Recently, we were invited to Brooklyn to partake in the Etsy Open Call, and having never been to Brooklyn before (don’t judge us – we’re midwesterners!), we took to the streets to explore the lush creativity the city had to offer before we experienced the lush creativity the Open Call had to offer. With suggestions from you, we ate, carouseled, crafted and ate even more of our way towards the Esty headquarters. While our waistbands will never forgive us, Brooklyn and the Etsy Open Call reminded us exactly why we do what we do here at Paper Source and the amazingly creative people in the world who inspire us to do and be better. Here is a little insight into the Open Call and Paper Source taking Brooklyn (although sadly, not back to Chicago):

Monday, August 22: Exploring Brooklyn

ice coffee on the street
But first, coffee.

Right after landing at JFK, we hit the streets to explore the parts of Brooklyn you suggested! Okay, we hit up a coffee shop first because our flight was early and exploring requires caffeine! We cozied up in this cute café (Absolute Coffee), where the coffee was strong and the wifi was free. With some sustenance in our stomachs and a jolt of java, we headed towards our first destination – a Paper Source!

Paper Source Store in Cobble Hill

Cobble Hill’s Store Manager, John, and the rest of the wonderful staff there welcomed us with open arms and infinite knowledge of crafting, which we would learn the next day while making cards with Joely. We must admit that we, too, are not immune to the draws of being in a Paper Source store – we quickly managed to fill a basket with notebooks and pouches because you can never have too much, right? RIGHT?! With our new goodies in tow, we finally head out to explore your suggestions.

the Brooklyn Bridge

First on the list was to make our way towards the Brooklyn Bridge for some lunch, suggested by kaibelledesigns, at Luke’s Lobster and it didn’t disappoint.

Luke's Lobster by the Brooklyn Bridge

When we first arrived, there was a gaggle of dogs (always a promising sign) and kids on a scavenger hunt at the Luke’s Lobster window that’s tucked behind another restaurant – admittedly, we almost ordered there before we realized we were at the wrong place!

a lobster roll and a notebook

Almost immediately after we ordered, we were handed these lobster rolls that were love at first bite. While initially we weren’t entirely hungry, we couldn’t help from devouring it all and heading out to our next destination: Brooklyn Bridge Park.

sitting in the grass at the Brooklyn Bridge Park with a notebook

Brooklyn Bridge Park feels like such an anomaly – it’s an oasis overlooking the chaos of the city with the noise of construction only rivaled by the roaring wind and laughing children playing tag. This obviously made it the perfect place to digest and spend some time journaling. After enjoying some time laying in the grass (where we subsequently got sunburnt), we headed towards Jane’s Carousel to feel like kids again. If you haven’t taken a spin on Jane’s Carousel, we’d highly recommend it – tickets are only $2 and it’s right on the water, which makes for refreshingly breezy ride.

On the way to our welcome dinner with Etsy, we stumbled upon teammomtrends‘s recommendation: Almondines. With macaroons in hand, we ended the evening contently full and extremely excited for what the Open Call would bring.

a notebook, pencil, headphones, macaroon and ticket laid on a wood background

Tuesday, August 23: Etsy Open Call

wooden sign that says welcome

Walking into the Etsy headquarters felt like entering a candy store, and we couldn’t contain our excitement for what the day would bring. Over 1,400 Etsy makers had applied to the Open Call and 36 finalists had been selected to pitch their line of products to us, as well as The Shop at Cooper Hewitt Smithsonian, Whole Foods Market, giggle and Macy’s. Each finalist had roughly 4 minutes with each seller to pitch – the importance of this moment was not lost on us or them as we meandered through the room to chat with each maker, learning their origin stories and obsessing over their products.

silkscreened poster on a pillar

people touched a tea towel that says pizza
Xenotees pitching to our GMM, Patrick

t-shirts that say pizza

postcards with pigeons on them
The Invisible Kitten sharing her quirky cards with our selling team

planners and posters with inspirational quotes on them

people talking with cameras on them
Sugar & Type nailing her pitch AND with cameras on her!

wooden cupcake stand with a red velvet cupcake on it
Beautiful wooden products from American Heirloom

man looking at a table with ceramics on it

beauty products on a table
Zandra, 16 year old Girl Boss’ display

pouches made of cork on a table

vibrant fabric basket
Cute cork pouches from Xianna and storage basket from Casey Sibley.

ceramic ipad and iphone holders

people chatting around a table
Beautiful ceramics from Stak Ceramics

intricate model kits

kit of Portland, Oregon sign
Beautifully intricate, 3D kits from Thomas Houha Designs

tea towels with funny phrases and jewelery
Cute tea towels from garbella and jewelry by Rare Bird Designs

After a few hours of walking through the hall and meeting with the makers, our selling team now had to deliberate on which finalists they would like to select for a Golden P.O. (somewhat happy we didn’t have to make this tough decision)! Receiving a Golden P.O. would mean that the maker who received it had secured their product (or products) in that store for the holiday season! Luckily, we had 4 to give out, but that didn’t make it any easier – each maker exuded such a passion for their given trade that it was difficult not to feel the creativity buzzing within that room.

succulents on a table with an orange pennant

But, the time came to make selections and we couldn’t be prouder to announce the winners of our Golden P.O.s, whose products you will see in our stores this holiday season!

The Invisible Kitten and Thomas Houha Designs holding their certificates

Megan of The Invisible Kitten won us over by embracing her unique voice and translating that into delightfully hand-drawn cards. Tom and Patty of Thomas Houha Designs mesmerized us with his beautifully intricate 3D models of bridges and geometric shapes.

Zana and Zandra holding their certificates

Robyn of Zana hails from Cape Town and charmed us with her playful patterns and thoughtful application to products. Zandra, who’s only 16 years old, inspired us with her beauty product line and messages of female empowerment.

The Etsy Open Call experience was not only rewarding but also eye opening – as creative people, it’s important to support one another, to collaborate as much as possible and to learn from each other, whether it’s imparting wisdom or teaching a skill. We can’t stress enough how talented all 36 finalists are and how much they have to share with the world.

After wallowing in this sentiment for quite a bit, we decided we needed to be creative right away. Heading back to our Cobble Hill store, we decided to craft a make and take card (you, too, can do a make and take anytime and at any store for only $8). With the helpful hand of Joely, we wielded our Heat Tools and embossed our way to feeling creative.

Wednesday, August 24th: Farewell Brooklyn

a slice of new york style pizza

With a slice of pizza and scoop of ice cream from Ample Hills for good measure (thanks for the recommendation, uncovermore), we had to bid Brooklyn “farewell” but hopefully not for long.