Monday, March 31, 2014

Meet Your Makers: Karen Sturgeon of Tree Buds


Please introduce yourself and tell us about your handmade business:  My name is Karen Sturgeon and my business name is Tree Buds.

How did you come up with your business name?  I knew I wanted something to do with trees, etc. since my business is largely wood working, however, I was at a stumbling block for a name.  I asked my neighbors and one of them came up with Tree Buds - not only is it about trees, and the promise of new things (buds), but my dog's name is Buddy and it was a natural fit for me.


Where do you live?  South of Pittsburgh
 

Who’s in your family?  Just me and my dog, Buddy!  He's a little guy who really enjoys sitting on the lawn and watching my all spring/summer/fall as I work in the driveway and garage creating my items.


 

If you could sit down and talk to any person, living or dead, who would it be and why?  For some strange reason, I always wanted to talk with Albert Einstein.  I always wondered how he first came up with some of the ideas for his inventions - in other words, did they just "pop" into his head, or was it a long process.




What inspires you?  For many years, I was in a job where there was no creativity involved...now, I have the chance to really let my creative juices flow and I'll see something that I could work with, come up with a concept, and think to myself, "I have to try that NOW."



What is your favorite item you make for Boutique 208 and why?  Well, I have many favorites, but the favorite of my customers seems to be the beer caddys.  Often you don't find many "gifts for men" that are in handmade stores and this is one that men really appreciate.



What is your favorite item at Boutique 208 that’s not one of your own and why?  I love Nicole Bloch's bicycle chain items!

What advice can you offer to someone who would like to start selling their handmade creations? 
As much as you want to offer something that you like, make sure that customers like it too.... it is a business!

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Meet Your Makers: Thea Okonak of John the Craftist


Please introduce yourself and tell us about your handmade business:  My name is Thea Okonak, but my crafting name is John the Craftist. I make greeting cards, shirts, totes, and other gift items which celebrate Pittsburgh -- the food, the language, the people, the culture. I started designing cards after I developed a chronic neuropathic pain condition. Receiving get well cards in the mail when I was first learning to navigate life with a new set of challenges was the highlight of my day. So I started making cards for friends and family, and, before long, I had a viable business.

How did you come up with your business name?  John the Baptist is my patron saint, so it's a shout-out (and a friendly wink).




Where do you live?  My husband and I rent a 19th century apartment above the local market (Feast On Brilliant) in the Aspinwall neighborhood of Pittsburgh. The market sells lots of in-house goodies, which means that my apartment is typically filled with delicious cooking smells. I work from home, so I'm pretty much hungry all day.

Who’s in your family?  My husband and myself. But my mom, aunt, sister, and brother are local, so I enjoy as many shenanigans as possible with that crew.


If you could sit down and talk to any person, living or dead, who would it be and why? How about a fictional character? My first choice would be Sherlock Holmes, despite the fact that he would almost certainly be arrogant and morbid! Charles Dickens would be my second choice, because he died before he could finish The Mystery of Edwin Drood! I would also love to talk to him about social justice and reform.

 
What inspires you?  I find inspiration for my work in the city, my neighborhood, mid-century design, color theory, and classic typography.  I'm inspired to work harder by my maker friends, who never cease to blow me away.  The way I live my life is inspired by my mother, who is tough and smart and funny and compassionate. She always says that there's only one question you need to ask yourself when making a decision: "What is the loving thing?"
 
What is your favorite item you make for Boutique 208 and why?  My Pittsburghese magnet sets; I get the feeling that they are frequently purchased as souvenirs by out-of-towners, and I love spreading The Gospel of Pittsburgh!
 
 
What is your favorite item at Boutique 208 that’s not one of your own and why?  It's so hard to choose; if I had to list all of my favorites, we'd be here for days. But I really love the Natrielle Body Care bath tea, which has been a terrific weapon in my arsenal of pain management remedies.

What advice can you offer to someone who would like to start selling their handmade creations? 
JUMP RIGHT IN. Start small -- a neighborhood street fair, your grandma's church shindig. Build out from there. Social networking is your best friend; Facebook and Instagram are immensely helpful. Introduce yourself to other crafters -- we're a friendly bunch, we don't mind questions, and we're ALWAYS willing to give advice! Don't worry, at first, about your branding or identity; it'll fall into place as you grow. This is a wonderful time for makers and creatives and small businesses of all stripes, especially in cities like Pittsburgh. So much energy and excitement and support. So what are you waiting for?!?!


