Get Real!

So the title is a little tribute to our Co-Founder, Erica, as this is one of her favorite sayings. But in all seriousness, I think she’s on to something.

 In a globalized world full of mass markets and instant gratification, it has become increasingly challenging to be truly unique. It’s an interesting paradox really; while we live in a time where self expression is encouraged, and even applauded, it is difficult to really stand out.


At aftcra, we thrive on challenges like this because it forces us to be purposeful. The challenge to stand out is especially important because we live in amazing country where the freedom for individual expression is foundation of our existence. Plus, we think your pretty cool and deserve some credit for it!


So how do you stand out? Here’s a few helpful tips:

1) Create a personal brand.

Think of some of your favorite brands and values they represent. Now think about the values and mission you have in your own life. Note how you would like to be seen and live by it…be your own brand.


2) Stick with a style.

Don’t try to be everything all at once. Stick with a style that makes you feel inspired and stimulated. Whether you’re classically elegant or a modern trend setter be true to yourself. This is how you will establish an identity that stands out rather than blending with the masses.


3) Shop

Ever buy something because it’s close enough to what you wanted only to have remorse later because you don’t really love it? We guarantee that won’t be the case with the products offered on our site. Our products are uniquely handcrafted by artisans that know how to stand out!


Have your own tips on how to get real and stand out? We’d love to hear them so please share!


Keep it real!

Liesl, Co-Founder

Thank YOU aftcra supporters​!

In the spirit of being thankful, we want to take this time to thank YOU for supporting the launch of aftcra! We are a couple months into beta and we’re overwhelmed by your engagement and enthusiasm.

You have followed us on Twitter & Facebook and spread the word to your friends (and we like your friends)! You have also provided valuable feedback to help make our site better. A great example of this is the new “Guest Checkout” feature that is enables buyers to make quick purchases without registration. Incorporating your suggestions is exciting for us because this site is just as much yours as it is ours.

At aftcra, your success is important to us. Our priority is to provide the best customer experience by maintaining a humble, family-like approach to doing business while having fun and promoting all things handmade. If you have suggestions, don’t be shy, we want to hear them! We are excited for our journey together.

Thank you again for your support. We are thrilled to you have joined us in the made in America craftolution!

The aftcra team

Exercise Your Mind: Take Time to Be Creative

Let’s face it; life can be busy and hectic. We have all sorts of demands for our time and attention. When we get a moment to ourselves it is easy to revert to something mindless such as watching tv or checking our facebook profiles. That down time is important but so is taking the time to exercise. I am referring to mental exercise not physical. The best way to exercise our minds is by exploring our creative sides. From personal experience, I believe taking the time to be imaginative provides an array of benefits.

Recently, I joined a friend at a local paint bar which is exactly what it sounds like…a place to paint while enjoying an adult beverage (or two). I was surprised at how invigorating it was to explore my creative side in a new way (I am not a painter). With each brush stroke, all the noise from my day faded away. I was truly living in the moment focusing on what color to pick next and how to angle my brush. Was it a masterpiece? No. But I transformed a blank canvas into unique creation.  I found expressing myself artistically to be immensely satisfying and very inspirational.

My friend seemed to have the same reaction. She had a particularly rough day at work but by the end of our session she was smiling and laughing and having a wonderful time.

The best part about this form of exercise is that the options here are truly endless. So I would love to know, what are some of the ways you explore your creative side?



Laura Martindale has an Artistic i


We recently met up with one of our first sellers, Laura Martindale, to learn more about her passion for art and her thoughts about aftcra. First and foremost, who is Laura?

Laura is an artist from the low country of South Carolina, just outside of Charleston.  

As the founder and owner of Artistic i, Laura wields her brushes and paints on behalf of diverse residential and commercial clientele. She paints everything from nurseries and children’s rooms to model homes and commercial interiors. Whether it is a detailed mural or commissioned painting, Laura’s art is beautiful and purposeful. She works closely with clients to fulfill their vision and the potential of the space often in ways the client may not even have thought possible. Not only does Laura paint throughout the Southeast, she travels world-wide to perform at live events. She even creates live wedding paintings! 

