Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Battle of the Brands 2017

March Madness is all about the Cinderella story, the David vs. Goliath epic showdown. Well, so is Kansas City’s Battle of the Brands if you ask me. 

At Handmade in Kansas City, we are often one-person, jack-of-all-trades businesses, filling the roles of creative genius, secretary, and accountant all at once. We work our hardest to create handmade products, amidst a sea of bigger, wealthier companies; but we do it because we believe handmade is worth it.

Right now, a few of our little enterprises—or Microenterprises, according to KCSourcelink—have begun the play-in round for Kansas City’s Battle of the Brands. If you look in the Microenterprise bracket, you will find three of our own: Aunt Christy’s Country Kitchen, Remnants by RJ, and Unravelled LLC.

Aunt Christy’s Country Kitchen is a culinary wonder. If they were adding to the list of Seven Wonders of the World, I’m pretty sure Christy’s Apple Pie Jam would top it. 
Her love for off-the-beaten path flavors results in delicious, unique blends in jams, jellies, and chutneys. So a vote for Aunt Christy’s is a vote for your tastebuds.

Remnants by RJ is a self-proclaimed “Rescuer of Robots.” Together with her robot counterpart Norman, she rescues cast-off items and gives them new life as whimsical robot characters. Each robot is made from vintage and recycled materials and even comes with their own personal story. Just be careful, imagination can be contagious.

Unravelled LLC is a creative force, unbound by convention. Larissa is the miraculous master of innovation whether it be in fiber art, painting, or jewelry. She strives to use natural materials and dyes in her vibrant creations. The result? Pure beauty.

So if you have a soft spot for food, recycled art, or beauty, would you mind lending your support to our talented makers? Go to to vote for Aunt Christy’s Country Kitchen, Remnants by RJ, and Unravelled LLC. You’ll find them in the Microenterprise Category. You can vote once per round from each IP address thru Thursday, February 23.

I think it’s time for a good underdog story, don’t you?  


thanks to Rebecca of Remnants of RJ for writing this post.

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Meet the Maker - Nancy Mueller at StrawberryAuburn

The absolute best part of being a member of Handmade in KC is meeting all the amazingly talents artists in our community. I am so excited to introduce to one of our newest members to you all! Nancy Mueller is the creative mind and hands behind Strawberry Auburn, specializing in quilted home essentials from repurposed fabrics.

Tell us about your family!
I grew up near Detroit in a small city called Pontiac. I have a younger sister and an older half brother. My dad passed away the year I graduated high school 2003 from a stroke at the age of 93. No that’s not a typo, my dad was older, obviously! He was a huge Reagan supporter, that’s why I was named Nancy. He worked for GM most of his life, but he was already retired by the time he met my mom. There was 40 years difference between the two of them, but that didn’t stop them. My mom was a beautician and did well for herself. She left her job when they got married and they lived off of his retirement. I never knew a time when my parents weren’t around. They were very resourceful people. My parents grew a vegetable garden every summer. They enjoyed collaborative woodworking projects together. My dad had a workshop in the garage and ran his own business sharpening saws and blades. He called it Maier’s Saws. My mom continued to take beauty clients in our home. She loved sewing and made most of our clothes and all of our fancy dresses for special occasions. I picked up sewing just from watching her over the years. I made a few of my own clothes in high school but didn’t fall in love with it. Instead I gravitated towards the fine arts and majored in drawing during high school. Try as I might I just didn’t see my affinity for drawing realism forging a career path for me. I skipped college and went straight to work. I had several odd jobs working in retail, restaurants, warehouses, and at a data entry desk job. None of those things peaked my interest but I did always find myself assuming leadership positions in each job I took on. I knew that one day I would be the boss somewhere I just didn’t know at the time that there was a possibility that I could be my own boss!

Memory Bears Teddy Bears Stuffed Bears Upcycled Repurposed Stuffed Animal Keepsake Heirloom Toy
What brought you to Kansas City?

The short version: My husband. The long version: I met my husband in Michigan. He was only in town for 6 months and his job just happened to transfer him to the location I was working at. We were drawn to each other and quickly became inseparable. Soon after he made his return to central Texas I had to follow him. We were married a year after that. His daughter lives with her mom full time. When she remarried her new husband relocated them to Smithville, MO. Hannah was only 6 at the time. We had no choice but to follow. We ended up in the KC Northland and fell in love with this great city!

What makes you stay?

