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!