Monday, April 11, 2011

Open Open Open

When I lived in California we had a chain of stores called Mervyns. After being in business since 1949, they closed their last door on December 31, 2008. What I remember most is a commercial they did sometime in the 90s that showed a woman arriving at one of their stores hours before a big sale was to commence. I'll never forget the end of that commercial when this woman was pressed up against the front window softly chanting, "Open, open, open," as though through sheer willpower, the doors would magically open and she could shop to her heart's content.

I've felt just like that woman in recent weeks about my Etsy Shop. I just wanted it to open, open, open!

This venture is truly a labor of love. I love the beach, I love seashells and I love designing with driftshells. While this is all true, I must tell you that it is also a lot of hard work. I've poured my heart into opening my Esty Shop and my aching back is proof that I've suffered along the way.

I had a LOT of shells to work with, but not nearly enough, so in recent weeks I've made several trips to the beach. I know that sounds like a great place to call work and I have a few photos that prove this. My most recent trip was down to Blind Pass on Manasota Key, off the coast of Englewood, Florida, which just so happens to be where my dear friend Karen of The Essential Beachcomber lives.

I drove over the bridge just as the sun was rising…

and as you can see I stayed there until the sunset…

Well, that's not really the truth. Karen joined me a few hours after I arrived and when we couldn't convince her hubby to bring us something to eat later in the day, we were forced to take a break for a few hours. This break included a slice of Mango Key Lime Pie from Publix and even though I fired Pete as our Cabana Boy, we still let him have a piece. (It was SO delicious!)

Karen's Shadow

Now I know this sounds FABULOUS, but due to our recent storms, the shore was covered with driftshells and I took full advantage of the situation to really stock up on supplies. There is one person who really knows how hard we worked that day and there she is…

Yep, the shadow does know!

Just look at that sunset glinting off the sand!

The thing about collecting shells, is that when you come home the real work begins and each one has to be cleaned. With some kinds of driftshells this begins with picking out each and every piece of broken shell that has become lodged in its crevices…

Then sometimes you pluck out a piece of something and a treasure falls into your lap…

Down in that area, hunting for Shark's Teeth is a passionate past time and you dare not intrude on someone else's territory without fear of retribution. I don't collect Shark's Teeth, but I did get a kick of finding one in the comfort of my home.

I also get a kick out of finding things like this…

Driftshells that have turned into rocks! The one on the left was in the bucket Karen had collected for me before I got down there (thanks!) and the one on the right is one I found that day.

Anyway, between picking, rinsing, washing in a soapy, bleach solution, drying and sorting — the process took three and a half days.

Then the fun begins and I actually get to start designing. The work I do is kind of like putting a jigsaw puzzle together, except that they've taken all the pieces of numerous puzzles and mixed them together. My job is to figure out which pieces go to which puzzle. While time-consuming, it is relaxing to sit and figure out which shell looks good with another one.

I thought I would give you a glimpse into my work area…

Ha! I wish! This is actually the art studio of Christie Brinkley, seems she loves designing with shells also. When I read about this on Maya's blog, Completely Coastal, earlier this year, I was over the moon jealous. Wow, what I would give to have a place like that to work!

For now, I set up my space each morning in my daughter's living room

and this is where I do what I do…

I cover up the coach to protect the fabric and cover it and the coffee table with bins and bins of driftshells. Then I set up my little worktable right between them.

Surrounded by shells is a nice way to spend my days, but if Christie offered me the use of her studio, I would SO be there in an instant! Anyone know her personally?

Oh, and I have one other little thing I have to deal with while I'm working. This is my great-granddog, Aysha Ann. Turns out she's a little shell thief and if I don't keep an eye on her, I find shells hidden all over the house.

I'm still learning and if any of you out there have Etsy Shops, I welcome any and all advice. My biggest hurdle was figuring out shipping prices. Etsy does not make this easy. You get to list ONE price and with items like I have, that isn't easy. I really wanted YOU to be able to choose from the many services USPS has — Ground or Priority? Flat Rate or by shipping weight? Zip Code to Zip Code, not one rate fits all. I finally went with Flat Rate boxes, BUT in my shipping policies I state that I am HAPPY to figure out what is the best rate for you. SO, if by chance you see something you'd like, just contact me through Etsy or my blog (email on sidebar) and we'll figure it out together. There really is a substantial difference in many cases. Let me know and I'll set up a private listing for you with the shipping you've chosen.

