Thursday, November 3, 2011

Our Team Captain In The News - Lindsay Jenkins of 'Sunshine Jewls' on Etsy

Ocean provides inspiration for jewelry maker

 Jeweler Lindsay Jenkins works on some of her pieces.

By Pirjo Raits - Sooke News Mirror
Published: November 02, 2011 5:00 AM
When Lindsay Jenkins was first dating Josh, her future husband, he used to bring her the beautiful seashells he brought up in his nets. These little treasures sparked a hobby which has since turned into a passion.

Jenkins manipulates wire and works in semi-precious stones, crystals and findings to fashion necklaces, earrings and other pieces of jewelry.

From the large coils of sterling silver or 14k gold vermeil, Jenkins tempers custom handcrafted pieces each with a natural theme.

Her husband is a commercial fisherman and she spent a lot of time on boats. With this came a loves of the ocean and the sea life, the pearls, starfish and shells beneath the waves.

“I used to have a hard time with inspiration, now I’m focused on nature, ocean-oloured themes, shells, pearls, lots of nautical materials,” said Jenkins.

She strives to do most of her own work, hammering the silver and fashioning the components by hand. She doesn’t just simply thread stones on wire.

“Everything is made by me.”

One of her most endearing themes is the tiny bird’s nests she fashions with natural pearls as the eggs. These are extremely popular as gifts for mothers as these symbolize love, family and closeness.

Jenkins comes to jewelry making through her need to create. In high school, at Edward Milne Community School, she loved art — all of it — the painting, drawing, sculpture, everything.

“When I found this it just clicked,” she said. And it still does. When she is in her work space creating she gets into a meditative state and comes out of it refreshed and fulfilled.

Three years ago she decided to take her hobby more seriously and has been going to craft markets throughout the Christmas season. She has been selling online for about five years and the craft markets give her a chance to get to know her customers and get their feedback. She is a stay-at-home mom and she is doing just about as much as she can right now. With two young sons, she looks forward to the time she can spend “meditating.”

Jenkins also has a good business making special one-of-a-kind bridal and bridesmaid pieces like tiaras, hairpins and flowers.

She calls her business Sunshine Jewls ( and she will be showing and selling her work at the Earthly Good Craft Market at the Prestige convention centre, Nov. 12-13, and at the all Sooke Arts & Crafts Show held at the Sooke Community Hall, Nov. 18-20. And if that isn’t enough she will also attend markets in Langford, Saanich and Vancouver.

“I’m really excited for it,” said Jenkins referring to the show at the Prestige Oceanfront Hotel. “The organizer did a lot of work and I have a lot of confidence it will be really well done.”

Monday, September 5, 2011

Prepare for the upcoming Christmas Craft Fair Season!

Vancouver Island Etsy Team member feature
Ettie Catto - Over the Rainbow Designs

Have you started preparing for the upcoming Christmas Craft Fair Season?
For a seasoned market and fair crafter, September marks the end of summer and the beginning of holiday craft fair preparations. You may have started filling out applications as early as January, and are now preparing stock, sketching your display, and mentally preparing for the hectic holiday season!

We’ve asked Ettie Catto from Over The Rainbow Designs to help give us some background on craft fairs and tips for experienced and newbie fair/market vendors.

Please tell us a little something about yourself.

Home Economics teacher, school counsellor, mom to Ben and Nate, new grandma to 4 month Petra Rose, Over the Rainbow Designs (Quality handknits for Infants and Children) since 1993. Sell on eBay and Etsy. Lived in Sooke since 1980, consuming interest in craft fairs, member of All Sooke Arts & Crafts since 1993, ASAAC Show Convenor for past several years, producer for Earthly Goods Craft Market, event management certificate program at Thompson Rivers University, confessed wool-aholic (my stash runneth over), write a crafting column for Sooke Voice News

What is your experience/obstacles/challenges etc with selling online on Etsy. (and stores if you do that at all as well)
Etsy has been a delight to discover. Sales are brisk and the buyers are wonderful to work with. I love to browse the shops of others and am overwhelmed by the incredible talent and inspiration I find on those pages.This is a sharp contrast to my eBay experience where the cut-throat competition, under-cutting and commercialism has taken over and made it almost impossible to sell. Etsy's vision Fits with my passion for “all things handmade”. Obstacles and challenges with online selling have been the commercialism, selling of commercial imports that are passed off as handmade off as handmade, and most recently, the theft of my photos to be used by other sellers. I have done some consignment sales in stores but have stopped since I have no trouble selling everything I make as fast as I can make it, so don’t need to give up the consignment fee to shop owners, also found my product to be a little worse for wear being handled in stores.

