Tuesday, November 22, 2011

These Shoes Were Made for Walkin....GIVEAWAY!

Let me introduce you to  Sharon Quak from Quak's Originals.  http://www.etsy.com/shop/QuaksOriginals .  I am so excited to interview someone from my background and culture.  I am dutch and Sharon is straight out of the Netherlands!  She makes and sells Dutch wooden shoes "with a twist"  She describes her work as "extraordinary and unusual. Mainly for children, but I love to make them for adults too."


Sharon is 33 years old and lives in the center of Holland.  She says she lives in a small town with lots of creativity and many talented people.  She tells me, "For the past 11 years or so I have been a full time Shop window decorator. It is a wonderful profession, but the hours are long It’s quite stressful and I was stuck in traffic most of the time. I realized I wasn’t really proud of what I was doing anymore.  I was sick and tired of the routine. Whenever you decorate in a shop, the things you make are always temporary. I came to a point in my life where i wanted to create things that last, something honest. I do have plans to work for a wooden shoe maker and learn to make the actual shoe itself. 
Wooden shoe making is a very old traditional profession, I've always had a passion for tradition and wooden shoes are a heritage that the Dutch can be proud of. It is unfortunately a tradition that is almost extinct.  That made me want to give a new twist to them, bring them into the 21st century and explore all sorts of new uses for them gradually.  Unfortunately, it’s not possible yet to make a living out of the wooden shoe business.   I need to get my name out there more, that is a slow and sometimes difficult progress. So early mornings I work for a restaurant , this way I have the rest of the day to work on the business."  I will say one thing I have learned from my Dutch friends is that they are hard workers and fiercely independent and entrepreneurial.  Guess it is also in my blood as it is in Sharon's.

As for her creations and when it all began, Sharon says, "It started 10 years back when someone asked me to paint two pairs of wooden shoes for a Dutch couple living in America who just became parents to  twins. After that, I did some more as baby gifts once in a while, but never heaps of them.  It wasn’t until last year that I gave up my job as a shop window decorator and made it my business." 

Sharon says she has many inspirations for her art.  She gets her inspiration from everything. 
"I mainly get inspiration from materials. Browsing through second hand shops and flea markets or just an amazing color that pops up somewhere, a string of ribbon and my granny’s old button jar. The trick is putting it all together and making it look great."


I asked Sharon about how she chose her shop's name...."Well that was quite a thing! I struggled hard coming up with something. Then my friend said I should just use my last name. But I just wanted something cool and really catchy. It was not until she designed a logo with my name it it, that I finally agreed with her. My name is quite cool and catchy!"  HAHAH that is what I thought when I first found your shop.  It is really catchy.  Although, I keep wanting to spell it Q.U.A.C.K. like a duck's quack.  :)
 








 I asked Sharon what is new and upcoming in her shop.  She replied, "These shoes are not just made for walking but also just have a very fun and iconic appearance.  Christmas is coming up and so I am developing a line of Christmas tree ornaments now. A sweet little fun way to show off some Dutch heritage!"  I must add here...I just bought some for my tree!  Whether you are Dutch or not, these are the cutest lil ornaments!!!  
Sharon says, " There are a lot of idea’s going round in my head. But you have to be careful to not want to launch all them at once. So they are all being written down in a little booklet and will remain secret until the time is right."  

I asked Sharon to share with us her favorite Etsy shops from the Netherlands, but she said, 
"I must be honest. I love Etsy cause it’s international. So my eye is usually on what happens abroad."  I can totally relate.  I search for things abroad for inspirations.

 Mikodesign. "They sell kits for making your own rag dolls. They look really cute."

Harriet Damave. "Makes wonderful contemporary hand painted  Delft Blue ceramic items. Like I said I have a weakness for traditional Dutch crafts."

http://www.etsy.com/shop/HarrietDamave

Red Stitch Lab. "All sorts of things that will make a girl like me very greedy, things you don’t really need but just WANT . Love their style. Crazy about their cool cuff bracelets and wood slice brooches."

http://www.etsy.com/shop/redstitchlab


 
Kim’s Little Monsters. Very cool simplistic illustrations on anything. Cards ceramics, pendants.  But the thing I love most are the boxes of instant comfort. You’d have to see for yourself. They’d be the perfect gift for anyone who can use a little TLC, and let’s be honest, don’t we all?" http://www.etsy.com/shop/kimslittlemonsters


 Support our heritage and BUY DUTCH!!!!  :)


As far as being on Etsy, Sharon says she has learned "heaps" on Etsy and finds a lot of inspiration.
 "I just think it has the greatest collection of artisans in the world, the diversity is massive. It’s not impossible to not find anything you would like, usually you’ll like close to a hundred. As a shopper, I’m totally addicted. As a shop owner : it’s easy, it’s friendly , it’s making my product look beautiful and it works! I love the international customers. So far I’ve had shoppers from the US, the UK, France, Spain and even China! That would never happen unless I had a shop on an Amsterdam High street."


