Well, folks- that's it! We are all done, after five years of hard work, love and lots of energy to be a part of the handmade community that's sweeping the nation. All of our inventory can now be found at Strands of Sunshine in downtown St. Pete and at The Blind Tiger in Ybor City. We have a few beanies left on our Etsy site but will be closing that down soon as well.
Here's a few snaps in reflection of where we started to what we became over the years....
Oh my God.....I totally forgot that we even MADE those things....This was our first little DIY project, floral headbands! Hee hee!! We hand painted the tips and hand sewed each little flower on rubber headbands. We sold them for $15-20 each and hauled buckets of these things to all the local markets. I remember sweating in the sun for hours just to make one or two sales. We stopped doing that pretty early on. =)
We got pretty ballsy back in 2010 and rented a spot on the 600 Block. I quit my day job and went full time managing the shop. I really don't advise anyone to do this until you KNOW that what you're selling is amazing and there's a real need for it and you can't handle how many orders you're getting. We just opened up a shop and taught ourselves everything, including how to sew. I had no idea how to sew when I opened this business. I also would not advise this behavior.
But, somehow we made it work. The shop stayed open and we hosted classes, DIY projects and made work that just kept selling. I guess you could call it luck. We started dabbling in handbags and I wanted to challenge myself to see if I could make one out of leather and vintage fabric. That's when our handbag business budded....
Then Ray applied to Parson's School of Design in NYC and got in. I wasn't surprised at all and was 100% behind the move for her. She went to chase her dreams and I had the company all to myself so I took the plunge into wholesale with the handbags. I moved out of our little shop and shared a studio warehouse with Sara from MisRed, Nya and Caryle from Starrbird Productions, Patricia Valery and Lisa Gilmore Design. I'm proud to call each of these women my friends.
What a wonderful experience! So many encouraging, amazing, assertive, creative, motivated women in one space constantly helping each other and working on their own businesses to progress to the next level. There was never any animosity, competition or caddyness. We all wanted the best for each other and were all so eager to help. It was a truly unique experience. We stayed together for about a year when all of us separated and moved into better spaces as we were all growing fast. I remember this time fondly. I truly learned so much from those women and will never forget the fun times in that hot sweaty warehouse (and the mysterious Captain cockroach that haunted us daily).
I then moved onto a beautiful studio shared with Nya of Victory Stitch Manufacturing and that comradery stayed tight, even if it was just the two of us. I started creating the hand painted line shortly thereafter and created wonderful relationships with all my retailers by incorporating exclusive designs for each shop.
I managed to create hundreds of bags this last year and even got a chance to be a vendor at Renegade Craft Fair in Austin, TX. It was such a great experience. To learn how to manufacture and streamline your own work, especially when it was as complicated as I was making it. I relied heavily on my experience of being a professional painter and worked like a workhorse in 2014.
Now that we are breaking onto a New Year I really feel that it's time to move on. I've taken EW as far as I want to take it. What started as a sister duo turned into a little wholesale company. I'm really proud of the progress I made and being a part of this amazing local community and a part of the broader landscape of handmade artisans who love what they do.
Please follow me now on my personal art page Rebekah Lazaridis. There you can see all my madness!
What a joy it's been to share my little story, talents and love with each of you. I thank you all from the bottom of my heart. Especially you, little sister. =)