Monday, May 5, 2014

Meet the Maker: iamthemandy

Meet the maker, Mandy Renee Stos; the crafter and upcycling diva behind iamthemandy.

I’m not only an artist and entrepreneur, but an inventive environmentalist. I combine craft with recycling, producing items that are unique, functional, and the ultimate in eco-chic. I believe that upcycling a single item, can help reduce waste and create a more environmentally friendly lifestyle. Upcycling is defined as: the process of converting unwanted materials or useless products into new materials or products of better quality or a higher environmental value. Her product line is designed entirely of 85-90% reused or re-purposed materials. I strive to help promote and encourage other citizens to upcycle or simply donate any unwanted items to local organizations. Doing so keeps landfills down, promotes green efficiency and makes you feel all giddy inside.

I got started crafting while I was in college. I didn’t have much money to be spending on gifts, so I started making them instead. I took unwanted clothing and started creating. I designed my first upcycled material cuff.

After making a handful for friends and family, they started telling me that people asked where they bought them and suggested I started selling them. I started on a small scale by setting up a booth on Thursday nights at “Top City Thursdays.” Since then, I’ve upgraded my set up and created a better display to showcase my items.

During this time, I decided to start expanding my product line from cuffs, to earrings and necklaces. I started using magazines, tshirts, fabric scraps, and any other items I could get my hands on. I went to garage and estate sales, and might’ve even jumped in a dumpster or two.

In 2010, I started to become a local name and with the help of social media, iamthemandy was slowly spreading. I then began offering over 15 jewelry and accessories on my website I also sell on Etsy as well as eight retail locations across the United States. I can be found in Kansas, Missouri, Nebraska, Texas, Illinois, and Pennsylvania.

Throughout the past few years, iamthemandy has claimed several green awards. In 2011, iamthemandy was voted the BEST Place to Shop Green in KC by The Pitch. iamthemandy took third place this year, but also snagged third in the best local accessories designer.

This year, iamthemandy has taken a new direction with products and has expanded into the upcycled furniture market. I currently offer upcycled pallet coolers in several stains. They can be found at four locations in Kansas and Missouri. Next on my agenda are outdoor tables and chairs. Be on the lookout, but don’t forget we take custom orders for almost anything! 

iamthemandy is excited to be part of the Handmade in KC movement. Being part of such a strong crafting community is an honor. Be sure to look up all of our members and follow them online.

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