Sunday, June 27, 2010

Member of the Week: Allison of Monkeys Always Look!

Today we meet Allison of Monkeys Always Look. She is one of those lucky sellers who has managed to make Etsy her full time job, with items so popular that she was once even one of Etsy's featured sellers. So what does she do that's so fantastic? She made her mark with little succulent plants potted in interesting vintage containers, and has now shifted her focus to antique-ish silverware stamped as garden markers, 'I heart Mom', 'you are my sunshine', or whatever you can dream up (yes, she does them custom!). Pretty great? As Allison might say, supergreat.

When did you open your Etsy shop?
I opened my shop almost two years after I told my boss to suck it and I have been doing this full-time ever since.

What kinds of items do you sell in your shop, and what inspired you to start creating them?
I have a couple different things in my shop. I sell potted succulents, candles, a little bit of jewelry and a lot of stamped silverware. The inspiration to start creating was the desire to eat, pay the bills and stick it to the man.

Do you donate through your shop to any charities or do any volunteer work?
While I don’t donate based on shop sales my husband and I donate to animal charities as well as human ones. I try to do volunteer work when I can and we have fostered a few wayward pups along the way.

What are some of your favorite things about Etsy?
There are so many talented people and it is so fun to see what people create. I have made some awesome life-long friends though etsy and will be forever thankful for that.

Do you sell your items outside of Etsy, either online or in retail shops?
I do sell outside of etsy. I have my own site and I have been super duper fortunate to have a number of retailers sell my line, most notably Anthropologie, Green Depot and coming very soon my new line of jewelry at Herbivore in Portland, OR!

Have you been featured anywhere?
I have been very lucky to have some wonderful features! I think the biggest boosts were my garden markers in Country Living Magazine and Design*Sponge.

How long have you been vegan, and what made you go vegan?
I have been vegan for almost 3 years and was vegetarian for about 18 years beforethat. I had been thinking about it for a while and after reading The Omnivore’s Dilemma it finally hit me: dairy cows live a horrible, pain filled life and even though they don’t die to feed me, they suffer so much. I don’t know why it took so long for it to dawn on me and I’m embarrassed that it did. But I’m here now, so better late then never.

Do you have any favorite foods?
Yes, it’s called FOOD. My husband is an awesome cook and the family chef so whatever he makes I love, especially when it comes from our HUGE veggie garden he tends to every day. He rules!

Do you have any animal companions?
Boy do we! Weston the Cat is our 17lb monster who was found running around in Central Park. Mr. Vivian, our 25lb sulcatta tortoise, roams our backyard and keeps the grass mowed. And lastly there's our 3 rescued Great Danes. There’s Marley who we have had for 4 years and holds a Master’s Degree in Human Manipulation; Oliver, a deaf love bug that likes ice cubes, peanut butter and taking dishes out of the sink to lick them clean; and Toby, our failed foster who is teaching Oliver very bad habits, like taking dishes out of the sink and jumping on the kitchen table to feed at the cat food buffet.

What kinds of hobbies and interests do you have?
I love taking the dogs to the beach a few times a week and I find that so relaxing and enjoyable. I try to exercise and pretend to like it. And I love to bake something that contains lots of sugar and then eat it all in one sitting.

What is the vegan community like in your area?
Honestly I have no idea, I don’t get out much. There are a few restaurants that we go to time and time again and there is an awesome vegan store here called All Vegan that I shop at on occasion. But beyond that it is just me in my little vegan world.

Do you have any future plans for your shop?
I do! I’m launching a new line of jewelry in about a month that I’m very excited about.

Is there anything else you would like to add or share?
I have been extremely lucky to be able earn a living making and selling my little items. While I work very long hours and truly never get a break or vacation (thanks to my iPhone) I LOVE IT and wouldn’t trade it for anything. I get a lot of people asking me how I do it or how can they do it to. I’m happy to answer anyone who has questions about going “full-time” and sticking it to the man, so please feel free to contact me. Also, to the team mates: while you might not see me post a lot in the vegan team forum, I always read all the posts and feel like I know most of you, so come on over and say hi!

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

A short but excellent video...

about awareness, compassion, and that moment when it all comes together.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

SOS Thrift: Shop for our Oceans!

Vegans have a habit of going above and beyond for the animals, and the members of the Vegan Etsy Team are certainly no exception. One of the most ambitious and inspiring projects undertaken by a VET member of late is S.O.S. Thrift, an online thrift shop designed to address the Gulf oil spill head on. (After you check out the blog, make sure you follow them on Twitter!) Built and run by Pippi of Uber Duper Creations, the shop's proceeds go directly to help fund the work of Sea Shepherd's Gulf Rescue Campaign. To learn more about S.O.S., read on for the press release put together by fellow VET member Heather Henry of 3am Art Productions (aktie9).

