The Etsy Blog

Featured Seller: MothHouse

Etsy.com handmade and vintage goods

Tell us a bit about yourself.

Hi! My name is Sharina. I’m 24 years old and I live in sunny Jacksonville, Florida with my boyfriend Alexander and our adorable Old English sheepdog, Clementine.

I am enamored with all things vintage. I blame this condition on my grandparents’ old farmhouse in Iowa. I spent countless summers there rummaging through drawers, reading old cards, and trying on the fur capelets and floor-length dresses still hanging in the closets. The name Moth House comes from this idea of exploration and history. I often daydream about one of my pieces being found years from now and being loved all over again.

Apart from creating things, what do you do?

Even when I’m not creating, my mind is never far from conjuring up new designs. That being said, the bills still have to get paid. Unfortunately, this is not a “Quit your Day Job” interview so I work two part-time jobs besides Etsy. Although balancing three jobs can be hectic at times, the thought of working 8-5 every day makes me cringe. I like having the freedom to travel and take afternoon naps. Naps are very important to me.

Other than that, I spend my time doing pretty normal things: hanging out with the boyfriend, going to the dog park with Clem, shopping online, watching my stories, thrifting, making lists, drinking margaritas with friends…

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What first made you want to become an artist?

My entire family is very creative, and I grew up in a real do-it-yourself environment. My sisters and I had a closet full of art supplies instead of video games and we played instruments in lieu of sports. My parents owned their own business while I was growing up, so I adopted their entrepreneurial spirit at a young age. By the second grade I was making smiley face earrings out of poster board and puff paint and selling them to my friends for their lunch money. Needless to say, I had one of the sweetest puff paint collections lunch money could buy!

I guess that’s when I should have known I was meant to do something creative, but it wasn’t until college that I really put two and two together. I majored in graphic design, which I love, but spending so much time in front of a computer made me miss using my hands. Making jewelry became the perfect way to fill that void and expand my creativity.

Please describe your creative process.

As fashionable as I may be in my mind, the reality is you can usually find me in a grey t-shirt and jeans. So that’s where I start. I love the idea that one piece of jewelry can completely transform an outfit from grungy to chic. It is the best feeling to know that people are buying something you made to express their personal style.

I work with as many vintage materials as possible, so the most exciting part of beginning a new collection is the treasure hunt. Once I have collected all my new goodies, I sit and stare at them. Sometimes the answer is obvious and a piece will just kind of make itself. Other times, it takes me weeks to realize that the chain I bought to use as a bracelet really wants to be pulled apart and made into a pair of earrings.

The decision to do two collections a year, Spring/Summer and Autumn/Winter, came when I started working with a photographer. I enjoy working this way because it forces me to focus my ideas and figure them all out before moving on to something new. Getting those pictures back and listing a new collection is my absolute favorite. As for all the unused ideas left lingering in my head, that’s where the next collection comes from.

What handmade possession do you most cherish?

My mom is a very talented quilter and she made me one the summer before I went to college. The fabric I chose is pretty cheesy (musical notes and paw prints), but it is the best curl-up-on-the-couch quilt ever!

Name your top five books, movies, musicians, and websites besides Etsy.

Books:
Where the Red Fern Grows
East of Eden
Life of Pi
Great Expectations
Domino: The Book of Decorating
— I can’t wait to have my own house!

Music:
Rilo Kiley, and anything else Jenny Lewis is a part of.
Death Cab for Cutie
Laura Veirs
Fleetwood Mac
M.I.A.
Ryan Adams

Movies/TV:
10 Things I Hate About You — Pretty sure I’ve seen it hundreds of times.
Freaks and Geeks
Mad Men – Cocktails and vintage dresses? Yes, please.
Lost
Modern Family

Websites:
Well I’m obsessed with my Gmail, does that count?
Lookbook.nu
Flickr
Craft Cult
Need Supply Co.

What advice would you give to artists who are new to Etsy?

I know there has been a huge emphasis placed on good photography, but it really does make such a difference. Check out my earlier sold items to see for yourself. If you can’t take a good photo to save your life, or just don’t want to take the time to do it, find someone who will! I was lucky enough to meet my amazing photographer Chloe Scheffe right here on Etsy. She has definitely been my best investment by far.

Etsy is such unique and vibrant community, the possibilities are truly endless. Experiment and find your niche.

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What are your favorite features on Etsy? What new features would you like to see?

Etsy has so many ways to interact, many that I haven’t even tried yet, but so far the Etsy Blog and Pounce are the two I spend the most time on. Even though it’s not a feature, I also love trading with other Etsians.

As far as new features go, I would absolutely love to put one item in multiple sections so my customers could shop by either collection, or type of jewelry. It would make me the happiest girl on Etsy!

How do you promote your work?

Promoting is definitely something I need to do more of. At the moment, things are pretty basic. I have a Facebook fan page, I relist daily, and I try to wear at least one piece of my jewelry every day.

I’ve also had my work featured on some fantastic blogs including Modish, NotCouture, PapernStitch, TeenAngster, and the Etsy Voter, which is awesome for traffic (and incredibly flattering).

In ten years, where would you like to be?

I would love to have my own studio where I can work and hang out with my pup all day. I’d like the rest to be a surprise.

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