Friday, 11 March 2011

Meet the expats: PeonyForest

Elena runs her beautiful shop PeonyForest on Etsy and makes a variety of cute and slightly geeky items.

She's been making lampshade inserts for herself for years and decided that it would be a nice gift for children. She also makes cute little animal toys and jewelry.

You should really check out the animal toys. As a matter of fact, while I was writing this, I fell in love with one of them and just had to buy it.

Except for the fact that they're really cute it's an excellent design and very clever. Using magnets you can attach it to metal and they have all kinds of features making it into a nice interactive toy.

Elena was born in St. Petersberg and comes from a family of engineers. As one might expect from someone who has a lot of technical people in their family, Elena also did a technical degree, in Computer Engineering.

Elena's been running her Etsy shop full time to give her creative side a chance to play. She's always had an interest in art and especially in merging it with technology. The Etsy shop was opened to 'allow me to tinker with a purpose and I find the process of inventing fascinating'.

Elena and her husband will be moving to Rochester, NY, this summer and will probably have to look for a "normal" job again soon. But I'm sure she'll carry on with inventing and creating because we all know how addictive that process is and it would be a disservice to talent if she stops creating.

Elena was kind enough to answer some questions for me.

Why did you move?
I came to study and ended up working in California, and met a wonderful man, who asked me to start our lives together.

Biggest challenge being an expat?
I find it hard being unable to relate my childhood memories to people around me.

The pop culture they grew up with doesn't include my favorite cartoons, movies or school stuff.

If I say "Hedgehog in the fog" anyone with soviet background immediately knows what I am talking about, but not my husband. If he says "Captain America", I need to hear an explanation on what that was. And it's strange sometimes that we don't have common childhood references.

Having family all over the world is hard. Tickets are expensive and visiting is limited. My brother lives in New York city, Dad and my younger sister live in Aix-en-provence. Mom and grandmas are in several different time zones across Russia. Thank goodness for Skype.

Biggest joy being an expat?
I think having a wider perspective helps me with things going on around me.

Thanks for taking the time to talk to me Elena it's really good to get to know you a bit better.

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)


  1. Lovely a little more about the person behind the shop - your shop always gives me something to think about and I find I visit it often just to see what your mind has come up with.

    I agree with the cultural differences being hard often I use an expression which makes people look at me funny but I am getting used to it.

    Great blog post for Elena and well written Jacqueline

  2. Shirl/Artophile11 March 2011 at 23:38

    Great interview! I'm wondering why I never knew you are Russian!

    I totally understand your lack of common references. When was newly married I had to watch a lot of old American comedy shows just to catch up with my husband's sense of humour!

    Well done to both you and Jacqueline!

  3. I've found the same thing living here. People often don't understand what I am talking about and I only moved from Canada to Central America. I can only imagine how much worse it is being in America from Russia.

    Great interview!

    Cheers :-)
    - CoconutPalmDesigns

  4. Great interview. Am lovely reading all about my fellow team mates.