Ola! I’m Rachel, and I’ve been a microbusiness owner for a little over three years. This is Ye Old Stamping Grounds’ origin story.
On a cold January day in 2015, I excitedly ripped open a package. Instead of a surge of satisfaction, I felt deflated as I realized the hand-stamped custom key chain I had ordered for my boyfriend, Josh, wasn't going to work. The font was way more flowery than I wanted, and the key chain tag was so thin, you could see the reverse imprint of the message on the back.
There was no way I could give this as a gift. So I channeled my disappointment, went into research mode, and figured out how to produce what I had originally envisioned. I wanted something with a clean and modern font – something gender neutral. I learned that each letter had to be stamped individually to create the design. How hard could that be, I thought.
I ordered all the supplies, waited for more packages to arrive, and finally set to work. The first time my brass hammer hit the stamp with a satisfying *thunk*, I knew I was hooked. It brought me back to my tap dancing days ... you just find your rhythm and bring in da noise!
Turns out, it’s pretty hard to keep the letters aligned and figure out spacing before you run out of room. But I kept practicing, watched YouTube tutorials, looked for tips online, and eventually felt confident enough to make Josh’s key chain.
After Josh loved his gift, I made more for friends. That's when I started to consider following my father's footsteps to open my own version of a small business. In reviewing e-commerce options, I looked back at my Etsy profile. I realized my very first purchase on Etsy, back in 2008, was a hand-stamped "lucky" penny - another gift for a friend. I took it as a sign, and officially opened my Etsy shop.
As a woman and a feminist, it is empowering to own my microbusiness. I have a creative outlet that I can share with the world, and have an income stream that helps pay the bills. Coming up with new designs is one of my favorite activities, and I treat each key chain as a small metal canvas. I draw inspiration from what I’m passionate about.
I’ve always found the expression ‘love you to the moon and back’ a well-intentioned but a little odd. After all, the moon is the closest object to Earth. My scientific and rational brain thought – why not Pluto? Aim farther away to more meaningfully demonstrate the depth of love. Enter the “I love you to Pluto and back” key chain design, which can be customized to any destination – in the Milky Way or in a galaxy far, far away (yes, please ask me about my fandoms).
I’ve worked as a diversity champion for over 8 years, and that influences my key chains. I can’t help but bring my admiration of feminist writers, like paying tribute to the late, great Maya Angelou through the “still I rise” design. One of her most famous poems, the quote is perfect for overcoming challenges and inspiring perseverance. I also love my feminist twist on the British Special Air Service motto with “She who dares, wins.” Who doesn’t need a reminder to embrace boldness and take some risks every now and then?
My designs help me make connections with people. At a craft market last year, a young girl and her father come up to my booth. My bell hooks “feminism is for everybody” design was on display, and she pointed to it, asking me what feminism meant. Now, I know the word feminism can be fraught with negative connotations, and glancing at her father’s face, he was a bit panicky. But I simply told her what I believe: that to be a feminist, you think that men and women should be equal. She thought about it and nodded her agreement. I like to think that I added a young woman, and maybe her dad, to the cause that day!
When creating my designs, I try to remember that a key chain is something people see and use every day. I firmly believe that it should be quirky and fun, reflecting your personal style and taste. Make your keys (and you) happy with a playful key chain from Ye Old Stamping Grounds. Available 24/7 online:
SHOP: Etsy yeoldstampinggrounds.etsy.com.
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Maker Spotlight is part of a month long series during Maker/National Craft Month, where NY Handmade Collective artists and Etsy small business shop owners are featured. They share a bit about themselves and their craft, helping to create connection between them, the team, and our reader and customer base. We hope you enjoy learning about and seeing the people behind our multi-faceted handmade collective.