 




 

 

 

 
 

 

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Meet Your Makers: Lois McCafferty of Lomo's Fine Art



Please introduce yourself and tell us about your handmade business:  My name is Lois McCafferty. I am a self taught artist.  Painting murals with the medium of acrylics was the starting point for me, as an artist. In the year of 2000, I was introduced to the medium of oils.  This was the start of Lois Mongiovi Fine Arts.  All of my art on canvas are of the best quality in canvas as well as oils.  The prints are matted Giclees on acid free art paper.  This year I am introducing my art note cards. 

How did you come up with your business name? I came to the name of Lomo's fine art from my name... Lois (Lo) and my maiden name of Mongiovi (Mo).

Where do you live? I live in the City of Pittsburgh in the Brookline neighborhood


Who’s in your family?  My family is a husband, son, daughter in law, a daughter, son-in-law and 2 grandsons. 

If you could sit down and talk to any person, living or dead, who would it be and why?  My mother Roseila Conti Mongiovi passed away many years ago.  Just before her passing we talk openly about everything....I would have liked to add a thank you for passing on the talent that was instilled in me.

What inspires you?  God's beauty of life inspires me to paint.




What is your favorite item you make for Boutique 208 and why?  The painting called Sara is one of my favorites at Boutique 208.   This is one of my fountain series of children playing...I enjoy seeing the joy that children bring to us in a painting. 

What is your favorite item at Boutique 208 that’s not one of your own and why? 
One of my favorite items that is not mine are the hand knitted items from Pamela G.  The yarn is of a very good quality and they are well made.
What advice can you offer to someone who would like to start selling their handmade creations? 
The only advice I can give to a seller of handmade creations is, make the product as if you were making it for yourself (perfection) and don't wait for a buyer to come to you...you show / take your items to them.
 
 


Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Meet Your Makers: Ashley Croyle of Papyrusaurus

Please introduce yourself and tell us about your handmade business. I'm Ashley Croyle and I'm the creator/artist behind Papyrusaurus. I specialize in all sorts of funky home decor items made from book pages and other upcycled paper.  Everything from crazy wall hangings, to ornaments, to funny typography prints, usually with a geeky twist.  I love to make things for all my fandoms, particularly Doctor Who and Supernatural.

How did you come up with your business name? I've always had a love of dinosaurs, which has only grown since having two boys that also adore all things prehistoric.  And since I work with paper it was only a matter of time before the light bulb went on and BAM! Awesome business name. 
 

Where do you live?  I recently moved to Erie with my little family.  While we miss the Pittsburgh area, we're not so far away that we can't visit.  And I'm excited to conquer a whole new city with my zany work.

Who’s in your family? My fantastic fam is comprised of myself and my two sons; Finnegan (6-years old) and Calloway (3-years old). They're a little young to really help out with the business but I do have them convinced that picking up paper scraps is a super fun game that we need to play every day.
 

If you could sit down and talk to any person, living or dead, who would it be and why?
This is sort of sappy, but it would be my grandfather who passed away about 15 years ago.  I'd want to be able to tell him all about my kids and all the goofy things they do that remind me of him. He was an incredible, funny, kind man and I know he would have gotten such a kick out of these two hoodlums. And I'd want to show him all the things that I make because he's one of the people that first got me into taking apart and building things when I was really young. He always kept a spot in his workshop for me to tinker with wood scraps and bolts and washers and wire.  So, yes, definitely him.
 
What inspires you? Oh gosh...everything.  I like to tinker with things just to see if I can make something pretty. And of course I have a habit of getting  really into shows and going on benders of designing new prints to go with them.  My friends are always a wealth of inspiration as well, throwing out wacky ideas and quotes all the time.
What is your favorite item you make for Boutique 208 and why?  Probably my pine cone ornaments.  I make a billion of them for online sales, but the ones at the Boutique are more one of a kind since I use a mix of different books and scrap book papers that I don't normally do for my online shops.  
 
