Betsy Loves Etsy! and we especially love the Slugs Fleece Boot Liners that Rayana White has created! Read her story on how she got started and developed a successful Etsy business.
Tell us about yourself
Greetings from the Rain Forest of South East Alaska; my name is Rayana White Brotherton, I was born and raised in Ketchikan, Alaska, where we average more than 14 feet of rain per year. I moved from my home town in 2000 to attend school at the Art Institute of Seattle where I majored in Commercial Photography graduating in 2002. I met my husband, Jacob in Seattle where he was born and raised, and we lived here until 2009, when we we’re both offered positions back in Ketchikan we decided to go, where the rain continues to fall at its annual average.
I began selling SLUGS Fleece Boot Liners on Etsy in 2010 in a friend’s Etsy shop and started my own Etsy shop WithTheRain a little over a year ago. Between Etsy, local festivals and wholesale orders I have sold over 3,000 pairs and shipped them all over the world: Germany, Australia, Hawaii, The Netherlands and Brazil, just to name a few.
Apart from creating things, what else do you do?
I don’t have a lot of down time considering the time involved designing and producing SLUGS, and promoting my Etsy shop; I try to take Friday and Sunday night off from sewing to hang out with Jacob, cook dinner and watch a movie or one of our favorite TV shows. We also enjoy antiquing, and checking out garage sales and thrift sales for unique finds. If by chance I get a sunny day off of work I love beach-combing in my favorite rain boots and my favorite SLUGS. Jacob and I also go on drives from one end of town to the other all 50 miles of the road, stopping and getting milkshakes, and of course taking pictures along the way, photography is still my passion, and other love!
Where does your inspiration come from?
I pull a lot of inspiration from my environment living in a beautiful small community enveloped by a never ending Rain Forest that is surrounded by water and the animals and creatures of those magnificent surroundings.
How did you come up with this idea?
After I moved back to Ketchikan, Alaska from Seattle, Washington, my mother bought me a new pair of rain boots and plain black boot liners to prepare me for the weather I had grown up in as a child and a young adult. I loved them so much that I found myself living in them! I was telling anyone who would listen to me how great they are, and so functional for our rain forest climate. I thought I could make my own boot liners, adding a touch of my own style with cool patterns, colors and one funky button. The funny part at the time was I didn’t even know how to sew and I didn’t have a sewing machine. I asked my grandmother if she had a sewing machine I could use, she did but it was child size, one you would just use to hem something with. My first pair of SLUGS turned out great considering the use of such a tiny machine! My mom who has always supportive, bought me my first sewing machine and I was on my way.
Tell us the story behind the name SLUGS
My best friend Rocky and I are both fond of slugs the slimy creature, we always joked about making a coffee table book with just photos of slugs, using her graphic design skills and my photography skills. When I was thinking about a name for my boot liners, I thought what Alaska is known for; it was around the time of the annual Blueberry Festival, one of the festivities is a slug race. This was the beginning of my inspiration, as my boot liners kind of look like slugs and slugs don’t mind the rain. I was not sold on the name but I called Rocky told her my proposed name for the liner, she loved it and right away she knew the U would make a great slug head. We have started the adopt SLUGS campaign as part of my branding and marketing effort.
Tell us about your work, studio and process
I have a sewing room with a large closet that I have out grown its jammed pack floor to ceiling with bolts of fleece. I have bolts of fleece lining the hallway leading in to my sewing room. The carpet of my sewing room is littered with little white strings and fleece trimmings. Above my sewing machine hangs a lime green poster that reminds me to keep calm and sew on. A new line of SLUGS patterns are created for each season and I try to reflect the season in my photos of my SLUGS. I try to include a little peek of Alaskan scenes in the background of my photos too.
Describe yourself in 5 words
Creative, Savvy, Obsessed (with Etsy), Driven, Silly
Is there anything you’d like our readers to know?
I own ten pairs of rain boots that is my little dark secret, six of which are Hunter boots. I tell myself it is a business expense.