Getting to Know You.....

This month we will be meeting Claire of Copabananas. She is creator of many wonderful product on Etsy and other online shops. Claire also has a "brick and mortor" store where you can find all her creations in Montclair, NJ. I love getting to know about the other crafters and suppliers on Etsy.
>Tell us a little about yourself and your family.
I grew up here in Montclair, NJ, and I live with my 11 year old daughter. My parents are also in town and I love having them so close.

>My blog is sometimes about my life on Etsy and 1000 Markets, but mostly about my family and living green. So what does GREEN mean to you and your family?

Living green to us means keeping as much out of the landfills as possible. My friends and family all save packaging, boxes, bags, and jars, for me to use in my work. We try to only make one bag or less of garbage a week, use reusable packaging for lunch, and drive as little as possible. I also reuse packing materials for my business. Green to us means making conscientious choices everyday to reduce our carbon footprint.

>We are now in Spring and everyone is getting their seeds and gardens ready. What do you grow and/or raise on your property?

I would like to think I have a green thumb, but it has abandoned me over the years. In the early 90's I lived in very rural West Virginia and had a large garden. But now in NJ I rent in a suburban setting with no space to grow anything. I'm okay with that since I had a garden in the past. Lilacs are my favorite so I enjoy them at this time of the year!

>My favorite part of recycling is finding ways to repurpose. I love all your creative repurposed crafts. How did you get started in making homemade repurposed items?

I went to college for weaving and textile design way back in the 80's. I did craft shows for 8 years after college selling handpainted silk scarves I made and one-of-a-kind leather shoes I made with my first husband. Eventually I dropped out of the craft scene. Fast forward to a couple years ago when I started making things again. Repurposing is popular now and it's easy to be inspired by what's going on around us. Creating new things out of old things a great way for me to use my sewing, crocheting, embroidery, and other skills.

>Tell use about your Glove Dolls and how you got started making them.

I love to tell this story! Three years ago in the winter my daughter and I noticed how many gloves people lose. We collected a few and brought them back to the studio where we considered what to do with them. Together we created the gLove Story Dolls and started our mission to collect lost gloves and give them new life as dolls with unique personalities.

>What are some of your favorite projects that you have done?

Last year a woman brought me some items that belonged to her daughter: a large piece of rainbow fabric, a pair of her socks, a scarf she knitted, and one of her gloves. She asked me to make her high school graduation present with them. I made a market bag from the fabric, a sock monkey who wore the scarf, and a glove doll named Palindrome Perfection because her name was Hannah. Here's pics of that custom order: http://www.flickr.com/photos/copabananas/2537838941/ That was a memorable order because it was so personal to the recipient.

>When did you start on Etsy and other online selling venues like 1000 Markets?

I started on Etsy in December of 2007 and 1KM last October.

>What do you wish you had known when you started out?

I wish I knew how to use my camera properly. I remember being sooo frustrated with my pictures. I only recently started bracketing with the white balance and learning more about my cameras settings. I read this Storque article that really helped me out a lot: http://www.etsy.com/storque/how-to/shop-makeover-series-photographing-for-success-913/

>What would be your best tip for someone starting out?

One of my top tips would be to have clear and understandable policies. That will convey to buyers what they need to know in order to buy confidently from you. And you will be able to sell with confidence knowing that you can deal with an issue that may come up.

>Tell us about 1000 Markets and the NJ Market you have set up there?

I'm very excited to be in on the ground floor with 1000Markets! They strive to perfect the buying and selling experience and inspire the artisans to be the best they can be. The Garden State Artisans Market is a geography-based market started to highlight the diverse talent of artisans that live in NJ. We support each other and share information through the forums and feature members in market blog on a regular basis.



>What tips do you have for parents trying to run a business while raising a family?

I am awed by parents who stay at home with their kids. My daughter started day care at 6 weeks simply because I had to go back to work and it was our best option. I am lucky to have my family nearby now so they can help me. My daughter is old enough now to be an active participant in my business. My best advice would be to get your kids involved and don't be condescending.


>Now I understand that you also have a brick and mortar shop; how do you juggle all that you do; shop, family, online shops, craft shops, etc. and find a balance?

I'm lucky enough to have my workshop in the brick and mortar store so I can make, photograph, and list my products online while I run the store, where they are also for sale. I often make a sale from a conversation started when someone asks what I'm working on! Again, I couldn't juggle it all without the help of my family.

>Where do you see or hope to see your company in the future?

My goal for the future is to develop good, long-term wholesale accounts so that I can have guaranteed work. I have been encouraging custom work and I would like to continue to expand that area.

>Last but not least, if granted one super power what would you pick?

I would want the ability to make stuffed animals come to life so we can play on rainbow slides and have tea parties.


Other places to find out more information:

Copabananas products can be found at these great shops:

Red in Fredericksbug, TX http://www.redinfred.com/
Tintypes in Bath, ME http://tintypeshome.com/

6 comments:

wreathmiccreations said...

I applaud Claire of Copabanas for doing her part to conserve our Earth. Enjoyed reading this blog.

Natasha said...

Hi Claire! Loved reading this, especially your memorable project... very unique idea!
Regards,
Ntalie

Bethanny Davis said...

Great interview. I love the glove dolls and the monkeys.

copabananas said...

Thanks everyone, and thanks Beccijo!

cccraftstudio said...

Super feature!

newhopebeading said...

Great interview. I love to learn about Artisans.

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