Karen Meyers founder of her namesake shop KarenMeyers has been an Etsy shop owner since 2008. This veteran shop owner has over 1,890 admirers with 294 sales. It’s refreshing to see a shop owner who not only has been an Etsy member for such a long time, but who also offers some pretty awesome items – which her shoppers seem to think are pretty awesome as well because they have given her shop a 5 star rating – not always an easy feat. Today, I would like to introduce you all (or in some cases re-introduce you) to Karen and give you all the opportunity to learn more about Karen’s story and her business. So I asked Karen if she could share her story with us.
Can you share with us a little about your personal story?
I’m a sewaholic wife and Mom of 2 boys and have always loved fabric, buttons and yarn. I’ve experimented with all the needle arts at some point or another in my life and racked up a degree in Fabric Design along the way. I’ve always sewn, knitted, crocheted and played around with embroidery for fun but when my oldest son was born I started sewing in earnest as a way to earn some money and stay home with him when he was a baby. After 17 years of working for others, I took the plunge in 2006 and started my own line of accessories from the many fabrics and thrift store sweaters I had been collecting for years. The time was right and I love running my own business!
My husband, youngest son and I just re-located from Atlanta to the charming town of Bury St. Edmunds in England so right now I’m pretty busy assimilating to my new surroundings and figuring out where all the great thrift shops, I mean “charity shops” are located. So far we love it here and have taken to calling everything “lovely” and putting our “rubbish” in the “rubbish bins” and walking, walking, walking everywhere! We love walking to town to do our shopping and errands and to have a pint at the pub after work. We are currently trying to decide on our favorite pub in town and anticipate this will take years of detailed research!
What is your craft? and products do you offer in your shop? What are your most popular products?
I offer a Spring and a Fall line of accessories and they are quite different. The products in my Fall line are all crafted from recycled wool sweaters and Spring is all about recycled denim and vintage fabrics. My most popular items for Fall have been the patchwork bags and the small triangle pouches. In Spring the convertible clutch from vintage fabrics has been popular.
What were you doing before you started your Etsy shop?
Before I started my Etsy shop I was working for a designer in Atlanta. It was a small cottage industry and since my boss couldn’t even sew on a button if she had to, I was in charge of any and all things regarding the production of the clothing from pattern making to cutting, fitting and finishing the garments. It was a great job and I learned a lot but ultimately got really burnt out on dress making and happily chose to make accessories as my next endeavor.
How did you get stated in your chosen craft and what do you enjoy most about it?
I got started in my chosen craft way back in 6th grade when I would take my hand made felt chokers to school and sell them to my friends. My 25¢ allowance would buy 3 pieces of felt which I would embroider with smiley faces and peace signs (it was the 70‘s after all) and sell for 50¢ each. I usually spent my profits on more felt and fabric, so things haven’t really changed that much since then!
Where do you get your inspiration for your products?
My inspiration has always come from the fabric itself. I love working with recycled materials because the challenge of being a bit limited by the materials keeps the work fresh and new.
What makes Your Business Green?
Being self employed is inherently green since I have no commute. Using recycled materials is another main way my business is green and I am always conscious about how much energy I use to clean the garments I buy second hand. In the UK it is much easier to be green, and I really appreciate this aspect of living in Europe. I walk and bike everywhere now that I don’t have a car, including to the Post Office to post my packages.
In one word, describe your creative process.
Where do you craft your products?
One of the things I miss the most from my previous life in the US was my huge sewing room. We live in a much smaller space here in the UK and I presently share my sewing room with the living room and my cutting table is in the spare bedroom. While it isn’t ideal, it is OK for now and I hope to rent a studio space soon.
What advice do you have for Etsy shop owners who are interested in greening (making eco-friendly) their business?
As a small business owner you have control of almost every aspect of your business, so this makes it easy to run an eco friendly business. Be very conscious of the raw materials you purchase to craft your product and use recycled materials for shipping. I think it is important be an inspiration to your customers by sharing your thoughts on how being green is good for the planet and therefore good for everyone!
What is your biggest challenge running an eco-friendly business?
The biggest challenge is competing with other companies who are able to sell their items more cheaply in a non green marketplace, but fortunately there are still lots of customers who are willing to pay a little more for a handmade and eco friendly item.
Where else can we find you?
Vintage Etsy shop: www.karenmeyersvintage.etsy.com