July 2013 archive

Let Them Eat Cake. Just… not out of this stand for a while


I credit my “Let Them Eat Cake” etched glass stand as being the piece that launched the entire company. I wanted one, you see, and there were none available in the world. So I did what any rational person would do. I learned the art of hand etching glass so that I could make it myself. I opened my Etsy shop on October 3rd, 2011 and just one week later I sold my first Let Them Eat Cake stand. Since then I have sold over 70, and given several as gifts. It has always been my single favorite item in my entire store, and yet, I am putting into semi-retirement.

Why on Earth would I do this to my favorite piece? Because the last five times it sold, I could literally feel my shoulders slump a little. I’d already added a disclaimer to my hand etched pieces that they no longer had next day shipping, instead limiting myself to a single etching day per week. Glass etching is a hobby not without risk, and the set-up and clean-up process had become daunting once my store became busier. Here is a glimpse of my etching attire: IMG_5496bIn order to avoid silicosis (from the American Lung Association: “silica dust can cause fluid buildup and scar tissue in the lungs that cuts down your ability to breathe. Silicosis cannot be cured, but you can prevent it if you take specific steps to protect yourself and your family”), I wear that heavy-duty breathing mask. To prevent glass shards to my eyes, I wear eye protection. Earplugs complete my ensemble. After etching, I have to change my clothes (to avoid spreading glass dust), wash my hair and wet wipe the entire etching area. The finished glass piece is entirely safe, as I wash away every trace of glass dust before double boxing and mailing off the stands.

All of this was a breeze during slower times. But now I have my days planned almost to the minute to fulfill orders, keep the shop stocked and still finish work at a time that allows for activities with the family. And so I’ve decided that, although profitable and enjoyable, the cake stands would be the straw that broke the camel’s back once the holiday rush starts this year. They will be disappearing from my shelves sometime mid-August, so if you’ve wanted one but have held off, now is the time. I can promise you they will be back. While I don’t know exactly when that will be, it would definitely not be until Spring at the soonest.

Ryan’s cutting boards have opened the floodgates of inspiration and we have had a blast thinking up new ideas for them. As creative conversations tend to do, ours will start with a cutting board idea and by the time we’re done, one idea has led to another and I have ten new spoons planned. With the hand etching out-of-the-way for the time being, we will have much more time to work on new pieces, like spoons: IMG_2396milk and honey

and cutting boards:il_fullxfull.483798806_30s4As well as some very exciting (but still secret) projects on the horizon. I usually gauge my decisions by my gut feeling the moment I make up my mind. If I am uneasy, I take that to mean that more thought needs to go into it. But the moment I decided to shelf the cake stands, I felt a weight lifted and a slightly giddy feeling about the time I would reclaim for new projects.

Of course, I could have just quietly deactivated those listings in a couple of weeks instead of blogging about it. But I feel like the Glass Queen of my shop deserved a proper send off, rather than an unceremonious beheading.

Welcome Ryan!

Eric Kelley Photography

Eric Kelley Photography

Fourteen years ago, my husband and I worked together. We weren’t married then, and truth be told I’m not sure he knew I existed at the time. He was a bartender and I served cocktails on the weekends while I was in school. Getting to see him made work that much more fun. Nothing passes the time quite as well as being a smitten girl with a crush. And now, eleven years of marriage, two children and ten million I love you’s later, we are working together once again. Ryan has joined me at Milk & Honey!

He’s been such an important part of my business for a long time now. His unwavering support of me and genuine pride in my successes has quashed any self-doubt I might have felt in the past two years. At night while he cooks dinner, I pour the wine and we talk about our days. So often when I have an idea that I can’t quite pin down, he is the fresh set of eyes that immediately sees what needs to be done. When I get overwhelmed in the busy seasons, he will calmly write out a game plan for me (ranking my tasks by time frame and cross-referencing by importance…), a sort of rough draft to my work day that I can’t seem to create while under pressure. His significant background in business has been invaluable to me as well. Accounting is not my strongest suit, and I find taxes a bore, so he has lent his expertise which allowed me more time to focus on creating. Just as in our marriage, our differences have complimented each other in business as well.

Eric Kelley Photography

Eric Kelley Photography

This past week, Ryan took time off from his 9-5 job to learn the complete ins and outs of running an Etsy shop, but more importantly, to finish work on his first line. Because lately, his own artistic streak has re-emerged. His grandfather worked with wood, creating everything from children’s toys to furniture and Ryan learned from him as a child. Ryan would drill holes and sand the scrap pieces of wood while his grandfather worked on larger projects. This background has given him the foundation to take his creative ideas and turn them into something tangible that you can hold and enjoy. His work is as functional as it is beautiful and I can’t wait for it to launch this week to share his talents with our customers.


Eric Kelley Photography

So what does this mean in terms of change? Very little, beyond the addition of Ryan’s fantastic product lines. If you’ve ever peeked at my Etsy ‘About’ page, you would have noticed him listed as occasional administrative help. When things got busy in the shop, Ryan would jump in to return feedback, make post office runs and fill out sales tax forms. Now you might also hear from him directly, answering your emails or returning your phone calls. All hand stamping will still be 100% created by me (I love doing it too much to share!), as well as anything that involves sewing (my grandmother was the seamstress, his grandfather the wood worker). You won’t see a change in the products I already make, but you will notice beautiful new products showing up here and there, and you will know by reading the product descriptions exactly what was made by who.

Eric Kelley Photography

Eric Kelley Photography

We are a family company now, and I am still slightly in shock that my beloved pastime has grown to the point that it allows Ryan and I to work together, side by side again. I know that it would never have been possible without Milk & Honey’s amazing customer base, so I thank all of you for making it possible for us to continue to create for you, together.

And now, for no other reason than I could not narrow down my favorites from our recent photo shoot with the wildly talented Eric Kelley, here are a few more shots of Ryan and I in idyllic Charlottesville, Va. 009622-R1-006009626-R1-013009622-R1-010e009628-R1-004009622-R1-009009626-R1-002