The Village Press {An Etsy Feature} + Giveaway

It’s been way too long since my last Etsy shop feature and I’m excited to get the ball rolling again! Whether you’re looking for a customized baby gift, a memorable birth announcement or an invitation that will surely get noticed, I’m certain you’ll want to check out  The Village Press.


Monogram Birth Announcement- The Village Press

Who’s Behind The Village Press?

Frances- The Village Press

Frances Karulas is a web and graphic designer living and working out of Toronto. She caught the programming bug while taking an elective course en route to a biology degree at the University of Toronto. That single class led to switching majors from bio to computer science and so an IT geek was born!

Since then she’s worked a variety of programming jobs- from gigs at two of Canada’s largest banks, to interesting freelance jobs with some of Toronto’s top musicians and authors. Along the way has also developed a keen interest in graphic design. While web programming jobs can often be more technical than creative, working on graphic design projects allows Frances to really cultivate her artistic side. This combination of technology and imagination has helped build a very challenging and rewarding business.

In her free time (which I’m sure there is little of!), Frances also blogs about the adventures of her amazing two year old daughter Alexandra at 52newthings. Her web portfolio can be seen at Vaionet Media, while her graphic design work can be seen showcased in her Etsy shop The Village Press.
[Read more...]

Starlet Glam {An Etsy Feature} + Giveaway

I don’t know about you, but once this stage of winter hits my skin has had enough! Just over a week ago, my family and I headed out to the mountains for a little break skiing. I’m just getting back into it and I’m definitely going to make it a regular activity. One thing I don’t like about being on the mountain is the toll the wind and cold takes on my face and how dry the rest of my skin can get. I have found some products I really like, but I’m always on the lookout for natural based products that still have a glamourous side to them. When I came across the next shop in my Etsy feature series, Starlet Glam, I was intrigued by the luxurious looking products with names sounding good enough to eat!

{White Truffle Raspberry Sugar Scrub}

Who’s Behind Starlet Glam?

Peggy Paliotta grew up in Rhode Island. At an early age, she showed interest in dance, arts/crafts, painting, graphic design, jewelry design, and modeling. While she loved having this variety in her life, she felt like she was pursuing too many creative things at once and there seemed to be a missing piece to her puzzle.

In 1998, while living and working in NYC, Peggy grew tired of working many 9-5 office jobs in various industries and eventually her creativity and spirit suffered. Around the same time, she came across an article on DIY handmade lip gloss. Intrigued, she viewed their web site and noticed they carried soap bases/supplies. In her spare time she taught herself to make her own, dabbling with various natural soap bases, fragrances, butters, etc.  In 1999, she launched A Splash of Renaissance, Bath & Body collection, selling online and at the Extracts Show. It was at this time that she discovered her true passion and the missing piece to her puzzle. After 13+ years in NYC, Peggy relocated back to Rhode Island. In 2006, Starlet Glam was born.

Peggy has always had an entrepreneurial spirit and an addiction for bath and beauty products; as well as old Hollywood glamour. She draws her inspiration from this era. She loves creating the products, names and, in particular, the packaging:  Old Hollywood Glamour….with a French provincial twist. She considers herself to be very detail oriented, ambitious and a perfectionist. She feels like a crazed scientist at times, but she takes pride in everything she does and she always welcomes a challenge.

The Etsy Shop

Initially, Peggy was going to design her own business website as she did previously, but building traffic takes quite a lot of time. Then she stumbled upon Etsy after hearing about the online marketplace of handmade goods and artisan products. She thought it would be a great venue due to its popularity and amount of traffic it gets.

Peggy’s process involves a lot of research, as she normally spends numerous hours just researching various recipes (sometimes from medieval recipes as well) to incorporate in her soaps; as well as themed names for some of her body products. Starlet Glam soaps are handcrafted using an all natural (like cold process) vegetable glycerin soap base in which she customizes with skin loving oils, butters and fragrance oils. Her body creams/butters are 96-98% natural and are Paraben free. The shea butter body balm, milk bath fizz, perfume oils, lip balm, and lip tints are made from scratch.

{Ruby Red Lip Tint}

[Read more...]

Swanky Press {An Etsy Feature} + Giveaway

I’m excited to introduce the next shop in our Etsy feature series- Swanky Press. I think the timing of this feature couldn’t be better! Last week I wrote about my latest craving for color to combat the winter blahs (read about it here), and this shop definitely fills the need. In addition, Swanky Press has some of the most adorable Valentine’s Day supplies that you and your kids will love, along with much more!

{Vintage Cupid}

Who’s Behind Swanky Press?

Elizabeth Holliday is married to her college sweetheart, Brad, and has 3 awesome kids. Although she started out her career as an engineer (with degrees in both Nuclear and Environmental engineering), she decided that being a stay-at-home mom was more important after their first baby was born.

Even after being home full time with 3 kids, Elizabeth never grew tired of being a SAHM. She started Swanky Press first and foremost because it was a ton of fun, and it seemed to fit well with her at-home mom lifestyle. Even now, she still works from a home office. This way she can work as much as she needs to (and at crazy hours), but when her kids and family are around, she can shut the office door behind her and head out to spend quality time with them.  That flexibility of being at home for them, but still working full time, is something that would be very difficult for her to find back in the traditional work world.

The true start of the business, the “spark” that created it,  was when her 7 year old son, Davis, declared that all the stationery she had purchased was “too baby” for him. She really wanted her kids to understand the importance of handwritten thank you cards, but if he felt silly writing on the cards, it was a hard battle to fight. Elizabeth’s very first designs were notecards created to please her own picky kids. From there, she expanded into their birthday party invitations and their family Christmas cards. After a few years of creating for personal use (and some encouraging feedback from friends and family), she decided there might be a market for some of her designs.

