Friday, October 31, 2008

A Few Holiday Handmade Gift Tags for the Holidays!

A few new handmade gift tags coming soon to Lova Handmade - handmade from card stock and vintage illustrations!

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Hankering for a pretty purse? -

Katie Henry, aka madebyhank, is sure to please

Don't let the name confuse you. Madebyhank is the pseudonym for one very talented girl, Katie Henry. Five years ago, Henry lived with a friend who inherited her grandma's old Singer, and they both began to sew. They thrifted old lady dresses by the bag full, cut them up, and re-worked the material. She's been sewing every day since, and presently designs and makes purses and totes as well as some sewn drawings.

Completely self-taught with no formal art or design training, and relatively new to the "Internet world," she now is happy to be able to make her livelihood selling her work online. She is the curator of an Etsy shop and a website that showcase her purses. "I have accidentally started a business," she says. " Sometimes people ask me about my design background, but they have the wrong idea about me. I'm simply obsessed with sewing."

If you find yourself perusing the madebyhank Web site, you'll see that Henry's gorgeous purses fall into categories such as "bigger," "smaller," "squarish," and "zippered." She likes to mix patterns and textures together. One popular style among customers (and a favorite of Henry's as well) is the "Tough Ruffles" purse, which she describes as "pretty and tough." Often using two tones of the same color in this design, she uses a technique that "builds up texture," sewing a scrunched-up piece of fabric onto the purse and then stitching over it extensively to add even more texture. "I love stitching to no end," Henry says exuberantly. “I also like this technique because it's very durable.” Some of her purses are adorned with hand-sewn designs (the rabbit is a popular one), many have vintage leather belts as handles, and all are lovingly finished with the freehand stitched "madebyhank" logo.

Committed to using as little new materials as possible, she crafts her purses mostly from vintage materials and re-purposed clothing, mixed with canvas and heavy cottons. Durability is a big priority: she uses a "secret layer" of interfacing to add strength and padding. The handles are stitched and re-stitched to ensure that nothing will come undone. Piping excites her lately, and she recently learned how to make her own. She likes how nicely it finishes a purse, and often uses it on her "squarish" design. She feels that it's these important little touches that make all the difference.

Henry's story is a perfect example of a girl who loves what she does, and does it well. She is a bit giddy from all of the good fortune that has come her way. "I'm very grateful for my success so far," she says. "Someday I'd like to have a store front with a little studio in back. But for now, I'm very happy with the way things are and I'd just like to be able to find enough hours in the day to maintain what I'm doing."

You can see Henry's purses at Madebyhank on and at her Web site,

Shop like a pro: Some tips for saving on everything -

NEW YORK — Paying full price for something? Not in these tough economic times.

Here are some tips to finding the best bargains, whether it's groceries, clothes or a pair of boots:


-Buy off-season.

Purchase things like swimsuits and air conditioners in winter, and skis and winter coats in the summer, Helen Malani, online shopping expert for Shopzilla, said in an email.

-Limit errand running.

Not only does it save gas, by making fewer stops you're less likely to be tempted by impulse purchases, said Kim Danger, family savings expert for

-Ask about discounts.

Many retailers have special discounts for working professionals, seniors and people who belong to certain organizations, said Ellen Davis, spokeswoman for the National Retail Federation. Ask at the register.

-Keep the receipt.

If you go back and see an item you recently purchased on sale, you may be able to get a price adjustment, said Danger.

-Consider layaway.

It's a great way to shop early and avoid charging purchases, said Davis.

-Sign up for rebates and rewards programs.

For free or at a minimal cost, you can get things like special discounts and cash back after spending a certain amount, said Danger.


-Clean out the closet.

There's nothing like purchasing something and realizing three months later you have the same item, said shopping expert Amy Blankenship Sewell.

-Shop full price, but buy on sale.

When you're considering purchasing something on sale, ask yourself if you would buy the item if it was full price, said Sewell. If the answer is no, consider passing.


In upscale stores, a sale means the store wants to get rid of the item, said Jim Camp, author of "NO: The Only Negotiation System You Need for Work and Home." See if you can negotiate another markdown, said Camp.

-Give clearance a chance.

You may have to dig, but some items the store is practically giving away, said Karen Hoxmeier, founder and owner of

-Beware of the plastic.

You may save 10 per cent when you sign up, but Sewell warns that studies show people buy more from a store when they have the retailer's credit card.

-Shop secondhand.

You can find items for up to 90 per cent off the original retail price.


-Check the web.

Go to store websites to see in-store specials. Online coupons tend to have a higher value than those you find in the paper, said Danger.

-Consider the little guy.

Some of the best deals are at smaller markets, such as local vegetable stores and farmers markets, said Camp.

-Ask the butcher.

Large supermarkets need to move their highly perishable meat and fish and will generally give you large quantities at a deep discount, said Camp. Freeze what you don't need immediately.

-Clip coupons.

Coupon companies issue more coupons at this time of year, so it may even pay to buy two copies of the Sunday paper, said Danger. Combine coupons with in-store sales to maximize savings, she said.

-Keep a price book.

Keep track of the price of the products you buy regularly in a notebook, said Danger. You'll begin to notice that sometimes advertised sales aren't the best bargains and that some stores' everyday prices are lower than sales prices at other stores.

-Consider the drug store.

Sometimes the drug store has cheaper cereal, milk and soda than the larger supermarket, said Sewell.

-Buy fruit that's in season.

Hint: It's the fruit that's on sale.

-Leave the kids at home.

Besides sneaking things into the basket, they can distract you from being patient and figuring out what's the best deal, Sewell said.

-Larger doesn't mean better.

Read the price per kilogram or price per gram, said Danger. A larger quantity may not be the better deal.


-Compare prices.

Comparison shopping engines show you the range of prices for what you are purchasing and where to get the item for that price. Some even add shipping and sales tax, so you know the best deal.

-Consider shipping costs.

Some online stores offer free shipping and free returns. If there's a minimum you need to purchase to get free shipping, ask a friend if he or she needs anything, said Malani.

-Look for coupons.

If you have found what you want, type in the name of the store and "online coupons" or "promotion codes" into a search engine, said Malani.

-Try an auction site.

EBay has new items and the option to buy the product now, so you can avoid the bidding process.

-Make sure it's the best deal.

Malani suggests signing up for a price protector site to safeguard you from buying something one day and finding out that it went on sale the next.

- Set a price alert. will monitor the price of an item for you and send you an email when it hits your target price.

-Read reviews.

Take a look at the merchant's ratings and reviews, said Greg Hintz, general manager of Yahoo! Shopping. You can avert a disaster, such as a retailer that ships the wrong items or is unresponsive.

-Trust your instincts.

"If it sounds like too good of a deal to be true," Hintz said, "it probably is."

Vintage clothing finds new fans

Thursday, 23 October 2008
By Hannah Yakobi

Ottawa may not be a fashion capital, but its vintage clothing market is expanding due to the increased interest and demand from the city’s residents.

