We can never have enough nerdy items in our homes. As geek culture enthusiasts especially, we get very excited whenever new lines of clothing, furniture, or anything else related to a beloved franchise of ours comes out that we can get our hands on. Online shops like Etsy have made these items even more accessible since crafters and artists can set up shop and sell whatever amazing creations they have made online.
I had the opportunity to chat with Rachel Schumann, owner of BlueSchuBurning to get the inside scoop about her fandom-inspired products that are making waves in her local area and on Etsy. Check out what she has to say about her products, and you will fall in love with her geeky decor and utensils just as much as we have.
Elise Yeakley at Geek Insider: Hi there, Rachel! Can you introduce yourself to us? Tell us a little bit about who you are and what brought you here.
Rachel Schumann: My name is Rachel Schumann and I have been married almost six years. I have a one-year-old (who LOVES to think he is helping me with my projects by moving all of my tools to new and exciting locations) and two snuggly mutts. I went to UVU and got my art degree with an art history minor. My final semester I was taking Non-Western Art History and we could either write a research paper or create a piece of art inspired either in the style or technique of one of the cultures we covered. I chose “Summer Mountains” by Qu Ding, done during the Northern Song Dynasty, but instead of doing it with ink, I wood-burned it. I had done wood-burning a few times before and I really wanted to do something on my wooden kitchen table. So, I combined the two projects. After years of art school and during my final semester, purely by chance, I found something that I completely loved and could make a business out of.
After graduation, I started working on other projects and it ended up morphing into that business. I do custom projects by hand, usually revolving around fandoms. I was always that kid that read “too much” and watched too many nerdy shows, but that has really worked out well for me. I really do feel that nerds are the best group of people to be around. Most of us know what it is like being shunned for what we love and so the subculture is a group of accepting people generally. I love creating works that allow people to more embrace their nerd side and give them joy in everyday moments. I have started working on projects for fandoms that I know nothing about and that is very difficult. I never knew how hard it would be to come up with clever things for fandoms if you have never seen them, but I want those fans to be able to enjoy things and so it is worth the researching.
Elise: What is the name of your business?
Elise: What do you make and what are the prices?
Rachel: I make wood-burned art that is almost all from one fandom or another. I make everything from wooden spoons starting at $10 to intricate tables that can reach up to $2000. It is funny, but the one item that sells the most are the Harry Potter wooden spoons that say “swish and flick” and the handle looks like a wand. People love them! I actually had six orders over the weekend, JUST for that spoon! I do each piece by hand, so everything is unique in its own way.
Elise: Can you describe some of the art pieces you’ve done that you’re most proud of?
Rachel: With my shop I sell a lot of smaller pieces mostly, which are fun but are not the ones I am most proud of. The two pieces I am most proud of are actually tables. They take A LOT longer than a wooden spoon does, but I love the details I can put in. One of the pieces is actually my kitchen table (which I don’t have the heart to sell yet), and the other pieces are a little side table that has the map of Middle Earth on it. They were both so much fun to do, and a LOTR table is especially fun because it is perfect for a dice game table (others as well, but the lip is perfect for keeping dice on) and it also has the One Ring painted in the middle using glow-in-the-dark pigment. It is virtually invisible in the daytime, but it glows a beautiful blue in the dark.
Elise: How did you get your business started, and what advice would you have for others who want to start a nerdy business of their own?
Rachel: I started my business on Facebook and then Etsy. I wanted to start looking at other options, but I realized that I was procrastinating out of fear of failure, so I threw myself into it and I have to say I love it! I always wanted to be my own boss and I am having a blast with it. If someone else wanted to start a business of their own, my advice would be to do what you love. I LOVE all things nerdy, so finding new and fun ways to sell nerdy things is such a great job! Start with the nerdy things you know, but keep branching out. 1: you may find a new favorite fandom, and 2: other nerds deserve to be able to enjoy your view on the nerd world through their fandoms. Help a nerd out 🙂
Elise: Have you had success in what you do?
Rachel: I have actually had a lot more success than I thought I would initially. The more I have been putting myself out there, the more I have been making and selling. I really had to step out of my comfort zone—self-promoting is NOT my thing. I will praise others around me until I lose my voice, but for some reason I have always had a hard time doing the same for myself. I am hoping that I can keep growing my business to the point where I get to be paid to create art for more than just a hobby amount. I am just starting up, and right now I make enough to have some extra cash but not enough to be able to fully support myself. That is my goal. That and continuing to bring fun nerdy things to people’s lives.
Elise: What is your favorite part about what you do?
Rachel: My favorite part about what I do is finding fun ways to create new things. Yes, the map of Middle Earth has been around much longer that I have been, but I found a different way to do it. I added new details but still stayed true to the original. That is what I mean. Or thinking of funny/clever things from nerdy shows and putting them on my pieces. I just love creating (though the smell of the burning wood is a very close second. I love bonfires, and so it is like I get to enjoy one without dealing with bugs and the smoke).
Elise: Fun! That sounds like a blast—it’s great to find something that you truly enjoy doing.
Thank you for taking the time to interview with us, Rachel. We loved seeing your work and look forward to seeing where your business goes.
If you are interested in buying a piece by Rachel, check out her Etsy store BlueSchuBurning.