If there is one thing I feel is lacking in the handmade community, it is empowerment and support from others. So, to help fill that gap, I’ve decided to begin a monthly series called, “Artist of the Month” where I feature handmade artists in multiple fields and host a fun giveaway with them to help spread the word about their gift and their mission within this community.
So, to begin this series off with a bang, let’s meet Rebecca Koops, who five years ago, combined her love of vintage clothes & hand stitching to create a small business smoothie of all things rehabbed and all things handmade. Thus, (yes, you guessed it) Rehabbed Handmade was formed and, to this day, is a thriving venture featuring everything from hand stitched hoops to vintage 90’s rompers. She does it all and she does it well and I decided to pick her brain a little on her process and her background in a quick interview below.
1. How did Rehabbed Handmade get its start?
I was a college drop out living at home with no job and no money. I have been crafting all of my life and the crafts were piling up. I would make something and think, “That was fun….but now what?” A friend had told me about etsy and I was intrigued. I took my laptop to a local coffee shop and started doing research. I sat there for hours reading about all the rules and policies, taking notes, and sipping coffee. Something told me that this is what I needed, so I signed up on etsy and I never looked back!
2. Which came first: vintage clothing or hand embroidery?
I started selling vintage clothing in my shop first. Although I have been sewing all of my life, I started to focus on hand embroidery around 2012.
3. Which decade is your favorite and what piece of clothing from that era is your favorite to find and sell?
This is such a hard question to answer! I really love vintage from the 60’s – 90’s. Right now, 90’s fashion trends are really popular, and its really fun taking a walk down memory lane of era I grew up in. I love finding a great fitted pair of high waisted jeans. They are harder to come by than you would think!
4. What inspires your hoop designs? Do you have a favorite?
A lot of my hoop designs are inspired by my own daily life. Lately I’ve been creating more designs that reflect my own daily affirmations. Making sure that I am creating art that reflects me as a person is something I struggle with on a daily basis, but I think my designs say it all: I am a human, just like everyone else, and I am not perfect. Sometimes I need a reminder to keep going, or to go outside and get some fresh air. There are other times when I’m feeling a little salty and make hoops like my “Don’t be a jerk” hoop. Most of my floral hoops are impromptu designs that I make up as I go. I think my favorite hoop is my “Do what you love, love what you do” hoop, because its exactly what I’m doing.
5. Has there ever been a part of your business that was a disaster? If so, what happened and how did you remedy it?
I’ve never had a big disaster, but I have definitely learned a lot from the little hiccups that come with starting a new business. I remember one time when I first started selling, I had sold a woman a small vintage purse. I didn’t know much about shipping then, and I didn’t get tracking for her package. It had been lost (just my luck) and although I had given her proof that I had shipped the package, she still left me a horrible review and I thought it was the end of my etsy shop. Luckily, it wasn’t and now I am an expert on shipping items in my shop. There are a lot more resources now on etsy to help with shipping than there was when I started. If I had time, I could probably write a book on all the things I have learned from the experience from starting a business from scratch. You really do learn a lot, and I’ve even helped several friends open their own shops.
6. Write up a quick paragraph of a standard day for Rehabbed Handmade.
I wake up way too early for my own liking, but my boyfriend’s day starts at 6:30, so mine does too. I drag my lifeless body to the coffee maker and brew the magical potion that gives me life. Coffee is the fuel behind Rehabbed Handmade. I then head into my home studio where all the magic happens. Because I have several different products in my shop, I usually have designated days where I work on specific things. Planning out my week in a planner has really helped me from feeling overwhelmed and it keeps me organized. If its a vintage day, I will either go thrifting, measure and make descriptions for the items, or photograph the items and update my shop. On embroidery days, I will either draw up some new designs, work on custom orders, or make some embroidered necklaces. I almost always have a cup of coffee, a blanket, and a podcast playing. Lately I’ve been stitching non-stop to get ready for a really fun craft show coming up later this month.
7. Is it tough being your own boss or is it the easiest job you’ve ever had?
I love my job more than anything and I can’t imagine doing anything else. Our jobs take up so much of our lives, so I find it silly to do something that you don’t like. Although I miss the steady paychecks from having a full time job, I will never miss that feeling of dreading going to work at a job I hated. Being my own boss means I can stay in tune with myself and focus on my own needs. If I am feeling overwhelmed and stressed, I’ll give myself a day off to relax and recharge. This way, I am more productive and present on a work day. It’s also nice not having to answer to anyone else, but I do hold myself accountable. I know that the success of Rehabbed Handmade relies on me and me only. Somedays, it can be completely overwhelming, but other days I feel so empowered looking back on how far Rehabbed Handmade has come. Knowing that I’ve done this all on my own feels really good.
8. Name one job within Rehabbed Handmade that you wish you could hire out to someone else.
If I could hire someone to do one Rehabbed Handmade job, it would be measuring the vintage items that go in my shop. It’s really important to provide accurate measurements and descriptions of the items so the customer knows what they are getting, but sometimes I wish I could just say “It’s a size small and it’s blue” and be done with it. Measuring is definitely my least favorite part of the job. I’d much rather be thrifting!
9. Any advice to those out there wishing to start their own handmade business?
I think the number one piece of advice I would give to someone who is thinking about starting their own handmade business is to have patience. Success does not happen over night. After five years of being an etsy seller, I am still learning about what it means to run a small business. Some days will be great, some days will be bad, but it’s important to keep going! If you are passionate about something, don’t give up!
Rehabbed Handmade is giving away the above featured, “Whatever” hoop as well as a $20 shop credit to their shop (good for any vintage and handmade items). Gulush Threads is giving away a $20 shop credit to their shop.
To enter, leave a comment below with either your favorite decade of clothing or your favorite ‘salty’ phrase. For an additional entry, head on over to Gulush Threads IG and like the giveaway photo and tag a friend. Don’t forget to follow both @gulushthreads and @rehabbedhandmade to be entered!
Giveaway ends Sunday, June 13th at midnight CT with winner announced on Monday, June 14th.
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