Pieces of Home Mosaics Shop

Saturday, April 6, 2013

Featured Shop Owner Nan Curtis

Today you are in for a treat! All Handcrafted Items!
Today's Featured Shop Owner is Nan Curtis!
She is the Owner of  Bynani. 
Sit back and relax! I know you will find something to love in Nan's shop! She makes everything by hand and her items are truly made with love and care.
Let's learn a bit about Nan!
What do you sell?
I sell a variety of sewn items:  women’s and girl’s apparel and accessories; purses/handbags/totes/lunchbags; home d├ęcor; “kid stuff,” and toddler/baby clothing and accessories.

How did you get started with Etsy?

I started with Etsy a few years ago when my house began to bulge from all of the things I was making.  I was practically giving things away to strangers and a few of my friends told me I should sell on Etsy.  I started a shop there, but had to take a break because of an illness.  I started my new shop in October.
When did you get interested in making your Art/Craft?
I’ve always “made stuff” (my mother said to me the other day, “is there any craft you don’t do?”) My great-grandmother was an artist and I remember saying when I was young, “I’m going to be an artist and live in Paris!”  That led me to fine art BA in photography and an MA in Art History and I ended up working through the ranks of art museums to become a museum director.  Over that whole period, and throughout all of my life and academic studies, I always sewed. 
Who taught you or how did you learn your art form?
My mother sews, her sister sews, their mother sewed, her mother sewed, and I absorbed all of the lessons anyone would give me.  I began making Holly Hobby (does anyone remember Holly Hobby?) doll clothes when I was 7.  My mother gave me her sewing machine when I moved out of the house (that machine was older than me!) and then gave me another a few years after that when she bought another newer model for herself.  I was able to have that one replaced when my mom came to visit.  We were going to sew together on my machine (which had been her machine earlier).  She took about 10 stitches and said, “how can you sew on this!  I’m buying you a new machine today!”  Shout out to Mom!  THANK YOU!!
Where does your inspiration come from?

I’m inspired by so many things.  Art and design history, nature, architecture and whimsy.  I don’t have any children, so sewing whimsical things for kids is a way for me to get my “baby fix” and it fulfills the child in me.  Architecture fuels my eye for geometric forms and contrasts in color and texture.  As an art historian, I’m constantly thinking of forms that are historical.  And, I’ve always been a “nature girl.”  I live on a large tract of land and am always watching and walking outside.  Birds, animals, plant life, texture, color all make an impact on me.  The combination of all these forms of inspiration goes into my head, mixes around with the other stuff in my subconscious, and then comes out as a design and a sewn good.  I’m thankful for this diversity in inspiration.  It allows me to constantly change up what I’m doing and allows me to make a variety of items.  Hopefully, something for everyone. 
Where do you see your Shop in 5 years from now?
My vision for the future of my shop is a really good question, because as a super smart business woman I . . . . have not made a business plan!  That’s exactly the way to conquer the world and be proprietor of Nanny-poo’s Princess Bynani Empire!  Haarrrr!  OK, in all seriousness, there is a Sunday Artisans Market in Ann Arbor, Michigan, about 15 miles from my home.  I would like to have a regular stall there, and perhaps do medium- sized craft/art fairs (the larger craft fairs seem to me to attract craftspeople that crank out the same version of a product over and over and over, I’m not interested in that), and to build business on my website.  I also like being on Etsy teams and sometimes fantasize about what it would be like to work for Etsy and coordinate/teach labs and events.
How do you manage your time between Etsy and the rest of your life?
Right now I’m taking a break from my career and am pursuing an MBA.  Why?  Why not!  Actually, I hope the MBA will give me the business skills I need to run my own business.   I am also trying to start a professional organizer business (that’s where the experience of running a museum and having been a  collections manager come in, as well as my experience organizing fabric and my studio!).  So, right now, work is not a conflict for me.  Studying, on the other hand . . . well, it sure does get in the way of my sewing!  Work will become an issue soon, though.  I need to find a part-time job to keep the school gig (oh, yeah, and the eating/being warm/having gasoline gig) going. 
Is this a hobby, part-time job, or full-time job?
Right now the Bynani is a hobby,  a major hobby, that I am attempting to turn into a part-time job.  I really want to reach a point where I can outsource photographing my products.  It takes up so much time.  I hope I can find someone that is skilled enough to photograph well and who will also barter with me. 
Do you make or stock items you love, or what will sell?
I only make things that I love.  I believe that if you make something that you wouldn’t use/wear/own then you won’t make a quality, or desired, good.  I recently moved back to Michigan after having been in Texas for four years.  Texas is where I started the previous Etsy shop (Green Onions Textiles).  Because of moving expenses I had to purge most of my items.  It made me really anxious!  Everything I make is like a baby to me.  I ended up giving everything to my next door neighbors.  They had been so patient with me while I lived there.  Almost every night I would run over to their house with the latest “show and tell,” and they would always oooh and aaah over everything.  I knew that they would find good homes for my creations.
Where else can we find you online?
In addition to the Bynani Etsy shop, I also have a website.  You can visit me and shop there at www.bynani.com.  I write a blog there and post about every four days.  My blog posts are very diverse and range from tutorials, art history, and thoughts of the day.  And I am always open to suggestions for blog post topics.  Please stop in and leave a comment.
I also have many Pinterest boards at http://pinterest.com/nanibynani/ and a Facebook business page at https://www.facebook.com/nanibynani.  I use the Facebook Page a lot to announce new items and sales.  Please stop by there and give me a Like if you . . . should I say it? . . . If you like!
Did you always want to have your own business?
I have always wanted to run my own business.  My mother started her own business when I was a baby.  She typed dissertations (yep, typed, that’s the way it was waaaay back then, typewriter times!), then turned that into a very prosperous typesetting business.  Mom is my greatest source of encouragement and hope, and is the best role model I know.  She’s my greatest cheerleader and has taught me the ins and outs of starting up a business and . . . sigh . . . patience.
Any other thoughts you want to share with us?

