Thursday, 24 February 2011

Meet the expats: JustOneLook

Linda was born and raised in the South West of England and started sewing in her teens to make herself unique clothes. She's been sewing for years she's only recently started selling her clothes.

Linda runs two shops on Etsy, JustOneLook and SewFineFashions. Be sure to check them out.

Except for her always kindly words, talk of her menagerie at home (she mostly mentions taking care of her chickens) when we chat, I usually think Linda is a hoot. Her slightly absurd sense of humour has cheered me up many a day as I'm sure she has you too.

She was kind enough to answer a few questions for me.

Why did you move?

I became an expat more by accident than design. I have always enjoyed travelling and experiencing other cultures and that's how I met my American husband, we were both travelling around Europe.
I came to the States, we got married and traveled around America for a while but once we started a family and a business, we found a location that worked for us and have been here ever since.

Biggest challenge being an expat?

I have to say that missing family is the hardest part of being an expat. Not just for me but also my children missing out on relationships with their English side of the family and vice versa.
Also they were born and raised in America and although its, more or less the same language, the culture is still different, which sometimes creates a bit of a rift when I see things in a different light from their friends' and their parents.

Biggest joy being an expat?

Definitely the climate.  I am fortunate to live in South Florida where the sun usually shines and where there is so much to enjoy.  Everything is close... beaches, shopping, restaurants, theme parks, the list goes on.
I also enjoy the diversity of the area.  It's as common to hear someone speaking French or Spanish for instance as English.

Linda's shops:

Are you a soon-to-be, been-there-done-that or currently an expat? If you sell on Etsy come and join our team.

Post by: Jacqueline Fouche (Tangentine)

Thursday, 17 February 2011

Meet the expats: Water lily jewels and designs

The lovely Eva from Water lily jewels and designs sells handmade jewelry and vintage items.

I've always admired her jewelry and particularly love the pieces she's given a new lease of life. Combining components from vintage pieces and her own work.

She's an absolute sweetheart who makes the most beautiful treasuries and runs her shop full time.

Eva was born Nottingham, England but raised in the U.S. 4 years after she met her boyfriend she moved to Germany to be with him, in October of 2009.

Eva was kind enough to answer some questions on her experiences as an expat for me.

Why did you move?

My fiance is born and raised here in Germany, and, well... he was here. Plus he has a good job with a company here, whereas the work I do can be done anywhere. So it was logical for me to come here!

Biggest challenge being an expat?

Learning the language, without a doubt. And being able to understand it when native speakers use it! They tend, naturally, to speak so quickly that my brain lags behind on processing it, so it sometimes takes me a minute or two to puzzle out what they said. And that can make a person feel a bit stupid and slow. But bit by bit, it's coming together. In fact, I always get a little sense of triumph when I understand something without feeling like I need to run for a dictionary!

Biggest joy being an expat?

The new culture. Seeing how people do things differently. I firmly think that teenagers, at some point when they become legal adults, should go to another country for a period of time to live and experience something completely different from what they are used to. It is mind-opening!

Find Eva:

Keep your eyes open, I heard a rumour that we'll soon see Eva's other crafting talents in her shop.

Are you a soon-to-be, been-there-done-that or currently an expat? If you sell on Etsy come and join our team.

Post by: Jacqueline Fouche (Tangentine)

Thursday, 10 February 2011

Meet the Expats: The Hope Tree

We all know the lovely Hayley from The Hope Tree. I always admire her new French finds in her vintage shop.

The thing that always strikes me about Hayley is her kindness. Whenever I 'talk' to her online a very thoughtful, kindhearted person comes through.

She also has a habit of posting about being grateful on Twitter. Something that always makes me pause and think about all the things I'm grateful for. Today, it is all the wonderful people I've met through the Etsy Expat team.

I don't think everyone knows this, but Hayley is also a brilliant artist.

She was kind enough to answer my questions.

How do you manage to juggle art, vintage and your family life?

Honestly, in my eyes, I don't! I guess you just have to do what you have to do. My little 2 year old comes first of course. The rest of the time is shared between a part-time job I have and my vintage shop.

Sadly, my art gets left behind. I think that is mainly that I don’t really a place to paint, I paint on our bed when my son is sleeping or at crèche. Luckily  I have the support of my husband and he helps out all the time.

All the things in my life are important to me and I somehow give just enough to each area even though as many do, I wish I had more time.

