Meet the Maker: Chris and Jason of American Bench Craft

American Bench Craft - Meet the Maker - American Bench Craft - Custom Designed and Handcrafted Leather Goods

We wanted to highlight a maker doing some really badass work this month, so we decided to showcase the artisans behind the aftcra shop American Bench Craft. From beautifully crafted leather wallets to handmade leather herringbone manly bracelets, they’ve got everything covered at American Bench Craft. And we’re sure you’ll find something amazing here for the man in your life for Father’s Day! We also really love Chris and Jason’s story behind their shop.

Let’s get to know Chris and Jason and the story behind American Bench Craft (aftcra shop’s here)!

Hello, we are Chris and Jason Angelini of American Bench Craft (aftcra shop). We created custom designed and handcrafted leather goods and accessories, including wallets, cardholders, belts and other high end, ultra durable gift and personalized specialty items.

We have a workshop, offices, storage and fulfillment center in downtown Reading, MA.

American Bench Craft 01

What is your background? How did you two get started in leatherwork?

My brother Jason went to school for engineering and has been designing and creating things since he was young. He used to make furniture for my parents when he was a kid. He began working with leather when his wallet fell apart and designed this wallet that was ultra durable and pretty unique to anything that was on the market. My background is in marketing and film production. We both eventually quit our jobs, and my brother started making these wallets and I started making videos about the wallets and selling them online and that’s how we started the company.

How long has American Bench Craft been around?

My brother designed the original Hammer Riveted Wallet that would build our company in 2013, which is also when we quit our jobs. It took us several months to design a Web site. We officially started selling the Hammer Riveted Wallet through a successful Kickstarter campaign beginning of 2014.

American Bench Craft 33

How did you come up with the name of your shop?

We knew our name had to have American and Craft in it, since all of our products would now and always be handcrafted in the USA. Before we could afford a workshop and warehouse for our company, we were actually making all of the Hammer Riveted Wallets we were selling out of our parent’s garage using an old tool/work bench my brother had made when he was younger, so American Bench Craft seemed appropriate at the time and the name stuck.

American Bench Craft 08

As a small business owner, what is one piece of advice you would share with other small business owners?

You really have to spend money to make money, but make sure you’re getting something of value for your hard-earned money. I was doing marketing for other companies before American Bench Craft and I saw how companies that spent good money on marketing were generally bigger, more successful and profitable than companies that were always pinching pennies and looking for the cheapest option. So, I knew we’d have to spend money to remain competitive. The problem is you have to make sure your getting something valuable for the money you’re spending and that’s tricky trying to decipher between who’s calling to sell you something legitimate, and who’s calling just to make a sale without any thought or consideration for you or your company. There was definitely a slow learning curve there and because we bootstrapped our company with no outside investment money or capital, it was a challenge and setbacks were difficult. We learned how to be smarter about business and that along with our products which have always been some of the best on the market has been what I attribute most to our success. We know our customers expect the best products and we strive everyday to put out the best products on the market. And therefore, we expect the best from the people we work, be it companies that supply us with raw materials or provide us with necessary services to operate our company.

How do you create your products?

When we get an idea for a product, we first design it using a CAD program. Once we’re satisfied with the design, we begin prototyping it to see if the design works. Usually, the design needs to be tweaked a few times before we get it right. Prototyping is usually a long, tedious process. However, once we have something that looks good, we test it out for a few months to make sure its functional and we make adjustments along the way. To bring a new product to market is a long arduous process, but crossing that finish line is always worth the time and effort.

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What is the inspiration for your work?

Solving problems and being the best. The first wallet my brother designed and created was done so to solve the age old problem that eventually your wallet will fall apart. My brother had no interest in a metal or plastic wallet, as nothing really beats leather, but he was sick and tired of his wallets falling apart so quickly. We continue to design and create products that solve problems, so that consumers can keep our products forever.

What does “handmade” and “handcrafted” mean to you?

We design and create all of our products entirely by hand using only simple hand tools. Even our 8 Ton clicker press runs on good old American muscle, no electrical power. Everything from the cutting, stamping, riveting and finishing is done by hand. That’s what handmade/hand crafted means to us.

What is your next new exciting project?

We’re currently working with our local fire department to design a new, ultra durable holster for their radios, which we are really excited about.

What is a quote that you personally live by, or you have shared with others for inspiration?

“Don’t Count the Days, Make the Days Count” – Muhammed Ali

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Why did you choose to join aftcra, and what do you enjoy about the community?

Aftcra seemed the perfect match for us “Crafted by American Hands” so it was an easy decision to join the Aftcra community and being apart of something that focuses solely on handmade goods is what’s most enjoyable.

 

Get regular updates from Jason and Chris and their shop American Bench Craft! Connect with their social profiles here:

Instagram: @BenchCraft

Facebook: facebook.com/hammerridgeproducts

Pinterest: @BenchCraftUSA

Twitter: @BenchCraftUSA

 

 

Want to get featured on aftcra’s homepage! Interested in becoming aftcra’s Featured Store of the month? Send an email to info@aftcra.com and we will send you the requirements. All requests will be considered to become the next aftcra Featured Store.

Have you checked out aftcra yet?  Discover handmade goods from American artisans at aftcra.

 

American Bench Craft - Meet the aftcra Maker- American Bench Craft - handcrafted Leather goods, wallets, belts, riveted leather bracelets, and luggage tags

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Unique Father’s Day Gifts Under $25

Unique Father's Day Gifts Under $25 - Handmade gift ideas for him - aftcra - gifts - handcrafted gifts - American made gifts - Made in USA gifts for Fathers Day

Your dad deserves something awesome, but sometimes your wallet doesn’t reach as far as you’d like it to. But if you give him something thoughtful and special, we’re pretty sure your dad will love it! That’s why we created this list of unique Father’s Day gifts under $25 – all handmade by artisans around the USA. That’s a lot of gift ideas that are extra special and made with a little extra love that your dad is bound to love. From custom fishing lures to cheeky coffee mugs, we’re sure you’ll find something for your dad here.

And check back once in awhile for updates to this gift guide as new products are added to aftcra.com.

