I enjoy introducing artists now and again, who really spark my interest, and I’ve found someone who not only makes astonishingly original pieces, but she does it using recycled materials that we all wear out and throw away – belts.
Her name is Shannon Ritscher. She is from Seattle, WA. Shannon is a part-time graphic designer and part-time crafter (Greenbelts), but she is also a full-time, stay at home mom to her 4 year old son – Henry. (Round of applause for balancing all three and rockin’ it out on Etsy at the same time!) She’s awesome, is an inspiration, has a ton to choose from on Etsy and I seriously have so many favorites, it makes my head spin!
I don’t know about you, but I think the growth process of artists, when they work from the ground up, is a beautiful thing. Shannon started listing on Etsy in June of 2007. When I asked her about her early beginnings, she recalled, making collars and cuffs for friends and family for Christmas presents just 6 months before she opened shop. She said they liked them so well that she thought she’d try her hand at selling them. As Shannon thought back, she said, “I worked out of my neighbors basement for one full year before my husband finally built me a little work space (shed) on our back porch just a few months ago. Yea!” If you’re a crafter, you can likely relate. I know I started working at the kitchen table, which was followed by a relocation to our home office, with yet another bulge into our guest bedroom. I don’t think the growth and development ever ends.
I asked Shannon what her favorite material or materials are to use. I’ve already said belts were one, but you’ll see from her work, she also enjoys working with buttons, found objects, and bottle caps and humorously, a favorite of most but not often thought of, Shannon’s other favorite thing to work with is “time.” 🙂
Shannon’s personal favorite of the items in her shop is a toss-up, but here was her response… “The first one is a cuff made from a very cool weathered leather belt, a giant metal washer, and an amazing vintage dark abalone carved button. The contrast between the materials makes my heart flutter. I also have a soft spot for the red, white and black large cut flower cuff and collar setthat I have listed right now. I just about go cross-eyed every night, sitting and cutting out flowers (TONS of flowers!). I think they look adorable though – especially on. I love things that are girly but without all the frill.” I’m sure there are lots of people out there that share Shannon’s taste!
When I asked her what she loves about handmade items, Shannon said she loves the unexpected aspect of handmade items. Wonderfully said, Shannon’s additional comments were, “when you see something fantastic that is made from something else (recycled) and/or something that is uniquely beautiful – Well, there’s nothing better.” She also added, “I do tend to gravitate toward recycled pieces because I love things that have a story behind them.” I too love stories and because I’m a talker, love things that generate fun conversation! Shannon’s items are and do, exactly that, which may be why I love them so much! Plus, I’m an animal lover with three dogs – what fashionable, dog owner girl wouldn’t love having a matching dog collar and owner cuff set? They’re sweet!
For all of our Etsy readers out there, I always think it’s good to know how other Etsians are promoting. I’m a firm believer in working smarter, and not harder, so I’m regularly looking to borrow ideas from other successful people. Shannon’s success has come primarily from promoting her items through her website, a blog, her Etsy shop, Myspace, and similar web based opportunities.
Even though we are pretty much saturated by technology these days, I know some people still don’t realize the power and marketing potential of the Internet. With 386 Etsy items sold and having 100% positive feedback, Shannon is one to prove that it works!
Shannon says that most of her promotional efforts have been put on hold until her son starts school next year and she has a little more time to give it a good effort. Currently, she has products in 8 stores, from Seattle to the UK. She has a portfolio on TrunkT, her Greenbelts are featured on www.seekingdesigners.com and various blogs like www.pupstyle.com, itsthedogslife.com, www.treehugger.com, www.ourgreatgreenglobe.com, etc. She is also gearing up to attend some local art/craft shows this summer. Jeesh! For having her promotions on “hold,” I’d say she’s pretty active and thriving!
Shannon had some kind words for me for featuring her in my blog, but after learning about her, her talents, and drive, I have this to say to her: Shannon –>YOU rock!
And lastly – one more thing about Shannon — she’s great because her birthday is the same day as Anthony and I’s wedding Anniversary…December 17th. 🙂