What is your favorite item at Boutique 208 that’s not one of your own and why?  Anything from John the Craftist.  The blend of Pittsburghese and wit on her prints and cards never fails to make me double over laughing.   They're so simple and yet completely genius.

What advice can you offer to someone who would like to start selling their handmade creations?  Don't give up and constantly strive to improve yourself and your business.  Sure there may be people that don't like what you do, but there will be even more people that do and you just have to find them. 

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Meet Your Makers: Courtney Duzyk of Clumsy Creative Designs



Please introduce yourself and tell us about your handmade business:  I'm Courtney Duzyk of Clumsy Creative Designs. I create hand cut paper artwork.
 
How did you come up with your business name?  Anyone who knows me knows that I'm kind of a klutz. Clumsy Creative just came naturally in naming my business!


Where do you live?  I live in the East End of Pittsburgh. 

 If you could sit down and talk to any person, living or dead, who would it be and why? 
I'd love to sit down and talk to Lotte Reiniger. She was a German artist and animator, and her work inspired my film studies and my papercut work as well. She was a pioneer of the craft. 


What inspires you?  I'm inspired by Pittsburgh and the craft and art scene that continues to grow here. I've met so many amazing artists here. We still have a way to go, but I love what's happening here. 

 
What is your favorite item you make for Boutique 208 and why?  I love creating the hearts and leaf papercuts. They're fun to make and each one is different. 

 

What is your favorite item at Boutique 208 that’s not one of your own and why?  I love the cards by John the Craftist, and the hand-knit items from Neighborhood Blonde. It's really hard to choose just one thing, though, because there are some amazing artists at the Boutique!

What advice can you offer to someone who would like to start selling their handmade creations?  The best advice I've been given is to stay true to your vision and don't be afraid to stick to your guns. Artists have to be their own advocates.

 

Friday, March 21, 2014

Meet Your Makers: Mimi Antonetti of Nautilus


Please introduce yourself and tell us about your handmade business:  My name is Mimi Antonetti and I make chain maille jewelry.  The weaves I use are based on Persian, European and Asian patterns used for battle armor and are made by weaving small jump rings together using pliers (instead a hammer and anvil!) to create a piece of modern 'armor' art! Currently, I work with aluminum, bronze, brass, stainless steel and use various beads, pearls, etc. I have also started to blend maille with other jewelry styles and have started a line of chain maille and kumihimo that I call the Harmony line.

How did you come up with your business name? I majored in Geology and Paleontology while in college and graduate school. The price of oil went down and there were no jobs in the field but I always loved fossils. My favorite was the Ammonite, or modern-day Nautilus. I love how it created a new chamber as it grows. I use that as a metaphor for my life - creating new chambers as I go through new chapters of my life.
 
Where do you live?  I live 30 miles north of Downtown Pittsburgh in the lovely 200+ year old town of Harmony.

 

Who’s in your family?
My family is my wonderful husband Mike, my son Andrew, step-daughter Kim, my step-son Nic, his wife Em and our granddaughter Claire. Not to be excluded are the furbabies - dogs Lucky, Buster and Emma and cat Bea.

If you could sit down and talk to any person, living or dead, who would it be and why?
I would love to sit down once more with my grandfather. He passed in 1979 at the age of 91 and he was my hero. Besides being a graduate of West Point, a Brigadier General and a Congressional Medal of Honor winner, he emulated George Washington and wrote many books. He would always invite my sisters and I to sit with him and he told the most wonderful stories. As we got older he would ask our opinions on current day issues and was a wonderful sounding board for our views. I miss him so very much these days, especially since my mom, his daughter, recently passed.


 
What inspires you?  My inspiration comes from nature around me, from being challenged in my craft by my peers and the pleasure I receive when a customer purchases a piece because it spoke to them.
 
What is your favorite item you make for Boutique 208 and why?  I have just started working in stainless steel and have a couple items in Boutique 208. I would say my favorite is the convertible lariat necklace since it can be worn 2 different ways for 2 completely different looks.

 
 
What is your favorite item at Boutique 208 that’s not one of your own and why? It is so difficult to choose just one, but as a person who has always been mesmerized by glass, Amy Cornelius Walsh's stained glass is just breathtaking.

