Tell us a bit about yourself.
YAVA Glass is owned by the husband and wife team of Shawn and Brenda Fletcher. Shawn has been working with recycled glass for five years and Brenda caught on nearly two years ago when they got married. We are based out of Sedona, Arizona and are thrilled to be selling on Etsy. Shawn is in charge of sourcing, production and shipping, while Brenda is in charge of business administration and taking care of our six-month-old son.
Apart from creating things, what do you do?
We are very focused on raising our son and serving in our community. Shawn is trained as a linguist, specializing in Thai and Japanese. Brenda is trained as an attorney and was able to leave her day job in local government to become a stay-at-home mom and work full-time on our Etsy business.
What first made you want to become an artist?
Shawn found that he loved working with recycled glass and has an unbelievable amount of fun at work each day. Brenda is an artist who works primarily with paper and stone (though not necessarily together). It really helps when the partner who runs the business administration understands and is supportive of how the artistic process works.
Please describe your creative process how, when, materials, etc.
In addition to recycled beverage bottles, Shawn works with a range of equipment and materials to create our products. Tools include torches, kilns, and grinders. Our creative process is really a fusion and synergy of environment and people, specifically recycling and the community. The process relies on both the intention to conserve and renew and the interpersonal ties we’ve created with local businesses and those involved with the recycling effort. Of course, two very important aspects of the community are the customers and the marketplace. If they aren’t interested in a particular bottle being recycled, or what we make from it, we focus on a different product. That guides what we create. We both particularly love the idea that our glasses have avoided the dreaded landfill. Objects that might otherwise have been discarded or deemed worthless find value both through the process and the resulting products.
What handmade possession do you most cherish?
Shawn doesn’t have one. Brenda’s is a Chinese soapstone “chop” engraved with her Cantonese name, as given to her by her late grandfather.
Name your top five books, movies, songs/musical groups, and web sites besides Etsy.
Books: Anything related to foreign languages
Movie: What the Bleep?
Musical Group: Radiohead
Website: Google Analytics
Book: Anything by Julia Cameron
Movie: the most recent Star Trek
Musician: Too many – Train, Sarah McLachlan, Lucy Kaplansky
Website: Google Analytics and Wikipedia (go ahead, say it, we’re geeks)
What advice would you give to artists who are new to Etsy?
Our advice would be to decide how much of an investment of time and effort you are able to make for the return you seek. We decided early on that we would work on our Etsy business as our full-time jobs.
What are your favorite features on Etsy? What new features would you like to see?
Our favorite features would have to be the ease of utilizing listings in adding items and tailoring them to a customer’s request, as well as the entire interactive Etsy community, including Favorites, Treasury, and blogging. We also really appreciate the resources and pointers that Etsy provides.
How do you promote your work?
We have wonderful, supportive customers, who promote our work to their families and friends because they appreciate what we do. The bloggers have been extraordinary and generous to us, as have the green activists and craftivists on the web. Otherwise, we promote our work by providing the best products and customer service that we can.
In ten years I’d like to be…
Living and working in creative sustainability – at whatever level the field has evolved to in the next decade.