A lovely feature on Blart by Kelly about Zucchini Island

Can you tell us a little bit about yourself and what you sell in Zucchini Island?

Hi, my name is Ioana, I live in Iasi, a beautiful city, in Romania, Europe, that is my home town. I love the seaside and I hope that I will live by the big blue sea someday but for now I just take my 2 weeks a year dose of it, in my holidays. 

I recently reopened my shop (in September 2012), changed the name to Zucchini Island - now I sell hand knit goodies for babies: blankets and hats - most of them knitted in seed stitch. This is me: stitching seeds of love.

How did you come up with the name Zucchini Island?

The beginning of 2012 found me all sad and lost, I was not quite happy with where I was, I lost the "real me" in my life and I felt like something had to change. I had this urge to go to Greece, to Thasos, from a few years ago about 3-4 years - I just had to go there - why? I really don't know why this island from all the gorgeous islands in this world. 

But where I got there....

I had this feeling of peace and calm and it felt like that "Aha!" moment in my life: "here I am. this is WHO I am" 

I remember one night waking up in the middle of the night and just hearing the waves and their ritm, calm, over and over again...I kept that sound in my heart, I kept the bluest, deepest water in my memory and I often go there in my mind to find my inner peace.

Well, this is why my shop is called "Island" - it is my island where I am at peace, where I am happy. I take my "island" with me wherever I am. I wish to send out into the world little pieces of it, little pieces of love and peace.

Were you always interested in knitting? What sparked your interest?

Oh, me and "knitting" have a very different and interesting story. We didn't start our story as "love at first sight" No. Not at all. We had a rough start: I was in 6th grade and we, the girls had to knit a little vest, for a doll, the needles were so stubborn and would loose some stitches, and I did not see until a few rows latter, and the yarn was too tight, I could not knit the stitches for the life of me...needless to say I hated the whole thing, and even if my mom knitted, I did not want to even look at it. 

Skip a few years (about 20) and here I am a mom to be...I don't know what sparkles into new moms and "moms to be"'s heads to start making little things for their babies. So, I made a little blanket for my daughter before she was born, I knitted small squares, then I sewed them together - she still has that little white and pink blanket. 

Skip a few more years, and here I am, me, with my Island in my heart, being such a baby person - if there is a small child in a room, you will find me holding it in my arms a bit) - it just clicked, I just knew that this is what I want to do. (well, being a baby photographer is another dream of mine).

What types of materials do you work with?

I specially love working with bulky yarns, I love colors - even if I think that white is such a clean, peaceful color, I can not help but to choose all the cool crazy colors when I go shopping for yarns. All those that are soft at touch. My favorite now is a locally produced yarn, that is a wool blend - the only trouble I have is that the factory can not have the same exact shade of one color - I have in my stock 5 or 6 shades of gray.

Just recently a friend of mine gave me 2 skeins of mohair,from one I made a baby wrap and I think I will buy some more in the future and expand this line of products, too (the baby wraps).

What is your favorite thing to create?

to create? I should say that my favorites are the little bonnets for baby girls, with lace and flowers. I love making all the girly girl accessories, picking up the best one to fit the little hat. I love playing with felt, too, and the beads, but I try to avoid those.

Where do you find inspiration for your designs?

The best inspiration I get while I work, and the more I work, more ideas come to my head - unfortunately I do not keep a notebook close by and I lose some of the ideas. I should really have some colorful crayons by my side, too.

I also love browsing through etsy, I have a few favorite sellers. 

How did you get started selling on Etsy? Do you sell your work anywhere else?

I started selling on Etsy in 2010. I still run Flowers ByKara. I find it to be a beautiful community, many very talented artists, a great place to learn and grow. I opened shops on other venues,too but I did not have the time to give them the attention and care they need to work and prosper, so for now I only stick to etsy.

Do you have any advice for others wanting to start selling their work online?

It really depends on what one wants from the idea of selling online - whether to keep it at the level of hobby or a real business. It takes a lot of work, not only the product itself, but into photography, SEO, being everything from creating to taking the packs to the Post. But it is a rewarding work. 

Read, learn, improve. Always. Try new things.

Do you love what you do? Then do not hesitate. You will spend nights and days, you might go from smiling up to your years a day long just from reading a fantastic feedback from someone, to complete frustration because a package seems lost in the mail. Do try, give it your best shot; so you will not regret not even trying.

What do you like to do in your free time?

The little time I have I spend it all with my daughter, many times I knit in her room while I help her with home works. We both go sometimes in photographing trips in the city or the beautiful landscape that surrounds it.

I love to paint, too.

What is something about yourself not many people know?

I often listen to inspirational and motivational videos on YouTube - I love Louise L Hay, Wayne Dyer. 

I love Enya, I listen the CD I have when I clean my house.

I love orchids, beautiful, beautiful flowers!I have a few in living room, I adore them - and they do not need a lot of watering.

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