Tell us a bit about yourself (name, location, affiliations, personal stuff).
I’m Ms. Dynomite, dyno, shiny mistress of the desert and evil mastermind behind Ultra Deluxe. I spent 10 years in New York City (shout out to the 718, yo) before escaping to Tucson, Arizona. Oddly, this transition provided a renewed creative spark, fertility and opportunity. I credit the alien cactus and apocalyptic lightning storms for this.
A graphic designer by profession, I prefer the all-encompassing “I make things pretty” to describe what I do. While I respect graphic design, clothing design has always been my driving, visceral passion. I connect with clothing in a physical and deeply emotional way. I have entire philosophies built on the transformational benefits of costuming, the manipulative powers of styling with intent, and why low rise pants should remain eternal.
(This is partly why I don’t require chemical enhancements.)
I love funk, soul and soulful house. I have an inexplicable soft spot for Kevin Costner. I have the most kick-arse collection of T-shirts in the West. I’m a self-acknowledged geek… I’m just a geek with style.
How did you get started?
I am self-taught, from the “run with scissors” school of sewing. I continually seek to refine my techniques and learn new skills, but I enjoy the benefit that comes from having an blank slate. I have been making costumes since I was a child, fascinated with transforming one’s appearance even then. I began seriously, compulsively sewing several years ago after creating a costume for an artist party. (Yes, we can thank the Evil Kineval Meets Rainbow Brite From Space jumpsuit as the item that started it all.)
Do you have a manifesto?
Of course. A secret plan of global domination through glitter, faux fur and arm warmers would naturally require a manifesto.
I believe all sizes and shapes have their own unique beauty and should be celebrated. I believe in style, in creative self-expression over “fashion”. Bring me your Marjan Pejoski Bjork swan dresses and street punk reconstructions any day. I believe anyone who proclaims with disdain “that’s SO last season” needs to be smacked with their own Manolo Blahniks. I believe a person can never have enough fuzzy or enough shiny. And I believe that for all the passion and obsession we place on style/fashion, we should not lose our sense of perspective. At the end of the day, it’s still just a pile of pretty fabric.
What is the first thing you can remember making by hand? How and why did you make it?
I distinctly remember having to draw portraits in kindergarten using crayons and paints, yarns and glue. I asked the teacher for the orange yarn to make my little paper girl a redhead. She denied my request claiming “red hair is red, not orange.” My very sound argument could not persuade her otherwise, leaving my stifled little 5-year-old self to stew in righteous indignation with my red yarn. After a successful 12 year career in design, I’d like to take a bow and say to that teacher: “nyah nyah na na nyah”.
What inspires you? Where do your ideas come from?
I am a visually obsessive sponge. I draw influence from everywhere, consciously and subconsciously — millions of neurons, both surreal and mundane are rapidly etching their fuzzy-shiny impulses on my brain by the minute. A recent list of inspirations includes a horse supplies catalog, a vibrantly colored faux fur, the first TV season of Deadwood and a passing fireman.
Practicality also plays a prominent role in my creative process. Though at a glance it may not be apparent, many of my designs develop as a pragmatic solution to a practical need. Perhaps an offbeat execution and perhaps a nontraditional need, but stemming from practicality nonetheless.
What are your favorite materials?
Fabric. Of all kinds. I become enthralled with the color, the drape, the weight, the texture. I even love the crispness and purity of gridded pattern paper. Cutting a pattern is like making the first footprints in freshly fallen snow.
What is your favorite color?
If train #1 is heading east at 120 mph, and train #2 is heading west at 84.7 mph, the wind is blowing northwest at 25.4 mph, what color socks are you wearing?
I’m wearing flip flops.
Any tips for selling handmade stuff?
On the business side: do your research and put in the time. Creatively: trust your instincts, they are your divining rod and don’t be afraid to take risks. Keep an organic flow between the two sides and be clear on your goals.
Also, I’d like to help remove the stigma of advertising your goods. I think many creatives are hesitant to promote themselves, out of shyness or distaste. Keep in mind that even great Renaissance painters advertised, in the form of seeking benefactors. Promoting yourself and your creative goods does not imply a lesser degree of love for your work, nor a lesser quality of work. It is essential to the life of an independent business. Think of it as letting good friends in on a secret, sharing your handmade talents with those who haven’t yet had the fortune to discover them.
Apart from creating things, what do you do?
How can Etsy be improved? Any feature requests?
I’ve always been very vocal with my suggestions for improvements. For the first month, I was convinced there was a dart board with my picture in the Etsy office. 😉 That said, I think the Etsy staff has done an excellent job of starting a fertile, open marketplace to give independent creatives a chance. It has also created an invaluable community resource.
The features I most desire are for a smoother buying process: shopping cart, tailored international rates, combined shipping and coupons. I’d also love to see customization tools available to personalize each seller’s storefront. I’m keeping my fingers crossed and looking forward to the new, improved Etsy launch later this year. 🙂