What kinds of items do you sell in your shop and what inspired you to startcreating them?
I sell jewelry handcrafted from sterling silver and brass mixed with gemstones, along with original brush paintings. My art and jewels both emphasize clean & simple, often flowing, lines, and I think, for the most part, that both my paintings and jewelry have a lightness and delicacy in common. What inspires me? Earth. Nature. Small and intricate and wonderful things that many people don't or can't see. The beauty of simplicity. Silence. My crazy thoughts and ideas!
Do you donate to any charities or do any volunteer work?
Definitely- supporting causes is what makes my work feel most worthwhile. My Etsy shop donates 10% of its sales to a different, usually local to Pittsburgh, organization every month- mostly animal rights, human rights, women’s or gay issues, or peace & justice oriented. This month it's Vegan Outreach (http://www.veganoutreach.org). I'm also involved in selling Cooking with Compassion vegan cookzine (http://www.etsy.com/view_listing.php?listing_id=18770949) that benefits Peaceful Prairie Sanctuary for abused & neglected farm animals. Being an activist and an advocate is hugely important to me, even if it's with more subtle action sometimes. From veganism, animal rights, gay rights, women's rights, fighting violence agains women, lack of access to medical care- being involved, spreading awareness, and DOING something is extremely important to me.
What are some of your favorite things about etsy?
The community, especially the teams! :) I am team leader of EtsyVeg (http://etsyveg.blogspot.com), and I belong to Vegan Etsy, Cruelty Free Etsy, Etsy Pittsburgh, and Handmade in PA. I have have learned so much from my teammates and met so many wonderful people, many of whom I connect with every day. And then there is the shopping! With every purchase supporting an independent artisan/business, and with so many of those artisans donating to worthy causes out of their shop profits, it's really hard to say NO to spending on Etsy. Add to that the plethora of wonderful and unique and lovingly made items available there, and you've got a recipe for addictive shopping. I am a sucker for handmade bags, clothing, and accessories, as well as art! I spend every free dollar (and sometimes not-so-free dollars) there.
Do you sell your items outside of etsy, either online or in retail shops?
At local indie craft shows like I Made It! (http:// http://www.imadeitpgh.com/), through consignment or home parties once in a while, and custom work via word of mouth. My family is always talking me up and bringing me sales- they're the best!
Do you have any future plans for your shop?
Well, earlier this year, I had decided to expand into more advanced metal work in jewelry making. But I recently had a revelation that my heart isn't really into that so much. I want to spend more time on painting, revitalizing my practice. I have plans to get prints made of some of my pieces, as well as make the images into pendants and the like over the summer months. I am really excited about it!
What kinds of hobbies and interests do you have?
I am a yoga teacher and practitioner, so yoga is a big part of my life even when my own home practice gets pretty crappy (like now). ;) I collect gemstones and minerals and found objects from nature- they are all over my house. I also collect interesting bowls- especially small ones in bright colors or unique shapes. I love to cook from scratch, too, espcially yummy vegan baked goods! And gardening and hiking, or just spending time close to nature, are some of my favorite things.
Do you have any animal companions?
I have a darling, sweet girl named Sophie, my beloved kitty. We have had her in our lives for 9 years now- I don't know what I would ever do without her fluffy butt running around and her soft, sweet head that she loves to have kissed. I love to be in bed at night and feel her snuggling up against me or curling up on my hip or back. :) And then, the complete opposite of that, she is so much fun to watch when gets all crazy like a demon and attacks her toys or runs around the hosue growling at herself. lol She brings us so much laughter and joy and love. :)
How long have you been vegan and what made you go vegan?
I've been vegan for over 11 years now. Originally, I went vegetarian without knowing much about it other than I wanted to stop eating animals. I became vegan a year or two later for health reasons, again, not really knowing much about it. Once I started meeting other people who were veg/vegan, my whole idea about it changed. My understanding and knowledge about being vegan has grown a thousandfold since then. I choose it as a lifestyle now for deep ethical, spiritual, and moral reasons. At this point in my life, I am vegan to honor and respect all beings as equally deserving of compassion, love, and freedom. Animals, human beings, and the planet- all are one, and in essence, of the same energy and spirit. For me, being vegan is also a way of giving back to Earth by living as impact-free as possible, and about maintaining a healthy mind, body, spirit, and soul. I think vegan living is an example of how to walk tenderly, harm minimally, love fully, and lead with a compassionate heart. It's about countering all of the fear, hatred, and cruelty in the world with peace, kindness, and openness. And about countering and making up for my own negative crap I send into the world. As mellow as I am, I can be a bitch sometimes! :P It's been a natural progression to move toward eliminating everything possible from my life that isn't compassionate, including materials used in creating my art and jewelry. Anything else feels 'unnatural' and incongruent with who I am, what I care about, and the impact (or lack of one) I want to make in the world. I put so much of myself into creating things that to me (and hopefully to others) are pure and beautiful. Cruelty isn't beautiful. Materials that are derived from cruel methods or that dishonor other beings aren't beautiful.
Do you have any favorite vegan things, like books, websites, stores, etc.?
I use VegWeb and PPK for recipes all the time. I have alot of cookbooks, but I always seem to find better recipes on these sites. I like shopping for vegan items on Etsy most of all.
What are your favorite foods?
Chocolate! I have a huge sweet tooth, especially for vegan cupcakes. :) I love avocadoes, Indian and Thai food, and fresh whole food dishes. Then I go through periods of time where one thing or another is at the top of my food craving list- right now it's blueberry pancakes and vegan 'snausages' or anything made with coconut milk. :)