Saturday, August 09, 2008

Q and A with Karen of Eaker House

Dear Readers,

The other night after an ill advised post dinner espresso, I was trolling through Etsy shops and decided to send out a few interview requests to some of the incredible sellers I was stumbling across. Their enthusiastic responses have left me feeling inspired and energized. The benefits are threefold. A) I get to meet and chat with wonderful new folks. B) I get to learn from their experiences and C) I get inspiring content for my blog. All that said, I'm quite sure this will become a regular feature here at The Fab Miss B. Now without further adieu, I give you the first of many...

Madame B: Tell us a little about you. Is Eaker House a hobby, a profession or a happy marriage of both? Do you have a brick and mortar store anywhere, or other websites we can visit?

Karen: My only store right now is on Etsy - I have been selling at juried art/craft shows in NY since 2001, where I have had incredible personal interaction and response. I would like to have my own website... I am working on it. More a hobby than a profession.

MB: What inspired you to start Eaker House?

K: There is an intrinsic beauty and quality to older jewelry that frankly is just not available in the mass market today. The artistry of vintage jewelry was not appreciated … my mother thought I was crazy - "it’s just junk". I think I am particularly drawn to the glass and crystal and the play of light in each piece. I started researching all the designers, styles, materials, fashion eras - just the history of it all. My inspiration is to provide beautiful vintage pieces along with a bit of history and context so my customers feel connected to the past and appreciate this true American art form.

MB:How/Why/When did you begin collecting vintage?

K: I started after September 11, 2001 – I had quit my management consulting job in the NYC metro area the day before. Potential prospects evaporated as the whole of NY State literally shut down for 6-9 months (I lived 5 hours from NYC and previously telecommuted as necessary… I am a not a city girl.)

I think for most of the country it was a very introspective and difficult time, (still is) but especially so in NY (and Washington, DC).

One day in September, I went to a local antiques shop and was drawn to five pair of intricate and sparkling clip on earrings. That was the beginning of Eaker House.

MB:What appeals to you about vintage items?

K: The quality of craftsmanship – the beauty, the history, the stories behind the jewelry from the makers… to the women who wore them.

MB:What’s in your closet? Do you wear vintage clothes all the time or do you like to mix it up?

Khakis, jeans, patterned retro blouses and fuchsia!! I wear modern clothes, but will accessorize with a fabulous piece of jewelry – but not always! I try to demonstrate that one can wear vintage jewelry pieces with contemporary everyday outfits – its okay, you’re not overdressed!

I confess… I am a bit of a “What Not to Wear” junkie.

MB:How would your most fabulous customer wear your pieces?

K: A clasped vintage bakelite or art nouveau belt buckle sewn into a cashmere shawl draped over the shoulder.

MB:The backgrounds in your photographs are particularly lovely. They really set the tone for the shop, brand your product as unique, and distinguish your shop from the crowd. Any advice to those who want to achieve the cohesive but not monotonous look you’ve created? How long does it usually take you to style a photograph to your satisfaction?

K: Thank you so much. However, my Sony Cybershot (2003) should take most of the credit – it just takes beautiful photos!!!! I just throw things out there on vintage ephemera I’ve collected, or interesting textures… and shoot some pixs. I have hundreds of items in my current inventory, so I cannot be too picky – or take too much time. I still have a treasure trove to list and have a five year old princess at home who wants to help!!

MB:I feel like ninety percent of a successful vintage shop is good curating. Your shop really has the feel of a beautiful collection, where all the parts complement and build on one another. How did you achieve that?

K: My goodness, such accolades. I’ve always been told I have a good sense of design. My craft show booth usually draws attention for my innovative display. I am always on the hunt for exceptional pieces and I try to cull out the ordinary. However, sometimes the most ordinary can be the most beautiful - it is all in the display. My customers always comment that they appreciate the history of each piece, as well as ... my little handmade keepsake bags. My keepsake pouches are the final personal touch.

MB:Do you choose items for your shop that you love or that you feel will sell?

K: Both! I actually have a hard time releasing many of my items…as I am a bit attached to most of them and have pangs of regret …

MB:Which other Etsy sellers (or artists) do you admire and why?

K: I have a bunch of favorites. I admire those who can produce handmade works of art everyday, market those pieces, provide exemplary customer service… and keep selling and selling and selling. Do they sleep? Not sure how they do it!

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