New vintage aficionados are emerging on top of the existing fan base, which has always been large according to fashion experts.

The Ottawa Vintage Clothing Sale on Nov. 9 is going into its 24th installment. Organizer Penelope Whitmore says the event is always welcomed with open arms and people save their money for it all year.

The single day sale attracts vintage collectors from all over Canada and up to 2,000 visitors.

Fashion experts say the popularity of vintage clothing is on the rise because it allows people to be creative in a city like Ottawa where clothing choice is limited.

“There seems to be a trend going towards the individualist look and fine-tuning your personality in the way you dress,” says image consultant Annette McConnell. “We are also starting to see a surge towards accommodating the needs and wants of the Ottawa population.”

She adds that vintage clothing is certainly part of the trend.

“Vintage clothing is fabulous. It allows people to really create the look that is true to themselves. It’s from eras gone by, yet can be incorporated into an existing wardrobe and have a different spin,” says McConnell.

Sheila Furlong, fashion design co-ordinator at Algonquin College, agrees. She says vintage has never been more popular.

“All of a sudden it just peaked and really came back full-force. It has peaked through, occasionally, in the last 20 years, but not like it has today.”

There are also permanent collections of vintage clothes at local stores and these are refreshed on a regular basis.

Ragtime Vintage Clothing off Bank Street has hundreds of designs from the past, be they from the 1920s, 1960s, the Edwardian era or even medieval times.

“We are really busy,” says owner John Greaves, who has been running the Centretown store with his wife for the last three decades. “There’s always an interest in vintage clothing.”

The variety of items at vintage stores is jaw-dropping. There is something for everybody, such as flapper dresses, bow ties, dome-shaped umbrellas, Victorian-era pendants and 1970s suits à la Saturday Night Fever.

But it’s not all about sales. Greaves says that many people also rent out garments for Halloween or costume balls.

He adds that they often consign their own items too, pointing to the big pile of consignment catalogues.

“A lot of people don’t want to go to the malls because everything is the same, so they come here because it’s different,” he says.

Even boutique stores have recognized this interest and have started to update their existing collections.

The trendy Victoire Boutique on Dalhousie Street has a wide range of vintage accessories that store owners say are very popular. In addition, they host a vintage shoe sale several times a year. These events are conducted with shoe collectors from Montreal, who bring a U-Haul filled with vintage shoes.

Régine Paquette, Victoire’s co-owner, says their store was “jam-packed” during the last sale.

“There is a really high demand, and vintage is definitely gaining a wider audience,” she says. “Even though we are not a vintage store we have a vintage line because it’s part of our customers’ aesthetic.”

Whitmore predicts that vintage will stay in style.

“The love of vintage clothing has always been there, but it has been made more popular by Hollywood stars. It’s one-of-a-kind. You just can’t find the same quality and workmanship in the clothing of today.”

No comment posted

Etsy Ramps up Holiday 2008 Shopping Marketing Campaign -

By Ina Steiner
October 28, 2008

Etsy announced a number of initiatives to promote its marketplace during the holiday shopping season, including advertising and search engine optimization. Etsy is running online, print, and radio advertising, email marketing, and media outreach.

Etsy is running full-page print ads in Good Magazine, Mother Earth News, and Plenty Magazine, and will begin a banner ad campaign beginning in November. And from October 31 through December 12, 2008, more than 500 radio spots will run on public radio stations in Austin, TX, Washington DC, Columbus, OH, Minneapolis/St Paul, MN, Seattle, Washington, Portland, OR, and Chicago. Article:

All About Etsy FAQ Series: Etsy 2008 Holiday Marketing

Back in September, I shared some information about how we were working to promote Etsy this holiday season. Some people have been asking for a bit of follow up, so without further ado:

1. SEO and SEM

"Etsy’s most significant marketing investment this holiday season will be in search marketing. Search marketing comprises both Search Engine Optimization (“SEO”) and Search Engine Marketing (“SEM”)."

These ads are running now. Changes to optimize Etsy for search are also already underway.


"While the bulk of our advertising spending will be on search marketing, we think we can bolster brand awareness by advertising in a number of highly-targeted, socially-aware publications and their related websites."

You can see full-page Etsy print ads in Good Magazine, Mother Earth News, and Plenty Magazine. The ads feature Etsy artist fernanimals, and can be seen above. Beginning in November you will also see a banner advertising campaign running on many of your favorite websites.


"We spend a lot of time developing our messaging, pitching to the media and working with reporters and publishers on stories and product requests for the holiday season."

Press outreach has been going very well. We have had recent press in Inc Magazine (Etsy founder Rob Kalin is on the cover), Sydney Morning Herald, Business Week, The Chicago Tribune, The LA Times, The New York Times, New York Magazine, and Time Out NY to name a few. We have also recently been featured on ABC, FOX, and CBS affiliates across the country. Expect to see even more as we approach the holidays. To view some of the press we have already received, please visit and our press report here.


"Like its little sister, the EtsyMini (see how-to use the EtsyMini), the SuperEtsyMini allows you to embed Etsy products on external sites. Now, however, it is purely customizable."

The Super Etsy Mini is in the last phase of testing, and hopefully, will be ready to launch soon.

"Furthermore, we will be adding expanded resources, downloads, widgets, and important business and marketing information into the Promote section of Your Etsy, so we can help you better promote and improve your own shops and businesses."

This is still in progress, but not yet complete. The current resources can be found here. We also published the Etsy Seller Handbook on the blog here.


"We are planning many changes, but they will not be in place before the holidays. That said, there are a number of smaller but still very important improvements slated to launch pre-holidays. "

This is still true. Recently, the emails were redesigned. The next steps will be focused on increasing the number of people that sign up for our emails. Speaking of, go sign up to our Etsy email lists here.



"NASA and Etsy SpaceCraft Contest: We are currently planning an exciting late Fall promotion with NASA. (Yes, the space agency.) I am not yet permitted to go into too many details, but I think this promotion will help generate a good deal of media attention and open Etsy to many new audiences. We will keep you updated."

This will now be happening in the spring.

"Holiday Sweepstakes: One buyer-focused sweepstakes is currently in the planning stages for November/December. The details are not yet confirmed. "

We will not be going forward with this sweepstakes at this time, as there are more pressing projects that will result in greater impact for Etsy.

Upcoming Events:

"We will be representing Etsy at various holiday events around the country. Details will be announced in the Storque as we get closer to the holidays."

Etsy is involved with over thirty events between now and the holidays. Updates will be given in the Storque and in Etsy Success emails.

7. Public Radio

"We are also considering experimenting with sponsoring public radio in selected American markets where Etsy has strong penetration. The goal of such spots would be to drive brand awareness of"

We considered it, and we did it. From October 31 through December 12th 2008, more than 500 total radio spots will be running on public radio stations in Austin, TX, Washington DC, Columbus, OH, Minneapolis/St Paul, MN, Seattle, Washington, Portland, OR, and Chicago. If you're a public radio listener in one of those areas, let us know in the comments!

