exciting news.

February 18, 2012

Wow. I just realized how long it’s been since my last post. I am so bad. Anyway, so much has happened since I last wrote to you all. First, I recently made my 90th sale in my Etsy shop! I remember, not too long ago I might add, how excited I was when I reached my 10th sale. It seems that the more sales I make, the faster they start coming. At the moment. I am averaging about four sales a week. I hope to start making at least one sale a day. My next bit of good news is that I finally finished my graduate school application for the distance learning program in Historic Preservation at Goucher College. I decided this program suited me best, because I won’t be geographically confined to any particular place. Acceptance letters will be mailed out on March 12th. I don’t like knowing a precise date. It makes me nervous. Still, I’ve decided it’s out of my hands now. I gave it my best effort, so if I don’t get in, it’s not meant to be. In other news, I went back to my old job at Hope House! It’s only part time, so I have time to pursue my other interests. I really missed everyone a lot, especially after looking through some old photos. Here are a few of them:

Anyway, they are awesome, and I am happy to be working with them again. I also recently got a second job as Gardener’s Attendant at Hermitage Museum and Gardens, which is a historic house museum/art museum. The house rests on twelve acres of gardens and wetlands overlooking the Lafayette River, so I think I’ve got my job cut out for me. I’m looking forward to spending some solitary time outside, digging in the dirt. I’ve interned and volunteered there in the past, so I’m really excited to get a paid position!

Apparently, two jobs and a jewelry business weren’t enough for me. I am now a co-owner of a new shop called Kitsch! A very nice and talented crafter named Michelle just so happened to see some of my jewelry through a mutual friend on her facebook newsfeed. She contacted me and we became friends. She introduced me to some other cool girls, who were brewing up a plan to create a place dedicated to the arts and crafts community. In addition to selling handmade goods and art from fellow Virginians, the shop would offer a variety of awesome classes and workshops. Once we realized we had enough financial capital to fulfill this shared vision, we jumped right in. We found a great spot located on a side street of a main thoroughfare in downtown Norfolk, in a very artistic-minded community. We were able to find most of our fixtures either for free, or for dirt cheap from thrift stores and flea markets. We also didn’t need to spend any money on merchandise because everything is on consignment! We already have over forty consignors, many of whom are from the Hampton Roads area. We found the rest of our consignors by scouring the many shops of Etsy. I must say, we have quite a lot of wonderful things including jewelry, clothing, housewares, bath and body products, and other random cool things. Our grand opening weekend extravaganza is February 25th and 26th. We plan to have live music, good food, crafter demos, and free craft projects of course! Stay tuned for photos and like us on facebook!

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new stuff!

January 26, 2012

Hello friends! I am making tons of new stuff for the spring and summer. Lately, I’ve been inspired by so many things from vintage calico fabrics to vibrant and exotic beads. Here is a preview of some of things I’ve been adding to my shop…

These earrings remind me of those fun toys I used to play with in the waiting room at my doctor’s office back in the day haha! They were strangely calming, which I guess might be the whole point.

I searched high and low for these calico fabrics, and I finally found an awesome collection from this nice lady on Etsy. Her shop is called In the Old School House.

I am slowly but surely adding new metal designs to my shop. I discovered a fool-proof new way to draw the perfect moon shape, so I improved the look of my celestial earrings. After posting my new and improved earrings, I sold my first pair to a nice girl in Antioch, California. I hope she likes em’!

I love this fabric! It is the prettiest shade of light blue. I know these earrings will look stunning with a tan! I can see it all now… white sun dress, big retro sunglasses, strappy sandals, and these baby blue beauties…

My list of nation-wide customers is growing each week. My jewelry has travelled to the following places…

(This list is more for my own personal pleasure but I just want to share it because I’m so excited!)

Amenia, New York

Antioch, California

Atlanta, Georgia

Australia

Berlin, Germany

Brooklyn, New York

Conyers, Georgia

Darrow, Louisiana

Fredericksburg, Virginia

Livorno, Italy

Los Angeles, California

Madison, Wisconsin

Morrison, Colorado

Oslo, Norway

Parker, Colorado

Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Playa del Rey, California

Portland, Oregon

Richmond, Virginia

San Diego, California

Spring, Texas

Talahassee, Florida

Westerville, Ohio

Wheaton, Illinois

And tons of people in Hampton Roads yaaaay!

womb mates.

