Friday Features are all about meeting the talented artists and creators of hand crafted goods to share their stories and bring to light the value and beauty found in handmade.
Today’s feature is all about Laura from Laurie Breaker on Etsy!
Tell me about yourself and your shop.
Hi! I’m Laura, I’m a graphic designer, (recently ex-) adjunct professor, homeowner, music lover, and owner of cockatiels and a puppy. I work in healthcare, love my neighborhood, and am pretty obsessed with my new puppy, Remi, who I adopted through a pitbull rescue in NY state. I’m a huge fan of music, especially in the of punk / folk / post-hardcore / emo / indie / ska spectrum, and have travelled to Gainesville, FL the past three years to attend The Fest. I’ve been swing dancing since college (sometimes more and sometimes less), particularly Lindy Hop, Blues, Balboa, and Charleston. I used to live in Philly, and that city holds a huge piece of me.
How did you start, and why did you choose your craft? How much experience do you have so far?
I love snail mail. Sending, receiving, you name it. Because of this at some point I had decided to make myself a stamp to use on whatever I’d be sending out. At the time, I wanted it to match my personal brand, so I used typefaces and dots that related to my resume. This stamp turned in to the ‘homestead’, which is actually the newest one I’ve been offering on my shop. I attended a bridal shower for a friend over the summer, and of course used my stamp on the card I gave to the bride there. She made kind-of a big deal about it when she was opening her cards and gifts, so nonchalantly I told her I’d make her one for her wedding.
I ended up making two for her, as I was on the fence on whether to make a more practical or more striking stamp. I had a page of probably 20+ sketches for these, as I wanted the wedding gift to be perfect, and the two I went with have become the ‘Olson’ and the ‘Nelson’ stamps, tipping my hat to the Bride’s current surname as well as her maiden name. She used the stamps I gave the couple on their ‘thank you’ notes from the wedding, and let me know that she had been getting compliments on them. At this point I decided I’d try listing one of these on my etsy shop. That was the ‘Olson’, and I got such an overwhelming response to this stamp that I soon after added the Nelson, and then later on the Homestead. I’m working on some new designs as well to be added in the future.
I’ve been a design professional since 2007, and been obsessed with letterforms for some time before that even. There is a lot of beauty in letterforms, and I love spreading it one stamp impression at a time.
What influences your work from your life or city? (or anything else that influences you)
I have a personal library of books that I imagine I’ll be building for the rest of my life. Looking at typography from the present and the past and how that might be combined is always an adventure. I especially love the work of ESPO (Steve Powers), when I was living in Philadelphia, he was working on a 50-mural series, all typographic, called “A Love Letter For You”. The series is a collection of cute/quirky phrases you might expect scrawled on a whiteboard or napkin to your boo, but serve as a love letter to the neighborhood, from the neighborhood as well–they’re on rooftops and sides of buildings, best visible riding the El (MFL) in West Philly. And of coure, the lettering is gorgeous.
What do you do when you need a little bit if inspiration?
An easy fall back is spend a bit of time on pinterest–I’m fascinated at how some folks have an amazing knack at the ‘curation’ of collections of things. If that’s no good, taking a break to go for a walk with my puppy helps out too.
I was fortunate to find myself at Weapons of Mass Creation Fest III this past June in Cleveland, which was chock full of inspiring talks, great music, and an amazing gallery. One of the talks there was titled “Side Hustle” referring to the work that you’re doing beyond your day job, and I’ve first jokingly but now affectionately been referring to my etsy shop as my side hustle.
What is your best achievement?
I was pretty stoked to win a “Best of Show” at the NY State of Design last winter with a self-promotional package I created. ( cargocollective.com/lauriebreaker/Coffee-for-Time-Trade)
What does handmade mean to you?
Creating something that had anyone else attempted, would not have the same soul.
Do you also offer custom made items? Is it something you like to do?
Custom is my bread and butter! Almost the entirety of my sales have been for custom items, just as per the nature of the address stamps.
What plans do you have for the future of you business?
I’d love to continue adding unique design options for stamps moving forward for starters. I’m also seriously considering moving toward all aspects of stationary — invitations and reply cards and the typical wedding or party paraphernalia. Letterpress options may also be available in the future too.
Any advice for others looking to sell their handmade items?
Just go for it! And listen to what others are saying to you–the thing you make or do that your friends are complimenting you on might be your big break of an item. Keep an ear to the ground.
Many thanks to Laura and be sure to check out the rest of her shop!
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