April 2007

I started Box Vs. Indie to promote the many talented independent sellers who I felt were getting buried by huge advertising budgets of their maga-retail competitors. I was a new indie seller myself, still finding my place in the community.

Now that I’ve been around for a while, I’ve come to a wonderful realization: this community is thriving! Doing the interview series, I learned of many bloggers out there already promoting the many indie artists, and doing it with so much passion. And new blogs are popping up all the time. I can hardly keep up with them!

As such, I’m turning my efforts to something new, a very personal project that I’ve been wanting to do for a long time. It’s a new blog called Breath by Breath, on learning to be happy, the result of a decade of personal exploration on the topic of happiness.

Check it out and, if you like it, please spread the word.

Thank you for reading and sharing your thoughts on Box Vs. Indie over the last several months. If you need to contact me, I’m still reachable through email, flickr, etsy and soon mintd.



Joanna Mendocina

I’m sure you’ve seen Joanna Mendocino‘s work popping up on various blogs and print magazines since last fall. Her ‘crafty modern’ ceramics are insanely cute in every picture I’ve seen, and as I learned this weekend, they’re even cuter in person.

My husband and I were driving back from the hardware store (we’re trying to sell our condo, which means doing some upgrades–and I wanted to collect paint chips to make into boxes), and on a whim I asked him to drive through the Berkeley arts district and stop at the first open studio we saw.

He did, and we ended up in the shared studio space of several potters. We walked through their gallery, and as we got to the back, these familiar little birds peeped out from around the corner. I couldn’t believe it! It was like meeting someone famous.

Unfortunately, Joanna was not there, but now that I know she is, I’m going to have to go back. The other potters in the studio said that her creations are a perfect match for her personality–this is a woman I want to meet!

There’s a little bird vase on her website that has become my new obsession. I want to put him next to my bed so his funny little face is the first thing I see in the morning. I also saw a few things in the works, not pictured on her website, including a shelf full of yet-unglazed little bunnies. Not sure if they’ll be offered for sale, but I recommend checking her site periodically. Whatever she comes up with next is bound to please.

Fresh on Etsy

Seaside Peace Crane by localcolorist. Spider Mums by CardZoo. X Marks the Spot Hat by DeannasArtistry. The S Necktie Choker by bakesale.

Cute stuff! I tried to focus today on promising artists who haven’t had many sales yet. Enjoy :)



…attention doesn’t wander because something is dull; life seems dull when attention wanders.


-Eknath Easwaran



Imagine: The year is 2012. You’ve got a big date this Saturday (or maybe it’s your wedding, your daughter’s first birthday, celebration of your big promotion…), and you need something to wear. Laughing as you recall your past-life mall-shopping, you jump into your solar-powered flying car (ha!) and head downtown to the indie shopping district where several seller-owned little shops line the streets. You find the perfect outfit the cutest little pair of earrings, and the sweet people who made them thank you as you head out the door.

Ask others in the indie community, and they’ll tell you: reality could some day look like this. “Where do you see indie in five years?” was one of my favorite questions in the interview series, but it often got pushed below the fold. I loved the answers so much, thought I’d recap them today.

Mallory from Miss Malaprop:

There are a lot of plans in the works to create a stronger sense of community within the indie craft scene and to work together more cohesively. I’ll be attending the Craft Congress (for indie organizers) in Pittsburgh in late March, and I hope that we’ll come out of there with plans to bring the community together and work to expand and reach the wider market. I hope that in five years time there are at least twice as many people making a full time living off of their art and that the indie movement is making national media and is on more people’s minds

Jena from Modish:

I think it’s gaining popularity and I hope hope hope that it will continue to grow and that in five years there will be more indie craft fairs throughout the country, more specialized indie specific boutiques (one of my own perhaps!) and just more indie resources available for the community at large to partake in. Farmer’s markets attract people to buy locally and organic and indie craft fairs and seeing more indie goods in cool shops will hopefully encourage people to buy indie in the same way.

Jenn from Indie Fixx:

More popular than ever! I see our efforts to educate the public about alternatives to shopping at big-box stores paying off. Shoppers are looking for more diversity and are turning towards small and local businesses for more of their purchases. I believe this trend will continue much to the benefit of the indie community.

Sarah from Awesome:

I think we’d both like to be doing something like Awesome full time in a few years, and have it be more interactive and be a greater resource for people beyond the indie community. I’d love for a site like ours to be a conduit for getting exposure to indie shops so they can make contacts for wholesaling and selling to national retailers. There’s nothing wrong with selling your stuff in Target, in fact think the future of indie designs is for lots of small companies to have the leverage to sell their designs in large stores with total control of the product and pricing module. It’d be awesome if we could help make this happen for people.

Danielle from Gold School:

I see indie crafters still working away. Hopefully we won’t be all the rage in the mainstream. I like our little community.

Jan from Scoutie Girl:

In five years, I believe the indie community will be perceived as less of a mainstream “alternative” and more of the mainstream itself. Hand in hand with that, buyers will be actively seeking out the indie designer. As the movement continues to gain positive exposure and momentum, we’ll be stealing market share and revenue from the big box marts in measurable amounts.

Anissa from IndieShopping:

I see it growing more and more. I look back to when I started in 2004 and things have already grown. There are more outlets for sellers like Etsy, more craft shows and events. I think it is only going to get bigger.

