Women Who Inspire: Team Members Reflect on the Women who have Inspired their Art

March is National Women's History month and today is International Women's Day! 

"International Women's Day (March 8) is a global day celebrating the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women. The day also marks a call to action for accelerating gender parity. International Women's Day (IWD) has occurred for well over a century, with the first March 8 IWD gathering supported by over a million people in Austria, Denmark, Germany and Switzerland. Prior to this the Socialist Party of America, United Kingdom's Suffragists and Suffragettes, and further groups campaigned for women equality. Today, IWD belongs to all groups collectively everywhere. IWD is not country, group or organisation specific." (https://www.internationalwomensday.com/)

The first time I heard of this "holiday" was on a visit to Italy back in 2001. It was a big deal over there and I had not heard anything about it in the US. Since that trip, I've become more aware of the day and the overall global growth of celebrating women. I find it inspiring and in joining the world in celebration today, want to share stories of female inspiration from NY Handmade Collective team members.

The NY Handmade Collective member base is almost exclusively women artists and business owners trying to change their economic path, do positive work for the health of our planet and our bodies, and make really amazing handmade art and goods for consumers predominantly in NYC, but beyond our borders. I should note that our team does have men - creative men, that own Etsy shops and make gorgeous art, and help run our team - who are deeply appreciated.

The stories below brought tears to my eyes, but even more, I was humbled. To share deeply personal stories about women is to share stories that shape us individually - not all stories are light and fun, but almost all of them leave you feeling connected and awed. I hope you enjoy these stories, as well as feel inspired. When you buy handmade, there is often a strong woman of the past celebrating not just your purchase, but the continuation of their lives, skills, and expertise from our hands to yours.


Remembering Dorothy Finkle Kaufman, 1905-1987 - By Jan Finnell, OverTheTop

"A woman who inspired me was my aunt, Dorothy Finkle Kaufman. Dorothy was unusual in her family of 8 siblings, as she contracted polio at the age of five in 1910 in Trenton, New Jersey. Her very devout Jewish father even brought her to the nuns at a local convent for prayers in the hopes of healing her. He parents were immigrants from Russia and Lithuania and her father owned a general store. Money was tight and he lost it during the Depression.    Dot was a vibrant and capable member of her family who was not content to stay at home and be cared for; she was a graduate of Rider College and went to work as a secretary, wearing special shoes, leg braces and using canes to walk. She helped other disabled people find employment while working for the State of New Jersey and in her forties, married her boss, Benjamin Kaufman, a highly decorated veteran of World War I and winner of the Congressional Medal of Honor and Croix de Guerre.    Despite her disability, she traveled worldwide with Ben both politically and socially, unlike her able-bodied brothers and sisters. She and Ben, who were married for over 30 years until his death in 1981, became parents to her parents, served as the foundation of her family, and built a home that accommodated their physical limitations. She was my father’s closest sister and confidante, and my surrogate mother. it was a pleasure to be a part of her world, as she had exquisite, sophisticated taste and was a lovely and gracious woman with a twinkle in her eye and lavished love and attention on me as if I were her own daughter (she had no children).    We had a special connection and I admired her for her fully realized life, despite a truly terrible health event. I like to think that my hours spent playing with her jewelry box, examining the decor in her home, its textures and colors and absorbing her many interests prepared me for my career as a designer, first in theatre, where I designed costumes for over 30 years, and now as a metalsmith, where the design journey continues. She died in 1987, but in the 30 years since she has been by my side, cheering me on, inspiring me to keep going and creating, no matter what.

"A woman who inspired me was my aunt, Dorothy Finkle Kaufman. Dorothy was unusual in her family of 8 siblings, as she contracted polio at the age of five in 1910 in Trenton, New Jersey. Her very devout Jewish father even brought her to the nuns at a local convent for prayers in the hopes of healing her. He parents were immigrants from Russia and Lithuania and her father owned a general store. Money was tight and he lost it during the Depression.

Dot was a vibrant and capable member of her family who was not content to stay at home and be cared for; she was a graduate of Rider College and went to work as a secretary, wearing special shoes, leg braces and using canes to walk. She helped other disabled people find employment while working for the State of New Jersey and in her forties, married her boss, Benjamin Kaufman, a highly decorated veteran of World War I and winner of the Congressional Medal of Honor and Croix de Guerre.

Despite her disability, she traveled worldwide with Ben both politically and socially, unlike her able-bodied brothers and sisters. She and Ben, who were married for over 30 years until his death in 1981, became parents to her parents, served as the foundation of her family, and built a home that accommodated their physical limitations. She was my father’s closest sister and confidante, and my surrogate mother. it was a pleasure to be a part of her world, as she had exquisite, sophisticated taste and was a lovely and gracious woman with a twinkle in her eye and lavished love and attention on me as if I were her own daughter (she had no children).

