August 18, 2009

Interview with Elizabeth Normand

First in a series of weekly interviews with my favorite fellow Etsyians, is the interview of Elizabeth Normand. She's been on Etsy since August 2008, with good success. Her focus is on creating apparel, accessories, and home decor using upcycled materials. I am so greatful for her in-depth, and personal responses. If you ever wanted to know Elizabeth Normand better - here's your chance!

You're a fourth year fashion design student. What are your goals once you have a degree? Can your Etsy followers expect to see complete lines in your shop soon? Who are your top three influences?
Yes, I am going into my fourth year of fashion design studies. At the University of Cincinnati, it is a five year program, so I've got a little while to go still. I've always dreamed of bringing fashion to Cincinnati by having a store of my own. The best case scenario would be to have a small team of seamstresses to help me produce all my products. I really believe that handmade is best, so avoiding bigger manufacturers or outsourcing is a priority for me. I would also love to grow my Etsy shop and remain loyal to this website that has really given me my start. Etsy followers can most definitely expect to see complete seasonal clothing lines, hopefully sooner rather than later. I've been approached to sell my clothing and purses at a store called NVISION in Cincinnati. This has helped me begin to plan collections of clothing, rather than produce garments at random.
One of my biggest influences definitely comes from being Catholic. I find such beauty in the tradition and history of this religion. It is inspiring to see beautiful religious paintings, statues, and ancient relics, but my religion also drives me to create based on modesty. My religion and my desire to be a good example of it pushes me to show others that modest, humble clothing is also quite beautiful.
A more fashion-related influence on my life is Diane von Furstenburg. I find her designs to be so elegant and intelligent. Her designs make sense, and accentuate the person wearing them instead of the other way around.
My third influence comes from other crafters. Etsy has provided me with a connection to wonderful people worldwide who are showcasing their talent. I find their stories and their work so inspiring.

I noticed you've been in the press quite often, both locally in Cincinnatti, and online, featured in blogs. How did you get noticed by the local press? Have you had a positive response from being in local press?
I have had the good fortune of a lot of local support. News of my shop has spread by word of mouth. I've made lovely connections with people at DAAP (part of the University of Cincinnati) and the college newspaper. It has surprised me to be contacted by different Etsy users and asked if I would like to be featured on their blogs, but it really warms my heart. It is great to know that there are such kind people out there!

Clearly, you have a love for using vintage materials - whether in your fashion, accessories, or home decor. I particularly love your Vintage LP Bowls. How do you come up with such fresh ideas for old materials?
Growing up, I was always getting into stuff, mixing odds and ends, and putting things together in a new way. I used to keep a big bin under my bed, which I referred to as my "junk trunk" and kept every little bit and bobble I found... film canisters, cardboard rolls from toilet paper, pipe cleaners, anything. This junk bin would entertain me for hours on end, and I would make new little toys and gadgets. So it is really fun for me to sit down with something seemingly useless like a pile of records sitting in the thrift store, and turn them into something new, like a funky record bowl.

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