Friday, February 21, 2014

Second in the Classy Sustainability series honoring Earth Day 2014, continues with Linda and

I found myself going back in time reading about Linda's journey to on-line selling and the influences from her past.  This D'Arceau-Limoges Lea Collector Plate is just one of over 200 items that Linda has in her Etsy shop. The listing link is below the photo and Linda's interview follows.  

Q.  What prompted you to become an Etsy seller? 
A. The short answer is that I tend to be a little “arty.”  I love to thrift store shop, I love to make things, and I have too much stuff!  The longer story is that my mother was my example.  She was an avid craftswoman and after she retired from teaching in 1977, she took up photography.  She discovered that she had an “eye” for capturing a scene through the camera lens and had the confidence and energy to become an entrepreneur.  She started her own business in Vermont called “Jessie’s Photo”.  Over the next 20 years, she sold thousands of photographs.  She matted them, framed them, made magnets out of them, had coffee mugs and T-shirts made, made stationery and postcards.  You name it and mom did it!  She sold via local craft shows and word of mouth.  Her photography was so popular that she was asked to participate in a juried art show, and our town made poster-sized enlargements of her landscapes that are still hanging in the halls of the hospital.  
Mom taught me to sew when I was about 9 years old and it’s the one craft that I keep going back to. I like to make handbags because they’re fun and relatively quick to make.  Instead of going to the store to buy fabric, it’s more fun for me to make a handbag out of a blouse or skirt or jacket that has beautiful or funky fabric – something no one else thought of and it rescues a lovely piece of fabric - from perhaps a not-so-lovely item of clothing!  In 2012, my son gave me a wonderful Christmas gift – he said he hadn’t bought me anything for Christmas because he was offering to set up an Etsy store for me!

Q. In May you will have been on Etsy for one year. How would you describe your success so far? 
A. Amazing!  I’ve had over 100 sales so far, and I have no idea if that’s typical or if it’s even considered wonderful, but I’m thrilled.  I love the whole process of listing and selling on Etsy and am always so happy and I admit it - even surprised - when I see that an item has sold!  I love to gift wrap my sold items so that the purchaser feels like they’re getting a present from me in the mail.  My husband laughs at me because I’m like a kid in a candy store it’s so much fun.

This 1960s metal napkin holder is only $23 plus shipping at  The listing is below the photo and Linda's interview continues after.

Q.  You have a great eclectic mix of vintage items in your shop. How do you decide what to sell? 
A. When I was very young, my mom and dad owned a thrift store called “The Hand-Me-Down Shop”.  I remember that mom always spoke fondly of having had that store and loved her thrift store treasures as much as the most fabulous antique she owned.  Mom passed along to me her love of antiques and the hunt for treasures at thrift stores.  Because of that, I have way too much stuff!  

After setting up my Etsy store with my son’s help, I first listed my handbags.  My handmade jewelry next, followed by some of my personal vintage things.  When those things started to sell, I decided it was time to go through the items inherited from my aunt and uncle.  My aunt had - literally - drawers full of jewelry.  Fabulous jewelry that I have to be very careful sorting through because she had everything from plastic to platinum!  I also started to go through some of my mom’s things.  She passed away three years ago just before her 92nd birthday.  I hesitated at first and of course there are some things of hers that I will never sell, but I know she would be happy to have me share her things with others.  Plus, I know she would have loved Etsy!  I can imagine her selling her photography through an Etsy store!  As a matter of fact, I have some small photography items of hers that I will be listing in the future.  as of Feb 21, 2014 has had 108 sales, has almost 400 admirers and many positive reviews.  I wonder if this gorgeous piece of vintage jewelry belonged to an ancestor?  (listing link is below the photo and Linda's interview continues after.)

Q. Tell me why you started making purses out of ties?
A. I’ve always love neckties.  I think it’s because they are small pieces of fabric that make a statement or tell a story.  A friend told me about a purse she saw at a consignment store made out of neckties.  The power of suggestion got to me, so I went out and bought some ties (I thought about using my husband’s ties, but then thought better of it!) and started to experiment putting ties together.  Since I do like funky, I found the necktie handbags to be fun to make. 

Once I was happy with the results, I placed some necktie handbags in a local consignment store.  One day I got a call from a woman whose husband had passed away asking me if I could make handbags from his ties.  I told her that absolutely, of course I could and made her four bags.  She was thrilled.  
Not too long after I finished those bags, a woman who owns a beautiful boutique in north Georgia, saw the lady with one of my handbags, found out how to contact me and I now have about 20 or more handbags in that boutique.  The name of the shop is The Blue Eyed Buffalo and is in Clayton, GA.  

Through word of mouth I’ve made over 50 memory bags from neckties and it is so rewarding!  I know some people would find it strange to cut up someone’s ties and sew them into a handbag, but I feel that in my own little way, I’m helping these women with their grief.  They’re carrying a beautiful tribute to their husband (or father, brother, uncle or grandpa) that gives them pleasure.  

Q. How do you connect selling vintage with sustainability or going green?
A. I hate waste and I literally cringe when I hear people say that they threw this or that out.  Donating to a charity or thrift store is an awesome way to give back to your community in so many ways.  It helps the non-profit store with their cause, it gives people who can’t afford to buy new items a chance to furnish their home or clothe their children at a reasonable cost, and it gives pleasure to people like me who love to shop thrift!  The giver can even take a tax deduction on their donations!  This is totally a win-win situation all around. 

Q. What advice would you give someone who wants to start an Etsy shop?
A. First, I would say not to procrastinate!  Second, be prepared to devote time and energy to this new venture.  It’s a lot more work than I thought it would be.    Join one or more teams available on Etsy.   The Etsy Pickers and Sellers Team, known as “epsteam” ( is great.   It’s kind of like a small town which has a Main Street shopping area where the merchants participate together in a Friday night open house or a Winter Carnival offering hot cocoa and cookies to their customers – it’s nice.  Practice taking great pictures and keep listing new items.  Be professional and have fun!

I so enjoyed working with Linda on this piece.  I am also a satisfied customer of  I hope you will visit this shop and others on Etsy - the best place to buy vintage and become part of the "Classy Sustainability Set." Follow the epsteam link above to see other great vintage and handmade sellers on Etsy.  

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