Tell us a bit about yourself.
Hello darlings! My name is Jill McKeever and I live in Kansas City. 3 years ago I somehow fell into graphic design. Last year I began For Strange Women, because natural healing, especially aromatherapy, has been a passion of mine for years. I have recently quit my job in hopes of becoming a full-time artist/craftress! I also do freelance design, photography, video, and hopefully will also find time soon to get back into writing/recording music (where the depths of my heart are). My website, jillmckeever.net, compiles a lot of what I do. I am also helping my boyfriend with a documentary he is making about radio consolidation and how to make stations local, independent, and good again.
I also have a very strong connection to animals. I feel that eventually all the things I do will lead me to the opportunity to help animals escape experimentation, factory farming, habitat destruction, and many other issues they are having as a result of thoughtless humans. I know I will feel much more at ease when I have found an avenue (that is more direct than just donating $ to an organization) that allows me to help this cause.
Apart from creating things, what do you do?
I am a Cancer (very domestic). I like taking on creative home design/ remodeling projects, herb gardening, cooking, and spending time with my cat Jack, my boyfriend Kevin, and his son, Simon. They are the yang to my very extreme yin. I have been immersed in natural medicine, including aromatherapy, herbalism, and other traditional (eastern) medicine practices over the last 10 years.
I also love dancing, drinking good wine and tea, going on an occasional travel adventure, and reading (nonfiction).
What first made you want to become an artist?
I was born this way. But to continue as an artist you have to have healthy doses of inspiration, encouragement, and support, because it is sooo easy to fall into the “I’m not good enough/ I’ll never make it/ stand out” mindset. So what made me STAY ON TRACK as an artist? Books (like Art & Fear), other successful artists that do things in a style that is similar to my own (like Rasputina), NOT listening to my parents (who told me I will never make it as an artist and that no one will want my strange perfumes), doing a lot of journaling, taking a class on prosperity at the Center for Spiritual Living in Kansas City (which involved a very authoritative person giving me permission to do whatever I want with my life- I needed that!), and most of all the support from Kevin, my boyfriend (and photographer), whom I also support and respect as an artist.
Please describe your creative process how, when, materials, etc.
Although I like throwing myself in a room with tons of supplies and playing with it all, I don’t really get much accomplished unless I spend a few hours alone with a notebook first. The process of conceptualizing, sketching, coming up with new ideas, listing out every material needed, how to package it, how to describe it, and how to make it unique- is important.
I think of myself as my target market, so I make things that I wish existed. I am often looking for things that give me peace of mind, connect me with nature (especially the forest), and that are useful as well as beautiful. I am naturally a strange woman with a dark style and I’m a purist with ingredients. I love that our society has finally begun to take a strong turn toward natural and eco-friendly lifestyles, which in itself inspires me.
What handmade possession do you most cherish?
My violin. I sadly have not played it in a while, but it was handmade somewhere far overseas in the 1800’s by a master craftsman! It has a very dark character – I love the sounds I get from it.
Name your top five books, movies, songs/musical groups, and web sites besides Etsy.
The Book of Secrets – Deepak Chopra
The Celestine Prophecy – James Redfield
Advanced Aromatherapy – Kurt Schnaubelt
Drawing Restraint 9
Siouxie and the Banshees
catvoices – an entertaining and educational website I made
greenerprinter – an affordable & eco-friendly place to print business cards
instructables – DIY everything, I love it.
spirit-self – Jessica is an idealist. It’s good for me to listen to idealists.
ladylavona – lady lavona’s blog- she is awesome and posts a lot of original and fascinating links (and is also on Etsy).
What advice would you give to artists who are new to Etsy?
Stop using plastic in your items! The oceans are becoming huge landfills of plastic waste that never goes away! Not only does plastic packaging and shipping materials make your product look cheap and non-handmade, but it is ultimately going to kill our sea life. It is very hard to cut out plastic entirely, but I minimize by using glass bottles, lip balm tubes made of 100% recycled (and recyclable again) plastic, using the kraft mailers instead of the prettier white poly ones (that do not biodegrade), using shrink wrap only by request, packing boxes with paper instead of styrofoam peanuts, etc. Even if your customers do not recognize this consciously, the higher quality look of no plastic creates a subconscious impression of authenticity. Plastic=FAKENESS.
Don’t be cheap. I spent way too many years making crafts out of supplies and perfumes from essential oils that were of compromised quality because I did not have much money and was afraid to spend it on the expensive good stuff. Finally, when I began my shop here I took the chance and invested in the BEST supplies, tools, etc, and it has made all the difference.
What are your favorite features on Etsy? What new features would you like to see?
Etsy is extremely good with their constant improvements to the user interface as well as resources and opportunities for everyone- they take good care of their sellers. I think the treasury is awesome, and the storque articles, the search functions, etc. I take none of it for granted. I have designed websites so I appreciate the huge amount of organization it requires to have all these features and still make sense! I would like to be able to carry over “hearts” when I relist an item. Other than that, Etsy is way ahead of me with anything I could ever possibly want.
How do you promote your work?
Flickr is my favorite promo tool. It works well for unique products with good photography. I also have a blog, craftressing and a facebook page.
In ten years I’d like to be…
I hope to continue For Strange Women on Etsy for as long as possible, because I really love to create these potions and adornments- and connecting with other strange, eccentric women (and men). I also hope to have other venues that carry my creations. I will most likely become a licensed herbalist/aromatherapist in 10 years. I just don’t want to go back to the florescent-lit time-clocked soul-sucking “real” world ever again, and I will be happy.