Tell us a bit about yourself.
My name is Caroline Colom Vasquez, I am a 29 year old artist, designer, mother and wife.
I was raised in the seaside town of Mystic, Connecticut, and it is from that little port that I became a constant traveler and saw the world at a young age. I was an exchange student throughout my teenage years, and settled down only after I completed Art School at the University of Texas in Austin.
Realizing that the brilliant city of Austin is one of the most wonderful places in the States to lead a creative life, I decided I should stay in one place for a while….and now here I am, years later with my husband (a very handsome, smart man from Buenos Aires), and our precious two year-old little girl, for whom my company is named.
Apart from creating things, what do you do?
I create even more things, then pack them up and ship them to my lovely customers!!
I run Paloma’s Nest seven days a week, in addition to being “Mami.” I work all hours of the day, but I guess that is what happens when you love what you do! I can’t help myself.
To get a break, I have to really be strict with myself, schedule it on our family calendar, and literally unplug the computer.
Sometimes it feels a bit ironic that my life is so busy, but my art is so peaceful. Because I have chosen to have my daughter with me in the studio and share my busy days with me, I am truly at my calmest when I am working and creating- and that is the peace that comes through in my designs.
What first made you want to become an artist?
In the words of Henri Matisse, “your life is your art and your art is your life.”
I have always had the intention of being an “artist” since I knew there was such a thing. My mother, an art historian, always encouraged my artistic endeavors, and shared so much knowledge with me at an early age. On the flip-side, my “sensible” father told me that artists can’t be successful people, that it was just too difficult. I made it my personal challenge to prove him wrong.
So, through the years I fine-tuned my business sense, taught myself about marketing, developed a product line, and observed the strategies of artists and designers who were making a living selling their work. Then one day I found this place called Etsy, and suddenly it all came together…
Etsy has allowed me to reach an international audience and to share my work with more people than I ever imagined. Etsy has given me, and thousands of other artists, the platform on which to grow my business and my art into a livelihood. I am so proud to be a part of it.
Please describe your creative process how, when, materials, etc.
Living in New England, and then later in Europe, I was constantly surrounded by antiques and historical architecture. I learned to appreciate things that were made to last, and to treasure items that held their own history. Items that have special meaning, or have a past in your family, should be cherished; it is from this idea that my passion for creating special gifts and home goods comes.
To me, the visual simplicity and the purity of the materials I use are the most important aspects of my design. The natural materials (clays, wood, natural fibers) seem to have a quiet voice of their own, so I attempt to create pieces that allow the “weight” of the words to be felt- pieces in which the form and the text do not overpower each other, but instead create balance.
Many of my pieces are available with custom texts: names and dates are especially popular. This allows my audience to create an “instant” modern heirloom for their family. Many choose my pieces to commemorate a special event like a birth or a wedding, or request a personal quote to express a secret sentiment.
I understand and have great respect for every custom piece I create- knowing that it will be treasured and held by someone many generations ahead of us. Therefore, every single piece that leaves my studio is given the same care and attention as the next- no matter how big or tiny.
What handmade possession do you most cherish?
If I have to choose just one, it would have to be the dining room table that my husband made for me (back when he was just “my boyfriend”). From the moment we met (love at first sight, for real), we began designing and creating together- furniture, tile, architectural installations. I knew then that I had met my match- he challenges my creativity, questions my process, and pushes my ideas further. This table was one of the first things we designed together, and he surprised me by making it a few years ago, bringing our drawings to life, while I was out-of-town.
Name your top five books, movies, songs/musical groups, and web sites besides Etsy.
Walden by Henry David Thoreau
The Prophet by Kahil Gibran
The Four Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz
several collections of short stories by Richard Brautigan
childrens books by Tomie de Paola (favorites from my childhood that I now share with my own daughter)
Tchaikovsky- The Nutcracker Suite
(the hubby and I met while dancing to this once-local-now-global Austin Latin band)
Since I am on Etsy for most hours of the day, my other favorites are websites that make my life easier, such as: diapers.com -any parent who is still lugging diapers home from the store needs this place that offers free shipping and eco-friendly brands!
Well, I’m just not much of a movie-watcher. I can’t sit still long enough to watch one without thinking about all the work I need to do…
But two favorites are:
It’s a Wonderful Life
What advice would you give to artists who are new to Etsy?
Many have said it before, but there is truth to the power of re-listing. You have to stay visible and active on Etsy if you want to stand out in the crowd. Also take advantage of the Showcases to promote your work on a regular basis…
Try to think of your shop as a complete line: designs and photographs should all be cohesive and speak to your “brand” so that customers can begin to recognize your work and your shop name. Be very picky about how your shop looks at all times, and curate your page as you would a real storefront window. First impressions mean everything here.
What are your favorite features on Etsy? What new features would you like to see?
My “favorite-est” thing is weaving through the net of other people’s favorite items! I find the most wonderful shops that way, and I love how it connects us all. I also love the surprise of the rotating front page…I discover something new every time.
I also love the community here, the willingness of other sellers to answer questions and share advice and wisdom- I have so many Etsy friendships that really keep me motivated.
And now, can I beg a little here? I really would love to see a way to organize and search through my sold orders by user name, and also be able to directly link conversations with orders placed by the same user.
How do you promote your work?
I believe that the best way to promote your work is by offering the highest level of customer service and quality product as possible. There is no better advertising. You never know where your work will end up, so be sure to always send your very best.
In ten years I’d like to be…
Still doing what I love, with the people I love. Still growing my business in new directions, and working hard.