We had a special connection and I admired her for her fully realized life, despite a truly terrible health event. I like to think that my hours spent playing with her jewelry box, examining the decor in her home, its textures and colors and absorbing her many interests prepared me for my career as a designer, first in theatre, where I designed costumes for over 30 years, and now as a metalsmith, where the design journey continues. She died in 1987, but in the 30 years since she has been by my side, cheering me on, inspiring me to keep going and creating, no matter what.


Jewelry Inspired by My Grandmother and Mother - by Deirdre Bialo-Padin, Bialo Padin Designs

     My grandmother, Esther Meyerson Bialo, was a single parent. Born in the 1890’s, in addition to being a public school teacher in NYC, she was a theatrical costume designer. As a kid, I poured over her collection of books on the history of fashion, and spent many hours draping and pinning fabric she had collected from all over the world on a mannequin in her apartment.       My mother, Margarita Teresa Padin, as an underage teenager ran away from home and joined the army in WWII using someone else’s identity, and spent the war working as a truck dispatcher. She took courses in celestial navigation because she wanted to be in the Merchant Marines. After the war she obtained a degree in mechanical engineering. She collected tools and made repairs around the house. Because we had no money, and because I think she needed a creative outlet, she made all of our clothing when we were kids. Always practical, she used Velcro for fastening our clothing (to my mortification as a kid; as an adult I have to respect her engineer’s approach to problem solving), long before its use became popular.       Both of these women also loved and collected jewelry, and under their influence I did as well for years before I began making jewelry. I absorbed their aesthetics and their appreciation for color and texture, and I think their influence is reflected in my jewelry. My current display incorporates some of the fabric they collected. My mother’s sewing machine is in my studio, and I still use some of her tools. My memories of them keep me company when I’m in my studio.

 

My grandmother, Esther Meyerson Bialo, was a single parent. Born in the 1890’s, in addition to being a public school teacher in NYC, she was a theatrical costume designer. As a kid, I poured over her collection of books on the history of fashion, and spent many hours draping and pinning fabric she had collected from all over the world on a mannequin in her apartment.

My mother, Margarita Teresa Padin, as an underage teenager ran away from home and joined the army in WWII using someone else’s identity, and spent the war working as a truck dispatcher. She took courses in celestial navigation because she wanted to be in the Merchant Marines. After the war she obtained a degree in mechanical engineering. She collected tools and made repairs around the house. Because we had no money, and because I think she needed a creative outlet, she made all of our clothing when we were kids. Always practical, she used Velcro for fastening our clothing (to my mortification as a kid; as an adult I have to respect her engineer’s approach to problem solving), long before its use became popular.

Both of these women also loved and collected jewelry, and under their influence I did as well for years before I began making jewelry. I absorbed their aesthetics and their appreciation for color and texture, and I think their influence is reflected in my jewelry. My current display incorporates some of the fabric they collected. My mother’s sewing machine is in my studio, and I still use some of her tools. My memories of them keep me company when I’m in my studio.


Two Powerful Women: My Mom + My Wife - by Raquel Busa,  Maquina37

My name is Raquel. I just joined the team this February. My Etsy shop is  www.maquina37.etsy.com  and I specialize in making cloth doll caricatures of people. I also make quilts and greeting cards. A doll that is custom made to look like someone sends the message “I love you, just the way you are.” I would love to share the story of two women who have inspired me.        My mom was 26 when she came to the United States from the Dominican Republic. She had six children and was a widow. She also started working in factories (sewing) to make enough money to bring her children over one by one. She met my father, was remarried and had me. All seven children grew up together. But unfortunately, my mother was widowed a second time when I was ten. Despite all the sorrow she has faced, she keeps going, and she is always happy and graceful. She recently retired at 69 years old. She is now taking English classes, traveling and enjoying life.       The other woman who inspires me is my wife. My wife is a retired police officer. She joined the police department in the late 80's. She faced a lot of discrimination for being a woman and for being a lesbian. Despite the hardships she faced, she lived openly and had a successful career. I feel in love with her strength and courage. I asked her to marry me in 2014. We were married in August of that year. And in 2016, she was diagnosed with breast cancer. That same year, I ran the New York City Marathon and dedicated the race to her. At the finish line, a read this little speech I had prepared, "....Whenever I doubted myself, you were my confidence. And, you were always honest and nurturing. Over the last few months, you were struggling with your own race. And still, even when you weren't feeling good, you always managed to put us first. You were always selfless. You taught me that 'life is tough my darling, but so are you.' You were my strength...I dedicate my run to you. All 26.2 miles for my wife." I gave her a necklace with the pendant of the marathon with the inscription "for my wife" on the back. She beat cancer.       Oh my gosh, I rattled on for a long time. The point is, my mom's work ethic inspired me to create a business of my own. And, my wife's story encourages me to embrace who I am and do the things that truly make me happy. The first doll I ever made that looked like someone was of her.

