Through all the challenges and uncertainties the pandemic brought one year ago this month, quarantine doubled as both a box from the outside world and freedom for introspection. Emily Letkiewicz used the seemingly endless months of quarantine to perfect skills, and she found a sense of peace along the way.
“I started sewing when the pandemic hit in 2020. I took a class in high school and my grandmother taught me to sew as well, but I never made time for it. I needed a hobby for my mental health during this time and sewing provided it for me!” says Letkiewicz. “I got a wood burner around the holidays the same year and got straight to work. Wood burning is so calming for me and helps me channel my feelings into art.” Making wood-burned art, handmade earrings, macrame pieces and cotton masks, Letkiewicz turned a hobby into a part-time business.
Letkiewicz sells her pieces on Etsy under her store name “DispatchesFromPluto.” Finding a work-work balance can’t be easy, but Letkiewicz considers her part-time business as more of a de-stress session. “I also work a full time job so when I get home from work I usually craft to de-stress. On the weekends too it’s a great relaxer,” says Letkiewicz. “While wood burning I sketch in pencil and then burn the sketch onto the wood, and then paint using acrylic or watercolor. I made my own mask pattern using a mask I already liked the fit of, so I just cut those out with a rotary blade and sew it all up. For macrame, cutting the cord is the most time consuming but once it’s all hung up, knotting and making patterns is so much fun for me.”
Etsy can be a competitive market for any type of niche, but Letkiewicz’s unique designs and ability to customize keeps her in the running. “Customers can give me an idea of what they want and I can fit their style for a piece perfect for their home decor. As for masks, mine are really breathable and easy to wear all day for people who work full time.”
Letkiewicz’s typical design style is what she describes as “cottagecore,” a popular style that highlights natural elements with a sometimes mystical theme. “I wood burn a lot of plants, mushrooms and crystals. The macrame is a boho style and I make all different kinds of masks. I get most of my fabric from other Etsy sellers as well!” Some masks currently featured on her shop page include roller skates, monstera leaves, balloon animals and for The Office fans, Schrute Farms.
Innovation is what makes Letkiewicz’s business continue to flourish. Picking up new skills here and there, Letkiewicz keeps expanding. “Right now my business is part-time, but I hope in the future to make it full-time. Art has become a necessary part of my life to cope with my mental health, and finding a job that feels fulfilling and something I love felt like a dream to me for a long time, but now that I can even do it part-time I feel so grateful and rewarded.”
The time to start anything is now according to Letkiewicz. She urges people to take initiative in their pursuit of what makes them truly happy. “For anyone thinking of starting their dream career: just do it. I truly held myself back for so long because I thought I had to do research and have plans for everything. The truth is, I finally just jumped in and I’m still figuring things out, but I’m happier now that I took the plunge!”
Browse through more of Letkiewicz’s art here.