Sunday, July 12, 2009

Interview with M.I.C.E. member Kirsten Buys

Hi everyone it is time for our next interview, this time with Kirsten Buys of lafemmemonkita. Kirsten has been a very active member of our M.I.C.E. google group and has been promoting the best of Michigan's crafters by posting a Michigan Etsy Shop of the Day on her blog She has listed an Etsy shop every day, going through all Michigan cities in alphabetical order. Some lucky M.I.C.E. members have already been featured and Kirsten is currently on the letter F so there are plenty of opportunities for lots of us to be featured (come on Royal Oak!).

Say Yes To Michigan Vegan Scarf

Introduce yourself, tell us where you're located and describe your work:
My name is Kirsten Buys. I moved to Michigan from Chicago last year and have bounced around the area a bit, settling in Ferndale as of last month! I knit, making scarves, scarflettes (often with vintage buttons), custom baby blankets, and smaller items, like children's belts, coffee cozies and my new beer bottle cozies! Last year I started hand-dyeing wool, which has been an adventure and a lot of fun.

In recent weeks I have started making rings out of Scrabble tiles and some of the vintage buttons in my collection -- many of which came from my grandmother/great grandmother's collections and the rest coming from my boyfriend's mom, who scored at a flea market!

Adjustable Scrabble tile ring -- PICK ANY LETTER

How did you get starting crafting?
A few years ago I started attending Wednesday night wine and knitting/spinning nights at my friend Jay's when I would be in Lansing for work (I lived in Chicago, but had an office in Lansing). After a few visits of only enjoying the wine and watching everyone else knit, I asked Jay ( and to teach me to knit. That was around Halloween 2006.

How did you find Etsy?
I think Jay already was on Etsy, and I had been to it once to buy a gift for my sister. Not long after I started knitting, I found myself with about 10 scarves and few recipients. (I tend to jump in head first when I get into something). So, I figured why not! Lo and behold, someone actually bought something from me when I did! My friend Brooke, a graphic designer, made me a great banner, and my friend Jesse ( designed my tags and business cards, following Brooke's lead.

Hand-Dyed Wool

What's your favorite part of being a Michigan Crafter?
Since moving to Michigan a little over a year ago, I have found the various crafting/artists' groups so welcoming. In Chicago you find yourself in a sea of major events that are amazing to attend (like Renegade Craft Fair), but those are kind of unapproachable and I never felt the sense of community I feel here in Michigan.

Within months of moving, Jay and I were accepted to the Detroit Urban Craft Fair and it felt as though I was welcomed with open arms by the organizers ( to participate in their various events. They were so kind and so enthusiastic about what they are doing, it encouraged me to get more involved. I think because of my participation there, Shannon McCarthy ( invited me to do some events in December and April, and through those I found another group of artists who are active and passionate. It all makes me feel at home here and involved in an exciting time and movement, especially here in southeastern Michigan.

Rainbow Bright -- Washable Vegan Baby Blanket

What advice would you give to others who are interested in starting an Etsy shop?
Just do it! There's no reason not to. It's so inexpensive to do and it's pretty gratifying when someone buys something from you and has great things to say about it. I love it when people leave me detailed feedback about how they use one of my items or why they love it. I'm pretty sure I'm not really turning a profit (since I don't have more time to devote to it), but I love it. I believe in unique, handmade art and supporting independent artists, and it's a great community to be a part of. I love that someone in Japan is knitting up my yarn and a group of Starbucks employees in North Carolina are using my coffee cozies.

Vegan coffee cozy

What are your plans for the future of your craft business?
I would love to continue to learn how to do more things. I feel like I haven't taken the time to challenge myself to learn more and would like to do that, so I can create truly unique pieces for people. The store Scavenger Hunt ECO ( in Old Town in Lansing recently started carrying my Scrabble and vintage button rings (and people are even buying them!) which hopefully will help me find the nerve to approach other stores about carrying my items.

Crafting and supporting independent artists is a BIG part of my master plan of "what I want to do when I grow up," but I'm going to save the details until I attempt to execute it, which will be at least a couple of years...

What is you favorite inspirational place to visit in Michigan?
As someone who is relatively new to knitting and and the whole idea of being creative (something I never thought I was), I love going to the amazing yarn stores in the area. I love investigating all of the different yarns, their textures, thicknesses, colors, and just imagine the possibilities. Although I know there are MANY in the area I haven't made it to, I love going to Have You Any Wool? in Berkley, Ewe-Nique Knits in Royal Oak, and Skeins on Main in Rochester.

Vegan Royal Blue Scarflette with Big White Buttons

Anything else you would like to share with MICE?
I'm loving the e-mail list, the blog and the exchange of ideas that's going on with MICE, so keep it coming everyone!

Knitted Ice Cream Pint Cozy

Thanks Kirsten, I love your enthusiasm for Michigan crafters. I posted some of my favourites from your Etsy site, I think an Ice cream cozy might be the best idea ever!

Don't forget to keep an eye on Kirstens blog ( to see if your shop is posted and to see all of the great talent right here in Michigan.

Posted by Ashley