It takes maybe a minute with Marybeth Woods to learn two inarguable truths about her: She can’t help but create. And she loves – loves – animals.
“My main goal, down the road somewhere in my life, is to change laws,” Woods said. “My main goal is to change things for animals. If I can do that by painting a cabinet handle, that’s amazing.”
Woods comes from an artistic family. Some paint. Her brother does chainsaw sculpting. About a year ago, Woods decided to start selling some of her own creations on an Etsy site. She was “shocked” when the first two items sold.
“I’m always making stuff and I’m always painting and doing things,” Woods said. “But you run out of space. You have to have somewhere for it, or if you don’t need something, you don’t make something.”
The Fort Mill native offers hand-painted cabinet handles and knobs, light switch covers, vases. She sells wreathes from Rock Hill artist Shayla Ellis. She can theme pieces for Harry Potter, Dr. Seuss, Batman. While turning her new venture into a full-time business someday “would be a dream come true,” Woods has another goal in mind.
Up to half of the revenue she brings in goes to animal shelters and rescue groups.
“I’m one of those people, I have to do something for a reason,” Woods said. “Otherwise it’s just a big waste of time.”
So far the donations haven’t added up much. But the site, WhimsicalBear, is growing and now is heading into its first holiday shopping season. Interest has come from as far away as Australia and as unexpected a clientele as Harry Potter-style wand fans.
“It sounds really silly, but what do you do? I make wands,” Woods said. “But the kids really like it. It’s taken off.”
Even for her love of art, Woods, a full-time billing and invoicing employee for a mailing company, feels like many artists overvalue their work just because they put considerable energy into it. Woods loves the art process, but she understands the transaction side of selling pieces.
“I try to price everything so people like me can buy it,” she said.
Woods began selling her work as much to help animals as to generate revenue. She walked through big-box stores and saw pieces for sale, and she wondered: “It made me ask, where does the money go?” she said.
Putting her proceeds toward regional animal groups gives Woods a way to help people who volunteer, something she says she could never do.
“I won’t come back out,” she said. “I can’t see a dog without wanting to scoop them up and bring them all home.”
Her “big ol’ mutt” Molly’s aggressive nature toward other dogs is the only reason Woods doesn’t have a home full of them. So she creates to help others. In doing so she wants to help shelters in the same way she would give family and friends holiday gifts.
“I like the idea of giving something you’re not used to getting,” Woods said.
Annual ‘Christmas Store’ helps shelter pets, too
The annual Humane Society of York County “Christmas Store,” in a new location this year, is all set up and open for business. This season, the shop, which opened Nov. 2, is in a storefront at 1135 Stonecrest Blvd., Suite 109, Tega Cay, just a couple doors down from Elite Repeats (near Wal-Mart and 521 Barbecue).
This shop is is packed with Christmas items – wreaths, artificial trees, garlands, ornaments, Santas, angels, nativity sets, snowmen, nutcrackers, NFL- and college-themed decorations, dog and cat items, Christmas clothing, kitchen and linen items, toys, cards, lights, candles, paper, gifts and more. Every item in the shop is available at a fraction of the original cost. All proceeds benefit the Humane Society of York County in Fort Mill, a non-kill shelter for dogs and cats at 8177 Regent Pkwy., Fort Mill, in the Regent Park area.
Shop hours are noon-5 p.m. Sunday to Thursday, noon-6:30 p.m. Fridays and 10 a.m.-6:30 p.m. Sundays. For more information, to volunteer at the shop or to donate, call Elaine Siegel at 803-517-2091
Want to know more?
For more on Woods and her work, visit etsy.com/shop/WhimsicalBear. She’s also at WhimsicalbearCrafts on Facebook, @whimbearshop on Twitter and @whimsicalbearshop on Instagram. Email her at email@example.com.