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Meet Elizabeth Woolston of St. Peters

Today we’d like to introduce you to Elizabeth Woolston.

Alright, thank you for sharing your story and insight with our readers. To kick things off, can you tell us how you got started?
I’ve wanted to run and own a craft-based business since I was a kid, ever since my mom taught me how to sew and crochet. From those first years until now my desire for craft-based knowledge and to share what I learn and make has continued to grow and expand. After teaching myself to knit, I remember making up order forms in high school for all the things I knew how to knit and crochet and handing them out to my friends; I even got a couple of orders from them. As might be expected, my entrepreneurship didn’t go very far back then. I was too busy with school and growing up to focus on creating my own business. Years later, in January of 2016, after I’d graduated, grown up a bit, and had even lived outside the country for a while, I finally sat down and put together my company, now known as Old-School and Eclectic, on Etsy. I don’t remember the first name I came up with; it was bad. It was something like “Eat, Pray, Love” but about yarn and crafting. After opening my new shop, I made a couple of listings and fairly quickly forgot about it. I never sold anything, and life moved on. Over the next couple of years, I married, moved several times, and then the pandemic hit. We had just moved to St Louis when the world shut down in 2020, and my husband and I found ourselves far from anything or anyone we knew as he continued to work through the pandemic. I found myself alone at home thinking about that old forgotten Etsy shop and my dream to run a crafting business, something I’d wanted since I was a kid but had never been able to realize fully. As 2020 wore on, I began to plan; I created a new shop name, had a logo designed, printed business cards, and started brainstorming everything I wanted to share and sell in my store. Then, on January 1, 2021, at midnight, I activated my new shop with new listings and a fresh Facebook page to advertise myself on. Since then, I’ve only continued to grow. Listings have come and gone, my shop has slowly evolved, and I’ve learned much about what it takes to run an online business through my many experiences on Etsy, Facebook, Instagram, and, most recently, YouTube. I am just one woman running a small shop, but I love what I do. I love sharing my talents and using what I know to help others. I don’t expect to stop anytime soon and hope to continue sharing what I love for many years to come.

Can you talk to us about the challenges and lessons you’ve learned along the way? Would you say it’s been easy or smooth in retrospect?
My biggest struggle in learning to run my business is balancing work with my mental health and family. From early on, I knew I wouldn’t be that small business owner who would work 12+ hr days. That just wasn’t me. Despite that conviction, I’ve struggled with burnout and being overwhelmed with orders. I had one particular product that was very popular, and even though I would try and limit how many were available at a time (so I could keep up), somehow, I kept getting bogged down and overwhelmed. Eventually, I said “no more” and discontinued that product, even though it was my biggest seller, both by number of orders and revenue. Sometimes you have to give up great things to enjoy the better things. Now that I’ve stopped selling that item, I’m happier, less stressed, my home is more organized and clean, and my relationship with my husband has improved. Each of these things deteriorated over the year I was selling that particular product. I hope to never end up in that situation again, though I’m sure I’ll encounter similar issues as I continue to grow. As a result of this challenge, I have learned a lot about my limits and what I physically, mentally, and emotionally can handle.

Appreciate you sharing that. What else should we know about what you do?
Everything I sell is handmade, usually after an order is placed, so I can fully customize each commission. I have many talents currently reflected in my shop, including, but not limited to: tatting (a type of lace), crochet, knitting, finger loop braiding, pattern design, embroidery, machine sewing, hand sewing, and weaving. I’m constantly adding new items to my shop (I’ve got so many ideas!), so it’s a good idea to check in regularly to see what new items and crafts I’ve posted.

For a while, I was known for my Plushie RPG Dice. They were a 3″ plushie toddler toy set, a replica of a standard 7-piece RPG dice set. I designed and developed the pattern independently, drafting the patterns with rulers, protractors, and a pencil. I hand embroidered all the numbers onto the die faces and assembled them myself. These took a lot of time and effort and were very popular. Unfortunately, I have had to discontinue them to protect my mental health. These dice are still the product that I’m most proud of. They were unique and special, and I put a lot of work into bringing them to life. Even though I don’t make them anymore, I will always be proud of what I could create with the math I learned in high school, a large helping of trial and error, and a needle and thread.

Currently, I think I’m known for my tatted lace. I’ve been posting new laces throughout the summer of 2022, and I’ve gotten some decent traction with this Summer Lace Series. You can find antique tatted lace all over Etsy, but very few shop owners make the lace themselves, so that sets me apart as unique in my industry. Tatted lace cannot be machine-made, just like crochet, so any tatted lace or crochet items you find will always have been handmade by someone. That means someone spent hours of their life making that one item.

Another unique product that distinguishes me from other shops is my fingerloop braids. These are not the same as lucet cord, which is made with a special 2-pronged tool. Fingerloop braiding is a medieval craft where you take loops of thread around your fingers and braid or weave them to create cords of various designs, widths, and styles. These were commonly used as decorative trim, pull strings on purses, and lacing for stays (the undergarment that came before corsets) and other clothing items. In the modern day, these cords can be used like any other fine cord, though most of my customers participate in historical reenactments and costuming. At the time of writing, mine are the only listings on Etsy that I can find for fingerloop braided cord.

As well as selling my creations on Etsy, I’ve also done mending and hosted private crochet lessons. I love to teach, share what I know, and help others grow their knowledge and talents, so I try to look for opportunities to fulfill those goals. This isn’t to say that I’m particularly good at teaching, just that I enjoy sharing what I know and learning from the experience of teaching and from those I teach. Currently, I’m trying to do so by starting a YouTube channel I’ve called Old-School and Eclectic Crafts. I haven’t done a lot with it yet, but I’m hoping that as I get a little more experience, subscribers, and audience interaction, I’ll be able to better direct my efforts to where they’re needed and wanted.

What changes are you expecting over the next 5-10 years?
I expect my handmade goods industry to become more widespread, accepted, and commonplace. I expect people to become more aware of handmade goods, the costs of making those goods, and the benefits of buying from a local creator over a large corporation. I don’t expect everyone to always buy locally or from a small shop like mine. It’s expensive, I realize that, but when people can buy local or handmade it helps the local economy and supports friends and neighbors trying to make a living while doing something they love.

Contact Info:

Image Credits
Jessica Kiefer

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1 Comment

  1. Marshall N

    September 19, 2022 at 3:19 am

    I have seen some of Elizabeth’s handiwork and am VERY impressed. She is quite talented and pays attention to detail. Her extra carefulness shows in the quality.

    Most recently I saw a little small pumpkin key ring she made. The pumpkin was about an inch or inch and a half. It was cute.

    Nice article!

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