Liana from Mixed Plate:

Oh, it’s going to be bigger and better than ever. There has been such an indie movement recently in that folks are now becoming more aware of what the whole independent community is about. I believe there are many people out there that want to support true artists and designers and love handmade goods. Getting the word out via the world wide web and now with more and more magazines focusing on the indie styles will help the indie community grow stronger.

Where do you see the indie community in five years?


The convergence of Spring and one of Jenn’s posts over on Popwheel recently got me itching to clean out my house. Of course, my response wasn’t to get cleaning, it was to go out and buy a book. I got one on Feng Shui.

The first chapter in the book talks about the way all the objects in our home evoke emotions. Artwork, in particular, can have a strong influence on how we feel and think, and thus on the turns our life takes.

Since reading that, I’ve been on the hunt for art that makes me happy. I think I’ve found in it LauraGeorge‘s prints, illustrations and paintings. I’m totally smitten with the little guy with the hangers, but it’s not just the art that makes me happy.

The artist, too, makes me smile. She says in her profile:

I like to make things that comfort me, in whatever way…I hope they make you feel something good. I think we should all feel good, don’t you?

I do.

If you want to buy prints from a large retailer, there’s always prints.com, but with artists like Laura selling adorable prints and affordable originals, why would you want to?

Today we talk with with Liana from Mixed Plate Blog. I try to get to Mixed Plate every day to see what Liana has dug up. Her finds always make me smile :)

This is one in a series of interviews with indie bloggers. You can find previous posts here:
Indie Shopping, Scoutie Girl, Goldschool, Awesome, Indie Fixx, Modish, Anything Indie, Miss Malaprop.

Mixed Plate Blog has become quite an asset to the indie community. How did it get its start?
Mixed Plate was started basically because I’m on the computer all the time now that I’m a business owner. The more people that I get to deal with and visit with online through different communities/forums, the more I realize how amazing they all are. I felt this need to share things that I think are great with others. I guess it’s my way of supporting fellow business owners.

Has it changed at all since you began? How?
I think it has changed in that I’m a little more focused now on what I want Mixed Plate to be. It was a lot more random in the beginning since I was just starting out and testing the waters. Now that the response is good I feel that I have a duty not just to myself but to the readers, designers I feature and sponsors to keep it interesting.

What has been your favorite thing about running Mixed Plate?
My favorite thing about running Mixed Plate is being able to “meet” a lot of new and interesting people. The internet and email can be a funny thing. Through Mixed Plate I’m able to chat with folks, not in person or over the phone, but I still feel as though I’m making new friends and learning a great deal from talented artists and designers.

What do you look for in the sellers you highlight?
Honestly, I would love to do features on everyone that contacts me. I think that what I look for is a small, independent business. I like to feature items that are handmade and unique. With me, it’s all about quality items that I like or that I think the readers will like and supporting whoever I can in the small business community.

The indie community has many advantages over mega-retailers. Which do you feel is its strongest? Why?
I think the fact that folks in the indie community know what it’s like to be a small business is what the advantage is. Meaning that they have limited budgets (for advertising, for creating their products, etc.). This alone is one of the strongest things because it means we’re all in the same boat. I believe this is why the indie community is so supportive of one another and encourages each other as opposed to simply seeing each other as competition.

What is the biggest challenge we face?
Well, the mega-retailers! I’ve seen a number of wonderfully talented indie artists who have had their designs copied and used by big retail stores. When large companies do things like that and folks purchase from them, it really is a challenge for the indie community. Sure, you can buy the mass-produced product from a mega-retailer because it’s probably marked at a lower pricepoint. But that’s exactly what you’ll get – a mass-produced product that has no actual human touch and love put into it. Folks that make things by hand…well, their creations are priceless!

Where do you see the indie community in five years?
Oh, it’s going to be bigger and better than ever. There has been such an indie movement recently in that folks are now becoming more aware of what the whole independent community is about. I believe there are many people out there that want to support true artists and designers and love handmade goods. Getting the word out via the world wide web and now with more and more magazines focusing on the indie styles will help the indie community grow stronger.

What was your most recent indie buy?
I just ordered some goodies from Papered Together. I’ve been visiting her shop for a while now and have been holding back…not any more! :o) I’ve also purchased some lovely prints from Inside a Black Apple. Emily is so great!

What was your all-time favorite indie buy? What made is so special?
Uh-oh. That’s a hard one. I have a special love and spot in my heart for everything that is from an indie business or is handmade. I just can’t choose.

You also create and sell on On a Friday and now Punk-n-Pie. Can you tell us a little about them?
On a Friday was my first “real” business. It was my first attempt at selling my goods online. I create hanapr1earrings.jpgdmade jewelry designs and paper goods there. It’s just a great way for me to have that creative release when my day job has no real creativity involved. I started the On a Friday website in September 2005.

As for Punk-n-Pie, well, it’s my apr1legwarmers.jpgnewest baby. I’ve been putting this company together for quite some time now. I thought I’d open a brick-and-mortar here in Honolulu. However, being a small business owner, it just wasn’t in the budget. Getting the inventory and the site together was a huge challenge and involved many nights with little (or no) sleep. Punk-n-Pie is a place for me to sell things that I can see as an alternative to the stores you may find in the malls and something that has a little more style. February 1, 2007 was Punk-n-Pie’s Grand Opening!