I will continue to keep you abreast of any new developments. Have a wonderful day.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

In Ailing Economy, America Gets Thrifty -

NEW YORK, Oct. 25, 2008
(CBS) Out of the recent economic chaos, a quiet virtue is taking shape - thrift.

As the old saying goes, one person's trash is another's treasure. These days, there are more treasure hunters than ever before. As the economy tumbles, Americans are looking for ways to cut costs - and thrift stores fit the bill, reports CBS News correspondent Priya David.

"During this past year, the numbers have increased by 330,000," said Major Dennis Gensler of the Salvation Army. "That's a significant increase in the number of customers that are actually in our stores."

Maria Aiello is one of those thrift shoppers.

"I find all the bargains I can - second-hand clothes, second-hand anything," she said.

Hundreds of thousands of Americans now find themselves needing to live frugally. Here in the northeast, bargain hunters can pick up a garment at the Salvation Army for an average cost of $2.58.

The Salvation Army told CBS News that in many stores, sales have increased up to 20 percent in the past year.

And Winmark Corporation, the parent company to four thrift franchises including clothing store Plato's Closet, reported a jump in income of almost 50 percent.

At Manhattan's Memorial Sloane Kettering Thrift Ship in New York City, which caters to a well-heeled clientele. They've got thousand-dollar Chanel suits on sale, so business is brisk.

"This year has actually been excellent," said Anita Askienazy. "One of the better years since I've been here."

These earnings come in stark contrast to national retail sales, which were down 1.4 percent in September compared to last year as consumers shunned the malls.

One thrift shopper told CBS News she doesn't miss retail shopping.

"I bought a David Meister dress here that was from this year and it was $398 online and I got it for $8 and I wore it to a wedding on Sunday," she said.

But even busy thrift stores are finding it tough to stay in the black.

"Like everyone else, we're feeling the pinch of the economy," said Gensler. "Wages are continuing to rise and we try to be fair with our people and benefits costs are going up. So our expenses are actually growing faster than our store sales income."

"The donation flow becomes a barometer for tough economic times and what we're experiencing now is sales are up, donations are down," said Jim Gibbons, the CEO of Goodwill Industry International.

The trickle down effect - bad times, second hand.

Thrift Is the New Fashion -

Time was, national crises stimulated saving. But thrift today has a negative, miserly connotation.

Daniel Gross
From the magazine issue dated Nov 3, 2008

Thrift, like the repossession business, is one of those classic countercyclical industries. When the gross domestic product shrinks and bulls grow mute, Americans are called to rouse themselves from a consumption-induced daze and start saving and investing rather than borrowing and splurging. At about this time in the economic cycle, we hear a lot more from Warren Buffett and a lot less from Donald Trump. Coupon clippers are exalted and high fliers are laid low. Of course, once the good times begin to roll again, the calls for thrift subside. Back in 1994—I know I'm dating myself here—I wrote a piece of juvenilia on the hot new cheapskate trend that grew up in the wake of widespread corporate restructuring. (Among the key data points: the popularity of "The Tightwad Gazette"and a decline in charitable donations.) But penny-pinching went out of style once the dotcom boom started.

During the last recession, which coincided with the 9/11 attacks, we didn't even try. President Bush went on television and urged people to go take a trip. For New Yorkers, patronizing a restaurant in the afflicted downtown area became something akin to civic duty. "Our leaders in recent years seem increasingly determined to insist, as a response to such challenges, on the importance of high and continued consumer spending," writes historian Barbara Dafoe Whitehead, in the newly released "For a New Thrift,"a report sponsored by an array of think tanks, left, right and center.

Whitehead writes eloquently about the powerful array of anti-thrift institutions that have made it difficult for middle- and lower-income Americans to save: credit-card solicitations, ubiquitous casinos, state lotteries and payday lenders, which "outnumber McDonald's franchises in four out of five of the nation's most populous states." The nation's biggest banks dole out loans with abandon, but many won't issue passbook savings accounts to kids.

More powerful still may be the macroeconomic barriers to saving. The income of a typical family hasn't risen in real terms since 1999, while the cost of basics like health insurance, energy, food and housing have soared. "Surveys show that much of the rising credit-card debt is related to job loss, home repair or health care," says Tamara Draut, vice president of policy and programs at the New York think tank Demos, and author of "Strapped: Why America's 20- and 30-Somethings Can't Get Ahead."

In addition, during asset bubbles and booms, we tend to let buoyant markets do the saving for us. According to the Federal Reserve, the net worth of households and nonprofit organizations soared from $39.2 trillion at the end of 2002 to $58.7 trillion in the third quarter of 2007, a 50 percent increase. This at a time when personal savings were minuscule: $174.9 billion in 2003 and just $57.4 billion last year. But those who live by paper gains also die by them. Between September 2007 and June 2008, according to the Fed, the nation's net worth fell by $2.7 trillion. And it has likely fallen much further.

Clearly, we need to save more. But as John Maynard Keynes taught us, thrift can be counterproductive in times of weak demand. Consumer activity accounts for about 70 percent of economic activity. Spending money heedlessly—traveling, redecorating, eating out—keeps our friends and neighbors employed. The great concern about the stimulus package was that Americans would squirrel away those $300 checks for a rainy day rather than put them into circulation immediately. Self-described global citizens have also had reason to eschew thrift. The prodigious appetites of U.S. consumers for imported goods enabled tens of millions of peasants in China to escape subsistence living and find factory work each year.

Time was, national crises stimulated saving. Whitehead notes that during World War II, the savings rate soared to 25 percent, as the government, "partnering with the leaders of civil society, actively stressed the importance of saving for the war effort while also providing a specific new savings tool, in the form of war bonds."

But thrift today has a negative connotation—miserly, penny-pinching, no fun. Here, too, we need to go back to the future. "The goal of thrift is not to cut back or scrimp and save, but rather to enjoy the good things in life," says David Blankenhorn, president of the Institute for American Values, and author of "Thrift: A Cyclopedia," a charming compendium of musings and quotes on the many virtues of thrift, going back to Benjamin Franklin's "The Road to Wealth."

Is there any reason to think we'll recover our lost sense of thrift in this economic crisis? Perhaps. The baby boomers, champion consumers who had counted on appreciation of their homes and 401(k)s to ensure a golden retirement, will have to start saving more. Policy changes—government matches for low-income savers, lottery offices where people can purchase savings tickets—might help. But profligacy and spendthriftness have also been part of our cultural inheritance. The most compelling character in the greatest American novel, "The Great Gatsby," makes a pile of money and then squanders it spectacularly. For every Warren Buffett, patiently building a down-to-earth fortune by purchasing stocks with hard-earned money, there's a Donald Trump, impatiently building glitzy over-the-top towers with cash borrowed from others.