What is your experience with craft fairs/markets. How long have you been doing them, why do you do them?
I have been doing craft fairs since early 90's and over the years have tried most of the holiday shows in our vicinity. My favourites are Out of Hand, Kris Kringle, and of course Sooke's ASAAC show, because of the focus on quality and handmade articles. Also have participated in Nanaimo Professional, Vancouver Island baby Fair, A Touch of Saltspring, First Chance/Last Chance, Creative Craft Fair, Port Alberni, Art in the Park, Sooke Rotary and many others over the years. I decided to offer my own two craft fairs this year to offer alternate venues for dedicated crafters. After being Show Convenor for the ASAAC show I became aware of how many vendors were seeking show space and wanted to open things up a bit more for the talented artisans in our area. When I saw the two new venues, Eagle Ridge Community Centre and Sooke Prestige Oceanfront Resort, I felt like they were each begging for a craft fair, fabulous new spacious locations for quality juried shows, something we haven't had available in Sooke and Westshore, so decided to take the plunge and offer something different. I want to offer the best of show services to vendors and attendees, and focus on all handmade items without resorting to admitting vendors of commercial products to fill space. It is a consuming passion, a labour of love, and an exciting ambitious venture for me to organize these shows. Response from vendors has been enthusiastic and appreciative, the shows are filling up, and the pieces are all falling into place. It is a privilege meeting and learning about the many talented artisans who live on Vancouver and the Gulf Islands. I plan for these shows to be annual events.

What is the biggest obstacle/challenge in doing markets and fairs?
Probably the weather! I have stopped doing summer markets since my product does not lend itself to the outdoors or the warm weather. The winter weather sometimes makes travel to distant venues a challenge, and also can affect the attendance at a show. There is nothing more disappointing than setting up at a craft fair and experiencing low attendance and poor sales! Another frustration of mine, my own pet peeve, is the flood of commercial items into craft fairs. As a knitter, I cannot compete with the prices of the Chinese and Peruvian handmade knit and crochet items, and even though the quality is unmatched, buyers usually look at price first, so it is sometimes hard to compete with this.

What are the most important things to remember when planning (on attending/exhibiting) a show?
Plan your display, use the height in your space, as well as the width and depth. Don’t clutter your display (I struggle with this), don’t under-rate yourself and price your product too low. It doesn’t matter what product you prepare in advance, it won’t be the one that is the biggest seller, you will always wish you made more of one and less of another. Look around to other vendors and learn from them. Talk to other vendors and share experiences, and look for mentorship. Interact with your buyers; say hello, explain your product, repeat yourself over and over, that’s how things sell.Take things in stride, laugh, enjoy, keep trying. When it all comes together and sales take off it is a heady experience that can become addictive!

What advice you can give to those new to the industry?
I think it is important to focus on our own growth as an artist and professional development as vendors. Every craft fair is a learning experience, in spite of the sales we may or may not make. Always freshen up your product and change your line from year to year; things get stale very quickly and if your display looks just like it did last time, shoppers lose interest.

Here's a little piece I wrote for my column in the Sooke Voice News:

A Crafter is Born
If your eyes light up at the sight of a colourful array of nubbly yarns or a sparkling assortment of glistening beads, you probably are inflicted with the love of crafting. More than a hobby, crafting starts as a pastime and grows into a consuming passion. Your stash of supplies begins to grow, spilling out of the closet, and you dream of having a studio. You plan your day around your craft, and look for moments where you can slip away for a creative break. As you play with combinations of textures and colours, inspirations swirl, ideas take shape, and you feel the projects come alive in your hands. At first, you are modest about your creations, keeping your projects tucked away; then gradually you share your work with those you trust. As you listen to the feedback you feel surprised, then humbled, but your confidence builds. The sweet sound of praise encourages and inspires. You are a crafter.

