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.

Dads + Art: How Father's Have Inspired NY Handmade Collective Team Members

Behind every artist is a group of influencers.  They may be past artists, current pop-stars, brothers, sisters, actors, friends, best friends, dogs, cats, fish, trees, cities, grandparents, cousins, moms, dads, etc. The list goes on. I'm personally influenced by trees.  I was also influenced by my deceased Dad. 

In honor of this upcoming Father's Day, two teammates tell us about their fathers and how they've influenced them and their art. Happy Father's Day to all the dads both alive and deceased. Please continue to inspire!

A tribute to my father!

By SandrineBJewelry

My father has been an inspiration to me.  He nurtured my creativity and incited my love for nature. A lot of my jewelry pieces are reminiscent of my childhood and inspired from nature.

I grew up in the urban city of Lyon in France.  As a child my father would take my sister and I on short trips over the week ends. He would drive us for a day to the beach three hours away or to the countryside where we would spend hours venturing into the forest and gather flowers. 

My father enjoyed gardening and he and I would spend time together in a community garden. I learnt so much about fruit, flowers and vegetables. To that day I love gardening and always thrive to find an outdoor area in New York City.

He also was a talented drawer. He loved watching westerns and I vividly remember his drawing of a cow boy for my German language class. A beautiful drawing! His free spirit and creativity are a true inspiration.

My father was very encouraging of my jewelry making.   I designed a custom signet ring with his initials for his 80th birthday: a ring commissioned by my mother and sister.  A pretty hefty ring that took weeks to make. One ounce gold!! The weight of the ring and the steps on the ring's top are reminiscent of the ancient Ashanti people of Africa. 

I am so happy to have been able to gift it to him before his death.

----

Because I Said So

By Sara Stroman, S2 Stationery & Design

Days before my dad passed away, I woke up from my sleep because I heard his voice say my name. I knew he was dying. I went to work the next day and told my boss I needed to take time off to go spend with my dad in the hospital.

A month after he passed away, I found myself in Rome, Italy running the marathon. I ran it in his honor. My dad was always proud that his daughter was independent and traveled the world. We bonded over episodes of "Globe Trekker" on PBS.  My time after running the marathon was spent traveling around Italy, trekking up to Barcelona for a day to spend with a good friend, and ended in Paris, cheering a good friend on her race in Paris. I also had a small amount of my dad's ashes to sprinkle in the town his mother had been born in, Orleans.

That trip was epic. It is still one of my absolute favorite trips of all time, but what made it truly special was a dream I had while visiting Cinque Terre. In my dream, I opened an envelope with a note. I don't recall the note; in fact, I never saw the message on the note, I only saw that the envelope was lined with a pattern similar to a pair of tights I owned. I woke up, startled, and said out loud, this is what I'm meant to do!

Days later, while stopped in Montpelier, France to catch a connection train to Paris, I came across what became my real sign - I was crumbling up a bag my lunch had been in and as I turned it, I noticed a small logo on the bottom. It was a recycling symbol around a tree and it said "Le Papier c'es la vie!" or "Paper is Life!" I tore that piece off of the bag and on the train to Paris, devised my plan for starting what is now S2 Stationery & Design.  In those moments, I knew my business was meant to be; that the Universe had brought it to be.

It has been eight years since my dad passed away and I started S2 Stationery & Design. It has been a long journey and an exhausting one, but I know that my dad is shining down wishing me well and supporting me. And I also know that he's helping me along. There is not a day that I don't remember that story and his influence. And I know that every day, he's watching over me, gently whispering to me, "Because I said so," a phrase he would tell me whenever I asked him a question questioning him. 

Visiting NYC During the Holiday Season: Exploring, Shopping, and Sightseeing- Itineraries for Two and Five Days

When I returned to New York as an adult, a new friend and co-worker said to me, "New York City around the holidays is absolutely magical. The lights, the store windows, the snow - it is all so exciting! Then January and February hit and you wish all the snow and cold would disappear!" As a native, and now, seasoned New Yorker, I couldn't agree more with her statement.

