Etsy Paper: Tell us a little about yourself.
Valley: I live in Alaska with my husband, Brian, and our tribe of creative children, who range from age one to age 16. (Yes, even the baby is creative- he picked up a pencil and started scribbling at nine months old!)
Etsy Paper: When did you open your shop on Etsy?
Valley: I opened my Etsy shop in the summer of 2012, on a whim. At first, it was completely my own little enterprise, but my girls soon started making cards for me to sell. Later, Brian got this crazy idea to buy a commercial laser cutting and engraving machine. His reason for getting it (at least, the one he used to win me over) was so we could design and make our own rubber stamps. That's been a dream of mine for years. Of course, the laser machine has been used for a lot of projects. We started making paper and chipboard die cuts right away, and have been selling them and using them on finished projects to sell as well. The rubber stamps took longer to get started with, mostly because we only recently found a source of odor-free rubber at a reasonable price. They've just hit the shop, and I'm very excited about it!
Valley: We sell a variety of items for scrapbooking and papercrafts. Our most popular sellers are the snail mail supplies, mixed embellishment packs, and mini albums. We also sell handmade cards, scrapbook kits, exclusive die cuts and rubber stamps designed and made by Brian, crocheted items and shrink plastic charms made by our daughters, general crafting supplies like flowers and buttons, and whatever else finds its way from our creative minds into our shop. Most of our sales come from custom orders.
|Snail Mail Kit|
Valley: My abundance of creativity just explodes sometimes, and I make a huge mess! It can spread into two or three rooms of the house! I'm a perfectionist in a lot of ways, though, so I like to clean up the little scraps as I go, and have “organized piles” all around my work-space. And I'm very picky and detail oriented on my projects, especially the ones I sell. I have to make sure everything is glued on really well, and all the edges line up, and that kind of thing. My work-space is a disaster, but my finished product is carefully executed.
Etsy Paper: Name your top items that you cannot live without.
Valley: I have a kit of basics on hand for every project. ADHESIVES: my Scotch Advanced Tape Glider, photo splits, glue dots, and 3D foam squares. TOOLS: my guillotine paper trimmer, sharp scissors, and a Crop-o-dile. PENS: my big set of Stampin' Up markers and a fine-tipped, archival, black or brown marker. INKPADS: black Stayz-On and Tim Holtz distress ink in antique linen and walnut stain. And of course, lots of PAPER!
Etsy Paper: What is your first crafting memory?
Valley: I remember cutting pictures out of catalogs and making collages from the time I was very small. I have an old letter my mom wrote to a friend, in which she tells about teaching me to use scissors when I was a toddler. (She expressed her puzzlement that I kept switching the scissors to my right hand, even though I used a pencil and spoon in my left hand. I still can only cut with my right hand, despite being left-handed. And I still do things differently than other people expect me to!) I can thank my mom for putting scissors in my hand, putting up with my creative messes, and providing me with endless supplies for my art. She still does to this day. Just last month, we got a box in the mail with random oddments, fun stuff for the kids, a book about metal-forging for Brian, and a stack of scrapbook paper and stationery for me.
Etsy Paper: Is there someone in your life that may have inspired your creativity?
Valley: Although I get creative genes from both sides of the family, Mom was definitely the one who nurtured that creativity by providing the supplies, the space to work, and the introduction to all sorts of art techniques, as well as setting an example of automatic and unavoidable creativity in our day-to-day life. We did everything creatively, artistically, or with imagination. My siblings and I created art out of absolutely anything, and played dress-up and imaginary games daily. Our school projects were the ones the teachers asked to keep, to show future classes as an example.
Mom is a good cook, but she's never been much of a baker, because she likes to just throw things in without measuring precisely, and bake for however long (usually much too long). That works alright for chocolate chip cookies, since she likes them burnt anyway. But I guess it didn't work so well for bread and that kind of thing. Her technique makes for amazing soups and stews, though! And of course, over the years, she has surprised many people with all sorts of unique creations, from handmade Valentines to a humorous ticket book for a new mom, with a “ticket to motherhood” theme. You can see some of her art in our shop; we just listed a vintage pen and ink card that she drew, and had professionally printed, back in 1968.
Etsy Paper: If you could learn a new craft, what would it be? Why?
Valley: I have been intrigued by needle-felting for years. I already have so many supplies (and projects in the works) in the paper-crafting realm, it's not practical for me to start a new hobby. But someday I will try needle-felting, and I just know I'll love it. I want to try making a realistic little chihuahua, with lots of personality. I would also love to furnish miniature dollhouses, or build the setting for a model train layout.
Etsy Paper: Who is your biggest inspiration?
Valley: When it comes to balancing my most important endeavor, raising my children, with growing a business out of my art, there is one person who inspires and amazes me: my childhood friend, Katie Berggren (owner of Etsy shop kmberggren). Somehow she combines purposeful, hands-on parenting with a fulfilling artistic career, using the talent God gave her and sharing it with the world. Her motherhood paintings touch hearts all over the globe, and yet she still finds time to spend two hours on the phone with me every few months, discussing everyday life and child-rearing, creativity and business, and reminiscing about our childhood. (We've been friends since preschool.) Katie totally cheers me on in my little business. She is always so excited to hear about a big order or a new product idea. I still remember how delighted she was the first time she heard me refer to myself as an artist. (We've been talking about introducing a kmberggren product line in our shop soon, so stay tuned.)
Etsy Paper: Who is your biggest fan?
Valley: My whole family is completely supportive, and Katie and I have been each other's fans for 25 years, but I would have to say my biggest fan is my dear friend, Nancy. She is absolutely my biggest cheerleader, and loves everything I create. She believed in my dream of being paid to scrapbook, years before it even seemed like a real possibility. She has been my best customer- she loves to share my cards with everyone she knows. Not to mention giving me the most delightful reviews in my shop feedback!
To further support Valley and her family, checkout their website, NorthStarCrafts.com which they are just getting started.
That little Etsy shop sure is a family affair. I love that!
Until next time,