Friday, May 18, 2007

Meet Tamara McFarland...EtsyVeg Founder

The first of an ongoing series of interviews profiling EtsyVeg members.
Interview by Jeanette of vesselsandwares and vegandish

How can you not be inspired to create beautiful works of art when this is the view from your front porch?

Tamara lives in Humboldt County, California (northwest California, on the Pacific Coast, near the Redwood Forest), with her husband (Matt), son (Carlos, 18 months) and three dogs, and doesn't plan on leaving soon. Her family is nearby and she loves it. (Why wouldn't she.....just look at that sunset!)

Tamara has been vegan for about 5 years and was vegetarian for 10-12 years prior to that. Check out her blog for some great vegan recipes and photos of Carlos (way cute kid.)

Q. I had GardenBurger (newly vegan! yea!) Breaded Chicken Patties for dinner with steamed broccoli. From your blog, I gather you enjoy cooking. What did you have for dinner?
A. I do enjoy cooking, but time has been in short supply lately so I haven't been cooking as much as I'd like. Tonight we actually took my grandma out to dinner for a belated Mother's Day celebration. We went to a Mexican restaurant and I had a burrito with beans, rice, potatoes, and guacamole.

Q. Do you miss anything that isn't vegetarian/vegan?
A. Until recently, I missed 'real' ice cream, but fortunately, I have *finally* found vegan ice cream that is (I think) just as good as dairy ice cream - I think it's called Purely Decadent. The best flavors are cookie avalanche and mint chip! Yum!!! (Jeanette: Tamara is right. This stuff is awesome, if you haven't tried it you need favorite is Cherry Nirvana)

Q. What is your favorite vegetarian restaurant/store/website?
A. We don't have too many veg restaurants here in my rural corner of the world, but when we are in the SF bay area I love to find veg-friendly Ethiopian and Indian restaurants. And Herbivore (in SF) is great. As for stores/websites, I shop at fairly often. They are great people (and they carry some of my jewelry-yay!).

I met Tamara (probably the same way many other etsyVeg-ers did) when she put together a Treasury on etsy for the etsyVeg group. Since then, it seems like every time I go into the treasury she has one. For that alone, I give her props. I can never seem to get one (probably because I have no patience.) But then I learned about everything else Tamara does. Now I give her double props.

Q. How long have you been making jewelry?
A. I've only been seriously making jewelry with intentions of selling it for about a year and a half. But I've always dabbled in different kinds of crafts - sewing, quilting, painting, cross-stitch, knitting, etc.

Q. What/who inspires you in your work?
A. A lot of things and people inspire me... my family, my dogs, my garden, the Pacific Ocean and the redwoods where we live... as far as other jewelry artists who inspire me, I would say definitely Eni Oken, and also Dana Kellin.

Q. How long have you been on etsy?
A. I opened my jewelry shop in the Fall of 2006 and my bead shop just a couple of months ago. I've only been super-active for about the last 3-4 months - before that I would say I just dabbled in Etsy. Now I'm submerged.

Q. You run 2 etsy shops. Be honest. Which is your favorite? I assume it is the one with your jewelry, but maybe you really enjoy the supply aspect.
A. Well, I enjoy them each for different reasons. I get a lot of satisfaction from making jewelry, and from knowing that other people get enjoyment from it, but it can be frustrating not selling as much as I would like. Etsy is a very competitive place for everyone, but especially for jewelry makers. So my jewelry sales are fewer and farther between, but when I do get them, I am especially appreciative and excited. My bead shop, on the other hand, has been open for less than 2 months and I've already sold 200 items... so I enjoy the excitement of more regular sales, and being able to meet more people through my transactions.

Q. You also maintain a blog, a website, a marriage and a friggin' adorable little boy. Is it a challenge?
A. Um, YES. :-) It is very challenging at times, no doubt about it, but my husband has a pretty good work schedule and spends a lot of time with our son, and my mom is local and babysits sometimes. Then there are naptimes and after-bedtimes... I stay up until midnight pretty regularly.

Q. Do you set aside specific times for creating, blogging, etsy-ing?
A. Not really, but I think I might need to start doing that. Sometimes I get sucked into etsy-ing when I really should be creating, organizing, or going outside and playing with Carlos.

Q. Are you a full-time mom, etsyian, blogger, business-owner or do you do all that and have a "straight" job too?
A. Yep, I'm a full-time mom and jewelry maker - no more, no less. :-) Until a little over a year ago, I worked as a bookkeeper/accountant. I did that for about 10 years and finally had my fill. Way more than my fill actually. I don't know how I ended up in that profession - it was stifling! It's a great relief to not do that anymore. We've had to make some lifestyle adjustments, since jewelry making doesn't pay much at this point, but it's been worth it.

Q. Do you do craft shows?
A. Yes, occasionally. I did more before Carlos came home in December (we adopted him from Guatemala; he was born in October 2005 and came home with us in December 2006), but since then I've had to scale back. I just did my first show since Carlos has been home a couple of weeks ago and it went well but it was hard being away from him so much for 2-1/2 days. It will get easier when he's a little older.

Q. Any other crafts you want to share?
A. I do still like to knit but simply haven't had time for anything other than jewelry and finger painting lately.

Q. How addicted are you to etsy?
A. Very.

Tamara's workspace


Sandra Eileen - Artisan Jewelry For Your Good Life said...

What a grand initiation into the interviews of Etsy Veg, I am so glad to have happened upon this group and look forward to future interviews - great job and congrats Tamara on being the first and thanks for founding EtsyVeg.

Ity-Bity Bags said...

Great interview! Congrats Tamara!

karabu said...

So interesting. Love to read about things others have passion for.
I'm vegetarian and an Etsy seller - can I hook up with your team?