I am so honored to be able to offer you this interview with one of my favorite teams on Etsy. Team Upcyclers has 1737 people on it and is constantly growing (1766 now, they grew that much since I started writing this…WOW) . They are a friendly and wonderful team that supports shops and ideas that are helping our Earth. The Captain of the team is Cat from Collagical and has two leaders Melissa from Mellostuff and Bee from WoodenBee.
Team Upcyclers Logo
This is what their team pages says about them (http://www.etsy.com/teams/6610/upcyclers):
“Buyers can find our products and Treasury lists on Etsy using our official team search tag: Teamupcyclers! We encourage you to follow us on Facebook or our blog: Love 2 Upcycle! You can find the links in the left column of this page.
Upcyclers are artisans who repurpose existing materials or post consumer waste to create fashion, art or products with a new value, purpose or aesthetic appeal, thereby reducing the consumption of raw materials, energy and resources that must be conserved for the environmental health of the planet. We also re-introduce vintage fashion and objects to the marketplace thereby rescuing them from being discarded or neglected.”
I personally love all three of their shops, the way they do business and run this great team. Here is our informative interview with the three of them covering topics like how it incorporate Upcycling into your family life and what is the Upcyclers Team blog about.
Our Children’s Earth: What is Etsy and how has it helped your business to be successful?
Bee (Leader) TheWoodenBee: Etsy is an e-commerce website where you can buy and sell handmade and vintage items, art and craft supplies. It has offered our business an online shopping venue, where customers are passionate about the handmade and eco-friendly items they purchase.
Our Children’s Earth: What are teams on Etsy and why do you feel that they are an important part of your business.
Melissa (Leader) mellostuff: To me an Etsy team is where like minded individuals come together to promote each other and the team itself. It helps your shop by being featured in team treasuries, featured on blogs, twitter, and other sites the team may keep up with. Its all about team work and friendships. I feel like it is a family to an extent, I have talked to many of the team members and I feel like they are not only team mates but true friends.
Our Children’s Earth: What inspired you to start the team Upcyclers on Etsy?
Cat (Captain) Collagical: I love upcycling and first started a group on Etsypreneur when they launched their Etsy community website. When Etsy changed their team format, I jumped on the opportunity to start Upcyclers. I had no idea it would be such a popular team or that Etsy would start marketing the movement as well! They say timing is everything, but I feel like luck was a big part of it too~ no one had taken the name Upcyclers yet!
Our Children’s Earth: There are a huge variety of Eco Friendly terms that people us these days. What do you think the big difference is between Recycling and Upcycling?
Bee (Leader) TheWoodenBee: One of my favorite questions! Upcycling, to me, is reusing something without degrading the quality or composition of the material during its next use. Recycling is breaking down that quality or composition to reuse it. For example, I use junk mail in some of my wall art. I feel this is an upcycled material. Junk mail is cut up and turned into a design. Now, if I took this same mail junk mail and threw it in a blender with some water and turned it into pulp to make paper, well then that is recycling. I think the definition of each word lies in how you are cycling the material.
Our Children’s Earth: Melissa, what does the term upcycling mean to you and your business?
Melissa (Leader) mellostuff: Upcycling to me means being able to reuse, recreate, and relove items that most people may throw away. I want to know that I can do whatever I can to save the earth, and recycling and reusing old items is a great start for our shop. It gives me great joy knowing that I can bring happiness to others by designing something that is unusual and pieces of the past, meant for the garbage.
Our Children’s Earth: Cat, why do you feel it is important to Reduce, Reuse, Recycle and of course Upcycle?
Cat (Captain) Collagical: Cheap throwaway products lead to a lack of respect and care for what we own or consume~ when we reject the trend to own more and make an effort to value our resources it not only affects our personal life and budget, but also those we interact with; our families (especially our children), co-workers and/or partners or customers in business and commerce. Most importantly, we contribute to the preservation of our past and to a bright and better future!
Our Children’s Earth: Bee, I love all of your amazing items in your shop. You work with a variety of items that you upcycle in your business. What is your favorite material to work with? Are there any unusual places that you have found items to upcycle?
Bee (Leader) TheWoodenBee: Why, thank you! Not surprisingly, my favorite upcycled material is wood. I just love the smell and the feel of the wood grain. Different species of wood have different personalities. Maple is hard and unforgiving. Cherry is warm and understanding. Seriously, I just love salvaging reclaimed wood.