 

Under 25 Fathers Day - Daddy's Future Hunting Buddy Custom Onesie

Daddy’s Future Hunting Buddy Custom Onesie

Handmade in: Louisiana

Price: $12.99

Buy this here: http://www.aftcra.com/CustomGiftsbyKB/listing/174665/daddys-future-hunting-buddy-custom-onesie-hunting-baby-onesie-deer-oneie-geeky-baby-onesie-custom-baby-onesie-daddy-onesie-deer

 

 

Under 25 Fathers Day - Daddy's Future Fishin Buddy Custom Onesie

Daddy’s Future Fishin’ Buddy Custom Onesie

Handmade in: Louisiana

Price: $12.99

Buy this here: http://www.aftcra.com/CustomGiftsbyKB/listing/174661/daddys-future-fishin-buddy-custom-onesie-custom-baby-onesie-daddy-onesie-fishing-buddy-outdoors-onesie

 

Under 25 Fathers Day - Customized Beer Bottle 10oz Soy Wax Candle

Customized Beer Bottle 10oz Soy Wax Candle

Handmade in: Georgia

Price: $13.99

Buy this here: http://www.aftcra.com/thriftycraftaholic/listing/180879/assorted-customized-beer-bottle-soy-wax-candle-10oz

 

 

Under 15 Fathers Day - Wayne Gretzky Michael Scott Quote Mug - The Office tv Show

Wayne Gretzky Michael Scott Quote Mug – The Office tv Show

Handmade in: New York

Price: $15.00

Buy this here: http://www.aftcra.com/thesilverspiderprintshop/listing/16959/wayne-gretzky-michael-scott-quote-mug-the-office-tv-show-pop-culture-coffee-cup-pencil-holder-catch-all-ready-to-ship

 

 

Under 25 Fathers Day - Beer Bar Decor Hoop Art Embroidery Mixed Media

“Where Do You See Yourself in Five Beers” Cheeky Hoop Art

Handmade in: The USA

Price: $17.00

Buy this here: http://www.aftcra.com/Thistooksewlong/listing/195335/funny-where-do-you-see-yourself-in-5-beers-hand-stitched-modern-embroided-hoop-wall-hanging-decor

 

 

Under 25 Fathers Day - Copper “Daddy You Rock” Guitar Pick

Copper “Daddy You Rock” Guitar Pick / “Play For Me Daddy” Custom Guitar Pick in Copper

Handmade in: Colorado

Price: $18.00

Buy this here: http://www.aftcra.com/beadsoul/listing/120563/copper-guitar-pick-22-gauge-hand-stamped-with-daddy-you-rock-ready-to-ship-gift

OR

http://www.aftcra.com/beadsoul/listing/123810/play-for-me-daddy-handstamped-copper-guitar-pick

 

Under 25 Fathers Day - Stainless Steel Custom Bottle Opener Keychain

Steel Custom Bottle Opener Keychain

Handmade in: Colorado

Price: $18.00

Buy this here: http://www.aftcra.com/beadsoul/listing/125104/handstamped-bottle-opener-keychain-personalized-keychain-in-stainless-steel-gift-for-him-wedding-party-gift-gift-for-dad

 

Under 25 Fathers Day - Hand stamped stainless steel collar stays personalized gift

Hand-Stamped Stainless Steel Collar Stays

Handmade in: Colorado

Price: $18.00

Buy this here: http://www.aftcra.com/beadsoul/listing/120553/hand-stamped-stainless-steel-collar-stays-personalized-gift-for-him-25-inch-medium

 

 

Under 25 Fathers Day - DSLR Camera Wrist Strap - News Print

DSLR Camera Wrist Strap – News Print

Handmade in: Oregon

Price: $19.00

Buy this here: http://www.aftcra.com/craftystaci/listing/183116/camera-strap-for-wrist-dslr-quick-release-news-print-ready-to-ship

 

 

Under 25 Fathers Day - Men's Personalized Batman Superhero Keychain

Men’s Personalized Batman Keychain

Handmade in: Tennessee

Price: $20.00

Buy this here: http://www.aftcra.com/likemotherlikedaughter/listing/100498/mens-personalized-keychain-personalized-hand-stamped-bat-keychain-you-are-my-superhero-superhero-keychain-dad-keychain

 

 

Under 25 Fathers Day - Men's Personalized Fishing Lure Keychain

Personalized Fishing Lure Keychain

Handmade in: Tennessee

Price: $20.00

Buy this here: http://www.aftcra.com/likemotherlikedaughter/listing/135400/mens-personalized-keychain-personalized-hand-stamped-hooked-on-you-key-chain-daddy-we-are-hooked-on-you-fish-keychain-fishies

 

 

Under 25 Fathers Day - Ohio Roots State Tee - All States Available

Ohio Roots State Tee – All States Available

Handmade in: The USA

Price: $22.90

Buy this here: http://www.aftcra.com/sevenmilespersecond/listing/7450/red-series-ohio-oh-roots-or-made-tri-blend-track-t-shirt

 

 

Under 25 Fathers Day - Handmade Leather Key Fob: Keyring

Handmade Leather Key Fob/Keyring

Handmade in: California

Price: $23.00

Buy this here: http://www.aftcra.com/gritsnhokum/listing/19524/handmade-leather-key-fob-keyring-34-trigger-snap-multiple-colors-hand-cut-stained

 

 

Under 25 Fathers Day - Police Officer Fathers Day Gift Idea

Police Officer Fathers Day Men’s Necklace

Handmade in: Connecticut

Price: $24.00

Buy this here: http://www.aftcra.com/mommysmetalz/listing/176706/police-officer-gifts-daddy-daughter-set-police-daughter-necklace-badge-number-hand-stamped-my-daddy-my-hero-necklace-thin-blue-line

 

Under 25 Fathers Day - Reclaimed Wooden Tablet or iPhone Stand

Reclaimed Wooden Tablet or iPhone Stand

Handmade in: the USA

Price: $24.50

Buy this here: http://www.aftcra.com/fwtreasures/listing/171065/rustic-tablet-stand

 

Under 25 Fathers Day - Police Fathers Day Necklace

Stepdad “It is not flesh and blood, but heart which makes us fathers and sons” Silver Keychain

Handmade in: Connecticut

Price: $24.00

Buy this here: http://www.aftcra.com/mommysmetalz/listing/176724/step-dad-gift-stepfather-stepdad-gifts-for-step-dad-hand-stamped-dad-keychain-christmas-gift-for-stepdads-step-son-daughter

 

Under 25 Fathers Day - Custom Personalized Golf Ball Marker with Leather Keychain Case

Personalized Golf Ball Marker with Leather Keychain Case

Handmade in: Tennessee

Price: $25.00

Buy this here: http://www.aftcra.com/likemotherlikedaughter/listing/135457/personalized-golf-ball-marker-brown-leather-keychain-case-mens-gift-grooms-gift-grandpa-dad-tap-that-golfer-gift-golf-marker

 

Under 25 Fathers Day - Custom Leather Luggage Tags

Custom Leather Luggage Tags

Handmade in: Utah

Price: $25.00

Buy this here: http://www.aftcra.com/redleafleather/listing/177148/leather-luggage-tags-custom-state-luggage-tags-tan-color

Unique and Handmade Father’s Day Gifts

Unique and Handmade Father's Day Gifts - Handmade gift ideas for him - aftcra - gifts - handcrafted gifts - American made gifts - Made in USA gifts for Fathers Day

If your Dad is awesome, then he deserves something extra special this Father’s Day. Let’s give him something unique, custom and personal from this list of handmade Father’s Day gifts. The best part about this list is that everything was crafted with love from an artisan in the USA. That means that you’re giving your dad two doses of love – a gift made with love, selected with love. You know he’ll love these gifts!

Let’s celebrate our dads with this list of handmade Father’s Day gifts.

