Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Chronic Pain Awareness Month - Featured Seller Loye's Thread

Loye suffered a TIA, which is sort of like a mini stroke, in 2004. It impaired her right leg. In 2005, she was diagnosed with arthritis, fibromyalgia and neuropathy in her right leg. In 2007, while in cancer treatments she suffered radiation burns which harmed the nerves in her legs. She has had difficulty walking since. Now she finds that the radiation also has affected her spine and is causing severe and chronic pain in her left leg and it is troublesome for her to stay upright.
[Crochet Shrug Natural Cotton]

While recovering from cancer, she could no longer work and at the encouragement of her daughter-in-law she opened her Etsy shop, Loye's Thread. She loves creating women's garments and primarily uses cotton thread. As she began to sell garments, she would get terrific feedback that would help her self esteem to return.

Although there are many things she cannot do, she can create in crochet. It gives her a sense of purpose, pride and some extra income to help with medical expenses and occasionally a luxury or two. She cannot imagine life without crochet. It helps to distract from the pain and take her mind off of the activities she has lost. Etsy helps her to have an outlet for her craft. There is also a thrill of excitement every time she makes a sale.
[Crochet Dress Cap Sleeve in Brown]

Her family has been very supportive of her crochet business and helps however they can. Her husband helps so much with running errands and delivering packages to the post office. He helps her to participate in the local artisans market once a month because she enjoys it so much.

Loye encourages all crafters who suffer from debilitating conditions to look into opening an online shop and discover the same thrill and sense of accomplishment she has found.

Follow Loye's Thread:

Etsy  •  Facebook  •  Twitter

Friday, September 5, 2014

Chronic Pain Awareness Month - Featured Seller Loretta of LorettaJos

Loretta has lived with chronic pain for all of her adult life. Her health had gotten to the point where she was not able to have a "real" job and at one point she was bedridden. During that time, craft shows were a form of company and inspiration for Loretta.

After seeing many doctors, she finally found one that helped to treat with proper medication. She was able to start crafting. Her shop, Lorettajos, is filled with a variety of Hair Accessories that range from vintage style rockabilly headbands and scarves to bows to scrunchies and more! It began when her daughter asked her to make a hair accessory one day, she posted it online, and her friends went crazy for it. 

Loretta loves the feeling she gets of contributing to her home and knowing that her shop gives her a reason to keep pushing on. She has the support of her fiancĂ© and daughter when she gets too tired. They will always jump in and lend a hand when needed.

Loretta offered the following words of wisdom for other Etsy sellers in chronic pain:
  • "If you lay down, make sure you get up"
  • "If you hurt, rest, take your meds, relax"
  • "If you start something, it is ok if you don't finish it"
  • "If you love it, do it"
  • "If someone is telling you 'you're just lazy, get a real job,' walk away from them. They don't understand the constant ache you live with every single moment of every day and they never will.
  • "Don't over do it - if you are running behind on orders just write to your customers. They understand, they really do and they so appreciate the communication. Having people in your life that simply do not understand will just exhaust you. You will either try to explain it to them and they still don't get it or you will try to keep up with them and both ways will have you in bed the next day. Just let it go, breath and let it go."

 Images: 1.) Loretta and her daughter. 2.) A few of the dolly bows from Loretta's shop 3.) Bow Red Bandana Rockabilly Wire Headband 4.) Dolly Bow Superhero Reversible Comic Sayings with Black and White Dots 5.) A variety of LorettaJo's products

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Chronic Pain Awareness Month - My Story

I have spent the last 7 years with a variety of conditions, many of which people cannot see or understand. It all started when I left the corporate business world and I had 5 arm surgeries for computer-related injuries. I also was diagnosed with Trigeminal Neuralgia, Occipital Neuralgia, Fibromyalgia, and chronic migrainesI have gone through seasons where I have been bedridden, and I am unable to work in the real world due to the treatments and side effects of my conditions.

I started Upcountry Vintage when I was living in Haiku, HI (on the island of Maui). I was amazed at all of the great mid century goods that I could find there! I also had a second handmade and illustration shop at the time, but it was hard for me to keep up with production during the busy season. As my vintage business began to pick-up, I was able to start doing my handmade items as gifts for friends instead of profit. I am now enrolled in online classes to finish my BFA at the Academy of Art University, and hope to be able to start selling my art and handmade items again when I can manage two shops.

Upcountry Vintage is currently a one-woman operation. I live alone and support myself, so I know if I don't get a package mailed out I only have myself to blame. Sometimes having customers is all the motivation I need to rally myself, throw on some lipstick, and deliver their order to the Post Office. I have maintained a 100% positive customer satisfaction rate despite the conditions I face, because I pride myself on customer service and communication. There have been a few occasions where I have messaged customers and asked if I could ship out products a day later, but if it was urgent I would always "make it work!" Once I got an order from a Hollywood Propmaster on a day I was very sick in pain, but I made sure to get the order rushed to her for the TV show she was styling. Working through pain can sometimes be a good distraction, but it can also cause a flare-up and leave you flat on your back for days, so it's wise not to overdo it.

