A Westervin Wedding, Blog News

Put a Ring on It, Part 2

handmade wedding ring set

You may recall that way back in September we celebrated our second anniversary. However, we forgot to tell you about our rings! Each year we get a new set of rings to celebrate the ever changing married life we lead…and for fun. If you haven’t been following along, be sure to check out our original rings as well as our first anniversary rings.

oxidized silver wedding rings

For our second anniversary Sarah picked out three different rings that go together as a set, two of which are oxidized silver. I have a simple oxidized silver ring that goes along with hers. It’s one big happy ring family!

set of handmade silver wedding bands

Clockwise from Top Left: {Epherielle } { Patrick Irla Jewelry }  { Lady Faye Jewelry }  { ANDYSHOUSE }

 

Blog News, Westervin Shop

Some Thoughts on Crafting a Business and a Westervin Shop Update

Boy howdy have I been busy lately! You’ve probably heard the news by now: I’ve decided to start a career as a maker. In case, you haven’t noticed, however, I’ve opened the Westervin shop, with a yacht-load of help from Brian. I’m in love, ya’ll. I’m in love with being a maker.

Until now, I haven’t shared much insight into my recent leap into self-employment. If you’re interested, I’m ready to share a little about my motivations, aspirations, and expectations, as well as an update on how the shop has been progressing over the last two months.

New Gold Scissors!

{ My new scissors! Sarah West Ervin on Instagram }

Many of our readers might think of me as a blogger first and foremost. Brian and I have been writing here for over four years now, during which time I’ve mainly focused on finishing graduate school while working full-time in a couple different administrative-type jobs. This left little time for crafting, so instead, I filled this blog with the art- and craft-works of others, which is fun but requires less of an investment.

For many years before Westervin (the blog), however, I would have considered myself mainly a craftsperson. In high school, I didn’t have a regular job. Instead, I made extra cash making clothing, jewelry, and purses and selling them to my classmates. Then in college, I started an online shop—again, with tons-o-help from Brian—selling vintage clothing as well as fine art and crafts, made by myself and other students and local craftspeople. It was pretty successful, too! I even placed 2nd in our school’s business plan competition and got a little interview in the school newspaper (thanks to Rosemary!). But then Brian and I moved to Chicago after graduation, and our little shop fizzled out. It was too difficult to maintain here in the city, without all the free resources we had on campus (free models!) and the lower costs of doing business in Arkansas (MUCH cheaper vintage there). So we put the business aside and decided to focus on getting “real jobs.” Sadly, I also slowly stopped all the creative activities that I felt defined me: sewing, knitting, drawing, photography, making jewelry.

Westervin Shop: Handmade Crochet Quartz Crystal Necklace in Lover's Red

{ Crocheted Quartz Crystal Necklace in Lover’s Red }

And then one day, not but a few months ago, I had something of an epiphany while sitting quietly by myself at the hair salon, waiting for my color to set, with no phone or magazine to distract me. That epiphany, as you’ve probably guess by now, was realizing what I really want out of my professional life. I need to make things. I need to be creative, I prefer to work for myself, and I have a particular set of skills and experiences—in both art and business—that will help me become a successful full-time maker. It seems obvious now, but it took a few years to accept this idea as a truly viable career path and let go of the stability and comfortable routine of regular, full-time employment. Finally accepting it has been so freeing! I no longer feel like I’m on the outside looking in when blogging about the handmade works of others. I’m also looking forward to handmade exchanges with other makers!

So within a month of my epiphany, I was working at home, refining my crochet skills, and crafting up a line of hats for my debut launch of the Westervin shop.

My first month after opening the Westervin shop was a whirlwind. The timing—just a few weeks before Christmas—couldn’t have been better. I celebrated my first order within a few days, and the sales kept steadily rolling in over the next few weeks. Some customers bought more than one hat, because they seem to make great gifts! And all the amazing press & promotions I received that first month was just a dream! I was featured in the Dallas morning news, and my hats were liked, purchased, and shared by several Etsy admin. And more than a few hats were featured on the Etsy trending pages. Oh my lucky stars! I had to pinch myself.