 

Fathers Day - I Will Always Be Your Little Girl or Little Boy Picture Frame

I Will Always Be Your Little Girl or Little Boy

Handmade in: Indiana

Price: $25.95

Buy this here: http://www.aftcra.com/legacyimages/listing/142560/8×10-i-will-always-be-your-little-girl-or-little-boy-picture-frame

 

Fathers Day - Men's Custom Leather Wallet

Men’s Minimalist Custom Leather Wallet

Handmade in: Utah

Price: $26.00

Buy this here: http://www.aftcra.com/redleafleather/listing/177143/mens-custom-leather-wallet-minimalist-wallet-groomsmen-gift-tan-color

 

 

Fathers Day - Rustic Reclaimed Distressed Pallet Wood Amercan Flag Sign

Rustic Reclaimed Distressed Pallet Wood American Flag Sign

Handmade in: Florida

Price: $26.95

Buy this here: http://www.aftcra.com/seasiderelics/listing/194714/handmade-rustic-reclaimed-distressed-pallet-wood-amercan-flag-sign

 

Fathers Day - Gifts For Men, Rustic Bottle Opener, Home Bar Decor

Rustic Bottle Opener

Handmade in: New York

Price: $27.00

Buy this here: http://www.aftcra.com/sawdustandsunshowers/listing/160282/rustic-home-decor-wall-bottle-opener-home-bar-decor-wood-home-decor-gifts-for-him-gift-for-men-bottle-opener-man-cave-decor-dad-gift

 

Fathers Day - Military Tribute Plaque - Marine Corps, Army, Navy

Military Tribute Plaque (Marine Corps, Army, Navy)

Handmade in: Indiana

Price: $27.00

Buy this here: http://www.aftcra.com/legacyimages/listing/142609/military-tribute-plaque-marine-corps-army-navy

 

Fathers Day - Topo Tag -- Custom Leather Luggage Tag Imprinted Unusual Gift

Custom Leather Luggage Tag

Handmade in: Massachusetts

Price: $28.00

Buy this here: http://www.aftcra.com/AmericanBenchCraft/listing/156519/topo-tag-custom-leather-luggage-tag

 

Fathers Day - Handmade Leather Key Holder

Handmade Leather Key Holder

Handmade in: California

Price: $28.00

Buy this here: http://www.aftcra.com/gritsnhokum/listing/19509/handmade-leather-key-holder-utility-clip-for-keychains-and-belt-loops-1-wide-saddle-snap-heavy-duty

 

Under 25 Fathers Day - Hand Stamped Silver Custom Cuff Links

Hand Stamped Silver Custom Cuff Links

Handmade in: Tennessee

Price: $28.00

Buy this here: http://www.aftcra.com/likemotherlikedaughter/listing/135344/hand-stamped-personalized-cuff-links-hand-stamped-cuff-links-cufflinks-for-dad-handstamped-cuff-links-wedding-cuff-links

 

Under 25 Fathers Day - Leather Herringbone Bracelet

Leather Herringbone Bracelet

Handmade in: Massachusetts

Price: $28.00

Buy this here: http://www.aftcra.com/AmericanBenchCraft/listing/156524/herringbone-bracelet

 

 

Fathers Day - Life is Better At the River - Rustic River Sign, Cottage Decor, Camping Sign, River Decor

“Life is Better at the River” Plaque

Handmade in: New York

Price: $37.00

Buy this here: http://www.aftcra.com/sawdustandsunshowers/listing/175824/rustic-river-sign-life-is-better-at-the-river-camp-sign-cabin-sign-camping-decor-river-decor-distressed-sign-handmade-wooden-sign

 

 

Under 25 Fathers Day - Unique Leather Riveted Cardholder

Unique Leather Riveted Cardholder

Handmade in: Massachusetts

Price: $38.00

Buy this here: http://www.aftcra.com/AmericanBenchCraft/listing/156534/riveted-cardholder

 

 

Fathers Day - I Love You More Than Tacos Embroidery Hoop Art

I Love You More Than Tacos Embroidery Hoop Art

Handmade in: Kentucky

Price: $38.00

Buy this here: http://www.aftcra.com/thistleandthreaddesign/listing/190629/mothers-day-gift-i-love-you-more-than-tacos-best-friend-gift-embroidery-hoop-art-gift-for-him-kitchen-decor-funny-gift-unique-gift

 

 

Fathers Day - Handmade American Jackal:Coyote Leather Keychain

Handmade American Jackal/Coyote Leather Keychain

Handmade in: California

Price: $40.00

Buy this here: http://www.aftcra.com/gritsnhokum/listing/19512/handmade-american-jackalcoyote-leather-keychain-w-brass-swivel-snap-hand-cut-stained

 

 

Fathers Day - Handmade LSU Tigers Reclaimed Wooden Serving Tray

Handmade LSU Tigers Reclaimed Wooden Serving Tray

Handmade in: Florida

Price: $44.95

Buy this here: http://www.aftcra.com/seasiderelics/listing/194250/handmade-hand-painted-lsu-louisiana-state-university-tigers-reclaimed-wooden-serving-tray

 

 

Fathers Day - Jameson Irish Whiskey Liquor Bottle Lamp Accent Light

Jameson Irish Whiskey Liquor Bottle Lamp Accent Light

Handmade in: Connecticut

Price: $44.95

Buy this here: http://www.aftcra.com/bodaciousbottles/listing/194543/jameson-irish-whiskey-liquor-bottle-lamp-accent-light-bar-man-cave-fathers-day

 

Fathers Day - Oak Wood Valet Charging Stand Nightstand Dock

Oak Wood Valet Charging Stand Nightstand Dock

Handmade in: Virginia

Price: $49.99

Buy this here: http://www.aftcra.com/Playallday/listing/134275/oak-wood-valet-iphone-galaxy-charging-stand-nightstand-dock-graduation

 

Fathers Day - Mens Minimalist Custom Leather Wallet 02

Men’s Custom Leather Wallet

Handmade in: Utah

Price: $55.00

Buy this here: http://www.aftcra.com/redleafleather/listing/177147/mens-custom-leather-wallet-thin-leather-wallet-mens-anniversary-gift-dark-brown-color

 

Fathers Day - Handcrafted Wine Rack with Early American Finish

Handcrafted Wine Rack with Early American Finish

Handmade in: Texas

Price: $62.50

Buy this here: http://www.aftcra.com/tdrusticreflections/listing/187928/handcrafted-wine-rack-with-early-american-finish

 

Fathers Day - Working Man's Quality Leather Belt with Interchangeable Buckle

Working Man’s Quality Leather Belt with Interchangeable Buckle

Handmade in: Massachusetts

Price: $68.00

Buy this here: http://www.aftcra.com/AmericanBenchCraft/listing/156527/working-mans-quality-leather-belt-with-interchangeable-buckle

 

Fathers Day - Handmade Leather Pocket Knife Holster (((America))) Hand TOOLED

Handmade Leather Pocket Knife Holster (((America))) Hand TOOLED

Handmade in: California

Price: $70.00

Buy this here: http://www.aftcra.com/gritsnhokum/listing/19520/handmade-leather-pocket-knife-holster-america-hand-tooled-stained-sewn

 

 

