It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas over at Upcountry Vintage! I have been loading the shop with some great mid century ornaments that I am drooling over myself. I am obsessed with ornaments, mind you. Today, I was thinking, "Man, I could technically just keep these all for myself and have the prettiest retro Christmas tree ever!" But if my job is to offer you stuff I would want to own, then I am rising to the challenge this season.
Friday, October 10, 2014
Wednesday, October 1, 2014
Kris is the owner of LaughingVixenLounge, where she sells pop culture jewelry and accessories. You'll find strong influences of retro and horror along with custom options. Her designs are inspired by anything from movies to vintage pin up girls to black cats, and more.
Kris has a condition called Ankylosing Spondylitis, which she will tell others is like having really, really bad Arthritis. It started as far back as high school but was not diagnosed until much later. The excessive inflammation in her joints has cause much damage. Now, at 43, she has a completely fused spine, her arms don't stretch up all the way and her neck does not turn like it should. A year and a half ago she had to have her left hip replaced and her right hip desperately needs to be done. She now pumps what she calls "poison" through her body (Enbrel) but it's made a world of difference. While she still has pain and little energy, it's far less than it was before the Enbrel.
Kris previously worked as a hairstylist, but when that became too difficult, she went to work at a beauty wholesale supply store. During that time, she would dream about having her own business. She would never have the energy to pursue her dreams. Then, when she had to stop working a 9-5 job she had lots of time to learn and experiment. She discovered Etsy and it was the best choice for her!
While she could never hold down a 9-5 job anymore she has been able to bring her dream of owning her own business to life with Etsy. She is able to rest when she needs to, work at her own pace (many time very late at night) and if needed not work at all that day. There are not too many jobs that give you that much freedom.
She has always loved the fact that with her shop she can be "Laughing Vixen," this mysterious person that is up to individual interpretation. Through her, she can be carefree and limitless. This is the first time Kris has really ever talked about her condition in association with her shop.
She likes the idea of sharing our stories to help others who might need some inspiration. The pain sucks, it's completely crappy but, while it may seem like it, it's not the end of the world. You can still have a happy and fabulous life. And you can most definitely be a successful business owner.
Kris has the support of her family to run LaughingVixenLounge. Her parents have taken packages to the post office for her more times than she can count. Her sister goes through supply orders and makes sure they are correct, organizes the supplies and sometimes when it's really busy helps assemble and pack orders. Her brother has built stands for storage units for her "wall 'o beads." And her sister in-law posed for photos to model photo pendants. It all definitely helps Kris as she runs LaughingVixenLounge.
"I honestly don't know what I would do without my shop. It's what gets me going, gives me something to do with my time and gives me things to do tomorrow and down the road. When you have nothing but pain you're very limited to what you can do. I was pretty much stuck in my apartment laying down a lot or watching movies. Now I still watch lots of movies I'm just making pretty things while I do it. Yes, it can get a bit overwhelming during the holiday season but I just take it one day at a time and try not to stress. I know it's different for everyone. Personally, I went back and forth so many times on whether or not I should open a shop. I'm so thankful I did. So I would say go for it. Give it a try. Take it slow and build it to fit your life. It can be such a rewarding experience!"
Saturday, September 20, 2014
I recently started attending the Academy of Art University to finish my BFA in Fine Art. While I love running my vintage Etsy shop, I also am passionate about drawing and painting. One of the first classes I am taking at school is a Photography and Photoshop skills class. I've been taking a ton of photos lately and thought I would share some of my favorite ones with you.
All of these photos are the copyright of Jessica Coello 2014. Please do not use without permission.
|[I love this old building in Petaluma, CA. I think it's part of an old yarn factory.]|
|[This building entrance caught my eye. I love the combination of colors and plants. Santa Rosa, CA]|
|[My Fiat 500, "Ruby," at the Marin Headlands]|
|[Japantown San Francisco]|
|[Another shot of the old Yarn Factory in Petaluma, CA]|
|[Growing up in Sonoma County, I have always loved this town Sign because of the mid century font and style]|
|[My Fiat 500, "Ruby," in Sausalito]|
|[I always love contrasting nature and industry in photography. This is at the Marin Headlands with a view of the Golden Gate Bridge, San Francisco}|
|[The Peace Plaza at Japantown, San Francisco]|
|[Marin Headlands and the Golden Gate Bridge, San francisco]|
Wednesday, September 17, 2014
Anna is the owner of the Etsy shop ARTiBILITY. She specializes in creating hand stamped metal and all of her creations have a meaning or purpose. She will often use products to fund donation for a charity she supports or to have kids with Autism or Veterans with different abilities assist in the design or process. She explains:
"ARTiBILITY speaks volumes. ART is Individual aBILITY not disability. It always comes form within. Experiences, pain, weakness, strengths, motivation, it all can be expressed through art work. The main purpose is to bring awareness and support for other artists that are suffering that would like to learn something artsy, open a shop or start something crafty. Art in any form is extremely therapeutic. We hold several events throughout the year (including the Etsy Craft Party) not just for chronic pain and illness sufferers that are artists but for and with other abled-Veterans, Kids and Teens as part of a bigger movement to make people understand the difficulties as well as to showcase all of the triumphs."
Etsy provides a platform where creatives can not only share their ideas and items but connect. Etsy allows her to put Artibility on vacation mode if needed at any time. The customer service is excellent plus she doesn't have to worry about a separate website when she does not feel up to it.
Anna is married with two boys, one of which is an adult now. The nice thing is that they are all also very creative and now have their own creative Facebook business pages and working on their own Etsy shops. Her husband has already opened up a shop that sells supplies called My Kreative Solutions. Anna assists him to make sure a Thank you note is sent and that packaging looks pretty.
It helps Anna to stay encouraged simply by being able to make something out of nothing. It releases the anguish that at times comes with chronic pain. Knowing that there is no way to make the incurable go away, she can always resort to some form of art.
"We learn to tolerate the physical pain. We mask our pain. We just have to. But often times it’s the overwhelming emotional burden that makes you feel like someone else. It makes you feel like no one understands. As if you are in a constant fight as something is constantly crushing you. Having an artistic outlet let's me know that I can fight it. Having that common bond with others that also resort to artistic outlets makes me feel hopeful. Especially when someone orders an item that means a lot to them or the battle they face. That is what makes me believe that I will overcome that crushing feeling. After all I work with tools, hammer and a torch. What's more BA that that?!"She offers practical advice to new Etsy sellers. Anna encourages not to give up to quickly. Share your story. Connect with others. Make time for YOU! Most of all give your time, talents and a friendly ear to others that are also going trough the same thing. You'd be surprised how much that gives to your soul.
Product Photo Links: 1.) Boots Collection Military Word or Name Necklace with Combat Boots Imprints 2.) My Tree of Life and Earth OOAK Original Necklace Hand Stamped 3.) Hope Series - Gold Bar Necklace 4.) Be Bad Ask Everyday Courage Triumph Necklace
Wednesday, September 10, 2014
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.
Friday, September 5, 2014
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 fiancé 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
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 migraines. I 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.]|
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: