Gionna and I started A Shop of Things almost accidentally. We both met through a mutual friend in 2011 and the first time I met Gionna I was super envious of her. She had a blog dedicated to knitting and baking that was filled with beautiful images, crafts and baked goods. I also had a blog at the time that focused more on my inspiration and fashion school projects and doodles so naturally our mutual friend thought we should eventually meet. Remembering that time when I first met her I feel like I was almost a little bitter about warming up to her, for some reason I saw her as a competitor and not a collaborator which I think is an unfortunate built-in facet of how women can be raised to see each other. Now (obviously!) Gionna and I work together and her work is so different than mine I feel so silly ever thinking the way I did. If anything ever feels competitive I now see it as a positive challenge - if Gionna had time to think of 3 new products why can't I? We work so differently as a team but in general I think it really helps us. We both make the products we sell but Gionna does most of the bill paying and accounting work and general organization while I concentrate on social media, product photography and website work. My favorite part of working with her is when she shows me new products. As artists and creators we're always so self-conscious to show the world what our minds were thinking up (or at least I am!) but I am always so impressed by the time she spends making something beautiful or how she uses new materials to make something old new. I'm even still impressed by how steady her hand is when she paints only the edge of a tiny ring dish with gold glaze. She has such an intense understanding of creating and she always surprises me with what her brain has thought up.
When I say we started our business accidentally I really wasn't kidding- I quit my stupid design job at a mall lingerie store with nothing else really lined up and just started waking up, moving to the couch and embroidering. I was feeling very bitter, it had been one whole year since I graduated from design school and I was frustrated that both of the "design houses" I had worked at hardly included any creative tasks ever. I had lots of pent-up creative energy so I kept making things and so did Gionna (who is an art teacher and was finishing up her school year at the time) and eventually we had an entire inventory of 100% handmade goods.
The beginning was not easy - online sales were slow and we seemed to be picking all the wrong markets to sell our stuff. We both did a bit of traveling and by the time the holidays rolled around we were actually turning a bit of a profit with the help of Instagram and our friends at Bust who included us in two features - thank you Bust!
2016 started with our first wholesale order and then our own website, and our Etsy really began to pick up. At markets, we created our own little community of other creative friends and also eventually joined Witchsy. And then more stores reached out to us about carrying our stuff, and pretty much organically more and more business happened each week.
I eventually found my way as a freelancer and Gionna is still a teacher, so ASOT is not yet our main hustle. It is definitely a challenge to run a business while real life is also happening but we are both grateful to have a lucrative creative outlet where people actually want to buy our stuff! As two creative females I like for a lot of our products to have a positive feminist message. The products we sell are unique but there are a lot of other girls out there doing something similar to us. I still see them as our competitors but in a more positive light, they are a welcoming community of femme-creators! Everyone is making their own message to send out to the world - there is room for everyone. Girls support girls!