Elizabeth’s background as an engineer helped (and so did her slightly obsessive tendencies) as she realized she didn’t just need to learn more about graphic design, but also about selling online. As most mompreneurs know, it’s not enough to just understand your craft, you also have to learn the ins-and-outs of running a small business, websites, marketing,  and more. She spent about 2 years with this learning curve, and then built a tiny website and started selling a couple of items here and there to “fund” her new hobby. Just after her 3rd child was born, she decided she was finally ready to dive in and give it a shot as more than a hobby. Elizabeth is paying this learning forward with a blog she co-authors with her husband called ShopGirlMBA, dedicated to the mompreneur and small business owner.

The Etsy Shop

Elizabeth knew Etsy was a good fit for her designs because shoppers there really understand the value of handmade goods. Because she creates her own invitation designs, she can be very flexible with colors and layouts so that each client gets exactly what she needs.

 {Cute as a Button}

[Read more...]

Life Is Balance {An Etsy Feature} + Giveaway

I’m excited to introduce the next shop in our Etsy feature series- Life Is Balance. Whether you’ve set the intention to live a healthier lifestyle or you’ve been active for years, I’m certain you’ll love these meaningful t-shirts and jewelry pieces.

{Star of David Symbol Necklace}

I came across Life Is Balance a few months ago when I joined Martha Stewart’s Dreamers Into Doers, a community that celebrates creative women who turn their dreams into careers they love. I was immediately inspired by the symbolic clothing and jewelry and knew I had to find out more about this business and the visionary behind it.

Who’s Behind Life Is Balance?

Sheryl  grew up in the Bronx, in a middle class family. Her dad was a millinery salesman (that’s hats) and her mom worked in marketing for a bank. Her mom (who turned 94 on January 9th!) was also an artist, painting in her free time- most likely where Sheryl’s artistic genes come from. She graduated from the High School of Music & Art in NYC (the school made famous in the movie, FAME) and went on to get her BA in Psychology from Cornell University. She started out a biology major until she learned that almost all the other bio majors were aiming at Med School – not something she wanted to go up against!  After trying out a variety of majors, she ended up going back to her artistic roots and combined psychology with design to create a major in the Psychology of Advertising. She then went on to Pratt Institute for graduate studies in Communications Design, which led to a career in Graphic Design, first working for a large Public Relations Company. In 1992, Sheryl started her own company, Checkman Design Inc., specializing in corporate communications, branding and web design.

Skiing? She loves it. Swimming? Can’t get her out of the water. Scuba diving? A fanatic. Yoga, bike riding, photography…these are other hobbies that make her smile. Sheryl may be a graphic designer, but she’s also an avid sportswoman. All the activities she does—work and play—together make her who she is. They create a balance.

One day, Sheryl had an idea for a design that represented the scuba diver in her. She was looking at the simple symmetry of a yin yang symbol and she saw a scuba design. In Chinese philosophy, yin and yang (heaven and earth) represent two opposing yet complementary forces, or energies, that are said to be found in nature. One cannot exist without the other. They create balance. In each curved half of the symbol, she saw the shape of a fish… really!  She added a diagonal white stripe representing the universal symbol for a dive flag, and her first Life is Balance® design was born!

[Read more...]

Palm Beach Parties {An Etsy Feature} + Giveaway

Are you ready to party? I’m sure the title of this post got your attention! I bet those of you who live in the North (including me) could use a bit of Palm Beach right now to offset the cold weather and ongoing snow shoveling. It’s probably not what you think, but I promise it doesn’t disappoint.

I came across Palm Beach Parties a few months ago when I was thinking about starting my Etsy Feature series. I was drawn to the cheery vibe, sensational use of color and modern graphics. And to tell you the truth, there always seemed to be something yummy showcased on the blog. That will get me every time!

 {Pretty Kitty Party}

Who’s Behind Palm Beach Parties?

Carla was born and raised in Ohio in a small little farm town outside of Cincinnati. We’re talking in the sticks…high school was across the street from a pig farm and next door to a corn field. She never realized how peaceful and beautiful it was at the time and now she often misses the beauty of the mountains and changing seasons. After graduating from high school, Carla moved to Florida to attend college at Florida Atlantic University, where she majored in business.

At a young age, Carla developed a passion for graphic design and party styling. In fact, she hired a coordinator to help with her wedding, but ended up designing mostly everything herself. Carla has always loved color and her home and wardrobe are proof of it. She’s a huge fan of Lilly Pulitzer and it shows in her style.

Carla lives in Palm Beach, Florida (as one would probably guess) with her husband and two wonderful little girls (Ava 6 and Ella 3). Caring for them has always been her biggest priority. After having Ava, she returned to work in the medical field part time, but found it too difficult and eventually became full-time mom. Like many women, she desired some sort of creative outlet.

In 2008, when Ella was only 7 weeks old, the entire family was involved in a rear-end vehicle collision that left Carla injured. Luckily she and her husband had taken the time to learn proper car seat safety, and her girls were protected because of it. While recovering from a cervical spinal fusion to repair the damage this summer, and needing something to take her mind off of the 6 week recovery, Carla decided to start Palm Beach Parties so that she could share her love for design. What started purely as a form of therapy, turned out to be the start of a small business that’s fulfilling her dream and really getting noticed!

[Read more...]