I am a city girl. Central Texas was not my ideal way of life. Kansas City just feels like the best of both city life, suburban life and a little bit of country. I landed a job at a local non-profit and the experience there gave me a heart for working with repurposed materials. There is SO much waste in this world, the repurposing movement swept me off my feet and I just had to contribute. So I called on those ancient sewing skills I unwittingly acquired in my youth and started tearing apart outdated clothing items and making new things with them. That’s when I realized I had a great idea.

Baby or Toddler Boy Clothing Memory Quilt Crib Size approx 30x50"

Original career plan?
I wanted to make new things from outdated things. I was all over the place with my vreations. From baskets to jackets, to bags, and greeting cards. I was upcycling those dated cargo style pants and putting old newspapers to good use.

Tell me about when your started to make your current product line!

It was March of 2014 when I officially opened my Etsy store. I stocked it with the above mentioned items. But I quickly realized that a smattering of random products wasn’t working for me, and again making clothes just wasn’t IT for me. Since then I found my passion in creating memory quilts, memory pillows, and memory bears from upcycled clothing and cloth items such as tshirts, baby clothes, wedding dresses and more!

Button Down Shirt Memory Pillow Covers * Comes with Pillow form inside! * - Men's Shirt Pillows - Tshirt pillow

My most popular item is the Bridesmaid Dress Baby Quilt. It’s a very sentimental gift to give to your friend who you stood up for at their wedding. Now that your friend is expecting a baby, this quilt is a great way to tie the celebration of an expanding family back to the day that the journey of family began! I have several styles available and I can accommodate a never ending array of coordinating colors and themes!
Photo published for The Most Memorable Gift To Give At A Baby Shower

Is there a story behind your shop name?
When I created my shop, I didn't have a real direction for my product line. So I wanted a name that was more abstract, but also told the customer something about me. So I named it StrawberryAuburn after my hair color. I love my hair, I've always felt that it set me apart from the crowd. So I thought that it was fitting for setting my brand apart from the crowd as well. Now I've found my product focus, but I'm not willing to scrap my shop name just yet. I like it too much. Lol

Tell me about your creative process

I do my best to look at each quilt commisiion with fresh eyes. I talk to my customer about what the clothing items mean to them and ask about favorite hobbies, colors, etc. I look around for coordinating fabrics and give the cutomer a few options to choose from. I stay in contact with my customers throughout the creating process to ensure that they love their finished quilt, it’s a very intimate experience in a lot of ways. I frequently get to learn a lot about my customers and their family members.

Wedding Garters and Ring Bearer Pillows made from your Wedding Dress

What is your inspiration?
My customers are my inspiration! The stories I get to hear and the sentiment and healing that my products bring to their recipient is more than enough to keep me fueled and ready for the next order!

What motivates you to keep going when things get tough?

Knowing that I get to do what I love and that I am impacting the world in so many ways is what keeps me going. When Hannah sees me working cheerfully to build my business up I know I am showing her that she has an unlimited future available to her. These days she has her own sewing machine and is slowly learning how to sew new items for herself!

Kid's Tshirt Quilts - Lap Size 30x50" - Memory Quilt - Upcycled tshirts

What is the hardest lesson you've learned so far?
It’s an ongoing lesson to value my skills accordingly, there is always something new to learn!

What are you currently working on in the studio?

I have several quilts in the works at the moment! 2 tshirt quilts, a boys baby clothes quilt and a crib quilt.

Chevron Bridesmaid Dress Baby Quilt Gift for the Expecting Bride - Baby Girl - Quilt made from a bridesmaid dress

How did you find out about Handmade in KC and what prompted you to join? I met a lovely lady who crafts excellent jellies and jams. She told me about the group of crafter she’s in involved with and encouraged me to look into it.

Hopes/dreams/future plans?

I would love to one day rely on my handmade business for my income. I am still working full time right now at that same non-profit!

See more of Nancy's work!
Etsy Shop 
Thank you for supporting all of the Handmade in KC members and sharing our blog posts each Wednesday!!  

Laura (Handmade by Lolo Z)

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Meet The Maker - Ivory Isis

What brought you to Kansas City? What makes you stay? I moved here in 2006 to be with my fiancĂ©, John.  I am originally from the Lake of the Ozarks area, and I feel that the move was a good choice as the jobs available there are significantly less, plus I would miss John, of course.  ;)  Now that I’ve lived here for over ten years, I find that I just love Kansas City.

Original career plan:  Graphic designer.  I currently work at a call center for a bank as their Email Specialist full-time, and I have a lot of responsibilities.  Jewelry design is what I do for fun, because I have that creative streak and because I really wanted to see some Art Nouveau and Art Deco pieces available for people to buy.
Blue Willow Plate Shard Necklace on Silver 24" Chain
What do you make/when did you start: I make new jewelry out of vintage and recycled pieces.  I actually started making jewelry around 1998, but stopped for several years.  Ivory Isis began in 2013 officially.

