thursday - amazing shop feature

for this week's fabulous etsy shop feature, meet rachel, of Get Ready, Set, Go (yep, that is her shining face in the photo below, along with a few pieces of her amazing upcycled luggage). i came across rachel's shop late one night when i should have been snoozing but i couldn't be more thrilled that i did. she takes wonderful vintage luggage, bags, train cases, etc. and then transforms them into some of the most unique and fun pieces you'll ever see. after looking through the listings on rachel's shop, i quickly realized what an gifted painter she is and thats when a little lightbulb went off in my head (yeah, you should always look out when that happens!). i convo'd her to ask if she could paint a replica of my tattoo onto one of her bags! i happen to have a tattoo that isn't readily visible (to me OR others) and it is such a gorgeous design that i wish i could see it more...so i thought, hey, having it painted onto one of these bags would be pretty darn marvelous. out of that first convo, i came to know rachel as not only a spectacularly talented artist and the best example of a great etsy seller (top-notch communication, etc.) but also as a fun, funky, and inspiring person. so, are you just itching to see how my bag came out? well, here it is. it is absolutely perfect and just what i was looking for. you can see that, on one end, rachel also painted my initials! ok, well, enough rambling by me. time for you to learn about rachel from the gal herself! here are her answers to my feature questions:
  • how long have you been at your trade?
officially, i've been a shop here on etsy since june 2008. at that time i ran the shop with my dear friend rebecca. i took over the shop in the early fall and now run it all on my own. we parted amicably and still remain super close friends:)
  • how did you become interested in doing what you do? Did someone teach you or are you self-taught?
self-taught for sure! it's whatever idea comes into my crazy head that i then sketch onto paper then onto luggae if it's worthy:) to me each pieve of luggage is a blank canvas for expressing what it is i need to get out. travel holds something seriously unique, mysterious and the places you go brand you for life. i love thinking about where a vintage piece came from. i love dreaming up stories of it's past.
  • where do you find your inspiration?
it's in everything i hear and see. music inspires me, the random moments of life that i find myself compelled to photograph, the things in life we miss because we're too busy running forward, passing the scenery without looking at it or taking the time to reflect on it.
  • pick one song that speaks to you as an artist and please tell us why.
wow- HARDEST QUESTION EVER! if you saw my music collection you would understand- but i come by it honestly. my father spoon fed me music from the time of my birth. i am going to choose a song that speaks of a dark and colder time in my life. EMPTY by Ray Lamontagne (listen to the whole song here: it's unbelievable!) i will explain in specific quotes: "Will I always feel this way so empty and estranged?" this verse speaks of the feelings i could not shake as a child. i always had friends and we did have things in common but i always knew there was something different about me. from the age of 3 i began to struggle with anxiety and fear, with feeling so empty and for no apparent reason. before this song was written i was asking myself that very same question. "and of these cut throat busted sunsets these cold and damp white mornings I have grown weary" my best friend had died when i was 13 of a rare and rampant case of leukemia, a boy in the class below me drowned in a lake when i was 14 and when i turned 15 my best friends sister got into a horrible accident in which her best friend died in her lap. 16 brought me no comfort and by the time i was 17 i was just done- worn down and flat out exhausted. i lacked the will to will anything at all. "well I looked my demons in the eyes lay bare my chest said do your best to destroy me" when i was 18 i decided to get up and fight. i went searching for a cure. i kept trippin on my laces and gettin back up. trip, fall, trip, fall. found myself an answer. tripped and fell again. kept on truckin'. "I've been to hell and back so many times I must admit you kinda bore me" i went through something so hideously traumatic when i was 22. the most awful illness i've ever experienced. i literally was out of my mind for almost a week and came near death. i knew after going through that experience, after coming out of it, that i could get through anything. this next line sounded of sirens in my head "there's a lot of things that can kill a man there's a lot of ways to die yes, and some already did and walk beside me" there was a turning point. it was slow and steady, with setbacks of course. kevin kline's character in Life as a House said it perfectly: "You know the great thing, though, is that change can be so constant you don't even feel the difference until there is one. It can be so slow that you don't even notice that your life is better or worse, until it is. Or it can just blow you away, make you something different in an instant. It happened to me." that's how i have felt these past 6 years. now, at 28, i am not that person anymore. yes, all that has happened to me has left it's marks and impacted me but no longer am i living in a constant state of fear and fragile as can be. and i don't know when it happened. i guess this song speaks volumes because it's a part of my life that has been overcome. without the severe pain that my life had dealt me i never would have been able to experience the joy that i feel now. i would never have been able to inhale the electrical intense beauty in all that i see and encounter. don't get me wrong, i will and am surrounded by sufferring on this earth that i don't understand but i've got a new pair of eyes because of my past. i wouldn't change a thing.
  • what is your favorite item in your shop and why? How does it make you feel? Does it hold a special meaning or remembrance for you?
well, after that long-winded novel i wrote about my life it feels a bit jumpy to get back to luggage and my favorite piece:) but i do have one (here). and it's because of the color and the quote. i absolutely ADORE the color red, always have, but the quote by Tolkien says it all. on the case i didn't quote him verbatim, "Not all those who wander are lost". I remember the first time i read that- it literally melted me. it applied to my entire life journey and gave meaning to my madness. and while i'm throwing out quotes here's my other favorite by the late, great, C.S.Lewis: "To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything, and your heart will certainly be wrung and possibly broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact, you must give your heart to no one, not even to an animal. Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements; lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness. But in that casket- safe, dark, motionless, airless--it will change. It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable." this just reminds me to keep on giving all the love i have to give- even when it hurts. it will be going inside one of my suitcases very soon.
  • what is the one thing about you and/or your art/creations that you would want someone who is about to visit your shop to know?
another great question to which i wish i had a brilliant answer. i put my heart and energy into each and every piece of luggage that i have. most pieces are upcycled but even those that aren't are cleaned up as best as i can. no matter what kind of shape a piece is in when i stumble upon it i try my best to bring out all of it's best qualities. i include customizing and any kind of artwork for free so that each piece is individual. i try to create pieces that will be with you for a lifetime. i want my customers to take joy in the fact that there isn't another bag or case out there like their's, to know that their item wasn't, and couldn't be, mass produced. i got a message from a girl this evening about a train case i customized for her mother for christmas. it sums up everything i could ever hope for a person to feel. i will leave you with her words. " Hi Rachel Just wanted to say thanks again so much for the amazing gift I got to spoil my mom with. She freaked out and cried when she opened it!!! And the quote took her over the edge. Hee Hee. You did an amazing job." *a quick shout out to the SUPREMELY talented macriphotography! a huge THANK YOU- for challenging me in so many ways- in ways that have helped me to grow as an artist and a person, for this feature- i am truly honored that you thought me and my work worthy. your support means so very much- words cannot express my gratitude. you have to put this in the feature because it's part of my answer!!! you ROCK!* *************************************************************** besides my super-cool bag, i DO have a few favorites from rachel's shop. check them out, each bag will put a smile on your face.