Westervin Shop: Handmade Crochet Dishcloth Set in Raspberry, Bubblegum, and Cream

{ Crocheted Dishcloth / Potholder Set in Raspberry, Bubblegum, and Cream }

But then Christmas came and went and business slowed down. My inventory depleted more quickly than I had anticipated, more quickly than I could recover from, so my shop looked a little dismal for a while. Then I was quickly met with the challenges of the creative process. I struggled for weeks, trying to make new and different pieces, but nothing seemed good enough. The highs of my early success were later balanced by blinding frustration when my creative skills kept falling short of my aesthetic standards. This is something I’m sure many people can relate to.

I also struggled with the inevitable uncertainty and risk that comes from starting any business, let alone a creative one. I know my current business model lacks the potential for long-term sustainability. Different ideas for diversifying my revenue streams (business school, much?) have been percolating in the back of my mind, but I keep searching for a unifying thread to make all my ventures consistent.

All of this is made even more complicated by the sudden life change. It’s not just my daily routine that’s completely shifted but also my identity and goals for the future. I’ve gone from full-time employee and part-time graduate student to maker/business owner/housewife/grad student/blogger. And then there’s the guilt! The guilt of making a huge personal decision that has huge effects on someone else’s life—my husband’s—is a difficult thing to rectify, regardless of how completely supportive and encouraging he is. Actually, his selflessness only makes me feel worse! Geez. I’m terrible at juggling. I still haven’t found the right balance.

Oh, and one other thing. A note to all you hard working, organized, perfectionists out there. You may think that you could maintain your internal motivation and detailed scheduling system if you were to suddenly find yourself working from home or for yourself. I certainly did. But trust me—when you no longer have an office outside your house to go to, when you don’t have a boss near you, when you don’t absolutely NEED to wear pants… You will find yourself tested to your limits. And you might be unpleasantly surprised by the results.

Westervin Shop: Handmade Crochet Pom-Pom Hat in Mustard, Blue, and Hot Pink

{ Striped Crochet Pom-Pom Hat in Mustard, Blue, and Hot Pink }

In the last few days, however, I’ve started to find a little more peace, a little more structure amid the madness. I’ve added a few new items, which you see here, to the shop. My skills are improving, and I’m enjoying the variety in my work. I think my inventory is a little more well-rounded, but I’m still focusing only on crochet for now. I still have a few hats for sale, though I’ve sold almost all the ones from my first batch!

Westervin Shop: Handmade Crochet Stone Necklace in Teal

{ Crocheted Charcoal Gray Stone Necklace in Teal }

Though I still struggle with all the uncertainty and frustration of starting something new, I know that I’ve made the right decision for both myself and my family. If I never tried, than I’d always regret it. And boy am I so much happier now! I feel like myself again–optimistic, creative, independent. I’ve got a big, beautiful vision for the future, so I hope you’ll stick around to watch or even be a part of the journey! In the short-term, Brian and I will be making some updates to the blog, making it and the shop more cohesive in look and content. I think you’ll appreciate the coming changes…

Westervin Shop: Handmade Crochet Pom-Pom Hat in Slate, Chartreuse, and Seafoam

{ Striped Crochet Pom-Pom Hat in Slate, Chartreuse, and Seafoam }

Oh, and one final note. I’ve received a bit of feedback lately that’s been incredibly reinforcing. The positive reception from my friends, family, readers, and new customers has been overwhelming. Thank you to the moon and back! It’s an addictive high when someone else loves what you create.

Westervin Shop: Handmade Crochet Dishcloths in Oyster, Cream, and Navy

{ Crocheted Dishcloth / Potholder Set in Oyster, Cream, and Navy }

I’m so grateful that I’m able to make things with my hands, but the creative process is made a thousand times more rewarding when my creations are loved by others. Here’s a message from a recent satisfied customer:

“Sarah, the hat arrived today, and I wanted to tell you that, “YOU MADE MY HEAD SO HAPPY’.” 99% of the time I love what I buy on Etsy, and 1% of the time I am OUT OF MY MIND WILDLY IN LOVE WITH WHAT SOMEONE MADE FOR ME ON ETSY. The hat is in that 1% spot. I knew it would look nice–I never imagined the texture and colors would surprise and please all my senses in such a big, beautiful way. Thank you so much. You may now consider me a regular customer. Perfectly sweet in the way a woman of any age can feel fun all over!!!” — Carol

