Monday, March 24, 2008

Featured Seller: SweetgumHandbags

Who are you?
Sweetgum Handbags, aka Kim Novick

Why did you choose your shop name?
I wanted a shop name that reflected both the place that I live and who I am. After coming up with about 20 different options and taking an informal poll of my friends, I landed on Sweetgum, which is the name for one of the many trees native to North Carolina that I probe, prod, measure, and occasionally climb as part of my dissertation research (I’m a 3rd year PhD student in Ecology). The runner up for the poll was Loblolly, which is the most common pine tree in N.C. and the name of my second
Etsy shop.

Where are you located?
Downtown Durham

What do you create?
Purses, totes, pouches, clutches, and an odd assortment of other fabric and paper crafts.

What is your favorite place to visit in the Triangle?
The Scrap Exchange, hands down. Their selection of decorator samples and decorator fabrics is amazing, super cheap, and ecofriendly! And where else can you find bulk quantities of petri dishes, wallpaper and wallpaper books, heavy duty vinyl laminate, a huge selection of ceramic tiles, hundreds of old national geographic magazines, crazy sewing notions, etc, etc. It’s my first stop for supplies, and also the first place I go to spark my crafting imagination.

What inspires you?
The natural world and efforts to protect it. There’s nothing more beautiful then the forests, beaches, and open fields of the Southeastern U.S., and I gravitate towards the colors that are hallmarks of these landscapes (browns, gold, greens, blues) when I choose materials for my bags and other crafts. Also, I try to use repurposed, recycled, or vintage materials as often as I can.

What types of things do you do to turn first time buyers into repeat clients?
Right now, most of my first-time buyers come from Etsy. To establish a personal connection with those buyers, I pay careful attention to my packaging, usually wrapping up the item as if it were a gift. I also include a handwritten thank you note in each package. Additionally, if I get a custom order request, I try to let the buyer have as much freedom in the design of their bag as possible. That way, they’re having fun and I benefit by getting ideas for color combinations or design variants that I might not have come up with on my own.

What are your goals?
Career wise, my goals are to obtain a job post-graduation that allows me to make good use of the education I’ve received, but to also have sufficient time to continue my crafts. If, someday, these two goals are one in the same, all the better!


  1. Ahh, that beautiful red purse caught my eye at the Downtown Crafters sale Sat. It was good to meet you, Sweetgum!

  2. Nice feature - and beautiful bags! :-)