Member Feature: GwensHomemadeGifts

Contributor post by Michelle of EviesToolEmporium

Please join us in welcoming Gwen of GwensHomemadeGifts, our featured member!



Tell us about yourself.

I was born and raised and still live in rural northern Indiana, been married to my high school sweetheart for 36 years now and have 3 grown children.  I work full-time for our local public schools as an executive secretary for the curriculum director in the corporation office.  It means I serve a lot of our special student populations, language minority, special education, high ability and transfer students. I’ve always done different crafts on and off through the years, but had to put my hobbies on hold for a while when I was at my busiest with raising kids!  But my girls have fond memories of going to craft fairs and helping me with my booth when they were young.

When did you open your business and what make you decide to do so?

I opened my Etsy shop in April of 2013.  My children actually encouraged me to do it.  The Christmas before I had tried my hand at making organic lip balm for gifts.  It was wonderful! The best lip balm I had ever used, hands down.  My friends asked me if I had extra to sell, and so I made more.  And from there things grew into the Etsy shop I have today.GwensHomemadeGifts

Tell us a bit about your products.

My vision is that I have a shop with fresh, wholesome products, pampering and good for your skin and as natural as is practical. Then I package them ready for gifting.  Not all products, but almost all of them will arrive ready for gift giving.  I do like a nice simple, but attractive presentation.  Everything is available to be sent directly to a customer’s gift recipient with a handwritten handmade greeting card at no extra cost.GwensHomemadeGifts2

What inspires your work?

I am inspired by my customers.  Any time they have asked me for something, if I listen to them and take the time to research it and come up with my recipe and package my product… it has become a best seller in my shop.  If someone is asking for it, chances are others are looking for it too.  Also I only sell products that I love myself.GwensHomemadeGifts3

What are your future goals for the business this year? What is your dream for this business?

My goals are more long-term.  I want to steadily gain momentum so that my shop is established and making a little money by the time I retire from my full-time job.  Then my Etsy hobby will become my retirement job!  Can you tell I have to be busy?

What makes your business stand out from businesses that sell similar products?

There are a lot of Bath and Body shops out there and it’s hard to stand out.  I think that’s true of a lot of categories on Etsy, there are just so many shops.  I would like to stand out because I present products as gifts and offer free handmade card service.GwensHomemadeGifts4

Tell us a bit about your work space. Do you have a separate studio?

I have an extra ground floor bedroom that use to be a nursery.  Now it is my craft room.  It holds storage cabinets, and work table, light box for photography and a postage scale and mailing station.  It also has a large closet for storage and a place for my sewing machine.  I love it!  Just outside its door is my large dining room table and beyond that my kitchen so it’s in a good location for me to work.  I also have a room in my basement for extra shipping supplies.  And I have another storage room upstairs for extra supplies for gift basket building and product packaging supplies.  I’m blessed with lots of space.

What have you learned since opening your business that you wish you had known before hand?

I had no idea what I was getting in to.  But does anyone?  I really didn’t realize how much time it would take to promote myself.  You can’t just post a shop on Etsy and expect customers to come to you. Unless you are very unique or have something people are crazy for, they will not find you in the vast sea of shops on Etsy.  I think I would have had a more well thought out plan for promoting had I realized the effort required.GwensHomemadeGifts5

Any advice for those thinking about selling on Etsy?

Get involved with teams. It takes a lot of promoting to get your shop noticed on Etsy and you can’t do it yourself.  Join a variety of teams on Etsy and get involved in the activities.  Your teammates will help promote you as you also promote them.  It’s more fun than doing it all alone, and more effective.  Your teams will help you promote within Etsy and on social media.  Teams will also help you make your shop the best it can be.  Improving your shop is a process that never ends and you can learn from others with more experience.  I know I did.  Without joining teams, I don’t think I would have made it on Etsy.

When you’re not working, what do you like to do to unwind and have fun? Do you have any hobbies?