Fathers Day - The Secret Life of Walter Mitty Leather Wallet

The Secret Life of Walter Mitty Custom Leather Wallet

Handmade in: Utah

Price: $79.00

Buy this here: http://www.aftcra.com/redleafleather/listing/177141/mens-leather-wallet-secret-life-of-walter-mitty-wallet-mens-anniversary-gift-mahogany-color

 

 

Fathers Day - Custom Cross Stitch Family Portrait for 4 People

Custom Grandkids Portrait for Four People

Handmade in: California

Price: $80.00

Buy this here: http://www.aftcra.com/clothandtwigshop/listing/175432/custom-cross-stitch-family-portrait-for-4-people-housewarming-gift-custom-portrait-custom-cross-stitch-custom-gift-by-cloth-and-twig

 

 

Fathers Day - Mens Window & Zipper Wallet, With 24 in Leather Braided Chains

Men’s Window & Zipper Wallet, With 24 in Leather Braided Chains

Handmade in: California

Price: $94.95

Buy this here: http://www.aftcra.com/americancraftsman10/listing/5547/mens-window-zipper-wallet-with-24-in-leather-braided-chains-genuine-leather-mens-biker-wallet-durable-wallet-made-in-socal-made-in-usa

 

 

Fathers Day - Hand Painted Reclaimed Pallet Wooden Washington Sign

Hand Painted Reclaimed Pallet Wooden Washington Sign

Handmade in: Florida

Price: $95.00

Buy this here: http://www.aftcra.com/seasiderelics/listing/194238/hand-painted-reclaimed-pallet-wooden-nfl-football-washington-sign

 

 

Fathers Day - Men's necklace handcrafted from natural shell

Men’s necklace handcrafted from natural shell

Handmade in: Wisconsin

Price: $98.00

Buy this here: http://www.aftcra.com/jennyhoople/listing/193073/black-sands-mens-necklace

 

Fathers Day - Handmade His and Her Leather Luggage Tags. Personalized

Handmade His and Her Leather Luggage Tags. Personalized

Handmade in: California

Price: $100.00

Buy this here: http://www.aftcra.com/gritsnhokum/listing/19523/handmade-his-and-her-leather-luggage-tags-personalized-double-sided-set-of-2-hand-sewn-stained

 

 

Fathers Day - Mens US Military Deluxe Trifold Wallet with iPhone Holder

Men’s US Military Deluxe Trifold Wallet with iPhone Holder

Handmade in: California

Price: $110.00

Buy this here: http://www.aftcra.com/americancraftsman10/listing/10857/mens-us-military-deluxe-trifold-wallet-iphone-5-5c-5s-6-genuine-leather-18-chrome-chains-key-fob-army-navy-marine-air-force

 

 

Fathers Day - Dog Pet Portrait 5 x 7 Colored Pencil Art

Dog Pet Portrait 5 x 7 Colored Pencil Art

Handmade in: Iowa

Price: $155.00

Buy this here: http://www.aftcra.com/PetPortraitsbyCarla/listing/137211/dog-pet-portrait-5-x-7-colored-pencil-art-by-carla-kurt-cat-dog-horse-memorial

 

 

Meet the Maker: Lisa of Little Meadow Studio

Meet the Maker - Little Meadow Studio - Market Totes, Harvest Baskets, Project Baskets, Handmade Gift Ideas Mothers Day Gifts 2016 Made in the USA 20

Spring is here! Are you prepping for upcoming Farmer’s Markets, beach days, and Mother’s Day celebrations that are sneaking up on us? Artist Lisa Coffee of Little Meadow Studio handcrafts understated and incredibly beautiful tote bags and baskets that will be a staple for your spring and summer activities. From Market Totes to Harvest Baskets for your foodie finds, and Project Baskets for creative home storage, you’re going to find something spectacular with Lisa … and fall in love with Little Meadow Studio‘s designs while you’re at at.

Let’s get to know Lisa and how she derives the inspiration behind her work!

Little Meadow Studio - Market Totes, Harvest Baskets, Project Baskets, Handmade Gift Ideas Mothers Day Gifts 2016 Made in the USA 04

 

Hi, I’m Lisa Coffee. My shop is called Little Meadow Studio, and I handcraft rope baskets.

I’m blessed beyond measure to live, along with my husband and two children, on a twelve acre homestead in Western North Carolina, just outside of Asheville. I work from home, and my studio is a hallway room of sorts. It’s a room that connects two other rooms in my house, and is centrally located so I can be working, yet still in the middle of everything. My studio has amazing built-in shelves, a skylight and a window overlooking our flock of chickens – it’s a sweet space!

Little Meadow Studio - Market Totes, Harvest Baskets, Project Baskets, Handmade Gift Ideas Mothers Day Gifts 2016 Made in the USA 05

 

How did you get started in your line of work?

I am a Maker, and I always have been. I inherited my paternal grandmother’s crafty gene, for her hands were always busy with one project or another. As a teenager, I taught myself to make candles, and to sew. During my early twenties I seasonally followed the Grateful Dead on tour, and to fund my travels, I sold dresses and candles in the great traveling craft show known as The Lot. This was a carefree and enlightening time in my life full of adventurous travel and personal growth, and from these experiences, though more than twenty years past, I still draw inspiration. Over the years I’ve dabbled in all sorts of handmade crafts, it’s no wonder that I chose two “hands-on” careers – I spent ten years in private practice as a Massage Therapist, followed by five years working in the Deaf community as an American Sign Language interpreter. Throughout the years I kept my hands busy making beeswax candles, sewing household goods, embossing copper, learning photography, making gemstone jewelry, exploring the art of wheel-thrown pottery at a local pottery guild, knitting, and a ton of gardening. After starting a family, my husband and I moved from Colorado to Western North Carolina to live out our homesteading dreams. We purchased an amazing piece of property nestled in the Blue Ridge Mountains, expanded our gardens, bought our first flock of hens, began keeping bees, continuing to grow and preserve as much of our own food as possible. With my two young children as inspiration, I began sewing their clothes, quilting and knitting more. When I first spotted a rope basket during an internet search, I just knew I had to make one. And so, one afternoon I sat at my machine, and worked it out. The first two baskets were lovely and imperfect and practical and I was hooked. I didn’t start making baskets with the intent of selling them, but as I shared my process on social media, the response was overwhelming – people wanted these baskets, and I loved making them – et voilá, a small business was born!

Little Meadow Studio - Market Totes, Harvest Baskets, Project Baskets, Handmade Gift Ideas Mothers Day Gifts 2016 Made in the USA 22

 

How long have you been doing your artwork?

I’ve been sewing for 24 years, and sewing rope baskets for nearly one year.

 

How did you come up with the name of your shop?

The inspiration for my shop name Little Meadow Studio comes from the land I live on. If you were to walk with me around this property, I’d lead you first through the expansive gardens where my family and I grow our food. From there we would swing by the backyard playground, and head toward the Tricky Trail. We’d cross the creek at Fairy Crossing, stopping long enough to spy salamanders and play in the rushing water. From here we would first amble, then run along winding forest trails, ducking under hundred year old rhododendron trees, spotting mushrooms, bear scat, and vibrant green moss at the base of each tree trunk. After winding along, we would cross the creek again and follow the path up through sourwood and oak to a little rainbow colored wildflower meadow. Here we would watch how the afternoon light casts through insect wings. We’d notice how the breeze turns each bloom towards us, like a welcoming wave – dandelion, oxeye daisy, goldenrod, red clover, joe-pye weed, poppy, jewel weed, yarrow – depending on the season – the whole rainbow blooms here. We would wander around admiring each bloom, perhaps laying down a blanket, a place to rest and daydream the afternoon away.

