A little help, buyers?

Just a quick post, today.  I would love to spend all of my time making artwork.  But in reality, I spend a lot of time on administrative tasks, including answering messages from customers.
Around the holidays, I get A LOT of customers writing asking about orders, when they’ll ship, how long shipping will take, etc.  Unfortunately, responding to these messages takes a lot of time away from my art-making.  I’ve taken a lot of care to ensure all production time and shipping information is already posted on both my Etsy site and Hieropice.com, but it seems customers are still missing this information somehow (some customers have said they find Etsy’s lay-out user-unfriendly).  So, I thought I’d do a run-through to help direct customers to where they can find the info they’re looking for.Hieropice terrarium
The “Shipping & Policies” tab (shown in the photo) on Etsy states the production times, shipping costs, ship-to locations, and shipping estimates for all of my Etsy listings.  It’s right below the image of each item, in the listing.  Additionally, if you place an order, you can view the “Ships By” date for an item in your “Purchases” by simply clicking on the item, and reviewing either your receipt or your order confirmation (e-mailed to you after you order) will give you shipping information as well.
I hope that helps!

– Dara

So, What Have You Been Up to Lately?

Etsy at NASDAQ IPO

So, in my last post, I had to be a bit cagey about what was coming up, as we were in the “quiet period” (who knew that was a thing?) of the Etsy IPO!  I was honored to be invited to Etsy headquarters to participate in the IPO celebration, along with a small group of Etsy sellers from around the globe.  The group included Etsy vendors who have successfully

Etsy's Living Wall

Etsy’s Living Wall – even with irrigation and proper lighting, hard to keep lush and full!

completed the Craft Entrepreneurship Program as well as educators from the program,  members of the  Etsy Manufacturing Advisory Board, local Etsy Team Captains/vendors working on activating their teams, like myself, and vendors who are successfully scaling up their Etsy businesses as they continue to sell on Etsy.  I mentioned in my previous post how hard I’m working to try and get our local team, Etsy Artists of Boston, all the access/tools we need to be successful artists/entrepreneurs, and so I was really thrilled to be recognized and included in this opportunity!Etsy at Nasdaq
I had a marathon trip to NYC, and was so excited to see Etsy headquarters, in particular, the “living wall.”  After a delicious dinner with the other sellers and Etsy staff, I high-tailed it to the Hudson Guild to take a BollyX class (which was free, score!) before heading back to the hotel to call it an early night.  Had to wake up early to get to the NASDAQ building on time!
The IPO “Sellerbration” took place in and around the NASDAQ building in Times Square in Manhattan, New York City, where Etsy staff and sellers gathered with CEO Chad Dickerson to announce Etsy’s public stock options, ring the opening bell of the stock exchange, and offer an amazing outdoor Etsy market.  I’m basically penguin-height so was blocked in many of the photos, but I rang my bell like a champ and was glad Etsy let me take it home!  Chad’s son was the cutest thing ever, rolling on the NASDAQ floor in all of the orange/white confetti (I would’ve done that too if I were a toddler!)

Dara's Nasdaq bell and badge

My Nasdaq bell and badge!

Fourteen vendors, including Supayana (Canada), Shlomit Ofir (Israel), Little Hero Capes (Massachusetts, USA), Malam (France), and others set up adorable little mini shops in the middle of Times Square for the afternoon, selling childrens’ clothing, modern gold/pastel jewelry, iPod/iPad docks of reclaimed wood, screenprints of original illustrations, knit scarves and hats, and more.  I can’t imagine a market like it ever occurring again, with these vendors from all over the world, it was great to see some of these faces I’ve only seen in avatars, in person!  Alas, my overnight bag was small, so no shopping for me, but I was happy to be there.  I loved seeing the tangible version of Etsy.
I wished, though, that the small, single-maker, dual-maker, and family-based shops were better-represented.  I know that Etsy’s business-model has changed, and I understand

Etsy Craft Market

An adorable mini-shop at the Etsy Craft Market

that keeping up with demand requires that some businesses utilize manufacturers.  And that’s fine for those businesses.  But my admiration for Etsy, my attraction to it, came from the concept of honoring small makers who were making things by hand in their homes and studios, not in factories.  And I don’t want that concept to lose its place-of-pride, and I worry about that vision changing.  But, I’m not the CEO!  You can read more about Etsy’s IPO, the Sellerbration, etc., on the Etsy Blog.

