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Featured Seller: sweetiepie

Apr 24, 2006

by sweetiepie handmade and vintage goods

Tell us a bit about yourself.
my name is becky. i live in the raging metropolis of toronto, although i am originally from vancouver, british columbia. all my training is in theatre – more specifically, clowning and physical theatre forms – so i am uniquely unprepared for the rigors of actual life. the sweetie pie press came from a small, pointedly unorganised zine-making consortium involving myself, my friend hazel, rev. aitor coria and a few other lost souls. it soon became apparent that nobody likes to read anymore (ie. i was losing money at zine fairs) so i started making buttons. to justify this move to myself, i decided that buttons could be art – and an affordable, portable, proletarian art, at that – and happily set about converting my parkdale apartment into a crazy button factory and paper warehouse. i still continue to tour all over the place with my improvised and theatrical shows, but feel much more at ease armed with an alternative cottage industry. i also have a cat and i love her.

What is the first thing you can remember making by hand? How and why did you make it?
the first thing i remember making is a series of pencil portraits i did of my family. i drew them on the wall under my bed so my parents wouldn’t get mad. i also remember that this is where my cats would leave me dead birds and mice as gifts. i believe that the decaying bodies of these little animals must have done more to define my current artistic outlook that even i can be aware of.

What inspires you? Where do your ideas come from?
i’m not sure exactly where my ideas come from. i think i have worked very hard to avoid questioning my inspirations in almost all facets of my life. but i do read a lot of art comics. and i do make buttons sometimes when i am angry or dissatisfied. and i do still have my favorite children’s books. so, i guess i am inspired by comics, anger and kids’ books. you know, a little of everything. see below for a more meaningful answer.

What are your favorite materials?
i like paper best. i especially like office supplies and paper patterns designed for inane purposes. it seems plausible to me that humanity creates its most beautiful artistic achievements while not paying attention, and office supplies strike me as a prime example of this. i mean, columnar ledger paper is one of the most intricate and simple visual textures i have ever come across. the same goes for maps and blueprints. or sewing patterns. or circuit boards. i really think we make the most visually resonant images while trying to accomplish another task. it’s as if these modes of communicating order or function are actually mappings of the human cognitive process. and…um…i find that pretty.

What is your favorite color?
that’s not fair! okay, red. fine.

Any tips for selling handmade stuff?
aside from following your inspiration and making quality goods (things that have already been mentioned here), i think it is important to align yourself with co-conspirators who share your values. i was recently put in a position where i had to define for myself what i wanted out of a retailer. did i want someone who could guarantee me orders but require the lowest prices imaginable? or did i want to continue to work hard to seek out independent retailers who would pay an adeque amount for uniqueness and quality? in the end, i solidified the view that i wanted my retailers and online stores to approach their businesses in the same way i approach mine – because they love them. also, always do what you can to take care of other artists.

Apart from creating things, what do you do?
well, i almost always create things, but my other life is in theatre. i have spent the last fifteen years as an actor, improviser, teacher, playwright and theatrical clown. i have also worked an amazing amount of other jobs – potwasher, box office manager, coat check girl, free sample hander-outer, journalist, fact checker, clothing retail employee, camp councellor, fishing lodge housekeeper, telemarketer and (yes, truly) horse dung shoveller, to name a few.

How can Etsy be improved? Any feature requests?
i would really like to have a space in my shop where i could have the option to recommend other sellers. maybe underneath the ‘page tools’ section?

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