Purposeful crafting and thoughtful gifting

Crafts are a big part of my life. The long list of DIYs on my Pinterest board motivates me to keep going so I can one day get to them. At the same time, caring for the Earth is a priority. Crafts use some resources that are harmful to the environment, such as glitter and plastic. 

In keeping with the idea of taking only what you need and being good stewards of the Earth, here are some ways I’m thinking about crafting purposefully. 

Purpose

Full disclosure: I love crafts for the process, but I’m still figuring out what to do with the finished products. As I’m writing this, I realized that I have it backward.

The thing is, you can craft anything you want. Rather than make then think of where it goes, begin with the end in mind. What am I creating this for? It’s so tempting to look at all the DIY ideas and want to make them all. Screening questions before I decide to make:

Where does it belong? 

What purpose does it serve? 

Who am I going to give this to?

People have been crafting since forever, so crafts do have a purpose. A few ideas from brainstorming and DIY blogs tell me that people make crafts to:

  • Pass down a skill like pottery and weaving
  • Remember an event or person
  • Celebrate holidays and traditions
  • Exchange and build community
  • Use in the home for decor or other functions

Crafting purposefully doesn’t mean that you can’t make things for fun. Objects can be meaningful and fun. Look at Carl and Ellie’s house in Up — every knickknack is personal. Their belongings speak to the relationship they had, who they are, and what mattered most to them. I’m taking Carl and Ellie as one inspiration for crafting with purpose. 

Relate

I think we can all get behind thoughtful gifting. Everyone has limited bandwidth, space and budget. We want to give gifts that people are actually going to use. It can be tangible things or experiences, pricey or budget, and DIY or store-bought. (Honestly, a gift card is always welcome!)

The Good Trade, a blog about shopping thoughtfully,  has some great ideas for DIY gifts. These ones really stood out to me:

  • Offer your skills & talents: There is something you are really good at, whether it’s making phone calls, referring doctors, organizing or cooking one particular dish. You can offer your friends a session of one of these services. Remember coupon books? A grown up version would be much appreciated.
  • Use what you have: Going back to being thrifty and good to the environment, it’s always a great idea to use what you have. Plan your budget, think simple, and make multiples of the same thing. 
  • Make or write something personal: A handwritten letter, photo print and symbols to a shared experience go a long way. It’s more meaningful because it can only come from you. 

Work in progress

When I look at the zero waste lifestyle, it’s inspiring but also makes me feel so far from living that way. I become aware of how much waste I create and it can be discouraging to make more things that honestly, might end up in the trash.

But a quick glance at DIY gift ideas shows that handmade gifts don’t have to end up in the trash. The beauty of crafting and eco-friendly hacks is that there’s a way to make everything from bath & cleaning products, to coupons & cards,  to food & drinks, yourself. (I’m a big fan of giving consumables! Treats will ever go to waste.)

“Choose something to make that you wouldn’t mind making over and over. I definitely wanted to make something functional that a wide range of people could use.”

Crafting itself is about being imperfect and practicing anyway. Let’s celebrate the fact that our crafts and gift-giving practices are works in progress, and it can get closer to being zero waste without being there now.

If you are on Etsy, favorite my shop to see what I’m making. When you’re pinched for time, what gifts do you like to give? 

Small presses rule!

It’s been so much fun doing research for my Etsy shop. I love small presses/studios because their cards are unique, and I love whimsy! I found many inspiring shops today. Hopefully, I can join their ranks one day.

Here are a few small presses I have come across and loved:

  • Trendspotting @ Oh so beautiful paper – This is exactly what I was looking for! It might be fun to go back to some of the trends that have already passed, such as winking eyes. I still love them!
  • The Good Twin – I absolutely love her designs!
  • Pencil JoyThis card speaks to my life. I love their illustrations!
  • ban.do – I love their focus on mental health and joy.
  • Red Cap Cards – I love how they’re an artist collective.
  • Ramona & Ruth – Unique and minimalist cards based in Omaha, NE!
  • Odd Daughter Paper Co – I love this company! It really is perfect and unique.
  • Worthwhile Paper – I really love this too. I love simple and clean designs.
  • Our Heiday – I love that this was started by Asian-American sisters!

There are many business lessons to learn. For example:

  • Naming products – Simple is best.
  • Pricing products – It must be valuable to customers.
  • Writing product descriptions – Again, simple may be best.
  • Making it easy for shoppers – Menus, bundles, etc.
  • Categorizing products – It’s all about occasions and seasons!
  • Offering choices and variety – The more the better. I believe in custom designs.
  • Offering compelling design – There were times I saw a card, such as the book case one, and I immediately wanted it! I want people to have the same experience when shopping at my store.

This is such a great project and learning experience for me!

We opened shop!

I haven’t been writing or reading as much lately because…

 

I started my own business!!!! I want to sell the things I love and create a literal brand (lol), and I’m starting with something portable and compact, which is greeting cards! You can see them here. Eventually I hope to collaborate with other creators and expand to other gift items. I’m inspired by book covers, plants, nature, kpop teasers, music videos, and basically all the nerdy things I love.

Yes, it’s true. I’m slowly fulfilling my bucket list.

  • write & illustrate a comic book
  • work and live in NYC
  • open my own shop
  • go to a salt mine
  • have my own art studio
  • learn to play an instrument
  • be a publicist
  • go to book meetups

It’s been a lot of work and a great experience opening my business. I’ve done the following for the 1st time for Lu and Light:

  • write product descriptions
  • set prices
  • run sales
  • graphic design! (this has been my fav)
  • make social media posts
  • make an elevator pitch

It’s really been a fun experience and I’m excited to see how my business will grow.

*chef’s kiss*