Meet an aftcra team member: Erica

Erica Riegelman - President and Co-Founder of aftcra

I’ve decided it’s time to stop hiding behind my computer screen and introduce myself. So, here it goes…Hi! I’m Erica. I am a co-founder, and the President, of aftcra. Over the past year I have been getting to know a lot of you – what inspires you, what is important to you in the handmade industry, and what you would like to see with aftcra. But I haven’t really shared much information about myself, which isn’t really fair for you. You should be able to know who you are doing business with.

To help you get to know me just a bit more, I thought I’d do a quick little Q&A.


Why did you create aftcra?

Growing up my mom was a maker, so I’ve always been really passionate about handmade products (here’s a blog post about it). She is a painter, a crafter, and a potter. A few summers ago she had created some really awesome wooden witches for Halloween but she struggled to sell those in her local boutiques in Northern Wisconsin. I could see how frustrated she was, which made me wonder how I could help.

That same summer I was trying to find some leather bags on a major handmade website (pretty sure we all know which one that is) and I couldn’t find any leather bags made by American artisans. Besides getting frustrated, I saw that as an opportunity – I couldn’t be the only one who wanted to support local artists.

So, between those two incidences I started exploring developing a website to help our local artists and those looking for their work.


Why did you pick the name “aftcra”?

One thing I learned during the naming process – picking a name is really difficult. We threw around a lot of different names, spent a lot of time weeding through the options, and ended up picking aftcra.

We picked aftcra because it has meaning – it’s an anagram for “a craft”, or the skill in making things by hand. You can read about the story behind the name here.


Five quick facts about me!

1. I live and work in Milwaukee, WI and am a huge advocate of this little big city.

2. I am married to my awesome husband Neil (it’ll be 9 years this September). We have two cats and a yellow lab. In August of 2014 we welcomed our first baby and couldn’t be more excited to have her on the aftcra team. You can meet Lauren here.

3. I am slightly addicted to buying stuff from local businesses. Our house is full of cool prints and handmade furniture, artwork and decorations. I also love supporting local farmers and restaurants. You can find me in the summers at Farmer’s Markets, and in the winters at craft fairs.

4. I am not artistically blessed like my mom (convinced it skips a generation), but I love  making things. I make a lot of paper goods, like invitations, party supplies, and fun print work.

5. My goal for 2014 was to learn how to do some woodworking. Unfortunately between aftcra and a new baby, my time to get familiar with a saw didn’t really happen. But for 2015 I’ve got myself a calligraphy starter kit, so we’ll see how that pans out.

6. (BONUS!) I love reading inspirational books. The one that changed my outlook on life is The 4-Hour Work Week by Tim Ferriss. Highly recommend it!

If you have any other questions, just let me know and I’ll keep updating this post with my thoughts.


29 thoughts on “Meet an aftcra team member: Erica

  1. Thanks {{so much}} for sharing a bit about you and Aftcra :0)
    I’m excited to be here and look forward to adding more items everyday. Thanks too for your quick responds to a problem I was having uploading photos which has been rectified :0)

    Susan & Max Basset @ Paint Creek Hill

  2. Boy-o-Boy – have I been looking for you! …an e-commerce platform committed to true handmakers with common sense, community orientation, and a (Midwestern style) conscience, that is. And to find you here in Milwaukee, via a FB link from an etsy teammate out of MA (Sam of RusticCraft, above!), all the more astounding!

    I’ve read your terms of use & privacy policies and think I’m ready to ‘give it a go’. See you soon!


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    • Hi Diane – thanks for supporting us! aftcra and it’s continued growth couldn’t be possible if it wasn’t for great, talented and supportive artists like you – Erica

  4. I recently heard about Aftcra and will be joining soon! Thank you for this opportunity. I’ve been creating and selling for over 25 years. It’s been a discouragement that Etsy is allowing people to sell ornaments that are NOT hand made in America and deceive people into believing they are handmade.

    I lived in the Milwaukee area all of my life and am currently living in a Senior Citizen apartment complex in West Allis. I was so excited to see you live in Milwaukee too!

    Bless you, Aftcra, and all of the Artists too!
    = )

  5. Pingback: aftcra Welcomes a Little New aftcra Team Member | aftcra blog

  6. Nice to meet you, Erica! It’s great to have a face with a name. I’m so glad & excited to have found aftcra! I’ve been looking for a nicely organized selling platform representing only handmade goods. Would you consider adding a “handwoven” category?

  7. Hi Erica,

    Thanks for sharing your wonderful and inspiring story. I just signed up and will be setting up my shop soon. So good to see all the support here for fellow American artisans.

    Trehan’s Treasures

    p.s. You have a beautiful family 🙂

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  9. It’s so great you found a way to turn a passion into “work,” something many of us look for! Good luck! I hope I can help in some manner.

    • Hi Rose – thanks for the note. We are trying to limit the amount of sellers on aftcra by only permitting artists within the USA. We hope to expand in the future to offer a Canada-only marketplace 🙂

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