Featured Members

#1 Our Captain, Patricia; who owns a photography shop WellWornPassport on Etsy and see the world with a special POV.

#2 The artist for this blog, Jessica Boehman, who is the artist behind the illustration shop HansMyHedgehog on Etsy.

#3 Debbie Liu, who is the bunny behind the jewelry shops Bunnies Can Dream and Harlequin&Lionhead on Etsy.

#4 One of our active members, Melanie Yasmin, who is the designer behind the lucite jewelry shop MyCinta on Etsy.


Lucky you! You have found the blog of the 5 Boroughs Team which was formed on Etsy.com and is a New York City based team of creators/artists/crafters. I had a few minutes to chat with this team’s captain, Patricia Oris, who herself has a passion for travel photography, which is beautifully displayed in her Etsy shop WellwornPassport.

BB: Who makes up the 5 Boroughs Team and what is the team’s mission?

PO: I launched the 5 Boroughs Teams as a way to connect with NYC artists and artisans from whom I draw daily inspiration. I also hoped we could find a way to work collaboratively to promote our collective talents and products.
Our team is very diverse: members paint, photograph, draw, design, knit, crochet, metal smith, sew, and collect vintage goods. We make jewelry, art, lingerie, pillows and handbags.

BB: That’s quite a wide variety! Sounds like a great, multi-talented group! What accomplishments has the team made so far?

PO: Our efforts thus far have included treasury challenges (in which a theme is chosen and members can create their own interpretation of that theme by choosing 16 Etsy items that they feel represent that theme, especially including 5 Boroughs Team members items), 1 front-page placement, a Facebook page, and this recently launched 5 Boroughs Blog!
Members of the team gathered together recently to discuss the status and direction of the team. As a result, in addition to the initiatives mentioned above, we will to organize team participation in upcoming arts and crafts fairs in NYC and surrounding regions.

BB: Sounds like quite a lot is getting accomplished for such a new team. If someone wants to join, what is expected of new members? Who can join?

PO: People who live and/or work in any of the 5 boroughs of New York City should join the 5 Boroughs Team if they are interested in collaborating on the promotion of NYC-based artists and artisans selling on Etsy. We are a loosely organized group, not big on rules and requirements, but we do try to get things done, and for that we need engagement and some effort from members.

BB: This is a great opportunity for crafters, artists, makers of things in the New York City area to help promote their shop and their love of handmade goods. Now what can you tell us about your own Etsy shop, your inspiration, and your craft?

PO: While traveling for work, I discovered my personal passion: travel photography. In the beginning, I photographed every place I visited just to documents my travels. What began as a typical tourist exercise, gradually become more and more of an obsession.

I really enjoy the way I experience a place and a culture when I see it through the lens of a camera. Suddenly, through a lens, I see poignant vignettes I might have missed without my camera. I see beautiful compositions of colors and textures. I see interesting perspectives and people. Now, travel photography is my passion, and I take hundreds of photographs every day while on the road. I particularly enjoy shooting art, architecture, and markets and shops.

Photography and collage art, are forms of creative expression for me. If people like them/buy them, it pleases me very much. But, what is more important to me is the process of creating. For me, having a shop on Etsy is a creative exercise in and of itself, and I most appreciate it as that.

BB: As an Etsy shop owner myself, I couldn’t agree more. Thanks so much Patricia, for this look inside the 5 Boroughs Team and your own lovely shop and its inspirations!

Also, Patricia says to keep an eye on her shop as she will soon be posting a few new pieces in her shop that feature photography in the form of collage. Sounds like more beautiful work in in the making!

Interview by Trish of BrooklynBags

Jessica Boehman is the artist who created the top banner of our blog. Her specialty is actually pencil illustration and she has a lovely shop called HansMyHedgehog on Etsy. Behind her art history professor exterior is a sweet person of proactivity, creativity and romance.
- an interviewed by Debbie Liu of Bunnies Can Dream and Harlequin&Lionhead.