S.O.S.:1.The letters represented by the Morse Code signal · · · - - - · · ·, used as an international distress signal, especially by ships and aircraft. 2. A call or signal for help. 3. Now a call or signal to shop S.O.S. Thrift, an online marketplace to help Sea Shepherd Conservation Society clean up the Gulf Oil Spill and efforts to save animals and habitats affected by the crisis.

The ocean is crying out for help. The distress call is loud and clear. Luckily, someone has heard that call and is doing something positive about it. In her spare time from raising two lovely little girls, Pippi has opened up a weekend thrift store online. Items are being listed on a rolling basis, so check in regularly. You can donate or you can shop! Wonderful quality goods are there for your perusal, from the handmade world as well as some gently used items. You get two kinds of shopping in one convenient, online place.

Please head on over to check out the S.O.S. Thrift Blog to shop for our oceans!

All monies collected (sans shipping) is being donated to Sea Shepherd's Gulf Rescue Campaign. Sea Shepherd is working with the US Government and others in the campaign to stop the flow of oil and recover the Gulf area from the BP Oil Spill. They will be securing a third boat, training volunteers in Haz-mat work, and cleaning animals who have become drenched in oil. We are all hopeful they will save many, many lives and confident that they will do great work. We are here to lend them our support and stand behind them in pride.

Pippi's enthusiasm is infectious - it has already spread to several of her friends, who are helping by donating and getting the message out. One person sure can make a difference - it only takes some action.

Sincerely, Heather Henry
Artist and Photographer

Friday, June 18, 2010

Summer Celebration!

Since moving here to Minnesota I've come to appreciate Summer much more, winter can seem pretty endless so when it finally does warm up, it's definitely time to celebrate! Here are some bright, summery items from the Vegan Etsy Team:

So what's your favorite thing about summer?

Sunday, June 13, 2010

VET Member of the Week: Monkey & Squirrel!

This week we are excited to present Jenn of Monkey & Squirrel! This is definitely the gal you want to have with you at a rummage sale - she has a gift for making something old new again. But of course she also has a talent for creating simple yet beautiful objects from unexpected materials. Now, a window into her art and craft...

When did you open your Etsy shop, and how did you choose its name?
i can't believe i've now been open one year and two months! it's gone so quickly and i'm loving every minute of it! i named my shop, Monkey & Squirrel, after two of my fabulous little kitties. they're so proud!

What kinds of items do you sell in your shop, and what inspired you to start creating them?
i've got a bit of variety going on in my shop. cast iron wall hooks, hand sewn wall decor, brooches, headbands... i like to think of Monkey & Squirrel as a little gift shop where you can find something for just about anyone!

Do you donate through your shop to any charities or do any volunteer work?
i certainly do! a percentage of my profits go to North Mecklenburg Animal Rescue. it's a wonderful dog rescue that i work with here in NC.

What are some of your favorite things about Etsy?
oh so many! i love the pounce feature, i love reading every single blog article, i love the treasuries, and i especially love the feeling of community here on etsy. in so many ways it's made the world feel a lot smaller. gotta love that!

Do you sell your items outside of Etsy, either online or in retail shops?
i do have a few retail shops that carry my goodies. you can now find Monkey & Squirrel in colorado, brooklyn, atlanta, chicago, and even canada!

Have you been featured anywhere?
i've been so very lucky to be featured on some fabulous blogs. i know for a fact that my shop wouldn't be nearly as successful without the blogging community, and for that i can never thank them enough!

How long have you been vegan, and what made you go vegan?
i have been vegan for 5 years now. i was vegetarian for 8 years before going vegan and it just felt like a really natural progression. once i realized that the dairy industry was just as evil, if not more so then the beef industry, it was really not a hard decision at all. i love being vegan! i know that it's something great i'm doing for animal rights, for my body, and for the environment.

What are your favorite foods?
right now i'm obsessed with raw zucchini pasta. i could eat if for every meal! i'm also a huge fan of falafel. i always say that if i had to chose one food to live of off for the rest of my life, it would be falafel!

Do you have any favorite vegan things, like books, websites, stores, etc.?
i love what the vaute couture line is doing for vegan fashion. it's getting a lot of attention in the fashion world, and that can only do more to spread the word about veganism. that and their winter coats are amazing! any vegan who has ever lived in a seriously chilly town knows about the lack of warm, cute vegan winter coats.