Bjork's blue plastic dress at MOMA

Bjork’s blue plastic dress at MOMA

Post Sellerbration, I took the opportunity to check out the Bjork exhibit at the MOMA, as I’ve loved her since I was 9-years-old.  I realized, there, there were music videos of hers I’d never seen (Triumph of a Heart, what?), and I want an Alexander McQueen dress of my very own!  The “Black Lake” piece commissioned by the MOMA was heart-breaking to watch, and discovering the back-story of her break-up that inspired it made it even more painful.  Bjork’s a talented lady.  But don’t bring your children to the exhibit.  Or your grandparents.  Unless your super-comfortable with each other. So, so NSFW.  An older couple sat next to me for several of the videos and I felt like I should be apologizing to them for all of the nudity.  And sex.  And self-abuse.  Again, NSFW!
Then, it was back to Boston, on another marathon shlep!  Thanks to some lovely friends, I discovered my terrarium necklace was in the Etsy Finds e-mail, which was a lovely surprise, and I prepared for our Etsy Artists of Boston meeting on Copyrights and Trademarks, which was very informative.  Due to the overwhelming response to the Finds e-mail, I am too overloaded to participate in the opening day of SOWA Boston on May 3rd, but I wish my colleagues the best day ever!  It looks to be fantastic!  I intend to participate next weekend on Mother’s Day.  If my mom allows it!
Spring is actually starting to show itself here in Massachusetts after Snowmageddon.  I can’t wait!

Cheers!

Dara

Hieropice in the Etsy Finds E-mail!

Just a quick geeky post to say, I was so psyched to see my necklace featured in the Etsy Finds e-mail on Thursday!  Thanks to friends who made sure I saw it (I would’ve missed it without you!)
Hieropice in Etsy Finds

Been a long time!

I’ve been remiss.  I know.
It’s so easy to lose track of time, forget to keep up, forget to post!
I’ve been all over the place!
Etsy Artists of BostonIn short, over the past months, I’ve been building Etsy Artists of Boston, our local artists/entrepreneur team, meeting monthly to improve our skills as vendors/artisans and offer each other support.  It’s good to have a community that understands the unique thing that you do, and it can be so isolating to be an independent business-person, particularly an artisan, who spends a lot of time working very quietly, very intensely, at a craft, and is ultimately solely responsible for the outcome/success of the work.
I envisioned Etsy Artists of Boston as a community where we could create connections, for those moments when you hit a roadblock in your work and don’t know how to get past it, or have a technical issue you don’t have the knowledge to solve but are certain someone else does, or just need to vent!  I, (perhaps selfishly!) wanted an environment in Boston where artists/business-people could exchange ideas and artistic services, crowd-source concepts, and just socialize with other creatives who get it!Etsy Artists of Boston Winter Bazaar
And the group has grown past what I could’ve envisioned, with our membership expanding exponentially, we’ve held an incredibly successful team selling event in December, 2014, the Etsy Artists of Boston Winter Bazaar at the Arsenal Project, and had some fantastic group meetings, last month hosting reps from the mobile app Cinch Polls, and this month, an attorney from Lovrien Law to educate us on the finer points of trademark, copyright, patents, and related issues.  We’re looking forward to our upcoming Etsy Craft Party in June, and I’m working on getting more of our membership to take on leadership positions, to ensure we all have a voice!  Looking ahead, I see exciting opportunities for our Boston-based community!
HowlerMonkey

I have to also express gratitude, for my consistent customers, who’ve been so supportive, and kept me going.  In January/February, I traveled to Costa Rica and Belize, as I was contemplating a bit of a change in my product line at Hieropice. I was seeking inspiration for landscapes, and a bit of a pause from business-as-usual.  It gave me an opportunity to focus on new work, taking a pause from creating existing designs.  I’ve got some ideas percolating, but I want to keep them under-wraps until their ready to introduce!  So, stay-tuned for some new pieces!

Arts on the Arcade!

Hieropice at Arts on the Arcade Friday, August 22nd will be the final Arts on the Arcade show of the Summer, and Hieropice will be there!  Sponsored by the City of Boston Office of Arts and Tourism, this series takes place right at Faneuil Hall Marketplace in Boston, and features a select group of local visual artists and bands.Hieropice at Arts on the Arcade
For the 22nd, Hieropice will have a bunch of new items JUST added to our collection, including a line of golden nautical jewelry pieces, lanterns with whimsical moss landscapes, and Ancient Egypt-inspired semi-precious pieces.  Come visit, 11 AM to 5 PM, at the intersection of Congress Street and North Street, in Boston!