Thanks so much Ettie for all of your great advice, tips and sharing your experience! Good luck to all in the 2011 Holiday Craft Fair season!

Visit Ettie’s Shop and Earthly Goods Craft Market

Over the Rainbow Designs:

Earthly Goods:

Also check out this free service offered by Earthly Goods that has an extensive listing of local craft fairs in BC:

Sunday, August 14, 2011

This Week's Featured Member - Doug MacDonald

Hi, my name is Doug MacDonald and I'm the man behind the tools at BeauWood Boxes, on Etsy.  Physically, my home and shop are in beautiful Victoria B.C. on Vancouver Island.  Woodworking has been part of my life since my dad began teaching me the basics in Ontario.  It's never been my "career"; always a hobby or a sideline.  Increasingly, I have found I need to do something concrete with my hands...often as a balance for over-cerebral work in the computer and journalism industries.  I've done everything from log building to finishing carpentry.  At one time or another I've explored other media--pottery, blacksmithing--but always return to wood.

I started making boxes about three years ago when I found some startlingly deep-figured mahogany.  And I've never looked back.  In the past year, I began to feel I had worked out the new (for me) techniques and skills at least enough to begin thinking about selling my work.



Since our garage was in serious need of repair, I decided to turn it into my shop.  And it's a wonderful place to be: right now summer roses are blooming outside the window.  I've slowly collected the hand tools I need for this work and more and more, I prefer the quiet, meditative scrape and whir of a hand plane to the roar of a table saw.  I love exotic woods--mahogany, cocobolo, bocote--anything that's not environmentally threatened (ebony, for example).  Recently, I've been more enticed by local woods, especially big leaf maple; I found a source of beautifully-spalted maple from the Cowichan Lake area.  Red cedar is another new material for me.  Each new type of wood has its beauties and challenges to work with. 

Finishing is another new and endless adventure.  The choices of oils, varnishes, stains, dyes, waxes, shellacs and more is a lifetime study!  I have slowly developed my own techniques and formulas.

Etsy has been slow for me.  Recently, Eclectic Gallery has agreed to display my work, for which I am very grateful.  And I'm excited to say that the gift shop at the Greater Victoria Art Gallery has just now agreed to feature my boxes as well.

As for the future, I've recently taken on a new contract in "real life" so I don't know how much time I'll have to spend in my shop; but I always have two or three pieces in the works.  My goal is to continue exploring what it means to be a box.  And to honor the precious materials I work with.  For example, on my workbench is evolving a box I'm going to call "The Galaxy" (I've recently started naming my boxes).  This is due to the swirling pattern in the maple sides.  My unconscious is wrestling with what sort of handle will develop over the knotted "black hole" in the lid. 

Thanks for listening to my story.  A few pieces I am proud of...

Doug MacDonald
BeauWood Boxes

(Interview conducted and published by Micki Findlay - A Vancouver Island Etsy Team Leader.  Micki's shops on Etsy are A2Sea Creations and A2Sea Photography )

Friday, August 12, 2011

A New Van Isle Treasury on Etsy

Treasuries are fun to create, beautiful to look at and a great way to promote your team's artistry and handiwork.  Consider creating one, too, and we will post it on here... all we ask is that the artists all be from our Vancouver Island Etsy Team.  Enjoy and share the love...  (And the link!)

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Vote For OurTeam Member!

 Etsy VI Team Member 
Jamie Gentry (Love in Everything) needs our help! 
Please vote for her for Savvy Mom of the Year! 
Click Here to Vote

Jamie is a mother of 3 beautiful, energetic boys, who loves to sew and create. Fabrics, colors and textures are all important to her when she is creating an item, as well as being gentle on the earth. Most of the fabrics she uses for the children's clothes are from gently used upcycled clothing, and for the blankets she primarily uses fabric sample books from interior design companies, and scraps, which makes each item unique.

Jamie's Kwakwaka'wakw background is also a huge influence for her with the designs on her blankets.  She makes everything at her home in beautiful Sooke, BC, during her rare and precious spare time.

Click here to visit Jamie's shop on Etsy.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Vote For ' Wilde and Sparrow' For Business of the Year!

Each year, the Parksville & District Community Awards, “The Glassies”, honours individuals, associations and businesses that have made a significant contribution to the Parksville community.

