Why Shop Handmade: Holly Marsh of MarshMueller and Alexandra Andrade

This series focuses on why our members shop handmade. The intent is to help give reasons to friends, family and fellow makers for why shopping handmade is so important, especially during the holiday season. I hope you will share and enjoy! You can also read the whole series here.

Holly Marsh of MarshMueller


Astoria, OR

What does shopping local mean to you as a small business owner? What impact does people's choice to shop local make on your life?
Living in a small town on the Oregon Coast means that our small retail businesses in town has "feast or famine," in that the summer months are incredibly busy catering to tourists, and the winter months are nail-bitingly tight.

These aren't large corporations with tons of cashflow- they're my neighbors trying to pay their mortgage. Being a small business owner has opened my eyes to so many things- one of the most poignant is the sheer amount of work it takes to run a business. It has compelled me to happily pay more for services (and not accepting discounts or free services simply because I know that person), and pay slightly higher prices for goods in my local community. We had a town south of Astoria recently hit by a tornado (CRAZY, right??), and while their cleanup and repair efforts have been incredibly quick, they need people to visit and open their wallets while shopping and dining more than ever. The tornado could literally be the demise of some of those businesses, especially if their holiday season is dismal.

How has running a small business changed your life?
I used to work for "The Man" as a Buyer for a national retailer. I then changed course to work in their packaging and private label branding department, and I LOVED it. But there was no room for growth, no raises, and daycare was increasing their prices to where it was not going to be financially feasible. I left for another buying job for a large independent fabric store, but it was the type of position where I would have to be "married" to the job in order to do it the way it needed to be done. We ended up moving out of Portland to Astoria, where the cost of living was slightly lower, and so we could buy a larger house for our two kids and my studio. 

While I still work 16 hours a week doing remote customer support, my business has allowed me to stay home with my kids, as daycare for two children is incredibly expensive. After moving to Astoria, we discovered our oldest, now five, is on the Autism spectrum (what they used to call Asperger). While he is now in Kindergarten, we've started him at half days, and on off-days, holidays, etc., daycare isn't an option for his needs (we've tried). I love being able to have a flexible job where I am home when he gets home, I can go volunteer at his school, or take weekly trips into Portland for Occupational Therapy. I've run this business for five years now, and I worked full-time for 3.5 years while running it. I did the majority of my production at night after the kids were in bed, and I still do most of it at night.

As my business grows, I'll be able to afford putting my youngest (now 20 months) into daycare for a few hours at a time so this mama can sew during the day and actually get to bed on time, already! Haha.'

Alexandra Andrade of Citlali Creativo

Citlali Creativo

Burien, WA

What does shopping local mean to you as a small business owner? What impact does people's choice to shop local make on your life?
Shopping local is important to me because it's my livelihood and I know that this would be the case with others as well. By shopping other local shops, I know that they too will pay it forward and do the same because they know and understand the local community and the importance.

How has running a small business changed your life?
uality of life is a long list but the more important ones are spending time with my children and husband. To be able to be there for my daughter in the morning and after school is priceless. When I worked full-time for another company, she spent most of her time in day care and quickly learned that that is not what I wanted. I choose my schedule creating a happier home. This is especially true at the moment with our aging dog who needs round the clock care. I don't know what I'd do if I couldn't go home to check on him at lunch.