Westervin Shop: Handmade Crochet Amazonite Stone Necklace in Mushroom

{ Crocheted Amazonite Stone Necklace in Mushroom }

Wow. Can we talk about that quote for a minute? So many things! Joyful and sweet and genuine and a little quirky! Now, I know I have a few Westervin readers of the creative variety—craftsters and makers and Etsy shop owners… maybe even a few who are hoping to start selling their work. Tell me what you’re up to! I’d love to know where your creative adventures have taken you, and any advice you can offer this newby maker would be much appreciated.

Blog News, Westervin Shop

Westervin Shop Now Open!!!

peach and gray handmade pompom hat by Westervin

Hello dear readers! We’ve been quiet here lately because we’ve been transitioning through some big changes. I’m no longer working full-time, and I’ve finally decided to embrace my creative, entrepreneurial aspirations. These hands were made for crafting!

After a few (too many) years of school and a short career in business administration/marketing, I’m finally following my crafty fingers to a more fulfilling life as a maker and craft-focused blogger. Leveraging what I know and love, I’ve just launched my shop on Etsy as an extension of our blog, creating crochet accessories and home goods. I hope to soon add other textiles-based goods using embroidery, quilting, and dyeing as I expand my fiber arts repertoire.

Check out the Westervin shop!

AND take advantage of our Cyber Monday Sale: FREE SHIPPING on all orders worldwide placed Monday, December 2. Use coupon code: CYBERSHIP13

mint and brown handmade pompom hat by Westervin

teal and maroon pompom hat handmade by Westervin

teal and brown handmade pompom hat by Westervin

Blog News

Two Years Down, Forever To Go

Today is a pretty darn exciting day for the Westervin’s. It’s our two year anniversary! Although two years doesn’t really seem like very much time, and it sure has gone by very quickly, we wanted to take a little look back at what we’ve been up to since our last anniversary. It’s been a great year, and it’s already on to the next one.

Brian West and Sarah West Ervin 1st Anniversary 2012

Brian West and Sarah West Ervin October 2012

Brian West and Sarah West Ervin with Megan Harper, Grace Steinel Jones, and Ben Jones

Brian West and Sarah West Ervin Thanksgiving 2012

Sarah West Ervin and Brian West on a gorilla sculpture at the St. Louis Zoo

Sarah West Ervin and Brian West at Christmas 2012

Brian West and Sarah West Ervin New Year's 2013

Brian West and Sarah West Ervin May 2013

Brian West and Sarah West Ervin at the City Museum in St. Louis

Brian West and Sarah West Ervin all dressed up in June 2013

Brian West and Sarah West Ervin in July 2013

Brian West and Sarah West Ervin in New Orleans in March 2008

Sarah West Ervin and Brian West in Chicago in August 2013

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Blog News, Craft Contexts

Westervin Recently

Screengrab: SarahWest Ervin's Ochi Shop Picks

{ My curated collection for Ochi Shop }

It’s been a grand week! Westervin and I have been featured in a few places around the internets recently, and I thought I’d share these happy mentions. First up, I’ve made a lovely new e-friend in Pauli Ochi, a jewelry designer from Sun Valley, Idaho who runs Ochi Gallery and Ochi Shop. After I discovered her amazing jewelry via Pinterest, Pauli found her way to Westervin then reached out with the friendliest email. In the end, Pauli invited me to guest curate some picks from Ochi Shop and kindly agreed to answer some of my questions for a Maker’s Remarks post here on Westervin. Stay tuned for the interview going live next Monday, but for now, check out my Ochi Shop picks!

Screengrab: Sarah West Ervin Interview with Alistair Porter on Marginalia

{ My interview on Marginalia }

Also this week, my friend and former classmate Ali Porter interviewed me for Marginalia, the graduate student blog at Columbia College Chicago. Check it out to learn a little more about me, my job at Lillstreet Art Center, and my experience as a graduate student in the Arts, Entertainment, and Media Management MAM program at Columbia.