What advice can you offer to someone who would like to start selling their handmade creations? 
Never give up. I was in the corporate world for 26 years and my creativity was shelved as I just didn't have the time. After being laid off, I decided it was a good a time as any to get back to my creative side. In the process, I discovered and taught myself chain maille and it has opened up a whole new world for me.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Meet Your Makers: Gabrielle Fischer of Natrielle Body Care


Please introduce yourself and tell us about your handmade business:  My name is Gabrielle Fischer and my company is Natrielle Body Care.  During my life, I have always needed creative, kinesthetic outlets, and genuine soap making was just the thing for me.  I started making my own natural, small-batch, cold-process soaps in 2002 as a creative venture. 

By 2003 I had enough soap to last three lifetimes, and began giving it away to all who used soap. I also began formulating special lotions, butters and balms for friends and family, all with a variety of body care needs. I created my Alcohol-Free, Lacey Aloe Lotion for a severely sun burned friend, and formulated my gentle Doggie Shampoo for an aged and ailing family pet.

 In October 2003, my 4 year old son and I took “Gabrielle’s Handcrafted Bodycare” products on the road to vend at a variety of shows in, and around, the Pittsburgh area.  Now, a decade later, being a part of Boutique 208 and the efforts to revitalize Downtown Pittsburgh, I continue to find soap and lotion formulation a joy! 
 
 
How did you come up with your business name?  Formally known as, “Gabrielle’s Handcrafted Bodycare,” I rebranded in 2012 and became Natrielle Body Care, keeping my “less is more skin care” and “Pamper Some Body” philosophy/mission unchanged.  The name Natrielle was chosen to reflect the fact that I offer all natural artisan soaps, genuine lotions, butters, and balms.
Where do you live?  I live in the Squirrel Hill neighborhood of Pittsburgh.

Who’s in your family?  My family is myself, my husband, and my son.


 
If you could sit down and talk to any person, living or dead, who would it be and why?  If I could, I would sit and talk with my great grandmother who had a small bread-making/vending business of her own long before it was fashionable for a woman to be a small business owner.  I imagine we could swap recipes and formulate some really amazing, all natural, organic Body Care products that would pamper a body from the inside, out.

What inspires you?  Small Business inspires me. Artisans inspire. My husband and creativity both inspire me. 

What is your favorite item you make for Boutique 208 and why? I love making lip scrubs and natural soaps for Boutique 208 because I really enjoy meeting the customers who have realized the benefits of genuine, “less is more skin care” and continue to check back for new products.  It is wonderful that people are trying new things and come to the Boutique looking for new organic skin care products to experiment with.



What is your favorite item at Boutique 208 that’s not one of your own and why?  I love the hand-poured soy candles at Boutique 208.  Not only are they the perfect compliment to a relaxing spa-like skin care routine, but they are gorgeous and fragrant. 

What advice can you offer to someone who would like to start selling their handmade creations?  For those who are considering selling your own handmade wares, all I can suggest is to keep an open mind; it's always an adventure, with never a dull moment.
 


Monday, March 17, 2014

Meet Your Makers: Karen McKee of Robyn's Nest


Please introduce yourself and tell us about your handmade business:  My name is Karen Mckee.  I have a home-based studio where I create wheel thrown and hand built porcelain ceramics.

How did you come up with your business name?  I have gotten a lot of negative feedback on my business name because it's not my name and some find that confusing. I named my business after my daughter who had a brain injury when she was four. Lots of people came to our house to provide services for her. One woman would come in and see me at work in my studio or with my daughter and she'd say there's always something good happening at the Robyn's nest! I told her she just named my business! Several years later Robyn's Nest pottery was born. 


 


Where do you live?  I'm a native P
ittsburgher, living in Plum.

Who’s in your family? I live with my husband, daughter Robyn, and two labs - one black and one yellow.  Also in my family are Rachel, Jacob and Ben, Jesse, Jason and James, Jeff, Angelica and Aiden.
 

If you could sit down and talk to any person, living or dead, who would it be and why? So many people - Nelson Mandela, mother Theresa, Jonas Salk, John Lennon, Malcolm Davis, Rudy Artio. They were creative people in different ways and believed in peace and humanity. 

