Please tell us a little bit about yourself and your business.
I run an online shop over at eleen.etsy.com where I sell a smart, fresh and playful collection of carefully constructed, limited run bags, pouches, pillows and more. I made the leap to pursue this business full-time about a year ago and it’s been an amazingly fun and challenging experience. I have an undergrad business degree from Cal and have spent most of my professional career as a web project manager. I loved the dotcom/technology scene but realized how much I’d love being in the world of handmade for a living when I took 3 months off to plan our handmade wedding in Berkeley last year.
How did you first get involved with crafting?
My mom taught me how to sew when I was really young, and my dad was always doing some kind of DIY project around the house that I’d occasionally help him out with. They taught me to love making and figuring things out on my own, and I spent countless hours poring through just about every single how-to book in our local libraries and crafting up a storm, either with friends or on my own.
What are your favorite materials to work with? Do you have a favorite color palette?
I mostly work with printed cotton fabrics, colorful felts and vinyl and have an obsession with “stocking up” on them (which is really just an excuse to buy cool fabric). Earth tones attract me the most: shades of browns, blues and greens with splashes of bright happy colors like raspberry red or bright orange.
What are your inspirations in your art and in life?
I love to surround myself with things that make me feel like I’m flitting through the woods, hence the growing selection of faux bois and leaf-appliqued items in my collection. Like a lot of other crafters, it’s the lush greenery and cool little details of the outdoors that inspire me the most. Most of the fabrics I pick have a feeling of that sort — lots have cool animals, trees, leaves or flowers in them — and they inspire me to turn them into fun yet useful creations like organizer pouches, zipper wallets and pillows that are cool to look at but also serve a purpose. In life, I’m inspired by that and more — the amazing spirit and stories of friends, family and other people around me in addition to the beauty, majesty and mystery of nature.
What is your favorite song or album to listen to while working?
It depends, and my mix of songs is pretty random. But lately I’ve been gravitating to a lot of old school Michael Jackson, some Scissor Sisters, some Postal Service and of course one of my all-time faves, Rogue Wave.
Who are some of your favorite indie artist/crafters and why do you love them?
I love the metal-smithed jewelry by Figs & Ginger and am a proud owner of their adorable Fawn in the Forest necklace. I’m also on a team called Full Time Etsy Crafters whose members, as the name suggests, all make and sell handmade items full-time (or are well on their way towards that) and I have my eye on a lot of their products, like mudpuppy’s mini ceramic mushrooms and Mu-Yin Jewelry’s breathtaking Gardenia Blossom ring.
Any exciting future plans or developments in the works for your business?
I’ve got lots of goals for the year, but two that I’m most excited about right now are coming out with sewing patterns of my designs for sale, and connecting more with the crafting community by posting a lot more cool handmade/DIY projects on my blog. Other than that, I’m just looking forward to growth, growth and more growth! Baz Biz at Maker Faire is something I’ve dreamed of doing for awhile now, and I’m so excited to actually being a part of it this year!