Screengrab: Westervin mentioned on LoganSquarist

{ Westervin mentioned on LoganSquarist }

In other local crafty news, my recap of the recent Milwaukee Avenue Arts Festival got a little shout-out on the LoganSquarist, a blog covering our Chicago neighboorhood, Logan Square. They liked some of our pics from our visit!

Screengrab: Westervin featured on Mint Design Blog

{ Westervin mention on Mint }

Now, this final feature isn’t actually from this past week. It’s from last summer, but I only just stumbled upon this nice little surprise. If you’ve been around for a while, you might recall that the save-the-dates Brian and I made for our wedding were included in the book Design: Paper. Well, another person whose work was included in the beautiful book, Ellie Snow, blogged about it and included a snapshot of our save-the-dates. Her blog, Mint, is so lovely and she seems to be a very talented designer, so we’re super flattered to think that she was impressed enough with our handicraft to include a mention in her post. Thanks, Ellie!

Blog News

Keeping Busy

As some of you no doubt know, Sarah has been a pretty busy lady. Not only is she heading into finals week in her grad program, but she also just started a big, new job at Lillstreet Art Center! A lesser person probably couldn’t take it, and though Sarah has recently come down with the flu, she’s pushing on through. Needless to say, with all that work, one doesn’t get to indulge in too many diversions. When you do, you’ve got to make it count. This music video counts.

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Blog News

2012: The Highlights

Yesterday was Brian’s birthday. Happy Birthday, Brian! As a result, I reflected, as one so often does on such occasions, on how quickly the past year seemed to fly by. He’s 27 years old? Already? Didn’t he just turn 26…? I guess the year flew by because it really was chock full of fun and fantastic-ness. We just hopped from one milestone to the next.

Brian turned 26

Please join me, if you will, on a look back at the past year with the Westervins, starting with Brian’s 26th birthday on January 31st, 2012. That joyous celebration saw a cookie cake—Brian’s favorite kind of cake, obviously—as well as a few choice presents and a relaxing break with the Wests outside of the city. We were all so happy that this sweet man was born just 26 years prior.

Grace Steinel Jones started guest blogging

Soon after, we welcomed one of our dearest and most talented besties, one Mrs. Grace Steinel Jones, as a guest blogger for Westervin. Cooking away in her hot Austin kitchen, Grace whipped up such delicioso creations as the above carrot cake with honey-ginger figs, homemade granola, and some super tacos!

Sarah West Ervin started working with Lillstreet

Later in February, I started working with the Lillstreet Art Center. For class credit, I offered my newly acquired marketing skills to Lillstreet to help spread the word about their many amazing services and products for the creatively inclined and curious. In exchange, I got some professional experience, an invitation to a screenprinting workshop, and an opportunity to work with them again on another fun marketing project.

Westervin got a makeover

In March, Brian exercised his creative muscles and unveiled a new look for Westervin.com. He’s so talented. Note to self: keep him around.

Newby Treasury GIveaway

We celebrated the redesign with a very special giveaway from Newby Treasury. This giveaway had been in the works for a few months, since around the first time I met Sarah Newby. I latched on to that cool lady like white on rice, determined to make her my friend. BTW, it worked.

Brian West got a new Job

In April, Brian started working at Columbia College Chicago…one floor above my office! Now, we get to go to work together and get coffee together and eat lunch together and go on walks together and go home together and BEST FRIENDS FOREVER!!!!!!!

Debbie Carlos starts guest blogging

In other tremendously exciting April news, Debbie Carlos started guest blogging for Westervin with her series A Sunday Ritual. I don’t think I need to say much about this, other than: apricot pie, coconut corn fritters, ratatouille, sesame pea-shoot salad, cochinita pibil, and savory bread pudding, and 60-second gooey chocolate mug cake. Oh, and I should probably also say, “OMG! Thank you so much, Debbie! You are sooooooo awesome!!!!”

