MsAnomaly’s interview with joonbeam
1. When did you open your Etsy store and begin selling?
I opened my first shop, joonbeam, on November 17, 2007. I opened two more shops, flyinghousewife, on April 24, 2008 and joonwalk, February 14, 2009.
2. How did you select your shop’s name?
When our daughter, Scout, was a baby I gave her a journal nickname, moonbeam. When she was 9 she started drawing these adorable monkeys and we wanted to market t-shirts with the designs. We chose the trademark joonbeam because moonbeam was too common on google and my middle name is Juniper. I stuck with it because, searches always brought us up, exclusively. My flying housewife name derives from my items, handwritten letters from a housewife. My joonwalk shop is an extension of joonbeam, both feature eco friendly handcrafted art. And now, interestingly, I have adopted the etsy nickname joon and use it. We love it.
3. What do you create and sell in your Etsy shop?
I opened joonwalk so that joonbeam can be exclusively my recycled papers pinbacks, magnets & thumbtacks. joonwalk has my new designs; recycled/upcycled items made from vintage and/or salvaged consumer waste paper and fabric finds. Originally, my joonbeam shop had a mix of Scout's t shirts, my various recycled creations and vintage finds. I plan to open a fourth shop for the vintage items soon. It will be called joonE, a take off on Wall*E, since it involves saving treasures from the trash heap.
4. How did you become involved in your craft?
I've always loved yard sales and finding items with a history as opposed to spending money on new, bland, cookie cutter products with poor craftsmanship and no soul, but it wasn't until I moved to Eugene, OR that I found thrift stores because it was my first home city large enough to sustain those shops. I fell in love with them instantly and by serendipity, became intrigued with the old picture frames when I needed one for a photo I took. I saw a magazine article on decopauge and that was it. I started decoupaging frames, light switchplates and other discards. I don't do that now, but it was the beginning of my re-use art.
5. Explain your favorite part of the creative process.
I absolutely love the transformation and discovery. I have no clue what I will use and never use a pattern. Everything I make is different. I never make the same thing twice. So, it's always a surprise and delight for me. All I have is an idea and sometimes, I don't even have that. I'll see something out of the corner of my eye and suddenly, I'm piecing together something I never imagined. I take photos of everything I make because I would never remember all of my creations ~ and I love photography and memoirs/history.
6. Do you sell in another Etsy store or anywhere outside of Etsy? If so, where?
Aside from my Etsy shops, no. I did the Craft Magazine Sponsored Austin Maker Faire, which was fun. I just sold my pinbacks that day. They were amazingly popular, I wish I would have counted passers by. My guess, though, is that at least 80% of the people who stopped and glanced at my basket of pins, bought at least one. This tells me that visibility is the all important selling factor and a huge challenge on Etsy. You can't sell things nobody is seeing.
7. So far, what project are you most proud of?
Well, my proudest project is my children, but they are not for sale! So.... This is a tough question. I am a true nerd in the sense that I get pretty excited over every little thing. I love the first frame I ever made, shown in the photo on this interview. This is one of my prized possessions and the art project that started my eco art. Dateline: 1996 It still looks as beautiful to me now as the day I completed it. I took this photo in Yachats, Oregon. Also, making pinbacks is totally addicting. I adore them. But, I think, if I have to narrow it down, I'll choose these two: my paintings and my letter packets. My paintings because these are my first acrylic paintings. I've never had any instruction so, for me, this was a risky endeavor and I painted them on recycled book covers/papers, so I incorporated my love of earth friendly art into the project. And I love the results. Here is one:
My letter packets because they are definitely an emotional challenge for me. I put my heart and soul into every one and I have no idea if the recipient will appreciate any of it. Or if they might get lost or ruined in the mail. I spend days thinking and hours and hours on each one - it's at least one whole day of hands on work - before each one is ready to mail. Many times the buyer doesn't leave me one word in the message to seller space. I know nothing about them. Before I start on the letter, I make (or gather) their extras. Each letter paper and envelope is hand designed & unique. Just writing the letters, which are not pre-written in any way, takes at least 2 hours. As I type this, I have written over 75 letters. Whenever I open a transaction email and see it is a letter order, I am filled with a mixture of delight, anxiety and dread. I have considered closing the shop more times than I can count. Most of my feedback makes it all worthwhile. The few who don't leave any or leave something generic... it really breaks my heart. But I force myself to keep going. I am not a fan of cynicism so I don't want to give in to it myself. And it does fuel my creativity and helps me grow as a person. My perspective is this: We've all experienced unwarranted acts of unkindness, large and small. I want to tip the balance. I have written to young people who have never received a handwritten letter in their life. I have met some fantastic people - many of whom continue to write back and forth with me - you can see what kind of a business person I am, right? HA! But, this particular venture is not a fiscal one. There's no way I can put a price on this experience. It's all about spreading a little sunshine in a world that can always use it, making a connection. I call it the small world effect; faith in humanity that enough people will be touched and I've made a difference. Here is a listing with three photos of letter packets:
I regularly post these in my flickr pool.