How did it move from just making to selling?  Several of my friend encouraged me to at least open an Etsy shop when they saw my bottle cap necklaces, but when it didn’t do very well, I looked into selling at shops as well as craft shows. 
Clear Glass Cameo In Victorian Silver Setting Necklace
Story behind the name: Ivory Isis used to be my online nickname.  I wanted my name online to be something to do with Isis, the Egyptian Goddess, because I love ancient Egypt.  I chose ivory since it went well with Isis, and because I’m very pale.  I tied that into the business because I resurrect old pieces of jewelry, like Isis resurrected her husband, Osiris, in the Egyptian myths. 

Tell me about your creative process: Usually I am just hunting for interesting pieces that I think I may be able to work with.  For instance, at one point I found a large amount of old keyholes in an antique shop that I found to be a promising idea, and made a large amount of pieces from those, incorporating Swarovski crystals and other charms, such as hearts, to make each piece unique.  Sometimes I will actively hunt for pieces if I have a specific idea, like when I created button necklaces out of old Art Deco buttons and placed a Swarovski crystal in the center of each one. 
Vintage Art Nouveau Brass Keyhole Necklace with Peach Bauble Charms

What is your inspiration? All of the old Art Nouveau jewelry designers, as well as Alphonse Mucha and any art or jewelry from the turn of the century. 

Hardest lesson learned: Don’t buy too much initially.  It’s better to work in small batches, and much more cost efficient!

What motivates you to keep going when things get tough?  I really enjoy being a creative person and I need some type of outlet for my creativity.  I will, in effect, always have a creative project, and I know that about myself, so that always keeps me going.
Rapunzel's Enchantment - Antique Keyhole with Beautiful See Thru Bauble on 24" Chain
What are you currently working on in the studio?  Nothing at the moment, but I plan on finishing all of my keyhole pieces as soon as I get over this cold.

How did you find out about Handmade in KC and what prompted you to join?  The owners of Ugly Glass & Co. (a shop I use to vend at which has a lot of local vendors, I encourage you to check it out!) mentioned it several times, so I ended up looking into it, liking what I saw, and then I joined.

Hopes/dreams/future plans?  For the business, I hope to end up vending in a few more local shops, and hopefully I am able to be in a couple more successful craft shows, but I am keeping it small.  In the near future for me personally, I am getting married in October 2017 and have plans on buying a house with my future husband, John.

1920s Art Deco Button Necklace with Swarovski Crystal Center

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Romance Gifts Wish List

Hello! It is your crafty, colorful friend, Kelly, of Kiser Krafts Handmade. Handmade In Kc group invited me to be a guest blogger and I am super excited to share with you 4 of my "Romance Gifts" that I share with my husband for our anniversary.


First, I am allergic to animals. Not deathly so, but enough that having a pet in my home is just not do-able. This sweet Robot Pup by Remnants by RJ is the perfect "allergy-free" pet!! Remnants by RJ creates SO many wonderful robots, that in all honesty if my hubby chose any of their creations, I would be happy.

Second, I would LOVE the Spa Set Box Gift by Season of Love Gifts! Oh, the romance! Oh, the relaxation! I have bought so many wonderful, relaxing products from Season of Love Gifts and each one was better than the last. Each one hand crafted and made with care, I am always impressed with the quality. My fingers are crossed my hubby surprises me with something within her shop.

  Romance Gifts via Handmade In Kc Group
Third, I am a baseball fan. Was super excited to see my childhood hometown Cubs win the World Series, but I was equally excited to see my KC Royal win it last year. Handmade by Lolo Z has created gorgeous girlie, Ladies Gameday T-shirt dresses. They are so cute, comfortable, and an excellent way to support my hometown baseball team. While they are not "romance" themed, I can see a few stolen kisses during the Fifth inning.

Finally, I opened StudioPlay 31 on my husband's phone to this gorgeous, amazing, and elegant Zoila Green Banded Agate Amulet Pendant. It is so lovely and full of romance. Seriously, what girl would not want this as an anniversary gift?!? It is so pretty. And this lady loves green and loves jewelry.

So, this is the "Romance Gift" list. Which gift do you like best? Thank you for letting me share my anniversary Romance Gift list with you. I hope to see you on my other social medias. Find my KKHandmade SHOP, FACEBOOK, TWITTER, and INSTAGRAM here.     Save Save