What inspires you?  Inspiration? Nature, color, texture. Knowing that what I make will touch someone's hands and perhaps give them pause to think about that connectivity and smile. I recently discovered two older women in pottery:  Eva
Zeisel and Beatrice Wood. THEY inspire me.  To quote Beatrice wood, "women who have diamonds can't touch the joy and excitement of opening a kiln." Gotta love her! 


 

What is your favorite item you make for Boutique 208 and why?  My face cups are my most favorite piece to make for the boutique. They are quirky and smiley and totally functional!



What is your favorite item at Boutique 208 that’s not one of your own and why?  My favorite item in the boutique not my own would have to be Kyle Houser's lovely decal pots! I love his busy-ness!
What advice can you offer to someone who would like to start selling their handmade creations?  Begin by "shopping" local craft shows. Get to know your competition. Start out slow and hone your craft, always looking for new and improved and artsy looks. Define your own style. 

 

 

 

 
 

 


 

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Meet Your Makers: Evan Tillie Pettler of Tillie's Clay Treats


Please introduce yourself and tell us about your handmade business: My name is Evan Tillie Pettler and my business is Tillie's Clay Treats. 

How did you come up with your business name? This name comes from the fact that I make handmade clay jewelry in the shape of food! 




Where do you live? I live in Mt. Lebanon.
 
Who’s in your family? My parents and my brother.

What inspires you? Younger people, celebrities or not, who follow their dreams greatly inspire me. They remind me of myself, since I'm only thirteen. I enjoy looking at all of the jewelry because I love wearing jewelry and it helps me come up with new ideas. 
 
What is your favorite item you make for Boutique 208 and why? Personally, I like the pierogi earrings because those were the first earrings I've ever made. 




What advice can you offer to someone who would like to start selling their handmade creations? To anyone who wants to sell their objects they've made, I would say that they should participate in a lot of local events and activities to get experience and get their name known. 





Thursday, March 13, 2014

Meet Your Makers: Gillian Graber of Gillie Beans Boutique



Please introduce yourself and tell us about your handmade business:  I'm a practical girl who has a passion for beautiful fabrics, trims, and designs.  I try to make things that are practical and really fun with a classic style.  Kids grow so fast, so I use my experiences as a mom combined with the inspiration from my kids and other moms to create things that you will love and use for as long as possible!

How did you come up with your business name?  Gillie Bean was my one of my nicknames as a child.  When I was pregnant, my baby was often referred to as the little bean.

Where do you live?  I live in the Eastern suburbs of Pittsburgh.

Who’s in your family?  Me, my hubby, and my kiddos, Aidan and Lilly.




If you could sit down and talk to any person, living or dead, who would it be and why? Probably Martha Stewart because she knows so much about so many things that interest me.
 

What inspires you?  My kids have been my biggest inspiration!  They tell me what they like and I find a way to make it!


What is your favorite item you make for Boutique 208 and why?  My masks because they are so unique and I just love the way they turn out!


What is your favorite item at Boutique 208 that’s not one of your own and why?  My favorite things in the boutique that aren't my own are the Bonne Amy Pittsburgh alphabets and her other photography word collages!  I want every one for my walls!

What advice can you offer to someone who would like to start selling their handmade creations? 
Just start creating something you love.   Test the waters by making a few of each thing and see how they sell.  Find what works for you and stick to that.  Draw inspiration from wherever you find it and take pride it what you do and you can't go wrong!





Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Meet Your Makers: Sue Dunham Danielson of SuDan Design



Please introduce yourself and tell us about your handmade business:

My name is Susan (Sue) Danielson.  Although I have a degree in English Literature from the University of Pittsburgh, and have worked in administration for various educational and medical institutions, I've always seen myself as an artist. I've loved doing arts and crafts since I was a child, and have continued to try new crafts throughout my life. In the mid-'70's, my husband gave me a Christmas gift of a Batik class at the Arts and Crafts Center in Shadyside. I took to this craft quickly, and had a space at that year's Fair in the Park in Mellon Park, Shadyside. I did quite well, selling framed batiks, wall and window hangings, stuffed dolls, and clothing.

When I retired from my job last April, I finally found the time to attempt to make this a real business.