January 23, 2012

People have always asked me what it’s like being a twin, and I’ve always told them, “I don’t know any different.” Lately, I’ve been giving it some thought, though, and I’ll tell you this…

Life is interesting when you’re a twin. To come into being is miraculous enough, but to begin existence in the same place and time as another human being is something quite extraordinary. My parents tried for six years to have children. They even slipped a handwritten prayer into the ancient cracks of the Wailing Wall in Israel asking for a child of their own. When they found out they were having twins, their joy was indescribable.

This may sound strange and I’m not proud of it, but in my mother’s womb I somehow managed to hoard a great deal of nutrients to myself. My sister, Allie, was born wailing, pink, and fragile and thirty seconds later I emerged quiet, fat, and happy, looking more like a 6 month old than a new born babe. The nurses kept my sister and I together a lot of the time, Allie tucked snugly under my baby fat rolls. We gave each other warmth and comfort in a harshly bright, unfamiliar world.

As children, Allie and I spent every waking moment together. When we were able to walk, Allie would climb into my crib every night to sleep with me. She was always the wild one, running around like a ferrel child while I sat idly by, observing, sucking my thumb. As we became more clever and inventive, we routinely tied our bed sheets to our bed posts to make giant forts. We discovered our young wittiness as we co-wrote and performed original skits and musical numbers, complete with written programs, for any willing audience. When we played school, Allie always let me be the teacher, while she played my semi-attentive student. During month long visits with our grandparents in rural Virginia, we delighted in gathering all manner of organic materials to concoct our very own witches’ brew. Looking back on it, I realize just how lucky we were to have constant play mates.

When we went our separate ways to college, we both experienced something completely foreign. Without each other, people didn’t identify either of us as one part of a dynamic duo. I have to say, it was weird for me at first, but I was happy for the experience. I even spent a few birthdays without her. When my college friends met my twin sister for the first time, they were shocked by how different we were, but they all agreed that we made total sense together. They ended up becoming friends with my sister too!

Since being evicted, so to speak, from our mother’s cozy womb, my sister and I have blossomed into very distinct individuals -night and day really. Allie is an extrovert, always ready for a party, while I am pretty shy, usually content and happy doing solitary things. Allie lives from one impulse to the next, quick to fall in love, where I tend to weigh the pros and cons a bit too often and am extremely guarded. Allie is the most brazen of flirts, while I am as bashful and awkward as they come. She is messy. I am neat. She writes poetry. I read books. She laughs at jokes. I unintentionally make them. She is chaos. I am order. Our personalities clash quite a bit resulting in some historic fights. Still, these fights end as quickly as they begin. Strangely enough, with all of our differences, we have the same friends, we share the same sense of humor, we listen to the same music, and we both find joy in certain things that are difficult to explain -like the taste of an ice cream sandwich, the whistle of a train at night or the smell of our grandmother’s perfume. We share memories. She knew me from a seed, and I knew her from a seed. We managed to jump the hurdle of life together, the sole survivors in a race to conception. You don’t get much closer than that. Indeed, she is the yin to my yang.

One  of the things I love most about my sister is that she can’t stand to see anyone get hurt or humiliated. For example, she refuses to watch the often demeaning American Idol auditions. She has tremendous empathy for others, and she is usually the first person friends call for comfort. She never judges. She never holds grudges.

At the same time, her sensitivity to human vulnerability has gotten in her way a lot, resulting in talents under-cultivated and undiscovered. She is a tremendous poet and singer, but she refuses to share these talents with others. Everyone that knows me, including my sister, would agree that I rarely say nice things to her. I don’t know why. It just feels strange. That is what prompted me to write this. That and a little poem she wrote. It goes like this…

Ars Poetica

written by Allie Snyder

Words are those little automobiles
zipping down doll baby interstates, skidding and crashing into each other
burning up perfectly descriptive
and the uncertain smoke
exhausted from their dramatically unnecessary explosions

is poetry.

