Tuesday, June 8, 2010

The Today look of Victorian Yesterday

This interview is with one of my favorite Etsy team mates.  She has had her own business since she was 17.  I didn't ask how long ago that was because a lady has to keep some secrets.  Leanna says "I have been a do-it-yourselfer all my life and when I'm not creating, I'm remodeling my house, fixing a car, canning homegrown food, building something, fixing broken machinery, learning a new skill, writing, upholstering or whatever needs to be done."  She feels incredibly blessed with the many talents she has been given and she strives to use them for good in this life.  She finds that by serving others her life is greatly enhanced.
Leanna currently has 3 shops on Etsy Seams Victorian, Teez Loueez and Bits and Purses.  As the title may lead you to believe her style is feminine and although modern and up to date is based on the Victorian look.  Along with her modern design she also  designs and makes reenactment gowns like the one pictured that was done for a customer in Rhode Island.

I asked Leanna about having multiple shops on Etsy and what her reasons were.  She told me that Seams Victorian was the first shop because she wanted to appeal to the reenacting communities around the country and others such as the Steampunk fashions that are so popular.  Her second shop was born out of having so many varied interests.  She started dabbling in purse making and found that some designs don't fit the Victorian category very well  so Bits and Bags was the answer.  She then found an interest in screen printing and to have each artistic form shown in it's own special place she created Teez Loueez.  She admits to maybe having crafting A.D.D.

As you you can see in the above blouse Leanna's style is very flattering and feminine.  I asked her what influenced her to follow the feminine Victorian lines.  In reply she stated she is convinced that she was born in the wrong time period, although, she would probably be languishing in some dark Victorian era prison for behaving contrary to the way a lady would have to in that period.  She loves the "freedom to be" that women have now and it wasn't acceptable then.  In her opinion, he attention to detail that was prevalent in the Victorian era in everything from architecture to the clothing is fantastic and she tries to incorporate that detail into the clothing she designs today.


I asked about starting the Bits and Purses shop wanting to know if she started that to have the Victorian era accessories.  She actually started the shop to show what awesome things can be made with recycled or reusable items.  She learned the handmade fabric technique she uses for some of her textured purses about 10 years ago and wanted to incorporate it into beautiful handbags.  As with most artisans she try to be Eco friendly and with this shop she is able to use almost all of her sewing scraps in the fabric so that she throws away less than a pound of scraps each year.  The purse below is made with Leanna's handmade fabric.

She does make coordinating pieces to items in other shops. Such as the "On Broadway" tunic with the "Burlesque" cuff both of which go with the "Nights on Broadway" purse.

On Broadway                                                          
Nights on Broadway

Leanna's screen print designs come from numerous places like rubber stamps, graphics from book (non-copyrighted) or just her own drawings.  her first design was the Scarabesque bug which is my favorite in the shop and hers too.

I tried to pin Lianna down as to her favorite but although she likes designing Victorian gowns she gets great pleasure from creating anything that is unique and beautiful.  The custom gown shown at the beginning of the interview is one of her favorites.  And, below is one of her newest designs.

I asked her if she remade wedding dresses and she said she loves to make them into other fashions and that recently she purchased a bunch of discontinued wedding gowns from bridal shops and is looking forward to finally getting a chance to remake them.  Her first reinvented wedding dress Shalimar sold earlier this year and the remake made the dress.

As with many artisans Leanna uses recycled and antique materials.  She finds those materials in thrift stores, antique stores, Ebay and often receives wonderful bits from her many friends.  Even when using new fabrics her designs have an old world look.

We talked about why she chose Etsy to start selling her creations. Her response tells it all.   "Etsy is a fantastic place to sell.  I love the fact that there are so many artists out there that have a place to show what they have made with their own two hands.  I am constantly being inspired by the work of others on Etsy.  I love it!"  She also belongs to the Eastern Washington Etsy Team and had nothing but good to say about is she said "It's a fabulous group of people and everyone is willing to share their knowledge, skills and talents with each other to help us succeed.  It's just like a big, happy family."

When asked about her typical buyer she  said it depends on which shop.  She has been been surprised that the interest in mainly in her Seams Victorian shop.  She is finding that it fits with the Steampunk crowd very well and she likes that.  The Bits and Purses shop has been a good fit with people who want to create their own bags as she sells a lot of supplies.  The fact tat they can get purse frames in the U.S. without waiting 2 weeks is a big draw and she can get the frames in the mail the same day they are purchased, for the most part.  Her screen printing at Teez Loueez is new so she is unsure what niche it will fit into but she has many new designs coming out in the next few days so be sure  to take a look.

Lady in Waiting                                                             I've Got Your Back

In closing the advice she would give to someone starting on Etsy is.  "Join a team, ask a lot of questions and meet as many other Etsians as you can by email or in person.  You will feel empowered to succeed if you expand your circle and constantly learn something new.

I hope you have enjoyed getting to know a wonderful artisan and her products.


  1. Great interview! I could use some of Leanna's energy and talent at my house. LOL!

  2. Thanks Gail for such an in depth story on our amazing Leanna! What a talented artist, and wonderful woman too. She inspires me!

  3. What a great interview! I continue to be in awe of her running 3 Etsy shops! Leanna, you're fabulous!

  4. Thanks so much for doing this interview, Gail! It was so much fun to do and I love how you organized it!

    Thank you all for your sweet comments! I love this team!

  5. I am so glad you took time to do such an in depth interview. Very thoughtful and informative.