Friday, April 25, 2014

Chickens and Paperbacks and free shipping

Hello Friday!
Last week brought baby chicks into our life.  My daughter spent 5 summers at an idylic summer camp on an organic working farm in the mountains of Vermont.  They swam in the lake, slept in open air cabins, used no electricity, heated their water with solar power, tended to the farm and gardens, cared for farm animals and hiked through the amazing wilderness.  It was a very formative experience for her.  When we moved to the country last summer, she embraced it with open arms as if to say: finally!, I’m home.  The best part about having children is seeing them find who they are.  I never thought we would have animals other than our house kitties.  But, here we are, embarking on a new adventure of backyard chickens.  Parker joined Future Farmers of America and is very excited for this process.  Not to worry, I will keep you abreast of our backyard chicken collection the whole time via Instagram.

While Parker was doting over chickens, I was working on a few Moop bags.  We made some updates to The Paperback and the Tiny Clutch collection.  I’ve been carrying the new version of The Paperback in blue.  It has joined me on several date nights, a release party, the grocery store (real exciting), a few scouting excursions for new studio space (this actually is real exciting) and to pick up chickens!  This bag is versatile.  I’ve also been carrying Tiny Clutch no.3 inside my Backpack (which I carry to the studio each day with my laptop).  It’s filled with the little things that I move from bag to bag: chapstick, tissues, business cards, ponytail holders, other junk.  
Hope you’re off to an exciting spring weekend!  We’re planning on sunny skies, campfire cookouts and lakeside jogging (p.s. my assistant Jess is running the Pittsburgh Marathon next weekend…think of her and root her on while you sit in your jammies with coffee!  We’re refraining from bringing sweets to the studio to help her win.).
p.p.s. let’s do free shipping this weekend….because of chickens and bags and exercise and mountain lakes and spring time and cookouts and just because.  Seriously, though..thanks for helping our teensy tiny business grow.  It means everything to me.  Use the code:  CHICKENSHIP for free shipping to the US and Canada** from now until the end of April: 4/30/14.   

**Free shipping to the US is via UPS Ground service.  Free Shipping to Canada is via USPS International First Class Mail.  Code is valid only on and will be active until midnight EST, 4/30/14.

Thursday, April 24, 2014


I spend a lot of time online, reading articles, clicking links, looking at photos, researching materials, people, places, things…and with so much time spent, it’s not very often anymore that I come across something really, truly remarkable.  You know, I end up in an insular circle of blogs and information distributors that are all writing about the exact same things and it becomes really boring.  But, this evening, when I was supposed to be updating one of our shops (a long overdue Etsy shop cleanup), I followed a link from a friend and learned about something I never knew existed!  The Last Japanese Mermaids - the Ama.  I felt really inspired by this.  The historical record, the imagery, the strength of these women, the physical prowess needed to accomplish such a task, the legacy.  It’s pretty incredible.  I was born a swimmer.  Much of my life revolved around swimming and water and competition.  I have somehow ended up in a relationship with someone who will not swim, does not like water activities, will not go to the beach, the pool or the lake…luckily, I gave birth to another swimmer (she's my constant companion).  I could see myself working with these women.  They’re remarkable.

Friday, April 18, 2014

Tiny Clutches

The Tiny Clutches are back in stock.  And, now you can choose your wrist strap color for clutches no.1, no.2 and no.3.
Have a great weekend!

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Empowerment, The Market Bag and Etsy

I was listening to a recent episode of This American Life on my way home from work yesterday. Its focus is on Give Directly, an organization that gives cash to poor people.  They are mainly working in rural Kenya.  They believe that if you give money to a person in poverty, they know what they need and will use it for that.  Many other charitable organizations will not give cash directly, believing it will be hard to track how someone will actually use the money.  Another organization, Heifer International, gives cows to poor families.  Cows, along with an immense amount of training on how to best raise their cow and how to keep it healthy so it will be profitable for them.  It sounds like an amazing organization.  The spokeswoman believes in what she is doing because of the many immeasurables that come from teaching someone to farm.  She relayed the story of a woman who had received her cow and in two years tripled her farm and yield.  She was not only making a lot of money for her family, she had also gained a sense of self.  She said she is now a proud woman, when she talks, people listen, she has gained a position in the community because of the skills she has attained.
Listening to this made me happy and excited but also made me scramble to try and relate.  I love her story and her ambition and the results she has seen.  I also think the organization sounds amazing and is doing incredible work.  I also realize poor people in rural parts of the world are far more poor than I ever was, at my poorest.  But, I always wonder why there are not more organizations attempting to help the poor and working poor of the US?  Then, I started thinking about what empowerment is and how different it is for everyone.  There are things like Etsy, which is by no means a charitable organization.  It is a for profit business.  But, they created a platform that blows away so many of the barriers for people to make a living making things.  I do not believe that very many people are actually making a living from Etsy but, there are some.  And there are lots and lots and lots who are making money.  Maybe not enough to quit their day job but, they are making a thing, selling it and receiving cash.  Cash they can do anything they want with.  Chances are they have invested that cash back into the Etsy shop they have set up and they continue to make more things - a cycle that quickly self-perpetuates.  For the right person, this may be the thing they need to not feel solely defined by their day job (which they may or may not love) or to be the launch pad for something different.

Etsy was the platform that launched Moop.  I did not have a business plan..or even a business..but, I posted a bag, the first Market Bag, and sold it within a few days.  I was just out of grad school and struggling to make our newly blended family work (Parker was 7 when Jeremy and I married and it was a rough transition for all of us).  We lived in an expensive new town, I spent 8 months unemployed and finally found a job answering phones at a pediatricians office.  I was not very happy and I was not finding success or life direction.  I will never forget the feeling of selling that first Market Bag.  It was like a lifeline.  It was a moment where I realized an opportunity to create a future life different than my current life but, I would have to work my butt off to get there.  And, so I did.  The Market Bag is the most important bag we make and it will always be for sale in our shop.  

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

The Paperback and photos with friends

This month has been filled with a series of starts and stops.  But, I learned a lot in the process and worked on updating a few of our bags.  You all saw the new Backpack just a bit ago and this week we released the updated Paperback.  The redesign is subtle.  I was mainly working on solving a few production issues and in doing so, changed the front closure system.  I'm really happy with the outcome...I think you will be, too!  
Plus, here's a link to the Urbanist beach party last week!  If you scroll through the photos to #28, you'll see a cute one of me with my friends, Valerie (of Tugboat) and Reiko (of Reiko Ceramics) and my blue Paperback.
Anyhow, you can pick up one of the new Paperbacks here.