Etsy is my hobby!!  I love to crochet, and making soap, bath salts, lip balms, lotions.. oh I’m just in heaven when I can spend time making these lovely pampering products!  I also love watching movies, reading and learning new crafts.  Lately I’ve been taking advantage of art and craft classes at my local library.  I’ve been learning a little painting, acrylic canvas painting and also water paints.  It’s very soothing and stimulating for me at the same time if that makes sense.GwensHomemadeGifts6

What is your favorite quote?

Integrity is doing the right thing even when no one is watching. –C.S. Lewis

Where can people find out more about your business?



If you would like to be featured, please go to the CIJ Etsy Forum and fill out the questionnaire. Please note you must be a member of the CIJ Etsy team to be featured.

Inspire your Heart with Art Day

Contributor post by Alicia from AliciasFindings

This day is one where you ponder the effect of art on your heart.
How does art make you feel? How has it moved you?

Here at Christmas in July Team we wanted to know how you would celebrate this day?

Stock Lane Studio from StockLaneStudio says I would love to celebrate this day by visiting the Museum of Modern Art (MOMA) in NYC. I know I will make it some day, but not this month.

What I love about art is that it can be both a private and public experience. No one can tell me how I am supposed to feel about art, that is my privilege. But I do love that we can all share our stories through art, about a time, a place, a person.

On Jan 31st, I know I will be doing 2 things:
1: Dance. With a dancer in the family, that is an integral part of life. I love watching my daughter dance, listening to her passionate descriptions of what she does, and seeing her progress.

2. Since it is my anniversary, I will be spending the day with my hubby, my favorite work of art

Valentine Mirror Card

Evelyn and Lucy from artsyEVE states I will celebrate this day with my granddaughter who loves to paint and sew and create pottery…and simply loves to be involved with all the arts!
Her love of the arts fills my heart with love! I made this for her.

Flannel doll quilt and pillow

Richard and Tatiana from DesignsTheLimit discussed that we like to think that we celebrate our love for art everyday, but we have a special project that we are planning for this weekend to make a new Valentine’s Day wreath for our front door. We have already gathered the materials and made some preparations, but will be letting our daughters do most of the assembly with supervision. The only thing better than creating art is when you can do it together while spending time with the ones you love.

In addition to the personalized gifts we list in our Etsy shop, we also take commissions for sandblasted glass artwork for any application. We have performed sandblasted glass art projects for local businesses and military applications. Although we typically perform these jobs for local contractors in Hampton Roads, we have decided to list these products and services in our Etsy shop and have received a few enquiries. Message us on Etsy or give us a call to discuss any of the products or services we provide.

Custom Artwork

Kelly from ColourscapeStudios says I would love to be able to gather up all my dear maker friends from around the country, and sit down together chatting and watching each other work and create. The beauty of art is that everyone sees something a little differently to the next, and there is art in the creative process from start to finish!

Inspirational print

Gwen Jones from GwensHomemadeGifts states I love the process of making bath and body products, from gathering the skin loving ingredients to mixing them together like some kind of mad scientist or something. It’s a rush, let me tell you! Especially fun is soap making! There are so many pretty molds and soap just acts so alive! It sometimes has a mind of it’s own as it sets up maybe before you want it to. There is a skill, an art to getting it just right. And it’s a fun craft to share with others too. When I’m making my pretty smelling things at my home, my heart and mind are soothed and restored. I think it’s that way with anyone who has found a way to express the creativity within themselves.

Honey Facial Bar Soap


Surviving Cabin Fever

Contributor post by Sheila from BeadyEyedBird

Crafting and developing new skills is a great way to survive the winter doldrums.

Here at the Christmas in July team, we thought there couldn’t be a better way to beat the winter blues than to share our respective ‘survival tips’ with each other. Here’s what some of our team members have done and created while ‘trapped’ inside.

Sherri from ButterflyFeetDigital says:

This is my new listing – and an example of what I LOVE about January. We have snow on top of snow, but I enjoy being inside and doing some creative doodling! I guess my only tip is that winter will last til it’s over, might as well do something you enjoy.