I love the treasure hunting process because it helps me to socialize in my community and get out of the house. When the weather is bad, I usually have a harder time with pain. The wind can trigger Trigeminal Neuralgia attacks, so I have to be careful to stock up on products during good weather.

My advice to anyone considering opening up an Etsy business with chronic pain is to take advantage of the flexibility that running your own business offers. Be sure to vary your tasks from making the products, taking photos, computer work, and packaging, so that you do not get hurt doing repetitive tasks. For me, the flexibility that running a vintage shop gives me is great for all of my health issues. It allows me to use my knowledge of business and my eye for trends without hurting myself in the crafting process. I always try to listen to my body and pace myself as I run my shop.

Another tip is that I always consider the fact that my customers have a choice between sites like Ebay vs Etsy (or even mass produced made in China stuff). The reason why they choose Etsy over the others is for the personal touches and boutique feel, which means spending extra time and effort on product photography, packaging, and customer appreciation. Our customers are the reason that we have the honor of running our Etsy shops from home, so be sure to let them know you appreciate them with these special touches.

Remember that starting up an Etsy shop takes time and it is a labor of love. Even for people without chronic pain and disabilities, the start-up is difficult. It can be rewarding, but be sure to remind yourself that success does not happen overnight. Take baby steps and eventually you will find your pace! 
Be sure to celebrate every victory and milestone... you will earn it!!!

[I combine my passions of vintage and art by upcycling home decor items for a modern feel.]
[Upcountry Vintage specializes in "Mid Century Decor for the Modern Home"]
[This little flowerpot was sold to a TV show PropMaster by Upcountry Vintage.]

Follow Upcountry Vintage:

Etsy   •   Facebook   •   Pinterest

If you would like to know more about Trigeminal Neuralgia, and consider donating to raise awareness and support for the sufferers of the "Suicide Disease," please visit:

Monday, September 1, 2014

Intro to Chronic Pain Awareness Month Blog Series

Etsy features a blog series called Quit Your Day Job where they highlight sellers who are successful enough to run a full time Etsy shop. Making the leap from hobby to full time business is a choice for most people, but a necessity for some.  

During the month of September, I will be running a series of interviews with five other Etsy shop owners who have disabling chronic pain conditions. They are not able to work outside of the home. Etsy offers the freedom and flexibility for those, like me, who have pain conditions that restrict us from holding down "day jobs." These women will share with you how they overcame their challenges, worked to grow businesses with certain limitations, and also tips for others considering starting an Etsy business.

My inspiration for writing this post came from a time where I tried to go back to the workforce myself. I am recently divorced and trying to support myself without relying on disability services because of the way a lot of people view "invisible illnesses" vs visible disabilities. I found that I was unable to work outside of the home due to a variety of conditions, and I am so thankful I also have my Etsy business I can continue to grow. There is something truly special about being your own boss when you are not able to report to others due to medical conditions. I will share my story this week, and I hope that you will also continue to follow the entire series. 

The statistics on chronic pain vary greatly, but it is currently estimated that up to half of the American population experiences some type of reoccurring pain. I know that many chronic pain conditions affect women more than men, so I thought that this topic would be interesting to share with all of the people who love Etsy (which I know has more women Sellers/Buyers than men, so I thought it would also be applicable to both populations). 

I hope that you will check out their shops and choose to support their businesses when you are browsing Etsy. I have already purchased items from one of these sellers and plan to support others as the Holiday giving season approaches.

Featured Etsy Sellers:

Anna of Artibility
Kris of Laughing Vixen Lounge 
Loretta of LorettaJos
Loye of Loye's Threads
Shannon of Perriewinkles

For more information on the American Chronic Pain Association and Chronic Pain Awareness Month, visit

Looking forward to sharing this series with you!


Thursday, August 21, 2014

How to Style a Great Shelfie

My Shelves are always getting changed and rearranged. I like to add a combination of books, frames, and decorative items for my "shelfies." 

