Sunday, December 30, 2012

Buy Handmade vol 41

We head to Toronto for our last behind the scenes of the year.

Name: Andrea Deal
Age: 35
Occupation: Mom, crafter, homeopath
Etsy Shop: Teetoo

Tell us a little about yourself.

I have been married to my favorite guy for eleven years. We have two children and one felis catus, Marvin. We live in the forest on the Niagara escarpment in Canada.

When did you start creating and how long have you been on Etsy?

I've been creating all my life. It started with drawing mostly when I was a kid and turned into painting in high school. I didn't start making crafts and sewing seriously until 2010. That was when I knew that I had to do it and do it a lot. Pretty much within a week or two of dusting off my sewing machine to see if I could use it to make some Christmas gifts in 2009, I decided to open a shop. I opened my shop in November of 2010.

How did you come up with your business name, is there any special meaning behind it?

I brainstormed for a bit, trying to find something that was a good representation of me and what I was trying to express creatively. I went to my husband and said, "I'm looking for something that sounds fun, cute and has a French flair" (my father was French and Amelie was in my pile of inspiring things). He thought for a minute and said, "Teetoo." That was really it.

Has your Etsy shop become your full time job? If not, would you like it to be?

No. When I first launched my shop I really wanted it to be my full time job. When people didn't buy stuff as much as I thought they might, I got kind of discouraged. I was pretty delusional in that first few months about how much hard work it was going to be and how much money I was going to make. Then as the time got closer for my children to go to school, I started to panic a bit. I had created this lovely little shop where I could express myself creatively in a fun and free spirited kind of way and I feared that if the kids went to school and I wasn't making more money, I'd have to give it up and get a 'real' job. Because shop sales weren't enough to pay the bills, I threw myself into blogging thinking that I could make some of my income that way as well. The more I pressured myself to make money blogging, the more I didn't like it. Soon, I realized that I didn't really want to be a blogger, I wanted to make stuff and that everything I was doing was out of fear of not being able to do that. When the time came for the kids to go to school, I suddenly started getting more orders in the shop and I also started getting clients as a homeopath which was my first first career which I had left behind for a variety of reasons (my creative funk was one of them). Simultaneously, I got myself a part-time job working from home for a homeopathic company. I found myself in quite an ideal situation where I was able to do several of the things I had thought that I wanted to do but I had never thought I could do them all at once. I kind of had an epiphany in that moment. I came to realize that I could have my Etsy shop no matter how big or small it is for the rest of my life if I want to. And the longer I have it and the more I plug away at it, the better it will be. I've come to see that I want to do a lot in my life and that what I really want, is to be able to be open to opportunities that arise in several areas and have the freedom to go in those directions. So, I would be quite happy if Etsy provided me with a full time job, but only if I don't have to completely give up some of my other pursuits in order to make it work.

How would you describe your creative process?

Probably obsessive. Once I start on something, everything else in life kind of fades into the background and I don't want to stop until I'm done. I'll forget to eat and such so keeping my creative pursuits to small projects is a good idea. In the past, I have done a lot of realistic painting. I really enjoy it but it is not conducive to being a mom and working on things in fits and starts among other responsibilities. So, for the shop, my creative process is centered around having fun and limiting my ideas to fit the theme of my shop- cute, lovable, small and not too complicated. Putting limits on myself has been really helpful. 

Where do you get your inspiration from?

Everywhere. Life is full of inspiration. In terms of my shop my inspiration probably comes from Jim Henson, Studio Ghibili, Disney, vintage toys and toy making books. The history of toys is very interesting to me. Also, animals and nature. Other artists and crafters on the internet and in books inspire me everyday.

Do you also sell your work at craft shows? 

Only once.

What shows have you taken part of, and do you have a favorite? 

I did the Bazaar of the Bizarre (not to be confused with Bizarre Bazaar) last year here in Toronto. I really loved it but doing it but doing shows is not really conducive to my lifestyle right now. I have become surprised by how much I love made to order work. So for now, that's mostly all I'm doing.

How long does it take you to prepare for a show? Do you have any special methods of getting ready? 

Way too long! Ha! Hence my decision to not do one this year. 

Describe an experience from a show (good or bad) and why that pushes you to continue with your work 

Seeing people enjoy your work in person is so great! Probably my favorite thing to see is grown men hugging my Giant Sasquatches. That is a heart warming experience!

What is your most cherished handmade item?

My father was from Prince Edward Island. Once he brought home a handmade wooden man from one of his trips back east. He drew a face on him and would make him dance for me. I keep it in my bedroom as a memento of him. My father really encouraged and inspired my creativity. We both have a taste for fun and cute things. I wish he was alive to see my little shop :)

Apart from creating things, what do you like to do?

I like a lot of things. I love nature, hiking, taking photos, natural medicine, reading, writing and watching documentaries. I'm a bit of a history buff (though I have a terrible memory for that sort of thing), I love science, space, questioning how things work and 'unexplained' phenomenon.  

If you weren’t an artist, what would you be and why?

I don't know. Because of my fascination with history, nature and science, I could be an archaeologist, a botanist or a physicist. Because of my love for performance I could be a circus performer or an actress... because of my love of books, maybe a librarian? I love adventure, so perhaps a pilot or a wildlife photographer? As you can see, I have a long list of things I 'could' be. There are many things I've already been and tried and would like to try in my life. 

Five years from now you will be…

Me. Like I mentioned before, with so many things that I want to try and do, it is impossible for me to have a clear vision of 'what' for my future. The only thing I can clearly see is 'who'. I've been envisioning myself as a surfer of life lately (is that cheesy or what?). I want to surf life and not be afraid to try new things that naturally come my way and just see where they lead. I guess I like adventuring, so the 'who' in my future is an adventurer.

Describe yourself in five words:

I love to have fun.

Carrying on with the five theme, if I were to turn on your <insert whatever type of music player you use here>, what five artists/songs would I see on your recently played list?

PJ Harvey, Cat Power, Frank Black, Deerhoof, Miles Davis

Lastly, do you have any advice for anyone thinking about opening their own shop or participating in craft shows?

Jump in a give it a try! Don't over-think it too much. You might love it or you might hate it. If you love it, the work involved won't be a deterrent to you and things will grow organically over time. Don't have too many expectations and see where things will take you. Look at what other people are doing for inspiration but don't copy what others are doing- make something that comes from your heart and you will find people who will respond to that. If you don't know how to do something, an internet search will most often answer your question. Finally, a piece of advice my mother-in-law gave me recently that is brilliant: If you have a problem, your solution will most often be found within 30 feet of you.