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Jan 312011
Tshirt from Small Town, Brisbane Etsy shop

Green Carp Tshirt by Small Town on Etsy

I love the way creativity, community and the web go together so well.

A great example of this is Etsy. Founded in 2005, it’s a store spanning 150 countries where people sell their handmade (as well as vintage and supplies) items. Artists and crafters maintain their own stores through a classy, very transparent and smooth set-up.

With all the choices we have now it’s good to have the freedom to find out more about the context of what you’re buying, to avoid the logistics and stress of shopping centres, to have more choice and to buy something original and handmade.

Etsy says:

Our mission is to enable people to make a living making things, and to reconnect makers with buyers.

Our vision is to build a new economy and present a better choice:

Buy, Sell, and Live Handmade.

BrisStyle - Brisbane Etsy artists Locally, there’s a group of Brisbane Etsy members really making the most of their network. BrisStyle is “a collective of indie artists and crafters from the greater Brisbane area who sell on”. These “BrisStylers” get involved in a number of offline activities such as BrisStyle Indie Twilight Markets,  Indie Mother and Child Markets, Indie Eco Markets and a range of other events. They also communicate with and promote their members through their Twitter, Facebook, Flickr pages, enewsletters and blog.

Two Carina-based Bristylers …

I found these two local Etsy BrisStylers and asked them about their creative endeavours. It was great to also discover that they have both been donating a percentage of their sales to the flood relief.

Monica Bauer | Small Town

Monica runs Small Town with her husband Cameron.  They set up their Etsy shop last year and sell colourful garments for babies and little children.

Cameron and Monica Bauer

Cameron and Monica Bauer

“Inspired by the need for unique colourful clothes for little ones, we decided to get creative. The Small Town collection includes richly coloured garments which have been hand screen printed with an eclectic array of playful designs. We use eco friendly inks and all our garments are 100% cotton.”

How long have you lived in Carina for?
We have been in Carina for 4 and a half years.  We lived in Norman Park prior to moving to Carina and love this side of town.

What do you like about living in this part of Brisbane?
You cannot beat the convenience of where we live.  We are just a hop, skip and jump away from great parks, libraries, community markets and Wynnum foreshores.  While we do dream of living on acreage somewhere a little more remote, Carina is perfect for us at the  moment.

Baby clothing from Small Town

Blue Drum Onesie from Small Town on Etsy

What are the designs on your Small Town garments inspired by?
As a husband and wife team, we are inspired by the things we value – music, art, culture, diversity and of course, our little folk  Small Town was born out of the need for little boys wear.  Confronted by a market dominated with images of cars, trucks and cutesy animals, we decided to get creative.

Tell us about your experience with Etsy and BrisStyle.
Being a member of BrisStyle has allowed us to meet some amazing and very talented people.  Everyone is super friendly and always willing to share their knowledge.  Etsy has allowed us to bring our Small Town garments to an international market.  It is also the source of much “lost time”.  I often find myself getting lost among the wonderful creations and often emerge wondering where that last hour went.

Do you have a favourite Etsy artist?
I have admired local designer Ogekko’s creations for some time now.  She makes gorgeous children’s and women’s ethnic inspired clothing using the most amazing fabric that has been sourced from around the world.

Where have your Etsy customers from?
Most of our Etsy customers are from the US.  We still get very excited when we get to send an order off to far away places.  We are thrilled that a little baby or child is rocking around Chicago/New York etc in our clothes.

What other places (both online and offline) are important for your business
Our primary source of online sales is via our MadeIt store,  This allows Australian customers to shop in Aussie dollars.  We have a couple of online stockist and will also be launching our own website this year.  We absolutely love doing markets.  It is a great opportunity for us to meet our lovely customers.  Our customers can also see and feel our clothes up close and and it has been fantastic to see everyone’s reactions.  We like to mix it up and can be found at Mathilda’s Market, BrisStyle of course, Mummytree Markets and Young Designers Market to name a few.

Is this the first time you and Cameron have worked together? How do you find the partnership from a business-relationship point of view?
This has been the first time we have worked together.  Cameron and I have very similar passions and where we do differ, it is often in a complementary way which works out perfectly.   The designs which have been the source of the most contention between us, have in the end, turned out to be our best designs.

Outside of Small Town, what other things take up the bulk of your and Cameron’s time
With two little ones, day jobs and Small Town, life gets quite busy in our house.  We do try and keep things balanced and always make time for a little play.

What are your plans/ideas/hopes for Small Town for 2011?
Plans for 2011 include the new designs, the launch of our website and a new addition to our family.  We are very excited!

Angelene McMullen | Handmade Jewellery by Angelene

Angelene McMullen

Angelene McMullen

“I go to my happy place while hammering, I am rapt in wire wrapping, and I find beauty in beading. Each piece is individually loved, and I hate parting with them, however, the idea that someone else will love my pieces helps me to put them in the shop. I love using natural materials – gemstones, crystal, and silver.”

How long have you lived in Carina for?
I’ve lived in Carina for about three years, the last two of which we have been renovating our post-war house into a lovely family home.

What do you like about living in this part of Brisbane?
I just love the convenience, the proximity to the city, the ease of access to medical facilities, shops and public transport.  I also find it a great place to run my spray tanning business (Ange’s Spray Tanning).  There are so many women this side of town looking for affordable tans, so I find business booming!

Sterling silver bow necklace by Angelene

Sterling silver bow necklace by Angelene on Etsy

How did you learn to work with silver and make jewellery?
I have been beading since I was a kid, stringing together tiny beads with my dad’s fishing line. I still have some of those rings and bracelets somewhere!  I again picked up the craft about five or so years ago, starting with pre-made ear wires and pins and lots of Swarovski crystals.  I’ve since evolved into wire wrapping, hammering and working with real gemstones, which is very exciting, albeit expensive!

