Saturday, March 16, 2013

Book Worms and Chem Nerds

I know I say this with every time I make a featured shop post, but I kind of love this shop and it's owner. When you get the chance to get to know someone, find out their hobbies, hear their advice, and discover that they are a crafter as well..... I mean, how can you not fall in love? Today I am going to introduce you to Cathrine. She is witty, funny, and talented, as well as a mother and wife. Cathrine owns two Etsy shops and will be talking a little about both today. One is called Elementees and the other is e-velopes. Both shops have a bit of something for everyone, especially if you are a bit of a nerd. Science nerd? She's got you covered! Book worm? Done! Teacher? She's got you too! Sports geek? All over it! Are you a horror hound like me? No worries, Ghoul! There is something for you too! 

I aslo really like that she says she has items for the nerd on the down low because, as much as I hate to admit it, that is a category I have been falling into. Have you ever fallen for the bad boy and you don't want to tell people because you are worried about your reputation for being the quirky and queer individual that you are? Well my bad boy is astronomy and Doctor Who and this Ghoul doesn't want to lose her reputation as being the bad ass, goth kid, fruit fly that is all about blood, guts, and angel cake! But enough about me, it's time for you all to meet Cathrine!

Catherine Black, and live in Florida with my husband, four kids and very old dog, Maggie. I worked 16 years as a magazine designer, but am home with my kids now. Most of my free time is spent taking the kids to lacrosse and soccer practices and games. I get to do some gardening, reading and like to attempt creating in the kitchen. I recently found a recipe for ratatouille that not only came out looking like Remy’s, but most of my kids actually liked it. I hope to someday pull out my easel and do some painting again, but that will have to wait until the kids are older.

1. What types of items do you make and sell?

The main items in my shop are tee shirts using the periodic table. However, for the nerd who is not ready to announce their nerdiness to the world on their chest, I have taken some of the designs and put them on pillows. Any of them can be made into pillows, but for now I’ve only used a few. I also have a few baby onsies, for the youngest nerd in the house.


2. How did you get into making designs inspired by the periodic table?

I worked for years as a magazine art director, and then had the opportunity to stay home with my kids. Now that they are getting a little older, I’ve been trying to think of something I could do to make money, while still being there when my younger kids got home from school. Then one day my son, who loves science, came home and said, “Do you realize you can spell the word cabbage using the periodic table?!!” I thought about it and realized that with the right image, it could be something that a real science buff might just love to see on a tee shirt. So I sat with a periodic table and alphabetized it. Then sat with a dictionary to find all the fun words you can spell. After that I found images for some of the more fun words and Elementees was born.


3. I have seen periodic table themed items before, but none stand out the way yours do. Why do you think your items stand out more?

I want Elementees to be different, because it was not an original idea to spell words using the periodic table. To make it fun, I use images along with the words, some straightforward and some a little more sarcastic. I think it gives the tee shirts a broader appeal. It allows a science lover to show that science can be fun and a part of everyday life. As I say in the information bar of my shop - Elements are a key to life and tee shirts are an elemental part of life.


4. Do you do custom Elementees?

Yes, I do. Teacher is the most customized. I use the schools’ colors and can add the school name. There is a school in the Bronx, NY where the science department teachers all have Elementees. I have also done some custom soccer shirts and a few custom names.


5. I know that Elementess is not your only shop. What else do you make and sell?

My first shop that I opened on Etsy is called e-velopes, envelopes for your electronics at . They are I-Pad, tablet, Kindle and Nook covers. I started making them after I received a Nook and couldn’t find a cover that let me keep the silicon skin on (a necessity with little ones). So, I made one that could, and then made one for a friend with an I-Pad, and so on and so on.


6. I also know that on top of having multiple Etsy shops, you are also a Mom. How do you keep up with everything and managing your time effectively?

I often tell my friends that I make enough money on Etsy to neglect the housework, but don’t make enough to justify neglecting the housework. I have gotten better though by setting up strict rules. Certain chores get done on certain days. No work until the kids are in school. I generally stop at 3:30 when the kids get home. At that point it’s mostly homework, dinner, and then the sports practice shuffle. I usually look at my sites before bed to see if the schedule needs to be rearranged the next day. It really is a constant juggling act that goes smoothly sometimes, and other days, not so much.

