Saturday, April 21, 2012

Saturday Artisan: ShortcakeDesigns

Meet Courtney, our Saturday Artisan. Courtney is the artist behind ShortcakeDesigns a shop full of beautiful purses, wallets, coffee cozys and pet collars. I love the cheerful and vibrant colors chosen and put together to create amazing handmade pieces for day-to-day uses. 
I've met Courtney via EFA (Etsy for Animals), and I admire her hardwork for the team and her passion to save animals. Let's get to know this talented and kindheart artist! 

Tell us a bit about yourself and what arts/ crafts that you make?
Throughout high school and college I spent a lot of time learning and eventually performing middle eastern dance (belly dancing) and it was the amazing costumes that initially sparked my love of sewing. At first I started sewing by hand only. I have to admit that I was terrified of the sewing machine. Eventually my aunt convinced me to practice with her sewing machine and next thing I knew I was making costumes for other dancers and hosting sewing parties late into the night. 

Since graduating from college I have moved to Iowa City, Iowa where I am attending graduate school at the University of Iowa. Some day very soon I will complete my Ph.D. in Molecular and Cellular Biology. While graduate school has drawn me away from dancing, it has not hindered my love of sewing. In fact sewing has become my refuge, a place where I can sit down and complete a project start to finish. Sewing gives me sense of accomplishment that I sometimes find lacking in my day job.

I currently make mini wallets, reusable coffee cozys, purses and pet collars.

I really enjoy making the smaller items which to me are great in allowing one to give hints about their personality whether its supporting a favorite football team at the local coffee shop, or showcasing a love of Star Wars while checking out at the grocery store. To me its just fun!
Also I love animals and since I can't adopt them all I try to help out by donating the profits from my collars to either my local animal center, the National Mill Dog Rescue or to the charity of the month hosted by the etsy team Etsy for Animals. It is wonderful that my customers can pick out the perfect collar for their pets, but in shopping with me they are also supporting animal charities and that makes you feel good.

What is the story behind your shop name?
Back in college, I wore a Strawberry Shortcake themed bandanna during a paintball competition everyone joked and called me Shortcake for the whole day. I guess the name stuck with me and since it reminds me of great times with great friends I decided to use it as my shop name.  

Who is your target market?
I find that my mini wallets are a big hit with students and they fly off the shelves when I am out at the local farmers market or craft fair. I just expanded my products to include retro pet beds and with the collars and leashes I really try to reach animals lovers on etsy.  
Which part of creation process that you like to do the most? 
I have piles and piles of one yard cuts of fabric that never seem to get smaller, probably because I can't seem to keep myself out of the fabric stores. I love getting a new pattern and then digging through my piles of fabric to find the perfect combinations. Its like a treasure hunt!

For us who love to travel, could you share a bit about your beautiful town/ city?
Iowa city is the third largest city in Iowa. While that may sound intimidating the city only has about 80k citizens, giving it a charming small town feel. Iowa city is home to the university of Iowa (which I attend) and the "old capitol", the site of the former territorial capitol of Iowa. The winters are decidedly chilly, but the spring and summer months bring wonderfully warm days and offer lots to do. Farmers markets, festivals, and athletic events are very common and very fun! Iowa city's revitalized downtown area is actually a pedestrian mall filled with great shops, restaurants, and the occasional jazz concert. Venturing just outside the city gives you the chance to visit apple orchards, berry patches, and of course, corn mazes!  
Iowa city's revitalized downtown area is actually a pedestrian mall filled with great shops, restaurants, and the occasional jazz concert. Venturing just outside the city gives you the chance to visit apple orchards, berry patches, and of course, corn mazes!  

Could you share on how your organize your products, we all can use a little tips here and there in this department?
My most treasured organizational items are my spool holder and my bobbin case.  I keep my thread ordered by color (rainbow order of course) and no matter how messy my work bench gets the thread always looks nice and gives the impression that everything is organized.

What is your goal for 2012? And are you on the right track? 
I want to donate at least $300 to my various animal charities and so far I am right on track. Hopefully I can meet and even exceed my goal.  

What is your favourite tool that you cannot live without?
Other than my bobbin box and spool holder, I couldn't function without my rotary cutters. It saves so much time cutting out fabric pieces and I can move my mat and fabric to the living room to watch movies while I cut fabric. 

Saving money is important; tell us one thing that you do to save money?
A lot of my wallets and collars are made from clothing that I have picked up from Goodwill, garage sales or local consignment shops. Many of these items are in practically brand new condition and you can find the most unusual textures and patterns. Not only is it great to reclaim and give these items a second life, but I also get to spend the day bargain shopping!


  1. Love her. Love her product. Off to check out her shop and hopefully buy something!

  2. I really like the print on the bag above! But I just want to say that I have never seen anything quite like that pet bed and I love the concept! Congrats in advance on your PHD. But please dont ever stop sewing!

  3. I love the shape and colors you use for your products. thanks .

  4. Thanks for the lovely interview! It's always nice to meet the artist behind the etsy. :) I love it how many different interests you have - biology, sewing, belly dance... definitely a creative person is needed to combine all these. Oh and I love the Star Wars wallet.

  5. I love that she uses and works with those thrown-out patterns , I mean I like that she REuses everything around her :)
    (when I sewed a bag I made it from a not-so-much-used dress,too)
    Like her enviromental-friendly aspects and to helping others !
    Congrats to her works and her success!

  6. What a wonderful interview - I personally LOVE this seller... my family is enjoying two FAB dog collars made by ShortCakes... they really do rock.
    Personally, i have my eye on a mini wallet and bag... something to hope for in the future :)

  7. I love that you donate proceeds for animals!

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