My name is Raquel. I just joined the team this February. My Etsy shop is www.maquina37.etsy.com and I specialize in making cloth doll caricatures of people. I also make quilts and greeting cards. A doll that is custom made to look like someone sends the message “I love you, just the way you are.” I would love to share the story of two women who have inspired me. 

My mom was 26 when she came to the United States from the Dominican Republic. She had six children and was a widow. She also started working in factories (sewing) to make enough money to bring her children over one by one. She met my father, was remarried and had me. All seven children grew up together. But unfortunately, my mother was widowed a second time when I was ten. Despite all the sorrow she has faced, she keeps going, and she is always happy and graceful. She recently retired at 69 years old. She is now taking English classes, traveling and enjoying life.

The other woman who inspires me is my wife. My wife is a retired police officer. She joined the police department in the late 80's. She faced a lot of discrimination for being a woman and for being a lesbian. Despite the hardships she faced, she lived openly and had a successful career. I feel in love with her strength and courage. I asked her to marry me in 2014. We were married in August of that year. And in 2016, she was diagnosed with breast cancer. That same year, I ran the New York City Marathon and dedicated the race to her. At the finish line, a read this little speech I had prepared, "....Whenever I doubted myself, you were my confidence. And, you were always honest and nurturing. Over the last few months, you were struggling with your own race. And still, even when you weren't feeling good, you always managed to put us first. You were always selfless. You taught me that 'life is tough my darling, but so are you.' You were my strength...I dedicate my run to you. All 26.2 miles for my wife." I gave her a necklace with the pendant of the marathon with the inscription "for my wife" on the back. She beat cancer.

Oh my gosh, I rattled on for a long time. The point is, my mom's work ethic inspired me to create a business of my own. And, my wife's story encourages me to embrace who I am and do the things that truly make me happy. The first doll I ever made that looked like someone was of her.


Inspired by Nature and the Public Women Figures Who Fought for our Parks and Land - by Maha Saedaway, Sundrench

I am inspired by nature and every women who has worked to preserve and conserve nature, land, and parks such as  Eleanor Roosevelt , a Former First Lady of the United States of American, and also  Susan B. Anthony , a reformer, educator, and advocate of women's and human rights. Both women lived in NY State.        The preservation of nature is directly related to that of women's right and human rights. It's shown in patterns, color and the textures of the different seasons.       ETSY is a global market place that gives artists the right to engage and believe in humanity. It's also a place where a lot of women own small businesses.       HAPPY INTERNATIONAL WOMEN'S DAY!

I am inspired by nature and every women who has worked to preserve and conserve nature, land, and parks such as Eleanor Roosevelt, a Former First Lady of the United States of American, and also Susan B. Anthony, a reformer, educator, and advocate of women's and human rights. Both women lived in NY State. 

The preservation of nature is directly related to that of women's right and human rights. It's shown in patterns, color and the textures of the different seasons.

ETSY is a global market place that gives artists the right to engage and believe in humanity. It's also a place where a lot of women own small businesses.

HAPPY INTERNATIONAL WOMEN'S DAY!


Creative Genes Run in the Family - by Phyllis C. Stevens, BlueRoseCards

I owe my inspiration to my mother and grandmothers, the latter of whom came to this country from Russia.  My grandmothers knew very little English and would speak to my mother and father in Yiddish, bits of which I picked up over the years.  Both grandmothers were very creative; and I remember how we'd put holiday stencils up on the windows, wrap and decorate Christmas gifts, etc., which were very innovative in their own right.      However, the most creative and imaginative was my mother; and I'm sure I inherited her craft genes. We didn't have extra money for toys and dolls' clothes; so even though she worked full-time, on weekends she'd fabricate all my dolls' outfits which she'd sew by hand and make wonderful paper doll families for me to play with.  I wish I had saved them. 

I owe my inspiration to my mother and grandmothers, the latter of whom came to this country from Russia.  My grandmothers knew very little English and would speak to my mother and father in Yiddish, bits of which I picked up over the years.  Both grandmothers were very creative; and I remember how we'd put holiday stencils up on the windows, wrap and decorate Christmas gifts, etc., which were very innovative in their own right.  

