We All Win With Etsy!

It’s shocking to realize that I’ve never blogged about Etsy. If you know me, at all, then I have already hammered this word into your head. Etsy is a website that serves as a marketplace where people can buy and sell handmade or vintage goods. It’s like an eBay for hippies, I suppose.

My amazing friend Abby turned me on to Etsy three years ago. She herself is the Etsy guru. Since she shared her obsession with awesome and original items, I have subsequently become obsessed. I have purchased jewelry, clothes, housewares and art for myself and those I love.

A hobnail butter dish from here, adorable handmade booties from this lovely seller.

This is where I found these earrings, a onsie for a friend’s baby from this shop.

The list goes on and on. Buying from Etsy seems strange at first, since every shop is a unique person and payment goes directly to them, not through the site. But PayPal is easy enough to manage for anyone slightly computer literate, and if you have trouble figuring out how to complete a transaction, the seller themselves can respond directly to your questions and the Etsy site itself has great user-friendly guides.

The originality of all the merchandise available on Etsy is the by-product of a personal atmosphere. Every seller I have ever contacted with a question or a request for custom work has responded with enthusiasm and expertise that you’d be hard pressed to find in any corporate retail environment. Sometimes the back and forth is downright familial, I can tell you the first name and some interesting factoids of almost everyone I have had transactions with. Once I was somewhat disappointed by a purchase, but the glitch was nothing major. When I posted my feedback with only a slight mention of my issue, the seller contacted me immediately and asked me if there was any way she could remedy the problem. I didn’t think there was, but after we discussed, she found a way to make the purchase what I wanted. Amazing!

Once I became a chronic Etsy addict, I would find myself deeper and deeper into endless maze of shops that exists. And I realized that one of the most amazing benefits of buying handmade is the potential for customized work. Again at the suggestion of my friend Abby (that woman is really amazing), I started a tradition of finding, commissioning and buying a customized piece of art for each of our anniversaries. On our first anniversary, LaMaga made us a lovely family portrait (shown below). For our second anniversary, I wanted to find something a little more abstract and a friend (you guessed it, ABBY!) pointed me to selflesh.

Selflesh is really a lovely artist named Shannon who lives in Maine. A self-described ‘interdisciplinary artist’, Shannon makes amazing pieces often using maps and thread and the motifs of anatomy or birds. It was the maps that drew me in, and the beautiful shapes of nature combined with the graceful lines of thread that stole my heart. As soon as I contacted her with some very vague ideas about an anniversary piece, she replied with amazing ideas and tons of smiley faces and a lot of flexibility. What we eventually came up with and what she made was this:

This image simply can’t do justice to what the piece looks like framed and in person. Represented in those maps are the homes where our hearts live, the places we spent building our first two years of marriage, and the destinations we dream of going to in the future of our relationship. Can you believe all that drama could be so eloquently portrayed?!

Last month I received an e-mail from Shannon, telling me that if I bought a ‘surprise’ item from her shop, I’d be entered into a drawing for one of three prizes. First prize was a map collage subscription for a year, the second was a small commissioned piece and the third was an archival print. I never win anything, so I figured this was all a pipe dream, but I was excited about the ‘surprise’ piece anyway! I love surprises made of maps!

Lo and behold, on August 1st Shannon notified the winners of her drawing as advertised. And one of them was ME! And I won first prize! I’m simply over the moon that I will have four more of Shannon’s amazing creations arriving at my doorstep over the next year!
Stay tuned to see what idea Abby’s inspiration led me to for our third anniversary!

4 thoughts on “We All Win With Etsy!

  1. Congratulations on your win! You know I am also a map lover girl. Such beautiful pieces and a great way to document your ever evolving road together through your anniversaries. Can't wait to see what you picked for your 3rd!

  2. I love those booties and I wish they still fit his little feet. I will, however, keep them forever as a reminder how awesome my friends are and how teeny my little man was.

  3. Congratulations!How many hours have we spend sending etsy links back and forth? Too many to be calculated…or admitted! x

  4. Can I just say that I shop Etsy all the time! It is the best place ever…why wouldn't you buy something unique and handmade that someone has put a lot of heart and time into. Look for ink.jar on etsy soon 🙂 I love your idea for a yearly anniversary tradition – as Blake and I get close to the end of year 1…it took me what felt like forever to come up with the perfect gift!

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