This is the second interview in a monthly series of featured members from the POEST team. These interviews are a great way for you to get to know our team and its members, as well as get some great information and advice from seasoned Etsians!
Our second interview is with Alchemille, proprietor of Alchemille's Garden.
What is your Etsy shop address and name? Where else can we find you?
My shop's name is Alchemille's Garden and can be found at Alchemille.Etsy.com
I also have a website at AlchemillesGarden.com
And a Blog at Alchemille.Blogspot.com
Currently my products are found exclusively on Etsy.
What is the main thing you make and sell in your store? What else do you make and/or sell?
I mainly sell artisan tea blends, natural skin & bodycare as well as botanical incense. All natural and made with herbs (organic, pesticide-free and ethically wildcrafted). My teas and bodycare items are freshly made upon request.
I'm also working on a small line of natural cosmetics: I currently have a loose face powder and lip balms but should carry tinted lip balms (more like lipsticks) soon.
I also plan on going back to sewing and painting a little (I have degrees in art and fashion), so you should see some accessories (knit and sewn) and art pieces appear within a few months...
How and when did you get started with arts and crafts?
Well I've always been the artist and the dreamer of the family. My parents have plenty of drawings, paintings and poems that date back to my childhood. I started making more elaborate paintings, clothes and accessories in highschool (where I graduated in applied arts) and naturally continued exploring my creative side in a fashion school (I have a degree in fashion and textile design). I started learning about herbs 15 years ago on my own and it took a long time to realize that it was my true passion.
Where do you get your inspiration?
Nature is my main inspiration, with a good dose of spirituality, music, gardening, litterature and art. I find that I'm more creative when I stay away from magazines and media in general.
What are your favorite materials?
Herbs of course! There are so many ways to use them and experiment with them. But I also love fabrics, yarns, paper/books (I've always been fascinated by writting and the power/imaginative force behind words)...I like raw materials that are just waiting to be given a shape, a life and a purpose.
As a member of the Pagans of Etsy Street Team (POEST), tell us a little bit about your Pagan path and what being Pagan means to you, especially with regards to your art or craft.
I've known (or sensed) since childhood, that there was more to life than meets the eye. That life had to be more than people's everyday routine. My spiritual awakening (and beginning of my journey) happened when I was 18, I felt a deep change and an unusual peace without any apparent reason but I didn't recognize myself. 1 or 2 years later, I met a girl (who has become a very good friend of mine) who opened my eyes on esoterism. She had some knowledge about wicca and I was glad to have found somebody at last, who could answer my questions and quench my spiritual thirst. Wicca and witchcraft was interesting but not my thing. I continued with angelology and kabbalah which helped me developed my senses. It's only after I got married, moved to the USA (I'm french) and met my friend Marie (who owns a spiritual shop) that I got deeper into spirituality. Psychic-mediumship has done a lot for me and has given me great comfort. I was now able to communicate with the other side: family, friends, ancestors, loved ones...And slowly overcome my fear of death (I've had a couple close calls in my life). But my true path, which started 2-3 years ago, is shamanism which I have found to be my call and the missing link between so many things. When you see life through the eyes of the shaman, everything starts to make sense and you can see the bigger picture.
Being a "woman of the land", I feel a natural connection with celtic/faery shamanism.
What advice would you give to beginners in your art or craft?
My advice is to be passionate about what you're doing. This craft requires to always learn and improve your skills. I am aware that it requires time, patience, devotion and commitment (you learn all your life). Build your knowledge from different sources. You may or may not agree with everything you read and choose to work with some herbs instead of others. Don't be influenced by fads and fame. Trust yourself and your intuition. There's no need to learn about hundreds of herbs, it's better to know a few trusty herbs well...This is the path of the wise woman ;).
What advice would you give other Etsy sellers and those interested in opening up a shop?
Etsy has done more for me than other (and more widely known) places. I've had my shop for a little bit more than 2 years now and it's doing a little better each year. I'm also proud & blessed to have a few faithful returning customers who have allowed Alchemille's Garden to grow and the adventure to continue...I've been blessed with a good start right away while I know some newbies don't have this luck. Just remain positive and patient, things will come to you.
Is Etsy a full-time job? If not, what else do you do to pay the bills and how do you balance Etsy with that and other things in your life?
Etsy is my only job. Though I am working on a series of classes on Shamanic Herbalism that I should start teaching in the Fall (to complement my herbal creations). I would also love to do healings and readings but I don't feel quite ready yet.