D: Your shop is called "Hans-My-Hedgehog: A Whimsical Menagerie". What inspired you to create the shop and why this name?

J: The shop started when I got inspiration for a theme of animals, in particular, animals doing whimsical things, after I drew an illustration of the Grimm's Fairy Tale of Hans-My-Hedgehog. He's an animal playing music. I knew I wanted to expand upon that line of thought, and so far, it is just giving me more ideas than I have time to draw.

The fairy tale has been my favorite since I was a kid. The drawing was a detailed pencil illustration with a stark white background, so that's been my point of inspiration for new drawings. I wanted everything to look stylistically similar.
Musical Animal Series, inspired by the musical clock at Central Park NYC
Having just moved to NYC, and working three jobs, I felt like I was losing a part of myself.  Drawing always made me feel better.

After meeting a few Etsy sellers and having a few friends who had started a shop, I knew that setting a goal of opening a shop would motivate me to draw, draw, draw! And it did. Moreover, I had started making designs that were being made into invitations and cards by a paper shop in Wooster, Ohio, where I taught as a professor for a semester. They really gave me a creative push.

D: Working 3 jobs? How do you juggle your time?!

J: By day I am a college professor. I teach art history (right now at the College of Staten Island and NYU). I have a few days a week where I do not teach, so I use those days to catch up on course prep, grading, and when that's complete, my treat is working on my shop. I also have a long commute, so I take advantage of the smooth ride on the Staten Island Ferry to add an extra hour of drawing time into my workday.

D: I've never know a professor personally...You must be like a living wikipedia! I can't seem to link the dreamy HansMyHedgehog fairyland with your professional image?

J: When I work in my shop, I feel like a masked menace...like it's an alter ego to my day job-art historian self.  It's kind of fun and strangely, feels a bit illicit.

D: So Dr. Boehman, is there going to be a day your various selves will merge?

J: I was actually a Fulbright scholar in Rome, Italy as I worked on my Ph.D.  I was lucky enough to have the foundation foot the bill for a year of archival research in Rome.  It was a formative year in my life and I'm still looking for the perfect idea to commemorate my year in the Eternal City...

D: Hm just maybe, we can only hope...I heard you travel quite a bit in your childhood?

J: My dad was in the military, so we were lucky to move around a lot. Next to the Hans My Hedgehog illustration, my favorite piece (in the shop) is the illustration of the Bremen Town Musicians.  It was inspired by the three years I spent near that town in Germany when I was a kid.
They fit perfectly into my shop theme while being very personal, as well.  The dog in the illustration is my old dog Merlin, who passed away a few years ago. You can tell by looking at his crooked tail. Merlin's tail broke as a puppy and healed crookedly. That's my way of remembering him.

D: Oh he was a handsome one...Looking forward, what is your next project?

J: Right now, I'm working on holiday designs like a madwoman trying to get them done in time for my Fall show in NYC.
I just finished another Halloween design today, but now I'll be working on Christmas: finishing my four illustrations with borders for the 12 Days of Christmas and making one card for all of the knitters out there: a lamb/wool themed card. It's going to be adorable.

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This week's featured member interview is with Debbie Liu, owner of two of the 5 Boroughs Team's jewelry shops.  Deb comes to NYC via the lovely city of Hong Kong and is also the creative genius and force of nature behind this lovely blog. :)
Interview by Jessica of Hans-My-Hedgehog.

J: Deb, how is it that you've come to have two shops?

D: I have 2 shops, both are jewelry but are quite different.

Bunnies Can Dream features everyday jewelry that combines colors and textures through metal findings, gemstones, glass, ribbons and macrame techniques. With this collection, I want to create versatile jewelry that would brighten up your wardrobe, inspire imagination, and put a smile on your face in everyday mundane life.

Harlequin&Lionhead features fashion jewelry made with precious metal or are 24K gold plated. The driving spirit behind this line is to capture the transient beauty of our everyday life in metal. The process involves wax and metal sculpting and various metalsmithing processes at a New York studio to bring my designs to life.

