Tell us a bit about yourself.
My name is Mari, and I am originally from Helsinki, Finland. I grew up being inspired by Scandinavian design and was introduced to sewing at a young age by my mother. I met my incredibly smart and handsome husband while vacationing in Greece. After living in the UK for six years, we relocated to Omaha, Nebraska, where the winters are cold and snowy and the summers are hot and humid. No children, but we do have two very energetic and entertaining English toy terriers named Rocky and Johnny.
Apart from creating things, what do you do?
The gym is a necessary break from working in my studio full time, and our dogs are always very happy to get a long walk on the quiet trail behind my house. Other arts and crafts are fun when I get the chance. Being a member of the Omaha Craft Mafia allows me to spend time with other crafty girls in town. I am also a keen DIYer, so when I have time I love to pick up small (or large!) projects around our home. I also really enjoy searching for treasures in antique and secondhand shops with friends.
What first made you want to become an artist?
I consider myself more of a product designer and problem solver than an artist. Thanks to my mom’s guidance, I have always been very crafty and resourceful but never considered making it my career. I made bags for friends and family as gifts in the past, but my line, Stash, really came about when I found Etsy — about the same time I relocated to the U.S. and happened to be unemployed.
Please describe your creative process.
I am inspired by fabrics, especially ones with interesting patterns and textures. I am also a little obsessed with different types of hardware, and I love experimenting with how the fabric and hardware will work together for a bag design.
What handmade possession do you most cherish?
A small wooden rocking horse that my dad made for us when we were kids. As the youngest, I was given the great honor of its continued care and it has traveled with me to everywhere I’ve lived.
Name your top five books, movies, musicians, and websites besides Etsy.
Books: I love browsing vintage craft books because they are always inspiring. Just about anything by James Patterson is good, and a thriller in my native Finnish is a rare treat.
Movies: I love true stories, preferably something a bit scary. Mostly, I find myself watching documentaries and news.
Websites: Google is my best friend. How did we ever function without Google? For fun, I like to see what’s new on How About Orange and Just Something I Made. Being busy, regular visits to Facebook and Ellene McClay help me keep up to date with friends.
Music: I always have Internet radio on when I work. I’m not too picky about what’s on as long as it’s got good rhythm. I love hearing songs from the ’80s and ’90s that have nostalgic memories attached to them.
What advice would you give to artists who are new to Etsy?
Develop a product that is really unique and sets your business apart from the rest. Presentation also goes a long way, and because there is no physical product for the customer to inspect before buying, good photos are essential.
What are your favorite features on Etsy? What new features would you like to see?
I like to check Shop Local to see what new shops are popping up here in Omaha. For new features, I would love a drop down option for customers to choose a different color or size and a coupon/discount code system would be a great addition!
How do you promote your work?
In ten years, where would you like to be?
Being where I am today has been a series of nice surprises! I want to continue being surprised and let life unfold, and to be a healthy, happy, creative person.