Thanks to the internet, the world is a much smaller place. It is now possible to communicate with people all over the world with a click of a button. In the art world, the internet has transformed the way buyers and sellers interact. In the past, artists needed a gallery or art show to display their work, but that is no longer the case. Art can now be displayed quickly and easily through online platforms, including Etsy, a global marketplace that has exploded since its inception in 2005.
Locally, several artists have embraced Etsy and all it has to offer. Their work ranges from jewelry and pottery to ceramics and wood signs. Although they all have Etsy in common, their stories are as unique as their products. Take a look.
Unique Monique Jewelry – Monica Stich:
A retired accountant, Monica began making elastic bracelets with her small grandchildren. A few years ago, she began making wire bracelets and necklaces with toggle clasps. “I like using them so people can put them on easily,” she said. Monica also began using semi-precious stones in her work. Each stone is unique, which makes each item inimitable. “That’s my trademark,” she said. “I never use the same pattern or mixture.”
For Monica, the freedom to create and incorporate beautiful beads and stones into a one-of-a-kind piece of jewelry is at the heart of her creative process. Although she has only been on Etsy for a few months, she has already seen results. “There is so much exposure. I reach tons more people than I could have without it,” she said. “Someone from another country marked my shop as one of their favorites. That is flattering.”
Monica takes custom orders and is currently running a special for customers who mark her shop as a favorite. Customers will get a coupon for a discount on their first order. “You will get a beautiful piece of jewelry that would make a great Christmas present,” she said.
Unique Monique Jewelry can be found on Etsy at Unique Monique Jewelry.
Poppy and Pippa – Laura Lempe:
Although Laura works full-time as the Director at Elim Children’s Center, she still finds the time to run Poppy and Pippa on the side. She has always felt a passion to embrace her creativity, but doesn’t consider herself an artist. “I feel I’m more of a maker,” she said. “I always knew I wanted to be a maker of some kind.”
Poppy and Pippa features various types of accessories, including hair accessories, key fobs, pouches, totes, pendant necklaces, and name badge reels. Despite the variety, Laura has a favorite. “For me, choosing fabrics is the best part,” she said. “I love mixing prints and colors to create custom totes.”
Laura has been on Etsy for 5 ½ years. “I’d been an Etsy addict for a while and knew I wanted to open my own shop,” she said. “Little did I know then that my shop would be a success.” Laura’s side project quickly became much more than a hobby. “It’s become a passion that I’m very proud of.” For Laura, Etsy’s reputation is something that she enjoys the most about the platform. “It’s a well-known place for people who want something unique and often handmade,” she explained. “Etsy has definitely brought handmade into the mainstream.”
In addition to its Etsy site at Poppy and Pippa, you can find Laura’s creations at Unglued in Fargo and Kittsona in Sioux falls.
Fargo Made Crafts – Andrea Grefsrud:
Like most artists on Etsy, Andrea has always had a flair for the creative. “I love that it’s an escape from reality for a little bit and a huge stress reliever,” she said.” When I get home at night I can put the day behind me, escape the real world for a little bit, and create what I had thought up earlier.”
Andrea’s creative passion can be seen in the wide variety of pieces available at her site. “I have a little bit of everything, from wood signs to coffee mugs to charger plates to key chains,” she explained. “There’s just so much out there that you can do and I want to try it all.” Currently, however, Andrea is focusing on wood signs. “I have a lot of fun creating those and have so many that I want to make.”
Andrea is a newcomer to Etsy, having just recently joined the marketplace. “Everyone kept telling me that I should start selling the things I make and I decided to go for it and see what happens,” she said. “I really like that you can reach a much larger audience than if you were to just sell locally.”
The next time you are looking for a truly unique piece, check out Fargo Made Crafts. “My work is truly me,” she said. “I have little parts of my personality in everything I make.” To view Andrea’s designs, visit Fargo Made Crafts or the store’s Facebook page.
Ashley Beth Pottery – Ashley Nordberg
Ashley Nordberg comes from a long line of artists. “I grew up in a small town with a lot of extended family nearby, and we just had so many makers – quilters, woodworkers, jewelry makers, and crafters,” she said. “Most people I was around worked with their hands either professionally or were makers in their free time.”
Ashley turned her passion into a career after receiving a Bachelor of Arts degree in Ceramics from MSUM in 2012. In 2015, Ashley “took the plunge” and left her full-time job to pursue a career as an artist. “It’s been quite an adventure,” she said. “I’ve been building my work, trying out shows, and trying to get the hang of being a working artist.” She also recently went back to school to complete here K-12 teaching licensure for Art Education.
Ashley describes her work as “modern functional ceramics, inspired by vintage/feminine.” Specifically, she is trying to incorporate some of the patterns and imagery commonly associated with function ceramics in the past, which were specifically designed to appeal to women and children. “I’m not looking to make ‘cute’ pieces,” she explained. “I want people to have meaningful work in their homes, and for some of us that means pieces that are lovely and reflective and a bit nostalgic.”
Ashley Beth Pottery has been a part of Etsy since 2013, although Ashley didn’t begin really utilizing the site until 2015. “Personally, I feel Etsy has given beginning and more introverted artists a real stepping stone. It can be really scary to take the plunge into becoming a full-time maker,” she said. “It (Etsy) gives you a pseudo-anonymous platform to feel it out on and build confidence on. It’s also very quick & easy to use as an artist, you don’t need a lot of time, or have a heavy graphic design or computer background to create a visually pleasing and accessible online sales platform.”
Ashely’s work can currently be seen at Make Room in Fargo. Online, Ashley Beth Pottery is available at on Etsy Ashley Beth Pottery and via Instagram.
Grain Designs Fargo – Blain Mikkonen:
Blain and his partner Grant started Grain Designs Fargo after graduating from the NDSU architecture program, where they “developed a passion for art and design and began working on our wood craft,” Blain explained. “Upon graduation, we decided to start a business that was an expression of our craft, a creative outlet.” Grain Designs Fargo has expanded to include a team of four full-time craftsmen (including Blain and Grant) that design furniture, home décor, art, and original photography.
Most of Grain Designs Fargo’s pieces are crafted from reclaimed wood and many incorporate metal as well. “Each piece has its own history and unique story to tell,” Blain said. “Many pieces such as our steel/wood wall art and wine racks use a composition of reclaimed wood complimented by steel to create functional art.”
Grain Designs has been on Etsy since the company started in 2013. “I think Etsy has created a platform for artists to reach a volume of potential clients that we could not have reached without an astronomical marketing budget,” Blain explained. “I think the power of Etsy has also inspired a new generation of artists to realize that they can use their creative abilities to provide a supplemental income, or in some cases, even start an entire business.”
Grain Designs has a local showroom to meet with clients for custom products, has a holiday pop-up store, and has an online marketplace at www.graindesigns.com. Their Etsy store can be viewed at Grain Designs Fargo.
By Jamee Larson