Little Meadow Studio - Market Totes, Harvest Baskets, Project Baskets, Handmade Gift Ideas Mothers Day Gifts 2016 Made in the USA 02

 

How do you create your work?

I do most of my sewing in the middle of the day when my children are otherwise occupied around the homestead. However, since my studio is in the middle of the house, they are often by my side, if not sitting on my table as I sew. Each of my baskets is sewn using a continuous piece of cotton rope. I hand dye the rope in small batches prior to sewing. Sometimes I have a specific shape or pattern in mind when I’m dyeing, other times, I make it up as I go. Some of my most favorite baskets have come from those days when I sit down with a hank of rope and start sewing with no particular shape in mind. I love the organic shape building aspect of making these baskets, which reminds me of wheel-throwing clay.

 

What is the inspiration for your work? 

My inspiration for most things in life has always come from the natural world around me. I spend most of my waking time outside in the garden, or exploring the forest with my kids. My work is influenced by the need of having beautiful and functional ways of storing my homesteading tools, harvests, knitting WIPs, and crafting supplies. I often joke that one can not be both a homesteader and a minimalist because the work of growing, harvesting, and preserving food requires a lot of stuff, and I’m forever looking for creative and beautiful ways of storing that stuff. The idea of creating something that is as beautiful as it is useful motivates me. I’m practical but I also like pretty, and I’m not willing to compromise beauty for functionality if I can have both.

Little Meadow Studio - Market Totes, Harvest Baskets, Project Baskets, Handmade Gift Ideas Mothers Day Gifts 2016 Made in the USA 08

 

What is your next new exciting project? 

This spring I’m planting a dye garden on the homestead. The idea of cultivating plants for dyeing textiles has me beyond excited. My seeds are ordered, my garden beds prepped, and as soon as the spring weather takes a firm hold on my mountain garden, I’ll be growing indigo, hopi sunflowers, goldenrod, amaranth, elderberry and many, many more. I hope to transition to completely homegrown plant dyes within the coming months. Long term, I have plans to turn our back room into a pottery studio. It’s been years since I’ve sat at a wheel and played with clay, and I plan to revisit that love affair soon!

 

What is a quote that you personally live by, or you have shared with others for inspiration?

“It’s never too late – in fiction or in life – to revise.” – Nancy Thayer

 

As a small business owner, what is one piece of advice you would share with other small business owners?

Make what you love, and Share The Love with your buyers. Without the people who actually buy my art, I would have a hobby, not a business. I strive to respond promptly to customer inquires, clearly communicate my process, rates and shipping times, and generally try to be available. Sending out a token of appreciation to customers, whether it’s a handwritten note, special discount offer, or small handmade gift are a few ways that I share the love with my customers. I see working from home, creating beautiful functional art, to be a great privilege, and I’m grateful every day to have this lifestyle.

Little Meadow Studio - Market Totes, Harvest Baskets, Project Baskets, Handmade Gift Ideas Mothers Day Gifts 2016 Made in the USA 23

 

What handmade-related business resources do you use to help improve your business?

I don’t use any specific handmade-related business tools. Should I be?! I joke, but really, my most useful tool for the business side of my work is a simple google docs spreadsheet, which helps me keep the numbers in check. I also can’t say enough good things about the instagram community. I am inspired and uplifted daily by Makers of all sorts.

 

What does “handmade” and “handcrafted” mean to you?

I interpret Handmade and Handcrafted to mean, quite literally, the work that comes from one’s own hands. Handcrafted means being involved and “hands on” during as many steps of design and fabrication as possible. It means authentic, personal, unique. It means time well spent.

 

Why did you choose to join aftcra, and what do you enjoy about the community?

I’m new to Aftcra, and I came for two main reasons:

1) I was looking for an online community serving American Makers, and

2) I wanted to find a platform where my work could stand out as unique, and not just one in a million.

I was very impressed with the ease of setting up my shop, and overall the user interface feels welcoming and intuitive. I’m excited for the opportunities within this community!

Little Meadow Studio - Market Totes, Harvest Baskets, Project Baskets, Handmade Gift Ideas Mothers Day Gifts 2016 Made in the USA 21

 

Get regular updates from Genevieve and Little Meadow Studio! Connect with their social profiles here:

Facebook: Little Meadow Studio

Instagram: @littlemeadowstudio

 

Want to get featured on aftcra’s homepage! Interested in becoming aftcra’s Featured Store of the month? Send an email to info@aftcra.com and we will send you the requirements. All requests will be considered to become the next aftcra Featured Store.

Have you checked out aftcra yet?  Discover handmade goods from American artisans at aftcra.

 

Meet the aftcra Maker- Little Meadow Studio

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A 2015 Holiday Gift Guide for Everyone on Your List

Kelsey Van Kirk The Home Loving Wife - A 2015 Holiday Gift Guide for Everyone on Your list

Post by aftcra Guest Blogger, Kelsey Van Kirk of The Home Loving Wife.

It’s that time of year again friends! The air is crisp, the leaves are changing and excitement is growing in anticipation of the holiday season. Can you believe it?! It seems like just yesterday we were all having backyard cookouts and dipping our toes in salty ocean water. Nevertheless, the holidays are quickly approaching, which means it’s time to pack away those bathing suits, pull out the sweaters and start thinking about your holiday gift-giving plans!

I don’t know about you, but sometimes the thought of coming up with a unique, thoughtful and budget-friendly gift for each person on my list can be a bit overwhelming. For a young married mama with four daughters and large extended families, my gift-giving list seems to grow exponentially each year. Like most of you, I am very busy! On top of caring for four little ones, homeschooling and running a household, I am also Editor of The Home Loving Wife, a lifestyle blog inspiring and encouraging wives, moms and homemakers to live simply, live lovely + live well. Being short on time means that I don’t want to squander it by meandering through the mall searching for the perfect gifts for my husband, daughters, parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, friends, neighbors, etc. However, I personally have a huge soft spot for quality, design and value. I like to know that the gifts I choose for my loved ones are made well, won’t break the bank and will delight each person who receives them. Bonus points if they are made in the USA by small businesses!

To lend you a helping hand, I have curated a little holiday gift guide for every person you may find on your list this year! Below are a selection of my favorite aftcra products for men, women and children with a variety of price points to fit any budget. Each item is of beautiful quality and handmade by talented artisans right here in the USA in this 2015 Holiday Gift Guide for everyone.


Kelsey Van Kirk The Home Loving Wife - A 2015 Holiday Gift Guide for Everyone on Your list - Beard Oil- Citrus Blend

1. Citrus Blend Beard Oil – $15

Perfect for those gentlemen in your life who have embraced the “lumbersexual” trend this year. I love that this beard oil uses 100% natural ingredients to keep both beard and skin healthy, moisturized and well-groomed.

