As we start to wind down the Summer Blog Challenge one of our last assignments is to interview another blogger. I had the opportunity to interview Shai from Vagabond Studio. Shai is an inspiration she has two children, two step-children, blogs, go to school full-time and has an Etsy shop!
What is you favorite part about blogging?
Blogging is an ever-changing experience for me. At first, I loved being able to share my thoughts. I actually have an extreme fear of speaking publicly (to the point of passing out and/or getting sick), so I clam up during class discussions and conversations at school. My original blog was a way for me to purge those thoughts and ideas. It slowly transformed to more of a lifestyle/eco-friendly blog, and then I started The Vagabond Studio. To this day, being able to relate ideas is my favorite part. I find it much easier to teach, share, and inspire via the web than I ever could in a group setting.
You have four children in your home how do you manage blogging and running an Etsy shop?
Well, our four children aren’t always in the house at the same time. We have a blended family, with the oldest and youngest being ‘mine’ and the middle two being ‘his’. So, my children are gone every other weekend and his are here every other weekend plus holidays and summers. When we have our middle two, though, we have them all. That can be chaos, but in an incredibly awesome way! I love having the family under one roof. The rest of my life is scheduled around when his kids are here – I don’t touch anything work/school related until the kids are in bed.
Outside of that, I actually blog, run an Etsy shop, am a Girl Scout leader and a PTA volunteer, as well as a mom, wife, and full-time college student. Frankly, it’s chaos, but in a very enjoyable way. I keep my blogging and Etsy organized with a desk calendar that has a sticky note for each day (so I can move things around when needed). I write my ideas down in a journal that I keep in my purse, and then have a separate notebook dedicated to the blog and Etsy organization, orders, etc. All appointments (ArtistChild is special needs, so there are alot of those), assignments, meetings, volunteer schedules and family functions go into an agenda that also stays in my purse. Every day of my calendar is full, but I really think taking time for ‘us’ makes all the difference. A few days ago, we randomly decided to go to the park for a picnic with ArtistChild and I was able to come home and attack my to-do list with smiles and energy. ♥
Do you have a great time management tip?
The desk calendar really is my life-saver! I have a color-coded sticky note on each day, and I write in the posts/projects/products that are due that day. Because it’s a sticky note, I can move them as things occur (like, I have a project scheduled but something I need is on backorder, so I swapped it for a tutorial scheduled a week from now). Other than that, I just make sure to stay on top of things, and realize that my house will never be spotless. I’m often called SuperWoman, but I’ve never been accused of being Martha Stewart!
Why did you open an Etsy shop? What do you sell?
I had an Etsy shop previously, but shut it down when I worked full-time and went to school full-time as a single mom. It was just too much to handle all at once and feel like I was giving ArtistChild my best. I reopened it when I was rejected from art school for ‘lack of creative ingenuity’ – partially due to a very ‘I’ll show them!’ type attitude I had at the time, and partially because my friends and family wouldn’t quit bugging me to do so. I sell art on occasion, but mostly upcycled and repurposed home and wedding decor. My upcycled hair accessories and book paper flower bouquets are my best sellers, though I sell many more via Facebook than I do via Etsy.
If you had all the time and supplies in the world to craft what would you want to make?
I would paint and draw! Sounds odd, considering I never do either. I craft, really, because crafting is simple and projects can be done in such a short time. Painting and drawing, for me, mean daily practice. It’s an obsession, really. I don’t do it often because I then feel the need to hone in on those skills as often as possible. If I had all the time, paper, graphite, and paint in the world, though? I’d never leave my drafting table.
What is you favorite thing to write about?
Upcycling! After making the Top Eco-Friendly Blogs of 2012 via Circle of Moms, I started getting emails from complete strangers asking what brands I prefer, etc. I LOVE helping others become more green, but I don’t use ‘green’ products for the most part, so that answer often confuses people. I upcycle and repurpose everything I can get my hands on. I turn sheets into dresses, sweaters into hair bows, t-shirts into diapers, etc. I also buy everything I can second hand and just ‘make it’ new. To me, this is more eco-friendly than introducing new products into the consumerist world, and I adore sharing these ideas with others.
What is your least favorite thing to write about?
Giveaways. I no longer do them unless they’re eco-friendly or handmade (I have one coming up, actually!), but I didn’t like doing the other giveaways when I did do them. It very much felt like selling out, because I was gaining all of these amazing followers but wasn’t giving them anything they were interested in. I want my readers to find me useful, interesting, and entertaining – not just add me to get a free iPad. I felt like I was cheating them, as well as myself. So, I quit doing them! ♥
On your blog you mentioned your recent wedding, what was the best moment of the day?
There were two moments that stick out about equally. First, I come from a divorced family. My dad and step-dad have both been in my life for as long as I can remember. I was very close to my step-dad as a child and am very close to my step-dad as an adult. All my life, I’ve dreamed of them both walking me down the aisle. As soon as both of them grabbed my arms, one on each side, to walk me down the aisle, I almost cried. Seeing the pictures afterward did make me cry! The second moment was about thirty seconds after we started down the aisle and I locked eyes with John – everything else disappeared. Apparently, I had this ridiculous smile on my face that I didn’t notice until the pictures came back.
What would have done differently for your wedding, with hindsight being your guide?
I would have had the picture area far, far away from the guests. My family, God love them, all surrounded the wedding party with their cameras and kept getting in the way of the photographer, jumping into pictures, demanding pictures – it was chaos. Alot of the pictures have people looking at different cameras, or we just look stiff because it was our third or fourth time in that exact pose but for different people. It sucked all of the fun out of it and turned it in to a chore. The Bride and Groom pay very good money to professionals to take care of the photographic memories – guests really should respect that and go chit chat until photos are done!
Finally, since you write a blog if you were to one day get a book deal what would your book be about?
Everyone keeps telling me that I should write a memoir – I’ve had a crazy but beautiful life. I think, if I were really given that option, though, I would likely write something regarding the consumerist, media-indulgent society we live in. Not so great, I know, but it’s something about which I’m passionate and is much less likely to land me on Oprah (public speaking fear, remember? :P).
Here are all the ways you can connect with Shai