Despite all the things I had to learn about Etsy and PayPal, I finally managed to upload photos to my Etsy Shop in the last week and I am now officially…

Open Open Open!

Click here or in my sidebar to visit my Etsy Shop

I'd love it if you could stop by when you get a chance and give me any feedback on what you think.

For now, I'm off to do some much needed catching up with everyone. I need a break!

Thanks, you're the BEST!

28 Thoughtful Comments:

Arabella said...

Yippy - I'm so darn happy for you!!

I grew up in Cali and loved those Mervyn's commercials, they were really funny and very fitting for your new Etsy store.

I'm really impressed with your collection of organized. I've been using old plastic Red Vines candy tubs with lids on them but am running outta room...guess I need to eat more Red Vines LOL!

I'm off to check out your store and I'll give it a shout on Facebook & Twitter today. Good luck to you. Hugs.

michelle said...

YEAH, it looks amazing Rhonda!!! I love your pieces and look at all your shells! I would say that you have the best job in the world. :) Your little shell-stealer is adorable and I am sure that Christie wouldn't mind sharing her room with you. :) I am so excited for you!!!

Blondie's Journal said...

Your collection of shells just amazes me! I can only imagine the time you have spent hunting down these treasures. I would have a backache in the first hour. But what beauty you get to see!

I think your work space is just as nice as Christie's! I wonder if she has an Etsy shop! Now I'm off to look at yours!


Loui♥ said...

Oh Shelle..
my sister of the sea!!
first.. am so glad you are finally officially OPEN!!
gonna go check your shop in a few..
next.. thanks for taking a break and reading/enjoying/commenting on my post Florida trip posts..
i can truthfully say you were in my thoughts and conversation during my entire trip..
saw so many things that immediately brought your talent to mind.. saying "gee, I wish Shelle were here.. I know she would love/could make this!" fortunately.. I took photos!!! yay..
so.. break is over..
I'm trying to conquer the allergy crapola and get my post done..
warmest sandy hugs..
Love CB"s Studio..
but yours is just as efficient! works for you, doesn't it?!

Jane said...

I am so pleased that you finally have your store up and running. Your driftshell art is so beautiful...and I proudly own one of your vases. (Huge smile!)

Fingers are crossed...prayers are going up...Your store WILL be a big success.

Sue said...

I am so excited that this day has finally arrived. I know how hard you have worked. You really do have an organized! Everything is just beautiful. That large amazing! You did it!!! I'm really proud of you:)

Simone @ Doberman's by the Sea said...

Everything looks great! Congrats on your opening. Enjoy the beach.

Linda @ A La Carte said...

I am so excited for you! Yay for being open! I will be going to look at your shop now! hugs, Linda

Ms. Bake-it said...

Woo hoo - how exciting! You already know how much I love your creations! I can see the tall vase in my remodeled bedroom.

I tweeted, posted it on FB and put a link on my sidebar.


Beach House Living said...

Now that's a lot of shells and hard work finding and sorting. Best of luck to you.

As for shipping flat rate is a decent choice until you figure things out.

Completely Coastal said...

I'm working on a feature post about you and your creations right now!!! I'm super excited for you..., and to see hand collected shell pieces made into fabulous accessories. Doesn't get more earth friendly than that!!!!! I'll publish your post tomorrow..., so make sure to come by!!!



jmac said...

YAY ....shellbelle is open!! can't wait to go check it out. Did you get my check? I can't wait to get my heart...cleared out a space on my art wall at the lake for it...gonna be so cute. will send pics when it's hanging!!

~Lavender Dreamer~ said...

I'm so proud of looks GREAT! I think your frames are your signature style! I love them and I know everyone else will, too! HUGS to you, my friend! You are working SO hard...but you've got a good plan and you're succeeding! KUDOS!!! ♥♥♥

Kim@Snug Harbor said...

