Meet Your Maker: Evajuliet

Click on the earliest page of my favourites in Etsy and you will find a print by Evajuliet. Third one in, to be exact. That's how long I have been admiring Eva's work. I've found myself drawn to her prints again recently, as I search for art to to cover the stark white walls of our newly renovated kitchen. You can imagine my surprise when I discovered an email from Eva in my inbox one day, saying how much she admired my aprons. Oh, how much do I love the Etsy community? While I ponder which print to choose from such an amazing collection, I'm so very pleased to welcome Eva here to share a little bit about her work, her process and a very special blue letterpress named Juliet.

WHO are you?
I am Eva. I live with my boyfriend in Qu├ębec, a french province in Canada. I come from a family where making a living from what you love to do is the key to life. When I was a child, my father was a carpenter; my mother, a dressmaker. They are both very creative. Creating is something that is just in my DNA. I truly love my work each and every day.

WHERE do you work?
We are located in a beautiful century home on the countryside. The air is good, the birds are singing, the flowers are beautiful, but above all, people here take the time to live. For me it's the perfect mood to create.

WHY did you decide to start a business?
I work as a freelance graphic designer/art director and I really enjoy what I do. But sometimes, I miss making my own projects without any restrictions. That's how Evajuliet was born.

Evajuliet is an amalgam between me and Juliet, my old tabletop letterpress. We started working together in 2009. Juliet helps me to embellish my packages and all other printing stuff a little shop needs.

Evajuliet is my little space which allows me to set my creativity free.

WHAT inspires you?
Inspiration comes from everywhere but nature is an endless source of inspiration for me. I am always amazed by all the species and treasures that nature creates. All these colours, textures and forms make me want to jump on my brushes and paint.

WHAT is your motto?
I have many different mottos to help me focus, but recently, I opted for "Keep it simple". Nowadays, everything goes so fast and we are constantly stimulated and overwhelmed by thousands of images and information. So I want to give my brain a break and try to keep everything simple. I tend to become more zen.

WHAT are your favourite materials?
I love to work with watercolor and gouache. Watercolor is more challenging; you have to find the perfect balance between control and letting go. The result is often unexpected surprises. I also love it because of the transparency and brightness of the colours. It's also easy to clean, which is not insignificant. Gouache is more versatile. It works so well on so many surfaces. And I love the matte finish and the beautiful pigment.

WHEN do you work best?
I am a morning person. I am most effective when my batteries are full after a good night. I love the energy in the morning. The light is bright, the air is fresh, the birds are up. I am ready to start the day.

Thanks so much for sharing, Eva! I definitely identify with your "Keep it Simple" motto and have found it has become a daily, calming reminder for me as well.

Eva creates many more beautiful products than I could include here, so please take a moment to peruse her website and Etsy shop, as well as her inspiring blog.

Hamilton Happenings: Etsy Me

As is the annual tradition in Hamilton, there are a kajillion events happening this weekend: Spring Sprint, Sew HungryOpen Doors, and the AGH Art Sale, just to name a few. But I also want to get the word out about Etsy Me, because I think that it's an incredible opportunity for anyone that is thinking about starting an Etsy shop or is struggling to get a new shop off the ground. Etsy Canada and Cobalt Connects have teamed up to offer newbies all-day hands-on help, including professional photography, one-on-one marketing advice and various workshops with Etsy admin! Take it from someone that has been around the Etsy block, at $40 this is a steal. I only wish an event like this was around when I started. More information can be found here.

Have a wonderful weekend, everyone!

One of a Kind Show Purchases

You didn't think I could spend five days surrounded by 450 one of a kind artists without purchasing a few gifts for myself did you? It was hard to tear myself away from my table long enough to browse, but thanks to my insistent helpers, I managed to see it all in a few stages. Here's my haul.

Edna's Pickles: I mean, how could I resist? Edna and her husband are incredibly sweet and have been doing the show for thirteen years, or something crazy like that. They were both cracking jokes the whole time I talked to them and just generally seemed to love what they do. So lovely. Her homemade chutneys also happen to be so delicious.

Maxwell Pottery: I grew up using a ceramic milk pitcher that used to belong to my Grandmother and have always wanted one for myself. My mom spotted Maxwell selling them in a variety of beautiful finishes at the show and I immediately snapped one up. How Canadian does this make me, to have such an extravagant vessel for my bag of milk? I'd say very.

Hug and Kiss Designs: It's no secret that I love stationary and greeting cards, but when I came back to my table with ten of these cards in hand, I think Mike was ready to organize an intervention. But these cards are special. No, really! Usually I hate the kind of people that chuckle out loud in card shops, but I literally could not keep my giggles in when I read through these cards. Go to their website and see for yourself!

