SF Etsy Team Member , Brandi Chalker from Sunshine and Succulents, is a presenter this year at Craftcation 2017 and we couldn’t wait till Craftcation to hear more. Brandi is a busy maker! She creates succulent terrariums and teaches plant design. She recently launched an exciting new venture, TeamCraft, which offers team-building workshops for corporate clients, which include Facebook, Google, Instagram, and others. Before we head south to Craftcation this April, we caught up with this talented, creative mentor, and asked her some questions.
- Tell us about yourself, Sunshine and Succulents, and your work.
I founded Sunshine & Succulents in 2013 after leaving my partnership in Urban Bazaar, a gift shop that I co-owned for 2 1/2 years. While I was an owner at the shop, I started working more and more with succulents, and discovered that I had a passion for plant design and for teaching other people about succulents. It felt like a good time to transition away from retail and into the plant world, and I've been running the business ever since! The majority of my business is workshops: I teach public, private, and corporate plant design workshops, and really love getting other people excited about plants. It's so satisfying to run into a student months or years after they take my workshop, and to have them tell me that their plants are (much to their surprise) still thriving!
- We are excited about Craftcation and planning to attend your workshop.. Can you tell us more about what you will be presenting?
I'll be teaching two sessions of my popular Succulent Terrarium Workshop, and one session of a new Macrame Plant Hanger Workshop.
- What was your favorite experience from a previous Craftcation Conference?
I attended the first ever Craftcation, and still use some of the things I learned at that conference today in my business. My favorite part was the insane amount of inspiration I got from the conference as a whole. Being surrounded by other makers, hearing about other people's business struggles, learning fun new craft skills, and learning new strategies to implement in my business was so incredibly inspiring! I had been feeling overwhelmed and burnt out prior to the conference, but afterward I had a whole new level of excitement for my work.
- What is your favorite thing about teaching and other speaking engagements?
Seeing other people get excited about succulents is the most rewarding part of my work. Many of my students come into my class convinced they're going to kill their new succulents. Letting them know that I used to have a "black thumb" - and now I'm a crazy plant lady with a plant design business - combined with all of the plant care education in my workshops, is really fun. They go from being terrified of plants to being excited about taking plants home with them. I think everyone should fill their homes with plants, so feeling like I'm contributing to that in a small way is really satisfying.
- What does Craftcation mean to you and why is it worth going to?
It's a big investment for a lot of people, but if you're looking to grow your business, you have to invest in it. Why not invest in your business by having an absolute blast with other creatives for a weekend, picking up some new craft skills, and learning important business skills as well? The combination of knowledge and inspiration you'll come away with is worth every penny.
- What's new at Sunshine and Succulents and TeamCraft? Are you working on any projects right now that you are really excited about?
2017 is going to be a big growth year for my businesses. I moved to Sonoma County just over a year ago, so I'm transitioning away from working mainly in San Francisco. I've started offering my workshops at a florist shop in Petaluma and at Cornerstone in Sonoma, where I'm partnering with Meadowcroft Wines to do Tasting & Terrarium events. I'm going to start selling succulents and related gift items at local farmers markets in the Spring. I'm also expanding my wedding services through Sunshine & Succulents. TeamCraft is still in its infancy, but I'm starting to market the business more to my corporate clients, and am looking for a few experienced instructors to offer unique DIY-focused workshops through TeamCraft. I'm also expanding my own workshop offerings, starting with a Sugar Scrub Workshop for the San Francisco Botanical Gardens. I fluctuate between being so excited I can hardly sleep and completely overwhelmed! It's a fun time in my business growth, and it feels like every day there's a new opportunity.
- What ideas, goals or message do you convey through your work ?
Most of my work is focused on getting people to find their inner creativity. I hear all the time from my students, "I'm just not creative." It's such a shame that people feel this way, because it's so very untrue! Everyone has an innately creative side. Maybe you can't paint or draw, or you have no desire to make your own clothing or to learn how to sculpt. But I guarantee there's a creative hobby that you'll be good at! In my terrarium workshops I discuss design, and I get people thinking about color, texture, and form. It's fun to see the "I'm not creative" people really listen and then create something beautiful! My message is that you just need to give yourself a chance to express your creative side.
- What does being a maker mean to you?
Being a maker means you are constantly curious. You see something in the world, and rather than wondering, "where can I buy that?", your first question is, "how can I make that?". And then you figure it out!
- How has personal experience influenced your creativity?
I grew up with a dad who was a talented doodler and a mom who always had a closet full of craft projects for me to work on. I was always pushed to be very focused on academics, but also to spend time on creative pursuits. So I've ended up with a good balance of the two, which I think has played a huge role in my ability to manage successful businesses based around my own handmade products - I love spreadsheets almost as much as I love making terrariums! I was also very poor growing up, so I think part of my entrepreneurial drive (I started my first business making jewelry when I was 16) stemmed from a desire to be financially independent. I've always loved working hard!
- If you could choose a theme song for the rest of your life, what would it be?
"I Feel Like Funkin' It Up" by Rebirth Brass Band. It gets me dancing every time I hear it, and is pretty much already my theme song. Plus, they're from New Orleans, which is my favorite place.
- What tech tools do you use on a daily basis that you could not live without?
