Saturday, January 28, 2012

Etsy Apple Store Panel and My Chronic Illness: A Very Personal Post

Today I cried in public.

I went to the Etsy panel at the Chicago Michigan Avenue (Magnificent Mile) Apple Store. Upon arrival, the Geniuses lead me upstairs to the auditorium which was already packed ten minutes before the event was scheduled to begin. By the time they started, people were sitting and standing in the aisles.

Randy, the Etsy Creative Director, moderated the panel. Four Chicago artists - Jack of Ethically Engineered, Kara of Secret Safe Books, Vana of Le Papier Studio, and Amanda of Mojo Spa and Mojo Spa Style. It was a lively, informative discussion and Q & A session, largely focusing on social media and getting started on Etsy. They touched on topics like the future of Pinterest (best described by Kara as a "virtual cork board," all agreed there is definitely a future in the site), having to scale and grow as a business, "putting heart back into commerce," (Randy's quote), and the importance of good photography.

But it was Amanda's story that made me seek her out after the panel ended. She, too, started her business out of the necessity brought on by chronic illness. Hers started 12 years ago and she was sick for seven years. I only fully dropped out of society with my chronic migraines a little over four years ago, so I have time. During the panel discussion she only grazed the topic of her disease, but when I found her afterward, she talked to me extensively about how to run a business around being sick, and more importantly, how to allow yourself to be sick in order to get better. She talked about her friends and family's incredible helpfulness, her sister actually moving to Chicago to take care of her and her friends stepping in to run her business and her life when she was unable to. Her friends even ran her craft fair booths with her and for her when she couldn't. That's huge.

Hearing about the generosity of her support system, taking in suggestions for being better to myself as I run my Etsy shop, talking about both of our illnesses and the frustration and guilt and helplessness that accompany year after year of a chronic condition, I started crying. I couldn't help it. Right there in the Apple Store, my face was leaking and I couldn't make it stop. I cried for the beauty of generosity, I cried from my own frustrations, I cried because someone else on earth not just knew what I was going trough but had seen the other side and found herself a successful and productive human being once again.

It terrifies me that there is no other side, and perhaps I've lost faith in the possibility of getting better, though I'm always looking to try something new and different to help alleviate my pain in a real and permanent way. Since the first of the year I've been on a gluten-free diet and it hasn't seemed to do anything. I just got the name of a homeopathic doctor in Skokie. After talking to Amanda I think I'm going to go back to biofeedback and be more vigilant with my daily relaxation exercises. And maybe there is hope that I will get better. Maybe someday I'll be the one up on that stage, telling my Etsy success story instead of crying in the aisle.

Thank you, Amanda. Thank you, Etsy.

Etsy Chicago Meet n Greet

Last night I went to the Etsy "Meet n Greet" in Chicago at Vecco Studio. They served wine, Fat Tire beer, fruit, vegetables, cheese, and a healthy dose of conversational networking. I had an absolutely wonderful time chatting the night away with Etsy Admins Morgan, Randy, Kimm, and Leland, and many Etsians. Worlds collided when Morgan and I introduced my
two team leaders to one another. Ashley of OneInTheHand currently captains Chicago Style Crafters, and Martha of OpenDoorStudio created and captains the Vintage Etsy Society Team (VestiesTeam), and we all had plenty to talk about!

Other people I talked to during the night included Vanessa of Little Lady Company, Paula of Eganaise, Karen of Will Oaks Studio, and Kim of Kim Holmes.

After the Meet n Greet, Martha wrangled a number of the vintage sellers together to go out to dinner. The Etsy Admins were nice enough to give Martha the leftover wine, so we found a sushi restaurant (Sai Cafe) that was more-or-less BYOB ($10 corking fee per bottle). Thanks to good company and the several glasses of wine we all already had in us, we had ourselves a fantastic and lively meal. The attendees were: Martha, Lisa from A Blast from the Past, Tanya and Lisa from Bunny's Trunk Show, Gwen from Chloe's Window, and Sarah from Zzouzi.

Yay networking!

Top photo of (from left to right) Martha of OpenDoorStudio, Me, and Creative Director Randy. By EtsyLabs on Flickr.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

I Won the Vesties Treasury Challege!

The Vintage Etsy Society Team (AKA Vesties Team) does a contest/challenge every week for Etsy treasuries. You have to include at least six Vesties' items, one item from the winner of the past week's challenge, and follow the weekly challenge theme. I enter frequently, but for the first time, this week I won! The theme was "Refresh, renew, and revive."

Here is my winning treasury:

'Reconnect in 2012' by jillhannah

Write a letter, make a phone call, send a carrier pigeon! Just get in touch with old friends in 2012. ALL VESTIES!

Remington No.3 Manu...

Vintage Country Bel...

Vintage US Mail Box

Vintage Metal Addre...

Vintage Postmark St...

antique boston penc...

Antique nibs. Insta...

Vintage Rolodex, Fi...

50% Off Mid Century...

Brass Letters Door ...

Vintage rotary phon...

SALE-Vintage Match ...

Vintage Ostrich Fea...

Vintage Tiny Addres...

Set of 20 rare anti...

Vintage Post Office...

Treasury tool by Red Row Studio.

ShopMichL had been the previous week's winner and was therefor the one who selected my treasury. She said:
"I chose this winning treasury because not only is it gorgeous - not only is it 100% Vesties - but its creator's take on the theme of renew, refresh, revive really struck a chord in me. Long distance friendships and family relationshipsare sadly a big part of my life. I would love to live in the midst of EVERYONE I love, but nope - I'm way over here in a distant city. I miss them, all the time, a lot. This treasury is a reminder to reach out."

All the 46 entries I was up against can be seen here:

Now, for this week, I get to be in a gazillion treasuries! The rules for this week's contest (and a few of my photos) can be found on the Vesties blog here:
It's only been two days and there are already 20 entries. I've been busting my butt to keep up with them all, commenting and posting them on my Facebook page and Twitter.
You can see all of the entries for this week, which each contain one item from my shop, here:

I don't know how I'm going to choose the "best" since there are so many amazing ones already! This is too much fun!