What kinds of hobbies and interests do you have?
bike rides, yoga, game nights with friends... these are high on my list of interests!

Do you have any animal companions?
of course! i have three cats (monkey, squirrel, and juan) and one dog (barkley). they certainly keep life interesting!

What is the vegan community like in your area?
charlotte, nc is actually lacking somewhat in the vegan department. we just got our first 100% vegan restaurant (thank you zizi's!), and i'm hoping more aren't far behind. don't get me wrong, there are some wonderful options here. i just wouldn't call charlotte a must visit place on a vegan food tour. if you are vegan and you find yourself here, these are some of my must haves: buffalo chicken sandwich from zizi's, zucchini bread from central coffee, crystal veg roll from pisces, tofu & tater salad at the flying biscuit, and any of the tofu dishes at lang van. my personal favorite right now is the lemongrass tofu... delicious!

Do you have any future plans for your shop?
definitely! i would really like to fine tune everything. i would love to create specific collections, either by season, or by theme. this way people who wanted to decorate their home in a specific style, could find it really easy to shop by collections. that's just one of the many many plans in the works for Monkey & Squirrel's future.

Is there anything else you would like to add or share?
a big thanks to the VET team. you guys are all so supportive and i couldn't be prouder to call myself a member! oh and... GO VEGAN!

Friday, June 11, 2010

Veg*n Etsy Shops Come Together to Help Animals after the BP Oil Disaster

Ever since the BP oil spill happened I've been spinning my wheels, wondering what to do to help. I have two kids which is a full time job, so heading down there to actively participate in the cleanup process isn't going to happen, at least right now. I might get my chance of course - sadly it doesn't look like cleanup is going to happen overnight.

(Thank you to Cari of Loveluca for lending me this lovely photo.)

Then Lisa of Panda with Cookie told the Etsy Veg street team her plans to help: "***20% of all sales {from the Panda with Cookie shop} go to the Suncoast Seabird Sanctuary, who are preparing to clean and care for animals affected by the horrible oil disaster happening on the Gulf Coast.***". Well, I jumped right up onto that bandwagon and helped myself to the reins. ;)

I decided I'd do the same thing, and asked around on the other street teams I'm on, as well as the one I help facilitate, if others would like to help too. The response was immediate! People out there are concerned and looking to do something, anything to help out. Here are some other Etsians who are already contributing:
I will edit my blog as time goes on and others join forces. Please check individual shop announcements for end dates and more details on donations.

Thanks for checking this out and helping!

Thanks to Heather of 3am Art Productions (aktie9 on Etsy) for putting together this great post. Is your Etsy shop or organization doing something to help with Gulf cleanup efforts? Please let us know in the comments!

Sunday, June 6, 2010

VET Member(s) of the Week:
kelly beth and scott of twig & leaf botanicals

hello! we are kelly beth & scott of twig & leaf botanicals, and we are slightly opposed to capital letters. (at least kelly is, and she’s typing up this interview.) scott’s the structured, mathematical one; he does our accounting and keeping track of invoices and whatnot, and keeps kelly motivated. we have lived together longer than we have been dating, and can’t wait to travel the world together. scott is currently finishing up his economics/business degree, and kelly is in college limbo. she has done 5 years of school, with 3 years off between to travel, but still has no clue what she should get a degree in at a university. what she really wants to do, she is currently doing. however, outside of university, her degree in botanical/herbal medicine is on the horizon.

When did you open your Etsy shop, and how did you choose its name?

etsy says we opened in october of ’09, but we didn’t actively start using etsy until march of this year. kelly has been creating herbal tea blends for about 4 years now, and has been selling them to a local coffee shop/bookstore here in Boulder for over 2 years.

we chose the name “twig & leaf botanicals” after months and months of combining two words together and seeing how it felt to say. twig & leaf happens to also be the name of a greasy Louisville, Kentucky diner where kelly lived for 6 years. maybe an homage to one of my favorite cities, maybe it just felt good to say. we’re okay with both.

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

when I was little, my mother thought I would become a chemist or doctor, and my dad thought I would be a park ranger. I have always been interested in plants and their properties, and going on tours at the natural history museum, and trying to make people feel better.

this evolved into wanting to take my interest in plants and mesh that with natural health & well-being, with knowledge that many people rely heavily on chemicals to clean their home, things they can’t pronounce rubbed into their skin, and the cheapest possible option as a way of living. I wanted to give everyone access to affordable, vegan, natural options for their bodies, home, and overall daily lifestyle.