Layaway Is Making a Comeback -

Retailers Say Demand for Old Payment Plan Is Strong Amid Continuing Credit Crisis

Layaway, a payment practice that was made popular during the Great Depression but nearly became extinct due to the instant gratification of credit cards, is back in fashion thanks to the credit crunch.

Only a handful of national retailers still let consumers put purchases aside until they have paid for them in full. Many of those companies -- which include TJX Cos., parent of TJ Maxx and Marshalls; Burlington Coat Factory Warehouse Corp.; and Kmart, part of Sears Holdings Corp. -- report that demand for layaway is stronger than it has been in years.

[Sears shopper] Getty Images

A shopper at a Sears Essentials store.

With credit-card companies tightening limits and offering fewer specialty card promotions amid the continuing credit crisis, many consumers may not be able to tap credit cards as much this holiday season, experts predict. Meanwhile, retailers report that many customers spooked by the slumping economy are either already saddled with debt or determined not to be, all of which is making layaway are more enticing option.

Demand has surged so much at Kmart, in fact, that the discount retailer decided to tout its commitment to layaway as the centerpiece of a national advertising campaign.

The ads, which feature an animated Kmart light bulb known as Mr. Bluelight, began on radio and television this month and promote layaway as an affordable way for families to finance the holiday season.

"While not sexy, layaway became the big idea for Kmart these holidays," said Mark Snyder, Kmart's chief marketing officer. "It is all about our shopper being able to put the hottest gifts that their family wants on layaway. They can get them early and still get them out for Christmas."

Kmart also has been using a celebrity pitchwoman to promote the virtues of layaway: Kate Gosselin of "Jon & Kate Plus 8," the TLC reality-TV show about a couple raising sextuplets and twins. Ms. Gosselin recently told the TV program "Showcase Minnesota" that layaway allows her to hide presents at the store, "so that my 16 searching little eyes don't find them."

Layaway plans aren't free -- most stores charge a fee for setting aside the merchandise, and ask for a down payment. Kmart requires customers to pay a $5 service fee and a $10 cancellation fee upfront, or put down 10% of the item's cost, whichever is greater. Customers must make biweekly payments over eight weeks to pay the balance. In case of default, the item goes back into stock and the customer receives a refund, minus the $15.

Several layaway Web sites sprung up earlier this decade to fill the void left after Wal-Mart Stores Inc. and other major retailers discontinued the seemingly outmoded service -- and they are also reporting a big bump in business., which offers iPods, Hewlett-Packard laptops and clothes from the Gap on virtual layaway for a 1.9% fee of the cost of the item plus taxes, said traffic has increased 91% over last year. Customers can choose eLayaway as a payment option on affiliated Web sites or can shop at, and receive the item in the mail once the payments are made in full.

Many of the site's customers are victims of the subprime-mortgage mess or simply have bad credit, said Michael Bilello, eLayaway's senior vice president of business development. He said that five major big-box retailers had contacted the company in recent weeks about adding an eLayaway payment option to their Web sites or putting eLayaway kiosks in stores.

"Business is booming," said Mr. Bilello, adding that the company noticed a surge in interest this summer during a promotion called "Christmas in July."

"It's the consumer credit crunch that's driving this," said Mr. Bilello. "Merchants are finally figuring out that when you tap people out on their credit cards, they can't consume the way they did. That's all coming home to roost right now."

John Pace, a Connecticut audio-equipment salesman, purchased a diamond engagement ring he plans to give to his girlfriend later this year from a jewelry site that featured as a payment method. He also used the service to buy some Callaway golf clubs to send as Christmas presents, as well as a few clubs for himself.

"I remember growing up with layaway, and it seemed like the fee was reasonable," said 41-year-old Mr. Pace. "Being in sales, I have good months and bad months, and this way I don't max out a credit card."

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Local woman sews her way from Danvers High to high fashion -

By Nikki Gamer/Danvers Herald Correspondent

Wed Oct 08, 2008, 02:31 PM EDT

Danvers -

She’s only 24 years old, but Danvers High School graduate Lori DiVincenzo has already had a variety of life experience. She’s been a make-up artist, a singer, and now she’s taking on the world of fashion. The designer, seamstress, and small business owner recently launched two lines of clothing, which she sells online and through boutiques. From London to California, DiVincenzo’s clothing is catching on. Her style is a mix of high fashion “couture” and everyday wear.

Q: First off, I understand you are working out of your parent’s house where you grew up. Describe your day from start to finish.

A: I wake up, get on my computer, check for any sales, answer any e-mails. If I have to edit pictures or list anything, I’ll do that after I wake up, and then I’ll come down here if I have any orders to fill, and start working on those. If I’m just going to be designing, then I’ll do that. I usually take a break after a couple of hours, and go back to the computer, check more e-mails, list more things, and come back and start sewing again. I usually do that from about noon until about 5 a.m., depending on how much I have to do. It’s very time consuming when you have to hand make everything, and do everything yourself.

Q: Tell me about how you got started.

A: Well, I started making clothing in high school. I wore all the things I made in high school to school. I made all my prom dresses and then I made my friend’s formal dresses. This wasn’t really part of my plan, but I was a make-up artist and then I had to stop working because of health reasons. I couldn’t work anywhere, so I had to think up something to do from home. I started an eBay store where I sold people’s designs. Then I started putting my own designs in the store, and people bought them.

Q: Tell me more about your illness.

A: When I was 19, I was diagnosed with epilepsy, so I couldn’t work. I couldn’t do anything. I couldn’t drive, I lost my license for 10 months, and the medication is rough, so I had really bad side effects. I was sleeping all the time and I couldn’t do anything. I had to figure out what I was going to do at 19 without being able to work, and that’s when I started working on eBay; it kind of just took off from there.

Q: Does epilepsy affect what you do now?

A: I haven’t had a seizure in about two years. I take my medication three times a day. It still affects me, where I can’t do the things I would want to do, like travel, and that fun stuff that fashion designers are supposed to do. But, it doesn’t affect how I work because I make my own schedule.

Q: Did you have any real jumping off points in the fashion world?

A: I designed a hoodie that I’ll probably be introducing within the next year. I got a patent on it, so that was one of the things I was selling in the eBay store. A lot of people really liked it. Then I opened an ETSY store. ETSY’s a Web site like eBay, but it’s only for handmade and vintage-like stuff. You put your items on it for sale. It’s very easy.

Q: How did you learn how to do all that?

A: I didn’t. I had enough time on my hands so I just taught myself. EBay was very easy. ETSY is awesome. It’s where I sell most of my stuff and the fees are very, very low.

Q: How do you promote yourself and your business?

A: Nobody else on the Internet knows about me. Only my customers from ETSY know about me; I don’t do any other kind of promotion or anything. I have MySpace and Facebook, but other than that I don’t have a Web site yet; that’s in the works. Most of the marketing I do is word of mouth.

Q: How long have you been interested in fashion?

