Tell us a bit about yourself (name, location, affiliations, personal stuff).
Hapa is the nickname that my husband loves to call me. Thus, my store is Handmade by Hapa. “Hapa” is actually Hawaiian slang for someone who is half-Asian. Although the term Hapa has not always had a positive connotation, I am (as are most other Hapas) unquestionably and unwaveringly proud of my mixed ethnicity and blended cultural heritage. My real name is Monica Nachbar (formerly Monica Barnhart). My wonderfully supportive hubby and I currently live in the SF Bay Area and love dancing to Mashups at San Francisco clubs.
What is the first thing you can remember making by hand? How and why did you make it?
I remember walking through the wood scraps at an unfinished furniture shop with my grandfather and gathering up handful after handful of the rough cut scraps. These weren’t the same old shapes found in a standard set of building blocks. The irregular, wooden arcs, triangles and various unnamed forms made my imagination reel. I still remember the great feeling of satisfaction I had when I went home and built a fabulously simple sailboat from my scavenged treasures.
What inspires you? Where do your ideas come from?
My current jewelry designs are strongly influenced by my Japanese-American heritage. My crane (tsuru) and samurai helmets (kabuto) are traditional origami designs that I folded as a young child. The original design of which I am most proud is my Origami Hawaiian Sea Turtle (Honu in Hawaiian or Kame in Japanese). I am inspired by the serene beauty and spirit of these gentle, endangered creatures.
What are your favorite materials?
Wood, metal, water, earth, air.
What is your favorite color?
An electric, vibrant pinkish-orange coral
Any tips on selling handmade stuff?
Tip 1. Make what you like. You’ll be surprise how many kindred spirits you’ll find on the internet.
Tip 2. Listen to everything your friends, family and passer-bys have to say about your art & business. Only incorporate what absolutely rings true in your heart.
Join Etsy, support Etsy and participate in the Etsy-community! If we craft and market it, they will come!
Apart from creating things, what do you do?
By day I’m an engineer/paper-pusher at a medical device company that manufactures robot-assisted surgical systems. Isn’t that awesome? I absolutely love knowing that medical products I work with are helping people everyday in hospitals around the world. I also love to dance, backpack, travel and most importantly to love and appreciate my Übergeek Honey-Bunny.
How can Etsy be improved? Any feature requests?
I’m still crossing my fingers and toes for Shopping Carts, Vacation-mode, Gift Registries and Categories within each store.
In addition, when I’m shopping I’d like to be able to add labels (which are only viewable and searchable by me) to the items I’ve listed as favorites. I would use these labels to categorize which items I want to buy for myself or give as gifts.