The last time I had an Etsy shop, I was almost arrested by a conservation officer because it’s “illegal to sell wild animal parts”. I was making jewelry with bones and feathers that I had found around the field station I was working at- remember how I told you I’ve spent a sh*tload of time in nature? I was collecting owl pellets (aka. barf) and soaking them to settle out the small rodent bones. I was also able to find a bunch of small skulls (rats mostly) under a huge raven nest which was located atop a big pine tree behind my field house. Some pheasant feathers came from a friend who accidentally hit one with his truck and saved it for me. I had a dead merlin (small hawk) brought to me because it ran into his living room window and died, and another friend notified me of a coyote skeleton he found in a ditch. While visiting Bon Portage Island off the coast of Yarmouth, Nova Scotia, I also scavenged some seal teeth. I had moose teeth, fox claws, and even some woolly mammoth tusk that a friend gave to me. I hope you’re catching on to the pattern here.
Needless to say, I had a phase of passionate interest in the delicate beauty of mortality. I would take these scavenged parts and make earrings, rings, necklaces, and proudly put them up on my Etsy page. I felt like I had covered my bases because I asked representatives of three local conservation organizations (government included) and they told me mammal bones are fine but not to touch migratory birds. Done! Fast forward seven days: I’m sitting in the sunroom, wrapped in a thick blanket and watching Orange is the New Black. For those who don’t know, this is a Netflix original show about a woman’s prison. Now, this field station was pretty isolated with a kilometer long driveway and another ten kilometers before I could reach a town. I see a truck coming down the driveway… a green truck… a conservation officer truck. “Okay,” I thought, “I wonder what he is up to.” These trucks were pretty common. He parked and knocked on the door. “Are you Christine McLauchlan?” he asked, clutching a somewhat crumpled piece of paper. “Yeah,” I replied. He held up the page, which was a screenshot of my Etsy shop and said, “is this your store?”. “Yes,” I replied again. He sighed, pushed his round glasses up and said, “this is punishable by a $3,000 fine or seven days in jail. The selling of wild animal parts is illegal in Canada.”
I’m still wearing my blanket, and my mind immediately jumps to “what am I going to do with Finn while I’m in jail?!”. Also, let me spell out how bad that would have been for my career: Woman Pursuing Master’s Degree in Wildlife Ecology Gets Arrested for Illegally Trafficking Wild Animal Parts. The interaction ended with me agreeing to take my shop down and no longer trafficking wild animal parts. The argument is that any poacher could just say they found these things on the side of the road, which I completely respect. So the shop came down and I chalked the experience up to character building.
That was 2014, and now I want to open another Etsy shop. A legal one, and sell paper crafts. My only concern is that I tend to get hyper-focused on ideas, do them for a while, and get bored. I’m even worried about that for this blog. I’ve done amateur leather working and had a very brief stint making slingshots. I had a short-lived resume consulting company, and did corporate interior and exterior painting for money during my graduate studies. My friend and I also came up with a day-long cleaning company so we could earn some money for a nice blender that we each wanted. I’ve been a doula for about three years now- that’s definitely something consistent. I did the math over breakfast with my boyfriend and counted a total of 17 different jobs that I’ve had. I’m 27. I suppose my worry is that if I make the $300 investment into the equipment for this paper hobby that I might lose interest. I just want a creative and entrepreneurial outlet and I think this would be a good match.
Obviously my meds are working because three months ago, the machine would already be in my living room.