Welcome back, everyone! Grab a cup of coffee (or maybe tea would be more appropriate in this case), and kick back to read what may be the most insightful and inspiring interview yet.
Meet Lana, the dexterous woman behind Eastern Sky. Lana is truly a jack-of-all-trades, running not one, but three successful shops on Etsy.
Keep reading and discover her undeniable passion for handmade, her many skills, just who is Mr. P, and a chance to win some of her gorgeous, handmade work.
(above polaroid: Lana with her father - she's "the one without the beard.")
What inspires you?
Anything and everything! Inspiration can hit from the strangest places; a smell, a sound, the play of light through leaves, a ripple on water, the curve of a unfurling fern… Almost anything you see can evoke a thought which can grow and take shape in your mind, and turn into the most unexpected things…
Where do you call home? Are you from there originally?
Home is currently Shropshire (England), and I have lived here since 1994. It’s a beautiful place, with rolling green hills, picturesque villages and ribbons of woodland. I was born in Manchester, but moved from there to the countryside of Cheshire when I was about 5.
Name something unique to where you live.
The world's first cast iron bridge was built over the River Severn at Coalbrookdale in Shropshire in 1779. The Ironbridge Gorge Museum Trust has 10 museums along the river including Blists Hill Victorian Town, which is a recreated Victorian town full of people in costumes where you can experience Victorian life up close and personal! Fun AND educational… : )
Share an interesting fact about yourself.
Interesting huh? Let me see… I was born backwards. Yup, came out butt-first. With my feet tucked behind my ears
What are three of your favorite foods?
Is a cup of tea food? Cause I love a good cup of tea. (It has to be Twinings Earl Grey though, it’s the best sort.) I’m not sure I’m able to choose just 3 things, my favourite foods depend entirely on what time of day it is, whether it’s summer or winter… There’s just too much good food out there! I’m quite partial to a bit of seafood though. Mmmm, prawns…
What made you decide to open up shop?
Opening a shop wasn’t really so much of a decision as a necessity… I literally can’t stop myself from making things. My bedroom/studio is filled with wire, gemstones, fabric, yarn, paper, pencils, paints, fibre for felting, glue, beads, thread, pliers, random supplies I’ve had an interesting idea for but haven’t got round to using yet… I drag my crafting supplies around with me; if I know I’ve got to sit somewhere and wait even for 10 minutes I take knitting with me, or a sketchbook. If I sit down to watch a movie in the evening I will generally be knitting at the same time, or making felt beads, or drawing, or wire wrapping some gemstones… I have several boxes filled with bags of jewellery I’ve made and haven’t had chance to photograph yet. I’ve got bags stuffed with hand knit scarves and cowls that need listing, I’ve got about 3 massive quilts that need finishing off and about a hundred other projects on the go. I’m learning to make shoes. If I don’t sell some of this stuff I will eventually disappear beneath a mountain of handcrafted goodness… Also I need money to buy new supplies so I can make more things! I love the sense of satisfaction you get when you sit back and look at something you have made all by yourself. Honestly, I never want to do anything else.
Do you have a day job or sell on Etsy full-time?
I used to have a day job! Until April of this year I was working in a hospital pathology department (my degree was in Biology and Biochemistry…), but it was only a temporary position, and when it finished I decided to take the plunge and concentrate full time on my etsy shops. It’s been a lot of hard work so far, and I’m anticipating more hard work to come, but it’s also been a lot of fun! I’m really hoping to be successful enough not to have to go back to a ‘regular job’. I’m currently running 2 shops on etsy, EasternSky and FirebirdJewellery, but I’m considering opening some more! (I guess I’m a sucker for punishment…) I want to keep each of my shops looking cohesive and not too cluttered with random things, so I’m thinking I might open a separate shop for hand knit things, clothing, quilts (and maybe shoes when I’ve figured them out), and another one for artwork and photography… I don’t know, is 4 shops a crazy idea? Cause I’m also thinking about another shop for handbound books and one for stuffed animals too… Oh yeah, and there’s my beading supply shop. (themagpietree, currently empty…) Too much? Feel free to write and tell me I’m crazy.
How did you select the name Eastern Sky? Any special significance?
Picking a shop name is one of the hardest things ever. It has to be something you won’t get fed up of, cause you can’t change it! I did have a pretty long think about it, and I ended up with Eastern Sky mostly because it sounds quite nice and not too silly… Also it’s quite symbolic in a way; the East has always sounded exotic and interesting, centuries ago all the traders would head off into the far East and return with exciting cargoes of silk, spices and gems. The East has always made me think of things like Arabian Nights and exotic adventure… The sun rises in the Eastern sky and so it symbolises new beginnings and rebirth. I wanted my etsy shops to be my rebirth, moving away from the world of 9-5 jobs and commuting, and into a world of creativity where I felt happy and fulfilled. I’ve kind of got a rebirth theme going on with my shop names now since I opened up FirebirdJewellery (firebird = phoenix), so I guess I’ll have to bear that in mind if I open up any new shops!
