We hope to introduce you to all the great Etsy sellers to be found right here in Toronto. Here at the T.E.S.T. blog, we plan to interview them all. This is the 37th in our series with Katie of YourHeartsHaven.
So I read that you are originally from Halifax! How long did you live out East and what brought you to Toronto?
I was born in Hali and lived there until I was 19. I did one year at the art college (NSCAD) in Halifax, and then I switch to U of T. I think I was just craving something different, something bigger. Much to my mom’s chagrin, it was time for me to move to the big city. And I’ve been here ever since.
Besides the fact that there isn't the ocean here, what's the biggest difference you notice between Halifax and Toronto?
Halifax definitely operates at a different pace. “Rush hour” in Halifax means it takes you ten minutes longer to get to your destination. Also, everyone’s up for small talk, all the time. Or strangers will smile at you on the street. Sometimes I like the anonymity in Toronto, which is virtually impossible to have in Halifax.
How did you learn to sew?
My wonderful mother Peggy taught me. She’s a great seamstress and quilter, much more meticulous than I am. She taught me the basics when I was very young, then I started sewing again more frequently when I was about 20.
What was the first thing you sewed and what inspired it?
Such a great question! I wish I had more of an exciting answer, but the thing with sewing is that you make a lot of mistakes in the beginning. A lot. And the first thing you lean is pretty much how to sew a straight line. But, I do remember my mom setting me up with an embroidery hoop, a needle and thread, and some buttons when I was about four, and letting me go to town. Maybe she still has some of my early handiwork stashed away.
The first thing I sewed specifically for Heart's Haven was a broken heart coffee cozy. I've always been drawn to heart and broken heart motifs.
Do you sell your items full time? Do you have another job as well?
I have a full time job at an animal hospital that I just love. I’m so lucky to have a job that I enjoy so much.
I see that you are going to be at a lot of craft shows and sales, is that mostly how you sell your items?
Yes it is. When I first decided to start Heart’s Haven, I figured I would just get myself out there locally as much as possible. I’ve applied to literally every vendor call that’s come my way. It was intimidating at first, since I was just getting started and at bigger shows like the Beaches Arts and Crafts Show, the other vendors had so much more experience than I did. But doing so many shows has been a great experience for me.
Selling online vs. selling in person - which do you prefer and why?
Selling in person. 100%. I find it very inspiring and fulfilling. It gives me such a great feeling when people are excited by what I’m making. Even when not every visitor to your booth is buying, you still see great reactions to your work, and people taking business cards, which is something I think you miss out on when selling online. You don’t get to see if a customer's eyes light up, or how they smile when looking at your work. For me that’s the best part. Also, you get to meet so many interesting and creative people (shoppers and other vendors), which is always a positive thing.
Where do you source your materials for upcycling?
I started by using my own old clothes, and now I scour Value Village and other vintage shops for great finds. I love perusing the racks for interesting sweaters. And it’s amazing what high quality stuff you can find.
Have you ever found anything really special to use?
My grandfather had this sweater with two alpacas on it that he wore for pretty much my entire life. When he died two years ago I knew I would have to find something special to do with it. I used part of it to make and art piece for the Awol Gallery's 10th Annual Original Square Foot Show and the rest I’m going to make into a scarf for myself.
Is there anything else you would love to make or learn how to make?
Everything! I did a tiny bit of screen printing a few years back and I’d love to refresh those skills. I’m also interested in woodworking but that kind of intimidates me.
Your items are perfect for the fall/winter season, what do you have planned for the holidays?
Thanks! Right now I’m making many, many sweater scarves for my upcoming holiday shows. I’ve gotten great response so far, so hopefully they sell like hotcakes! I think they can be great for both guys and girls, and make a pretty nice gift.
And just for fun, tell me about your cat and dog. What are their names?
Like all animal owners, I love talking about my creatures! I got my cat Chyna when she was two, and she’s six now. She’s quite the character, always up to no good. My dog, Venice, is a retired racing Greyhound. He raced until he was three, then I adopted him last year. He’s my first dog, and has been one of the best decisions I've ever made.
Check out the other items available from Katie in her Etsy Shop! You can find more of her work on her Tumblr, Twitter, Pinterest, and Facebook.
Interviewed by Kate of NailKandy in November 2012 in Toronto.