Sunday, September 13, 2009

Mbember Interview-The Awesomest Possum

Todays interview is with The Awesomest Possum

How did you choose the name of your shop and how long have you been a member of

I joined Etsy at the beginning of July 2009, after a month or so of lurking on etsy, planning, and crafting. At the time, my husband, Brian, and I were in a phase of calling each other the awesomest, the possumest, or the awesomest possum when we appreciated something the other had done ("Thanks, you're the possumest!"), so it has a cute personal significance. Also, I find possums really amusing animals because of how oblivious and overwhelmed they always seem to be (maybe I identify with them a bit...). And as an added bonus, it sounds catchy! :)

What kinds of items do you sell in your shop and what inspired you to start
creating them?

I sell jewelry involving beads, chain, and wire wrapping. I began creating jewelry last year when, as a new member of my bellydance troupe, I needed to make myself a performance costume (I included a pic of me, with my friend/troupemate Tripta in the background, dancing at an outdoor arts festival to show the results). The more time I spent finding yarn, chains, charms, etc. to adorn my costume with and planning how it all would look, the more I grew to love finding unique ways to combine textures and colors in jewelry materials. So I pretty much decided to teach myself how to make jewelry. It was just for me and gifts for friends/family for awhile, but I grew to really, really love designing jewelry and always wanted to try new things. I and my friends couldn't wear it all, and I couldn't reasonably justify buying so many supplies and making so much stuff without trying to make the hobby just a little self-supporting, so I decided to try selling some of my work.

I should also note that I've been a PhD student in the process of writing a dissertation for the whole time I've been making jewelry. Based on conversations I've had with friends, I've come to believe that everybody acquires at least one new hobby while writing a diss. I'm not sure if it's procrastination or just a desperate need to have something in your life that regularly produces a finished product, when everything else is constantly in process. :)

Do you donate to any charities or do any volunteer work?

I recently became a member of EFA Artists Helping Animals, so I donate a percentage of my sales to the team charity of the month. My husband and I like to donate to animal charities when we have the opportunity and funds to do so--these have included the Humane Society and local animal rescues here in Champaign, IL, and in Phoenix, AZ, where we're originally from. I also work at our local food co-op (I get a discount, so it's not strictly volunteer, but close) as a vegan baker; I make cookies, scones, and frozen pizza dough for the store to sell. Our deli manager is vegan too, so a lot of the food we make and sell in-store is vegan. It's been great showing co-op shoppers how tasty veganism can be!

What are some of your favorite things about etsy?

More than anything, I love the community! I've befriended some really nice people in my teams (Veganetsy, Etsyveg, EFA, and CFE) and also just through forums and shopping. There are so many incredibly helpful and kind people on etsy--and not to mention extremely talented! The teams, especially, are such a great way to meet people who share interests--everyone I meet in Veganetsy pretty much automatically shares my interest in crafting, diy/handmade/local stuff, animals, and veganism! Woohoo!

Also, of course, I love the opportunity to share my work and see the amazing stuff others are doing. I'm fast coming to prefer Etsy to other shopping venues for a variety of things; I've switched to using all mineral makeup with the guidance of the Etsy seller I buy it from, and the monsters I got from Lisa at pandawithcookie easily kicked the ass of any other baby shower gift I've ever bought! ;)

Do you have any animal companions?

My husband and I have three cats and two birds. (Yes, there is some delicate juggling that goes on to make sure everyone gets frequent chances to roam the house freely!) Our parakeet, Spud, is 34 adorable grams of fun and mischief, and I'm very thankful to my husband for all his hard work in hand-training her so we can hold, pet, and play with her. Our white-front Amazon parrot, Patty, is a rescue; she's 20 but they can easily live to be 60 or more! Our cats are all recent additions to the household; after our beloved original kitty, Priscilla, passed away, we just had birds for a little while, but one day on a birdy checkup at the vet we were introduced to Bill, who had been found abandoned and injured outside and brought to our vet. He was on the mend, friendly, and adorable, and he had nowhere to, he became ours. We quickly realized that he needed a friend, since he's young (estimated at about a year old) and we weren't quite fitting the bill as run-around-and-roughhouse buddies for him. We went to the Humane Society and found Pete, who seemed to be an exact personality twin to Bill, and we were about ready to go put in an application for him when over walked Monkey--14, tailless, offering purr and headbutts and all sorts of senior kitty fabulosity. So he came home too. :) All three of them adore each other--we couldn't be happier about how it worked out.

How long have you been vegan and what made you go vegan?

I was raised vegetarian, my parents having gone veggie a couple years before I was born, for ethical and health reasons. My husband became vegetarian while we were dating. A couple years after we were married, we made the decision together to go vegan. As we learned more and more about the horrors of commercial egg and milk production, we realized that, if we were vegetarian largely because we were opposed to the unnecessary cruelty and suffering caused by eating meat, then we needed to go all the way vegan because the treatment of dairy cows and egg-laying hens was at least as bad if not worse.

Do you have any favorite vegan things, like books, websites, stores, etc.?

I am an avid cook and baker, so I love vegan cookbooks. My first vegan cookbook, and still one of my favorites, was The Uncheese Cookbook by Joanne Stepaniak. It's great for making vegan versions of staples like sour cream, and it's the source of my favorite vegan quiche and cheesecake recipes. My very favorite cookbook author is Isa Chandra Moskowitz, of Vegan with a Vengeance and Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World fame. I have all her cookbooks and find her to be just outstanding when it comes to accessible vegan cooking; her recipes are made from affordable and easy-to-find ingredients, and they all come out delicious enough to impress even meat eaters. For someone who likes cooking for others and isn't rolling in money, it's nice to be able to afford to make stuff and not have it scream "THIS IS VEGAN HEALTH FOOD!" to people I share it with. :) I also love VegWeb for recipes.

Since I live a little over 2 hours from Chicago, my favorite vegan destinations are the Chicago Diner (omg peanut butter cookie dough milkshake) and Veggie Bite (omg chili cheese fries). We also have an awesome little vegan restaurant on the UIUC campus called the Red Herring and a local vegan Meetup group, and I love my food co-op (Common Ground) for vegan ingredients.

What are your favorite foods?

As the above clearly proves, I am obsessed with food, so this is a very hard question. Aside from the aforementioned milkshake and fries, many of my favorite foods are homemade. Things I especially love to make and eat include red and green salsa, marinara sauce, alfredo sauce, ice cream, and layer cake. And I love to talk food and swap recipes!

Is there anything else you would like to add or share?

I love, love, love the veganetsy team. I would like to make everyone in the world vegan, but in the meantime, it's great to have this community of talented vegans who are also just incredibly good people. Big hugs to all! :D

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