Business is blooming at Tree Town Paper
by Cynthia Furlong Reynolds
From the October, 2018 issue
Each fall, Linsey Skelly and her three children collect hundreds of pounds of colorful leaves, which Skelly preserves by dipping them in a glycerin-water solution, then spreading them out to dry. "I buy glycerin in five-gallon pails," she says, "and I probably use 100 gallons each fall."
She uses the leaves in fall bouquets--and crafting with autumn's bounty is just a sidelight for the owner of Tree Town Paper.Her main business is making paper flowers that she assembles into corsages, boutonnieres, hairpieces, and other arrangements.
It all started in 2011, when, planning her wedding on a "strict" budget, she found herself "aghast" at the cost of flowers. "So I went online and looked for other options," she says. "That's when I saw paper flower bouquets. They were so cool! I knew I could do that."
After making paper flowers for her own wedding, she started making them for others. Now she does about fifty a year. Since many brides and party planners choose a travel theme for their events, she also makes paper airplanes and sailboats from vintage maps, drawing on a huge collection of atlases for raw materials.
"I'm always scanning Pinterest, gardening books, and craft magazines, looking for new ideas," Skelly says. She goes through 10,000 pounds of paper a year, sometimes working until four or five o'clock in the morning, and sells through Etsy, the online craft marketplace--it's "really the only place where artists can effectively sell handmade and vintage things," she says.
A few years ago she launched a second business on Etsy, the Little Link Shop, to sell vintage cuff links and antique jewelry. Sales were so good that her husband decided to quit his job and take over. He bought a laser engraver and now creates a huge assortment of accessories, from custom cuff links to Christmas ornaments. Skelly's mother also works with them, and her three kids lend a hand.
"When I was a teenager, my father told me, 'You can't make a living as an artist,'" Skelly says. "I'm proud to say I can!"
[Originally published in October, 2018.]
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