I was wondering why some people loved wooden shoes and asked Sharon about wooden shoes in comparison to regular shoes.  She said, "It is a shame that wooden shoes became a rarity in Holland and are now mainly produced for tourists and farmers. There are still some wooden shoe fanatics who wear them on a daily base. Others will just wear them for work, since they are great safety shoes. I must admit i wear them only on special occasions. I have been wearing my new model, the ones that look like boots, to town. People do have to look twice to see that I'm actually wearing wooden shoes. And then when they realize they actually are wooden shoes they just give me a big smile.
The great benefits are that they are cheap, they keep your feet warm and dry and in my opinion they can still look cool. They just need to lose the old fashioned image. That’s where I come in." That is so awesome.  It is sad that many of the Dutch do not wear the wooden shoes as much.  That was unique to the culture of being Dutch.  

Sharon was kind enough to entertain my questions on the Netherlands below:

What is the weather like in Holland at the moment? 
"The weather here is not sure if it wants to be a little summer still or fully autumn. So we have a bit of everything. I’m going for a walk in the morning sun right after this interview before autumn rain takes over the day."

If I were to visit your country...what places would you encourage me to not miss while visiting?
"De Efteling, without a doubt! It is a fairytale based theme park in a forest and it’s just amazingly decorated. I’m in love with the place, it’s just magical."  WOW!  My kids would love that!  There is a place her in Pennsylvania...where we have many dutch people...and it is called Dutch Wonderland.  :)  I did do a little research on this place for my readers. Here is the website: http://www.efteling.com  And below are some great pictures I found of this magical and whimsical place.  Do I dare say it is better than Disney's Fantasy Land???? 



Is there anything interesting you can share about your country that we Americans may not know about?
"We don’t actually all walk on wooden shoes and live in windmills. Also we don’t only eat cheese or smoke weed instead of normal cigarettes. Ok that’s silly but some people really believe we do! 
What can I tell you about the Dutch? We are very clever with water, more precisely, to get rid of it. Most of Holland is below sea level and wouldn’t it be for the clever solutions we came up with throughout the years, our country would be even smaller than it already is. Most of our biggest and most important cities would not exist.  The world has always called in the Dutch if there were problems with water. I think it’s something we can be proud of!"

 In closing, can you please tell us how to say "I love you", "hello", and "goodbye" in Dutch? So I can teach my kids and my readers can teach theirs?  (silly I know...but just had to ask. :) )
I love you: Ik hou van jou
Hello: hallo
Goodbye: officially it would be “goedendag”, but we all prefer “doei!”
It’s actually quite similar when you look at it written down!

I think we should all try some wooden shoes.  Clogs are still in the stores and these are much cuter than some of the clogs I have seen in stores.  And no offense if you wear Birkenstocks, but these are WAY cuter than those!!!!  I am sure Sharon could whip a pair of grown up wooden shoes for you if you convo her!  http://www.etsy.com/shop/QuaksOriginals



GIVEAWAY!!! 
 Sharon was sweet enough to offer my blog followers a gift straight from Holland!!!  She is offering a set of adorable wooden shoe key chains.  Great stocking stuffers!!!!

Here is how it will work, as always, make sure you follow my blog to enter.  Always include in your post your email so I can contact you if you win.

1 entry EACH -
*Favorite her on Etsy http://www.etsy.com/shop/QuaksOriginals
*Go to her website, which is in dutch, yes, and click around.  Come back and tell us your favorite pair of wooden shoes that are not featured in her Etsy shop.  www.quaks.nl   I encourage you to check it out!!!  She has some ADORABLE designs on there!!!  LOVE!
*Follow her on Twitter: http://twitter.com/#!/Quaksoriginals  if that doesn't work you can just search on twitter for Quaksoriginals

Complete all four tasks and get four entries into the giveaway!

Giveaway ends 11/29/11 at 10pm Eastern Time (USA)

44 comments:

  1. How sweet! I live in the Netherlands too and always love to find other crafty people! I fav her shop on etsy :)
    stephanie at toastiestudio dot com

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  2. I love her clogs for baby births! Especially the white pair with owls on for a baby called Eva. The baby suits are also cute :)

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  3. I also like on facebook, she has even more pretty clogs on there too! I love the pink and grey ones on her wall.