Describe the process of your work, from inspiration to completion:

making something new is all trial and error. a lot of error, much a trial. but making things, making a mess, and cleaning it all to mess it up again is pretty much my favorite thing to do. today I am making toothpaste. this will involve telling my blender everything will be okay, and scott and I brushing our teeth about 16 times before we go to bed tonight. you should have seen us trying my mud masks. hilarious. twig & leaf is my way of making a living. we’re pretty humble, and live in a small cabin at the foot of the mountains, and going to work means playing music and dancing around the kitchen for a good 6 hours, and spending another 4 hours in front of a computer. I love my job.

Why do you think it's important to buy handmade?

I have always known, not just for the economy, but for the sake of craft, that one should always buy local when possible, and always handmade. with etsy came a whole community of artists, all loving what they do, and trying to make an honest living from it, while supporting other artists. we will support (almost) anyone who’s honest and puts time, love, and knowledge into their craft.

Do you donate through your shop to any charities or do any volunteer work?

I volunteer at a local organic farm, Oxford Gardens, and we are members of the equal rights campaign, as well as the Appalachian Trail. I did volunteer at the Nederland, Colorado Mountain People’s Co-op, but don’t have the time right now to continue doing so.

Do you sell your items outside of Etsy, either online or in retail shops?

we sell 6 of our herbal tea blends at the Trident Booksellers and CafĂ© in Boulder, Colorado, and are working on getting soaps in at Lolita’s Market, as well as working on our connections throughout the United States. it’s quite the process.

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

I have been vegan since I was 6 years old, because of health reasons, which turned into a conscious decision. scott has been vegan for 2 years now, for health and conscious reasons as well. I showed him Baraka with the baby chicks scene, before we started dating, and that tugged at his heartstrings.

What are your favorite foods?

kelly’s favorite food ever is beets! beets steamed with brown sugar, beets doused in vinegar, or just taking a good tough bite from a beet out of the garden. scott’s favorite food is anything potato. anything. oh! and guacamole. yumm

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

we dig our Tom’s vegan stitch-outs, and we love that they donate a pair of shoes to a child in need for each pair you purchase. some of them do have leather inserts though, so always go for the vegan option! we also love to cook together. some of our favorite cookbooks are Clean Food by Terry Walters and Raw by Charlie Trotter & Roxanne Klein.. we also like the moosewood cookbooks, but they are vegetarian, not vegan, so you have to modify some recipes. all cookbooks are for ideas, really. cooking is another creative outlet for us.

What kinds of hobbies and interests do you have?

kelly loves being a kitchen witch, dancing, disappearing into the woods, reading, playing violin, and gardening, wandering around every day snapping pictures with her Diana, fisheye, and Nikon, and cannot wait for the Polaroid film to start being made again (!!!). scott likes to play guitar, be logical (he once described a french fry using algebra), read the economist, play soccer, smile and have a light heart. our days are filled with music.

Do you have any animal companions?

we have 1 rescue cat - her name is “kitty face”. she was abused for many years, and is quite the talker. she’ll yell at you for passing her, then yell at you again for not stopping to pet her, then yell at you for touching her. she means well, and is usually purring through all the yelling. kitty face is 10 years old and tiny, tiny, tiny. we love her like our child.

Do you have any future plans for your shop?

i do! we are working on getting shampoos, conditioners, and 16oz glass bottles of soap nut concentrate up in the shop instead of 8ounce glass bottles, along with baby powders, hair pomade, and other vegan health & beauty goodies (including moustache wax!). we are bummed that our soap nuts are taking so long to arrive, and don’t currently have them listed in our shop, but they will be again soon!

with that, we have to water the garden before the sun comes out. thank you so much for the interview, for recognizing us, and for actually reading through it.

Much love-

Kelly Beth & Scott

Friday, June 4, 2010

Birthday Finds!

My husband's birthday is at the end of the month so of course my mind is fixated on everything Birthday! With so many talented artists on the Vegan Etsy team, your birthday needs are taken care of :) Here are some of my faves:

Happy Birthday Mini Cards from Merry Blues Art:

Birthday Cutie Cake Card from myzoetrope:

Happy Birthday Cupcake Stand from Vessels and Wares:

Strawberry Squidie from Oh Danger:

Sleepy Hedgehog Pin from my shop, Vegancraftastic:

For more gift ideas, be sure to search Veganetsy Team when you're browsing Etsy!

-Kala (Vegancraftastic)