With the Thanksgiving holiday, New York turns into a snow globe of magic. If it snows, even more so. People bundled up and sloshing around make for a quiet and pretty New York City experience. Sure, people are still as feisty as ever, it is the holiday season after all, and shopping can be overwhelming even for those prepared with lists and gifts already purchased, but there is an overall sense of happiness and delight that comes with interacting with strangers.

The holiday season is also the busiest for New York City travel wise. Many visitors from around the world come to experience all that New York offers during the season including the endless shopping. EtsyNY team members know all about the shopping season, as they're currently and hurriedly making and packing goods for upcoming markets. 

In preparation for the season upon us, I've put together a list, with the help of native New Yorkers and current residents, of what is considered "must do/see" when visiting New York in December depending on a two-day/weekend or a full five-day/week schedule.

Two Days in NY: Holiday Windows + Handmade Markets at Bryant Park and Union Square + Rockerfeller Center

1. You definitely want to see the windows of Macy's at 34th Street and Lord & Taylor at 5th Ave. Both are gorgeous displays of holiday merriment.

2. If you're looking for unique and special gifts for the holidays, you want to make sure you visit the holiday markets set up at Bryant Park at 42nd and 5th Ave (on the map in point 3) and Union Square* at 14th Street. There are a few more open holiday markets such as Columbus Circle (no map available), but, these two I can confirm definitely have EtsyNY Team members selling their handmade and locally made wares.

If you're visiting Union Square, I highly, and I mean highly, recommend you stop at The City Bakery on 18th between 5th and 6th Avenues. They have some of the most decadent hot chocolate in the world. They also have these amazing homemade marshmallows that slowly melt by the temperature of the hot chocolate. YUM! As you're walking along this tour, you'll be glad to have one! 

Note on this map that Chelsea Market, which is hosting our annual Handmade Cavalcade, is listed on here and is the main focus on this map. Our Handmade Cavalcade is detailed below in the five day/week long schedule.

Note on this map that Chelsea Market, which is hosting our annual Handmade Cavalcade, is listed on here and is the main focus on this map. Our Handmade Cavalcade is detailed below in the five day/week long schedule.

3. Last, but not least, you'd have to see 42nd Street, or Times Square. Minutes away from there is Bryant Park, which is listed as a place to shop at their open holiday market; Grand Central Terminal, which is a beautiful building and also has trains to points North by way of Metro North; Rockerfeller Center, which has their famous Christmas Tree; and Radio City Music Hall, which currently has the Rockettes Holiday Show, "Christmas Spectacular" performing and is a must see.

Five Days in NY:  Holiday Windows + Handmade Markets at Bryant Park and Union Square + Rockerfeller Center + NY Botanical Garden Annual Train Show + Christmas Lights in Dyker Heights, Brooklyn

1 - 3.  See the three maps above and check out all of those options, as they're within walking distance from each other.

4. If you have a couple of hours to spend walking the grounds of the New York Botanical Garden, I recommend it. Currently, the annual Train Show (celebrating its 25th year!) is on display and it is perfect for children and adults! The trains have history and, as is New York City, are always evolving. I suggest you add this to your visit to Grand Central Terminal. You can purchase a ticket upon arrival, or on MTA's website to take the Metro-North Harlem local line to Botanical Garden Station.  It's a 20-minute train ride. The main entrance is across the street from the train station. You can't miss it!

Note: Almost directly across from the NY Botanical Garden is the Bronx Zoo. I'm not sure what they have on display for the Holidays, but if you're up there, you might want to make a full day and visit both locations. Remember, they're both large and you'll want to map your day accordingly if you do both.

Note: Almost directly across from the NY Botanical Garden is the Bronx Zoo. I'm not sure what they have on display for the Holidays, but if you're up there, you might want to make a full day and visit both locations. Remember, they're both large and you'll want to map your day accordingly if you do both.

5. Take a tour of the houses with Christmas light displays in Dyker Heights, Brooklyn! This is another option that requires some time and should be done in the evening. The lights go on at dark, around 5pm and stay on until around 9pm, give or take. The lights are definitely worth seeing around mid-December, if you can trek out to Dyker Heights. When I visited a few years ago, I did a bus tour through A Slice of Brooklyn that ran 3.5 hours, met at Union Square, and had a cannoli and coffee stop at the end. Their website (link above) has all details, including how to purchase tickets. Well worth the money in my opinion!

