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Featured Shop: Native Bear

Aug 24, 2012

by nativebear handmade and vintage goods

My name is Leela Robinson, and I live in Atlanta, Georgia. I make custom hand carved stamps, stationery, and other fun stuff for your world.

Since childhood, I have been preoccupied with the desire to make products that enrich someone’s life. Even when I was 5 years old, making picture books and selling them to my family members for a quarter, the wonderful sense of completion that I felt from turning a simple thought or idea into a physical object was inspiring. For years, I have tried to figure out how I wanted to hone in on this creative, entrepreneurial drive. With Native Bear, I feel I have finally been able to focus this energy, and it has been truly mind opening every step of the way.

All of my images start with a little inspiration, a little coffee, and a hand drawn sketch. When making a stamp, I draw the image onto tracing paper, and then make an impression with it onto special block printing rubber. Using linoleum carving tools, I carefully carve out the image and attach it to an adhesive padding and a precut wooden stamp mount. My plan is to take stamping a little further and start printing on accessories such as tea towels, coasters and totes.

I like to think that Native Bear stamps can be viewed as both a useful tool and as a piece of art. Whether it’s a thank you card stationery set or a wedding invitation stamp being used to make DIY invites, I want my customers to feel like they’ve purchased a handcrafted memento that will last for years. I like to push the limits of my designs and see how many types of products I can create with each, while maintaining the hand printed aesthetic.

Etsy has provided me with the opportunity and freedom to transform my dream of a owning a creative, thriving business into a living reality. It’s a wonderful marketplace for buyers and sellers to connect on a personal level, and it has reemphasized the value of purchasing a handmade product. Supporting independent makers is a revolutionary act in itself these days, and Etsy has created an invaluable forum.

As conscious consumers, we are making a bold statement when we purchase goods that are eco-friendly, made locally, and support the growth of independent business owners. When you make this type of purchase, you are not only creating a positive ripple effect that enriches your life, but the rest of the world as well. We are taking back control of where our money is going, who it’s supporting, and how it affects the world.

Since starting Native Bear, my quality of life has gone through the roof! Having the freedom to spend more time with my husband, take more road trips, cook more often, and only having to walk a few steps to get to my studio – these are all things that I am extremely thankful for.  Most of all, starting my own creative business has prompted me to take full responsibility for reaching my goals as an independent designer and maker. The challenges that you face along the way only make you grow, and the payoff is exponentially enlightening and rewarding.

All photographs by Jason Travis.

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