Celebrated World Party Day

Also that month, we were invited by BIG THINGS, Kitiya Palaskas, and The Adventure School to participate in the fun DIY-ness of World Party Day. We made some margarita jello shots for the festivities. I think they were appreciated…

Columbia College Chicago Manifest: Please Generate Art

As I wrapped up my first year of graduate school last May, we rounded out the semester with our interactive art installation, Sound Collective, which was part of PGA: Please Generate Art, the graduate Manifest project at Columbia. It was a disgusting amount of work coupled with some poor timing (damn you, finals!), but I think it was all worth it for the delirious giggles and slaphappy bonding among the Sound Collective team: Caitlin O’Meara, Laura Bock, me, and (unofficially) Brian.

Westervin Honeymoon

Brian and I soon recuperated on our Dollymoon. That is, we took our belated honeymoon at Dollywood! Best. Trip. Ever.

Sarah West Ervin made some videos for Lillstreet Art Center

When we returned, I began working with Lillstreet again on the Make It video series. I’m a producer, y’all! I’ve shared a few of the completed videos, and there’s a few more still to come…

Westervin gets juiced

In June, Brian and I started juicing! The good kind, guys. In an attempt to circumvent my general disinterest in most foods of the vegetable variety, Brian got us a juicer and started sneaking nutrient-rich vegetables into my diet, disguised by the sweet nectar of fruit juices. Let’s face it: everyone knows that vegetables are gross. Also fact: fruit is nature’s candy. So, if you mix fresh fruit juice with a little vegetable juice, like carrot, celery, spinach, etc., you can barely taste it! Since our juicing ways began, I’ve increased my vegetable tolerance and we’ve been drinking several servings of fresh juice every day. As a result, we generally have more energy, my hair and skin feel healthier, and I barely drink soda anymore. I’m serious. The power of juice has broken the hold that sweet, sweet soda had over me. Get juiced!

Sarah West Ervin learns to screenprint at Lillstreet Art Center

In other self-improvement news, I built up my crafting repertoire by learning how to screenprint! Laura Bock and I went to a screenprinting party at Lillstreet, wherein we sipped wine, ate fancy snacks, and got our crafty on with the help of instructor and textile artist Nora Renick-Rinehart. If only every month could include such craft parties…

Westervin was Published in Design: Paper

Perhaps the most exciting development in June, however, was being published! Our handmade save-the-dates were featured in the beautiful book Design: Paper. We loved making those little postcards, so we were overjoyed to see them in a book!

Sarah West Ervin blows up on Pinterest

In July, I got a lot of Pinterest followers, and we’ve had a lot of fun together since then…

Sarah West Ervin turns 26

And, in August, I finally caught up to Brian and turned 26 myself. I doubled the fun by joining forces with our local bestie Laura, who turned 24 a few days after my birthday. The fantastic festivities included a potluck brunch party and a trip to Six Flags. Brian also fulfilled one of my lifelong wishes by getting me an edible arrangement, delivered to me at work. All together, it was a dream of a birthday.

First Anniversary

That milestone was followed by an even better one in September: our first wedding anniversary. We celebrated with a delicious dinner, a nice walk, and a new set of handmade wedding rings! I gotta say, this marriage stuff is great.

Renegade Craft Fair Chicago

Later than month, we hit up the Renegade Craft Fair. As the highlight of my craftventures for the year, much fun and shopping was had by all in our party, both new friends and old.

Sarah West Ervin went back to school

And, to balance out the fun of September, my second year of graduate school began. Fitzgerald and I felt the same way about it: Meh.

Brian West is Famous

But soon, things were looking up again! In October, Brian was commissioned to create the signature cocktail for Poetry‘s centennial celebration. He expertly crafted the bubbly and well-balanced Hippocrene, inspired by a Keats poem. It was written about in the New York Times, guys. Note to self: seriously, keep this fella around.

Sarah West Ervin is Famous

Soon after, I saw my five minutes of fame as a guest pinner for Etsy, my other love.  Ok, famous is a strong word here…  but I’ll use it just the same! LOOK AT ME! I’M AN INTERNET CELEBRITY! Would you like my autograph?

Sarah West Ervin went crochet crazy

In November, to combat the stress of sudden stardom (but mostly that of homework and impending finals), I got into crocheting. REALLY into crocheting. I went a little crazy with hats there….

