Monday, 10 August 2009

Let's meet ...ecokaren!

EcoKaren and I decided to synchronise our blogs - so her interview is here, and if you go to her blog you can read all about me too!

Cats or dogs?

Definitely dogs. My kids are allergic to cats. I have a four year old Maltese who doesn’t shed (I lose hair more than she does), she doesn’t smell, and hypoallergenic because she has hair, not fur. But still, she’s not allowed in my studio.

Star Wars or Star Trek?

Star Wars – gotta love that Yoda.

Fruit or chocolate?

Chocolate covered fruit – best of both worlds.

Favourite colour?


Favourite meal?

Soups in winter and grilled anything in summer

City break or weekend in the country?

I’m lucky to be 45 minutes away from NYC where I can get my hustle and bustle city life fix when I need it. But I love my country living. Love going to the farms for fresh produce, eggs, grass fed meats, jellies, and fruits. .

Soaps or documentaries?

No time for TV but I love “House” (Hugh Laurie, actually) so I bought all the seasons on iTune and watch when I’m knitting.

Bath or shower?

Shower with my organic washcloths

Dress or jeans?

Jeans with pearls

Your favorite material?

Anything that we thought of throwing out because we had no use for them.

What do you want to reveal about yourself?

I am not really an environmentalist or a tree hugger in the conventional sense of the word. I’ve always lived a recycled life, if you will. It’s in my nature NOT to throw things out - call me cheap or call me a packrat. I find it amusing to turn old things into new functional things. It’s quirky but I think it’s fun and unique. So, this whole environmental movement is not new to me; just the term is.

What brought you to Etsy?

I have two active teenagers. I used to sit and wait for their activities to finish so that I can schlep them to their next activity. Then, I started to knit reusable cleaning cloths, washcloths, and scarves for friends and family to be more productive while I waited. Then, one of my friends suggested that I sell them. I researched a little and found Etsy, where handmade goods are appreciated and respected. The rest is history.

Tell us about your shop.

I used to have one shop called “ecogeneration” but I just added my second shop “ecokaren” where I sell my eco creations and supplies and vintage in “ecogeneration” When I thought about selling reusable cleaning cloths and washcloths, I wasn’t really thinking “eco-friendly” as a marketing strategy since the whole eco-friendly movement, in my mind, was something that “other people” was involved with. I didn’t realize that my items were considered eco-friendly. I was involved with the “eco-movement” at home without realizing it. I just use up whatever I have and if I buy new materials, I buy sustainable materials like organic cotton yarn or bamboo yarn. But because I make items with materials I already have, most of my items are one of a kind original designs. I sell supplies and destash items on ecogeneration to “share” with other crafters – not really to make money.

What’s the favourite item you’ve made so far?

The felted wool handbag. I was really skeptical about felting since I had to wash my sweater in hot water several times and dry in hot heat for a long time. Energy wise, it didn’t seem so eco-friendly to me. But once I did it, the possibilities of products I can make were endless. I made the bag, several coffee cup sleeves, wrist cuffs, a pincushion stuffed with small pieces, and I still have some pieces leftover…all from one small wool sweater. I can see why people are so addicted to felting.

What has been the most useful lesson you’ve learnt (about Etsy) so far?

I’m still learning and searching for that magic formula to make it successful. I bought one of those “Etsy Seller’s Success” kits and read every page. There were some new things I learned but I think the bottom line is… it takes time and a lot of blood, sweat and tears…like everything else. There’s no free lunch and you have to put in your dues. The trick is to have fun while you do it and I am having a blast.

How do you see your store developing?

I opened my store in October, 2008…just as the economy was taking a nose dive. So it hasn’t been easy but in all fairness, I only work on my shop when I have time so I am grateful for the sales I have. My short-term goal is to improve my skills to make better products so that I can streamline the shop to just a few lines. My long-term goal is to make it a full-time home business. I’m getting there, slowly but surely.

How do you market your business?

I don’t sell outside Etsy, although, I am exploring doing some wholesale deals with local stores. So most of my marketing takes place online. I just moved – well, in cyberspace – from blogspot to Word Press for my blog. I have my own domain now, so it’s really awesome.

I have a huge “House Warming Party” with Eco Spa Package Giveaway going on right now. You can find the rules when you go to

I blog regularly and really test my writing skills – or lack thereof. But it’s fun and I love it - no matter how time consuming it is or awkward my writing is. I love getting comments. I will be doing product reviews, blog reviews, featuring other etsy sellers, writing eco tip and tutorials. I also have sponsor spots on my pages now. I joined Facebook and Twitter for social networking. I’ve been having such a blast being on Facebook and Twitter. I love reading people’s blogs (such as this one), leaving comments, reading comments, etc. When you work from home, there’s no water cooler to go to or a coffee break to take to chat with colleagues. So, these outlets have been great for connecting with people. I’ve gotten sales from being on these platforms and it’s been great for my “water cooler” fix too.

Anything else you want to mention?

I want to thank you for having me here. UK seems so far and yet I feel as if I’m just hanging out in this pub, gossiping. Thanks for the opportunity to tell your readers about me. Stop by and say hello. I’ll watch out for you folks on my blog and in my shop. Just mention niftyknits and you’ll get a 20% off on your purchase for the month of August, in addition to FREE SHIPPING. Don’t pay the invoice when you check out; wait for the revised invoice. Thanks!

Shops: and
Twitter: ecokarenlee


Amy V. said...

I love reading interviews of my friends online! ;)

Karen makes the absolute best and most soft organic washcloths!

Jane Carlstrom said...

fun read