J: Wow, that's amazing that you have the energy and skills for two totally different collections of jewelry.  I see that both shop names have to do with rabbits. Can you tell us more about this point of inspiration?

D: The names of the shops are inspired by my 2 rabbit friends, Toffee and Charcoal. Toffee was a Harlequin breed, he passed away 2 years ago at a prime age of 8. Charcoal is now an elderly of 10 and he is probably the most handsome Lionhead in the world.


J: What gave you the inspiration to start your shop?

D: I started making things because I was quite upset at work and I needed a channel to vent my creativity and to take my mind off things.

I was inspired by the color and texture of amazing gemstones and lampwork glass beads I discovered in findings stores near my work place after we moved our office in 2008. I want to make jewelry that would remind the wearer of the sky, sunshine, ocean, forest, delicious desserts...anything that takes you to a happy place. That's how I started "Bunnies Can Dream". My first couple pieces are the "Blueberry Fields Bracelet" and a now-sold-out piece called "Bracelet of a Mermaid." They were conceived when I was stuck indoors ;)

Blueberry Fields Bracelet

I think if I have a stress-free life I probably would not have started making things. People say creativity flourishes in distress. It is certainly the case with me, so I guess in a way, my slave life at the agency was an inspiration!

J: After working at an ad agency, how did you learn to cast metals? Those two pursuits don't go together!

D: Later in 2010, after I resigned from my day job, I went to a jewelry school for silversmithing. I fell in love with wax carving and casting, which allows me to bring my imagination to life through metal. And I started "Harlequin&Lionhead" with the first collection that features clusters of small roses in different forms.

Adjustable 24 gold plated rose ring

J: Do you regret quitting your day job?

D: Not at all. Although I am not as productive as I was working and I still can't really make a living out of my shops, I have more time to learn and craft.  I am also able to gain an invaluable experience of selling at handmade markets. Interacting with retail customers and learning from fellow crafters really opened my eyes. I have made some very good friends and it is almost strange to have strangers who are willing to help just out of their own good will, especially after all these years in the corporate world and living in HK/NY where no one bothers to ask their neighbor's names! I know I am a lucky girl. This period is probably the happiest days in my adult life.

When you realize that you don't need chocolate to keep you sane at work, you know it is the right job for you.

J: Haha, that's true! Although I think chocolate helps the creative juices to flow as well!  Where do you work now?

D: For Bunnies Can Dream, I make everything on my couch or next to Charcoal on the floor in the house. It is quite crazy...I have a mini tea tray that I bought from Michael's, and inside is a piece of thin foam that catches beads and findings. I usually craft with Bravo shows on TV. But since Project Runaway has been moved to Lifetime, I have that on the list with The Golden Girls, hahahah!

With Harlequin&Lionhead, I make some of the wax models at home on my little Ikea 16" wide folding table. The rest of the work is mostly done out of a studio in Manhattan and 3rd Ward in Brooklyn.

I took all the pictures in my shop by myself on top of my bedroom dresser top, and under the sky roof. All you really need is good light, a camera with a LED display, a mirror and a long arm!

I know, my setup is pretty pathetic. But you work with what you got!

J: Someday you will have a beautiful, spacious studio. I work on my couch as well! Haha. What is your next project?

D: For Bunnies Can Dream, I am recently obsessed with macrame hoops. I am almost growing out of it (I hope!)
Macrame Hoops Bib Necklace in Plum

For Harlequin&Lionhead, I am working on a few things but I am most excited with a new metallic feather series inspired by Alexander McQueen. I hope I can launch it in time for X'mas.
I am also working on a collaborative project with HansMyHedgehog. But that is a top secret...Your readers will have to come to my blog to find out more later.

Alexander McQueen's Black Feather Dress

J: I think I know a little about it :), but everyone else will be surprised! Thanks for the interview, Deb!

