We hope you all enjoyed our first Creators’ Corner with Ella Cronin of The Bambee Store, for our next instalment we have Pete Betcher, a member of a group called The Back Pack!
The name is Pete Betcher, and I tend to dabble in all sorts of things, from still image design to live action theatre to film to silk screening. I currently live in Austin, TX but was born and raised in small town Montana. I like road bikes, puppies, and peanut butter. I’m also the Creative Director of an independent theater group/art collective called The Back Pack (seen above), which is the second side of the etsy shop coin.
The Back Pack is four members strong, and we use our Etsy crafts to fund other artistic projects. We all help with assembly, shipping, design, etc. in our free time so we can fund our original shows that we work on together.
The four of us all grew up in Montana, and then went to school at the same fine arts department in Missoula Montana. This is where we started working together, doing short original plays that combined movement, music, dance, and theatre. We have performed in several cities across the US including Portland Oregon, Missoula Montana, and Austin Texas, and we were selected to represent Frontera Fest in Austin this last February as the Best of the Best, which is the highest honor awarded by the annual festival.
How long have you been making Geeky stuff and what made you want to start?
I actually started years ago in college hand etching drinking glasses that I sold on etsy. I had friends who would harass me about it, saying most college kids donate plasma for a few extra bucks, but I’m in my kitchen exact-o-knifing designs into thin rubber sheets. Those other kids clearly didn’t have a crippling fear of needles.
Where do your ideas come from?
From two places, necessity, and a fire burning deep within my nerdy core. I love to make things that I need or see others need (whether it something small like a desk phone holder/cable organizer, or an above ground garden for the backyard) . The nerdy items are simply things that I would want. I used to peruse the internet looking for unique geeky things to send friends or adorn my game room with, and eventually I just started to make them.
Do you use your own products?
Absolutely. We have two of our lights hanging in the house, and I use a couple small organizers on my desk at home and at work. My favorite personal item is the Mario side profile night light in our bathroom. He’s pretty handy to have around, which is natural for a plumber in the bathroom I suppose. The largest use though, is unique gifts to send unsuspecting friends and family members. I’m sure at this point my mom is sick of getting birthday presents from me.
Have you ever seen something you’ve made/designed out in the real world?
Actually no, except for a few that I already knew were there (friends, family, and the like). We don’t sell at any local shops yet, which would obviously help.
I have, however, had a few people send me links to my own designs. That’s pretty fun.
Do you find selling products that you know others enjoy satisfying?
Words honestly can’t describe the feeling. Obviously any time you are selling something there are headaches, but whenever a customer sends a message thanking you, or tweets a picture of something you designed it makes it all worth it.
This last holiday season we had someone order a lamp as a gift for his daughter and then message us later that day asking for a refund because he had just unexpectedly lost his job. He was very polite and apologetic, and we gave him a full refund without any questions asked.
A few days later we sent him a prototype of an upgraded version of the lamp without telling him it was coming. He sent us the most heart felt letter ever about a week later. It’s days like that.
What do you think about the online Geek community?
They are the best! Geeks know how to do it right. Maybe it comes from having to play nice with people they don’t know online, or even just following the news in such a tight knit community, but nerds are some of the most honest and intelligent people on the planet.
What are some of your favourite or most popular items?
Items come and go in popularity a bit, but our most consistently popular items are the triforce lamps. The symbol is just so iconic and simple. We’ve even had a few copycat items listed on etsy, which I suppose means we’re doing something right.
Where do you hope to take your store in the future?
We want a space to be able to create everything and anything that pops into our head.
Right now we work out of our house, but are looking to find a warehouse to expand into here in Austin. Sort of a workshop by day, rehearsal space by night deal.
I would love for it to be a hub of art and entertainment for the area, with something always going on there. Free yoga, tap dance classes, album release party, Harry Potter read-a-longs, local artists gallery, you name it. All of this on top of where we do our work of course.
You can find The Back Pack:
Facebook page: The Back Pack
If you’d like the opportunity to be interviewed for Creators’ Corner, click here!