Laura’s artwork doesn’t stop at the canvas, she also designs websites & logos to develop company branding. As quoted in Daniel Island News, “Laura has fine-tuned her craft so thoughtfully that she can produce a stunning oil painting one week and a tight corporate graphic design package the next.”  

 “Artwork can be a very powerful tool for any setting. I understand the importance of layout, design, color persuasion and how to speak visually to people. Instant gratification and awe are part of my weekly repertoire. The fulfillment of being a professional artist is immeasurable.” – Laura Martindale


Laura, we think you’ve got talent! How would you describe your art? 

Modern, colorful/bright. I enjoy high contrast and realism. My goal is for my artwork to demand attention when you enter a room.


 We love that your artwork can be customized.  How do you work with your clients to deliver what they want?

One of my strongest talents is listening to my customers. I ask a lot of questions and ask for photographs of the space (when necessary) or if I live close by I will visit the space. I listen to what my customer is envisioning and I make it happen. I’m happy to say, I’ve never had a disappointed client. My customers almost always say “This turned out better than I ever expected.” They are over the moon with the final product whether it is a mural or on canvas. That is my goal – to exceed their expectations.


 As an American artist, how important is “Made in America” to you?  

Products made in America are very important to me. All of the products I use: paint, canvas, stretcher strips, giclee printing, etc. are all made here in the states. I feel the government needs to do more to make it possible for more companies to operate this way.


What makes you excited about aftcra? 

I think it is wonderful that you are supporting “Made in America” companies. I know people that only shop this way, and now you have made it easier for them to do so!


 For original artwork by Laura, check out her aftcra store, myArtistici, by clicking here:

America, The Great

What makes this country so great? I believe it is the people, the collective and creative spirit that brings us together. As Americans, we are always looking ahead to the future. Questioning what’s next and seeking innovation. Our history is rich with ideas that have revolutionized our daily lives.

Here are just a few examples…

 Americans stay connected. You’ve probably looked at it in the last 5 minutes. Yes, I am talking about the smart phone which has become our lifeline to all forms of communication. Heaven forbid you leave home without it! What would you do? While the modern day version has undergone drastic changes, the original cell phone was invented in New York in 1973 by Dr. Martin Cooper. Nearly 100 years before, the first telephone was invented in 1876 in Boston by Alexander Graham Bell. We are always connected thanks to this wonderful technology.

Americans solve problems. It’s been a hot summer! All across the country are record breaking heat waves. Imagine living in this heat without AC! That’s right, the original air conditioning was invented in New York in 1902 by Willis Carrier. Thanks, Willis! We appreciate it more than ever!

Americans think big. Need to get somewhere far away? Depending on the location, you could drive, take a train or possibly a boat. But what if you need to get there as fast as the crow flies? Thanks to the Wright brothers we have that remarkable option. The first airplane was invented in North Carolina in 1903 by Orville and Wilbur Wright. Every time I fly I think it is amazing…I am sitting in a chair, in the sky 35,000 miles above sea level traveling 550 miles per hour. With the ability to fly, the world is truly ours to explore.

While these examples are quite grandiose (to make a point), it all started with an idea and the determination to execute. Our history is the road to our future. We must continue to explore our creative sides and share those talents. That is what we support here at aftcra.

To quote one of my favorite bands, appropriately named “America”, this is a place where “You can do magic, you can do anything that you desire.”



wow what a journey this has been!


For the past year the aftcra team has been working on developing a website that focuses around the beauty of art and promotes handmade workmanship all while supporting America. It’s been such a whirlwind of great experiences and we’ve had the opportunity to meet some absolutely fabulous people along the way… we are so thankful and eager to see what will come next.

We are incredibly excited to get to know each and every one of you.

– the aftcra team