Friday, June 17, 2011

Aspiring Artisan: Tuckoo and Moo Cow


Tell us a little about yourself.
My name is Sarah-Lambert Cook and I make tiny art for a living. I'm a chips and salsa connoisseur with a passion for history and a love of having my hands busy working on something. Since finding Etsy, my life has gone from poor college student to less-poor, self-employed, young woman able to support my husband, dog and I from an art income. Awesome!

Sweet Honey Bee Hand Painted Pendant

How did the name TuckooandMooCow come to be?
Tuckoo and Moo Cow comes from the first line of James Joyce's A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, “Once upon a time and a very good time it was there was a moocow coming down along the road and this moocow that was coming down along the road met a nicens little boy named baby tuckoo.” I've been calling my husband 'Tuckoo' for several years now as a pet name, so when I was creating a buyer account to purchase things for our wedding in December, 2009, it was the first thing that sprang to mind. So much of my art has always referenced literature and poetry that it seemed like the perfect name for my new Etsy business.

Wood Grain Hand Painted Cuff Links
What influences you creatively?
I'm not really very inspired visually. Music, poetry, literature, lectures, conversations—these inspire me so much more than a walk through nature, or a trip to a museum. It's sort of funny, actually. When I was majoring in studio art, during my freshman year of college, it was interesting to me how many students said they were inspired by what they saw. I think I was one of the few visual artists who was more verbally inspired.

Describe the evolution of your shop.
*Whew* I'll try to condense the last year into a few paragraphs...

I first began listing items on May 19, 2010. To begin with, I mostly listed my larger art and only a few jewelry pieces—more to draw people in to see that artwork than anything else. As time went by, my sales proved to be primarily the hand painted necklaces, so I began to consider the possibility of removing the larger art pieces and focusing all of my energy on creating and selling more hand painted jewelry.

In August, the shop in Kansas, where I was working as an Assistant Manager, closed, so my husband and I decided it would be the perfect time to pick up and move where we wanted. For seven months we lived with my family in Atlanta using one room simultaneously as a storage space, our bedroom and a studio. I was determined to make TuckooandMooCow a full-time job. My thought was that it was a unique enough product with a wide enough appeal that, if marketed correctly, could sell very well.

Not In Kansas Anymore Hand Painted Pendant
By the end of October, I'd reached almost 80 sales. I couldn't have been happier! As my husband continued to look for work, I stopped hunting and began really knuckling down and pushing myself and my shop. By the end of November I'd hit a little over 250 sales. The business stayed steady through Christmas, and when things didn't slow down much for the rest of winter, I knew I had it.

Now, we live in beautiful Asheville, NC and are able to depend on sales from TuckooandMooCow to support us. During this time there have been things that haven't worked: shipping UPS express international is a cluster-cuss for everyone involved, staying up all night for more than 3 nights in a row will cause a massive migraine and creative burnout, with made-to-order items there must always be time budgeted for unforeseen circumstances. Some things have been godsends: Etsy is a community of artisans, not just an everyday venue, so getting involved in some aspect of that can be very helpful to your business and your sanity.

As TuckooandMooCow grows, I hope to eventually move away from solely selling paintings set in jewelry. I'd like to eventually be much more self-sufficient as well and not purchase settings, but make them myself. There are so many different directions I would like to go that I hope I'll never feel that I've reached the top. I'd be happy to keep climbing forever!

Sherlock Holmes Hand Painted Art Locket

What does an average day look like for you?
I'm a night owl, so I can usually be found burning the midnight oil until at least 3:30am—sometimes all night—so my day doesn't really start until late morning when I bound out of bed and plop down in front of the computer to see what messages I may have missed in my sleep. My husband ships items, so he gathers the packages and takes them to the post office while I get ready for the day. By late afternoon, the dog has been walked and I'm ready to start sketching and painting again.