In addition to batik, which I sell at Boutique 208, I continue to do photography (framed and greeting cards), as well as linoleum and wood block prints (framed and greeting cards). I also make suncatcher/rainbow makers that are sold at the Boutique.  I also make jewelry which I sell in my Etsy shop.



How did you come up with your business name?  SuDan Design is simply a conjoining of the first parts of my first and last names (Susan, or Sue, Danielson). I wanted to keep some personal identity in the business name, and the name just sounded good to me...it rolls easily off the tongue and is easy to remember.  I have a new name in mind that was suggested by my younger daughter, who helps me with the business, that I may transition to in the near future.




Where do you live?  I live in the Whitehall area of Pittsburgh, PA and visit my daughter in Santa Barbara, CA, whenever I get the chance.


Who’s in your family?  I live with my husband. Our two daughters are grown: one lives in Santa Barbara, CA and the other lives in the Washington, DC area.


 
If you could sit down and talk to any person, living or dead, who would it be and why?  If I must choose only one individual, I would say Leonardo DaVinci, a most amazing man, extremely talented as artist, engineer, and scientist, whose thinking was clearly outside the box. He managed to walk a line politically, which was extremely difficult during the violent times he lived in, and he not only managed to make a living doing what he loved and could do well, but he was respected and well-known during his life time.

 

What inspires you?   I am most inspired by the natural beauty and light in nature.  Organic forms such as trees, flowing water, leaves and flowers, a sunset, a rainbow, mountains, snow, candlelight, fireflies, butterflies, creatures, the human form...many things in the natural world. I also find inspiration in the works by master artists, sculptors, musicians and photographers such as Van Gogh, Rembrandt, Picasso, Bouguereau, Gaudi, Bresson, Stieglitz, Adams, my friend David Aschkenas, to name a few.  Other inspirations are Art Nouveau, a great castle, a soaring cathedral, stained glass, African art and music...on and on and on. I am inspired by literature and ideas...spiritual and philosophical...and by children's art!


What is your favorite item you make for Boutique 208 and why?  My batik scarves and clothing. Batik appeals to me, because I enjoy working with color, and the surprises that "painting' with melted wax and multiple color dying creates, and I enjoy working free hand, e.g., not planning or drawing out a design ahead of time. I like the serendipity of spontaneity, as well as the freedom of changing a design idea as I go along. A mistake corrected may lead me in a different direction. Sometimes what seems to not be working, design-wise, will turn out to be my favorite item when it is completed.

 

What is your favorite item at Boutique 208 that’s not one of your own and why?   I like "upscaled" arts and crafts, e.g., re-used, re-created items that carry a history within, but are now back in commission with a new life. Kind of like re-incarnation for material objects! But I also like anything beautiful and well-made, and there's a lot of these items at Boutique 208, so I can't just mention one.






What advice can you offer to someone who would like to start selling their handmade creations? 
Do what you love! Just do it! You will learn so much as you research and practice your art/craft...and even if you learn that it's too expensive, or too time-consuming, it's a new skill  that you can build upon, and what you've created is something unique, if you follow your own inspiration and don't mass produce or try to please a specific market...to be marketable. For example, it's a huge temptation to produce "art" to meet a perceived interest or demand. In Pittsburgh, I would say that's the Andy Warhol style, witty Pop art/design edge that Pittsburghers come by naturally, but can extinguish true creativity if you give in to the desire to make and sell items that are not your own natural inclination or inspiration. It's not always easy to find your customers, but you will find admirers and supporters and encouragers who will feed your motivation, and inspire you, and keep you going through the tough times...which there will be, that's for sure.

I would also suggest networking with other artists/craftspeople, to learn where they exhibit and sell their work, e.g., names of stores, cooperative groups like Boutique 208, successful marketing, how to become more visible on Etsy, setting up your own website, exhibiting in local shows, renting space at local craft fairs and festivals, etc. To network with other artists, you'll first need to find other artists. I've taken classes at the Pittsburgh Center for the Arts, which is a great way to learn new techniques, and also a good way to meet other artists. I have a FB page where I post announcements and photos of my new work, which helps to get the word out, along with pictures of what I'm doing and where it can be purchased. At this point, I am still learning how to grow and market my own business, so I can't offer much more advice.