8. What advice can you give to someone who would like to learn your craft?Eliminate frustrations & think of yourself for once. It's impossible to truly be immersed in your creativity if everywhere you turn you have a setback. As a housewife and mother, I rarely put creating first, or even in the line up. My days are filled with endless responsibilities and setbacks. I know we all face this, stay at home or not. There's only so much you can control, so control that much. I'm slowly improving. I have a sewing machine that works beautifully. I keep my massive amounts of bits & pieces well organized. We move constantly ; a huge frustration. This house is terribly unsuited to a craft space. I'm literally in the storage room with no good light and no more than 3 feet of open space. It's crazy making. If I am using the dining room table, well, dinner is Cowboy Style, folks. I know if I have to pick it all up, I'll never get it out again. End of art. Last but not least: Rubbermaid is your friend. I couldn't live without these keepers. Especially with pets!
9. What motivated you to join the Etsy Beagle Street Team?
I grew up without a dog or a cat. How sad is that? I now have Chip, our beagle who just turned 9 yesterday! (Mar 31) and three kitties. But, I never knew anyone with a beagle. I knew nothing about beagles. We went to buy a .69 fish. There was Chip, all alone in the cage. He was $400! ACK. But he put his little chin on my hand and I could never leave him there. We couldn't afford him then and that's been true every step of the way since. Yet, we wouldn't trade him for anything. Now, this was a small town pet shop and Chip came from a retired military officer's Vermont country home. He was raising beagles as a hobby. So, no puppy mill. I sent them a photo of Chip and a note about how much we loved him that first Christmas. His wife sent me a beautiful reply. I still have it. We aren't involved in rescue or foster because we rent. We search months and pay irrationally exorbitant rents and fees just to find housing for ourselves because of our pets. We did rescue our second kitty. Maybe we're rescuing all four. But it goes both ways. I started seeing all of these beagle avatars in the forums and shops and I was amazed. I had no idea beagles were so prevalent, despite the fact that I knew they have always been in the top favored pet lists. So, naturally, I was intrigued by the Etsy beagle kingdom. As I recall, I came across Linda, via her avatar, and she was so friendly and invited me to join the team. I love stopping by and am working on being more active. My co-administrating of another large, active etsy team is quite consuming.
10. Any other places we might find you (Flickr, blog, MySpace, etc.)?
I have a blog and two flickrs, which I love. I find both of these to be a lot of fun, creative, interesting, inspiring and a great way to meet and stay in touch with people. I love comments. I leave comments.
I am on twitter and facebook. I like twitter. The jury is still out on facebook, which I joined at the request of two of our sons . I keep both small. I'm not into adding 'friends' just to add numbers. I am truly interested in relationships: not promoting, not strangers. I don't grasp that concept.
I do welcome twitter followers if anyone is interested in my little blurbs. They are usually about small pieces of our day, nifty finds and updates to my shop, blog and Scout's shop. I am always available and welcome convos. I love genuine communication and friendship.