I have two final thoughts.
First, buy artisan.  It’s worth it for you, for the economy and for artists.   As major big-block stores keep growing and growing, they are driving out business for Mom and Pop stores and reducing the American GNP.  That’s an economic point of view that is indeed very important.  But there’s an additional reasons to buy handcrafted.  When you buy an artisan product you are buying something made just for you.  It’s unique, it’s a work of art and craft, and you are ultimately supporting the arts, which is so important for human beings.   You deserve to have some art in your life! And, you can be sure that you’ll never be wearing the same scarf/handbag/dress/etc., as anyone else at work or play. 
 Second, I want to say that everyone has creativity inside of themselves.  It’s true that some people are more talented, and perhaps skilled, than others.  But everyone has a creative element; it’s simply a matter of being still, looking inside oneself, and letting it out.  Throughout my career(s) as an artist, art history instructor, and museum professional I have heard so many times, “I’m not creative, I could never . . . . “ But the truth is that as human beings we are inherently creative.  So, give it a try!  See what happens (by the way, that’s what my grandfather always said).
 Best wishes to all and come take a look at Bynani!
Thank you Nan for being my guest today!

I hope you enjoyed learning about Nan and her Fabulous Shop! I know I did! Make sure and stop by Bynani. Mother's Day is coming up!! hint hint! I know I will be popping over to buy some baby goodies.... I am going to be a Nana in October! I now know where to find just right items to spoil that Grand Baby when he or she comes!!!
Pop on over to my shop and see what is new!


  1. Such a pretty shop and I vaguely recall holly hobby!

  2. Thanks, Kate, for the interview. I have an offer for all of your readers. Get 15% of of anything in the store if you enter KATE1 as a coupon code at checkout.

  3. Great insightful interview. Lovely shop too!

  4. Enjoyable read and great interview!
    The best of luck to you on Etsy and at the
    Artisans Market.

  5. That was a great interview - of a person I have great faith in! (From her Mom! LOL)

  6. Nice feature! I love her bags the most!! :)