Happy Monday. Today, I’d like to introduce you to Maritime Maker, Melanie Sampson of Hi, Love Greetings. Melanie sells handmade greeting cards, prints, and tote bags that perfectly balance sweetness and naughtiness, and a have a great dash of honesty mixed in. You know those things we all want to say? Melanie’s cards say them for us.
You might have seen some of her work off etsy as well, as they have been featured in Cosmopolitan UK, Huffpost Canada and Buzzfeed.
Read on, to learn more about this talented maker:
Thanks for joining us, Melanie. Please start by telling us a little about you:
I live in Kentville, NS with my love, Goose and our cat, Kitty. Creativity has always been part of who I am. I grew up a science geek who loved hugs, making things for people I love, and talking too much. I ended up with a geology degree, working on the radio, and never forgetting my passions for writing, collecting rocks, and hugging. My current day job is Program & Promotions Director of 89.3 K-Rock. I spend evenings and weekends with my hi, love. greetings Etsy shop. I’m so lucky to be surrounded by creativity all day long!
You have a pretty interesting and mixed background. Do geology and/or radio still play a role in your life, and if so how do you manage to wear all the hats at once?
My day job is in radio as I’m not at the “QYDJ” phase of my business. I’m the Program and Promotions Director at 89.3 K-Rock and many of my radio skills crossover to my Etsy shop. Social media for business, branding, marketing, public speaking, sales – I use them all daily! My geology skills come in handy when taking long walks on a rocky beach and keep me connected to all things science in my personal time. There will always be elements of science in my designs.
With a mix of naughty and sweet in your shop, do you find that one of these traits tends to dominate over the other in your own life, or have you managed to achieve perfect balance?
I’d like to think I’m a fair mix of both naughty and sweet. I sometimes find myself having to tame the naughty side of my designs. There’s an invisible line in my head I try to not cross. The same goes for being too sweet. I try to not be corny. My hope is that my designs feel honest to the message I’m trying to share and the experience that inspired it. I really do love the swears, though! After years of talking on the radio, I’ve thankfully learned to shut that part of my speech off when I need to.
You moved/returned to the Valley. Where were you previously? What would you say are the unique challenges in finding an audience in a less populated area?
Most recently I was in Miramichi, NB for 2 years. Before that, here in the Valley for 5 years. Before that, Halifax, Moncton, and here in the Valley again! I went to Acadia University and NSCC Kingstec so the Valley sometimes feels as much my home as my actual hometown of Happy Valley – Goose Bay, NL. I grew up in a small town so I feel a connection to more intimate communities yet still enjoy the benefits of a city. In many ways, it’s easier to find an audience in a less populated area. I’ve always sought the support and guidance from local makers, friends, and family before sharing things with the world online. Having an Etsy shop has allowed me to directly connect with my client demographic – fellow lovers of all things handmade. The online community is huge but it all starts at home with product testing on friends and becoming part of your own business community through local markets and ventures.
At the same time, what rewards do you draw from making a home in the Valley?
The Annapolis Valley has such a vibrant, unique, and talented maker community! It’s also a place that, since I was a kid coming here on vacation, I thought was one of the most beautiful and picturesque locations in Canada. Every season in the Valley brings something amazing. Fresh produce, great roads to explore, sightseeing galore, rock hunting, fun trails, open water, rivers… it’s all here! And, there are so many great pizza joints here! 🙂
And how do you feel the craft movement can have a positive impact on the rural economy?
I’m a huge believer that successful economies of communities are born from creative solutions to everyday problems. Entrepreneurs, creatives, and makers are necessary for a community to thrive. So many rural communities are bustling with talent, much of which has been passed on generation to generation as traditional craft. The internet has opened a door to the world for many makers who were once restricted by geography. Many handmade and handcrafted items are not just a creative exploration, they preserve and grow heritage while telling the many stories of a community and its people. In turn, these stories reach further outward helping small business grow and small communities to connect with larger markets. To me, makers are storytellers, no matter their chosen craft. Shared stories and connections grow communities, businesses, and in turn, economies.
Where do you see your business in five years?
I hope in five years my business is continuing to grow! I’ve seen steady growth since I started selling on Etsy in 2013. I’m a big fan of graphs and my graphs tell me I should continue to see my business expand comfortably over the next few years. I’ve set some clear goals for myself in terms of product lines, wholesale, and general sales.
You have become quite involved in the Maritime Makers team. What do you see as some long term goals for the team?
I’m so happy the Maritime Makers team exists and seems to be growing quickly! I’ve already seen and experienced the collaboration, sharing of knowledge, and support that comes from a team like ours. I think the team will continue to be a resource for makers of all skill levels. It can be intimidating sometimes when you’re surrounded by so much talent and experience and you’re just starting out. I know makers can boost our local economies and I hope the team will continue to foster that through education, resource sharing, and mobilizing the members. I feel like our beautiful Province needs to do all we can to attract and keep creative talent!
What general words of advice would you give to newer crafters?
Make, make, and make some more! The things we make are never perfect. The best advice I ever received from a fellow maker is to just make something. It doesn’t have to be something to sell or something you’ll ever show anyone else. It’s important to find that creative release and keep the taps open!
Research. Before opening my shop, I researched Etsy, Etsy in Canada, the policies, the guidelines, how others were navigating this huge site, and how I saw myself fitting into it. I had a plan and vision for my products and shop. Even though I did mounds of research, I still stuck to the plan I had worked on for months. Don’t be afraid to try something new that works for your business plan. If you constantly try to replicate trends, you risk losing what’s unique about your Etsy shop – you and what you make!
Thanks so much for sharing with us, Melanie. Be sure to check out Melanie’s fantastic shop here: HiLoveGreetings on etsy.