However, the most creative and imaginative was my mother; and I'm sure I inherited her craft genes. We didn't have extra money for toys and dolls' clothes; so even though she worked full-time, on weekends she'd fabricate all my dolls' outfits which she'd sew by hand and make wonderful paper doll families for me to play with.  I wish I had saved them. 

Give thanks to the women in your life. Celebrate their success, failures, and inspiration. Happy International Women's Day!

 
 

S2 Stationery & Design is owned by Sara Stroman, a NY Handmade Collective team member since 2010, and current Marketing Director. She believes in the power of written word in all sincere communication and designs cards and stationery to inspire people to put down their phones and pick up a pen and share honest emotion. Her work is inspired by her international travels, nature, and the words of people both famous and not, doing good, bad, and great things.

Holiday Handmade Cavalcade Sponsored By...

We could not do this without our generous sponsors. So many are such fierce champions of small, local artisans and some are small local artisans themselves. Below is just a taste of what our exceptional sponsors are about. We encourage everyone to check out their websites and promotional pages; so many stories are of folks just like you who took a dream and made it a thriving business.

Dreams can be achieved!


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Purl Soho

Since 2002, Purl Soho has been sharing their passion for beauty and exceptional design, for natural fibers and crafting traditions. They are a beloved resource for needle crafters of every ilk, from knitters and crocheters to quilters and embroiderers.


Social Ink

Social Ink started 10 years ago as a way to bridge existing connections between social justice, education, and the arts. From coffee shop-cubicles to their current DUMBO offices, they’ve maintained this commitment to their founding mission to work with a select group of clients and ensure a direct line of communication with their principals.

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Etsy, Inc.

Etsy is the global marketplace for unique and creative goods, connecting millions of people around the world both online and offline with a mission to “Keep Commerce Human.” Additionally, Etsy offers a wide range of Seller Services and tools to help creative entrepreneurs start, manage, and scale their businesses.


Blick Art Materials

Blick Art Materials supports the Visual Art Community by providing the widest selection of art supplies at the lowest prices and with extraordinary service and integrity.

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Fine & Raw

FINE & RAW was started in a notorious Williamsburg, Brooklyn artist loft by Daniel Sklaar, who is dedicated to fine craftsmanship and mastering the art of raw chocolate.


Rubin Museum

The Rubin Museum of Art is an arts and cultural hub in Chelsea NYC, that inspires visitors to make connections between contemporary life and the art and ideas of the Himalayas and neighboring regions including India. The Rubin is a space to contemplate ideas that extend across history and span human cultures with its diverse array of thought-provoking exhibitions and programs.

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Moo

Moo is passionate about great design and the difference it can make to their customers and the world. Moo launched in 2006 with the aim to disrupt the trillion-dollar global print industry and make great design available to all by combining professional design with the accessibility and reach of the web.


Driftaway Coffee

Driftaway Coffee started with an espresso machine and grinder given as a wedding gift and not much coffee knowledge or appreciation. After weekends of making cappuccinos and cortados and buying whole beans, the owners combined their budding love of coffee with a desire to start a company together. Driftaway Coffee was created as a freshly roasted coffee subscription company that has grown into something much larger and meaningful for employees, customers, and the two owners.

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Funky Finds

Established in March 2006, Funky Finds helps business owners make a living doing what they are most passionate about while enhancing their local community, and has remained dedicated to promoting the lifestyle of Shop Local, Shop Small. What began as a blog showcasing independent artists, crafters, designers, authors, and food makers has grown to include handmade shopping events in Fort Worth, Texas, as well as online resources aimed at promoting independent business.


Meg Pies

Megpies debuted in 2012 at Smorgasburg in NYC, but has its origins as a weekly bake sale on a Brooklyn stoop. Catering to busy commuters on their way to the subway, they created a hand pie with a flaky, buttery crust that didn't crumble when eaten, filled with specialty jam and topped with colorful icing-- perfect for an on-the-go snack. Now available nationally, Megpies are still available in local cafes and shops around NYC.

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Reachnow

ReachNow is the best way to get to the people and places they love. With their app, customers can easily get from point A to B whether they want to drive or ride. Powered by a fleet of more than 1,300 BMW and MINI vehicles, ensuring that customers always travel comfortably and in style.


Joann Fabrics

For 75 years, JOANN has inspired creativity in the hearts, hands and minds of its customers. From a single storefront in Cleveland, Ohio, the nation’s leading fabric and craft retailer has grown to include nearly 900 stores across 49 states, and an industry-leading e-commerce business. With the goal of helping every customer find their creative Happy Place, JOANN serves as a convenient single stop for all of the supplies, guidance and inspiration needed to achieve any project or passion.