Hen Jewelry: I challenge you to sit next to a tree full of beautiful jewelry for five days straight and not take one home. I admired this one in particular for the entire show and was delighted when Gen proposed a trade for it. A lovely side effect of craft shows that is a little easier on the profits of said shows. She calls this design "Warrior", which we both found to be a pretty fitting souvenir!

I could easily have spent a small fortune, there were so many beautiful artisans at this show. I have a few things to save for this year, so I was quite proud that I was able to restrain myself to four. But here is a sampling of some of the business cards that will surely tempt me with retail regret for years to come. Maybe next year...

One of a Kind Show Recap

Oh boy, where do I start? It's now over a week since the One of a Kind Show ended and I'm still struggling to put the whole experience in perspective and to find the words to describe it all to you. On the Sunday, Carla texted, "Last Day! Can you believe it?" Response: "Yes and no." It was incredibly exhausting, both physically and emotionally, and there were times when I would've given a kidney to get out of that building,  but most of the time it was exhilarating and the most rewarding experience I could ask for for my little biz... and it was all over in a flash.

Now that I've had a little time to recuperate and step back, I realize that the most valuable takeaway wasn't actually the sales (although, I'm pleased with my profit). It's everything I learned. Customers were not shy to tell me what they liked and what they saw missing. I lost count of how many requests I got for toaster covers and french press cosies! I also discovered it's quite another experience browsing the show while wearing a vendor badge. The other sellers were so friendly and eager to share their experience and advice. As a customer, I used to be able to walk the show in about two hours. This time, it took me two hours just to go through the Etsy section!

Let's talk about the Etsy section, then. They certainly didn't exaggerate when they warned us that it would be "cosy". I mapped out the area at home beforehand, but I was still shocked by the space, or lack thereof, when I arrived. I'm not sure if you can tell in these pictures, but basically they had set up sets of four connected tables, with all four sellers sharing the space in the middle. That centre space was only one foot in width, people. For real. Being the creative types that we are, we made do and opted very early on to simply get to know each other really well. Like there was a choice. Ha! 

Whether it meant watching someone's table so they could grab a coffee, analyzing customer behaviour, or entertaining each other when it was slow, we were in it together... and that was pretty comforting for this newbie. Heather from Needlings, Kelli from Little Big Words, Gen from Hen Jewelry, Sherie from deermayor, Michelle from Aide Bodycare, and the Etsy crew: I couldn't have survived without you. Thanks, ladies!

Despite the closeness, or maybe because of it, the whole section had a fantastic social energy that the customers seemed to feed on. I don't know how many times I overheard people commenting on the quality and originality of our work and what a refreshing addition it was for the show. Etsy was the place to be. But we all already knew that.

{Talk, laugh, fold. Repeat}

Another huge benefit for me from doing the show was all the amazing promotion that came my way. I think my guardian angel may have been doing double duty as a publicist this week! First, one of my aprons was chosen to be a part of the main display at the entrance. That means that every single person that came in those doors at least glanced at my apron. I had several people come by my table and ask to see "the apron in the front", so a big thank you to Marion Heintzman for including me in her beautiful display.

It was Marion who told me that I was featured in the Toronto Star the Saturday before.  I found the online version immediately after I got home from move-in day and then had Carla rooting through the recycling for the print copy. This was another bestseller at the show and everyone that bought it was pretty tickled when I told them it was famous.

Finally, when I arrived on opening day, there was a little note on my table saying that Global TV had come by and selected one of my aprons to be on the Morning Show! Ah! Newspapers and now TV? Is this a dream? I tuned in the next morning while I got ready and low and behold, there it was! I'll admit I was a little disappointed that the hosts interrupted Valerie as she started talking about my apron, but I was still really proud to see it there and to be labelled as one of the top ten emerging artists at the show! (Here is the link to the video.)

I know this is a long one, but before I sign off, I'd like to extend an enormous thank you to everyone that came to visit me at the show and especially all of the friends and family that lent a helping hand. Whether you gave me your bed, brought me lunch, or actually sold aprons, you know who you are and I hope you know how much it means to me. But there are three people who get the gold star of service: my mom, my dad, and my Mike. They were incredibly supportive both leading up to and during the show. I can't possibly list all of the ways they helped, but to give you an example, I suddenly felt terribly ill on the Saturday morning and all three of them dropped everything to come to my side as quickly as possible. Thank you doesn't seem like enough for everything you've done and continue to do for me. I'll leave it at that before I start to cry. Gosh.

All in all, it was a truly fantastic experience that was worth every drop of blood, sweat and tears that went into the months preparing for it. If the Christmas show wasn't an insane 11 days, I might consider doing it again. For now, I'm just going to focus on adjusting to a more reasonable pace again, tackling that awfully lengthy "after the show to-do list" and thoroughly enjoying Spring!