Buy this here: http://www.aftcra.com/coastaltidessoaps/listing/152818/beard-oil-citrus-blend

 

Kelsey Van Kirk The Home Loving Wife - A 2015 Holiday Gift Guide for Everyone on Your list - Men's Superman Silhouette Tee

2. Superman Silhouette Tee Shirt – $22

This soft, comfy, 100% cotton tee is sure to be a hit with any guy who receives it! Because let’s be real – what man doesn’t want to be a superhero, am I right?!

Buy this here: http://www.aftcra.com/mixedtees/listing/980/mens-superman-silhouette-tee

 

Kelsey Van Kirk The Home Loving Wife - A 2015 Holiday Gift Guide for Everyone on Your list - Bottle cap catcher personalized. Man cave Fathers Day gift

3. Bottle Cap Catcher – $38.95

This beautiful bottle opener will make the perfect addition to any mancave. Customizable and featuring hand-carved details, this is a gift that will be cherished (and well used!) for years to come.

Buy this here: http://www.aftcra.com/mvwoodworks/listing/145266/bottle-cap-catcher-personalized-man-cave-fathers-day-gift-for-him-wooden-beer-pub-sign-groomsmen-wedding-gift

 

Kelsey Van Kirk The Home Loving Wife - A 2015 Holiday Gift Guide for Everyone on Your list - Painted Distressed Mason Jars - Pink, Cream and Coral Jars

4. Painted Distressed Mason Jars – $21

This set of beautiful hand-painted and distressed jars will bring any woman on your list joy! They are pretty, soft and feminine, and will be perfect for displaying fresh bouquets of her favorite flowers.

Buy this here: http://www.aftcra.com/pinkbirdie/listing/40047/painted-distressed-mason-jars-pink-cream-and-coral-jars-wedding-centerpiece-home-decor-rustic-wedding-girl-baby-shower

 

Kelsey Van Kirk The Home Loving Wife - A 2015 Holiday Gift Guide for Everyone on Your list - Signature Flat Notecards - Personalized Notecards

5. Signature Note Cards – $40

What lady doesn’t love to send a beautiful, handwritten note in the mail? This pretty little set of cards will be sure to please and is completely customizable.

Buy this here: http://www.aftcra.com/palmbeachpapery/listing/140595/signature-flat-notecards-personalized-notecards-correspondence-card-stationery-preppy-bright-stationary-note-writing-paper-set

 

Kelsey Van Kirk The Home Loving Wife - A 2015 Holiday Gift Guide for Everyone on Your list - Untangled Accents- Gold Owl Necklace

6. Owl Necklace – $15

This gorgeous gold pendant will add just the right amount of whimsy and glam to a woman’s winter wardrobe. I love the delicate feather accents in the chain – so beautiful!

Buy this here: http://www.aftcra.com/untangledaccents/listing/154197/gold-owl-necklace-accented-with-gold-feathers

 

Kelsey Van Kirk The Home Loving Wife - A 2015 Holiday Gift Guide for Everyone on Your list - Mango Blossoms Child Drawstring Backpack

7. Girls Drawstring Backpack – $15

I have four young daughters and already I am amazed by their burgeoning obsession with bags! They can’t get enough. These cute little shoulder backpacks will be perfect for any little girls who may be on your list this year to tote around their special belongings.

Buy this here: http://www.aftcra.com/rainydaycreations/listing/145964/mango-blossoms-child-drawstring-backpack

 

Kelsey Van Kirk The Home Loving Wife - A 2015 Holiday Gift Guide for Everyone on Your list - Baby Sensory Build-A-Book

8. Baby Sensory Build-A-Book – $26.50

This precious baby book is so adorable and will make the babies on your list squeal with delight! Each page is specially crafted to engage little ones with different textures and sounds. And the best part? It’s completely machine washable!

Buy this here: http://www.aftcra.com/2gigglymonkeys/listing/108060/sensory-build-a-book-animal-crackers

 

Kelsey Van Kirk The Home Loving Wife - A 2015 Holiday Gift Guide for Everyone on Your list - Junior Woodsman's Tool box

9. Wooden Toolbox – $50

Though I don’t have boys of my own, I am sure that any little boy would LOVE this sweet toolbox. This gift will be one that he cherishes for years and will help spark his sense of creativity.

Buy this here: http://www.aftcra.com/MandeFurniture/listing/153525/junior-woodsmans-tool-box

Hopefully this guide will serve as a helpful starting place as you set about your holiday shopping, but if you need further options be sure to check out the abundance of other beautiful handmade goods available through aftcra. Good luck, and happy shopping!

 

Kelsey Van Kirk The Home Loving Wife 11.13.15About aftcra Guest Blogger, Kelsey Van Kirk: Kelsey Van Kirk is married to her best friend, stay-at-home mama to four little princesses, multi-tasker extraordinaire and lover of Sunday morning snuggles, good wine, beach trips, and the holidays. She also authors The Home Loving Wife, a lifestyle blog inspiring and encouraging wives, moms and homemakers to live simply, live lovely + live well.

 

 

Our Q&A with Natalie of Natalie V Mason

Natalie V Mason Interview on aftcra - Handmade Handcrafted tote bags - ombre pillow throws - hand dyed table runners

With a line of impeccable handmade pillows in a variety of textures and colors, incredibly handcrafted leather and fabric tote bags, and gorgeous home decor pieces we wanted to introduce you to Natalie of Natalie V Mason, aftcra’s featured artisan for August. We sat down with Natalie to learn more about her business, how she crafts her products, and where she derives her inspiration to keep her collection fresh, current and totally unique.

 

Natalie V Mason on aftcra - handcrafted throw pillows, table runners and tote bags American made 02

 

1. Tell us about yourself and your company, Natalie V Mason

Hi! My name is Natalie Gshwandtner and my business is Natalie V Mason. I make a variety of home goods and accessories from fabrics that I hand dye, screen print, or digitally print with my own designs. For those that prefer to DIY, I offer my digital designs by the yard on my website: http://www.natalievmason.com.

I’ve been in business for about three years now, though I’ve dabbled in the arts since I was a child. My Dad is a talented artist and always exposed me to a variety of mediums.

 

2. Share with us a little more about your work space.

My studio space is located within The Workhouse, an artist collective in beautiful Bend, Oregon. Our brick warehouse is part of the Old Ironworks Arts District and we share the property with an amazing bakery, a clay and ceramic studio, a jeweler, and another artist collective. My colleagues in The Workhouse include a clothing designer, woodblock printer, jewelry designer, lampworker, an encaustic artist, a gal who paints with beer and coffee, and a fine artist. You can learn more about The Workhouse here: http://www.theworkhousebend.com/

 

3. How did you get started in your line of work?

My recent foray into fabrics and the arts stemmed from a need for new curtains and an inherited sewing machine. I’ve always been a bit of DIY’er, and a big time penny pincher, so when my husband and I found ourselves needing a bunch of new drapes, I couldn’t bear to buy them. I had so much fun making the curtains and shopping for fabrics, that I started making more things. I quickly determined that this was an expensive hobby, so I’d better start making money at it. From there I learned how to dye and print fabrics, and how to design repeats using my own watercolors and block prints.