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This month's featured member is Melanie Yasmin. She is the heart and the hands behind the funky playful lucite jewelry brand, MyCinta on Etsy. Her jewelry is recently chosen for the BET Awards. I love chatting with Melanie and there are just surprises after surprises behind this super adorable designer.
- an interview by Debbie Liu of Bunnies Can Dream and Harlequin&Lionhead

D: Your shop is called "MyCinta". What does it mean?

M: "MY" is from Melanie Yasmin and "Cinta" in my language means love. It represent my love for arts and fashion that inspired me to create things I love.

D: Wow! That's a beautiful name. Where do you come from?

M: I am originally from Indonesia. I have been living in New York City for over 10 years and I am inspired by this great city, the young people and their bold styles.

D: Is that why you started your shop?

M: I love to design and create things, whether it's jewelry, accessories, or clothing. I always enjoy making something really cool for other people.

I started experimenting with plexiglass and came up with an idea (which I think it's very cool) to cutout different words and make jewelry out of it. Then, I started making “LOVE” cuffs and the regular wide cuff to give as a gift for friends and family, and one day, one of my friend told me about Etsy and convinced me to start a shop there.

D: And I see that you have taken the "LOVE" cuff to a "LOVE" double-finger ring! (see the image at the beginning) It is one of my favorite! What is your favorite item in the shop?

M: The Personal ID name cuff!

It was started as a request from a customer at one of the Craft Market in New York, and after I made one, the customer was extremely happy with the cuff and she wore it right away because it is a cool statement jewelry and no one has it.

That is why the Personal ID name cuff is my favorite one because it's very special and one of a kind.

D: It is indeed. I know you are only working on your shop part time. How do you juggle it with your day job?

M: I design lingerie and do all the technical development for an intimate apparel company in New York. Fashion industry in New York is a very fast paced and competitive industry, so a lot of time, I have to stay and work late in the office.

To create my jewelry takes time and a lot of patients, since I hand cut the lucite (you cannot rush this, because this material can melt easily on heat and the blade will get stuck together with the material) and there's a lot of filing and sanding to make all the surface smooth before polishing them.

Therefore, I usually do a little bit of the work at night after I get back from work, and do most of them on the weekend.

D: That is insane! Most people selling lucite accessories use laser cut technology. And you HANDMADE every single piece like a metalsmith! No wonder they are so cool!
Sweet and Sour - "Love" ring and "Bitch" ring by MyCinta. Note the little heart and diamond in the "Love" ring ;)

D: ...Wait, did I hear lingerie designer???

M: Yes :D Previously, I was into evening wear and corsets. I even designed and made my own wedding gown!!

D: Excuse my gapping mouth...This is stunning! I would think you would have wanted to open a clothing shop. Why didn't you?

M: It is no secret that I love designing and making things, but the secret is I was all over the place before I started MyCinta. I thought I was going to be a bridal designer.

Then I moved on to making hats, which I have made several hats for myself because I love hats and I made a hat for a designer that was doing a magazine photoshoot.

After that, I was into a dog fashion craze and made a few collections (some of them was on the Bark is the new Black fashion show and 1 dress was donated and featured in Sao Paolo, Brazil dog fashion week).

But because, my landlord didn't allow me to have a dog, I got discouraged to continue, because I want to have a dog to rock the outfits I made.

And finally, I focused on designing and creating lucite jewelry and fashion accessories with the brand MyCinta.

D: Haha what a journey! So where are you heading next? ;)

M: I have been experimenting with abstract shapes using a thinner material and wrinkle/crush the material to make another statement jewelry. So far it's still in the trial and error process, because I still need to figure out how much material I need to create the look I want.

By the way, MyCinta is officially One Year woot woot!!! To celebrate this, I will ship all U.S. Orders for FREE with the coupon MYFREESHIP.

D: Congratulations! Folks, head over to MyCinta and go crazy with your x'mas shopping! I just bought this lovely bow necklace from Melanie. Isn't it cute?

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