Friday, February 12, 2010

Etsy Artist Feature - Unkamen Gifts

Thank God it's Friday, right?!  Last weekend we got just over 27 inches of snow to play in.  Ok, it's the weekend so we don't mind slowing down a bit.  But this week, 17 more inches!  And this is NJ!!  Delayed school openings, 2 days off school, ok, enough already.  The kids will be in school until July if it keeps up.  Thanks for the comments about our Duck Toller featured on "Wordless Wednesday."  He can't get enough of this snow.

Enough snow talk for now.  This week's featured Etsy Artist is Karen of Unkamen Gifts AND the entire Helmrich family.  What a pleasure to live, work and have fun together!  I "met" Karen via Twitter and she's quite an experienced Etsy seller.  She's also a super sweet and generous woman!!  Grab a cuppa whatever makes you happy (coffee for me) and enjoy today's feature.  Stop by these shops and support handmade!

1. Tell us about you ~ your name, location, hobbies and interests. Where do you sell your handmade items?

We have the following Etsy shops:

Unkamengifts  Our families' main shop where we sell handmade modern chainmaille jewelry.

Favmoongirl  Leah's fun and funky jewelry shop.

Unkamensupplies  Ralph's handmade jewelry supply shop.

Unkamenkeychains  Just opened keychain and accessory shop.

We also sell on Artfire:

Here is a summary of us and our life:

The Helmrich Family is a creative bunch! They have taken the Buy Handmade Pledge, and love to make ALL their gifts for each other.

LEAH, now 16, began making jewelry in 2005 after a fellow RV'ing friend showed her a few of the basics. She took right to it and loved making jewelry for herself, and friends. Shortly after, she started selling it locally. She is pretty busy with her studies but still loves to keep her shop, Favmoongirl, stocked with fun and colorful creations!

About the same time, her brother BYRON, now age 13, started collecting interesting rocks and polishing them with his dad's help. He found that he enjoyed selling them as gratitude rocks, because the root of true happiness is being grateful for everything that you have. He has recently started making pin back buttons, magnets and keychains. He sews all of the envelopes and cloth pouches that we use for packaging and gift wrapping.

About 4 years ago, RALPH made a necklace for their mom, Karen and got such a charge out of seeing her wear it that he decided to learn more and make more! He specializes in chainmaille and Leah is starting to work with it too! Ralph is a semi-retied engineer who occasionally enjoys consulting and troubleshooting aerosol manufacturers.

KAREN enjoys it all! In previous lives she was a RN, Registered Yoga Instructor and Certified Personal Trainer. She does most of the photography, “test drives” the jewelry, helps with ideas for the marvelous creations and does most of the Internet "stuff".

We call both Livingston, Texas and Rolla, Missouri home, and enjoy traveling throughout the United States-46 states, so far!  The kids are and always have been homeschooled and love their homelife and travels. Traveling along are 2 Goldfish ( Jake and Goldie Hawn), 2 Dogs ( Ivy, a Doxie and Hookah, a Basset) and 1 Nutty Cat (Triangle).

2. Tell us about your art and how you got your start selling your handmade items on Etsy?

A friend of a friend told us about Etsy. We registered our shop, took a few pictures and listed a handful of items. We actually sold our first piece the very first day that we opened our shop! It was very exciting....and very lucky! The next 1100 sales required much more work!

3. What inspires your art?

We find inspiration from a number of sources. Our customers frequently have great ideas, friends too. Sometimes it's a bead or stone that "speaks" to us. Usually, though, we brainstorm together. One of us will say a few words and another will get a "lightbulb" over their head and runs off and makes a prototype. Sometimes that's it, sometimes we brainstorm more and tinker more.

4. What is your own favorite design and why?

This is my personal fav:

First, it's my favorite color, peridot green. Second, it's my design! Ralph left a section of chainmaille on my desk...and it sat for a long time, until one day I picked it up in a unique way and it formed half a sphere. I took it to him and asked if he could make another and connect them into a whole sphere. Yup! Leah does the hand wrapping on the leather and the clasp is hand forged by Ralph. It's all non tarnishing and totally unique! I just love it!

5. Do you have any advice for those who are new to selling on Etsy?

It can be overwhelming when you are new, but I would say the most important advice I have for someone new to selling on Etsy is to have a unique product that you absolutely love. That love will show through and help so much as you write copy for it, take pictures of it and promote, promote, promote it! Next, buy on Etsy. Join a team or 2. Enjoy the journey!

6. Do you have any favorite Etsy artists?

We have tons of favorites! Many of our customers have shops too and they make fabulous creations. We love our teammate's shops, especially from the Full Time Etsy Crafters Team. It would be impossible to pick one or 2!

7. Do you have anything else you'd like to share? Are there any other websites or stores where we can find you?

We are thrilled that customer's can find us coast-to coast in many wonderful boutiques....but especially would like to highlight Modern Mouse in Alameda, CA. Ellen, the shopkeeper who also makes great totes and bags, stocks her shop with Etsyian creations.

Thank you so much Karen, Leah, Ralph and Bryon for sharing your incredible talents with us!  Have a great weekend all and enjoy Valentine's Day with the sweeties in your life.

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