Angela and Brock of Mountain Mama Handmade and Wabi Sabi Wolverine formed a twin star of Etsy shops that finally collapsed into one in January. The couple’s handmade jewelry and fine art ink paintings are a perfect serene complement to each other, now living under one roof as In Search of Wild on Etsy. Their lives and shops are both better together.
How did you meet?
Angela I dated Brock’s roommate in college. I was always at their place, and I got to know Brock as a good friend. Our friendship continued after his roommate and I parted ways, and over the next year or so we started hanging out more, and it started to feel more and more date-like. We’ve been together now for 14 years, married for nine. Time sure flies…
Brock The above is true – with a healthy dose of forest, desert, mountain and beach walking. Also lots of growing, preparing and eating of food.
Have you always shared your creativity with each other, or was someone a closet creative?
Angela We’ve always been independently creative – but Brock definitely more so. We’ve both had an interest in creating things since we were really young, and we both took some art in college. Brock is such an artistic soul he inspires creativity in me. We’ve always created random things together, from children (ha!) to redesigning and remodeling our kitchen, to coming up with new veggie combos to put inside homemade tamales.
Brock Creativity is the result of trusting the process and remaining open to wherever it may lead – much like a relationship. It seems only natural that we share in these pursuits.
Whose idea was it to start selling on Etsy?
Angela I was inspired to create a shop after I started making jewelry a few years ago – I needed an excuse to keep buying jewelry-making supplies and tools! I was also a full-time at-home mom (and still am) and was looking for something to do that was my own thing, outside of taking care of our family and our home. Brock had been making art and selling it in shows and galleries for years, so it seemed natural to create a shop for him too, while I was at it.
You merged Brock’s Wabi Sabi Wolverine shop with Mountain Mama Handmade – what made you want to combine forces after all this time?
Angela It was mostly a pragmatic decision. As the day-to-day Etsy person of the duo, I felt more of a connection to my own shop and work than to Brock’s – so his shop was a little neglected. Switching back and forth between the two Etsy profiles was driving me batty. We also decided that merging our shops would give us a more genuine voice, more exposure and attention to his work, and add some variety to my items. It works smoother for us this way – and we’ve always worked together in real life, anyway.
Brock Although our work is very different on the surface, there seemed to be a common theme that we thought might work well. It rounds out our individual shops into something more complete.
Has the merge gone as you had hoped?
Angela There were no big surprises, except that it was more work than we originally thought. Re-creating all of Brock’s listings in my shop and figuring out all the details of merging the brands took a good deal of thought and time; we had to come up with a profile photo, shop sections, and banner that encompassed both our lines.
It was a great excuse to take a second look at the details of our listings and shop in general – in the end, we’re so happy with how everything works together. We’re also considering taking things a step further and adopting a single new name for our shop – something that encompasses the spirit of both our lines together. That would give us the flexibility to explore new, and maybe collaborative projects in the future.
Brock I find myself shifting toward all that we have in common. This puts a new perspective on some old ideas, and brought about many new ones. Merging our shops has sparked collaborative ideas that I’m really looking forward to chasing down. I’d love to see our shop full of work we did together – not just a mix of hers and mine.
How do you divide the non-artistic tasks – like shipping and packaging, listing items, and customer support?
Angela I’m definitely the Etsy-er of the duo. In Brock’s defense, he has a day job. I’m an at-home mom, so I have more flexibility to deal with those things – on days when the laundry is done and our four year old is feeling cooperative, anyway.
Brock Angela deserves every ounce of credit here. I do walk the dogs though. And shovel the driveway.
You’ve had consistent sales for over two years – what have you learned that makes your business different today?
Angela Our brand has evolved slowly; it’s hard to pinpoint exactly how it’s different from when we began. We’ve always just tried to be ourselves. I’ve learned lots of tiny details about how selling on Etsy works. I figured out how to take and edit better photos, how to market through teams and social media, and how to streamline the more tedious processes. I’ve also learned to watch trends in our sales and elsewhere to steer things in a more marketable direction.
We haven’t discovered one formula or secret to Etsy success that’s really changed things dramatically – in fact, we’ve deliberately broken a few of the Etsy success “rules.”
Brock I think we’re learning how to have more fun and focus on the parts we enjoy. I don’t know if that alone will get us more sales, but I believe people can see it in our shop and will respond to it.
Is it possible that Brock’s beard is the secret to your success?
Angela That is entirely possible. In fact, I’ve recently convinced him to grow it out longer, so I’m expecting increased success in the near future.
Brock The beard spawns a righteous chi that may contribute to a variety of universal happenings – from meteor showers to finding good parking spots.
Have you quit your day jobs, or is the Etsy shop a side business?
Angela This has always been a side business. Part of me is hoping to make a “create your day job” situation out of Etsy as our boys get older. I’m hoping to be able to dedicate more time to our shop, and hopefully start bringing home a larger portion of the tempeh bacon, so to speak.
Brock My day job provides a nice balance for now. Maybe someday.
Why doesn’t Veggie Love get love anymore? Do you still have feelings for Marie’s Creamy Chipotle Ranch?
Angela Brock loved it when I was writing my food blog – we certainly didn’t go hungry! I was always creating or testing one recipe or another. It fizzled out as I spent more time on Etsy.
Several months ago, I re-vamped the way I eat (and subsequently, the way everyone else in the family eats). I’ve gone dairy-free, and we’ve all gone gluten and GMO-free – on top of being vegetarians for a loooong time. As I learn more about how what we eat affects how we feel, and what goes into a lot of “food” products, it’s become a passion of mine to clean up my family’s food.
I’ve definitely thought about reviving Veggie Love to share my new passion for clean eating, but I’m afraid that once I get started I won’t be able to stop! I could go on and on about food. I’m also a little afraid of coming across as crazy. I’m definitely a nutcase when it comes to what I eat and feed my family – just ask Brock about the grocery list I texted him the other week.
As for Marie’s Chipotle Ranch, it will always have a place in my heart. I loooove the flavor of it, but gave up eating it a while back. I have approximated a homemade version of it using avocados for creaminess, but it needs a little work. Hmm, I should refine my recipe for a Veggie Love post…
Brock Mmmmmmm… Veggie Love.