Texture Digital Paper, Printable Scrapbooking, 12 designs, I… ButterflyFeetDigital $2.25 USD

Carola Bartz from CarolaBartz says:

When it’s cold and gray outside I love to cozy up on the couch with a mug of hot cocoa and a good book. Reading takes me in a different world. One book in particular, Eowyn Ivey’s “The Snow Child”, fascinated me very much. It takes place in the cold winters in Alaska and inspired me to create this painting that also has the title “Snow Child”. I really loved how my way to “survive” the winter blues took me to creating something new.

Snow Child Mixed Media Painting, Original Artwork on 8 x 8 W…
$70.00 USD

Evelyn and Lucy from artsyEVE say:
Snuggling up with a cup of tea, a quilt and a good book is a wonderful way to beat the blues!

BIG SALE Baby quilt, pink and white, appliqued with hearts
$30.00 USD

Sue from SuesAkornShop says:
Knowing we’re into January and and Easter are right around the corner, I thought since there’s cold temps and lots of snow I’d stay inside and start work on Easter items.

Bunny Hand Towel, Easter Towel, Easter Decor, Easter Bunny …
$8.00 USD

This winter is not too bad yet, but it’s far from over. Last year, though was a completely different story. Here is a photo of New England Blitz 2015.

So I over prepared for this winter season. Our Christmas stockings were full of warm fuzzy socks and presents under the tree included adult coloring books and needle point. We still have our ‘game table’ set up so we don’t have to move the Monopoly Game or puzzle around.

New Hampshire Winter Photography, New England snow travel ph…
$7.00 USD

When it’s cold, gloomy, windy and the power has gone out, with all the snow and ice stacked up, pick up a pack of playing cards and learn how to play a new (old) game such as Canasta! A fun and entertaining way to spend the day with the family!

Vintage Canasta Playing Cards by Congress – Pheasants Quails…
$19.99 USD

It is summer at the moment for me, so I tried to think back to what I made during the last winter. These pinwheels came to mind. I made them with bright coloured paper ready for spring and parties!

Bright paper pinwheels, colourful, party decor, card making,…
$9.22 USD

Wendy WN from WoodNotions says:
During the winter, after the holidays have passed, I spend my time designing. I have a list of requests/ideas that I create during the holidays. Since designing cards and ornaments is my passion, I look forward to these quiet times to relax and lose myself in the process.

I’ve just completed my first 2016 design project that I did for a pair of dog parents. I thought this one was particularly satisfying, during these winter months, because the dogs name was “Sunshine”, AKA “LMS” (Little Miss Sunshine). They sent me photos of their cute, cheerful and rambunctious, miniature Australian shepherd. It’s so nice to capture a happy face, that makes you smile every time you work on it. I made a large wood-cut for them to frame and display year round, and a smaller ornament, that they were happy to allow me to add to my shop offerings.

My survival tips for the winter doldrums: Dress warm and get out and enjoy the great outdoors. Start making plans for small and large projects, and figure out how to tackle those challenges of this past holiday season.

Dog ornament wood-cut dog decoration miniature Australian sh…
$6.00 USD

Ina from InaSudjana says:

It’s summer here down under;  but when the cold hits hard I reckon nothing that a cuppa cannot heal. Here are my felt coasters all designed by me on one cold winter morning while thinking about summer (hence the bright happy colours) and looking forward to placing my cuppa on them.

Cactus – Pure wool felt Coasters (set of 2), tableware, thic…
$14.19 USD

Gwen Jones from GwensHomemadeGifts says:
With a Bath & Body Gift Shop, I can always keep winter boredom at bay, because there is always soap to pour, bath salts to mix and lotion to make. And my house always smells like heaven! Winter is the perfect time to work on new recipes and combinations of ingredients for new product lines too! But what I really like to do is stock up my crochet items! Netflix, herbal tea and miles and miles of crochet cotton and I’m a happy girl. Let it snow!

Bright Mod Blue Soap Sack, Crochet Soap Pouch, Soap Saver, M…
$6.00 USD

Woolly Momo from WoollyMomo says: 
After a relatively mild winter, it recently turned very cold in London and it’s freezing outside!