Can I come work with you? I'm sure it's all a lot harder than it looks, but I'd sure love my office to be the beach. SO happy things are going good!

CHERI said...

Wow! You really do have a lot of shells! I will definitely check out your shop but will have to be later. I'm falling asleep as I speak (write) so it will have to be tomorrow. deserve it:)

Della said...

I remember the Mervyn's stores, and commercials. I love how you show your shells before cleaning. It never occurred to me to do that. You made some very good points. Congrats on your shop! It is so beautiful! Aysha Ann is cute, and I think it's cool that she likes shells. Smart girl!

The Quintessential Magpie said...

I am SO proud of you! This is just awesome. And I will go right over there right now. NEAT STUFF, Rhonda! SUPER NEAT!


Sheila :-)

The Quintessential Magpie said...

P.S. And I'm stealing that most adorable shell thief of a dog! ;-)

the BIG WISH of CHIMÈNE said...

wow , im jealous on your workarea haha , what a beautiful shelss did you found .
and love your little doggie , she`s like her boss , crazy on shells haha .

greetings Roos

Karen said...

Beautiful beautiful stuff... and look at your collection of shells!!! WOW... best of luck to you...

P.S. The posts are very difficult to read on this background, or maybe it's just the way I'm seeing it?

CrazyCris said...


So it's finally the BIG day?! WOW! It must feel great for all that hard work to pay off! :o)

I must say... those are an amazing amount of boxes!!! Shells, shells and more shells!!! You truly are the Shellbelle! I can see how much work must be involved in the post-collecting phase... do you do anything else to them other than just washing them and eliminating the broken bits of other shells?

The Etsy store looks gorgeous! The frames are gorgeous, but I think my favourites are the hearts!

You asked for feedback, so could I suggest perhaps a little bit more colour? On the background page. Since driftshells are all very creamy, the pictures don't "jump out" as much on your white website background. But maybe that's just me, I like a touch of colour here and there for contrast. ;o)

Anyhow: CONGRATULATIONS!!! Now take a breather!


PS: on an un-related note, love your "planet earth" with the days until WOD at the top-left of your blog! ;o)

Moira said...

So happy for you that your store is up and running!! I am definitely going to be a customer!!

Anonymous said...

When I was stopping by to admire your driftshell hearts and frames collection, it made me really curious about the process. So I was ecstatic to read this post. I find what you do truly fascinating. Thank you for sharing.

Now off you go. Your glass needs a refill :)

Julie@beingRUBY said...

Goodness me Rhonda!! your shop is open!! woo hoo!!! and big congrats to you!!.. I know it's going to be fabulous.. I was so impressed by your work when you posted it.. such a professional finish to all.. I'll be popping over to see after I finish this comment..

well.. i should be so lucky to work at the beach.. hehehe.. i know it is still hard work but at least with beautiful surroundings and without the belligerent management and politics hahahahaha

thanks for your kind comments on my anniversary post.. I'm so gad to have found you in blogland and found a friend for sure!!

Take care... lots of love!! xxxx Julie

Anonymous said...

I can't imagine picking all of those little shells out like that! If you get tired of doing this, you'd probably zip right through dental school.

Your hearts are incredible!

Simple Daisy said...

YEAH for you and your shop!! I think it's lovely!!!! I have no doubt you'll do great:)

sealaura said...

congratulations on your shop! it definitely looks like a labor of love. Also thanks so much for your sweet comments on my blog the other day. We have had a lot of big changes and are so grateful to all our bloggy friends for all the kind wishes and sweet messages. I'm off to find your Point Dume post!

Desire Empire said...

Your pieces are just lovely and the work that goes into each handmade piece must be huge.

I am honoured that you have put me on your blog roll. It is very much appreciated.
Best Carolyn

I love the beach and everything that goes with it! I love the waves lapping at my feet. I love the feel of the sand between my toes. I love the roar of the Pacific and the gentle waves of the Gulf of Mexico in Florida. Let's talk about beaches around the world, bonfires, building sandcastles, swaying palm trees, flamingos, clambakes, sunrises and sunsets. If it's tropical, it fits this blog!


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