A poem
is a bridge to that fuzzy, almost place
that place beyond the line where the ocean supposedly keeps going
even though we can’t see it anymore
no matter how hard we try to.

But if we could see it
It wouldn’t be poetry anymore.
It would just be more ocean.

And impossibility
would start being possible
And that’s no fun at all.

Poems
are children
named after their mothers and their fathers…
creations, legacies, plain… extraordinary explanations.

Poetry
is drug laced prose,
all chopped up and strewn across the page.
And for those of us with delightfully short attention spans,
it is the most captivating high.

Poetry
is
life
abbreviated.

…and that is my twin sister in a nutshell.

For my sis:

No one’s gonna love you more than I do.

The other day, I came across a really cool artist on Etsy, who made an awesome linoprint. It looked like this:

These three words struck a chord in the deepest part of my creative soul. As part of my New Year’s Resolution I vowed that I would try my hardest to create a successful handmade business. By successful I mean increased organization, exposure, sales, and opportunities to share my work with others. I think to be successful in any independent enterprise one must -or very well should be- SWEET, STRONG, and AMBITIOUS. So far in 2012, I have been a busy bee indeed, all the while thinking of that powerful combination of words.

I’d like to think of myself as SWEET by nature. I’ve never bullied anyone. I enjoy giving much more than receiving. I make it a point to always be perceptive about things that bring joy to other nice people, and then surprise them when they need it the most. I definitely get that from my mom. If everyone else is happy, I am happy. I also get that from my mom. I’ve been trying to employ my sweet sensibilities in my business by promoting other crafty people and the cool things they make. I do so by making lots of Etsy treasuries, posting photos and links to Tumblr, Facebook, and Pinterest, and donating my handmade goods to worth while causes. Just the other day, I had a lot of fun putting together a treasury entitled etsians in the 7 cities, which showcased the abundant creative talent in Hampton Roads, a place I call home. It made me feel good to learn more about the cool handmade culture in my surrounding area. In the process, I made connections with some really nice people.

Not to toot my own horn, but being SWEET is easy for me. To be STRONG is a much greater challenge. I am a major wuss, completely non-confrontational, and too much of the time, unsure of myself. I sometimes get intimidated by all of the amazing things people are doing/making and I begin to doubt my own work. In 2012, the new, STRONG-er Marie is letting go of this counter-productive, detrimental attitude. I have no use for it. The more time and effort that I invest into cultivating my creativity and my business, the more hope and sincere belief I have for it. Every week, my Etsy shop looks better and better. Every day, my creative imagination grows. Every minute, my hands become more capable of creating something awesome. Every kind and encouraging word that people go out of their way to share with me is a tiny push forward. Just the other day, I received the nicest message on Etsy in reference to an item in my shop…

Hi Marie!

I can’t tell you how much I LOVE these yarn triangles. My aunt sent me $50 for Christmas with strict instructions not to buy anything practical with it even though I need so many things. BUT I think I need these earrings the most. They are magical.
I live in Brooklyn but am flying to San Diego to visit my sister-in-law tomorrow. I want to get her a pair and two for myself. I am not sure which ones but will pick tomorrow 1/5 or the next day 1/6. I will probably have them shipped to her as my daughter and I are staying until 1/22.

Thank you for being awesome!

…This brought a huge smile to my face. I’ve never been thanked for being awesome. The fact that she thought my earrings were “magical,” and the best way to spend her $50 made me stand just a little bit taller. Thus far, my handmade items have travelled to California, Colorado, Florida, Illinois, Louisiana, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Portland, sweet ol’ Virginia, Australia, Italy, and Norway. It’s such a cool feeling.

After receiving her earrings in the mail, the very kind woman that sent me the heart-warming Etsy message, posted a little surprise to my facebook page…

we just got your earrings in the mail and we LOVE them! so reasonably priced, great simple designs...I really have never seen anything like them. natural, artsy, great colors! thank you! we will be ordering more and spreading the word! we've even attached a (slightly cheesy but lovable) photo of my sister and I modeling our faves.