So this weekend that just passed I stayed in nice and warm and kept myself occupied within the same walls all day by knitting up this scarf.

I originally made this with orange pom poms for a friend at Christmas; it went down so well with her nursing colleagues who were working with her on Christmas Day that I thought I’d make another one, and last weekend was the perfect opportunity!

Navy Blue Merino Scarf. Navy Blue Chunky Knit Scarf. Navy …
$36.73 USD

Debbie Gilbert from License2Craft says:

Only in Florida now for 2 years, my memories are still sharp as to life back in my home state of Maine with those long, cold winter months. Memories of harsh winters, days where it got dark so early, and “skating” on icy roads with the car! The worst winter I remember was when the “Great Ice Storm of 1998” hit Maine. It caused massive damage to our trees and electrical infrastructure all over the area, leading to widespread long-term power outages. Personally, the road that I lived on was without road access and power for 3 weeks! We stayed with our neighbor, passing the days playing games and telling stories in their home, as they had wood heat.

Just thinking of the hours of being in the cold and hours of shoveling snow makes be shiver! Nothing like curling up on the couch after, grabbing a hot pack and settling in for some snuggle time or a great book…

Heat therapy rice bag, Microwave heating pad, Rice bag, Heat…
$17.95 USD

And that’s how we do it! Thanks to everyone who contributed!


Celebrating National Braille Literacy Month through Textures

Contributor post by Alexandra from EyeLoveKnots

January is National Braille Literacy Month. Braille is something we are thankful for worldwide, but especially in my family as a few of my family members have been affected by Retinoblastoma, a cancer of the eye – You can read more about this in my personal About Me. Braille is all about the raised dots and touch/feel. I thought it’d be a neat twist on that to do a textured topic.

I invited my fellow Christmas in July Etsy team members to share items from their shops that were textured, and a short story about their items.

Usually, I try to narrow down the entries, but this time I couldn’t help but share them all! They are all great items, and a wide variety of them shared here. What fun!

She says, “This is some vintage burlap ribbon I got a hold of but it had damage all thru the roll because of a pin that was placed in it and the pin rusted so there were rust spots. I loved the ribbon and got it at a great deal because of the rust. When I got it home it sat for a few months til I noticed I could use the ribbon between the rust spots by cutting it and using it on gift tags, so I used this what would be an unusable ribbon in these wonderful tags. The tags are made out of a textured paper and the lace and burlap gives it even more texture in these OOAK [One of a Kind] tags.”

She says, “The pin hole design on the copper sleeve of this ceramic pot reminds me of the dots created by a brailler. I worked with visually impaired students before my retirement.”

She says, “As an artist, I love texture and much of my sculptural work is highly textured. This ring is made from upcycled buttons, the top blue button featuring raised dots, and certainly capturing the theme of this topic.”

She says, “This was the first item I knit using the Trinity Stitch and thought it was tough, but once I got the hang of the pattern I found myself whizzing through it and it was finished in no time! It was really satisfying seeing the finished scarf, and I was so glad I stuck with it to the end – now knitting the Trinity Stitch is a breeze!  “

She says, “What a great way to bridge our work with awareness! The texture of this yarn is soft, and somewhat bumpy and then to add the twists to the fabric it makes gives a dimensional feel to the texture making the scarf soft and cuddly with a great feel.”

She says, “Having worked with a number of visually impaired students, I chose this leaf bowl. It has a serrated edge like a real leaf and the veins are the type that you would find in a real leaf. Tactile-wise, the dish is an interesting piece.”

She says, “I make crochet cotton wash cloths and soap sacks with raised “nubs” that massage and exfoliate for a spa-like experience. They are so popular I had to be sure to carry some “manly” colors for the menfolk, but the example shared here is for the ladies! These are fun to crochet as the “nubs” keep the feel of things interesting.”

This was such a fun topic to write on, and I love all of the wonderful items chosen by our fellow Christmas in July team members! They are all quite different from one another and have their own individual stories to them, but all have great texture that tie into our posed topic.

