Hardworking makers are ramping things up in preparation for the holiday season here in Queens. Whether it’s their main business or a side hustle, it seems these creative souls will always find a way to get their products out there, offering something for everyone.
Get to know these local Etsy makers, who were eager to share their stories and one-of-a-kind creations with QNS readers.
“Rep your borough,” said Michael Delgado, who sells striking apparel to Queens fans everywhere. You should check out his popular Etsy store, The Ghost of Queens Past, which offers a variety of quality, hand-designed tees, sweatshirts and hoodies that uniquely represent this maker’s beloved hometown – “the amazing borough of Queens!”
“All my screen-printing and embroidery work are done locally and in other areas of New York. I like to keep things as local as possible to support other New York businesses, and I have been working on having all my work done by New York businesses only,” Delgado explained.
The passionate entrepreneur, who opened his shop in 2020, told QNS, “This was my first attempt at an actual business. Beginner’s luck! I started this thinking I’d sell maybe 10 shirts. But it has grown to having major brand partnerships and meeting some lifelong friends.”
He added, “I like selling on Etsy because it’s extremely easy to set up and it’s foolproof.”
Delgado said he appreciates “the love” he gets from his customers.
“There is no better feeling than having a customer say how much they love your product,” Delgado said.
These days, being a successful maker with your own business can be quite challenging for many New Yorkers. But Delgado suggests, “Just jump into it and don’t wait! Also, get active on social media and just post. Even if you get little activity, just keep posting.”
One happy Etsy customer recently raved, “Saw the shirt on Instagram and had to buy it. Spider-Man and Queens together! Best of both worlds … goes well with my cosplay Spidey mask.”
In his spare time, Delgado said he enjoys “hanging with family and friends, watching sports and going out to eat, as well as traveling somewhere with blue waters when I can.” But he insisted, “There’s no place better than Queens in the world. And you can eat any variety of food 24 hours a day!”
Cheers by Jessica offers a variety of cool gifts “to celebrate the small moments, the big moments and everything in between.”
“One of the most unique aspects of my designs is that everything is completely customizable. You can personalize any item and make it just that more special,” Jessica Zarian, a mom of two, told QNS.
A Bayside resident who works from her home studio, Zarian’s wonderful offerings are designed by hand with products made in the USA. This motivated maker specializes in personalized glassware and favors for baby and bridal showers, weddings, milestone events and more. Her message to her many happy customers comes from the heart: “I hope to create celebratory moments, big and small, with my products, and can design whatever you can dream up. And I wish to make small moments more special by creating little details that will make your heart smile!”
Zarian has been selling on Etsy for five years and on Amazon for two years, as well as being available locally to help create customer items for private events.
“I like selling on Etsy because it has a built-in market for people who are looking for fun and interesting, unique and funny gifts, and it allows me to concentrate on designing and creating rather than marketing,” she explained.
Zarian explained that having her own business has allowed her to explore her creativity.
“Being creative has always been an outlet for me and allows me to de-stress, which is incredibly important for a busy mama like myself,” Zarian said. “And my advice for other Queens makers: Keep going even when business is slow, and make what you love, so you always enjoy what you do.”
Another Etsy creator, Kate Durkin, offers a unique line of prints, ABC and number cards, as well as plush toys that are perfect for any nursery or children’s room and make ideal gifts for baby showers, birthdays and even the holidays.
Babies, older kids, parents and grandparents can’t get enough of Durkin’s eye-catching illustrations.
This talented entrepreneur’s artwork – drawn and designed right here in Queens – focuses on clean, modern illustrations with a playful sensibility.
“I work from my basement studio in Sunnyside, where I create, sew all of the pillows, and package and ship orders,” Durkin said. “I draw my illustrations by hand and then digitally redraw and color them. And my prints, ABC cards, and fabric are all printed in the U.S.”
“I also make pillows and card sets inspired by New York City, nature and food. My illustrations are whimsical and simple, appealing to both kids and kids at heart. Of course, I often find inspiration in Queens, in the dichotomy of nature and city, that makes this place so special.”
When she first opened her Etsy store in 2007, Durkin sold hand-embroidered bags and paintings.
“Since opening, not only has my shop evolved, but I also have sold my products in brick-and-mortar stores across the country,” she said.
Several Queens shops have carried her work, including Newtown HQ and The Tiny Owl in Astoria, as well as Forever Young Kids in Ridgewood, according to Durkin.
“Etsy is great for reaching a wide audience and connecting with customers from all over. It has become larger (with less of a focus on handmade) over the years, and the fees have increased. But since I have been on the platform for so long, my products are able to maintain visibility,” she noted. “Some newer sellers find it difficult to stand out amongst such a large pool of shops selling similar products.”
Durkin said being an Etsy creator has allowed her to do what she loves.
“I am truly happy when I work, and that is something I don’t take for granted,” the artist explained. “And being able to bring some joy through my art into people’s lives is what it’s all about, and why I do what I do. There are many challenges, however, sustaining a business as a maker: Meeting the cost of supplies and printing, while keeping everything U.S.-made, is difficult. Not to mention maintaining fair prices for both myself and the customer. Also, as a mother of three, time management is another tricky balance, but I wouldn’t trade this for anything else!”
Durkin suggested for others wishing to join Etsy to stay true to their vision.
“Keep an eye on trends, but don’t let them guide your practice,” Durkin said. “And just have fun!”