This past week, I surprised myself with my level of AMBITIOUS-ness. I revamped my Etsy shop and Facebook page, organized my billions of product photos, made a bunch of new advertisements, and designed my very first sponsor ad, which is now displayed on Oh So Lovely Vintage, one of my favorite blogs. I keep visiting the page just to see my humble little ad that I made all by myself. I’ve already gotten some traffic to my Etsy shop because of it. I’ve been hard at work this month getting ready for a hopefully lucrative and fun-filled summer. I’ve decided to fulfill a life-long dream and become a part-time peddler. My goal is to travel around Virginia and surrounding states to various craft shows and music festivals. I am preparing myself now, trying to get a little more AMBITIOUS every day. Starting my own business has proven to be a highly empowering and positive experience and I know I have so much to learn. Over the past few months, I’ve met a lot of creative and inspiring people that played major roles in the evolution of my jewelry and my business. They gave me great advice, which I immediately implemented. I know that small businesses should be ever-changing, and at this point in my life, I’m ready to change.

etsy love.

December 30, 2011

I love Etsy. I always have. Since the moment I laid eyes on it after a Handmade Parade craft show back in (I think) 2006, I knew it was a happy place. This particular craft show was one of my first experiences with authentically handmade culture. The bright colors, the good smells, and the hopeful people stirred a new sensation within me  -one of complete consumeristic joy mixed with a bit of envy. I had always loved creating things but never considered selling them to be a viable money-making option. Here all these people were selling things that they had made -magical things to me.  As I walked around marveling at the most unique products I had seriously ever seen, I realized just how much hard work the sellers put into their respective businesses, not only the product but the presentation and the professionalism. On top of that, everybody was so nice and enthusiastic about what they were selling. Either they truly loved their job, or they were really good actors. Sadly, I could not afford to buy everything I wanted that day, but I was comforted to know that I could one day -thanks to a few letters printed on almost all of their business cards –etsy.com.

I was extremely curious and went straight to my computer when I got home. WOAH. The very first page was entrancing. My eyes tried to focus on the items displayed in a rectangular arrangement of visual splendor. It was a few minutes later that I realized the sheer magnitude of this handmade phenomenon.  I couldn’t believe all of the categories of handmade and vintage things just waiting for my consideration.

Needless to say, I was on Etsy for a few hours that night. My eyes ached when I finally went to bed at 3 am. And I had to work the next day too! It was no longer just about buying things. It was so much more.  It was a welcomed vacation from the craziness of life to a land of limitless creative possibilities and passions pursued. The PASSION oozed from the product photos and descriptions, and the sellers’ intimate bios. What I loved the most was the story and feeling that sellers brought to life in each handmade listing. I bought a few more things that night, and for the second time that day, I felt really good about the transaction. In a way, I felt like I sort of knew the people, and by owning and appreciating their handmade creations, I was helping their dreams come true. When I learned that listing a handmade item was only 20 cents, it finally occurred to me that I could try if I really wanted, to create something that another human being might want -with very little risk involved. It was such a happy, exciting feeling.

Made by Merriweather Council

Etsy has been the best study guide a novice jewelry seller like me could ever have. It’s fun, interactive, and enthusiastically helpful. There is a plethora of resources available to all levels of Etsians from buyers to prospective sellers, to beginning shops, to well-established businesses. Clearly, the learning process never ends. YES. It is overwhelming. YES. It is easy to get lost in a sea of worldwide handcrafted loveliness. YES. It is a lot of work. But it’s like a fun game too. It’s a challenge to make, photograph, name, and describe something I create that will hopefully reach out to at least one other human being. Essentially, I can play the role of designer,  inventor, photographer, marketing specialist, salesperson, financial analyst, and authentic human being all at once. This continuous cross training of professions is very time consuming but to me, never boring. And when I do manage to sell something, it is an indescribably wonderful feeling.