If you're not interested in spending that kind of money, you can take the subway to Dyker Heights, averaging around an hour each way and walk around the houses. There are some hills, so if you go the walking way, don't complain that you were not warned! Also, depending on when you go, it may be really cold, so you'll want to be bundled warmly if walking around.  Free Tours by Foot has some great instructions on how to best get there, along with streets and houses you want to make sure you see.

Note: Brooklyn is not scaled and therefore is not accurate. It should be wider.

Note: Brooklyn is not scaled and therefore is not accurate. It should be wider.

4. Last, but not least, you should head over to Chelsea Market. It's an institution and the High Line Park is around the corner. It has delicious eats and some great shops and most importantly, it will have the EtsyNY team Holiday Handmade Cavalcade (HHC) for the third year!

This year, the HHC will run for a full week - opening Monday, December 5th and closing on Sunday, December 11th. We are hosting a "Sip 'n' Shop" event on Thursday, December 8th between the hours of 6:30pm and 9:00pm. The event is sponsored by Brooklyn Brewery and will have alcoholic beverages for you to drink while shopping. The Handmade Holiday Cavalcade is a sought after event and we highly recommend RSVPing ahead of time for both the Cavalcade and the Sip 'n' Shop event. Shoppers without an RSVP will be charged $2.00 at the door.

If your holiday travels bring you to NYC at any time through the holiday season, we welcome you! Not to mention, you have a few ideas on how to spend your time. We hope you'll enjoy them, if you do decide to use these suggested schedules.

If you happen upon our glorious City during December 5th-11th, we hope you'll find your way into Chelsea Market and into the doors of our Handmade Holiday Cavalcade, leaving you with everlasting treasures from your holiday visit.

Happy Holidays!

Sara Stroman

Sara is a stationery maker and paper lover and runs S2 Stationery & Design. Since the young age of seven, she loved grabbing handfuls of deposit slips from banks and using the carbon copy paper to trace designs. In 2012, she traveled to Echizen, Japan to learn paper making from well known paper makers in the community with the blessing of their paper goddess. She also loves to travel and as you can see, doodling maps not set to scale.

Valentine's Day Tutorial: Make a Heart Pop-up Card for your Loved One(s)!

Valentine's Day is just around the corner here in the US. With today being February 1st, you officially have 13 days to buy goodies for your loved one. 

I'm a huge fan of Valentine's Day. I love everything about the holiday. I love that it is a day designated for love, even if we should be showing love every day. I love that people dress up in red on that day. That people do their best to be compassionate and kind. These things are more real to me than boxes of chocolates and expensive dinners. Don't get me wrong, those have their place, but I think Valentine's Day is so much more than spending money. It's about holding doors and saying "hi" or "I like your shoes" to a stranger. It's about giving $.50 to a homeless person on the street. It's about calling your Mom, grandparents, sisters and brothers, nieces and nephews, boyfriends/girlfriends, regular friends and saying, "I love you."

In the spirit of keeping things simple this Valentine's Day, I've put together one of my favorite handmade craft projects in a video and am sharing it with EtsyNY readers and followers - heart shaped pop-up cards. They take about three to five minutes a piece and can be embellished as you like. Really these are a winning card!

Supplies:

  1. Scissors
  2. 8.5x11 sheet(s) of paper - be creative!
  3. Confidence in your cutting and folding skills

Instruction Video:

As a stationer, I always think the more important element of any holiday is the way we communicate our feelings and emotions to the people we care the most about in our lives.  I hope you find many uses for this card, not just the holiday of love.

If you make one or two or even a few, share pictures in the comments!

Happy Valentine's Day! Happy Love Day! Happy Heart Crafting!

     Sara


MEET the ARTISAN: S2 Stationery & Design + GIVEAWAYS

"MEET the ARTISAN" is a blog series that spotlights Etsy New York Team artisans and their craft. In this feature, we learn more about Sara, the creator of S2 Stationery & Design. 

Q: What is S2 Stationery & Design? Can you briefly describe your business for us?