Have you created anything with exceptional texture that you think make it stand out above the rest of your items? Share your story with us!

Make Your Dreams Come True Day

Contributor post by Alicia from AliciasFindings

Make Your Dreams Come True Day gives you the opportunity to do something to realize your goals and dreams. Whatever your dreams are, they usually don’t come true without some effort on your part. So, today is the perfect opportunity to do something about it.

Here at Christmas in July team we wanted to know what your dreams are,especially in relation to your business.

Traci Braithwaite from mytoffeeapple says:

I love to have my cushions in living rooms, cars/vans, restaurants, cafe shops, resorts, man caves, business, of all descriptions all over the world, custom-made for peoples desires and tastes.

Blue parrot Decorative pillow


Stock Lane Studio from StockLaneStudio states:

My business dream come true is really to be so busy selling on Etsy that I can’t handle it. My short-term goal, I guess that would be a cat nap dream, is to sell one item a day. . . or more, of course! I hope to accomplish that by reaching my target market and revealing more of my personality and creativity so that I stand out from other artists. I think this printable reflects that: if you want to reach your goals you have to work at it – be active, celebrate life and be yourself – that always works best for me.

Positive digital art


Annie from DesignedbyAnneliese discussed:

My husband and I love to travel. It is harder to go overseas now with two young boys. We live in Australia in a spot where it never snows. It would be wonderful one day to go to the other side of the world and have a white Christmas! This card set is just that! Oh and I would love to build a snowman one day too.

Winter Christmas card set with envelopes


Maha from MadeOnKailash stated:

My dream is to have long travel in South Asia. I admire India and already have been there for several times, that’s why my shop is named after great mountain Kailash. But my dream is to go there for a long time and also visit some neighbouring countries. And I always can take my micro macrame art with me and convert my impressions in new creations! Maybe one day I’ll have something which will be really made on Kailash in my shop!

Macrame Brooch with Natural Gemstones


Dawn Whitehand from DeeDeeDeesigns says:

I have been to Japan once for a two-week holiday and loved it. I have been to Japan once for a two holiday and loved it.  This wine/port/sake bottle is inspired by Japanese design…

Ceramic Decanter


Woolly Momo from WoollyMomo says:

My Etsy dream would be to sell more than the 31 items I sold last year. It’s really nice to see people wearing and enjoying the knits I’ve made and I’d love more of that feeling!

Chunky black ribbed beanie hat


Gwen Jones from GwensHomemadeGifts said:

My dream for my Etsy shop is to build it up so that I’m actually making money (instead of spending more than I make) by the time I retire from my grown up job. Then I can retire, and step into my shop full-time and already be making some income. I love making gifts. I’m so tickled when people ask me to send a gift set directly to their recipient. I even include a handmade, and handwritten card for them free of charge!

Bath and Body Gift Set


Patricia  from TheOldBarnDoor discussed:

Dreams often begin with a wish but only become reality when we take steps to work on them. That said, there is something magical about casting your dream into the wind and waiting for it to come back to you. When was the last time you made a wish with one of these?

Metallic Print Fluffy White Seed Head


Laura from ChickenJungle said:

My 5-year goal for my shop is to sell enough to get my own place again… a tiny house, a big fenced yard for my dog, and a chicken yard.. But it has to be somewhere close to town with public transit….yeah I know that is going to be hard to find but I’m very frugal so I don’t need much.

A wider goal for my shop is to increase public appreciation of chickens. They’re wonderful animals, and deserve to be treated that way!

Blue Valentine Chicken doll

Rose Quartz And Serenity – Pantone Color Of The Year 2016

Contributor post by Michelle of EviesToolEmporium

The 2016 PANTONE Color of the Year is Rose Quartz and Serenity. Pantone shares:

As consumers seek mindfulness and well-being as an antidote to modern-day stresses, welcoming colors that psychologically fulfill our yearning for reassurance and security are becoming more prominent. Joined together, Rose Quartz and Serenity demonstrate an inherent balance between a warmer embracing rose tone and the cooler tranquil blue, reflecting connection and wellness as well as a soothing sense of order and peace.

