Contributor post by Michelle of EviesToolEmporium
Tell us about yourself.
Hello there! My name is Shannon and I am the artist behind Corky Friendz, wine cork gifts. Born and raised in Oregon I have an innate passion for the Pacific North West and all the beauty that it holds. It is truly inspiring to live in such a corky city as Portland, and my handmade gifts are dripping with that rustic quirkiness!
My happy place is the outdoors! Example would be being 33 weeks along and being the only pregnant lady seen hiking in Glacier National Park. I love to make people smile. I worked in the school photography professional for 11 years creating yearbooks, and making memories. It was a joy getting to let out your silly side for the sake of that 3rd grader having the best smile for his fall photo.
Fast forward to 2017; Corky Friendz has not only given me the opportunity to stay home with my 5 month old son, but the privilege to create a gift that can make others smile for years to come. What a blessing, right!?! As a side note….I also am an 80-year-old woman at heart who pets every animal I meet, makes zucchini relish using my grandmother’s recipe, and can appreciate a good glass of wine after a long hard day of pulling weeds in the garden.
When did you open your business and what make you decide to do so?
Corky Friendz opened its Etsy Shop three years ago after my husband encouraged me to “give it a go.” My goal was to showcase corks with a second life as a wine cork gift to earn some adventure money. I bought a wood burner and learned how to use it; sliced my hand open cutting the charms, and burnt my fingers with lava-hot glue in the earlier days. I never dreamed I would be able to make so many people smile with my whimsical corky ornaments & wedding cake toppers! Each review, comment, message and note fuels me to create new designs that can brighten someone’s day. All of the corks I use are sourced locally from Portland wine bars, restaurants, vineyards, and neighbors.
Tell us a bit about your products.
All the wine corks used in my shop are locally sourced from PDX wine bars, restaurants, vineyards, and neighbors alike. We offer hand crafted wine cork reindeer, cats, dogs, rabbits, & moose to hang on your tree at Christmas time. Champagne cork wedding cake toppers, Mr. & Mrs. wine glass charms, and monogrammed wedding favors year round. We also just released our Happy Camper Adventure Line featuring tents, tps, evergreen trees, & beautiful mountain motifs on our wine glass charms/magnets. I wood burn each design by hand into the cork itself. This allows me to add any custom work a custom might request. The sky really is the limit. I have created coasters with a double hump camel, buffalo wine glass charms, and even a cork fairy ornament to accommodate our customers’ custom needs. I also use artist conks (it’s a mushroom that grows on the side of a tree) as my own personal canvas for larger more intricate wood burning pieces. I enjoy a challenge!
What inspires your work?
My inspirations are constantly in motion with what is going on around me. My mind is a sponge that soaks up every last image these big blue eyes see. I tend to get a huge surge of inspiration from my travels. A few recent adventures would be stroller exploring Portland, Cannon Beach, Glacier National Park, and Elf (the movie) because smiling is my favorite.
What are your future goals for the business this year? What is your dream for this business?
This year is a big year for Corky Friendz! We are currently working on www.corkyfriendz.org website; featuring‘s very own shop and blog with wine craft tutorials posted each month. CFZ also has sights on a few makers shops in the PDX area to host it’s wires for up close and in person encounters!
My dream is to continue our brand in local shops, vineyards, and private events. Above all, it is to enjoy each minute of the journey this corky business has led me to have.
What makes your business stand out from businesses that sell similar products?
The quality and effort that goes into each one of our items (big or small) is phenomenal. Being an artist at heart and having the skill of free hand rendering gives you originality you don’t see with some other corky shops. You also are not buying a mass-produced item. You are receiving a keepsake for that special someone who is hand-made by a local Portland gal who poured love into creating that one corky creation. You are buying a tiny original piece of art on each wine glass charm, magnet, and artist conk. You are investing in a family lifestyle that takes the big business out of our lives, and allows me to spend priceless time with a growing child that I would be missing if working a 9-5.
Tell us a bit about your work space. Do you have a separate studio?
I started in my living room with a hot glue gun….Today my work space has blossomed into a beautiful sunny studio. Boasting tons of natural light with lace mobiles hanging in the windows; I’m surrounded by jars filled with bows, google eyes, and spools of wire. It’s dreamy to say the least.
What have you learned since opening your business that you wish you had known before hand?
Oh golly! I would tell my old self it takes one step at a time. Just because a door is open doesn’t mean you have walked through it. It’s the little things that get you to the other side. Looking back, each small step has carried my designs farther than I ever thought possible. I mean, when you see an order come in from Ireland?! Of course I want to make your wedding cake toppers; I’m honored!
Any advice for those thinking about selling on Etsy?
Dive in! The journey of selling on Etsy has really encouraged me as an artist to, “Get out there!” more. The people you meet, the stories you hear, and the knowledge you gain is worth every keystroke.
When you’re not working, what do you like to do to unwind and have fun? Do you have any hobbies?
I LOVE to hike. Exploring the sights and sounds with my little family made up of giant slobbery dogs, and baby babbles makes me appreciate the greatness of being submersed in nature. When the mountains are too far from home, you can find me in the garden tending to the veggies and a glass of red wine in the evenings.
What is your favorite quote?
This quote is from the book I am currently reading, The Power of One.
“ ‘Do you think I can do it, Hoppie?’; I was desperate for his confidence in me, ”Piece a’ cake, Peekay. I already told you, man. You’re a natural.” Hoppie’s words were like seed pods with wings. They flew straight out of his mouth and into my head, where they germinated in the rich, fertile, receptive soil of my mind.” (Courtenay 74)
Where can people find out more about your business?
You can follow Corky Friendz on Instagram ( www.intstagram.com/corkyfriendz ) for the latest “behind the scenes” look at what’s happening in the shop. Also, our new website at www.corkyfriendz.org is in the works! Newest product lines, a blog spot featuring wine cork craft tutorials and vendor announcements are just a few things that the website will have once it is complete.
Is there anything else you’d like to share?
Thanks for reading!
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