Name your favorite thing about selling handmade.
Everything! I love every aspect of it. I love looking around for the perfect items and supplies to work with (online shopping is great for this as the whole world is my store), I love opening packages that arrive in the mail and inspecting the new goodies (I’m currently awaiting the arrival of some handmade lampwork beads that I’m quite excited about), then I get to make things! Lately I’ve been finding the photography quite tedious as I end up taking so many photos, and then I spend hours editing them, and I’m never quite satisfied with the end results. Although just the other day I got a lovely surprise convo through my jewellery shop from someone who just wanted to tell me how much she liked my work, and that my photos were stunning! (Thank you Charlotte!) And that’s another thing I love about selling handmade, the interaction you get with the people who buy your work – knowing that something you’ve made, and put a little piece of your soul into is being loved and appreciated by someone far away, perhaps on the other side of the world…
Once upon a time, everything was handmade. Everything that was ever made was made by someone’s hands, and each item had care and attention put into it. That somehow made things more special, gave them more meaning. If I drop a shop bought bowl and break it, I just throw away the bits and buy another one from the supermarket or wherever. It’s identical. A thousand people have the same bowl in their kitchen cupboard. If I drop a handmade bowl I bought from a ceramic artist, I would feel really upset. The bowl would be gone, and there would never be another one quite like it. I love everything about selling (and buying) handmade, but perhaps my favourite thing is the fact that the item in question IS handmade, and when you hold it in your hands, you are holding a little piece of someone’s soul…
Share with us a favorite Etsy purchase or shop.
Where to begin? There are so many! I love shopping on etsy. There are so many things I spot every day that I really want to buy, but I have to restrain myself… My last real impulse buy, where I spotted something and loved it so much I had to buy it there and then was a beautiful pale blue vintage Amelia Earhart suitcase with hand drawn illustrations on it from Rachel of GetReadySetGO. I couldn’t really afford it, but I bought it anyway. I wasn’t even going anywhere.
List a few of your most favorite pastimes.
Making things! : ) I also love reading, but lately just haven’t had the time to sit down and read something. I can quite happily spend a whole day curled up in a chair with a good book (and a cup of tea), but these days my head is filled with thoughts of “I should really be doing that photography now” or “Don’t I have about 500 photos to edit?” and “I’d better get those orders packed up to go to the post in the morning”…
I love going for walks too, not huge mad hikes or anything, just happily wandering through the countryside and daydreaming as I go.
Read any good books lately?
See above! I think the last book I actually sat down and read was ‘The Woman in White’ by Wilkie Collins. I wouldn’t say it was my favourite book ever, but I did really enjoy it. Some of my favourites include ‘Voice of the Fire’ by Alan Moore, ‘And the Ass saw the Angel’ by Nick Cave and most things by Neil Gaiman. (I also have a secret love of the Harry Potter books, but shhhh! Don’t tell anyone…)
What is your most prized possession?
I’m not sure I have one single possession that stands out above all the others… Out of all the things that I can be said to own, I would be most upset if something happened to my cat Pippin (that’s Mr P to you…) although he’s not really my possession, he comes and goes as he pleases.
If you had to describe yourself in a word, what would that word be?
I only get one? Hmmm… I think I’ll go with ‘creative’. Although perhaps it should be ‘indecisive’…
Name one place you must visit in your lifetime and why.
Again, only one?! I’m no good at this choosing thing… There are so many places in the world that I really want to go to… How can I choose between Machu Picchu and Angkor Wat? Although just lately I do really have my heart set on Australia…
A huge thank you to Lana for sharing with us! Stop by her blog and show her some love...
Time for a Giveaway!!
Didn't I tell you you'd be glad you stopped by?! Lana is generously offering one winner a set of two of her lovely bracelets (as shown above) in either cotton or merino yarn in whatever colors they choose!! Awesome!
Lana would like to know what your favorite movies are!
To enter, please leave a comment on this post with your answer, name, and email address or Etsy username.
For extra entries you can:
Tweet this giveaway: 2 additional entries
Follow my blog and/or Lana's blog: 5 additional entries
Blog about this interview/contest: 7 additional entries
Purchase from Eastern Sky or FirebirdJewellery : 10 additional entries
(Please include this info, if applicable, with your comment for additional entries. You do not need to leave separate comments for additional entries. Important: Don't forget to include your name and contact info!)
Contest ends Sunday, July 19th at 11:59 pm EST. Winner will be chosen by traditional drawing and will be announced Monday, July 20th.