I am very new to selling my handmade goods. Every day I gain crucial knowledge in building a successful business. In fact, I’m kind of embarrassed to admit that just a few minutes ago, I discovered Etsy’s Shop Stats. With this amazing tool, I can analyze my shop statistics and hopefully increase my shop’s exposure and appeal to the world -even through other venues like Google, Pinterest, Facebook, Tumblr, and even WordPress. In fact, this is what prompted me to write such a glowing review of Etsy. Just by reading my Shop Stats I learned that my recent attempts to start a blog and Facebook page have really paid off, significantly increasing my level of exposure and subsequently my sales. This feature also showed me that people are drawn to both brightly colored photos against a stark white background, and photos of real people wearing my jewelry in a visually pleasing way. The words “Bob Dylan” and “Navajo,” have earned special places in my heart as winning item “tags” since Shop Stats informed me that they are my most searched keywords. I am so glad I am now aware of this highly informative feature. Checking my Shop Stats will become part of my weekly routine, pushing me to constantly learn ways to improve my product as well as my effectiveness as a seller. I hope to one day make a person think, “wow this girl has really taken her craft to the next level…”

Perhaps the best thing about Etsy is that it is collaborative. You can join teams, attend craft labs, post in forums, and just talk to other sellers. In my experience, most people are happy to share helpful bits of advice with an inquiring newbie. Etsy WANTS you to success. Of course, they benefit from your success, but they also understand the importance of cultivating small businesses, promoting independence and creative thinking. Basically, I just love Etsy. I could talk about it all day. I like to look at it as a sort of frontier for craftspeople of the world, a place where handmade dreams become reality. It is corny but true. Just see for yourself.

back porch music

November 16, 2011

I just finished making a pretty Autumn playlist. Many of my song selections were inspired by my wonderful parents, who bestowed upon me and my siblings the gift of good music. One of my fondest childhood memories involved sitting on the back porch with my family, drinking tea, and listening to the likes of Joni Mitchell, Neil Young, Leonard Cohen, and many other audibly intoxicating musicians. Of course the crickets made great back-up singers. This music was powerful enough to compel the younger version of myself to commit those fleeting moments to memory. I knew they were something special. Listening to these songs will forever transport me to a simpler, more innocent time. It’s funny how music can shape who you become. The melodies, the lyrics, and the voices -the images they evoke- are permanent fixtures in my mind, always there to influence my perception of and approach to life. I love the way music makes me feel significant in the face of such a big wide world and a universe beyond my comprehension. It’s miraculous, really. Many of my most peaceful moments take place when I’m alone with music. I am so keenly aware of myself during this time, and to me, this is essential to true happiness. In closing, enjoy these live performances!

fruition.

November 3, 2011

Hello my hopefully future friends! My name is Marie. At this very moment, I am 27 years old. I am starting this blog for a variety of reasons. First and foremost, my mind is overflowing with ideas and I often fear I have no place to keep and share them. With this blog, I am hoping to see these ideas come to fruition. Following through with things has always been a challenge for me as I have far too many interests and not enough time to enjoy them, so this blog will be my therapy. Living a whole and creative life is a tremendous challenge for me these days. I am at a crossroads in my life, much like many people my age. I recently left my job to begin working toward a Master’s Degree (I have a B.A. in Historic Preservation). While studying for the very daunting GRE and applying to various schools in my wonderful state of Virginia, I spend a majority of my day working at my family’s wig and hat shop. I also dedicate a good deal of my spare time to working on my jewelry business, Luna Rosa. I am a busy bee. While my life is full of happiness and beauty, I often feel anxious that I am not fully stopping to appreciate, explore, and dwell in it. Creating this blog is my attempt to do just that. Over the years, I’ve taken great joy in reading other peoples’ blogs. I envied the small worlds they created for themselves in the vast cyberspace frontier. Creating and maintaining my own blog always seemed so intimidating, but one day I came to the realization that it is exactly what I need. I need not worry what others will think of it. It is for me. It is a place where I can express myself to myself. Still, it would make me so very happy to share my little world with you all. You can expect me to talk about the following things that bring me great pleasure: music, art, history, food, all things handmade, and the people that I love.