The prevalent combination of Rose Quartz and Serenity also challenges traditional perceptions of color association.

In many parts of the world we are experiencing a gender blur as it relates to fashion, which has in turn impacted color trends throughout all other areas of design. This more unilateral approach to color is coinciding with societal movements toward gender equality and fluidity, the consumer’s increased comfort with using color as a form of expression, a generation that has less concern about being typecast or judged and an open exchange of digital information that has opened our eyes to different approaches to color usage.

Here are a few Rose Quartz and Serenity items from the CIJ team on Pinterest!

Rose Quartz And SerenityRQ&SCollage

Rose Quartz Necklace And Earring Set by VintageJoolsandMore

Rose Quartz Necklace by FirepanJewellery

Rose Quartz Triangle Pendant Necklace by LilyandFern

Rose Quartz Bead Necklace by Zeppola

Rose Quartz Sphere Pendant Necklace by beadloverskorner

Rose Quartz Delight Necklace by FirepanJewellery

Rose Quartz Bath Salt by GwensHomemadeGifts

Rose Quartz And Serenity Adjustable Bracelet by ClassyGlassAndJewels

Rose Quartz And Serenity Boho Bracelet by MadeOnKailash

Rose Quartz Handmade Chunky Beanie Hat by WoolyMomo

Rose Quartz Extra Soft Scarf by ClassyGlassAndJewels

Rose Quartz Girls Handbag by RobynFayeDesigns

Landscape Photography Blank Card by TheOldBarnDoor

Serenity Soap Sack by GwensHomemadeGifts

Serenity Cashmere Scarf by ClassyGlassAndJewels

Are you a member of the CIJ team? Do you have Rose Quartz and Serenity items that you would like to have pinned on Pinterest? See the CIJ forums to participate!

International Thank you Day

Contributor post by Alicia from AliciasFindings

This Day is all about Thanking the people in your life. Send a thank you card,do someone a favor and so much more…

Here at Christmas in July team we wanted to see what you have in your shops that relate to this date and a little about the item.

Annie  from DesignedbyAnneliese says:

When I made this set of owl cards, I had thank you cards in mind! I think they make sweet little cards and who doesn’t like owls?

Owl Thank you cards


Patricia from TheOldBarnDoor states:

Finding an actual handwritten thank you card in your mail box is now one of life’s pleasant and not often occurring events. I was brought up to write a short thank you note after receiving a gift or a dinner out with friends – it was just the right thing to do.

These set of thank you cards featuring one of my photos would be perfect for just about any type of thank you that should be sent.

Set of 10 Lily of the Valley Thank you cards


Alexandra  from EyeLoveKnots discusses:

These decoupaged jewelry boxes started out as a “thank you” to a client of mine that ordered some Halloween Themed earrings. They can easily be made with any themed paper for any type of thank you desired.

Custom Themed jewelry boxes


Stock Lane Studio from StockLaneStudio says:

Here’s a teacher thank you gift pack. An ‘I love school’ card, sticky notes and an envelope seal. Just a few extra touches really show your appreciation.

Teacher gift set


Maha  from MadeOnKailash states:

When I visited the capital of yoga Rishikesh, India for my first time I’ve found this glass beads in one little rather dirty shop on the street. They have been unused in my jewelry box for a long time and recently I’ve created this unique bracelet with great feeling of THANK YOU to Rishikesh and the whole India for its unique culture. philosophy and yoga!

Yogi glass bracelet


Gwen Jones from GwensHomemadeGifts says:

I have a lady I work with who has created hand-made cards, several of them “Thank You” cards that are designed to hold a small bath and body gift, making an expression of appreciation a pampering gesture!

Thank you card with Bath Salts insert


Dawn Whitehand from DeeDeeDeesigns said:

Nothing says thank you more than sending some love – and these love heart earrings are the perfect way to send thank yous anywhere in the world.

Red ceramic heart drop earrings


Christine from cwagenblass9 states:

These were the first cards I made that I thought would be nice to send or to receive.

Thank you cards