Is that handmade?

Changes are afoot!  But change is a good thing, right?!  Sometimes…
Hieropice homepage I launched my website, Hieropice.com, in November.  It was an exciting venture, to create a website that was truly my own, that I could design, tweak, make.  It is a venue accessible to anyone, whether they’re familiar with Etsy, or Hieropice, or not.  I can include features there that I can’t on Etsy, like images from Polyvore, where users have styled ensembles with Hieropice pieces, as well as my local craft-show itinerary, links to my blog, and a gallery of custom pieces I’ve made in the past.  I get to control the look and feel of the site, and make it match my brand.
While making Hieropice items available to customers from a variety of venues is good business sense, it wasn’t my sole motivation for opening Hieropice.com.  At the beginning of November, handmade, vintage, and supply site Etsy, which had been Hieropice’s primary online home, made some changes to the site’s policies which were…difficult for me, as a handmade jewelry artist.Polyvore Set

Shortly before my older brother passed away recently, he asked me, “what’s the big deal about handmade anyway?  I don’t get what could possibly be better about something someone’s making with their hands versus a machine.”
I get his inquiry.   Machine-made things are not only great, but they’re sometimes essential.  I expect my car to be machine-made, my electronics, my appliances.  I know these items often have elements of human assembly, but I feel comfortable with the fact that a machine manufactures them primarily, making each one identical to the next, precise, solid, consistent.
But for things that I connect with in an intimate way, handmade matters.  When I go out to eat at a restaurant, I think about what I’m consuming, where things were grown, even what the creatures I’m consuming consumed when they were alive!  I think about how a dish was prepared, how the surface it was prepared on was prepared, what herbs, spices, fats, proteins and vegetables went into it, the manner in which it was cooked.  Most of us have thought more about these things as our knowledge of the effects of food on our bodies and our environment has grown. organic farm We care where our food comes from, and what’s in it, as we care about what it does to us, to those around us, and our environment.  And we appreciate being able to ask the people who grew it, prepared it, cooked it, served it, questions about it.  And knowing that someone is accountable for it.
Handmade, in whatever form it may take, is valuable for these reasons.  When I create a handmade piece, you can ask me anything under the sun about it.  What is this made of?  Where does the material come from?  What’s the history of this technique?  And I can tell you.  (And if I don’t know off-hand, I’ll certainly do my research!)  I’m accountable for what I make, so, it matters to me what it’s made of, where the materials come from and if they were acquired responsibly, whether the piece stands the test of time, whether a buyer is happy with it.  A machine simply doesn’t have an opinion about any of those things, and when it’s pumping out thousands of one thing at a time with a focus on speed and quantity, it becomes difficult to even determine where issues may arise, where flaws may be, and who’s accountable for them.manufacturing plant
For example, there are materials often used in jewelry, like coral and diamonds, that have controversial histories.  Some diamonds originate in areas where violence and exploitation play a major part in their acquisition, and some coral is harvested with methods that destroy environmentally-critical coral reefs.  (The coral used in Hieropice pieces is sustainably-harvested)  For me, as a handmade-maker who is accountable, I could never be comfortable with selling pieces that include materials with those origins.  Because I value my work, and am focused on its quality versus the monetary gains it might provide, and I know that my customers would also expect me to make my pieces responsibly, I try to ensure that my work reflects my values.  And if, at any point, I discover a material I’m using has origins I cannot support, I have an obligation to discontinue using it.  Like most handmade artisans, I am a singular, accessible artist.  There’s no corporation for me to coral farminghide behind with an endless labyrinth of communication barriers, no machinery that must be re-designed or dismantled in the event of a production concern, no “bottom line” I’d have to consider before removing a questionable material from my work.  There’s just me!
A handmade-maker offers a potential customer the ability to collaborate, though they may not be an artist themself, and have a concept they’ve only imagined realized.  Buying handmade allows you to customize a piece, and have something unique and one-of-a-kind created.  I like knowing the handmade piece I own is the only one in existence.  Or the piece I’ve designed for a loved one was created with them; their specific preferences, wants and needs, in-mind.  Some of the most fun and creative pieces I’ve made have been custom requests, like the miniature terrarium necklace I created for a woman to give to her sister, who loves pigs and grew up raising them on the family farm.  Miniature Pig The manufactured items in my home are useful, no-doubt, but I’m pretty sure a million other people have the same laptop and bookshelf I do…  Handmade items have a “special-ness” that mass-produced items just don’t.