Why did you move?
My husband is French and so we first moved to France from South Africa straight after our marriage to try it out. During the first year we lived on the French Riviera and it just didn’t work out. So we scooted over to England and all was dandy until our son came along, then it was too expensive.

At this point we could either move back to South Africa (yay!) or move to my husband’s family in the north of France. At this point I had to follow my head and not my heart as France just had a better way of living (schooling, healthcare) for my son. So here we are!

Biggest challenge being an expat?
There are two major areas for me. As most expats will tell you, it’s being away from family.

I didn’t realize I was such a ‘home bird’ until I was living in a different culture. My father passed away a few years ago and that just made my mother, brother and I extremely close. But as they say ‘what doesn’t kill you, makes you stronger!’

The other thing that I find truly challenging is how hard it is to relax and be one’s self in a culture which is extremely different to one’s own plus a foreign language. It find it very hard to just relax with others and even when one goes shopping, you are always aware of the difference.

Biggest joy being an expat?
You know, its growing to be a great joy. That is my discovery of the French culture, my way. With my etsy shop I am slowly discovering the French and who they are. Each vintage item I find is like reading another page of the French history and who the French are. It might even become a love affair, who knows.

Find The Hope Tree:

Are you a soon-to-be, been-there-done-that or currently doing that expat? If you sell on Etsy come and join our team.

Post by: Jacqueline Fouche (Tangentine)

Photo credits: The Hope Tree

Thursday, 3 February 2011

Meet the Expats: Flaurena

Lauren from Flaurena is a gem - almost as sweet as her jewellery is pretty.

Flaurena makes beautifully intricate jewellery - fit for a princess. Well, I'm sure that's how you feel when you wear it. She has a penchant for striking, bold designs and blames her Amazonian frame for that. She's rather tall.

She was kind enough to answer some questions on her experiences as an expat.

Why did you move?

The truth is, I’ve always been on the move.

I was born in London, England, but most of my childhood was spent living overseas: I went to school in southern Spain, Los Angeles, New York, Washington D.C., and Assisi, Italy.  Additionally, I spent a few months in Miami and Jaipur, India.

Later on, I studied French and Spanish at university in London.  Typically, most B.A. degrees in the U.K. are three years, but when studying languages it’s a four-year degree, because you are required to spend your third year abroad: I spent 7 months in Madrid, followed by 3 months in Paris.  It was there that I met S., an American who would eventually become my husband!

Since then, S. and I have lived in London once, and twice in New York.  We’ve been living in Brooklyn for 5 years now, and it’s the longest I’ve lived in any one place (city AND apartment!) without moving.  I tell you, I’m beginning to get itchy feet!  We’re thinking about leaving the Empire State, but don’t know where to… suggestions/ recommendations welcomed!

Biggest challenge being an expat?

To be honest, both my parents are ex-pats, so in some ways I don’t think of myself as one.

Also, my immediate family is comprised of people who are all different nationalities – British, American, Belgian, Spanish, and Bulgarian – so for me, moving around and being immersed in different cultures feels perfectly normal.

But that’s not to say there aren’t challenges living an ocean away…

Firstly, living so far away from family is hard: it seems that I either have the time or the money to visit them, but never both!  I’d love to be able to pop round for Sunday lunch every week…  On the plus side, the advent of Skype means we can ‘see’ each other when we do speak.

Secondly, paperwork: the day I naturalized and became an American citizen was wonderful for many reasons, not least of all because it signified the end of immigration bureaucracy.

Finally, crossword puzzles, ha ha!  The fact that I didn’t spend a lot of my formative years in the U.S. means I am sometimes at a cultural disadvantage, which means I don’t always know the answers to clues…

Biggest joy being an expat?

It seems that wherever I go, I’m a foreigner: I’m too emotional to be English; too reserved to be Spanish; too eccentric to be American…  Being considered an outsider can be frustrating, but most of the time I enjoy “being different”.  Most people are naturally curious and the fact that I “speak with an accent” (in both English and Spanish) here in the U.S. can be a wonderful icebreaker.

Thinking about this question more, though, I think the biggest joy is the fact that I think of myself as a true world citizen.  My eyes have been opened to the world around me, through being exposed to different cultures, languages, and cuisines.  Moving around as much as I have has made me more culturally sensitive, more independent, and more open-minded.  And though I may have plenty of room for improvement, it’s made me a better artist and, I hope, a better human being.

I love reading these expat stories. Thanks for taking the time to make this post happen Lauren.

Next week I'm featuring a lovely collector and secret artist.

Post by: Jacqueline Fouche (Tangentine)