Sunday, February 09, 2014

Buy Handmade vol 94

This week we are in Vancouver, B.C. Canada

Name: maria koskela
Age: fortysomething
Occupation: maker
Etsy Shop:

Tell us a little about yourself.
I am a Finn living in North Vancouver, BC, Canada, with a great better half and two sons Oskar and Kasper.

When did you start creating and how long have you been on Etsy?
Gosh, a long time a go. In Finland ‘home economics” are part of the elementary school curriculum, so starting at first grade you learn how to sew, knit and crochet.

I stated selling on Etsy in January 2009 and never looked back.

How did you come up with your business name, is there any special meaning behind it?
I wanted to use my own name, which is really Marja (day to day I use Maria, because people mispronounce my real name so wrong that it gives me goose pumps). So I figured since I can’t use my real one why not just make something up. Mimi was our realtor at the time and I just absolutely loved the graphical components of the name: mimi was born.

Has your Etsy shop become your full time job? If not, would you like it to be?
No, etsy is not my full time job, but making toys is. I do few big craft shows during the year and have multiple wholesale accounts that keeps me more than busy. Right now I am looking for someone to help me with sewing, Anyone?

How would you describe your creative process?
I am a ‘thinker and doer’. Most of the ideas just pop into my mind: often late at night or on my hikes in the beautiful forests that surround us. As the idea develops further: either in my mind or after I have done few doodles I just sit down by my sewing machine and sew as many prototypes as it takes to get it right.

Where do you get your inspiration from?
From my family and the nature that takes my breath away every time I open the front door.

Do you also sell your work at craft shows?
Yes. I do Circle Craft Xmas show every year, Toronto’s One of a Kind Show every second spring. And I pick, choose and rotate few smaller shows every year. My next show will be the Blim market, March 30th @ Heritage hall, Vancouver, BC.

How long does it take you to prepare for a show? Do you have any special methods of getting ready?
It really depends of the show. The bigger ones take about few months and the smaller ones I can be ready in a week, if I have somewhat enough stock in my “warehouse” to start with. Special methods? No, normally just work like a dog.

Describe an experience from a show (good or bad) and why that pushes you to continue with your work 
I love doing the big shows, they are really hard work you feel like a train run over when you are done, but they are priceless experiences. One always meets so nice people: customers and fellow vendors. It is really a great place to connect, exchange experiences and receive direct feedback.

What is your most cherished handmade item?
My very first Musical owl, I made it for my son when he was one. It is in our keepsake box (he is now 11) and that is really how mimi started.

Apart from creating things, what do you like to do?
Ski. Putter around my parents summerhouse, which is on an island in the middle of a lake in Finland. And see great movies.

Was there ever any other job you dreamed of having growing up?
I am sure I did not dream of being ‘a maker’ growing up, maybe like every little girl I thought I would be a flight attended or a doctor. But as I finished high school it was pretty obvious to me that I would work in some kind of creative field.

Five years from now you will be…
Happy and healthy.

Describe yourself in five words:
Good listener, loving mom, stubborn, impulsive, hard worker.

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?
One Republic, Goldplay, Greenday, REM, Bruno Mars.

Lastly, do you have any advice for anyone thinking about opening their own shop or participating in craft shows?
You will never know if you do not try.