When a person receives a handmade piece, they get something that someone has connected with, labored over, that contains the artists’ imagination and vision, the benefit of their years of study and practice, their skill, their unique method.  You know how groups of people go to those trendy painting parties, and they all try to copy a known painting, and every participant’s painting comes out looking totally different at the end of the evening?  Every artist creates differently, and interprets differently, and infuses their distinct perspective into what they create.  While other artisans can imitate pieces that I create, I try very hard to ensure that my pieces are truly my own, and that only I could create them, the way I do, as they are.
glass terrarium by HieropiceAnd there’s always a story behind a handmade piece, which in itself, has value.  I have always loved nature, and when I learned how to make full-size terrariums; natural environments encased in glass with soil and charcoal and plants and moss, I was SO excited to share them with people.  But while friends, family, and customers appreciated the beauty of those terraria, they expressed fear that they’d be unable to keep the plants lush and green and alive!  So I came up with a concept that would allow fellow nature-lovers to keep an encapsulated natural environment with them, without the maintenance.  And building the miniature terraria allowed me to imagine more and more tiny environments, some that I’d never be able to capture in nature, like the Winter White Terrarium Necklace.  And so my obsession continues!  With a handmade piece you get a story, about what inspired it, why the artist made it, how they made it, and their vision for its use.  You get a tale to recount to friends and family when they ask “where’d you get your necklace?”  And there’s a certain measure of pride when you can say, “a local artist made it, because…”  I’m not sure if my tea kettle has an interesting story behind it, but I certainly can’t ask the machine that made it!Winter White Terrarium Necklace by Hieropice
So, that’s why handmade is great!  I wish I had answered my brother this way when he asked.  But it was difficult to articulate.  And all of those things, the accountability, the customization, the uniqueness, the artistic vision, the story, have been a part of buying on Etsy, the biggest online handmade marketplace in existence.  But, their policy, as of November 1st, 2013, now reads “Etsy’s new policies allow you to partner with manufacturers to produce your designs. A manufacturer is any outside business that helps make your items. For example, you can work with a foundry that casts jewelry you’ve designed, a studio that fires pottery you’ve thrown, or a factory that cuts and sews clothing you’ve created.  Handmade items must begin with the imagination and creativity of the member operating the Etsy shop. Sellers can use the help of other shop members, or outside manufacturers, to bring their visions to life.”
Etsy Town HallHmm.  Reading that gave me pause.  Etsy administrators held a “town hall” where they explained how this new version of Etsy would function, with sellers now able to send designs overseas to be manufactured, to have items shipped from other locations directly to their customers.  For some of my Etsy friends, this means wonderful things, like they can now sell books featuring their original illustrations on Etsy.  But the policy change also means that a person’s hands don’t actually need to participate in the creation of the items they sell on Etsy.  Items can be manufactured by machines, and by their essence, not handmade.  The shop owner has to participate in the creative process of their items, but there’s no definition of that participation.  For some, that could be simply choosing the color chair or dress they want made out of a manufacturer’s catalog.  And when the items I make contain all of the tenets of handmade I described above, and are in a “handmade” marketplace alongside items that are being pumped out by a factory, it troubles me.  I know that major designers do this typically; Karl Lagerfeld and Diane Von Furstenburg don’t sew a single stitch on the garments that bear their names.  And it has honestly always bothered me!  It seems to be the mark of becoming majorly successful as an artist, to become increasingly disconnected from your work.  At the same time, major designers aren’t selling their items in a “handmade marketplace,” nor claiming they hand-make them themselves.  Etsy has made its name as the preeminent handmade marketplace.  But when items are losing multiple essential elements of handmade; the hand-labor, the uniqueness, the story, the accountability, etc., they no longer meet my expectations of handmade.  So, while I’m keeping Hieropice on Etsy open, I’ve created Hieropice in progressHieropice.com to honor true handmade, and all that that entails.  Etsy is a fine marketplace, that still contains a great deal of truly handmade items, and still deserves your patronage.  There are many dedicated artists who sell on Etsy, including me!  But Hieropice.com will be a handmade venue exclusively featuring my work, and I hope that you’ll support it (and true handmade), as well!

Love, Dara