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 Stephanie from Eileen Avenue on Etsy!
Tell me about yourself and your shop.
Hello! My name is Stef and I am a seamstress, recently transported to Akron, Ohio. I opened my Etsy store, Eileen Avenue, this past November, (www.etsy.com/shop/EileenAvenue) after many sleepless nights, a dream, a wish, and a lot of luck. My shop was originally supposed to be dedicated to ooak art dolls. But as things progressed, I decided to go a different direction and focus mainly on children’s clothing and cloth dolls.
Besides crafting, I love books. Not just reading books, but having them around me. One of my favorite places on earth is the library. Downtown Akron has a great library and Kent comes in a close second. But I have always loved libraries in general. There’s something about the potential of a great book that I just love.
How did you start, and why did you choose your craft? How much experience do you have so far?
I started sewing when I was a just a wee pup. My mom taught me how to cross-stitch before I knew how to tie my shoes, which led me sewing by hand. I used to make myself clothing while I was in high school. About ten years ago, a friend taught me how to use a sewing machine and it’s been an all-consuming love affair ever since. I feel like I’ve been sewing my whole life, really.
What do you do when you need a little bit if inspiration?
Honestly, I find inspiration in the strangest places. Last week I found it looking though some pictures on facebook of a childhood friend. Yesterday I found it while watching the first season of Pushing Daisies. On Monday, I found several quotes from Eleanor Roosevelt that made me want to get up and just work all night long. Sometimes it’s a Social Distortion song. Sometimes it’s while I’m twisting into a strange yoga position. Sometimes it’s watching my cat get chased by her own shadow. Sometimes it just doesn’t come at all.
What is your best achievement?
I graduated from a (not so great) two-year college (which will remain nameless to protect the not-so-innocent) a few years ago with an associate in paralegal studies. I worked really hard and managed to finish the 24 month course in 16 months and with a 4.0 GPA. Any time that I start to get a little down on myself or wonder if I can actually make a career out of sewing, I just remind myself of what I can accomplish when I set my mind to something.
What does handmade mean to you?
For me, handmade is a natural extension of a path I started several years ago when I made the decision to live a more sustainable life. I feel good supporting local farmer’s markets and eating from local sources whenever possible. Supporting those who are making handmade items or repurposing old items feels like the next part of that journey. I am so proud to lend my hands to that marketplace now as well.
Do you also offer custom made items? Is it something you like to do?
Yes, I do make custom items upon request. I had originally decided not to do so, but after getting a request from a family member, I actually really enjoyed it. So, I changed my policy to include the offer of custom orders.
What plans do you have for the future of your business?
The next things I would like to add to Eileen Avenue are a few handmade sweaters for children. I’ve been a knit-wit for several years now and I’d like to be able to add that to my shop. In addition, I plan to expand the cloth dolls to include a range of sizes for children to play with.
Any advice for others looking to sell their handmade items?
In addition to reading and finding out as much information as possible, make sure that the rest of your life is not neglected. It is very easy for us to get caught up in what we’re working on and forget that we need time for ourselves, too. If you do yoga, keep doing yoga. If you like to cook, make one meal every day. If you’re a crazy run-for-funner, run your little heart out. If reading is your thing, set aside an hour out of the day to indulge in a great classic. The point is, make time for the things in your life that make you creative, not just the work. You will be so glad you did.
Stephanie has been generous enough to offer a special 25% off discount for all of you just for reading my blog! Simply use the coupon code AMANDA at checkout to claim your discount.
Many thanks to Stephanie and be sure to check out the rest of her shop for more great finds!
Stay tuned for more Friday Features, crafty tutorials, and other joyous posts! If you’d like to stay up-to-date on happenings here at Homegrownjoy, follow this blog, like us on Facebook, or follow on Twitter. Thank you!