Thursday, September 15, 2011

Featured Guild Member for September - LizzieCaye!

The Etsy Recyclers Guild Member of the month for September is our very devoted Team Leader Elizabeth Caye Patel of LizzieCaye: Unique Handmade Handbags!!! To commemorate Elizabeth's hard work and dedication to the Etsy Recyclers Guild, here is her fascinating interview that will enlighten and inspire! Elizabeth has helped the guild so very much with being a profound voice and moderator in our Etsy Recyclers Guild Team Page discussions; she has also contributed her web designing skills in making our team blog as beautiful and user-friendly as it is today! Thank you Elizabeth!

Messenger Purse with Large Flower by Lizzie Caye

I am Elizabeth Caye Patel, hence the name LizzieCaye. I am located in Frisco, TX, which is a suburb of Dallas. I packed up my car and moved to Dallas when I was 20. I moved from Bismarck, ND. It took me about 26hrs to get here and I stopped twice to sleep in my car along the road for 2 hrs each time. It was a great adventure, and a beautiful change of scenery.

I am married to a fabulously wonderful man, who is completely supportive of what I do. I love the fact that he has so much faith in me. We are expecting our first child in just a few weeks and are super excited to welcome her into our world!

I started going to one of the community colleges in Dallas and got a job as a nanny. I did that for one year, and then got an office job as a general clerk. I was talented enough with computers, that 3 months later I was given a large raise and a a real title. That launched my computer career, which lasted 13 years and with the bulk of it being focused on web application design, usability, and accessibility. What that means is applications, or websites that are intuitive to use (you don't have to hunt and peck), are able to be used by everyone(including the ability for readers to work, text sizes that are able to be resized for vision issues, etc), and pretty enough to have someone WANT to use them. Then I got tired of all the issues that go along with having a corporate job and quit in 2007.

Sweet and Pink Alyssa Handbag by LizzieCaye

It took me two years to really figure out what I was going to do. I have always felt strongly about protecting the environment, and choosing something that was creative and environmentally friendly was very important to me. I was very inspired by the path Patagonia took, and that helped shape some of my ideas for my own path.

My business name is my childhood nickname. It just seemed to fit and have a nice ring to it. I started my business to earn a little extra cash, and to have something to do in my free time. I'm not much of a shopper, except for shoes and handbags. I love having a beautiful handbag to compliment my outfit. I'm a classic dresser, but love to do colourful, fun & funky shoes and handbags. It's where I like to make a statement. For me, making the handbags came natural, based on my love for them.

Large Hobo the Lizzie by Lizzie Caye

When people come to my shop, I really want them to understand that I try and use as many recycled items as possible, all the designs are my own ( I make my own patterns), everything is truly one-of-a-kind, it's all handmade, and it will always only be made in America. I try to keep everything recycled except for the interfacing. This means I hunt for all my supplies at thrift stores and flea markets. I've also gotten tons of hand-me-downs from friends and random people who needed an excuse to clean out their closet. Being that I love purses, and have owned so many of them, I feel very qualified in what makes them useable. In most of my purses, there are pockets and a cellphone pocket, for the easy grab. I also prewash all my materials, so that the buyer can also wash their purse in the event anything every stains it. There is as much thought that goes into the design of the interior of the purse as the exterior. I want people to want to use the purse they buy from me. Because of the nature of hunting for fabrics, it makes most of my items very short production runs. Max I usually only get 1-2 purses from each kind of fabric I get. I currently make everything myself. My mom has done some of the beading on the felted purses in the past as well. I feel very strongly about always having my items made locally, both as an environmental concern and as a fueling the local economy. When I get to the point of having people work for me, I feel very strongly about paying them too well for perfection. I want people to want to work for me, not because they have to. I want to be fair, kind, and be able to have super high expectations for craftsmanship.

I am inspired by beautiful things and beautiful people. I see so much beauty in nature, and much of my inspiration comes simply from that. I am blessed with some many beautiful people in my life, who inspire me daily based on their own inner beauty. It's the people who inspire me to continue moving forward, even when things seem bleak. I'd have to credit the divine for most of my designs, most of them just sort of come to me. I wake up and there is this light bulb that has gone off. I go do some sketches, and eventually it will be made into a purse.

Marketing.... I think one of the hardest things to truly figure out. I think the biggest part of it, is whatever you choose to do, be consistent. Figure out your own mission and vision and put it out there frequently and consistently. Oh, and don't give up!!

In 10 years, I'd like to have 10 people working for me, and be able to focus on the designing of the handbags and the running of the business. I'd have the 10 people do the sewing, and beading of items. As well as successful enough to move it out of my house.

I believe that buying items that are handmade and recycled is just one more way to help reduce the amount of freshly made products, and I think people value handmade items more then a factory fresh item.

The Etsy Recycler's Guild is a great group of supportive people. Tons of good information across the groups knowledge base. I truly enjoy being able to help out group members.

I grew up around artists, and for the longest time my best friend was someone who was a good 30 years older then me and a potter. Her name is Susan Davy. She is still an inspiration because she's never quit, always been consistent, but has tons of other interests. She's a great model. I believe that if you flit all over the place, and or burn yourself out, it's going to be hard to ever find success. You have to put yourself into what you do, without killing yourself at it.!/LizzieCaye

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