 

Natalie V Mason on aftcra - handcrafted throw pillows, table runners and tote bags American made

4. How did you come up with the name of your shop – Natalie V Mason?

I wanted a business name that would grow with me, wherever I went and for whatever I decided to do.  I’ve been on a creative bender for the past three years, and my business is constantly evolving. So I just went with my own name. I decided to use my maiden name because “Gshwandtner” is a mouthful.

 

5. How do you create your work?

My designs often start out as block prints or watercolors. I then print them onto fabric (by hand or digitally) and assemble them into home goods and accessories. We are always bouncing ideas off of one another here at The Workhouse, and some of my products have started out as suggestions from my colleagues.

 

6. What is the inspiration for your work and Natalie V Mason?

I am a beach baby at heart! My favorite coastal areas often lend inspiration: eclectic Key West, laid back San Diego, the rugged Oregon Coast. My mother in law is an incredible gardener, so whenever we visit I like to wander around her garden and take pictures of the peonies, lavender, bees and frogs.

 

7. What is your next new exciting project?

I am always working on new fabric designs! My latest designs feature falling leaves in a variety of bright colors. Look for new tote bags and pouches in September!

 

8. As a small business owner, what is one piece of advice you would share with other small business owners?

“You” are not your target market. I am a bargain shopper and when I started, I really struggled with the fact that my prices are much higher than places like World Market and Target. I’ve accepted that I simply can not price-compete with mass-produced goods. There are plenty of buyers out there who value handmade and one of a kind goods. The trick is to find them!

 

Natalie V Mason on aftcra - handcrafted throw pillows, table runners and tote bags American made 01

9. What is a quote that you personally live by, or you have shared with others for inspiration?

“I believe that the craftsman, the artist, the cook, the silversmith are peacemakers. They instill grace; they lull the world to calm.” This little quote popped up while I was reading “House of Stone” by Anthony Shadid. I read it during a time that I was feeling very discouraged, and it really helped pick me up and make me feel less “silly” about trying to make it as an artist. On a less philosophical note, I love to tell people that “pain is weakness leaving the body.”

 

10. What does “handmade” and “handcrafted” mean to you?

It’s such a subjective term! I feel like some sweat and tears, pride, care and passion, need to be involved to make an item handmade. When I buy a mug from the ceramic studio next door, I know for a fact that Chad sweat on it when he pulled it out of the kiln. When I buy a ring from Marianne, who works next to me at The Workhouse, I know that she cursed when she burned her finger while soldering. When I attach the leather straps to my tote bags, I saw each rivet from a large brass tube and use a hammer and anvil to shape and flatten them until they are just right. Sometimes I smash my finger and sometimes it takes a few tries and some foul language. Such is the nature of making things by hand. Even when we get things down to a process, there is always that margin of error that makes each piece unique and more desirable.

My digital fabrics sold by the yard? Those aren’t handmade, even though I designed them. My tote bags and pouches made with my digital fabrics? Definitely made by hand with pride.

 

11. Why did you choose to join aftcra, and what do you enjoy about the community?

I’ll be blunt: I initially joined aftcra because it is not saturated with mass-produced goods. Since then I have found that aftcra really does attract the kinds of buyers who appreciate my products and who aren’t afraid of my price points. And, though I have much love and respect for my fellow artisans around the world, it is nice to be a part of a community that supports American-made goods.

 

Get regular updates from Natalie V Mason! Connect with her social profiles here:

instagram: natalievmason

twitter: natalievmason

pinterest: natalievmason

 

Want to get featured on aftcra’s homepage!  Interested in becoming aftcra’s Featured Store of the month? Send an email to info@aftcra.com and we will send you the requirements. All requests will be considered to become the next aftcra Featured Store.

Have you checked out aftcra yet?  Discover handmade goods from American artisans at aftcra.

 

Natalie V Mason on aftcra - handcrafted throw pillows, table runners and tote bags American made 03

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Amazon Handmade and the Handmade Community

Amazon Handmade and the Handmade Community with aftcra - handcrafted goods made in America

Over the past couple of weeks there has been chatter about Amazon and their potential move into the handcrafted arena with Amazon Handmade. Several of aftcra and Etsy’s top handmade artisans were hand-selected from Amazon to participate in a survey to both learn more about the handmade industry and gauge interest from sellers to see if this venture would be something artisans would be interested in pursuing.

It’s a bold move from an e-commerce goliath, especially in light of Etsy’s struggles since they went public in April of 2015. The current assumption is that Amazon would host a separate handmade marketplace for artisans, which beckons back to the day of Amazon’s replication of a bidding site similar to Ebay (Amazon’s venture was eventually closed).

But what does it all mean?

As of the day this post was published, any details about Amazon Handmade haven’t been released leaving the handmade community reeling with speculation – will it be a juried marketplace? Will artisans have similar fees to Amazon.com? Will Amazon’s Prime members have access to purchase handmade goods to be delivered in two days? So many questions, so many extreme points of view, but no concrete answers.

One thing that is sure is that Amazon is an even bigger organization than Etsy. That means that on Amazon Handmade there will be an incredible amount of products in a (assumed) worldwide handmade marketplace – which is a positive and negative for both buyers and sellers. Regardless, it provides artisans a new marketplace to sell their wares in a small industry.

At aftcra we are different. aftcra is the proverbial farmers market – we are an online marketplace where you can buy and sell handmade-only products that are made in America. This has been our goal since we founded aftcra. By featuring handcrafted goods that are American made we naturally create a smaller community where shoppers can purchase goods from artisans in their cities, towns or states, or they can choose to explore products from other areas of the country. And, with smaller communities, the aftcra team is also able to develop meaningful relationships with our artisans, which creates a strong community of artisans.

aftcra is one of the newest handmade marketplaces, but we are a privately-owned, family-owned, and woman-owned business who ensures that our users are our number one priority. As we’ve shared in the past, the only influencers of aftcra are our American handmade community. We allow for open feedback from the aftcra community so all artisan’s and shopper’s needs are being heard and met. For any artists looking for an alternative handmade marketplace, we’d love to work with you.

The Meaning of Handcrafted with Lemon Lime Creations

Meaning of Handcrafted - What Does Handcrafted Mean with Lemon Lime Creations on aftcra

Handcrafted. It’s a word that holds so much meaning in the handmade and artisanal world. We wanted to meet with some of aftcra’s talented artisans to share what “handcrafted” means and the importance of buying handmade goods.

Leanna Prejean of aftcra’s Lemon Lime Creations shared the inspiration behind her work, the what she enjoys about creating her beautiful custom hand-stamped jewelry, and what handcrafted means to her. You can visit Lemon Lime Creations to view and shop her work.

We hope you enjoy Leanna’s story.

 

Can you tell us a little about Lemon Lime Creations?

