I am dedicating today’s post to American Liver Foundation. One of my husband’s friends, Johnson, almost lost his life to liver failure back in February, a complication from chemotherapy he received for Lymphoma a year earlier. He survived Lymphoma but the treatment caused his liver to fail, and he only had days to live if it wasn’t for the liver transplant he received at the eleventh hour. Johnson’s birthday was this past Monday, a birthday I thought he wouldn’t be able to celebrate with his wife and two kids. Happy Birthday Johnson! We love you and let’s celebrate many many more birthdays to come.
So it was serendipitous that Wine Coutures was scheduled for today’s feature as the owner, Michelle, went through the same ordeal as Johnson. Her wit and humor in the following interview doesn’t reveal a person who went through a life threatening experience but a person whose creative work reflect the resolve to lead a meaningful life. Most of her supplies are recycled jewelry and she donates a portion of her sales to American Liver Foundation. Please read on and I hope you’ll visit her shop.
Cats or dogs?
Well, I adore both, but I really much better at caring for all my dust bunnies!
Star Wars or Sleepless in Seattle?
“May the ‘Force’ be with you.”
Fruit or chocolate?
How about chocolate covered fruit instead. Mmmm…
Whatever my mom is cooking when I go to visit.
City break or weekend in the country?
The city of course. I just love ‘roughing it’ in the jungles of the Las Vegas Strip!
Soaps or documentaries?
Give me cartoons or give me death!
Bath or shower?
Bath please. This little baby loves bubbles!
Dress or jeans?
As much as I hate to admit it, I’m such a girly-girl. Dresses!
Your favorite material?
Almost any small object that other people consider to be old and past its usefulness.
What brought you to Etsy? Tell us about your shop.
Well that is sort of a long story. I’ll just give you the Cliff Notes version here. In August of 2008 I almost died from acute liver failure of unknown causes. After such an experience, I started looking at all the things that I put off doing because I thought I would have more time later to do them. One of those things was starting my own business. Even though my liver transplant had nothing to do with alcohol, I was told I could no longer drink- just as a precaution. I love a good glass of wine and living right next door to wine country just inspired me to find a different way to show my love for wine, hence Wine Coutures was born!
How is your shop eco-friendly?
Organ donation is the ‘ultimate’ form of recycling. And I wanted to keep with that idea in the pieces I created. So, all items in my shop are made from recycled jewelry and other random pieces I find in the streets on my many walks. Right now I use about 50% to 80% recycled materials in my pieces. I also use recycled materials in the wrapping of my charms for shipping. As an added bonus, I donate a portion from every item sold to the American Liver Foundation. (Not too shabby for a girl with a used liver.)
Do you sell anywhere else?
I’ve dabbled in a few other sites but the bulk of my work is on Etsy. I do have my own website, www.winecoutures.com, but it is mainly just an information site. I am actually at the beginning stages of opening another store on Etsy. It will be geared towards jewelry and accessories, but keeping with the same concept of using recycled materials. It’s still a few months away from opening, but I’m really excited about it!
What’s the favorite item you’ve made so far?
My favorite so far was a set of 12 bottle necklaces that I was asked to make for the Northern California American Liver Foundation Flavors fundraiser event. It was an honor to have my items up for auction to help raise money and awareness for such a worthy cause.
What has been the most useful lesson you’ve learned (about Etsy) so far?
I remember reading an article on Etsy that talked about focusing more on making connections rather then making money. As strange as this may sound, it has been the best method I have found for generating sells on Etsy. People just have to get to know you and develop some connection with you before they feel comfortable buying something from you. And even if that person never becomes a buyer, they may become something even better – a friend.
How do you see your store developing?
I really want to get more into doing wedding, I would love to see my store go a bit more in that direction. This basically means doing more custom orders- which is what I live for!
What have you been doing today that I’ve interrupted?
Laundry, sweeping, vacuuming, cleaning windows, pulling weeds, taking out the trash, wait…did you say you were interrupting me? Sorry, to me it feels more like a much needed break. Thank you.