[A shelfie with my kitties from last year, before I restyled the built-in]
[A more recent shelfie]

Here are some of my tips for stylizing your bookcases and shelves:

  1. Have a theme. For example, in my front room I had a nautical beach theme, so a lot of the candle holders had braided rope or sea glass. Also match the scents of candles to your theme!
  2. Included framed photos and other personal items that are not store bought. These will make your shelf unique from any other catalog pic. I have a lot of items that were passed down from my family on my shelves.
  3. I like to avoid end to end books. I will stack smaller sets of book and lean some for variety.
  4. Consider adding a letter, such as the initial for your last name, to continue the personalization of your shelf.
  5. Add small succulents to bring life to your shelf. These plants are low maintenance, and can also be displayed in terrariums.
  6. Don't forget to adjust or remove shelves to expand the height of your displays. You can add taller items by raising the shelves.
  7. I usually DIY some of the items on my shelves. If I want to have a color theme, I might spray paint vintage items and vintage frames to have a cohesive look.
  8. Upcountry Vintage has lots of great boxes, nicnacs, and small decor items tagged with the keyword "shelfie" to help you find unique vintage items for your bookcase. Consider metallics and neutrals that can always be updated and changed as you update your style trends.

Here are a couple of my pics from the shop for great vintage accent pieces to your shelf:

[Ceramic Frames with Gold Trim by Upcountry Vintage]

[Mid Century Madonna and Child by Upcountry Vintage]

[Vintage Milk Glass Bud Vase in Starburst Pattern by Upcountry Vintage]

[Skull Sculpture in Wood and Oak Apple/Gall - Former Disney Artist by Upcountry Vintage]

[White Enamel Hospital / Surgical Container by Upcountry Vintage]

What's your tip for a great Shelfie?

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Roundup: A Passion for Pineapple

I was going through my photos from when I lived in Maui recently, and came across my visit to the Maui Tropical Plantation (we would often bring visitors from the Mainland there to see all of the different plants that grow on the Island). I loved to see the way Pineapples grow, and now I am loving how Pineapples have become trendy due to their great geometric shapes!

I have rounded up some items, including a salt and pepper set from my shop. I hope you get a chance to check out some of these great pineapple themed products that are cropping up!

Vintage Mid Century Wooden Salt and Pepper Set by UpcountryVintage
Tiny Pineapple Necklace Rose Gold Filled 14k by BeauAndStella
Vintage Set of Brass Cutout Pineapple Candle Sconces by ssmith7157
Tote Bag Pineapple Organic Cotton by PetiteMila
Pineapple Print, Mint and Coral Pineapple Art by MelindaWoodDesigns
Pineapple Pattern Yellow White Pom Pom Tassel Shorts by SuccessDress

Are you in love with this geometric motif too?
What are some of your favorite pineapple themed products?

Monday, August 18, 2014

Guest Post by Ashley of DelightfullyDutch on How to Identify Dutch Pieces

Jess here! I am so excited to introduce you to Ashley, another vintage housewares and home decor seller from Etsy. We both bonded over our love for Dutch decor, so I invited her to share with you her expertise on the subject. Be sure to check out her shop, follow her on Facebook, and also on Pinterest.

[Ashley and her husband, who are both Etsy shop owners]

My name is Ashley and I'm the owner behind DelightfullyDutch, a vintage shop on Etsy. My grandparents are from Holland and I grew up visiting my Dutch grandmother (Opoe) frequently, whose home is like an antique store and museum in one. I admire her joy in her treasures and her incredible knowledge of every piece.

When I go out on the hunt, of all the items that catch my eye, treasures from the Netherlands are always a delight! Some can be spotted with just a quick peak under the base. For instance, beautiful and rustic pewter pitchers and vases read Royal Holland Pewter just underneath. They look breathtaking as a centerpiece filled with spring blooms. And don't be bothered by any bumps to the pewter, they add great character and farm style charm! 

Be sure to keep an eye out not only for blue and white windmill tiles, but also sepia toned, bright multi-colored, and naturally colored farm life scenes. There is a beautiful variety of authentic Dutch tiles, some of the most rare and valuable feature scenes in purple and date back to the 1700s.

A few hints I'd like to offer toward the blue and white ceramics--they're called delft blue. They can be found in tiles, vases, plates, cups...etc. To spot one made in Holland, you may find it says "hand painted in Holland" or that delft blue reads in Dutch as "delfts blauw".

Finally, many European countries have motifs of a boy and girl. To tell a true representation of a Holland boy and girl verses Austrian, Swedish or even Pennsylvania Dutch is that the boy and girl will be facing each other and bending in for a kiss!

I hope you are more excited to search for and enjoy Dutch delights! Come by DelightfullyDutch for ideas and gifts related to the culture of the Netherlands!

Dank je wel! Thank you!

[Vintage Pewter Pitcher Royal Holland Pewter by DelightfullyDutch]
[Vintage Dutch Tile Trivet Ceramic and Cast by DelightfullyDutch]
[Vintage Copper Teapot Ceramic Delft Blue Lid by DelightfullyDutch
[Vintage Dutch Jar Container Food Storage by DelightfullyDutch]