Wednesday, May 21, 2014

The Heart of Handmade // Carmen at A Blue Swallow

Last September, I participated in the most fun blog event ever - A Cuppa Kim's Mug Swap. For a girl that adores her coffee mugs as much as the coffee that goes in them, it's kind of the perfect way for me to meet a kindred soul. One of my mug buddies just so happens to sell gorgeous, hand-decorated mugs, and we've kept in touch since our experience! I asked her to come by and kidnap my blog for a day so I can share her talent with all of you! Enjoy!

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Hello there! I’m so excited to be taking over Jenn's blog today and sharing with you a little bit about myself. As I type this I’m drinking out of the mug that introduced me to this wonderful blog and the creative woman behind it! I’m Carmen from A Blue Swallow, both a blog and a shop; I couldn't decide which direction I wanted to go, so I chose both!  I’m a social worker between the hours of 9-5, a wife, mother, small business owner, and creative mind the rest of the time. I've always enjoyed crafting and really started off having an eye for art since my mother is an artist, who eventually settled her roots in glass etching and stained glass. It’s not unusual for me to have paint under my fingernails or glue stuck to my skin, creating is a part of who I am and how I've always expressed myself. I couldn't say that I have a specific niche in the creative arena, simply because I enjoy all things creative. I love to sew, paint, draw, knit, crochet...I could go on! It really wasn't until I opened my shop that I started to narrow down my focus.

After our son, Kai, was born I moved towards knitting and crocheting since it was less time consuming and allowed me to stay busy during maternity leave. The hats and beanies I made for him often received compliments, so I opened up an Etsy shop just to see how things would go. I had a few sales, but it wasn't until I had posted on Instagram a cup that I had hand designed for a mug swap I was a part of. I had gotten such great feedback about the mug that several people suggested that I put some in my shop. So with a little prompting from my husband I started selling mugs in addition to knitted hats and some crocheted items. It completely took my shop from less than 10 sales to over 150 within a few months! It still amazes me honestly.

While running the shop I fell in love with the art of handmade and the community. Although I enjoy making sales, I've found the most joy in those that I have met. Having the connection with artisans and owners that share the same struggles and victories is comforting and encouraging all at once. Running a handmade shop is difficult, the ups and downs feel so drastic sometimes that you’re not necessarily sure you’re even going in the right direction. That’s the beauty in taking on your own shop and not only creating your own items, but ultimately sharing your gift with others. When Jenn asked me what my proudest moment has been since opening my shop, I would honestly have to say making my 100th sale. I never thought I would get that far in my shop, because it started off as a distant dream and a hobby. Regardless of reading how other handmade shops become full-time, sometimes you really don’t believe you can do the same. I cried when I made that sale, because I realized that it is’s a lot of hard work though! Be persistent and be flexible.

That would be my word of advice to anyone who is starting or thinking of starting a handmade shop. I constantly remind myself that everyone starts at zero. Whether it’s a blog or a shop or a twitter account, we all start out with zero, and that shouldn't be a deterrent. Keep going and be persistent in making those items and sharing them with those around you! What separates handmade shops from other is the heart behind the product you purchase. It’s never just about making money, but sharing your gift. It’s the thread that ties this community together.

Thank you so much Jenn for letting me sneak in and spend the day in your blog! I hope that you’re encouraged and driven to start something new and exciting! You can find me writing and sharing elements of my life in a fun tongue and cheek way through recipes, crafts, and our rambunctious toddler Kai on A Blue Swallow!

This week only, take 25% off your purchase at A Blue Swallow with coupon code LOVEFORWARD. 


  1. I keep getting an error when I click on the links to A Blue Swallow's etsy page. " Uh oh! There's something not quite right in the URL. Please check for any errors in the username and try again. "

  2. Replies
    1. Thanks, Joanne!! I meant to comment earlier about it but I got distracted! Glad it's working now!! :)