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  4. And for my fourth entry because I would love that pink clog for my keys! I follow her on twitter too :)

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  5. I liked Quaks on FB under Robyn M
    bcbeaveratheart@gmail.com

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  6. Favorited QuaksOriginals on Etsy!

    - modernbuttercup on Etsy

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  7. I hearted her shop on Etsy!

    HarajukuGirl92@gmail.com

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  8. I tryed to go to her website but it wouldn't open.

    I love the barbie clogs! So cute!

    HarajukuGirl92@gmail.com

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  9. I like her FB page

    HarajukuGirl92@gmail.com

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  10. Following your blog via GFC under Berendina Dykema.I have dutch heritage in my family and these would be the cutest Christmas gift to give out. I also Favorited her Etsy Shop. Username:SugarGumDrops

    bd_657(at)hotmail(dot)com

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  11. My favorite item is the Speciaal voor Siéne.Love those birdies on the little shoes.

    bd_657(at)hotmail(dot)com

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  12. Liked her Facebook page under Berendina Dykema

    bd_657(at)hotmail(dot)com

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  13. Following her on twitter under @TheArtOfBaking

    bd_657(at)hotmail(dot)com

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  14. Hello i folow you on GFC as :Nadox
    i favrite her on etsy as : nadamoon

    nadoxie@gmail.com

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  15. i love the Dutch Clog tree ornament

    nadoxie@gmail.com

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  16. i'm a facebook fan as :nada nadox

    nadoxie@gmail.com

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  17. i follow her on twitter as @thegirlnada

    nadoxie@gmail.com
    thank you =)

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  18. Very proud of my baby-sister Sharon!

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  19. How cute <3

    I fav her on etsy as Azedartlover

    gb.demure@gmail.com

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  20. > i like the Quak`s mini klompjes grijs met witte stippen en geruite strik

    gb.demure@gmail.com

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  21. > Liked the fb pages as Elixir petrichor

    gb.demure@gmail.com

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  22. I follow on twitter!

    Dagmar @Sirentattoo

    Thank-you!
    Dagmar B.
    sirentattoo@hotmail.com

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  23. Hi!

    Following your blog via GFC! (ksyshenka)

    I hearted Sharon Etsy shop! (oksana2372)

    Thank you for the chance!

    ksyshenka(at)yahoo(dot)com

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  24. I adore these sweet custom made klompen - Speciaal voor Siéne from Sharon web site!!! Cutie!!!

    http://www.quaks.nl/?menu=article&categoryID=945174&articleID=17843228

    ksyshenka(at)yahoo(dot)com

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  25. I like Quak's Originals on FB and sent them regards from you:

    https://www.facebook.com/permalink.php?story_fbid=251862231535617&id=183370908384750

    (oksana vladimirovna)

    ksyshenka(at)yahoo(dot)com

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  26. Following Sharon on Twitter! (@oksana2372)

    ksyshenka(at)yahoo(dot)com

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  27. I hearted her etsy shop -- username bokononist

    marija.majerle at gmail dot com

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  28. following her on twitter @mrsclutterbuck

    marija.majerle at gmail dot com

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  29. My favorite shoes on her website are the Spring clogs in blue.

    marija.majerle at gmail dot com

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  30. The unique one, or rather the most outstanding one was Speciaal voor Siéne (:

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  31. <3'd Quak's Originals as GypsiesJewels

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  32. OH I love these!
    http://www.quaks.nl/?menu=article&categoryID=945174&articleID=20811178

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  33. follow you here
    GFC name: Jenny

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  34. my fav is Miniature Wooden Shoes grey polkadot

    twosisters8795 at hotmail dot com

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  35. I have liked you on facebook
    name: my dreams and my reality

    twosisters8795 at hotmail dot com

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  36. I follow you on twitter
    name: Jennyilicious

    twosisters8795 at hotmail dot com

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  37. So cute! Favorited on Etsy: FrancescaElena
    fec527 at hotmail dot com

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  38. I like her on FB as The Hand That Rocks the Cradle.
    fec527 at hotmail dot com

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  39. Added to favorites
    Ludmilochka
    lusizova at gmail.com

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  40. Like Miniature Wooden Shoes red strawberry
    lusizova at gmail.com

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  41. FB name=Lyudmila Sizova
    lusizova at gmail.com

    ReplyDelete