Going to Louisiana

For Thanksgiving, Brian and I took a roadtrip to Louisiana to visit my family. Highlights included: gramma’s twice-baked potatoes, playing with my little brother, cracking pecans, and stopping in Little Rock along the way for a quick catch-up with my forever-valentine, Megan.

Westervin turned 3

And then it snuck up on us—-Westervin turned three. We’re pretty proud.

Goodbye to Sarah Newby and Ryan Glenn

Then, in December, we were forced to say a tearful goodbye to our sweet, interesting friends, Ryan Glenn and Sarah Newby. We shared a brunch with these two, gave them a little going away gift, and shooed them on their way to L.A. Expect a visit this summer, guys. Sunshine, here we come!

We got a new kitchen

When we were away for Christmas break, our landlord updated our kitchen. I really feel like the beauty of our new wood floors and clean, white cabinets has changed my life. I actually enjoy being in the kitchen now! And, I’ve even been helping Brian out a little in there with this thing they call “cooking.” It’s not as terrible as it seems! We’ll share some photos soon—-of both the renovation and my delectable (not really) creations.

Rang in the New Year

And finally, Brian and I rang in 2013 with our sassy frands, Laura Bock and Jonathan Thomason. Never underestimate the enjoyableness of pie, boardgames, and an all-night slumber party.

If you twisted my arm, I’d have to say that the last year was a pretty good one. Here’s to the next!

Blog News

Put a Ring on It

Brian's second anniversary ringAs you may know, we recently celebrated our very first wedding anniversary! As part of the festivities, we decided to get new wedding bands that, we hope, will kick off a yearly tradition of sitting down together to find some new bling. Seems fun, right? Well, it was also kinda tough. We really wanted some rings that would go together. Not necessarily matching rings or anything like that, but rings that were similar in some way. Eventually we found two that we both liked on their own, but also happened to go together (marriage is about compromise, right?).

Sarah's 2nd Anniversary Ring

Sarah’s ring (from Meander) is very simple and dainty, but the curves echo the rounded inlays of my ring (from Harmony Winters)…and thus, a match was born!

Blog News

One Year Down, Forever to Go

Sarah West Ervin and Brian Anthony Ervin West on their wedding day

We’re not just celebrating Labor Day and having a day off from work today—we’re also celebrating our first anniversary! It’s hard to believe we were married exactly one year ago. This year has flown by!

Sarah West Ervin and Brian Anthony Ervin West holding hands

And you know what? It’s been a great year, and we can’t wait to tackle the next one. But before we do, we wanted to take a quick look back…

Brian Anthony Ervin West and Sarah West Ervin

at all the balloons,

feet

and shoes,

Brian Anthony Ervin West, Sarah West Ervin, and a Harry Caray bull

and bespectacled bulls,

Brian & Sarah

and smiles,

reflection in bronze

and weird reflections,

Dolly Parton & Porter Wagoner

and… just kidding …

boots & champagne

and toasts,

and side hugs,

red, white & blue outfits

and coordinated outfits,

and one happy year.

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Blog News, Featured

We’re in a book!!!!

Would you believe it? We’ve finally made it to the big time! Our name in neon lights! We’ll, more like black ink, but that’s still something quite special, if I do say so myself.

That’s right, our save-the-date cards, which we hand embroidered on vintage postcards, were featured in Public School‘s new fancy-schmancy book Design: Paper, published by Rockport Publishers. It’s a simple title for a simple, yet “seductive collection of alluring paper designs”, in a bold, neon green package.

Westervin handmade save-the-date postcards in Design: Paper

There they are folks — our save-the-dates in all their famous glory.

Okay, I’m being silly. They’re not super famous. But we are very seriously overjoyed to have our handmade cards, which we made together for our wedding, featured in a book. A real, physical book. I, for one, couldn’t be prouder!

The book is chock full of inspiring designs and beautiful images, like this little jar of Lovely Honey. Talk about cute.

Our save-the-dates are in the Cards & Invitations section, which features some really stellar pieces. If you’re looking for some ideas for your party or wedding, I recommend getting your hands on a copy.

Thanks, Public School, for selecting our little cards for your big, pretty book!