Fall has arrive and Halloween is around the bend. We are back with another Friday Feature. This week we are featuring the youngest member of our team.Latitude Design Studio is owned by 14 year old Mahika. She started her Etsy shop (and selling handmade jewelry locally) last year. She has been active in community service initiatives from an early age. At 8 years old,she made canvas paintings of pets with her friends to raise money for the Humane Society. Latitude Design Studio branched from a smaller idea to donate money to charity, into a combination of style, culture, and giving. When she is not creating, you can find her singing, songwriting, writing opinion pieces on human rights issues, or cooking up a healthy meal.
SFtsy: How did you learn your craft? :
Mihika: Because I am naturally creatively inclined, I taught myself how to design and create jewelry. As I brainstormed and created more pieces before LDS was launched, they began to increase in complexity and style.
SFtsy: Tell us about your creative process, where do you begin and how does it evolve?:
Mahika: Usually I will have a burst of inspiration for a piece and will quickly write it down or sketch it out to be pursued at a more convenient time. I'll then display my ideas to my family and friends to see what the response would be from a buyer. What I've learned as an Etsy seller is that, while it's important to stay true to yourself and your style, it's also important to get feedback from others, because in the end, it's the buyer, not you, who's determining if your product sells.
SFtsy: Where else can we find out more about you and/or your creations?:
SFtsy: What inspires your creations?:
Mahika: My parents have always believed in the power of education through traveling. There is no greater way to learn about the world than through traversing through it. Each collection from my store is inspired by a different place. I currently have 4 collections - Pura Vida (Costa Rica), C'est la Vie (Paris), Islander (Hawaii), and Nirvana (India). Each collection has a different style profile, from beachy to boho and sophisticated to spunky. When I travel to a new place, I make sure to take in all the sights, scents, colors, etc. in order to find inspiration for my jewelry.
SFtsy: What's your work schedule / routine like?:
Mahika: Because I am passionate about so many things, it is often difficult to manage my time. Usually I will finish my academic work and then design, create, and/or photograph a product. Late night, when I allot myself some 'free time', I'll finish editing photographs, writing listing descriptions, and adding items to my shop.
SFtsy: Tell us about your work space - where do you create?:
Mahika: My creative space is more a mindset than a set location. I could be working in my 'studio', a storage room converted into a design space with my supplies, but I don't only design jewelry there. I love to go outside when I'm brainstorming or creating, and especially to take photos!
SFtsy: What tools do you use that are absolutely essential and makes a huge difference in your day to day process?:
Mahika: A notebook is helpful for writing down statistics (high/low performers), order details, to do lists, and ideas. I also love making collages of photographs for inspiration!
SFtsy: How did you get involved with Etsy?:
Mahika: I had always adored the natural beauty products, accessories, and jewelry on Etsy, so when I had the idea to sell handmade items for charity I immediately thought of opening a shop. I am so glad I did, because the experience of having an Etsy shop and the people I have met through it are absolutely amazing!
SFtsy: What is your biggest challenge related to your Etsy shop?
Mahika: My biggest challenge is not being able to grow as much as I'd like. Because this shop is more of a hobby than a full time career like many small business owners, I can only make small investments in my shop, for supplies and tools, that are reliant on sales. However, I am grateful to have been able to have made a difference - last year I was able to purchase a goat for a family with the proceeds from my shop.
SFtsy: What is your favorite item in your shop (currently for sale or previously sold)? Why is it your favorite? (optional):
Mahika: My favorite item is the Alyssa Necklace, which is a beachy glass bottle necklace containing golden sand and a tiny seashell! It's inspired by the stunning golden sand beaches of Hawaii. I love it because you can take a little bit of the beach with you, wherever you go! You can find it here:
SFtsy: What are your favorite tools or apps that help you with your business?:
Mahika: EtsyRank was recommended by a fellow SF Etsy member, and I love it! There are so many features that can really help improve your shop.
SFtsy: What does buying and selling local handmade mean to you? Or Why should people support small business and handmade?
Mahika: Our world is so commercialized nowadays that brand names hold more significance than beauty or quality! Handmade items have so many benefits over mass-manufactured items - they're often higher quality, made with better materials and attention to detail, much more unique and best of all, they're made with love!
SFtsy: As makers we all suffer from creative blocks - what do you do to unblock to let your creativity flow?:
Mahika: Visiting a new place, even if it's only a few miles away, is always a good idea. I take lots of pictures to remember the moment, and then grab a pad of paper and sketch out a bunch of ideas. What I mostly have trouble with is stopping and erasing a sketch or telling myself "Eh, I don't know if that will be so popular..". A writing teacher of mine never let us free write or brainstorm in pencil, only in pen, with no scratching things out. That's a good principle to apply with your art - never destroy new ideas when they're still in their beginning stages. Allow yourself time to sit on an idea and let it blossom!
SFtsy: What are you working on right now?
Mahika: Right now, I'm working on expanding my collections into other countries. Currently I have in mind a marine biodiversity collection for French Polynesia and some Sakura (cherry blossom) and silk pieces for Japan!
SFtsy: What does the future hold for your Etsy Shop and you personally as a maker or small business?:
Mahika: I hope to expand to even more collections, and maybe even do partnerships with other Etsy shops or bloggers! Additionally, I would love to connect with more members of the Etsy community and to learn from other makers with more experience, to continue to grow.
SFtsy: Give us some insight on how you personally, or your shop, gives back to your community.
Mahika: 10% of profits are donated to charities around the world. I have pinpointed local charities I believe in, in each location, that will be donated to. Causes include Family Services, Environmental Awareness, Clean Water Initiatives, and Disaster Relief. I firmly believe in the power of helping others, and I hope my shop will be an outlet for positive change!
SFtsy: Anything else you would like to add? :
Mahika: Send me an Etsy convo so we can connect! Use coupon code 'SFETSY' for 25% off your purchase!
You can find out more about Latitude Design Studio at:
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