Gloria Mercado-Martin of Lolailo on has been an Etsy shop owner since 2010. She operates a 5-star rated shop with over 100 sales and more than 500 admirers, Gloria’s business has a solid footing on Etsy. Today, I’d like give you the opportunity to learn more about Gloria, her business and her personal story.
Can you share with us a little about your personal story?
I grew up in Spain, cradle to many, many artists and craftspeople. My mom is one of them! As kids we were constantly painting, modeling, sewing… My mom and her friends, as pretty much all women of her generation, had very craft-oriented hobbies, and that made me very curious. This curiosity remains till this day!
I live in the Napa area, married to a fellow winemaker. I loved college and spent many years being a student. I have a Masters degree in Food Science, with an emphasis in Enology. One day, when I am retired, I would love to go back to school to formally study art.
In my spare time I craft, read, and learn!
What is your craft? and products do you offer in your shop? What are your most popular products?
I make primarily cork boards, and most recently jewelry organizers. I take wood scraps from a place that makes wooden wine boxes, paint and decorate them, and put some hooks to hang necklaces and earrings. As a girly girl, I have my fair share of jewelry, and as a neat-freak, it was almost inevitable I would end up creating something along these lines! The cork boards have always been popular, but the jewelry organizers have been a surprising hit.
What were you doing before you started Lolailo?
I was working as a winemaker at the time, but unfortunately, due to the financial meltdown, I lost my job. Although becoming unemployed was not fun, it gave me the chance to start crafting in earnest again. We all need to have a creative outlet, somehow, somewhere. I am back working full-time, and my job is pretty stressful. I am responsible for the making of 33 different wines across 16 brands, and doing what I do with the corks helps me relax tremendously.
How did you get started in your chosen craft and what do you enjoy most about it?
I have been making cork boards since college. I was fascinated by the typography and design that each winery used in their corks. I was dismayed at these very interesting and diverse corks ending up in the garbage after a tasting, so I started hoarding them. I investigated what to do with them, and of all the many crafts you can use corks for, the bulletin board was my favorite. I am a pragmatic person, so I like things that have a function. I go to thrift stores and garage sales and look for frames suited to become cork boards.
Where do you get your inspiration for your products?
I get a lot of inspiration from the frames themselves. There is nothing standard about creating something out of a “found object”, so when I’m ready to tackle a new project, I just throw some corks into the frame and start playing with them, forming a design, changing it, and eventually I come up with a plan. I paint and embellish the frames. I do the same thing with the jewelry organizers. I choose a color palette, and then play with the silk flowers that are part of the project.
What makes Lolailo green?
The corks are all used, the frames I use are thrift store or yard sale finds, the jewelry organizers are made from wood scraps… I even use recycled packaging when I mail my orders!
In one word, describe your creative process.
My dream is to have a studio one day, but in the meantime, I do a lot in my kitchen. This is a view of what I have been working on today!
What advice do you have for Etsy shop owners who are interested in greening (making eco-friendly) their business?
Thrift stores are like the proverbial candy stores for me. Any craftster is bound to find plenty of materials, whether it be fabric, jewelry, etc. I would suggest that before going to a big box store to buy something, you check out the second hand and thrift shops in your area, because they are always a great place for resources and inspiration.
What is your biggest challenge running an eco-friendly business?
Although consciousness is growing, there is still a general lack of knowledge about the importance of protecting our environment. I fear that the concepts of “recycled” or “repurposed” don’t carry weight for many of those that come to my shop. How do you educate a potential customer in 10 seconds?
Where else can we find you?
My blog is a bit abandoned these days, but I make an occasional appearance! http://lolailosadventures.blogspot.com/