It is amazing all the places you can find reclaimed materials once you start looking. We use a variety of sources to feed our upcycling habits: a cabinet shop, construction sites, Good Will and other thrift stores, garage & estate sales, and yes even the occasional dumpster diving.
It’s not really an unusual place, but I find the most unusual stuff just by word of mouth. Once people started finding out that we save wood and hardware, we started getting some unique materials. A solid stump of mahogany and an exotic bird’s eye maple bench seat, are just a few of the rare finds we’ve encountered.
Above is the salvaged bird’s eye maple bench seat that TheWoodenBee talked about. They kept the exotic wood and turned it into a toy box for their kids and used old wallpaper and wood letters on the inside of the top. :)
Our Children’s Earth: Cat you make wonderful collages in your shop, how long have you been upcycling and creating these amazing pieces of art.
Cat (Captain) Collagical: I’ve been involved in conservation efforts since I was a child and I always felt like we should find treasure in our trash! In the nineties, I worked with over 700 students in my children’s elementary school to promote Earth Day projects. As part of the celebration, each year we held a contest called “Treasures from Trash” which typically had over 200 entries! They were amazing creations that would impress any member of Upcyclers today! Now I create collages assembled from vintage trinkets, scrap materials, old photos and a variety of “treasured trash” I find~ I also love to use vintage sheet music and my own photography as a backdrop for the compositions.
Our Children’s Earth: Melissa have some stunningly beautiful jewelry in your shop. What are your favorite items to work with and places to find old jewelry to upcycle.
Melissa (Leader) mellostuff: Thank you so much for the compliment on my jewelry. I love working with old broken jewelry, if it is in reparable condition I will try to repair it first. But, if the items are beyond repair, I really enjoy altering it and using it. I go to alot of rummage sales, flea markets, antique stores, and have a few friends that would save me all their old broken items. Another great place that I find awesome jewelry is here on Etsy. I often will trade some of my items for others destash.
Our Children’s Earth: Can you tell us some of the great things people can find on the Upcyclers Team Blog and how can they find you?
Cat (Captain) Collagical: We have a little of everything on Love 2 Upcycle! DIY’s, tutorials, consumer watchdog articles, sustainable product reviews, gift ideas, conservation tips, free giveaways and more! We also have a team gallery and feature team members monthly, as well as resources for Etsy sellers and a guide to Upcycling for consumers. You can even find links to our members’ blogs about upcycling and handmade products.
Our Children’s Earth: Sustainable Sundays is a great piece that you do on the team blog. Can you tell us what this is about?
Bee (Leader) TheWoodenBee: Sustainable Sundays, is a weekly post showcasing a handmade, upcycled design from one of our team’s shops. It’s a way to recognize a few of our shops each week, which have helped promote upcycling. We have over 1700 shops in our team, so it’s always hard to pick a weekly winner. Runners up are also selected, and all are promoted through the article, and on our social networking sites each Sunday.
Our Children’s Earth: Cat what is your favorite thing about being the Captain of Team Upcyclers?
Cat (Captain) Collagical: The members! They are a supportive and incredibly kind group of people that remind me everyday why I love being one of the leaders of this team! I am also inspired by the creativity of this group and am always challenged by the ideas they come up with. It’s a blessing for me to be involved with Upcyclers.
Our Children’s Earth: What is your favorite thing that Team Ucpcylers does?
Bee (Leader) TheWoodenBee: Personally, the team gives me upcycling ideas and support. Active shops on our team are passionate about upcycling and recycling, and they love to share their findings. Team discussions are about good will finds, eco-friendly crafts, and new listings. Teammates share ideas on reducing waste, recycling shipping materials and general shop concerns.
For my business, Team Upcyclers gives my shop a new dimension. We are an eco-friendly home decor shop, but in the upcycling world we are seen as more. Upcyclers understand the quality that goes into reusing, and there is great support among artists.
Our Children’s Earth: You have a few shops on Etsy. What are they and can you give us any ideas on how to run multiple successful shops?
Cat (Captain) Collagical: I chose to have several so that each would be cohesive and organized by theme or products. I’m Sew Pretty focuses on sewn objects and supplies, Living Nicely is for upcycled and vintage home decor, Collagical is a little of everything, just like my collages~ and, of course, Photo Art by cnicely is for my own photos and vintage prints I’ve found. I also am opening XO with Love for wedding and party favors and decor in the near future. My best piece of advice for running multiple shops? Forward all your emails to one central address and use more than one browser so you can jet back and forth between shops more easily!
