Tell us a bit about yourself.
Hi, my name is Rebeccah von Schlieffen, though my maiden name is Dean (my father always swore he was James Dean’s 4th cousin, though somehow I doubt that’s actually true….) I’m originally from the San Francisco Bay Area, but I’ve lived in Berlin now for eleven years. The plan was to come for a year or two after I finished college, then head back to the states for graduate school, ideally an MFA in creative writing. But a year or two became four years and seven years and then all of the sudden I was having babies. The typical expat Berlin story really.
Apart from selling things on Etsy what do you do? What’s a day in your life look like?
Luckily my average day begins with my husband bringing me a cup of coffee in bed because he knows I am virtually useless before 9 o’clock. (Did I mention I love my husband?) He does the morning breakfast shift with our two red-headed girls and then I, nicely caffeine-charged, take them to the Kita at 9:30. When I come home I usually check my shops to see if anything happened while I was asleep and answer convos or deal with orders if anything did. After this I usually either work on some of the short stories I’m writing, take photographs either for myself or for my shops or practice singing. I have a degree in music and am a classically trained singer, but my heart lies more in jazz. For a little less than a year I’ve been in the guitar-voice duo Marcio and Rebeccah, though Marcio is unfortunately going back to Brazil soon so I’ll be looking for new musicians to work with. I also like to bike aimlessly around the city which is somewhat dangerous considering that I can (literally) get lost just going around the corner. At 2:30 I pick my daughters up. To break up the monotony of playgrounds, playgrounds and more playgrounds I like to take them to museums. Our favorites by far are the Naturkunde Museum and the Technisches Museum, both places where I’ve taken lots of photographs. Any posting, crafting or packing is generally done once the girls are in bed, sometimes into the wee hours of the night.
You have three shops on Etsy. What are you selling in these different shops? Is there any advantage in having more than one shop?
The oldest of my three shops, Curious Knopf, is a vintage clothing and handmade jewelry shop. I’m in the middle of re-structuring it right now and in the future will sell only vintage Trachten and a lot more handmade jewelry, especially pieces made with copies of vintage photographs from my collection. Schaufensterbabe is my vintage housewares and home décor shop. Although I sell a variety of vintage awesomeness there, I try to really find pieces that are specifically German in some way. My third shop, Augenblick Photo, is where I sell my original photographs both as prints as well as mounted on wood blocks or made into jewelry. For me it is ideal to have three shops because each of them serves a different need. Curious Knopf is for my love of Trachten clothing (seriously, shorten a dirndl, leave off the apron and you’ve got yourself one killer dress!) and handmade jewelry. I love making jewelry out of polymer clay and vintage materials, but would rather not have a shop that sells only jewelry. Schaufensterbabe is for my closet kitsch side and my compulsive need to buy more and more vintage oddities even though I’m not a big fan of clutter (I’m not buying it for myself, I’m buying it for my shop…) Augenblick Photo is a showcase for my photography. Honestly, I never even thought anyone would buy anything there, but recently it’s been getting a lot of attention which is great since it’s my own work. Of course, the disadvantage of having three shops is that it’s harder to do any promotion, or at least a lot more work. I tend to neglect a shop for a while in favor of one of the others which does definitely impact attention and sales. I did try putting everything together in my old shop, Schaufenster, but mostly only the vintage (mainly clothing) got views or sold. I wanted my art to have a platform of its own.
Where does your love for vintage come from?
I think it’s always been there. I have some photographs of me when I was two wearing my great grandmother’s wire framed glasses from the 1920s. Apparently, I wouldn’t take them off for days. My grandmother also had a drawer filled with old black and white photographs and I used to spend hours looking at them. Sometimes I would ask her to tell me who the people were, but mostly I didn’t even need to know. I found it so fascinating that the photograph was of a person who had once lived. What were they like? Who did they love? What was their favorite color? A story was in there someplace. In high school I started collecting vintage photographs myself and wore a lot of vintage clothing and it’s continued ever since.
What goals do you have for the future?
I would like to write a novel someday and continue to sing and perform in either a duo or a small band. I hope to also expand my businesses and come up with more and more ideas for things to create or new ways to present and package what I already do make or find. Maybe I’ll also open my own brick and mortar store with a friend. And, of course, I’ll continue with the greatest job ever: being a mom to two creative and mischievous little girls.
Bis bald. I promise! :)