Thursday, April 28, 2011

Featured Member Kimi and Stacy Sandberg of Grahtoestudio

Our next member interview features the talented husband and wife team Kimi and Stacy Sandberg of Grahtoestudio. Stacy and Kimi handcraft hair forks and other accessories from exotic wood. Their shop is a feast for the eyes offering very unique and high quality hair toys made of many different kinds of rare and exotic woods. Kimi is a founding member of The Treasury Tree and a former leader. If our team had a team mother Kimi would fit the title. She is a dear sweet person with a kind word for everyone and a larger heart than her home state of Utah. I have had the extreme honor of working with Kimi and Stacy on some collaborative projects and can attest to the incredible integrity of these fine crafts folk and the impeccable workmanship of their products.

We are all artisans, artists, crafters, sculptures, DIYers, but what does it take to go from a hobby to business?
WOW! big question! WE actually had dreamed of doing our art full time for years. After we both lost our jobs within months of each other in late 2008 and early 2009 I started our etsy shop up as soon as I could because I needed something to do and we needed income! We have always been artists and we had done several craft fairs here and there between working, so we had some product to list in our new shop. However we knew nothing about selling online. I got some help from fellow etsians, but it was a tough year. We had to learn photography, how to play nice online, how to join Twitter and Facebook and make a blog. Wow, I had been a dental assistant for 13 years and this was so foreign to me!! I still have so much computer stuff to learn. I was blessed to join Handmadeology University on a scholarship that year, and Timothy Adams is a great teacher!!! That first year, we had 109 sales, TOTAL. Shortly after that things started to take off. We began to get orders and focus more on what people wanted and off we went!

How do you do it? We designed our hair forks according to what we visually liked and what felt good in our hair! We are very influenced by Art Nouveau, and several artists that we love like M.C. Escher, Salvadore Dali. We love tribal designs and organic flowing lines. Kim actually went to school for art, and Stacy worked in cabinetry the last 20 years.

What are your inspirations?
Mostly nature, hair and each other! We see a color or shape, and it takes off in our imagination. We talk or draw it into existence, then make it! Some things work out great, other things flop and we hammer them or burn them in memoriam! Alot of times our inspirations come to us in dreams.

What is your greatest marketing genius? HA! I wish we had some of those! I haven't done that well at marketing us yet but but I do think that the best way to market is to find the group you are targeting and get in with them some how. We have paid for ads that did nothing for us, and we have had someone on one blog make a comment about our hair forks and get tons of traffic from it! So it is all about target audience for us. We have a very specific product mostly for long haired folks. We do have a few other items that are general. The key is getting the traffic to your shop and we have found that a few good reviews have helped way beyond some of the badly placed expensive ads. Another wonderful marketing tool is to make your packages/packing really special. That has gotten us so much positive feedback and referrals! People love to get a package that feels like a present! You are creating these wonderful items. Pack them as the gems and works of art that they are! By putting in just a little time you can find or make some wonderful packing materials! I know for me, a beautifully wrapped package will send me back to a shop, so that's why we do that too!

Tell us more about your products?We strive to make a hair fork or sticks that are for very long and thick hair. We aim to make heirloom quality pieces that will not break with hair stress, that are comfortable while looking stunning. I LOVE the early 1900's combs and hair decorations that were worn then, and that was a big influence in making our forks bold and big. We did not want them to be like many others we saw that are small, dainty and breakable! We also love to decorate our forks in a way that no other hair fork makers are doing, with custom inlays, decorations, and very detailed designs. Stacy is a genius with his hands and can even carve a chain in a toothpick!

On our blog we are doing a series on our studio and on Stacy's hands, they are very special hands..he lost 4 fingers on his left hand over 14 years ago!
WE absolutely LOVE what we are doing now, and being able to do this full time is a fabulous dream come true..and LOTS of hard work. There are no days off when you work for yourself. There are no punch out and leave it at the office days. It is always with us, and sometimes it is really stressful. But we love what we do, and we do what we love as the poster says! We occasionally grab a Netbook, and head for a KOA in a neighboring beautiful area. We live in the most beautiful state of Utah! We can drive to several national parks easily in a day, including the Grand Canyon. We love to camp and keep our travels simple, enjoying the journey and the destination. We try to do that in our lives as well! We hope that our love of creating is felt in every piece we send out.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Tree Challenge 4/24 - 4/28

It’s time for another Tree Team treasury challenge! The winner of the last challenge was Leah of lbcpaper (you can view her winning treasury here or read about it in last week’s post). Follow the rules and guidelines below to participate!