I don't ever work straight through for hours unless I'm completely engrossed in large project, so I'm always up and down doing other things in between like playing xbox or wii with my husband, reading, playing the piano, or writing a story.
Winged Victory Hand Painted Art Necklace

What is the best advice you ever received?
For Etsy: to renew regularly everyday. The other is not to wear flip flops with dressy attire—it looks stupid and completely "unclassy."
The Photographer Hand Painted Art Pendant

To what do you attribute the success of your Etsy shop.
It is impossible to say that only one thing has made my shop successful. Frankly, I think the one thing that holds it all together is my desire to constantly grow and do better, create better products, and reach a wider audience. Constantly researching and trying to understand more and more about running a business alone has helped a great deal. If you don't know something, learn about it! There's so much information out there that it is a complete waste not to utilize it.

Flower of Scotland Hand Painted Art Earrings, Silver Plated

What do you do for fun?
I read a lot, watch old movies, adventure, hike, play with my dog, sing all the time, play board games and video games, and drink Guinness.
Visit Sarah-Lambert's Shop on Etsy

You can win one of Sarah-Lambert's amazing "Not in Kansas Anymore" Pendants!

To enter:

1. Visit Sarah Lambert's Shop and leave a comment
below letting us know which piece is your favorite.
2. Blog/Facebook/Tweet about this giveaway
3. Purchase something from TuckooandMoocow
4. Follow TuckooandMooCow on Facebook
You can enter in as many different ways as you want!

Leave a separate comment below for each entry.
I will select a winner at random on June 22nd using

And the Winner is.....


Congratulations and thanks to all who entered!


  1. Great interview! It's fun to find out we have some things in common. I also love to play piano and wii in my down time.

    The photographer art pendant is my very favorite piece right now, followed closely by the Paris My Home Town pendant and The Hobbit bookmark.

  2. Great interview! I'm glad to get to know you more by reading this, SL!

    Keep up the great work!

  3. Great post! Very interessant read and I'm glad to know a little bit more about you!
    My favorite piece is the photographer pendant :)

  4. It was great getting to know you better, SL! I am also a night owl (who surely does not miss having to get up at the crack of dawn for a day job!).

    My favorite item in your shop is the Wolf Hand Painted Necklace. Tiny Tower and Little Red Fox are close runners-up.

  5. Wonderful interview! It sounds like you are really enjoying your creative life!

  6. Right now my favourite piece is The Photographer! Love this post!!!

  7. Shared on my facebook page:

  8. Sarah I have loved your style from the start! I first saw you in the Critiques forums when we first started and I knew your shop would be a hit! Love this whole post!

  9. Love this feature! Sooo awesome to get to know more about the artist that is Sarah-Lambert!

  10. Love this! It's so wonderful getting to know a little more about SL!

    My absolute favorite, favorite piece is Velveteen Rabbit and White Elephant comes in as a close 2nd.

  11. My favourite is the Hand Painted Pendant, Original Watercolor Necklace, A Tree Grows!

  12. So fun getting to know Sarah-Lambert! I love all her work, but my fave right now is Winged Victory! So lovely!!

  13. Great getting to know you better SL!
    I love the Sherlock Holmes locket

  14. Loving the "America My Country, Paris My Home Town" necklace!

  15. Awesome! Congrats on your success and all that's to come. I think a lot of Etsians, or anyone that sells online, could learn a lot from you. FYI, my mom wants to move to Asheville. Great to find out a little more about you, and how you have become successful.

  16. Great interview, very inspiring! Sarah-Lambert is such a talented lady, I'm happy to have learned a little more about her life. All her work is lovely, but I am obsessed with her Dogwood Blossoms necklace, it's gorgeous!

  17. I like the ugly duckling earrings! So cute!

  18. Fantastic interview!
    My current favorite in Sarah-Lambert's shop is:

  19. I love Hedgy the Hedgehog, though The Photographer is lovely too!

  20. Love your work, as always! The Hobbit pendant is my absolute favorite!

  21. Tweeted!