A: Pretty much since I can remember. I can’t draw at all, but I was always doodling pictures of clothes. My grandmother made all of her own clothing and all of my mother’s and my aunt’s clothing. I guess I just inherited it from her. So pretty much it was always kind of part of my life.

Q: Where do you draw your inspiration? Do you watch the popular reality TV show Project Runway?

A: Well, I’ve never actually seen the show Project Runway. I never look at any runways or anything. I don’t want to get influenced at all. I want everything I do to be completely original. I try not to look at anybody else’s stuff. With Project Runway, everyone’s like ‘You should try out!’ I don’t want to try out, because you have to do what they tell you to do, and I don’t like that.

Q: Do you have any role models?
A: I’ve always liked Calvin Klein.
Q: How would you categorize your clothing?

A: I guess it depends on what I’m designing for. I already design for some stores in California, so I guess if I was making clothing for them I would be just basing it on the style in California. It also depends on the collection. I have a higher-end collection, which is called VC20, and my casual collection, which is called Venni Caprice. VC20 is a little avant-garde. The casual collection is pretty much for anybody, anywhere. I do a lot of hoodies, a lot of personal pieces that you can wear different ways.

Q: How did you come up with the name Venni Caprice?

A: Venni is kind of like a combination of my name. My last name is “Cenzo.” My dad’s name is Vinni. My first name is Lori. I threw it all together and we got Venni.

Q: Who besides you runs your business?

A: Everybody! My parents, my friend Jon, my friends… everybody’s been a really big help. My parents are really supportive. They gave me their living room, their porch and my bedroom. I’ve taken over the house with fabric. Whenever I need it, my friends come to all of my shows. So everyone is part of this business as of right now.

Q: What would you say is your biggest accomplishment thus far?

A: Getting into regular stores has been really cool. I sell to about seven or eight different stores. I sell in London. I’m working with somebody in Canada right now. I’ve only been doing this for a year and a half, so it’s been really cool to see boutique owners who have said, ‘We really want to see your stuff!’

Q What was your training like? Did you take classes in design?
A: No, except for seventh grade when I had home economics.
Q: So all of this is self taught?

A: Yeah. This fell into my life. I didn’t really have a choice. I knew how to sew prior to getting sick. I think home economics really helped. I’m not even kidding. The first thing I made was a pillow and I was like, “I really like sewing!” So, I just stuck with it.

Q: Has there been a time in the last two years when you’ve wanted to quit?

A: No, never. I really love what I do. For getting epilepsy and not being able to pursue singing, and having put that dream aside, I’ve never actually had to complain about what I do because even though I didn’t get to go for what I’ve wanted to go for, it’s been an awesome back-up plan. It’s like a hobby that I’m able to do full time.

Q: What’s the hardest part of what you do?

A: The hardest part of doing this is that I have to do everything on my own with my own two hands. I have to list everything, I have to take pictures, I have to edit the pictures. I have to cut out fabric, sew the fabric, iron, put on labels, design labels. So it’s difficult. But it’s rewarding to see people really happy with what you’ve made

Q: What keeps you going at this?

A: It makes me really happy to hear that somebody that I made something for was really appreciative of it, and it fit them well. Hearing that it fit them well is like the best thing ever. When a customer writes back and says, “It fit me.” I’m like “YES!” It’s really exciting! I made it and they like it!

Q: What are your hopes for the future of your designs?

A: I’ve always been a big, huge dreamer. I’ve never wanted to settle for an office job, and I’ve never wanted to settle for anything less than ridiculously awesome. I really want to be a household brand name where it’s known for good quality and really good designing. I don’t want to be super rich. I just want to be successful. I want to take care of my family, and to have a solid company with longevity. I don’t want to fade.

You can check out DiVincenzo’s designs locally at Newbury Street in Boston at OAK Boston Boutique, or go to any one of her numerous Web sites:, to name two.

Project Runway’s Leanne Marshall Sells Her Wares On Etsy -

Posted by: Catherine | Filed in: Style

We’ve always known that “Project Runway” contestant Leanne makes beautiful clothes, so our decision to support Leanne on this week’s season finale was solidified when we discovered she has an Etsy shop where she has been vending her girly Leanimal line of clothes since last summer. Unfortunately, none of her designs are available right now—on her shop’s home page, she apologizes for her absence, saying “You may know it’s because I was working on a collection for Fashion Week. I am finally back to work for me as usual. More stuff finally coming this week!” We tried reading into the statement to figure out whether Leanne is this season’s winner, but then we got distracted by the feedback she has received on her clothes. While her 193 Etsy buyers aren’t Heidi Klum, Nina Garcia, or Michael Kors, they are a satisfied bunch of ladies who adored Leanne’s line even before she became a reality TV star. Here’s a sampling:

“Wow, the dresses are beyond gorgeous! I’m amazed at how well made they are, and how they fit like a dream! I’m so thrilled. Leanne is one of the sweetest etsy sellers around! Unbelievably talented and her designs are divine. I want to get more smile” —Sunflowers

“I feel like a ballet dancer. This is really cute!!! I wish you had more dresses in your Etsy shop------they are really adorable. Thanks!!! I hope you keep posting medium sizes.” —rachelle1

“Oh, wonderful, AGAIN! Leanne, you must stop making clothes! I cannot control my shopping impulses when I see your work. I need to stop visiting your shop because I simply can’t help but click to buy. Thank you! FYI - here’s a picture I’m using in my blog while wearing the Eva dress you made for me. Love it!” —Myra

“I just got this dress in the mail, and it’s absolutely exquisite! Without a doubt, one of the most beautiful items of clothing I’ve ever owned. And it fits perfectly! Thank you so much! I will definitely be buying from you again in the future smile” —danielleorsino

While you’re waiting for Leanne to open up shop again, browse her past designs, which feature the cutest descriptions ever, i.e, “This lovely little dress is made in a 100% cotton pool/ocean blue-ish green knit....In some of the photos, the fabric appears a little duller in color than it actually is. Think of the ocean in Hawaii.”

Monday, October 20, 2008

HIP TO BE HOMEMADE ; Do-It-Yourself Art is Suddenly Cool With the Eruption of Sites Such As Etsy -

Sunday, October 19, 2008 1:56 PM
(Source: Albuquerque Journal)trackingBy Amanda Schoenberg Journal Staff Writer

Call it craft. Or do-ityourself art. Maybe independent design. Whatever the lingo, Albuquerque is buzzing with folks making everything from vintage-inspired note cards and crocheted hats to costume jewelry by hand.

If that sounds like a lot of country ducks and crocheted doilies, think again. Locals are taking traditional crafts and giving them a modern twist. That can mean handmade bags with zombie designs or vintage cards with caustic phrases.

Most craft in their off hours for creative release and extra cash. Many write blogs detailing their latest projects.

Crafters agree that the popular Web site has something to do with the craze.

Just ask Anneliese Steen. The executive at the New Mexico Educators Federal Credit Union started making jewelry when her doctor suggested she needed to find a hobby to reduce stress. A few pretty beads quickly turned into a house full of turquoise.

