Interview presentation by Kylie of SilentLotus
Meet Beth of Etsy's ChickScratch
Soothing, calming, healing. Beautiful photos. And 100% vegan! These and even more reasons make even just visiting Beth's shop a rejuvenating experience for the senses!
Q. Etsy is a unique blend of artists with many different creative styles and approaches. What is your own "philosophy" or approach to creativity?
It's okay to make a mess. Those articles about how to organize your craft space, or glamour shots of immaculate craft rooms in Martha Stewart, drive me batty. Creativity is organic, illogical, and cannot be contained in neatly-labeled plastic bins.
Q. What do you sell in your Etsy shop?
Massage candles! The melted “wax” can be used as massage oil. I'm starting to branch out into other vegan body products, like sugar scrubs.
Q. What are your creative inspirations?
I live literally steps away from Balboa Park – huge, fragrant, and colorful. If I'm feeling stuck, I take a walk to breathe in the eucalyptus and jasmine. I'm also interested in how the past smelled – it's something you don't get from history books. During the Black Plague, doctors used to wear masks stuffed with herbs and flowers to ward off the disease. I want to know how that smelled, what Shakespeare had in his garden, what smells Egyptians associated with their holy days.
Q. How did you get started creating?
I've always made things – my childhood memories are stuck together with papier mache and glue sticks. When I was laid off from my publishing job two years ago, I fell into a deep blue funk. Eventually I realized that I had the chance to do whatever I wanted with my life, and since I created things anyway, I might as well focus on that. I'm so glad I did.
Q. What other artistic tendencies do you have? Do you have other crafty/artsy skills that you already do or would like to try?
I crochet like a woman possessed! I've sold a lot of my crochet creations to friends and coworkers. It's a bit of a joke at work – if you need a hat in an hour, talk to Beth. I also make soap, cook, sew, knit, and write. I'd like to learn millinery and start a hat shop on Etsy.
Q. What would you like to try to make, that you haven't already? What is your dream project?
As far as my candles go, I'd like to become more knowledgeable about herbs and essential oils so I can sell my own line of therapeutic candles. I'm sticking to single notes or simple blends right now. But I'd love for people to actually benefit from my products. My dream project would be for a spa to ask me to develop an exclusive line just for them.
Q. Do you have any other hobbies/interests/passions?
Theatre – as in live, professional theatre. My “other” job is as a backstage dresser, where I chase after actors with their forgotten top hats and lace actresses into corsets. It's never the same show twice, and I get to meet some fabulous people. I couldn't live without theatre in my life, just as much as I'd wither up if I wasn't creating something.
Q. How long have you been on Etsy, and are you an Etsy addict?
I joined in May 2008, and I've been selling since October. I can't go shopping in “real” brick and mortar stores anymore – I either think, “Oh, I can make that” or “I bet someone on Etsy has that for sale.” And I gush to everyone about Etsy. My brother and sister are going to open their own shops soon.
Q. Is Etsy a large part of your business? How else do you market your work?
Etsy is my only business, since this is just extra pocket cash right now. I do sell at work, and friends are good at spreading the word. I might join my local Craft Mafia and start doing craft fairs. Maybe.
Q. How long have you been vegan/vegetarian? How does being veg play into the rest of your life?
I went veg about eight years ago. My sister had been a vegetarian since she was about 14 and was always nagging at me (in a good way) to give up meat. I really don't remember exactly why I took the leap. I know Frances Moore Lappe's intro to Diet for a Small Planet had a very big impact on me. Now I concentrate on eating consciously, making active choices about what I put into my body. I won't preach to people, but if they ask, I'm well informed. I find that the facts about why vegetarianism is a logical, sustainable, healthier choice sways people more than guilt.
Q. What is the last recipe you made? What are your food vices or cravings?
I made a Mussaman Curry last night, with baked tofu and jasmine rice. I need my coffee in the mornings, and a cup of cocoa every once in a while. Grilled cheese sandwiches and mashed potatoes are my comfort foods. And I adore anything pickled – okra, beets, cucumbers, cabbage.