DAVAO CITY (MindaNews / 17 August) – A Dabawenya has become the first Philippine-based artist featured by Etsy, “a global marketplace for unique and creative goods” and “home to a universe of special, extraordinary items, from unique handcrafted pieces to vintage treasures.”
Etsy’s weekly Featured Shop Series, posted on August 5 in the company’s website, www.etsy.com, focused on the work of Ruby Thursday More, a Communication Arts graduate from the University of the Philippines in Mindanao.
Etsy’s ‘Featured Shop Series’ features stories that “shine a light on a standout shop from Etsy’s talented seller community, offering readers a behind-the-scenes look at their process and story.”
For Ruby, “a mere mention or photo of my work in one of the gift guides or roundups would have been amazing already. But no. The Universe decided that I get a feature instead!,” she wrote on her FB page as she shared Etsy’s feature on her and her work.
“Embroidered Pendant Necklaces and Earrings From Thursday Craft Love,” written by Anna Hiatt describes Ruby’s elegant hand-embroidered products and her sources of inspiration for her designs.
Thursday Craft Love is Ruby’s Etsy shop, “craft love” as her way of emphasizing her products are all crafted with love. Even the packaging of her products is a work of art as well.
The Etsy article also features a Q and A portion where Ruby gets to talk more about her craft.
MindaNews asked Ruby, who used to contribute photographs to MindaNews, if she is the first Filipino artist featured by Etsy. She said she would ask. Jackie Buddie, one of the editors at Etsy sent her this reply: “I did a quick search of our archives and, while we have featured some Filipino expats before, it does appear that yours is the first Philippine-based shop we’ve featured.”
Ruby was a freelance photojournalist who opted to pursue a “creative life” full time with Etsy as her main platform for showing and selling her work.
She first encountered Etsy when she and photojournalist Keith Bacongco were preparing for their 2010 wedding.
In 2012, she opened her shop on Etsy but sold beaded jewelry and felt boutonierres. She later focused on embroidered jewelry while waiting for the birth of daughter Jordi. (Jordi was born in June 2014).
VISIT: Thursday Craft Love
How did she get into embroidered jewelry? Ruby told Etsy that she used to work as a freelance photojournalist but when she got pregnant, the couple decided that “I’d stay at home for a while and take care of our daughter.”
A year after Jordi’s birth, Ruby said she felt like “I wanted to do something creative again” and made an inventory of her skills and what she liked to do “and I decided I’d really enjoy working with fabric and drawing and colors. I had a few threads, so I tried embroidering, and it’s cliché, but it was love at first sight.”
In her FB post, she recalled having read the Etsy blog and its Seller Handbook, “especially their feature stories on different artists, designers, makers, vintage sellers” and it became a useful reference “especially when I was just starting out and a lot of the things I know about living and surviving life as a creative, I learned it from there.”
“I swooned over the work and studios of these artists, all the while wondering if the day will ever come that me or my work will get to the Etsy blog pages as well,” she said.
Etsy was set up because in a time of increasing automation, “it’s our mission to keep human connection at the heart of commerce.”
“That’s why we built a place where creativity lives and thrives because it’s powered by people. We help our community of sellers turn their ideas into successful businesses. Our platform connects them with millions of buyers looking for an alternative – something special with a human touch, for those moments in life that deserve imagination,” its website said.
Ruby recalled there were times she doubted the decision to pursue her creative life. “I used to wonder if we’ll ever survive” but her ever supportive husband would assure her “padayon lang gud” (just go on).
“On days when I had almost given up, Keith never wavered, as he always has on so many things in our lives and for that alone, I am truly grateful,” said Ruby.
She noted that some people may think of the artist’s life as “dreamy, glamorous and ideal” but “it’s far from that in reality” as it requires “a lot of hard work, discipline, grit and sacrifice.”
She said she feels “so guilty every time I had to sacrifice precious time” with her daughter Jordi “because I have an order to complete. This is not the ideal work-at-home mom thing I imagined. But then, real life’s really like that, I guess.”
She thanked God for blessing them with “the love, kindness and support of family, friends, neighbors, clients and strangers.”
Ruby acknowledges that while there are still “so many things to do, dreams to work on, for now,” Etsy’s choice of featuring her work is “a sign that somehow, we are on the right path, and that we will be alright.”
“Thanking the Heavens for affirming our decision. Salamat kaayo, Lord. It is all YOU, really,” as she also thanked everyone “from the bottom of my (hand embroidered) heart!”
Proof that Ruby has been swamped with orders is that she had to post this announcement on her Etsy shop page, Thursday Craft Love, early morning of August 13: “Due to the high volume of orders at the moment, waiting time is at 9 – 10 weeks (estimate only) plus 2 – 4 weeks shipping time from the Philippines. I apologize for the long wait. Each piece is personally hand stitched, assembled and packaged by me, thus each piece really takes time. Kindly read product description before ordering and for more info. Thank you for your support, patience and understanding. Love & sunshine from the Philippines, Ruby.” (Carolyn O. Arguillas / MindaNews)