GetReadySetGO said...


ThePeachTree said...

What an incredible interview. I love her words and her passion. Things that roll out of her with ease and grace. Always inspiring. Wow!

And I personally have a few of Rachel's AMAZING creations!!

Geoff said...

wowsers. goosebumps for shizzle. what a fantastic piece you put on that bag. you make me happy!

Light and Writing said...

This is so wonderful! Thank you for sharing, both of you! She is fantastic and just makes me feel something big.

Chelly said...

wow! what a great interview seriously! I love crafty folks. Thanks for following my blog!

Kathi said...

Thanks for sharing. Rachel Is looking for a bag for me right now. I can't wait until she find's mine.

Noëlle - Xenotees said...

WOW- what an interview! We all want/need to get to know Rachel more! Thank you for honoring such an ultra-amazing person with this feature! She has completely transformed my shop with her talent & energy & I owe her a lot! She is so incredibly genorous & I feel so lucky to have her as a friend!

Cheryl said...

Rachel is a grand friend and wonderful person... lovely, lively, funny, and honest. I love being around her!

Anonymous said...

I speak first-hand in saying that Rachel is an amazing person!! She is unique, funny as can be, very entertaining to be around, artsy, genuine and sincere, and one of the most individualistic and interesting people I have ever met...and I am 50!! I am so pleased that I have had the opportunity to get to know her. I am also so happy to see her shop getting recognition, she takes her work very seriously and I hope and pray for her continued success! Great blog! Thank you for sharing!

Noah's Adventures said...

Thank you for this feature on Rachel, she is such an inspiration and I enjoy any time I am with her. Watch out world, she has more up her sleeve! Kelly

Jakki and Josiah said...

Thank you for writing such an inspiring and tribut-ing interview of Rachel. Her story is one that has encouraged me through many dark times. She really deserves all the best and you put that into words.

the b-line said...

A truly inspirational interview. Thanks for sharing your story, Rachel!