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Featured Shop: Little Canoe

Etsy.com handmade and vintage goods

Hello there, my name is Brooke Weeber. I’m living out my own personal adventure in Portland, Oregon, where I run my petite shop, Little Canoe. I like to draw charming, playful and heartwarming illustrations that amuse and mystify. Then I turn these drawings into greeting cards, mugs, tote bags, prints, and other useful household items.

I do what I do because creating art is what makes me happy. My parents always encouraged me to think creatively and to follow my passions. I could never picture myself cooped up in an office doing paperwork all day, so I enrolled in art school instead. Five years and a BFA in oil painting later, I moved to New York City to dive into the world of pastry arts. I took my skills to a new medium and landed a job painting on cakes with food coloring and sculpting sugar into various wonderful shapes and characters. I loved making edible masterpieces, but New York became too expensive and chaotic for me and my love of fresh air and beautiful scenery called me back to the Pacific Northwest. Being back in Portland allowed me to work a little less and focus a little more on illustration. My style became more refined and my work gained momentum until I finally opened up my own Etsy shop and quit my day job to do it full time.

My process usually starts with just a flicker of an idea. Perhaps I’ll see an intriguing picture online that inspires me or I’ll take something from real life experience. Those will encourage a general concept for a piece and I’ll jot down the idea or just dive right in and start drawing. I don’t often know what the outcome is going to be, and that’s the way I like it. I enjoy letting an illustration grow organically, which lends itself towards more emotionally-driven work. That turns it into a more relatable piece of art, I think.

Once I’ve completed an illustration, I scan it into my computer and clean it up a bit. If I’m going to create art prints out of it, I’ll make copies from home on my photo quality printer. But if they’re destined for my greeting card line, I’ll send them off to my local guys to have everything turned out in large numbers.

I put a little of myself into each and every piece.  Since there’s no one else that’s exactly like me, my work will always be set apart from the rest. It’s my personality, my emotion and my sense of humor in every illustration that draws people in and makes them smile.

Little Canoe has changed me in so many ways, all for the better. The thought of starting a small business was always incredibly daunting to me. I’ve never been very good with numbers. And although there’s a significant learning curve, I’ve been blindly feeling my way through the steps and I’m learning a great deal about responsibility and being an “adult.” Everything I’m learning now will help me fry bigger fish in the future, and I’m thankful I’ll have some base knowledge to start from.

Etsy has played a huge role in my life. Without it, I may never have had the guts to quit my day job and become a small business owner. The admin, the community, and especially the customers have all helped me in big big ways. I’m encouraged to keep moving forward every time I hear the ding of a sale or read the kind words of a testimonial. I’ve met some incredible artists and made so many great friends through Etsy. Every day I wake up incredibly grateful that I get to do this for a living.

My business has also opened up the door to so many possibilities. Sometimes it seems like the sky is the limit — it’s really quite thrilling. I have endless ideas on how to grow my small business, and I’m so excited to see what’s around every corner.

All studio and maker photographs by Margaret Jacobson; product photos by Little Canoe.

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