What inspires the designs of your jewellery?
Organic shapes are my inspiration – you won’t find too many harsh angles in my work.  Lots of circles, swirls and curves.  I think they’re sexy, and it really gives flow to the piece. I do have other designs which are assembled, but what really is my love are the complicated wire wrapped pieces with gems – yummy!

Tell us about your experience with Etsy and BrisStyle.

My experience with Etsy has been fantastic.  The forums are a great source of inspiration, advice, and occasionally a giggle or two.  BrisStyle has been a great team to join.  I have been a member of the Down Under Street Team (DUST) since I first began, and BrisStyle is a recent addition.  What I love about BrisStyle is the face to face interaction and networking, and access to the BrisStyle Indie Designer Markets at Hamilton.  I don’t have much time to do many markets, so these are perfect.  The Hamilton location is convenient to get to, it’s easy to set up (unlike some city venues) and the clientele is always friendly.

Do you have a favourite Etsy artist?
I’ve been addicted to Emily and Amanda’s work in Ureshii – they keep me outfitted for work in some seriously sassy skirts and tops.  I also love Morphologica’s quirky and fun jewellery – she takes her inspiration from brain cells and stuff like that and makes zany jewellery.  I have the DNA earrings and am going back for more!

Where have your Etsy customers from?
I get a few from all over the world.  My last couple of packages went to Hawaii, New York and Philadelphia in the US, and I’ve also posted to France, Germany and Holland.  About half of my sales are from Australia though, both within Brisbane and around the country.  It’s very exciting to be posting things all over the place!

What other places (both online and offline) are important for your business?
My new website is important for me  as it helps me provide information for spray tanning clients, as well as an introduction to my jewellery.  Many of my clients have seen my jewellery on that site and gone on to sign up to Etsy and purchase.  I used to do a lot of jewellery parties (like Tupperware, only shinier) and they were a very successful venue for me too, given the personal aspects, however I do find myself even more limited with time and can’t do them very often.

Outside of your jewellery business, what other things take up the bulk of your time?
I have a full time job working for the Queensland Government as a policy advisor on Indigenous policy.  I find it very interesting and rewarding, and I get to pull policies apart to see how they will affect Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Queenslanders, give my opinion and use my creativity in the writing process to make change and negotiate for better outcomes.  At night, I’m always spray tanning!  Come to think of it, on weekends too. It doesn’t always leave a lot of time for jewellery but I do try to find time when I can.  I find that when I don’t make things for awhile I get a bit antsy – I’m convinced that the hammering and bending and twisting of wire is therapeutic!

What are your plans/ideas/hopes for your business for 2011?
I’d love to continue to build both my spray tanning and jewellery ventures.  I’d love to spend more time on my hobby, jewellery making, as it really is my happy place.  In fact my storefront reads: “I go to my happy place while hammering, I am rapt in wire wrapping, and I find beauty in beading” and it’s true, I really do.

In my hunt for local Etsy people I also found …

CatmationCatamation from Morningside
“I’m a digital illustrator/animator/designer by day and turn to more analogue creative pursuits in my spare time. Origami has been a passion since childhood, along with drawing and painting. print-making, photography and animation just seemed a natural progression.”
Sandra Darling Etsy shopSandra Darling from Norman Park
“I am a visual artist based in Brisbane, Australia – however I ship all over the world, which I think is a nice way of bringing the world together, one art work at a time! All my art work is my own that has been lovingly created and printed on only the best quality archival paper and using the best quality archival inks!”
Warm Sigh Soap Etsy shopWarm Sigh Soap from Norman Park
“Many years ago I had a small farm on which I kept goats. The overflow of milk from happy goats lead me to soap making. Now, reluctantly, I no longer have my farm, but I still love doing the things I use to do as much as I still can. The skills I learnt I still have, and my love for the sweet scents available for soap means I can still have the joy of soap making, even if I don’t have access to the fresh milk I use to.”
Afrikitten Etsy shopAfrikitten from Hawthorne
“The creations you see here have all been hand-made by me, using genuine Swarovski crystals, pearls, vintage buttons, cabochons and glass beads. Most of my creations are one-of-a-kind, not just because I value uniqueness, but because I simply get bored of making the same thing twice! I was born and raised in magical Africa but have called Australia home since 2003. ”

So there are some options for buying something handmade as well as shopping locally without having to deal with carparks and similar frustrations!  I believe this form of retail is win-win for buyer and seller. And no, I have not received any sort of payment for this write-up, I’m simply very positive about it and I wanted to get it in front of you all.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Gen is the Founder of Carindale Connect (started in 2007). She has a Bachelor of Arts in Journalism from Queensland University of Technology and an internship from ABC Online. She's involved in a number of web projects, was the Website Manager for Chamber of Commerce and Industry QLD and the Editor of Wotnews (Australian news aggregator and search engine start-up). She also spent some time as a volunteer Community Correspondent for 612 ABC Brisbane. Born in Hobart, Tasmania, Gen now lives in Carindale. She loves her bicycle (but doesn't do lycra), the environment and art.
Genevieve Robey

  5 Responses to “A local look at Etsy – an online creative community”

  1. Thanks for this article and helping spreading the word about Etsy and BrisStyle. I’m also a Carindale resident, Etsy seller and BrisStyle-r. The BrisStyle group are such a supportive group as well as being filled with so many talented people!

  2. Thank you for including WarmSigh!

    The availability of talented local products has really been opened up by online shopping through Etsy and groups like BrisStyle. Why buy from overseas when you can buy much closer – and pay less on postage too!

    And, of course, supporting a local is just being an Aussie!

  3. What an excellent article. Well done Ange.

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