About a week ago, my best friend Katie was absolutely raving about an oversized beach bag she’d purchased from Etsy. She was going on and on about how great the seller was, how perfectly the bag was designed, and the affordability and general awesomeness of the purchase process. I had to ask her who the seller was so I could reach out to her for a possible spotlight here! She happily gave up the ID of the seller (Maiden Jane), who is now our latest Etsy Spotlight seller!
In addition, Jane has graciously provided a coupon code especially for ShopHappens readers! Use coupon code SHOPHAPPENS for a 15% discount on all orders!
Side note: I’m trying out a new format for Etsy Spotlight posts — please let me know how you like it. I’ll be adding pictures throughout the interview instead of at the end. As always, you can click on any photo to view more information or to purchase!
How long have you been selling on Etsy? How did you become interested in creating your own handmade products?
I have been selling on Etsy for 2 ½ years! I have loved working with my hands since I was a young girl. My mom didn’t sew or craft, but always encouraged me with crafty gifts. I learned to knit and crochet from my friend’s grandmother and, later, I returned to these crafts when my first child was born. I received a sewing machine that same year. I began sewing outfits for my kids and myself. In recent years I have been working at an online fabric company called Contemporary Cloth. Being around so many wonderful fabrics and, inspired by the owner Sondra, I decided to begin an Etsy shop!
What inspires you to create?
I am a pragmatic gal. My husband and I are both engineers and perfectionists. With six of us in the household, we like to be organized. So first and foremost, my inspiration comes from needs. Our family has been traveling to Cedar Point amusement park and beach for years. I traveled as a young girl and now, my siblings and I bring our families and join my mom to have fun in the sun. For years, everyone made fun of us for dragging our beach toys, blankets, stroller, etc. down to the beach. (It took multiple trips!) One year my husband decided that if he could sling bags on his shoulder, he could carry more things down to the beach! So my oversized beach tote was born!
Now, being practical doesn’t mean it has to be boring. I like pretty fabrics! Sometimes I see a fabric and just have to make something out of it!
What are some of your favorite colors/patterns/design aesthetics? How do you incorporate them into your work?
I love contemporary fabrics and geometric prints and patterns. That’s the engineering side. But I also love bold florals and damasks. That’s the romantic side. (I know, I’m a dichotomy!)
Who are some of your favorite celebrities? Whose style would match up with what’s available in your store?
Wow, that’s really tough. I don’t follow a lot of celebrity news and fashions. I’m completely in love with James McAvoy due to his charm in the movie Becoming Jane. I could see Angelina Jolie carrying one of my bags since she has a large family. Someone like Meryl Streep – a classic woman, fantastic actress, but really grounded family woman – would look fantastic holding an oversized beach tote!
What is your workroom like? What conditions lead you to create the best work?
My first craft room was the kitchen table. (We don’t have a dining room.) The sewing machine went on and off the table daily. My husband later upcycled an old singer sewing table for me and I was able to keep it in our bedroom. A few years ago we remodeled our home and instead of a walk-in closet or glamour bathroom (I don’t need to clean another one!), we opted for a family office.
The room has counters completely around the perimeter. There is room for my sewing machine and serger. My husband and I each have desk space and room for computing. The kids use the computer and other work spaces for crafting and homework. Mobility, flexibility, and storage are key. We have several mobile filing cabinets. Not only are they storage, but they can be used as extra seats for the kids. We also have a table with adjustable legs, side flaps and casters. This table can be raised to cutting table height or lowered to slide under the countertop. It can be rolled out to be used in any room of the house. The side flaps enable us to open the table large enough to put a puzzle together! Having a neat and organized room helps me create the best. However, it’s very easy to start making piles… so frequently I have to stop and reorganize!
A few links to my craft room:
How long does it take to design and create each piece?
I am always designing in my mind. I usually can’t wait to try a new idea. So sometimes the process can be as short as a couple days or week. Other times an idea has to be tried and tested multiple times. The oversized totes can take between one and two hours depending on the features. My T Shirt Quilts take a lot longer, but I can turn them out usually in less than a week now!
What is the most interesting request you’ve received from a customer?
I love working with my customers. Recently, a customer asked me to make a sea shell collecting bag and now I’m excited to offer a variety of those! I have also made many, many T Shirt quilts. I started making them for my nieces and nephews as they graduated high school. Most of that business comes via local word-of-mouth. Rather than interesting, I’d have to say that the most moving items I worked on were T Shirt quilts that were memory quilts. A 26-year-old widow asked me to make a quilt for her husband’s mom. We even included a pair of his favorite argyle socks. His mom loved it and wrapping herself in the blanket is like wrapping her son around her. Similarly, I made a quilt using the clothes of a 12-year-old boy who died in a tragic accident. At the time I was making it I also had a 12-year-old son and it broke my heart thinking about the mother. The quilt was given to the boys younger sibling so he could have a tangible memory of his brother.
What makes your Etsy store different from others?
I’m in wonderful company on Etsy. There are so many amazing artists that I’m inspired to develop my creativity. I believe I offer excellent service and high quality. I’m a perfectionist! As an engineer, I believe we can manufacture goods. But I’ve watched quality slide in recent years and can’t stand buying junk. (Remember that remodel? We bought all new appliances and 3 out of 5 broke within the first year!) So making things with my own hands ensures that my products pass through my hands and that means quality for the customer.
Thank you so much for the interview, Jane! Readers, don’t forget that you will get 15% off at the Maiden Jane Etsy store with code SHOPHAPPENS – but it won’t last forever, so shop soon! 🙂
If you’d or someone you know would like to be featured in an Etsy Spotlight at ShopHappens, please email me, or shoot me a message on Facebook or Twitter. I’d love to share your handmade goods with the world!