7. Since your shops have been open for a while, what advice would you give to a new seller on Etsy?

The 4 Ps – Prioritize, Patience, Persistence, and Photography. Many people have an Etsy shop so they can stay at home. My priority is to be there for my kids. Make sure that your shop doesn’t eclipse the reason you opened it in the first place. Set up rules that you can realistically follow to accomplish that. Be patient. It’s not going to happen overnight, and when it starts to pick up, it may be cyclical, with highs and lows. Don’t let the lows get you down. Don’t assume that after your first sale you can coast to the next sale. You need to be persistent and get as much exposure as you can. Joining teams is a great way to get more looks, and you can’t sell your items if no one is looking. Photography is key in presenting your images to the world. The images that get onto the front page of Etsy are always clear and bright. A potential buyer will remember a clear, pleasant looking item far better than a poorly photographed one.


8. Your items tend to cater to nerd culture, whether that be a book worm or the chemistry geek. What do you think of the recent boom in geek culture that has occurred in the past few years with shows like The Big Bang Theory and Game of Thrones?

I think that the nerds were always there, they have just finally found their voice. When you think of middle school and high school, it was the “nerd herds” (my son’s term for his posse) that were really comfortable with who they were. You could be yourself among your friends and progress with real life, sooner than the kids concentrating on staying at the top of the current A-list. Also, the advancement of technology in the last 15 years has been a goldmine for a lot of those kids, and now they’re showing the next generation that it’s okay to be a nerd.


9. So... I noticed that some of the pictures in your E-velopes shop have an actual Nook in them. I work at a Barnes and Noble and Nooks seem to pop up wherever I go. If I were to look in your own personal library, what books would I find?

There are so many free books in the Nook library that it almost seems silly to buy any, so many are from there. Also I don’t have a lot of time to read, but when I do, I try to read adolescent books that my younger kids might want to read. Partly to see if they are appropriate for their age and also so I can talk to them about what they’re reading. This does require purchasing some books. I also have a rule that my kids have to read a book before they can see it in movie form. So, on my Nook you’ll find The Insurgent series, the Trylle trilogy, The Host, among others. I also have a subscription to Discover magazine, for the science geek in me. And of course sudoku, several word games, angry birds, free flow, fruit ninja, and miscellaneous apps my kids have added.


10. Now it's time for some horror related questions! What is your favorite genre of horror to watch? Zombie? Ghosts? Aliens? Vampires? And why?

When I was younger I loved the vampire genre. Loved Bela Lugosi in Dracula. I read Salem’s Lot by Stephen King and slept with my bedroom blinds closed for years. But lately I have been tending towards the ghost genre. The Ring was a great ghost story. While I’m generally not into the zombie thing, I really like Zombieland, not for the gore of it, but the humor.

11. Thanks to the Twilight series, the vampire genre of horror was re-born. Some people like to stick to their roots of Bram Stoker and Anne Rice while others welcome this new take on the supernatural beings. Do you think this re-birth of vampire literature and films has been good or bad? Why?

I think the rebirth is both good and bad (politically correct response or what?). Good in the sense that it means that people appreciate what has come before. I love history and think it should be referred to more often. However, with the exception of the awesome special effects available today, I am not a big fan of the new version of the genre. The originals seemed to be about the evil in the world, how it affects both the good and bad, and how it can be overcome. Today’s version seems to show the evil in the world as not only prevalent, but acceptable, and in some situations, desirable. Not the kind of idea I want my kids to accept. Maybe I’m old fashioned, but evil is evil, even more so under the guise of desirability. I love the way the Harry Potter series showed the struggle of a very flawed hero against evil. He did it, with help from other flawed characters, not because it was easy, but because it was the right thing do. His internal struggle with good and evil is much more engaging to me than the obvious all out brawl between the Voltare and Cullens.


Like what you saw? Have a question? Leave a comment! 

Visit Cathrine's Shops and see what's in store! Elementees and e-velopes

1 comment:

  1. Great article, I love her items!! New fan of this blog and those shops!