Occasionally, I will share a new Etsy seller with you for the feature called Fresh Etsy Pixx. I choose a new Etsy seller who is well on their way to being a star over at Etsy, or choose a new Estian who is just starting out making some cute stuff and needs a little attention to let the world know about ’em. Today, I’ve chosen a seller that fits the latter category and she is Rhena Tantisunthorn of Lars and Addie. Only in business on Etsy since early May, Rhena caught my eye with her cute wool and appliqué bags. Visit Lars and Addie and see for yourself just how cute they are. You can also visit Rhena’s blog to see more of her work and read for yourself, that in addition to being crafty, Rhena is pretty funny too!
1. What’s the name of your shop and what do you create?
Lars and Addie. My tag line is “Bags and such. But mostly bags” and that just about says it all. I have both felted wool bags and fabric bags. My main line right now are small handbags that are made with a wool or wool blend with a cute cotton lining. The colorful appliqué on the outside of the bag matches or is inspired by the lining fabric. I’m also in the process of developing a line of larger tote bags called “Annie Totes.” These totes also have an appliqué on the outside, but are larger and the body of the bag is made from corduroy. I’m also working on adding more bags that are felted and then decorated with needle felting. For my “and such” section I’m expanding into a few coasters and other items for the home.
2. How long have you been in business and how long have you been selling on Etsy?
Over the past few years, I’ve been making bags for friends and family members. My sister and her family suggested that I start selling them at a local market here in Minneapolis. I had always been aware of Etsy, but the quality of work seemed so high that it was intimidating to think about selling there. I slowly started to stockpile some of my work to sell at the market. Then this spring, it just struck me that rather than trying to stockpile, I should at least give it a try on Etsy and at least see the response to my bags there. So, I opened shop on May 7, 2008. Business has been encouraging and I’m even going to start wholesaling to a shop here in Minneapolis soon.
After about a month or so on Etsy, when I first started to get sales that weren’t family members, I started to see that it really does actually work! It takes a lot of patience and time and promotion, but there are buyers out there for handmade products.
3. What made you take the plunge?
The thing that made me take the plunge was mostly encouragement from my family and friends. I kept hearing great feedback about the bags I had made as gifts and a few people asked me to make custom bags.
4. What inspires you?
I’m inspired a lot by the fabrics and other materials that are out there. A lot of my designs are based on the fabrics that other designers have created, so I rely on them quite a bit. But I’m also inspired by what I see around me — in nature, in books, in photographs. Also, just the process of learning inspires me. I feel like I’m constantly learning new techniques and methods for construction and for creating images out of fabric. I’m also learning a lot about photography and taking good pictures. Good pictures are the centerpiece of a good online shop and I still have a lot to learn!
5. Any goals you’d like to share?
I’d love to be in the No Coast Craft Fair here in Minneapolis this winter. I have to work on my portfolio – but fortunately I have some time for that. I’d also like to get that home studio sorted out….
6. Share something totally frivolous that you’d love to do if time & money weren’t a factor.
It might sound sort of hokey, but I’m pretty happy doing what I’m doing right now. I love spending my days creating and designing and writing (my non-Etsy job). My husband and I get to spend a lot of time together, with family and working on our house and in the garden, so I can’t complain. Of course, crafting and writing aren’t very lucrative and at some point it might be nice to have some extra funds and to have the opportunity to travel a bit more often…. and to have rows and rows of fabrics and yarns at my fingertips.