Monday, September 10, 2012

Spotlight on Ana the Night Owl

Welcome to another Queer Etsy Street Team interview! This time we're talking to Ana the Night Owl who runs Tierra Dulce Shop with her older sister Martha.

What sorts of things do you offer in your shop? Currently we have things that we find and like – I end up digging out treasures packed away in my garage, things I find when I go treasure hunting, and things that we make from scratch. It is very much an outlet that suddenly became an obsessive project.

How did you first start selling on Etsy? How long have you been selling? Do you sell anywhere else? I had set the Etsy up for my sister to have an outlet for all her creativity. She turned out to be the more ‘I just wanna make crafty stuff’ than the seller type. And so that is how I took over the account I had set up and soon grew to be Tierra Dulce Shop. Officially we began selling in 2011 and we are still going. I think we have had success when a brick and mortar shop in Portland started carrying our Tierra Dulce Shop Mexican edible sugar skulls, (which we now make as vegan candy) – CandyBabel and we found each on Etsy of all places! So I feel very proud that even though our small little shop is still trying to catch its stride, that our creations have touched others outside of Etsy. I want to find others willing to work with us and carry our labor of love. Hello out there!

The Original Mexican Day of the Dead Dia de los Muertos Sugar Skulls Mini Candy Handcrafted (6 Count)

What are your favorite materials to work with? We have such an eclectic array in our shop that sugar would be some of our favorite materials to work with by far. We do have beautiful soy soaps that are amazing, since we don’t test on animals (other than me) and they are made with such care – and very scientific. My sister is very scientific – she keeps notebooks with her formulas and processes on all her projects. Not to make her sound like a nutty person, but her passion is working with plants as biology major. Also my friends swear by them; I had a friend come out of surgery and her skin was held together with some sticky hospital type tape which had to be taken off and the wounds cleaned and then put a new bandage right back on – but the problem there was that the bandages left hard glue on the skin – she said she tried every product she could find to get rid of it, but everything she tried she became allergic to it. So I sent her a few bars of soaps to try out. I mean after all that, it could not hurt to try an alternative and sure enough it worked!

We also work the yarn and the charms. Going back to working on my stained glass – I have finally set up a workable space in the garage to be able to do that – so looking forward to build projects again.

What got you interested in your craft? At first, we started this a creative collaboration to help my sister in the Northwest. But since we are both a bit artistic we decided to get creative and share this project. We are trying to build something beyond Tierra Dulce Shop. For a living I teach at schools and every time I visit a new school – I hear the same story over and over again. Every school is facing some sort of budget cut or loss of very needed programs like arts and music. Because of this our adventure with Tierra Dulce Shop, we decided to use this outlet to build and to help schools fundraise for the arts. Whenever we make a sale we set aside the funds so we can start a non-profit aimed at helping schools. I know it sounds like a lofty goal – but this is the base, the start – and what way to build a passion – than starting with a passion. So to answer your questions – meeting people got me interested in my craft.

Are there other creative projects you are involved in outside of your work in your Etsy shop? Besides art/crafty stuff, what else do you like doing in your free time? I am very busy working most of the time – but when I do get time off I play music. I’ve been playing music since 7th grade and to tell you the truth it was my saving grace as a kid.

Most of the time, I’m thinking of new things to make and promote. At one time I was vowing never to join Facebook – I did not care about it – but when I took over the shop I really had to adapt and see how the heck I was going to make this happen. So I joined Facebook, and in joining that social site, I had a wall of people who had been searching for me on that thing. I had tendencies to fall off the face of the earth. I really enjoy it in some strange way now. Which reminds me, we also have a Tierra Dulce Shop fan page on Facebook ‘Like Us’ – Let’s be friends!

Also, Feng Shui, ancient old traditions fascinate me – so I went to the library (one of my favorite places in the world) and self-taught myself the ways of the Feng Shui. And here is a tip for you, if you want opportunity to come knocking on your door, place a wind chime outside your from door. When I did it, not only was the sound soothing, new and more happy things began coming my way. Sound silly, but an ancient way of thinking can’t be too wrong

Oh, I forgot the blog I have that is mainly about stained glass and chocolate – Yes, two of my favorite things. You can find that at

Does your queer identity come into play in your work? You know, my queer identity has been with me since birth – I remember being a kid and knowing that I liked that little girl with the kinky hair a bit too much. And when she found a little boy friend to play with instead of me, I became jealous! So I was aware of my queer identity for a long time but had no idea it would change my life. In my work it comes to play to a certain extent – I like to think that it is me and not my queerness that people like. My work on Etsy has not really said I’m queer, but it does not mean I’m not proud of the fact that I am a Lesbo.

Is there any advice you have for our readers? I think the readers are here for a reason – a reason that I had been trying to find a long time in my life. And that is solidarity and unity. I know they are here because they support the fact that we are great business people and love our crafts and want to buy them and support The Queer Street Team shops. But to also support LGBTQ people and end this crisis in our country and stand up for our rights (in the great Bob Marley’s words.) In California, we have had so many battles in government offices, in the street and in families to get equality – and soon enough we will get there. And even being on this web-blog is spreading the word that we are beautiful, smart and successful contributors to society. LOVE US READERS!

~ Ana Bernal aka Ana the Night Owl – Tierra Dulce Shop @ Etsy

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