An independent nominations review panel selects those nominees that truly meet the awards criteria: a business, association or person who demonstrates a great capacity for caring, applying original ideas, accepting challenges, and taking risks while balancing the social needs of the community.

Our very own Van Isle Etsy team members, Shirra and Alexis, opened up their own local shop a little while ago and I would like to encourage everyone to take a few moments to nominate them for the 'Business of the Year Award'. 

These gals have worked extremely hard to get their business up and running.  Their shop is new and fresh and it features trendy, handmade items, many of which are designed and created by Shirra and Alexis themselves.  They share their vast knowledge and creativity by putting on classes for all ages, right on the premises.  Shirra and Alexis are personable, in touch and very community-minded.  They make a point of supporting and selling local products, which I really appreciate.  They take the time to make their customers feel valued and welcome.  I feel they certainly deserve the Business of the Year award.  So let's show them the love and vote vote vote!  Click here to vote

If you'd like to stop in their shop to say hi and check out their chic, sophisticated yet funky and fun store, their address is 144 West Island Hwy in Parksville.  Be sure to join their Facebook page and check out their website. 

The 11th Annual Glassies awards ceremony will be held at the Parksville Community & Conference Centre, Friday, March 2, 2012, 5:30 p.m. Tickets are $45 each. Call 250-248-3613.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

A Member's Story



My name is Erin McKenzie and I am the voice, vision and person behind an online store called 'The Littlest Bookshop'. I started creating upcycled art when a family member mentioned they had some floppy disks they were going to recycle and wondered if I could use them. I had been recently introduced to the subculture of steampunk, which had driven me to read classic adventure novels more frequently, as well as considering the multiple uses that objects can have. Coupled with this, I have grown up in a home environment where recycling and crafting have been equally praised and often related.

I chose to create books out of the floppy disks because, as a reader and an academic, creating book products allows me to share my passion for reading while also creating a product that I am interested in. Since the creation of my first books, my store has grown to include other products such as my 'winged key brooches'. With new products, I try to stay true to my passion and original vision of recycling, while stretching my own creative boundaries.

I have not received formal training for the products I create in the Littlest Bookshop primarily because no one else, to my knowledge, creates products like mine! My process has been one of combining what general art training I have had with a lot of determination, trial and error. I think that this hands-on process has given me the advantage of knowing my materials on a deeper level.

I am fortunate to be able to live in my family home while I complete my university degree, however, this also limits my work area. I have recently moved all my materials from a guest bedroom into a more specific craft/ tv area. Thankfully, because my creations are quite small, I don’t require a lot of room for storage. It is amazing how much room is taken up with vending displays and photography props, not to mention packaging materials!

When I do my art depends on my schedule and my mood on any given day.  Sometimes I will spend an entire day working on my art, and then go days without picking up a paintbrush! The environment in which I do my art also varies. Some days I will dabble at art while watching a movie, while other days I will work for hours on end in complete silence.

The toughest challenge I have found in marketing my work is demonstrating how unique and relevant my products can be. While I certainly embrace the label of “cute”, I find this label also creates hesitation as to how much the product is worth. For example, the three products below show how varied my books can be:

An ocean playroom themed book inspired by 20,000 Leagues under the Sea

A summer flag themed book:

I think buying handmade is important because it opens up a whole world of products which are often not available for mass purchase. Most of the gifts I buy for family and friends are handmade as I can often find a product that fits the recipient's personality much more closely than a mass-produced product would.

My main goal for the future is to continue to challenge myself to make products that I find relevant. I have recently become a fan of the tv series “Dr. Who” and so am creating books around that theme. While I would like to increase my sales, I realize that in such a competitive market, passion for my craft is very important when sales may not immediately follow.

Erin McKenzie
Creator and Owner of  'The Littlest Bookshop' on Etsy

Friday, July 1, 2011

Happy Canada Day On Vancouver Island!

Well it's a pretty chilly July 1st but our Vancouver Island Etsy Team will not let it get us down!  Here is a special treasury to celebrate our heritage and to share our Canadian spirit!  Just click on the picture or the link above and you can celebrate with us by checking out these artisans beautiful creations!  Happy Canada Day everyone!