I make hand stamped jewelry.  I specialize in cuff bracelets.  While I mainly make completely custom order items, I also am constantly searching for new phrases to put on bracelets.

My inspirations are life in general – my family, experiences (good and bad), news articles, the Bible and classic books.  Quotes, sayings and phrases have to mean something to me if I am going to put it on a bracelet and offer it to the public.  After all, I might be hand stamping that phrase over and over again if it strikes a cord with others.

 

What does “handcrafted” mean to you?

Handcrafted means taking talent, tools and materials to create something.  The tools might be improvised, the materials something re-purposed; or, state of the art equipment and top of the line materials.  However, the maker, using talent, skill, vision and (depending upon the situation) interpretation of the customer’s description, is creating something original with their own two hands.

 

 

What makes handmade goods so important?

Handmade items require dedication to be made.  They require strength of character, determination and love.  A maker puts their heart and soul into their items – this is their dream they are fulfilling in making the item, their skills they are using.  I love the uniqueness of each item.  Even when making an item using the exact same material, pattern and tools, no two handmade items are exactly the same.  And that is beautiful.

The Meaning of Handcrafted with aftcras Lemon Lime Creations

 

 

As an artisan, how do you keep reinventing yourself?

I think you reinvent yourself everyday, simply by living in our world.  You are not the same person going to bed that you were when you woke up that day – you’ve experienced new things, thought new thoughts.

My line of bracelets continually grows and revolves.  Phrases I made constantly a year ago are not often requested.  Sometimes they don’t inspire me anymore, and I replace that item with a new item.  Or rework the sample into a new design and different font.

I retake product pictures as often as time permits – cameras are my nemesis.  I am constantly looking for new ways to stage a picture.  I am constantly curating photos.  If the picture wouldn’t catch my eye, doesn’t reflect my style and taste, it will get replaced, even if it looks like it was taken by a professional photographer.  I have probably 100-150 bracelets currently that I have not added to my shops, because I have not been satisfied with the picture.

 

What do you enjoy most about making?

I am working with my hands – crafting something that will be worn and loved. I love what I do, and I feel that when a maker loves their craft, it shows in the workmanship. I love that if I keep making mistakes (we all have those days), I can go sit outside with my cats in the sunshine for a while and then come in and start over.

I love that I am creating something that I designed with my customers. All of my bracelets can be customized on the inside as well as outside. I find it interesting to have that little peak of what “hidden” message a buyer adds to the inside.  It gives you an insight to the buyer and wearer, a little glimpse of someone’s soul. Often, I will spend hours trading emails with customers, until we have come up with the perfect phrase, font and personalized inscription for a gift. That is what makes this all special and unique – the one on one communication and personally crafting something that becomes a meaningful piece of jewelry and a heirloom.

 

Visit Lemon Lime Creations.

We Want to Hear From You: What Does Handcrafted Mean to You?

aftcras Handcrafted Blog

Do you have an eye for decorating? Are you an incredibly talented artisan? Whether you’re an artisan, an art lover, an interior decorator, or you have an appreciation for all-things creative, we want to hear from you! See the details below.

What Does Handcrafted Mean to You

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

aftcra is starting a blog series about what does handcrafted mean to you. Want to participate? We’re looking for the following from you:

– What “Handcrafted” means to you in 100 words or less.
– What you appreciate about handmade items in 100 words or less.

 

If you’re a maker or decorator, we’re looking for your thoughts on:

– What inspires you in 200 – 400 words.
– How do you keep reinventing yourself in 200 – 400 words.
– What do you enjoy most about making in 200 – 400 words.

Please be sure to include any links to your shop, blog, etc. You do NOT have to be an aftcra artisan to join this blog series, we’re just trying to celebrate makers in general.

We plan to use your thoughts to teach others about different skills, inspire future makers, and share the importance of handcrafted goods.

 

To participate, please:

– Send your post to info@aftcra.com. Posts must be text only – no attachments.
– If your post is selected for the blog series, we will alert you within 5 business days. Once published, the blog post will be shared with you to share via your social outlets. aftcra will share your post via social media outlets and our weekly newsletter.

Interested in seeing what we love about handmade items? Check out our post “Handmade: What Does it Mean to You?

I’m looking forward to this exciting blog series and hearing from you!

Erica
Co-Founder and President, aftcra

aftcra’s Committed to ONLY American Handmade Wares

aftcra committed to American handmade products only

aftcra, committed to American handmade products only

Due to yesterday’s major changes in our industry, we want to reiterate our commitment to the American handmade community.

aftcra was developed to be a marketplace for American makers to promote their handcrafted works of art. Although some industry leaders have strayed from that original focus, we are committed to keeping American handmade products our core. We understand that we are new to the marketplace, and are making adjustments to the site to make it better for both our buyers and sellers, but growth (to us) does not mean a change in an organization’s mission. aftcra’s vision has always been to promote American handmakers. We pledge to you, our aftcra family, that aftcra will not permit any seller to “work with outside manufacturers to help produce your designs.”

aftcra is a family-owned and operated organization. We have no outside stakeholders to answer to. The only influencers of aftcra are our American handmade community. 

If you haven’t heard of us yet, or you want to check us out, visit www.aftcra.com. If you have any questions, concerns or suggestions please contact us at info@aftcra.com and one of our team members will respond to you shortly. If you are interested in getting social with us, follow us at the below social platforms:

– Website: www.aftcra.com
– Facebook (aftcra)
– Twitter (@aftcra)
– Pinterest (aftcra)
– YouTube (aftcra)
– Instagram (aftcra)

Let’s continue to support American handmade products … together.

Erica
aftcra co-founder
“Crafted by American Hands”

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 aftcra.com.

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

What does aftcra stand for?

What does aftcra stand for?

 

We know you’re thinking it … what does aftcra stand for? We get asked this question regularly since aftcra seems like a random jumble of words. But we promise you that we didn’t just throw down our scrabble hand and go with it; the name aftcra actually has meaning behind it.

We’ve heard quite a variety of interpretations from you – everything from “American Crafts” to “Americans for the Crafting Resources in America”. You have shared some creative answers – and we love it! But, we won’t keep you waiting anymore. Here’s the quick story behind the name, aftcra, and what aftcra stand for.

 

It all started in 2010 when the concept of the business for aftcra was born (a whole ‘nother story). The four aftcra co-founders were throwing around names (many too embarrassing to mention). During the brainstorming session one of aftcra’s co-founders shouted “aftcra”. We joked about the name “aftcra”, but after a few days we found ourselves still thinking about the meaning and directly correlation to our handmade marketplace. The name, aftcra, had the feel of fun and funky that we were going for. We were searching for a name that would fit both our brand and what we were trying to achieve. We wanted the name to be something intriguing but also have meaning.

So, what DOES aftcra stand for? aftcra is an anagram for “a craft”. We wanted a name that highlighted the skill needed to make beautiful, handcrafted pieces as our artists are nothing short of incredibly talented individuals! So, aftcra seemed to be the perfect fit to us.

We know that aftcra is a new name, and it may not be in your current vocabulary, but we think it will be soon.

Until next time,
Erica
Co-Founder