I'm not tech-savvy at all. One of the reasons I am so excited for Craftcation this year is so that I can attend social media workshops, and try to get caught up with the rest of the modern world
Where else can we find out more about you and/or your creations?
Craftcation is a four-day business and makers conference featuring a plethora of workshops, lectures and panels on creative business by leading mentors and makers in the creative industry. Craftcation "ignites the entrepreneurial spirit, strengthens craft and business skills and builds relationships in the creative community." This year, Craftcation will be held April 27-30, 2017 in Ventura, California and for the first time SF Etsy will not only be there - we will be hosting an Etsy Meet Up. Join Us at Craftcation: Business + Makers Conference 2017 - Discounted tickets for #Craftcation2017 are still available. Exclusive team discount code is: etsycc17 use that code at checkout
We are so excited to share about an event many of us are attending/teaching at in spring 2017. Craftcation: Business + Makers Conference is an annual four-day event featuring industry professionals leading attendees in hands-on DIY workshops and creative business classes.
Have you ever thought to yourself.
Craftcation is the place where you can make it happen!
If you’re a maker, blogger or creative business owner then join us for four inspiring days that you’ll never forget. Craftcation has over 80 hands-on workshops and business classes so whether you’re coming to craft, grow your business or a little bit of both, there’s lots of making, meeting and learning in store for you.
Craftcation takes place April 27-30, 2017, in the beach town of Ventura, California, (about an hour north of Los Angeles). Craftcation utilizes Ventura’s historic downtown buildings and businesses as well as the beach for special events like networking meet & greets, cocktail socials, a pop-up shop, opening celebration, yoga, as well as food and art tours.
Registration : Discounted tickets for #Craftcation2017 are available - Our exclusive SF Etsy team discount code is: etsycc17
Use that code at checkout ---> https://www.eventbrite.com/e/craftcation-business-and-make
We love meeting people and plan to have an Etsy seller meet up and SFetsy team focused happy hour while we are there! We will update you with more information regarding the Meet Up for those attending! Lets Party in Ventura!
Quotes from Attendees from Previous Caraftcation Events
“We signed up for the conference with some uncertainty, not knowing if we should spend the money, if people would be friendly or social, what the quality of information would be like, but during the first lecture, we couldn’t help but laugh at ourselves for ever having had those thoughts. The efficiency with which everything was carried out, the amazing caliber of lecturers who conveyed their information so professionally, and were friendly and approachable, and the way that Delilah and Nicole made every attendee feel personally welcome and valuable … I have no words for. I eagerly await next year’s Craftcation. It bears repeating that it was PHENOMENAL!! Craftcation lost no momentum as the weekend progressed and I was inspired by the surroundings, people, and information … If you have the opportunity to attend Craftcation next year, don’t miss it!”
“Delilah and Nicole ignited a fire in many women who are eager to start or improve their crafty businesses. This event was impressively well organized and executed. It was incredible to be around like minded women. WOW! From the very first moment of being welcomed creativity flowed. Great business classes, sweet craft workshops, and simply meeting other like-minded people was refreshing and inspirational. There was much to be digested, absorbed, and celebrated.”
“It was amazing and awesome and the BEST PLANNED event I have ever attended and I have been to quite a few. If they registration for next year now I would not eat the rest of the month so I could sign up. OK, maybe not to that extreme, but you get the picture.”
“Craftcation is the BEST conference I’ve ever attended. It’s rare to find an environment that’s simultaneously welcoming and nurturing, but that’s exactly how I would describe my time in Ventura. I took business classes that were packed full of valuable information, chatted with other bloggers who were honest and insightful, and best of all, met passionate and talented makers.”
Wishing you all a happy Thanksgiving!
The leadership team is so grateful for this vibrant community, who constantly challenges, teaches, and delights us.
Have a wonderful holiday, and we'll see you at the SF Etsy Indie Holiday Emporium, in just two short days!
We're so excited for the annual SF Etsy Indie Holiday Emporium! Hundreds of local Bay Area makers will be at Pier 70 on November 26 and 27, 11am-5pm--you'll be able to find the perfect gift for everyone on your holiday shopping list (and buy something for yourself, too. We won't tell!).
RSVP to the Facebook invitation here, and please share with your friends.
If you'd like some previews of the makers who will be at the show, make sure to follow us on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter!
SF Etsy's Indie Holiday Emporium is honored to be one of 15 national events sponsored by Etsy Made Local.
As always, we'd like to thank our leadership team, especially Rebecca Saylor and Lisa Spinella, for their hard work and dedication in making this huge event a reality. We can't wait to see our Bay Area shoppers, friends, and family at the show!
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:
Most people go to ETSY to purchase awesome vintage and handmade items and gifts whether it be accessories, home decor, jewelry, fashion and artwork. You can find most things with an almost limitless amount of creativity and whimsy.. but this Halloween we want to get with the spooky.
Here are Thirteen of our favorite, scary Bay Area, SF Etsy shop members that just may rattle your bones.
If you like Halloween and all things macabre - check out the the team's Pinterest Board featuring more items that are sure to haunt you.
Welcome to SF Etsy
We're a collective of over 2200 Etsy sellers in the San Francisco Bay Area.
Just Added on Pinterest