Can you believe it’s already November?! The air has that all-too-familiar chill and it actually snowed a few days ago! That means it’s perfect timing to introduce our next Etsy Spotlight (and another Hello Etsy friend!), Christina from SmokingHaute! Christina makes beautiful cowls and scarves inspired by Washington, DC.
Christina has generously offered a free shipping code just for ShopHappens readers! Enter SHOPHAPPENSFREESHIP at checkout. Also, in addition to her Etsy shop, be sure to say hello to Christina on Facebook, Twitter, and her brand new Tumblr page.
And now for the spotlight! As always, click 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 opened my Etsy shop in December 2009. It warms my heart to think about when/how I started creating my own handmade products. I had major surgery at the end of 2007, which was around the time I began learning how to knit. While I recovered, I watched a ton of online videos and essentially taught myself how to knit. Knitting definitely helped me get through the recovery process, and that Christmas I had my first batch of handmade goodies to give my family as gifts! I’d made my mom a beautiful little shrug. She wore it to work one day, and one of her coworkers loved it and asked if she could pay me to make her one. And the rest is history 😉
What inspires you?
I am truly inspired by Washington, DC. It’s a fantastic city that I’ve been lucky enough to call home for my entire life. All of my knitted pieces are inspired directly by neighborhoods, people, and landmarks around the city. The DC Metro Area doesn’t get nearly as much credit as it deserves for being a nurturing creative environment for artists. I absolutely LOVE creating items that resonate sentimentally with people familiar with DC, and that educate those who aren’t as familiar.
What are some of your favorite colors/patterns/design aesthetics? How do you incorporate them into your work?
My favorite colors tend to be those from the Autumn/Winter color palette, which is fortunate since that’s when my work is most useful! 🙂 I love oranges, reds, and yellows best. In terms of patterns, I tend to favor creating items that are circular, so I make more cowls and infinity scarves than regular scarves. I think it’s also a really practical shape for neckwear – it’s so much harder to lose a scarf when it’s circled around your neck, rather than hanging around it! I’m also beginning to design some hats and fingerless gloves/armwarmers, so those are definitely coming down the pipeline very soon! As for design aesthetics, I am over-the-moon CRAZY for architectural, sculptural, geometric shapes, and I’ve been spending quite a bit of time lately designing more sculptural/architectural patterns. I find it so interesting to play with dimensions, angles, and volume, and hopefully my work will show more of that as it evolves!
Who are some of your favorite celebrities? Whose style would match up with what’s available in your store?
First and foremost, The Beatles – all of them!! Historically, I’d include amazing women like Coco Chanel and Twiggy. Modern day women: Anne Hathaway, Zooey Deschanel, Christina Hendricks, and Amy Poehler. Modern day men: Ryan Gosling, Adam Levine, Conan O’Brien, Jimmy Fallon, and Brian Williams! I can definitely picture Anne Hathaway or Zooey Deschanel sporting some SmokingHaute goodies.. and I bet Adam Levine could pull off a cowl or two! 😉
What is your workroom like? What conditions lead you to create the best work?
My workroom is.. my apartment! As in, the whole thing. I’m in a studio apartment in DC, and it’s a tight fit for me, my cat, and all my yarn. I’m hoping that I’ll be able to afford a bigger place in the near future! I think I work best when I know I’ve got an unlimited amount of time to create – I LOVE having whole weekends when I can go at my own pace, take the time to prioritize my work, and don’t feel the pull of other obligations when I’m getting into my creative ‘headspace.’
How long does it take to design and create each piece?
A lot of love goes into designing and creating each piece – it totally depends on the type of item and the techniques I’m using in the pattern. There are some baby hats that I can knock out in a few hours on a good day, but most pieces take at least a few days to create. I also have a full time job, which slows down the pace, so sometimes my bigger items can take a couple of weeks. I’m a pretty fast knitter, but you can only knit so much so fast!
What are your favorite products so far?
For versatility, I am head over heels with the Dupont Circle Cowl/Scarf. It’s knit as a tube, so you can wear it a variety of ways, including either as a scarf or as a cowl! For eco-friendliness, I’m also really excited about the Columbia Heights Scarf, since it’s part of my new eco-friendly line. In terms of design, however, my favorite is probably the Sculpture Garden Cowl. It’s the most sculptural piece I have so far, and has a very unique texture. Though I suppose my truest answer is that my favorite product is always the next one 😉
What is the most interesting request you’ve received from a customer?
I’ve actually just recently gotten my most interesting request! I’m working on a custom order for a friend who wants a reversible muff that’s baby alpaca on one side, and faux fur on the other! The baby alpaca side will be the U Street Cowl design. I am RIDICULOUSLY excited to get to work on it, and if all goes well, perhaps it will be the first of a new line in my shop!!
What makes your Etsy store different from others?
I have yet to find another Etsy store that is dedicated to and inspired by a city. I constantly find inspiration in DC, like I mentioned, and every single item in my shop is named after something uniquely DC. I currently do some charity work in my shop, donating a portion of my sales from all blue colored items to charity: water. I’m now planning on expanding and reaching out to local charities for hunger, animal welfare, and environmental awareness. I can’t wait!!
Thank you, Christina! And let me just say… faux fur!? Be still, my heart! I am so excited to see the new items in the next few months! Don’t forget to use code SHOPHAPPENSFREESHIP at checkout for free shipping.
If you’d like to be featured in an Etsy Spotlight here at ShopHappens.com, leave a message in the comments, email me, or catch me on Facebook or Twitter! (… and if you’re not interested in being featured, you can still stop by to say hello anyway!)