders are my main business! I would say that customized and made-to-order account for half my business!

What do you enjoy doing in your free time?

I am an avid bird-watcher and traveler with a passion for hiking in the American southwest. If I have a bit of free time during the week, I love to enjoy the wonderful forest tracts in York Region and will head out with a friend for a hike! I usually take my camera as there are almost always birds to see and capturing one or two on a hike makes the outing just perfect!

You can find Amanda’s gorgeous creations at our Made in Canada Market on September 23rd or you can follow her online!

Etsy: www.etsy.com/ca/shop/amandabrittin
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/amandajanebrittin
Instagram: @amandabrittin

Meet the Maker – The Teepee Store

Have you ever just wanted a little place of your own where you can hide away and read a book? How about your very own teepee? Check out The Teepee Store and you may find that place sooner than later!

 

Yana, please tell us a bit about yourself and one interesting fact.

My name is Yana and I am a very active mom of two princesses. I love sports, snowboarding, travelling, cooking, crafting, decorating, event planning, active weekends with the family, parties and everything to enjoy this life:)

Where did your business idea come from?

First of course because of my daughters. I saw on Instagram lots of ideas to make a shelter for kids and tried to make a teepee for my kids. It was so awful! So I decided to make another one and it 2nd time’s the charm! It was so cute so my friend ask me to sell it to her! This is how I started to make teepees for my kids and sell it to my friends and then to other people. My kids still don’t actually have their own teepee, they temporarily play in each new teepee until it is sold to their forever home!

How does your work reflect your personality and overall approach to life?

I love to design something interesting and to create new original stuff. I love to go to the store, pick fabrics, and create new models of teepees. I sold my previous business to leave more time for teepees. I really enjoy working for myself. Having time for family as well as myself while making some profits is the best job!

How do you balance parenthood with your business?

Sometimes I need time to work on my store and on more products but my weekends are free! I do not work on the weekends – we are usually travelling with family and I can schedule my work as I need it. My eldest daughter tells everybody that her mom is making teepees and is very proud of me! As soon as we get our own home I will make the best kid’s room in the world filled with teepees and self-made decor!

Can you describe your process and how long it takes to produce a piece?

I choose the fabric in store, deciding how to combine it with others or leave it plain. Then I cut the fabric by pattern, and sew it. The whole process could take up to 6 hours depending on the model, and where the fabric store is located.

Describe your work-space and what your top tools are.

I work in a small office room with 2 sewing machines (one of them is industrial) and one industrial overlock. My office has lots of shelves with lots of fabric!

Do you receive many custom orders and if so, how much input do clients have?

Yes. Usually clients seen something on the internet and send me a request. I try not to do similar tents to other companies, so I provide ideas for something in similar colors or in a style that fits their design. Usually it comes out completely different than what they sent me but the clients are always happy!

Any advice for a new Handcrafted Maker who is setting up a shop?

Do not give up if you don’t have any sales at first. Just learn how to get more clients! There are always clients for your product and your price. You don’t have to work for free or undercut your pricing!

What is your bestselling item? Why do you think it is the most popular?

My best selling item is the plain ivory, and the black and white stripes teepee. It is a unisex model that is easy to modify with different decorations.

Do you have other hobbies?

A lot! Especially parties! Sports are my first place of course, I love winter! I also love to hand make items for friends, like birthday gifts. They are never disappointed and tell me to sell this stuff as well!

Do you do this full time? If not, how do you balance your day?

Almost full time. I have a schedule: time for myself, time for my kids and time for my business. I don’t always do all three in one day, but I do try to balance everything evenly.

What do you hope to accomplish in the next year? No limits! Where would you like your business to go?

I want my own store and to try to manufacture them on a larger scale. I want to sell my teepees in big stores across the US and Canada, and also want to make and sell new kid’s items but need more employees!

Red or White? Coffee or tea? Sunlight or Moonlight? Trail hike or lake swim? Books or Movies? James Bond or Austin Powers? Snow or Sand? Camping or Sailing? Ice Cream or Cake? Early Bird or Night Owl? City Living or Country Dwelling? A vacation relaxing on the beach, or exploring the local culture?

