Introduce yourself. Where are you from?
Hello! My name is Nan. I’m originally from Ann Arbor,
Michigan. I’ve lived in many other places, such as Chicago, Los
Angeles, San Francisco, Florence and Paris. Now, I’m in Texas.
What is your shop name? What is the story behind the name?
My shop is Green Onions Textiles. When I started thinking about what
to call the shop, I knew I wanted to keep my own name out of the title.
One day, I needed to drive to another city about two hours away, through
very tedious landscape. So, I started brainstorming names.
I had come up with about 20 when I saw a roadside sign that said, “Green
Onions.” (Really!) I added that to the list (I’m
also a fan of Booker T. and the MGs!). Later that night, I went
through the list checking to see if anyone else was using the names I had
brainstormed, and of course they were all being used in some capacity . . .
except “Green Onions.” So there it is. I think it’s a great name, too. I like the connotations of freshness, spring, and newness.
How did you get started? Is this your full-time gig?
Although I’ve been sewing, and making art, for all of my life, I’ve only recently started selling things. I opened my shop this last February. The road to
craft, for me, has been circuitous. I studied studio art at a private art school, then went on to earn graduate degrees in art history and museum studies. Now, I am the Director of an art museum and have been working as an art historian/museum professional in various capacities for
25 years. While I was a museum curator, there was still an element
of creativity in my professional life. When I became an administrator, however, this level was greatly reduced and I began spending more time on my after work projects. For some reason last summer I decided to make a handbag and loved it so much that I just kept going and making more and more and more. Finally, someone told me that I needed to sell then on Etsy, voila. I would love to be able to do this full-time and am in the process of trying to figure out how.
What items do you sell? Which ones are your favorites to make?
Since opening the shop, I have only posted handbags/purses/laptop bags/diaper bags and skirts. I plan to expand this soon and start offering scarves, pet
beds, pillow covers, and plush toys. I’m a little concerned that this is too diverse, but I enjoy making all of these things. The common link between all of them, and what ends up being my favorite part of the process, is the design element. What colors complement one another, what textures work well with one another and the overall shape of the article, how can I take a particular focal element and build something around it. I love finding ways that I can take an interdisciplinary approach. For example, I recently interviewed a glass-blowing
artist. As we were surveying her work, one piece stuck out for me, personally, and I thought, “I’d love to translate that shape into a handbag.”
circles on a circular bag
What inspires you? Who influences you?
Inspiration comes from a variety of sources. Much of my inspiration comes from
simply seeing colors, textures and shapes throughout the day. Again, many times I’m inspired by something from a different medium/discipline. As an art historian, a good deal of inspiration comes from knowing about various art movements throughout history. Sometimes I’ll see something in a magazine or book, sometimes in a store, sometimes on somebody, and I’ll start thinking about how I can modify it or use an aspect of it in a design. I also get a lot of inspiration from other Etsy sellers. This influence, however, is more in the form
of shop maintenance, attitude, marketing, and networking.
Describe your workspace. What book is near you right now?
My workspace has taken over my house! I have a great craft room, but
it doesn’t have big windows, like my living room and kitchen do.
So, I set up my sewing table in front of my living room windows so that I
have a view into my back yard, which is full of flowers, birds, squirrels, and
lizards – there’s always something going on.
As far as books, there’s nothing near me at this very moment! I moved
myself and laptop into another room so I wouldn’t be distracted!
However, in other rooms (I tend to travel around my house with stacks of
books) there is: Circus (Taschen); Beautiful Beads and
Embellishments (Irene Lassus and Marie-Anne Voituriez); Fashion Accessories –
The Complete 20th Century Sourcebook (John Peacock); More Fabric
Savvy (Sandra Betzina); Printing By Hand (Lena Corwin), and the latest Stitch
Describe your creative process. What is your creative style?
I’m not really sure how to describe my creative process. For me,
creativity just happens. It’s almost like being on auto-pilot.
Sometimes things such as colors, shapes, patterns, just jump out
at me and I don’t even think about what I’m doing – I just make.
Other times, though, I get an idea and then think it through.
For example, translation of Cameo Glass into textiles (see my blog post
on this at http://www.GreenOnionsTextiles.com).
And my creative style is pretty much the same. Sometimes I
just start going and don’t thnk, just do. Other times I plan and
draw and calculate. It varies.
lined white and floral cotton a-line skirt
How do you stay motivated? Tea or coffee?
I’m an artist, so I’ve always been creative. Motivation is
not something that is exterior, it’s an inherent part of who I am.
If I’m not sewing, I’m drawing, or painting, or making jewelry or an
assemblage, or a graphic piece, or . . . something.
I tend to go stir crazy when I’m not able to make something on a daily
Do you think feedback is important? How can you turn around negative
Oh yes, feedback is enormously important. Not
only is it important as a merchant to know what pleases your client base,
feedback is an imperative aspect of the creative process. For
example, the Cubist movement was a result of an ongoing visual dialogue between Pablo Picasso and Juan Braque. We need to see how our work is
perceived in others’ eyes in order to progress. And, on the same
token, providing feedback to others is just as important. We need
to be aware of what is going on outside of own studios in order to grow.
Again, it’s a dialogue.
Are you on any teams at Etsy? Which one are you most active? Do you think
they are helpful?
Yes, I am on Etsy Success, Business Topics, Handmadeology,
and Blog Team. I’m most active on the Blog Team,
but do participate in the others often. I don’t know if my
participation on the Blog Team has increased traffic on my blog, but the other
teams have helped me understand the ins and outs of Etsy.
Brown Faux Suede Hobo w/ Orange Flower Appliques
How do you feel about your life right now? Any advice for new Etsians or those
wanting to take the plunge into selling their artwork?
I like who I am, although I would like to be able to make a
living with my art and craft. As far as advice for others, I guess
all I can say is the same thing I grew up hearing, “try it, see what
Wolves or Mountain Lions?
Mountain Lions! Rarrrr!
Check out my fabrics I have for making custom orders!
Any shops/markets you participate in?
I don’t participate in any right now, although I would like to – I’m not sufficiently aware of what’s offered. I would LOVE some suggestions from your readers! Convo me on my Etsy shop or leave a comment on my blog.