Our Children’s Earth: Bee, you and your husband make a wonderful team together. What is your favorite way to help teach your family about Recycling and Upcycling?
Bee (Leader) TheWoodenBee: I enjoy creating with my husband. Thank you. We are definitely trying to raise a sustainable family. We garden and compost at home. I love making the food cycle complete and teaching my children that our food scraps are nutrients for our next meal. I also think it is important to teach confidence in recycling and upcycling. Don’t be embarrassed to pick up trash when you see it. My oldest is five years old, and when we go walking or hiking she makes sure we take a small trash bag so we can pick up any litter we see along the way.
Our Children’s Earth: Melissa, your shop is a Sister Team on Etsy. Can you tell us any fun stories on your upcycling and recycling adventures?
Melissa (Leader) mellostuff: There are a few funny stories, but my favorite is a friend of mine is an interior designer, each year she cleans out her shop, My sister and I get a call to come and pick out what we want. The fun and funny part is we look like little girls sitting in the floor of her shop going through all the fabric, wallpaper, tassels, etc. it was really fun. It is really funny when I go to the toy section of goodwill, salvation army etc. and dig through the toys like a child. I could do that for hours.
Our Children’s Earth: Cat what is your favorite item from your shop and from The Wooden Bee’s shop?
Cat (Captain) Collagical: I love lots of things in Bee’s shop, but my favorite item is her bamboo Zen art creation (see below). (www.etsy.com/listing/76622681/wall-art-made-from-recycled-wood) In my shop, Collagical, it’s definitely my collages. I love creating them and can’t wait to list more of them. I actually have tons of inventory: jewelry, vintage goods, photos, charms, ephemera and more~ all waiting to have their pictures taken and listed. Not to mention all the project ideas running around my brain! But I have faith that, little by little, day by day, I’ll achieve my goals for myself and for Upcyclers!
Our Children’s Earth: Mellissa what is your favorite item from your shop and from Collagical’s shop?
Melissa (Leader) mellostuff: It is really hard for me to choose my favorite items from my shop or anyone elses. But, I guess that my favorite piece from my shop is the Time travelers wife cuff.
And in Cat’s shop, Goodness, do I have to choose just one? LOL. Hmm, The seaside dream mixed media (see below), I love the ocean and everything about it. But, I am also crazy about the aurora borealis earrings.
Our Children’s Earth: Bee what is your favorite item from your shop and from Mello Stuff’s shop?
Bee (Leader) TheWoodenBee: Right now my favorite item would have to be this reclaimed cabinet door. Everything on it is upcycled! I love how the mirror fit perfectly on the door.
Oh I love MelloStuff! Since I’m a true Floridian I would normally answer her barefoot sandals, but I love this Sea Fever Brooch!
http://www.etsy.com/listing/69141868/brooch-sea-fever (see below)
Thanks so much ladies for your amazing answers and insights into how to run a successful team and shop on Etsy all while maintaining a great balance with the Earth. If you would like to find out more about the Upcyclers Team you can also find them here:
On facebook at: https://www.facebook.com/upcyclers
and twitter at: https://twitter.com/#!/teamupcyclers
and their blog at: http://love2upcycle.blogspot.com/
Upcyclers has the following requirements:
Membership to their team is open to all Etsy sellers who Love 2 Upcycle!
Upon joining, all members should read our discussion titled ‘Welcome to Upcyclers’ found @ http://www.etsy.com/teams/6610/upcyclers/discuss/9376351/
~Please also read the Community and Teams section of the Do’s and Don’ts of Etsy @http://www.etsy.com/policy/dosdonts#thecommunity
A significant effort should be made by members to reuse, reduce, recycle, repurpose and relove the products they create. This can be applied to new handmade goods as well by practicing green standards in their production, for example, minimizing waste and donating unwanted materials. You must be an active seller on Etsy with some listings that are considered upcycled: recycled, reused, repurposed, reclaimed or a vintage item that needs to be reloved. A communal spirit of sharing support, resources, ideas and advice to further the upcycling movement is the foundation of the team and its primary mission. Anyone who shares these values and goals is welcome to join the team, until such time that they prove themselves to be otherwise motivated or conduct themselves in a contrary manner to this charter.
OR individually you can find them here:
The Wooden Bee:
www.flgardening.wordpress.com (our gardening blog)