Before she knew it, Steen was selling her wares on Etsy, an online marketplace for handmade items. "Etsy's been phenomenal," she says. "It allows you to turn your pastime into something that isn't a money pit."

Etsy explosion

At Etsy, sellers have profile pages where buyers see their work. Like eBay, the site earns a portion of proceeds.

Touring Etsy's handmade designs can be overwhelming or exhilarating, depending on your tolerance for Web browsing. There are more than 500 Etsy sellers in the Albuquerque area and 1,250 in New Mexico, according to Etsy spokesman Adam Brown.

So far in 2008, more than 3.3 million items have been sold on the site, harnessing the growing market of handmade, do-it-yourself accessories, clothes and home dcor.

The Etsy world is young, educated and employed. About 96 percent of buyers and sellers are women. The average age of sellers is about 35. Most are college graduates who consider themselves parttime artisans.

Albuquerque jewelry designer Alison Armstrong, 34, who creates bright baubles with names like "Celebrity Meltdown" and "Swooning in the Cha-Cha Lounge," says Etsy has changed the market locally and worldwide.

"I don't know of a crafter who hasn't opened up an Etsy shop, and quite a few artists operate only an Etsy shop and don't have a 'traditional' Web site," she writes in an e-mail.

But Etsy's popularity can make it difficult for jewelry sellers to stand out, Armstrong says. Others say many inexperienced sellers price their wares so low it is difficult for other artists who make a living off their work.


Spring Griffin, 33, a freelance writer and mixedmedia artist, is doing her part to kick the local craft scene into high gear.

Etsy: eBay for arts and crafts -

Etsy, the website which provides an online marketplace for artists and crafters to sell their handmade goods, has proved hugely popular since launching three years ago. It now boasts more than 1.3 million members and has even been touted as a potential successor to eBay.

But in an interview with the Guardian's Tech Weekly podcast, chief executive Maria Thomas said the company needs to focus on a number of challenges before it can reach its potential.

Among the problems she highlighted was fraud, which has been a growing concern for the site's buyers and sellers. In recent weeks there have been a number of accusations that unscrupulous vendors are passing off other people's handmade work as their own – an allegation that the site's community of artisans and crafters take very seriously.

"It's an important question and one that Etsy going to have to get smarter on," Thomas said. "We're still a relatively small enterprise – certainly compared to eBay – but that doesn't make the question less important."

Fraud has become a major issue the web's leading marketplace site, eBay, but Thomas – a former executive at Amazon and US radio broadcaster NPR – said that it was something that Etsy needed to understand properly before it became a far bigger problem.

"We have to learn from eBay and Amazon about planning for the long term. We're going to be investing and learning around the issue of fraud. Etsy will, as a venue, do the best we possibly can to prevent those things from happening."

Based in Brooklyn, New York, Etsy started in 2005 as the brainchild of college dropout Rob Kalin and friends. Early backing came from angel investors and the Manhattan-based Union Square Ventures, but earlier this year the company took part in a $27m funding round led by Accel Partners. Thomas joined shortly afterwards as chief operating officer and soon replaced Kalin as CEO.

She said that the company would continue bringing in new staff to boost its team, which also includes chief technology officer Chad Dickerson – a former Yahoo executive who spent three years working in the company's advanced products division.

"We need some people who have experience working with consumer-facing internet sites and building to scale," Thomas said. "Chad is among the first of what will probably be several hires."

Etsy makes money by charging for listings and taking a small commission on every sale. Its members have bought and sold $56m of goods so far this year.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Old fashion and new function live side by side at the secondhand store -

By Jean Greeson and Richard Fast
He Said, She Said

Dear Jean and Richard: These days, every time I visit an antique store, I see things I actually remember buying new. Am I really getting that old or is time speeding up? — Darlene, Atlanta
Richard: Hi, Darlene. It's a safe bet your age has little to do with it. My dog Izzy can remember some of the things I see in antique malls. The fact is, antique stores themselves have become somewhat antiquated, thanks to the Internet and inexpensive imports. In many cases, the more valuable items are auctioned on eBay to ensure the highest profit. Left over are usually more commonplace things or items too large to easily ship.

Jean: You have a point, but nothing a tall hat won't cover. There's more to shopping for antiques than finding “valuable” items. For me, nostalgia and whimsy appeal to my sense of adventure. I look for certain children's books and unusual carvings. My husband recently searched for a wooden ladder — not worth much on the market but hard to find new. When you discover a gem among all the rocks, it's exciting. In a real sense, antiquing is modern-day treasure hunting.
Richard: OK, what you're describing is more like Dumpster diving than serious shopping. Or rummaging through someone's attic to see what they can't quite bear to throw away. I maintain that a great many antique stores are really just secondhand stores, and even more supplement their inventory with new, often imported reproductions.
Jean: You'll have to admit we find some nice pieces of furniture in antique stores.
Richard: Yes, and those are the items too bulky to ship.
Jean: Yet we buy them for our clients and ship them ourselves. I admit there are some junk stores that use the term “antique” a little too casually. But it really depends on what you're looking for. I recently bought some Smurf glasses to give my adult children for Christmas because they loved the Smurfs when they were kids.
Richard: Wow, Christmas is really going to be special at your house. Imagine, antique Smurfs! I think the trick is to be discriminating about your antiques source. If you're looking for Smurf glasses, roadside malls — or even flea markets — might be just the ticket. If you're looking for furniture, I would check the higher-rent district, usually in a downtown area. With the Internet, even a novice dealer knows what a piece is worth. Don't expect any steals.
Jean: Darlene, when you're considering vintage furniture, I would encourage you to think about alternate uses, especially if their original functions may no longer be needed. Corner telephone tables are long obsolete but could be used as laptop stations. Sewing cabinets, iceboxes, early record players, pie safes and steamer trunks can find new life as storage for all sorts of household items.
Richard: Yes, but be sure to consider these items “novel” and work them into your décor primarily for interest. Upscale antique dealers rarely hold iceboxes in the same regard as a French Regency étagère.
Jean: Maybe, but either one could store my set of Smurf glasses. I'm giving you a Grumpy Smurf glass this year.

These are the opinions of nationally recognized interior designers Jean Greeson and Richard Fast, with offices in Asheville, Fort Lauderdale and Kansas City. Contact them with your question by visiting

Feature Sidebar | Treasure Hunt: A subculture of busy “pickers” fuels the Utah antiques trade -

By Stephen Dark
Posted 10/09/2008

A little before 10 a.m. in late August outside the Deseret Industries thrift store on 700 South in downtown Salt Lake City, eight men wait for the doors to open

Two women with children who’ve come to look for kids’ clothes marvel at the crowd. “Who knew the DI was so popular?” one of them says.

