Bubbling up from the well this Wednesday is a very cool and unique shop: Buenahelena, owned and operated by Carol right here in Rochester, NY. Frustrated by tiny paychecks from her job as a teaching assistant at the Cleveland Institute of Art, Carol was encouraged to open Buenahelena by fellow Etsian, Yabetta. She chose the name Buenahelena out of her obsession with all things Latin. It turned out to be an apt choice, as buena of course means “good” and Helen or Helena means “light,” it fits perfectly with Carol’s desire to spread “good light” around with her creations. Though Buenahelena was started in 2006, Carol took a brief graduate school induced hiatus, but is now back in her hometown of Rochester with rekindled interest, revamped photos, new products, a rockin’ blog, and a new community in the Rochester NY Etsy Street Team (RNEST).
As you can see from her shop, she loves using found objects and giving old baubles a new use. She finds a lot of her materials at thrift stores, her grandparents’ attic, or sometimes they're just given to her serendipitously. As a fiber artist outside of Etsy, she loves textile mediums and also loves working with beads, sequins, glitter, and everything else that we’re told not to use in art.
Her current favorite item (and mine too!!) is the Confucius Say Coaster set. They're funny, kitschy, and perfectly mesh with her goal giving new life and purpose to vintage finds. Her idea of sandwiching the vintage napkins in clear vinyl means that you can keep the kitsch going party after party! What was once toss away napkins is now sturdy coasters that are easy to wipe clean while still showing off great illustrations and sayings.
Since starting in 2006, Carol can look back and offer some advice to other Etsians and artisans. She advises others to take their shops and their crafts seriously. This isn’t a no-commitment side job that will bring in the money if you just put up any old photo of something you made. You have to become an excellent photographer. You have to create a brand and a story for your products. You have to nurture your site like a child by listing often, communicating with buyers, and promoting yourself in any avenue possible. And most important: be patient!
Make sure you check out Buenahelena. Also, if you’re in the Rochester area, Carol will be selling her work in an outdoor booth at the Old Fashioned Family Fair on September 26, 2009 from 9 am-4 pm at 1400 Lehigh Station Rd. in Henrietta. It is very in step with the feel of Buenahelena since the church hosting the fair is holding a huge thrift sale of goodies inside as well. (It’s a good bet that Carol will take the chance to find some new materials while she’s there!) Also, for the rest of 2009, Buenahelena will offer free shipping to blog followers, of this blog or Buenahelena, and to all greater Rochester area buyers! Just send Carol a message through Etsy and she’ll reserve your item with a new purchase total or refund you through PayPal. What a great deal and a great shop!!