WOW. These are difficult choices. I would pick few:) Like TEA, SNOW, CAMPING, EXPLORING. Just my fav stuff. I don’t drink coffee at all. I love the snow because I came from a northern town in Russia, where the summer is two weeks long in a year with max 10 degrees C. I would prefer boating, not sailing, but between sailing and camping – probably camping. My family camps about 5-6 times a year. I love to explore everything. Unfortunately in Canada everything is far away and sometimes the beach in Mexico is cheaper then exploring Canada, but I would prefer to explore my country.

You can find Yana’s Teepees at the Made in Canada Market on September 23rd or you can check her social channels out today!

Website: www.teepeestore.com
Facebook: Teepee.Toronto
Instagram: @the_teepee_store

Meet the Maker – Grizzlie

With the cooler seasons approaching (I know it’s too soon!) you’ll want to have some comfy cozies on hand. Tracey from Grizzlie can help make sure you’re taken care of. Read on to find out more about the creator behind the wool!

Please tell us a bit about yourself and one interesting fact.

I started my Etsy business almost 7 years ago, and it was one of the best decisions of my life! It took my hobby of knitting to a whole new level. I have learned so much along the way about running a small business, marketing, photography and social media. The pieces I knit are a true reflection of my outlook on simplicity, nature, and the world around me. I am very blessed to be able to share this artistic fibre art with others.

I have been happily married for 23 years, have three wonderful children and two adorable dogs. I am Vegan and consider that another good decision I made!

How does your work reflect your personality and overall approach to life?

I live my life very simply. I take inspiration from nature, trees and landscapes with a rustic feel. The colours I choose are more calming and natural. The textures I toy with are on the simple yet interesting side. Less is definitely more when it comes to my designs. Like in my personal life, I enjoy the simpler things. A cup of tea, a walk with my dogs. Sitting and having conversations with my family on our back porch.

How long does the average item take for you to create?

I am always creating in my mind! Knitting comes with me everywhere! In the car, to appointments, I have even been known to knit in a dark movie theatre! My smaller baby items can usually be completed in a day or two as sometimes they take more work as, where a chunky hat or scarf can be completed in a couple of hours. My dream vacation is where I just sit and knit all day long..

What is the story behind your business name?

When you open an Etsy shop it is so important to create a brand. For me, Grizzlie came from my love of anything rustic, farmhouse chic looking. Nature and knits go so well together. I imagined a snowy forest and a giant Grizzlie bear looking for berries. And so the name ‘Grizzlie’ was born. Although if I did see a giant Grizzlie bear I think I would pass out!

Do you ever make anything for yourself?

I rarely make anything for myself which I find so sad! This summer I vowed to change that. I found a beautiful chunky sweater design and am knitting myself a large cardigan. The kind that is oversized that you just want to live in come the colder months. I have completed the back and love how it is coming along.

What do you enjoy doing in your free time?

Believe it or not, in my free time I still knit. That is how much I love what I do. I also love organizing and cleaning, I know that sounds strange. Of course spending time with my dogs is top of the list. We got a new puppy this summer and he takes up all our free time. But he is so cute he is worth it.

Any advice for a new Handcrafted Maker who is setting up a shop?

My advice would be to make what you love, not just what is trendy or what you ‘think’ might sell. Have a cohesive feel to your shop so people can spot your items a mile away. Your Etsy shop will only work if you put in the time to make it work. It is a lot of work and learning. But the benefits, opportunities and amazing people you will meet along the way are totally worth it.

What is your bestselling item? Why do you think it is the most popular?

I would say my bestselling item is my slouch hat. It is warm and very comfortable and the kind of hat that you don’t want to take off even inside. Through the years I have made them in every colour under the sun, with flowers and hearts, for babies, children and adults. But the plain one in natural colours is the most popular. It even got the attention of actress Tori Spelling!!

You can find Tracey’s cozy knits at our Made in Canada Market on the 23rd of September or you can check out her stuff online!

Etsy: www.grizzlie.etsy.com

Facebook: www.facebook.com/grizzlie

Instagram: @grizzlieknits