But the men, who range in age from their mid-20s to late-50s, are following a time-honored tradition that each morning is repeated at several other thrift stores across the city. They are pickers – men and women who sell undervalued objects they find at yard sales and thrift stores, on eBay or to antique dealers -- and they are on their daily treasure hunt. You can almost feel the rising sense of expectation, of adrenalin, as DI staff members move toward the front doors.

The store manager unlocks the doors and the men rush along the aisles. At the head of the line, a young man with a backpack and an older man power-walk with jutted-out elbows in a race to get to the book carts first.

Two men go to a locked glass cabinet and toss a coin as to who gets the pick of bags of wrapped jewelry. Both are seeking copper and silver to sell, they say.

DI store employees chat with the pickers as they descend on the book carts in search of LDS books to complete collections. One bookseller has an electronic scanner he uses to check which books are in Amazon’s top 10 million. No. 1 says the online store sells 3,000 a day. The 10 millionth on the list moves once every five years. Many of the books on the carts go into the picker’s trolley and after being purchased for a couple of dollars apiece will go to a used bookstore’s warehouse.

Despite such a civilized approach, the pickers seem leery of publicity. One says to a City Weekly reporter, “They don’t want this advertised. It’s so competitive already. They won’t talk to you.”

Several pickers and books sellers at the downtown store and at other DI locations in the valley, after asking for anonymity, agreed to answer questions.

Each location it seems has been staked out by different pickers. In turn each store, depending on the management, takes a different approach to managing the group, pickers say. While the pickers’ conduct at the downtown store is civilized to the point of nonchalant, the Sugar House DI has a reputation for being brutal. Pickers allegedly yank armfuls of books off of carts and throw them into trolleys to check through in corners of the store. On the day a City Weekly reporter went to check this out, however, the eviscerating of the carts was done calmly enough.

“It’s a big gamble,” says one picker, who’s been doing this for eight years. “You never know if you’ll find anything.” And it’s not just books. Pickers specialize in anything from rare clothing to haute couture sunglasses and everything in between.

Some pickers are well known for, as one bookseller puts it, “trying to get everything for nothing. They make it hard for the rest of us.” Several pickers City Weekly talked to expressed concern that possible state legislation to regulate the Utah antiques industry like the pawnshop business would effectively kill it off. Antique dealers, they say, couldn’t afford the costs of compliance. They point to Reno, Nevada. After antiques’ businesses were regulated there, according to a recent article in an antique trade publication, not only did they all close down, but antique shows – the lifeblood of the industry – stopped going there.

Regulation isn’t the only threat to the antiques trade. Thanks to the electronic scanner and eBay, pickers enjoy greater commercial freedom than they did a few years ago. Now they can sell what they find on the Internet instead of going to antique dealers. Some dealers, though, still rely on pickers to be their eyes and ears in the market. A few minutes after the Sugar House DI store opened one day in early September, a picker was on his cell phone to a dealer asking if he wanted a complete set of Mormon texts in a locked cabinet.

Pickers hold dear the apocryphal tales of some of their kind discovering a $5 painting at a yard sale and selling it for $10,000, putting a new record on the artist’s work. But at times, it seems, the entire pursuit of treasure amidst so much discarded junk can get depressing. One picker remarked to his colleagues, “Sometimes it feels like we’re all in a mentally handicapped Easter egg hunt.”

But a bookseller says it’s the addiction of the hunt that keeps them all going. Which is why his heart races “when five other people are all looking for something and you grab it first.”

Antiques business owners react, adjust to economic climate -


Seven years ago, a normal week meant 300 or 400 customers would stop by Colonial Antique Mall in Woodstock, one of seven antiques shops in town.

But now, Lee Muto's antiques mall is the only one of its kind in Woodstock, and the average number of weekly customers is down to 100 or 150.

Across McHenry County, antiques business owners are watching shops close, sales drop and foot traffic decline. Although they agree that it's been a tough decade for the antiques market nationwide, there's debate over how much of the shift is because of the tumultuous economy or to a change in consumer tastes.

Many store owners attribute the shifts in the market to the rise of big-box stores such as Ikea, Target or Wal-Mart.

"People are wanting cheap and fast," Muto said. "If it fits in the corner and it works for them, they buy it. They're not interested in buying for the value."

Muto has been in the business for 35 years. She said the young adult generation, more than any other, turns to retail stores for furniture because they think it saves them money. But these young consumers might not be getting the deal they think, she said.

"That's a misconception, because antiques are usually less money than your Target and your cheap stuff," Muto said. "And [antiques] are made of real wood; they [will be] here forever."

The average all-wood dresser ranges from $195 to $250 at Colonial, Muto said, and there are dressers priced as low as $75 and as high as $900. According to the Ikea Web site, a chest of drawers not necessarily made of all wood can cost anywhere from $30 to $400.

But not all shoppers are opting for the retail furniture.

"Ikea is cool because it's throwaway furniture, ... but people are getting sick of the quality," said Lisa Santiago, sales manager at the Volo Antique Malls on Old Volo Village Road.

She said shoppers were opting for higher-quality pieces, and Hoosier cabinets had been particularly popular at the Volo malls in recent weeks. At the Volo malls, the price of these kitchen cabinets ranges from $495 to $525, Santiago said.

Hutch-style kitchen cabinetry from Target ranges between $200 and $549, according to the Target Web site.

Santiago declined to provide sales figures, but said sales took a dip after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. She said sales now were rising at the mall but hadn't bounced back to what they were before the terrorist attacks. However, from her perspective, customers haven't ruled out buying antique furniture or other home items.

"They find a way to afford it," she said. "They work hard to buy the piece."

Shoppers also are becoming increasingly more wary of how much they spend. It's not uncommon for customers to visit the store several times before making a purchase, or come back with a friend or spouse.

"They'll go home, think it over and come back," said Pat Miller, owner of Solid Brass Fine Antiques in Richmond. "People are very careful about how they spend their money."

Once customers nail down an item they'd like to buy, they're more prone to haggle down the price than they were in the past.

At most antiques shops, items are priced by dealers before they are placed on display and available for purchase. However, Santiago said, many customers are ignoring the tags and naming their own prices – requiring shop owners and dealers to accommodate this new trend.

"We do leave that door open," Santiago said. "We go out of our way to try and help the dealer."

Beyond negotiating prices, antiques business owners are paying special attention to the presentation of their items and their niche in the antiques market.

Miller's store in Richmond specializes in high-end antiques, such as military equipment, tools and clocks. Unlike other shops, many of Miller's items are geared toward men.

Miller's shop is one of eight remaining antiques hubs in Richmond. Ten years ago, there were 15 antiques shops in Richmond, and in 1972, Richmond was home to 40 antiques shops.

At the Volo antiques malls, dealers are encouraged to group like items together or create a scene, or vignette.

"If it's thrown together, ... they're not going to do well," Santiago said.

In spite of the challenging economy, antiques business owners are optimistic about the future of their market and convinced that business will re-ignite when the economy thrives again.

"As long as people have a business mind, they're going to be fine," Santiago said. "Everything that happens with the economy happens in antiques."