A: S2 Stationery & Design is truly a company that uses "design" as a way to usher in communication in all aspects of our lives - personal, business, and everywhere else in between.

Q: Some artisans develop their products to meet consumer needs, while others craft products based on things and/or experiences that inspire them. What is the inspiration behind your business?

A: This questions could take this entire post. My inspiration is (and has been) largely based on experiences in every day life and while traveling.  S2 was decided years ago in my youth (although I had no idea of it at the time), when I loved playing with paper. It came full circle after my father's death in 2009 while traveling around Italy after running the Rome Marathon. A dream woke me up at 3am one morning and I woke up knowing that this was my calling; my passion to pursue. It helps that I was in Italy, one of the most beautiful countries in the World and the colors, food, smells, and people inspired me daily. 

To a degree, though, consumer needs is also an inspiration, although not the focal point. My stationery is not a life style brand. I'm hardly interested in keeping loyal customers, although I do love them and appreciate them! For me what is important is that a card or set of stationery inspires the customer to write and communicate their emotions. In other words, if a customer buys one card from S2 Stationery & Design and it allows them to be vulnerable and share sentiment that they might otherwise not, that is worth more than continuous sales from products that aren't necessary and are a strain to the environment.  Should they return to me because the quality is top notch, or they really like my product, then great! But the idea that a card sale can turn into a potential pencil set sale, or an annual calendar sale is not my inspiration.

Q: Oftentimes, each artisan has a different strategy and objective for their business. What are the next steps for you and your business?

A:  There are a lot of steps I want to take. My big goal for 2015 is the Stationery Show at the Javits Center. It's huge and the real deal. I'm also working on positioning my Etsy shop a bit more and separating the custom work from the social stationery. While custom work fits into the social stationery category, it is a different monster and requires a lot more effort and work. I'd love to have them parallel in building S2, but not as closely tied as they are now. 

The other big thing is that I'm working on ways to integrate large scale communication. When I was a child we had pen pals and I loved my pen pals. While not trying to bring back pen pals, I'm thinking creatively on ways to bring about peace and acceptance through communication, food, and social stationery.  In other words, 2015 is going to be busy!

Q: As many artisans look to grow and further develop their businesses, do you have some advice that you can share with fellow artisans?

A:  Take it slow. Running a business is a lot of work. When I started, I thought I could do everything quickly and easily thanks to technology, but it's a lot of work. It can be overwhelming sometimes - so much so that a person can end up burned out fast. It's also important to know the difference between part-time and full-time business running. I quit my job earlier this year to focus on S2 full-time and it's been exhausting, frustrating, and at times I've almost called it quits. Yet, something has kept me fighting and that is the understanding that it all takes time. People who have relatively easy success had struggles, too. Just remember to breathe and if know that if you have the heart, you have the stomach.

Special thanks to Sara for sharing with us. You can find her products showcased on her Etsy shop at www.etsy.com/shop/S2StationeryDesign. And, details of her special product GIVEAWAYS are below. Please enter for your chance to win one of three "My Thankful Space" paper place mats!

A gorgeous decorative piece (and keepsake if food and water damage are minimal) to any Thanksgiving table, the "My Thankful Space" place mats are delicate, but sturdy and a great gift to give those giving thanks in your home. The larger, patterned paper is artisan paper from China.  The top layer is a text weight (32lb) metallic paper to compliment the back layer.  It is best to use a marker such as a sharpie to avoid smudging and for immediate drying.  Each place mat is cut to approximately 12"x18" and assembled by hand. 

Enter to win here! To enter simply, like the"S2 Stationery & Design" page on Facebook and/or this blog post, along with a comment with three things you are thankful for this Thanksgiving.  Three (3) winners will be selected randomly for one of three sets of paper place mats. (Marker not included!) 

One set of the white and silver place mats has 8; one set of blue and gold place mats has 10; one set of red and gold place mats has 10.  Please include in your comment what color placements you prefer.  Winners will be notified within 24 hours of being selected for shipping information.  Good luck!

 

Published by Susan Ng / www.NaturallySusans.com / www.NaturallySusans.Etsy.com