I am a major fan of The Beadin' Path located in Freeport for their absolutely inspiring, beautiful beading supplies. Recently, I was fortunate enough to interview the owner, Heather DeSimone, and see what she's been up to with the shop and her THREE etsy shops.
1) What brought you to the state of Maine?
Actually I was born and raised here. When we first opened the store, we did a lot of trade shows and I would travel all over the country from week to week. It was a great opportunity for me to see the US because I had chosen to go to college here and had never lived anywhere else. As a 20 year old raised in Maine I thought that I’d surely fall in love with another state and be off on my way. But it seemed wherever I went, I only appreciated living in Maine more. And all of the other bead vendors were always jealous and asking to come and visit to do a trunk show in the Summer time! Then I met my husband and had 2 kids and the rest is history.
2) When did you first open up your brick+mortar shop? Your etsy shops?
The Beadin’ Path opened its doors in August 1993. So we’ll be celebrating our 15th anniversary this Summer! We went through a couple of smaller locations in the early years, but have been at our present location at 15 Main Street in Freeport for over 8years now.
Our shop expanded last year from 2400 square ft to 4800 square ft of retail space and another 4800 square feet of office space upstairs for our stock rooms and mail order offices for http://www.beadinpath.com/
I opened the ‘beadinpath’ Etsy shop in December of 2008. We primarily list vintage items that we only have 1 or 2 units left of or things you won’t find online on our website.
I also own a design company called Leetie Lovendale which I started 3 years ago when The Beadin’ Path purchased the contents of a vintage Lucite warehouse. Much of the contents was beads, however there were about 20,000 lbs of these great old parts: hoops, cabs, undrilled weirdo shapes. So I had hand-setting device built and started to manufacture earrings from the parts. It’ what I do for fun and you can find that shop called “leetie” on Etsy as well. I started that in February 2008 and it has been a fun adventure and I’ve met a lot of great people through Leetie.
I just opened another shop called ‘VintageCraftSupply’ on Etsy. I am a hoarder of all things vintage including supplies like ribbons, trim, old flowers, millinery, fabrics, embroidered dress remnants, buttons, and old sewing supplies. So as we’re scouring for beads and old jewelry supplies for The Beadin’ Path, we would commonly stumble upon other supplies that were just too cool to leave behind. They aren’t supplies that necessarily fit in our store in Freeport, so they sit in my basement. I also inherited a bunch of the same type of thing from my Great Aunt who first inspired me to be creative and to hoard things that inspire you. So VintageCraftSupply on Etsy is my new outlet to let some of these great old treasures go. I also own the domain vintagecraftsupply.com which I hope to one day turn into a vintage craft goods mecca.
3) What inspired you to become an artist?
Wow… it’s funny. I hold a BFA, have worked in media including clay, painting, metals, jewelry and beading, printmaking, design and more and I still don’t call myself any artist. I’m not sure why those of us who fall into the fine crafts category have a hard time with that term because I know I am not alone. But anyway, I guess my Auntie Kay that I mentioned above was a big inspiration. She was the Aunt who had me over to her house where she lived near the beach and we would comb all day looking for sea glass, mussel shells, driftwood and other treasures. Then we’d go back to her ‘studio’ or room that housed her cool stuff that she collected and make a crazy multi-media mobile with our finds for the day. I was in heaven there. And I think starting to look at things and put them together that young just sticks with you. I’ve tried to create that same atmosphere at my home for my sons. My oldest is 5 and has asked when he can open his own Etsy shop to sell his popsicle stick roller coasters (just let me now if you would like to special order one).
4) What is your favorite thing to do in Maine?
Spend time on the beach. My family owns a home on Long Island (Maine, not New York) in Casco Bay. We spend many of our Summer weekends looking for seaglass and sitting on the front porch watching the waves and visiting with friends. It’ s such a peaceful place to be and a great place to be inspired.
5) Who are some of your favorite Maine etsy artists?
Well I have to shout out to my girls who work at The Beadin’ Path – we have such a talented staff of designers on hand who share their expertise with newbie designers. But a few of them also have their own Etsy shops. So check out… 3blinks for some great beaded jewelry.
Some of my other favorites include…
thressa – funky crochet hats and patterns
yellowplum – very sleek beadwoven pieces – original
baublesbagsNthings – has very cool bags made from placemats
Sirkus has great vintage finds
Articles47 – amazing vintage inspired illustrations
6) What advice would you give to a Maine artist just starting out?
If you’re just starting to explore your creativity, just play. Choose a medium that gives you joy when you work with it – not just a medium that gives you a cool finished product.
If you’re just starting to sell your work, the most important thing I’ve picked up over the years from successful designers who shop at The Beadin’ Path and with my own experience is to ‘hone your image’. Pick your favorite top 2 or 3 things you make. Focus on making lovelies that go with just those 2 or 3 items so that you can grow a cohesive ‘line’ within your work. Just three thumbnails or three samples of your work should give your potential buyers a concise idea of your aesthetic and your ‘look’and set you apart from other artists and crafters. Not to say you can’t let your creativity blossom from there. But the more you hone your image, the more original ideas you’ll find that it will inspire. And then you can move onto a new ‘look’ when it is time or as your art evolves. To be able to make a living and support your kids based on the things that you create is such empowerment and inspiration, in and of itself.
7) Tell us about your upcoming promotions both offline and online:
At The Beadin’ Path we have some exciting beading, wire-work and bead weaving classes coming up. We’re even offering a $10 Summer Workshop Series, so if you’ve wanted to learn jewelry, this summer is a great time to head to Freeport and have some fun. At http://www.beadinpath.com/ we have an exclusive emailing list you can join. Members enjoy perks like hearing about new stock first, secret sales and coupons, and other great stuff. We also have informational blogs and articles at http://www.beadinpath.com/index.php?option=com_content&task=blogsection&id=2&Itemid=5 on vintage & collectible beads, bead tutorials and instructions, bead challenges and more.
At the Leetie Etsy store (http://www.leetie.etsy.com/) anyone who mentions the coupon code ‘EtArt’ in their message or in a convo following their purchase will receive a free pair of postie earrings (a $4 retail value) with any purchase (expires 8/1/08).