Monday, August 1, 2011

No Carnations

Meet the beautiful Sheena. She Runs the incredibly lovely clothing shop No Carnations on etsy, as well as the home goods shop No Carnations Home. oh yeah, and she's also a Chef for a fine restaurant called Hannah's . am I joking? no. she's really that awesome. 

she agreed to do an interview with me. and you should read it because she's smart, fascinating and just an all around fantastic person. you will not be disappointed.

How did you begin selling vintage?
I started collecting before I started selling. I sold jewelry on the side that I made and someone told me about Etsy for my jewelry. Not long after I realized I could sell vintage on Etsy. The first few items in the shop were from my own collection. Not really even clothes or items that would suite/fit me but items that I could not leave behind at an estate sale or thrift store. I just had to have them without never really knowing what I would do with them.

Are your etsy shops your primary job? 

My Etsy shops are not my primary job. As much as I love vintage, it is not my first love. I am a Chef by trade and you can find me in the kitchen, on the line, 4 nights and 1 hot Sunday saute a week.

(from Sheena's blog )

What do you do for fun?  For fun I like to research and read about food and vintage,(ha!) They both allow me to learn and grow every day. One could never get bored! I have a lot of crafts and hobbies and I feel proficient at some, but master of none and thats okay. For me its all about the wind-down. After a shift of prepping, cooking and adrenaline pumping I need to come home and relax. Maybe sew a little pincushion, soak some vintage frocks or bead some earrings. Its so rewarding. Unlike cooking, these things are tangible, solid creations that are now out in the world. With cooking its different, the gratification is instant and then gone just as quickly...devoured yet hopefully memorable. The occasional run/swim. Not fun, but a must.

What's your favorite recipe? My favorite recipe? Is this a loaded question or what? Let's see, well, today I made some damn good pastrami pork belly,( sorry vegetarians) so that is with me right now, but overall I like the simple recipes. A few really great ingredients. A good salad dressing can change the world for me. I like acidic things and I tend to go for vinegar, citrus, tomatoes etc. Wow, this is a good question. If its fresh, local and the best quality you can afford, then there isn't much you have to do, the food will do most of the work for you. I could publish a book about my favorite recipes. I SHOULD publish a book of my favorite recipes. Duh.

favorite snack? Favorite snack- again with the vinegar....Vinegar and salt potato chips! Oh, or maybe pickles, anything pickled. ANYTHING.

What has been your best vintage Haul? Best haul- about a month ago. The dearest lady in town who owned an antique store had moved into a supported living home. She was so audacious. I loved everything about her and bought many things from her shop over the years. I used to take her chicken salad sandwiches when she was in the shop by herself and couldn't leave for lunch. She is 80 or so with really long hair that she wears in a bun, fire engine red lipstick, winged black eyeliner, long skirts and kitten heels every day. They had a big estate sale at her house downtown. So much great stuff. I felt honored to be there and kind of protective of her things. I bought as much as I could and went back to the sale for three days in a row. She collected anything with violets on it. I made sure to buy something from her violet collection to keep for myself, to remember her and her great taste. What a lady.

Favorite era? the 1940s, hands down.

What inspires you? People who are fearless in their aspirations. People who really go out there and put themselves in the fire you know? I can get a little hermit like sometimes. Vintage and cooking really helps me meet new people and keeps me from getting too withdrawn.

What's your advice to sellers just starting out?   To think about branding. Yes your photos are extremely important and yes research for whatever product you are going to sell is essential, but thinking about your brand and how you can tie all aspects of your business together WITH that brand will save you a lot of headache in the future.
        From the obvious things like shop name, avatar, business card to the font you use, the background for your photos and your packaging; If all of these things convey the same feeling then your brand will and can do the work for you.
             Don't forget to set up social media sites with the same images and name as your shop, it really helps people make that connection. I failed to do this during the first year when I started and I think it really hurt me. It was such a pain to do later and I lost traction because of it. No doubt about it. My percentages are so much better now. I was/am a ludite but I have been coming around. I'm tweeting for my shops and my other job. Ask anyone who knows me and they just can't believe I know how to do this! 

What made you branch out to home goods?  I once had home goods mixed together with my vintage clothing, but I thought that my shop looked a little disjointed. It just wasn't working for me visually and I realized my customer might be confused as well, so I split my shops into two. I figured, the research for this dichotomy of Fashion and Home has been tried and tested by tons of industry folks like Ralph Lauren and Vera Wang, so why not go with it. It helps me portray my image over all. Besides, when I am at estate sale, I just can't leave all of those goodies behind and they have to go somewhere

                                                       these are my (maria's) No Carnations Home shop favorites. 

How many Hours a week do you work on your etsy shops ? Not enough! or shall I say, not how much I want to. About 8 to 12 hours a week. Some days I just have to ignore updates for the shops. I realize that I may lose sales by not keeping things fresh but in the end it has to work for me. I tend to group projects together in order to manage my time. Cleaning items or mending on Monday, photos on Tuesday, and now draft listings throughout the week. (Love that feature, thank you Etsy!) Sometimes I will play a game with myself to see how much I can get done for the shops in just 10 minutes. You should try it. When I know that I just don't have time that day, I will do a quick renew on 6 to 8 of my favorite items that span an array of categories and then maybe a quick hello on Twitter or a planned blog update. Also I try to think about timing. What time of day are the lunch hours from East to West coasts? Will someone be sitting at their cubicle for lunch browsing through Etsy?I know it sounds crazy, but if I re-list or list items late at night, I wake up to sales from Australia and Singapore          
                         [Balancing being a chef and the etsy world] is a constant give and take. I have a casual relationship with time and when I feel the energy for one job, I may loose my creative spark for the other. Having said that, you wouldn't believe how the two jobs feed off of each other. Etsy opens me up to so much and helps to keep me on trend even with things in the food industry. I usually get two days off each week, and I have the good fortune to be able to work nights mostly. So one of my days off I will spend about 6 hours of my morning taking pictures and getting new items ready for the shops. The next day I will spend a little time listing etc. 
         I make sure to carve out some personal time and time with my family (one husband named Jim, one dog named Buddie and one cat named Santiago). It also helps that work is only five minutes away and that the Post Office is on that same path. Check, Check.I would love to be able to blog everyday, but that just doesn't work for me. I realized this early on so I just try to go for quality not quantity. Somewhere upstairs is a list of possible blog ideas, haven't seen it for a while ;)We won't even talk about the dishes in the sink or the laundry that needs to be done.

                  These are some of my faves from the apparel shop.

Tune in later this week for "a day in the life" of sheena. 
thank you so much Sheena, you are a beautiful person. 

thanks for reading dearlings, 



  1. Sheena is so inspiring! Thanks for sharing such a wonderful interveiw with her. I'm looking forward to seeing "a day in the life" of Sheena!

  2. what a truly lovely interview...and super useful, both your shops are so great Sheena and I am so proud to wear my fab earrings from you too, wish I could eat some of your cooking too...nice job Maria :)

  3. Oh Maria! My first day off in a while and I find your lovely post waiting for me! Thanks so much, It was fun :)

  4. So great to know more about Sheena. I get to chat with her on twitter sometimes but 140 letter are not enough! I've been a big fan of her shops and I was very fortunate enough to win her incredible earrings made of a 20's beaded dress. They are my favorite pair to wear!!

  5. Thanks for the interview. Sheena is definitely inspirational. Food and vintage are my weak spots after all!