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Feeling Girly on Vancouver Island

On Etsy we have something called 'Treasuries'.  A treasury is simply a collection of handmade or vintage items that one 'collects' into a grouping that follows a theme.  Sometimes the theme is a certain colour, other times the theme can be a certain holiday or, or flowers... whatever floats your boat!  It's a fun and creative way to promote your fellow Etsyians.

In this case, one of our Etsy team members created this lovely treasury all in pinks and pastels but with one other special theme: every item in this treasury is being sold by Vancouver Island Etsy Team members. Once you are there, click on each individual photo to go right to the items to view, enjoy and maybe purchase.  Hopefully we see several other Vancouver Island Etsy Team Treasuries popping up everywhere!

If you are one of our team members, consider making a treasury of your own using items from our team members' shops and then share the link wherever you can.  Let's let them know that Vancouver Island is a force to be reckoned with!  Careful though, it does become addictive...

Monday, June 13, 2011

Our Team's First Ever Meet-Up

Our Vancouver Island Etsy Team had our very first meet-up on April 22nd, 2011 and a great time was had by all.   We shared our experiences, successes, tips, craft fair info and marketing ideas.  Nikki of Nikki Designs on Etsy kindly opened her beautiful home to all of us and was a very personable and gracious host.  Thanks again Nikki!  

Everyone brought delicious finger food and a few of our handcrafted items to show one another.  Several members of our team were also donating some of their handmade items or a portion of their sales to the Japan Relief Efforts.  Our fundraising efforts, combined with other Etsyians from around the world, brought in over $10,000.00 for the cause.  Truly a testament to what can be done when people of like minds come together for a common cause.  There is a lot of power in teams and this is one terrific one!

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Vancouver Island Etsy Team In The News

Above: Vancouver Island Etsy Team Captain, Lindsay Jenkins of 'Sunshine Jewls' and Etsy member, Jamie Gentry of 'Love In Everything' in the Sooke News Mirror.

Above: Micki Findlay (A leader of the Vancouver Island Etsy Team) and Cheryl Carr both of A2Sea Creations and A2Sea Photography on Etsy in the Oceanside Star.

Our Vancouver Island Etsy Team had a fundraiser on Facebook to raise money for Japan and we are very happy and proud to say that we reached our goal of $10,00000 and beyond! We began on March 16th, 2011 and ended it on May 31st, 2011. Our final tally was $10,186.63. Our story made it into the media and it was wonderful to see so many people get onboard.

Thank you to each and every Etsy seller, and others who have contributed, for making this possible! It is amazing what can happen when people join together with a common purpose!

Let us not forget Japan and their struggles even though we aren't hearing about it in the news as often. There are several areas in our world that have been hit by natural disasters. My hope is that this fundraising effort for Japan might encourage each and every one of us to remember others who are struggling and to inspire us all to reach past ourselves and donate what we can, utilizing the talents we possess. We are all neighbours and we need each other.

God bless each and every one of you who have been so supportive to this cause as well as to me personally. I have met so many wonderful, caring people through this from all parts of the world and I consider myself privileged to have connected with all of you.

Imagine what could happen if everyone in the world donated just one thing... whether it be a piece of art, a song, a service...whatever! Anyone can start a fundraiser. Anyone... young or old. Just find a need and do your part to fill it, and ask for help from others. I hope to see many more fundraisers like this one pop up everywhere. Get inspired!  
Micki Findlay   

Here is the Youtube video our team created to help raise awareness for our fund-raising efforts

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Welcome To Our Vancouver Island Etsy Team Blog !

"Welcome to our brand new Vancouver Island Etsy Team Blog!"

Etsy is an amazing marketplace featuring arts, crafts, supplies and vintage items from all over the world. We're a community of artists, creators, collectors, thinkers and doers.

The Vancouver Island Etsy Team was created by its captain, Lindsay Jenkins of 'Sunshine Jewls' and its mandate is to bring island crafters together from Sooke to Port Hardy, BC to network, communicate, support and build our handmade businesses. We also share information about upcoming events, fairs and meet-ups.
If you live on Vancouver Island and sell on Etsy, consider joining our team. We would love to have you!

We also have a Facebook page. Come check us out, 'Like' our page and say hi!

Keep in touch by clicking on 'Follow' on the very top left of this blog. Let us know by leaving a comment so we can follow you, too, and see what you're up to!