Schmutzerland

Schmutzerland is a plethora of all things fun, funky, kitschy and vintage in flavor. The store was started in early 2008 with the idea that vintage clothes should be repurposed and given new life, enhancing the way people view their wardrobe and reducing waste.

Lauren Rubin, the brains behind the operation, is a 22 year old from Nutley, New Jersey who prides herself on maintaining the shop with "a good old punk rock aesthetic." She is a die hard audiophile, music lover and record collector who first got into the craft scene and heard about etsy about 4 years ago and never looked back.

Tell me about how you originally got into your craft, Lauren.
I've always been a maker and a creator of things as a young child. My mother always made me far out Halloween costumes and clothes as a kid. When I got into middle school, I discovered teen angst and the underground music scene. I guess you could say that's where this all started cause I instantly started sewing patches and pins and safety pins onto everything. As I got older my taste got more refined and specific. I began to make my own jewelry because I couldn't find what I really was looking for in a normal retail store. The things in commercial shops lacked soul, longevity and were poorly executed and cheaply made. I wanted to wear something that made me excited to walk out the door and strike up a conversation. I started making jewelry to match my vintage clothing habit. It started with a simple Victorian specimen engraving of a tooth under a magnifying cabochon. I then took that idea and applied it to other images I found stimulating and often creepy yet beautiful. I love the steampunk appeal that my pieces give off.

What is your favorite thing to do in the whole wide world?
That's a hard question. Its definitely a combination of a few things. I love LOVE love to rummage. I love going to estate sales, second hand stores, salvation army, weird little holes in the wall that sell outdated knick knacks, trimmings, taxidermy frogs. The weirder, the better. I often pick furniture off the side of the road and paint it. I definitely got that from my mother's side I love making old things new again. I am definitely a fan of a good bargain. I also love creating. I am always making something or brain storming. I can't stop and sometimes it gets really difficult because I have a tendency to think of 45 different projects before I can finish the first 3 I have listed. It could be singing and playing guitar, taking pictures, making new jewelry designs. I can't stop dabbling in mediums and I probably never will as long as I am alive. I also really love going to live music shows. I used to work at a local music venue in high school and make custom buttons for local bands for extra cash. So it really hits a soft spot for me. It's almost like comfort food, but for the ears. My boyfriend knows if I don't get to go to a show I really really want to go to, I take it personally and it will most likely ruin my week, depending on how passionate I am about the band. Like this past week I was suppose to go see Beirut in Brooklyn, and the plans fell through and I was undoubtedly bummed hardcore. Also on my list of favorite things to do is go to craft fairs and see all the amazing work that people have to offer. I am especially fond of print makers and knitters. I have also found a new appreciation for them dabbling in print making and knitting myself.

What is your biggest challenge when it comes to running your shop?
Running your own shop is never easy. Cause all the responsibility is on you, and in the end it will definitely show in your sales and how your store is run. I would have to say time management and organization are the two big kickers for me. You can never be too organized when you have your own shop, and prioritizing time is so important. I often get distracted on etsy reading success stories and gazing over lovely handmade items, or listening to new bands, and before I know three hours have passed by and I am like "holy cow!" Where did the day go. But I am definitely making a conscious effort to get better at it, and I think I have. After all it is 2009.

What item in your shop would you most like to receive as a gift if someone were shopping for you?
I would have to say my large scale Teeth pendant or my Abe Lincoln necklace. The teeth one especially. I sort of have a phobia/obsession with my teeth. It stems back about 7 years now. It's a long story. But I really love the simple black and white imaging and the line texture.

When you were a kid, what did you think you were going to be when you grew up?
Its hard to answer this truthfully without the person on the other end laughing their butt off. But I am gonna be honest cause that's really the best policy. I really thought that when I was a kid I was gonna be the next Elvis Presley. I had a huge infatuation with him. I wanted to be just like him. I remember being 5 years old and staring in the mirror and practicing doing that lip thing he did. One day I got it down pat! That was a good day.

What other shops out there do you love?
There are so many, and the list is constantly growing! I really love the work of Hoakonhelga. I bought one of her bags and I use it like everyday. It is so well made.

I am also obsessed with the jewelry of Vera Meat. I had the pleasure of befriending her at the Bust Holiday Craftacular in NYC. Her vending table was very close to mine. My mom bought me her Astronauts Love pendant for Christmas. I to wear that everyday, even at my other job.

There is nothing more fun or whimsical to me than a mustache on a stick

These guys have been getting a lot of press recently, as rightfully they should. Their work is amazing. I really want their underpants.

I adore the garments of
LouiseBlack. Especially her cameo corsets and her luxe style jewelry. Its creepy fantastic and makes me wish more people dressed in such a manner.

What does your future hold?
Lots and lots of craft fairs, and lots and lots of consignment opportunities. My family and I are really trying to push this to the limit. I really love that they are so involved and help me out a bunch. It wouldn't be possible without them. I have a really great support system and I love them. This summer my goal is to get a table for both days at the Renegade Craft Fair in Brooklyn; its quite possibly the hippest and funnest place to be the first week of June. I have been going every year for the last 3 years and I can't get enough. I am also trying to get a few tables at assorted large music festivals. On top of doing pendants and necklaces I have been experimenting with earrings and bracelets. There could possibly be some t shirt design in my near future as well. I am trying to just take things day by day and take it as it comes. It keeps things more lighthearted and fun, which is why I started doing this in the first place. I hope to never lose that.