Tips for preserving antiques

• For furniture, leave the finish alone, even if it's stained.

• For books, don't oil leather book covers.

• For silver, avoid high-octane metal polishes.

• For brass, polish items regularly.

• For garden antiques, bring them indoors during winter or cover them to keep water from freezing over them.

Source: Antiques Roadshow Web site,

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Etsy Bloggers Street Team : Blog Carnival : Get Ready for the Holidays : Recipe!

I absolutely love baking and usually have something yummy and delicious around for a snack! I also have dreams of owning my own cupcake store. But cookies are deliciously too, so I thought I'd share my secret family recipe for chocolate chip cookies for this weeks Blog Carnival: Aunt Mary's Chocolate Chip Cookie Recipe!

Aunt Mary's World Famous Chocolate Chip Cookies:

Mix wet ingredients together:

1 cup shortening
1 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup white sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla

Beat & add 2 Eggs

Sift dry ingredients together then Add to Wet Mix above:

2 cups floor
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt

Add as many chocolate chips to mix as desired!

Bake on ungreased cookie sheet @ 350 degrees for 10 - 12 minutes

I generally mix the wet ingredients together with a hand mixer, then sift together the dry ingredients, stir dry mix into the wet ingredients, then blend with a mixer again. If you bake the cookies around 10 minutes and take them out they'll be soft and chewy, if leaving them in for the full 12 minutes they will turn out crisp and crunchy!

(Tip: If you don't have one of those ice cream scoops, you should really get one - I think my Moms stole the idea from Martha but its super handy for cookie dough, cupcake batter!, and all sorts of things other than ice cream!)

Monday, October 13, 2008

Fun & Easy Tote Bag Project over @ Hollabee Blog :

I thought this was a really great tote bag tutorial and easy as pie - published by - Hollabee also has a great shop over at etsy and some really fantastic fabric I hope to snatch in the near future!

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Killer Etsy Finds: Junk Prints :

This lovely lady's work needs no introduction on Etsy - Chanel's Junk Prints can be frequently found in the front page Treasury. Chanel, an independent fashion designer and artist from Brooklyn, NY, is the mastermind behind Junk Prints - her line features a stylish and ecceltic blend of modern apparel, vintage imagery, and the digital arts, including an awesome variety of dresses, jackets, skirts, t-shirts, bags, hoodies, & more. Her bold and inspired designs will take you fashionably through the concrete jungle in killer style. Chanel was kind enough to take the time to interview with me and allowed me to feature her excellent works here at Lova Revolutionary! Get the scoop below:

Chanel, you have an awesome storefront at Etsy called Junk Prints where you sell your original fashion designs collaged with your incredible graphic designs and photo illustrations - What made you inspired to blend the two mediums and could you describe a little about your creative process?

In the beginning (of junkprints being a clothing line). The garments and accessories served as a catalyst for my art work. Pretty much like making my own forum to showcase my work. Through the process of creating garments and bags I've come to appreciate the textures lines and various characteristics of the medium. I'm a savager and duplicator who is super fascinated with propaganda and how we as people relate to our social environments. I start off by hoarding stuff (anything from vintage fabric packaging, news paper clippings, magazines, zippers etc.) in categories, do some research and then remix the topic. Sometimes the best execution is through photography or collage or Illustration or a combination of all three, For me they all serve as visual tools. I can't do any of them for too long without feeling like I'm gonna pull my hair out.

Your work is modern, original, urban, & colorful; the definition of what I might expect to see people wearing in a cityscape - Are you a Brooklyn native? and What do you love most about city life?

I'm actually a BK transplant. I've been living in Brooklyn for about 3 years. Before BK I lived in Toronto and had the opportunity to study Photography and Graphic Arts at Ontario Collage of Art & Design and Ryerson University. Before TO, I was in Denver, CO and I spent most of my 'formative' years in Pomona, California. I love large cities. They are vibrant and seem to attract very loud personality types. What I love most about cities in North America is the social make up. I don't personally consider myself to be a minority and living in Brooklyn seems to support that notion. I guess cities are my comfort zone.

I've read on your storefront that your Mother named you after the famous designer Coco Chanel - Do you have any favorite designers or artists, famous or not?

I'm inspired by so many designers/artists past and present and find that my inspirations and admiration are just as juxtaposed as my own work. My mom is such a fashionista but my faves tend to be on the design and photography side. The following creators are def in my top 25 (at least for today) Hannah Hoch, El Lizzitsky (the king propaganda), Eduardo Recife, Mr Cartoon (love his tat and car work), Jeff Staple (Staple design is my Saatchi and Saatchi), Ben Watts, Malick Sidibe, Jamel Shabazz, Pieter Hugo

How did you get started sewing and how long have you been creating your own designs?

I found this sewing machine in the trash, had my special man friend bike it home for me and started sewing my booty off. Well that's the short story. After the sewing machine made it home it collected dust for a few months. Then I fixed it and it collected dust for a few more months. About 2 years ago I taught myself how to sew. It's kinda ironic that I taught myself to sew because, my mom use to design clothing, but I was convinced that I was going to make cartoons so I never wanted to learn. The thought of cutting out a gazillion pattern pieces before even hitting the machine was not of interest to me, I guess I just needed more instant gratification as an 8 year old. Maybe I was just honing my design skills at the time and sewing was destined to come later.

I know you specialize it digital arts and designing, aside from sewing, are their any traditional artistic mediums that you enjoy?

I draw alot and that's where all these ideas start some just begin to take various forms and move away from line art.

Much of your work functions as social commentary as well, which I don't feel we're getting enough of in these difficult times, Are there any particular issues that are important to you and how do you feel about the current state of affairs in the US?

Generally I think that we have more options than we exercise. I don't believe in settling. Cooperation (in the real definition of the word) and working together for a cause is one thing, but just accepting foolishness is absurd to me. That's not the behavior of a thoughtful educated nation. I try and create work that's relevant, and inspires me and the viewers to do better in the way that we relate to one another and our environment. The US is all fucked up, but this isn't new. We're just experiencing the repercussions of band aids for issues that needed resolutions. I think our nation's issues need a lot more than social commentary. I'm just expressing what's on my mind.

Your work features some vintage style designs and retro imagery - are their any fashion eras or time periods in history that you interest you the most?

Idealism and the notion of perfection fasinates me. The 50's and early 60's epitomizes these notions and the ironic part is that I just don't fit those ideals so when dressing the part it's like a twilight zone version of history.

Do you have any new and exciting projects or designs in the works?


Please tell me 3 more interesting facts about yourself!

1. I'm half Belizean
2. I wish I had come up with Hello Kitty and Pantone Color guides
3. I've never broke a bone in my body (except for a chipped tooth) Does that count?

Find Junk Prints on the Web:

Junk Prints Official Website
Junk Prints @ Etsy
Dooky Blog
Junk Prints on Flickr

All images courtesy of Junk Prints.