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Textile Art Center

Textile Arts Center (TAC) is a NYC-based resource facility dedicated to raising awareness and understanding of textiles through creative educational programs for children and adults. At TAC, we aspire to unite the textile community and advocate for the handmade by providing accessible, skills-based classes that reinvigorate engagement with traditional crafts. Techniques like weaving, sewing, and dyeing are practical, connective, and process-driven -- common denominators for designers, artists, and creative practitioners around the world.

Meet Holiday Handmade Cavalcade Sponsor Purl Soho

We are incredibly fortunate to have Purl Soho as a Platinum sponsor of this year’s Holiday Handmade Cavalcade. Our next festive event will be held December 16-17 at the Brooklyn Historical Society in downtown Brooklyn.

Beloved by countless Etsy shop owners, Purl Soho supplies top quality materials for sewing, knitting, crocheting, and all embroidery needs. At its Soho store you will find an amazing array of pure and natural fibers and patterns for your next needlecraft project.

Since 2002, Purl has been sharing its passion for beauty and quality designs in its extremely customer-focused business. “At Purl Soho we have always worked to create a friendly and comfortable place for everyone: locals and tourists, beginners and experts, regulars and one-time shoppers,” says Purl’s Executive Assistant/Studio Manager, Laura Enos. “We foster an environment where customers become friends and our place is yours,” she adds.

Purl began as a tiny yarn shop on Sullivan Street, in the heart of New York City’s Soho neighborhood. Four years later in 2006, it opened a fabric store, Purl Patchwork, just a few doors down. And in 2010, the founders’ dream became a reality, when the present large and beautiful Purl Soho location opened its doors, furnishing all needlecraft materials under one roof.

Three co-owners, sisters Joelle and Jennifer Hoverson, and close friend, Page Marchese Norman, envision Purl as a home for crafters near and far, from around the corner and around the globe. Makers visit the Soho location as well as its online website. “We love to answer questions, share accomplishments, research solutions, and exchange inspiration,” say the owners, who are former editors and stylists. “It’s why we do what we do!”

In 2012, Purl proudly launched its own Purl Soho brand yarn, a super soft merino. They now boast nearly 20 yarns in their exclusive collection, plus linen fabrics, notions, and dozens of boxed kits.

And one of these learn-to- knit boxed kits could be yours, if you are a lucky Purl Soho raffle winner at this year’s Holiday Handmade Cavalcade. Every shopper at the holiday market will receive a raffle ticket with each purchase. Purl is also giving out a selection of its gorgeous super soft merino yarn in the Cavalcade goody bags this year. On any day of the Cavalcade, be one of the first 25 people to make a purchase from one of our talented local vendors and bring home this exceptional yarn in one of the complimentary Goody Bags!

Purl is excited to be such a large part of this year’s unique holiday event, and hopes you will visit its store online, or in person. They can’t wait to meet you!

Finds from Our Team

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Are You Ready to Craft? Are You Ready to Party? Lets Meet at the Etsy Craft Party!

The time is here fellow makers, crafters, and Etsy lovers to meet across the globe (and in DUMBO) to celebrate Etsy's annual Craft Party! This year's theme is "Recapture: bringing new life to your photographs" and focuses on transforming photographs into display-worthy works of art using a variety of craft supplies and creative techniques.  Visit the Etsy Craft Party Page for more details including details on how to host your own party!

Samples of some photos retouched.

Samples of some photos retouched.

Etsy New York Team Members will be on hand to help Etsy staff put on this large craft event on Friday, June 6th between 5:00 pm and 8:30pm at the Manhattan Bridge Archway Plaza.  The event in DUMBO is free and open to the public. To reserve your space, please visit Eventbrite.

This year's Craft Party highlights include:  a video made by the Etsy Design Team projected on the bridge. Each guest will get their own embroidery DIY kit to embroider photographs that includes one unique vintage photograph, as well as a kit friendly coloring kit for the first 50 kids.  On each table will be a tablecloth with photobooth frames drawn on for easy photographing and instagraming!  And of course, food trucks will be on the premises for those hungry crafters.

Etsy has been encouraging other hosts to share examples of the DIY ahead of time.  You can see some lovely examples of embroidered photographs if you search the hashtag #craftparty.

To view images from past Etsy Craft Parties around the world, visit Flickr.  If you're hosting a Craft Party, you may find some inspiration sorting through the photos.

We hope to see you next Friday as we celebrate crafting, community, and the spirit of making new friends and sharing in the power of craft.