1) Use this item in your treasury. This item is from the Etsy shop lbcpaper. Your treasury can have any theme you like as long as it includes this item.

2) This item MUST be placed within the first three rows of your treasury.

3) In addition to the featured item you must include at least five Tree Team members within your treasury, placed wherever you like. Here’s a list of members. Tip: if you add the phrase “tttree” (3 Ts) to any of your Etsy searches it will show only Tree members matching your search criteria.

4) Tag your treasury with “treeteamchallenge” (all one word). We recommend you fill all of the remaining 17 tags with descriptive words pertaining to your treasury, as this will increase your treasury’s exposure.

5) Use the phrase “Tree Challenge” in your title (you can just stick it at the end in parentheses if you want).

6) You MUST post a link to your treasury as a comment on this blog post.

7) In the description section of your treasury you MUST include the URL for this blog post.


EXTRA (yet important) NOTES:

- You can make as many Tree Challenge treasuries as you want.

- You are not required to be a Tree member in order to participate in (or win) these challenges.

- Participants are allowed to win more than once.

- PLEASE make sure you don’t forget guidelines #4 and #5 listed above.

- If any of the seven guidelines above are forgotten your treasury could be disqualified from this challenge.


You have until Thursday, April 28th, to create your treasury (or treasuries). The winner will be announced on Sunday, May 1st.

If your treasury is chosen as the winner you will be notified as soon as possible. We’ll ask you to select one of the items from your shop to be featured in our next challenge. If you do not have an Etsy shop we’ll ask you to nominate a shop. We will also ask you to select the winning treasury for the challenge in which you (or your nominated shop) are featured.

Thanks for playing! Have fun!

Posted by Tera of creativityismessy. Please contact with any questions.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Featured Member Leah Copplestone of LBC Paper

We are starting a series featuring members of our team to give others a little peek into the lives of our talented artists and sellers. Our first featured member is Leah Copplestone of LBC Paper. Leah is one of the founding members of The Treasury Tree, a former leader and challenge coordinator and all around wonderful team member. Her shop is a treasury curator's dream; filled with color shape and texture and bursting with holiday themed goodness. Leah is also an amazing treasury curator herself and we are lucky to have her.

Leah would you be so kind as to tell us who you are, what you sell, what you are all about:

I am Leah, pronounced Lee-ah. Half the time people see my name written down and pronounce it “Lee” or “Lay-ah”, which is the #1 way to get on my bad side ‘cause I’m not a Star Wars princess (unfortunately) and “Lee” is…well, just not my name. Last name = Copplestone, kind of like those old streets from a wicked long time ago. I sell things made out of paper. My shop is mostly full of cards and stationery. One day I experimented with some paper ornaments and they kind of took off, so I have made many more and am now making them into magnets and pushpins. I like using recycled paper from old books and maps. I like making things that are useful and I like bright colors.

Who are your business inspirations?

Fred Astaire. And Bono.

What are your business inspirations?

I want to make enough money to fund a cure for cancer. ALL cancers.

Do you sell online full time? If not, what is your other business/job?

Ummm…no…well, now it’s time for a story: I’m 21. I’m supposed to be in college but instead I’m very sick. I was in school playing field hockey but developed a bad overuse injury. Due to the persisting condition and several unsuccessful surgeries I now have extreme and irreversible nerve damage throughout both legs, which is very very painful. This is called Complex Regional Pain Syndrome. I used to be able to run really fast (like, faster than a cheetah) but for the time being it is quite difficult for me to walk (which is why I’m not in school, ‘cause if you can’t handle walking to class you really should do something about it). When I’m better I’ll be starting at Boston Architectural College, where I will learn how to build you a house.

What is the biggest challenge when selling your work online?

Accurately portraying my work through photos.

Tell us about how you got your start selling your craft, either online or local? It started with the whole not-being-able-to-walk thing. I was desperate for a way to keep myself busy while being able to sit down. For months I had been making cards and sending them to all my friends at school so I just started making extras and putting them on Etsy.

Tell us why you do what you do (your particular craft; why make it a business vs just a hobby).

A business is able to keep me more distracted from the legs than a hobby ever could.

Are there any tips or tricks to selling online vs local that you can share?

Well, I don’t sell local but I have been asked by several out-of-town shops and boutiques to consign with them. I live in Virginia and the shops I’m consigning with right now are in Atlanta, Chicago and Boston. Because I can’t make regular visits to any of them I have made sure I am very comfortable with the agreements we have made. I have lots of documents and things-in-writing and signatures, and they have the same from me.

A few of my favorite Etsy shops: