Home Blog Page 2

Get Cashback For Online Shopping Thru Rakuten

Rakuten Homepage

Okay, first off, this is NOT a scam or promo, I actually use Rakuten when I shop online. The reason this lil tip hit Mattmade is that you can get 2% cashback (at time of posting) when you use Rakuten to shop on Etsy, which means that if you are shopping at Mattmade, shop through the Rakuten portal for a lil cashback. It doesn’t seem like much, but it definitely adds up and you’ll see why.

WTF is Rakuten?

Aside from a brand that you see on Soccer jerseys, Rakuten helps online shoppers save money and offers cashback by shopping through their web portal. There’s actually no catch and it’s available for a stack of online shops (Including 2 of my Favourites: Amazon & Etsy). If you’ve been registered for ebates.ca before, it’s now the same company, so you’re good. In short, it’s really just an affiliate site that gets a small cut for sending you to shop through them.

Here’s How You Do It

  1. Sign up for Rakuten here. That’s a referral link, which will give us BOTH bonus cashback when you spend your first $20 online in shopping through them.
  2. Fill out your account details and set up your payment info, by that I mean, where do you want them to send your cash, you do not have to pay them anything (I just take Amazon cashback, it’s easy and I shop there anyway).
  3. Then check out their long list of online shops that you can earn anywhere between 1% to like 10% daily (Sometimes more!).
  4. After that, once a quarter you’ll get a cashback sent to wherever you told them to send it.

Other Things Worth Mentioning

  • They also post deals & coupons on their site
  • You can buy gift cards through and get cashback
  • You can see your cashback balance any time you log in
  • If you have a promo code for a listed online store, you can stack the cashback and the promo code for even better deals
  • You must log in to their site and start your shopping through them otherwise it won’t catch your cashback
  • Once you reach an online store (i.e. Amazon) through Rakuten, just shop however you’d normally shop, you’re good to go.
  • I’m referencing the Canadian Rakuten, if you’re elsewhere, surely you can hit them up in your own region

Speaking of Promo Codes, Here’s One for Mattmade

Use promo code WOAHSAVINGS for any order over $30 CAD, receive 10% off at MattmadeCa

Few Notes:

  • If items are already on sales, this discount won’t stack, however, Etsy will give you whichever is the better deal.
  • The Rakuten cashback and the promo code WILL work together, just make sure you start through the Rakuten site.

Try Making Something That You Really Like

Mattmade Pinot Noir

It’s almost 2020, and there are classes and resources online to help you make just about anything. With these kinds of resources, you can easily make some of your favourite items that you often pay a premium for and you can turn that into a weekend activity or a fun project at home.

Find Something To Make

Look around your place and pick out some things that you use often and ask yourself if you’d be interested in making it. Things on my list were/are:

  • Soap
  • Candles
  • Wine
  • T-shirts (If it’s not obvious by now)
  • Mugs
  • Duffel bags (Sewing in general)

When your list is finished, hop online and see what’s out there! A simple Google search is a great start, however, it’s worth checking out Groupon or alike sites for more complicated projects (Like soap making). In your search bar, “Make your own __item here___” is a good start.

5 Reasons to Make Something

  1. Learn a new skill and to find out how something is actually made.
  2. Have another one (or more) of said item that you like.
  3. Take Pride in creating something yourself.
  4. The experience (classes or projects are fun!).
  5. The opportunity to create a new passion, and maybe a side-hustle.

It May Save Money, Just Not Always

Many crafters and creators will get this more than anyone else. When you create something from scratch, it usually isn’t to save money. All things considered, when you account for time, new equipment and ingredients/materials or classes. This is not a money-saving venture, however, if you end up finding a passion for it, there’s a good chance it will pay off later. Saving Money should not be the reason for making something you love (Unless it’s pasta for dinner, you will almost always save money making pasta at home).

I Like to Bottle Wine

A good while back, I looked after new business development in Eastern Ontario for a large ice cream company. One of my accounts owned a scoop shop as well as a winemaking shop. I was curious about trying it and gave the customer a call and let them know that I wanted to make my own wine. That was about 10 years and several batches ago. To this day, I still visit Luca and Esther at Wine Kitz in Toronto.

Mattmade Reserve – Kind of Like a Winemaking Tradition

Original Wine Label – Mattcave Reserve

Although I don’t crush the grapes myself, I learned a lot about how wine is made through the basic process at this do-it-yourself wine shop.

It’s More Than Just Wine

The wine label is one of my favourite parts of the winemaking process and if you decide to make your own, it makes these 2+ cases of grape juice, your very own. Your labels can be funny, elegant, vulgar…And you can even leave a few bottles blank for gifting special occasions. I didn’t have Mattmade back then, however, I referred to my condo as “The Mattcave”, so I decided on making “Mattcave” wine for my place, the “Mattcave Reserve” lasted several runs and through a few different designs. I banded Mattcave Reserve cigars as well, I guess I can be a bit narcissistic sometimes *shrugs*.

Always Red

If you glanced through my wine bottling history, you’ll see it’s all red, so if it isn’t clear already, I prefer red. Listing a few I’ve done (and enjoy whether it’s mine or not)…Cab Sav, Malbec, Barolo and more recently Pinot Noir.

A batch of wine after I started Mattmade (and learned more about design)

You may also notice something else in my wine labels. In my courses of self-taught design, I can confidently give myself an “improving” grade. As batches continue, it’s cool to see the changes in design.

The most recent Mattmade batch

Why Am I Talking About This?

I’ve taken classes on oil painting, sewing and soap making, I’ve learned how to make so many other things on my own. Whether or not I continued the craft or not, it’s really cool to say “I made that”, and think back on that experience.

With my most recent winemaking experience, it inspired me to talk about the benefits in trying something new on here, and if you go try something new and didn’t have a good time, no problem, just don’t do it again.

If you do want to bottle your own wine and you’re in the Toronto area, I highly recommend you reach out to Luca and Esther at Wine Kitz Toronto. They’re super nice and they’ll make sure that you have a good time while educating you on the winemaking experience. Tell ’em Mattmade sent you (or not, this isn’t sponsored).

Toddler Tees & Tatts

Mom Heart Tattoo Etsy Listing
Mom Heart Tattoo Etsy Listing

Ideas come to us when you least expect them and you need to jot them down before they’re lost! I’m going to take you through the thought process of one of my latest original Etsy listings that came to me last week.

Ideas Can Arrive Anytime

I arrive at the gym at 7:30 am and the pre-workout is just about to kick in. I usually think about how my workout will pan out for the day and decide whether I’m going to listen to an audiobook or some gangsta rap (100% accurate, I’m very contrasting). At this moment in time, I’m not thinking about the stresses of work, errands I need to do, and hopefully, if you ordered something from me on Etsy, it’ll be packed and ready to be shipped on the way to the office. For those of you who don’t know, I do work full-time and Mattmade is a pure side hustle.

Anyways, my mind is clear, minimal interruptions and when this happens I’m always ready to jot down any ideas that hit me. That morning, I wanted to create a tattoo shirt. Whether or not it was tatted bros at the gym that made me think of it or not, I don’t recall…I’d say it if it was, but that’s how our subconscious works, you may not realize you think of something based on your environment or if a good idea resurfaces without the clutter of everything else that’s usually top of mind.

The Idea was Simple

Ideas start simple, and it’s better that way because it’s easier to write down. I opened Google Keep on my phone and typed out “Mom tattoo”. Clichรฉ right? Sort of. I’ve been dying to use a new product that allows me to create premium quality temporary tattoos, and since matching sets are my jam on Etsy…I wanted to create a matching shirt and toss in some temporary tattoos that match. I don’t need to write that down, I’ll recall that when I hit the tablet later to sketch it out.

Expanding the Idea

It’s about 6:30 pm, I made it home, finished eating and I’m ready to get cozy for some sketching out. I visualize a classic heart with a small “mom” banner across it, you’ve seen it before. I chose this because it’s familiar and my novel twist is that I wanted to include the temporary tattoos.


I’m just trying to jump back into drawing, so take it easy on me. Luckily this listing is going to be made for toddlers, hopefully, they’re forgiving on my quality of design.

Sketching out the mom heart tattoo
Sketching out the mom heart tattoo

Refining the Drawing

If you look at any drawings in the early stages, it won’t look right, my drawings are no different. The good news is, I didn’t want perfectly clean lines, I wanted this to be truly hand-drawn, ya know, like a tattoo.

That’s the Fun Part

A lot of people (including myself), purchase some designs that they simply cannot design on their own. If you do that, you jump to here in the process. The thing is, creating something completely original is not only the fun part, it’s also the most rewarding. When someone purchases an item that started with a sketch, I’m so completely flattered every time I make that for someone. That’s a feeling that’s hard to replace.

How Will it Look Tho?

I could dig into file folders and find ideas that I spent time designing and when I drop them into a mockup of an item, I’m just not interested any more and I close the app and don’t take a step further. I don’t love every design I make, but the first step is to see how it will look. So that’s what I did below with a blank shirt stock photo below.

Matching mom heart tattoo shirt and temporary tattoo stock photo mock-up
Matching mom heart tattoo shirt and temporary tattoo stock photo mock-up

I Get Feedback

At this point, I usually post on my personal Instagram account through stories and get initial reactions from friends and followers. I gauge reactions (or none at all) and that helps me determine if I’m heading in a decent direction.

I’ll Run With This One

With this one, I want to get more lifestyle photos, not just the design on a shirt. I want to show off the tattoo and shirt together so I ran some tattoos and some shirts on my press at home. I decided to go for white shirts instead of black. After comparing the print in my creative space, I liked the white shirt much more.


Snapping pics of kids isn’t much different than trying to take a pic of pets, you win some and lose some. I was able to salvage some shots of the 50 blurry shots. They’ll work this time, however, I do need to reconsider my incentive plan for these lil superstars…I don’t think snacks and craft supplies are cutting it anymore.

And that’s how the matching mom heart tattoo and temporary tattoo set came to be. I hope to create more unique offers like this one and feedback is definitely welcome by sending me a message on Instagram, Facebook or right on Etsy!

If you’re interested in seeing this listing live, you can check it out here!

Matt Ross Handcrafts Pens From Old Skateboard Decks

Handmade Pen Made From Up-cycled Skateboard Decks. Photo Credit: Matt Ross

Featuring Matt Ross Wood Design

As a maker, I have it pretty easy. Once I create a print, I can reproduce it relatively easy. Major props to those hands-on folks. We’re talkin’ woodworkers, leathercrafters, seamstresses…All of the creators that really put in the hours on single pieces. I wanted to give a shoutout to a friend of mine that found passion in turning old skateboard decks into functional works of art. Matt Ross out of London, Ontario spends hours on each handcrafted project, and it really shows.

I was pumped when Ross was down to turn two of my old decks into a writing tool of awesomeness. Ross let me pick the pen features and then picked up my decks to make it happen.

It’s really interesting to hear about other peoples’ passions in creating and I asked Matt how he got started. “When I was 13, I built my own mini ramp by myself, and after that, I wanted to get more into woodworking. I started watching construction shows and slowly got more into it” Ross explained. Worth mentioning, that it must have been a sick ramp because Ross still rips to this day.

Ross continues “I was at Canadian Tire one day and the Mastercraft mini lathe was on sale and I decided to buy it. I had no idea what he was going to do with it.” Soon after Ross picked up that lathe, he got into pen making out of exotic woods. After a few successful projects, Ross was chilling with a buddy one night and they thought it’d be sick to use skateboard decks instead of other woods. Anyone who skates knows that old decks are easy to come by, which aside from being totally awesome, Ross can save on raw material costs as well.

Ross notes “People talk about the art behind what I do, I just tend to make things that have a function.”

original skateboard decks before turning into segmented pen blanks
Original skateboard decks before turning into segmented pen blanks

I gave Ross two decks. The first one was a brand I tried to start back in high school. NCM Skateboards. I silk-screened blank decks and shirts to help pay for college, so turning this deck into something I can use every day had sentimental value. NCM Skateboards was sort of my “lemonade stand” back then, where I learned the basics of a side hustle. The other deck was just an old RipNDip that I had laying around, but it’s pretty sick too, right?!

Showing the skateboard deck layers on the new segmented pen blanks.

When you see how much goes into a handmade item, you have a real appreciation for the final product. I’m not able to show you the hours of stripping the old decks and slicing them down into small pieces, which takes hours (Believe me, I heard all about it from Ross). Following that, there’s a LOT of cutting and glueing to create 2 blocks which are now the segmented pen blanks, this is about a 2-3 day process which accounts for drying time.

When those are dry, a perfectly drilled hole needs to go through the segments. The drill holes need to be precise for the pen kit to fit for the pen to work flawlessly.

Segmented pen blanks on the pen mandrel.

The segmented pen blanks are mounted on the pen mandrel, it looks like it’s almost together, but those metal pieces are actually bushings and they’re the same size of the pen kit that’s going to fit onto the pen blanks.

Polishing and finishing.

While it’s still mounted, it’s polished and finished while it’s still mounted on the pen mandrel. During this process, the pen begins to actually look like a pen. At this time, the pen still has a ways to go, the pen kit still needs to be installed onto the segmented pen blank.

Keep in mind, this whole process can go sideways at any step of the way. Ross mentioned it gets a bit nerve-racking because hours of work can be thrown away. The further you get into a project, the scarier it gets because there’s always a chance you could throw away the hours you already put into the project if the segmented pen blanks crack or chip during this process.

These handcrafted pens take about 12-15 hours to finish and the going rate for these ranges from $80 to $150. The pens that Ross craft use popular premium pen cartridges from brands like Parker & Cross so your pen can last a lifetime with refills easy to come by.

Matt has been getting into a lot of other handmade items, like light switches, bowls, and even lamps (yes desk lamps made out of skateboard decks!). Check out some of his other work by hitting up his Instagram.

Custom Matt Ross Pen
Custom Matt Ross Pen