It's been pouring rain all morning and looks like it'll continue through out the reset of the day. I dont' mind though as I find this weather so soothing. Plus another thing that makes today so wonderful is I get to continue on with last weeks start of my new series called Etsy Designers.
Today we have a wonderful designer, Julia, a sweet and passionate designer for environmentally conscious creations. You can find her designs on her Etsy site which is filled with cute patterned bow ties, peter pan collars, hankies and so forth. Plus she also has a great little blog over at Jeeze Julia. We bonded a bit over our interest in what sustainable clothing means for us and I was thrilled to have her answer a few questions about her designs and what her creations interest in organic, local and upcycled fabric. I know you'll enjoy this interview and getting to know Julia a bit more. Make sure you say hello. She'd love to meet you!
1) First just tell us about yourself and how you got started sewing?
Probably 80% of my childhood was spent outside in the woods or at the lake (even in rain, snow, whatever - I just loved being outside)! I was so lucky to grow up in a rural setting with fresh air, green trees, and a sparkling lake just waiting for me to explore it, and I want to help preserve that in any way I can. The waste and pollution that the fashion industry today creates is baffling, so to offset that I make sure that I do everything I can to keep my Etsy shop eco-friendly. For example, all of my fabrics are either organic and purchased as close to home as possible or upcycled from reclaimed fabric. My thread is all 100% cotton, so it's biodegradable, and all of my packaging supplies (tissue paper, kraft paper, business cards) are made from recycled materials. Fashion and environmental consciousness don't traditionally go hand in hand, but I'm trying my very best to change that so people will hopefully see that there are better options out there as far as style goes.3) When you started your Etsy shop what were some challenges you faced?
I started my Etsy shop just as a hobby right when I graduated from college in 2008. At that time I was still sewing everything by hand, but on top of that, I also sold vintage, knit, painted and did pretty much anything else that struck my fancy at the time. I've always been a creative person, and my shop was just a way that I could get some of my creations out of the house (it was filled to the brim with stuff I'd made and didn't know what to do with)! My biggest challenge has come to me just this year when I started to get really serious with my creative direction. In March I shut my "doors" and entirely rebranded my aesthetic with the intention of making Etsy my part time - hopefully one day, full time - job. Finding time to pour into my shop as well as working my day job and not neglecting my family and friends has definitely been the most challenging aspect of my burgeoning business so far. But, with all of this effort I'm hoping to establish myself and be able to work less elsewhere and more in the little Etsy world that I love so much!
4) Right now what are your most popular items?
My most popular items right now are my bow ties + hankies. I sell these separately and in color-matched sets, and offer a bulk discount which a lot of people decide to use. Now that it's wedding season there are lots of occasions to get all fancied up, but no one wants to look just like everyone else, so people are searching for more unique items like my bow ties made from vintage fabrics! I'm finding that I also have a better price point than a lot of other handmade designers who sell the same things because I keep everything very low key and natural, so that certainly doesn't hurt either!
5) What inspires you to create new items?
I get the most inspired when I look at new (to me) materials. When I see big sheets of vintage fabric, I don't see it as what it currently is, but as what it could be. There's so much possibility in lace, buttons, and wooden spools of thread and I get excited to bring it all to life just by combining the pieces. Thrift shops and other peoples' attics always make me feel like there's so much to do and so little time, and old photographs really get my blood pumping, too! When I'm actually in my shop with time to work, but I need a little jolt to get my creative juices flowing, I'll put on my favourite music, or - confession time - Gilmore Girls. Yep, I said it. There's just something about that show that always makes me feel creative!