Pacifica, CA

Two Rabbits offers customizable burnt wood art and more

Kristen Philipkoski

Sunni Raney's Two Rabbits wood art business launched in 2017, but it was more than a dozen years in the making. All the way back in 2005, Sunni knew she wanted a creative small business—she even knew what she would name it. She just wasn't sure exactly what she'd be making and selling.

But she was so certain it would happen one day that in 2005, she registered the Two Rabbits shop on Etsy.

She now creates wood-burned wall art and home decor by hand and without stencils, burning flowers, sunsets, birds and other nature-inspired images onto slabs of wood.

Using the same method, she also makes earrings, tissue boxes, storage boxes, and more. You can customize plaques, ornaments, and cheeseboards to commemorate special occasions or holidays. Also look for her signature jute tote bag (perfect for summer farmer's market trips), bandanas, and stickers.

When the Pacifica, California mother of two boys, 11 and 2, finally launched Two Rabbits, she was met with enthusiasm and support from friends, fellow moms and artists her coastside community, which was so meaningful that she wanted to give back.

"My Pacifica community) is very important to me, and so is promoting other makers, artists and small creative businesses. I started a project called Pacifica Made Goods to combine these two passions," Sunni said.

Pacifica Made Goods (follow along on Instagram) offers seasonal gift collections of items made in Pacifica with a goal to promote the makers in our town while giving back to a local nonprofit.

"I released the first two collections at the end of 2020, selling out of both within days. We are about to release our first 2021 collection for Spring next month and I cannot wait to see where this project goes as it gains momentum."

Follow her on Instagram for her latest work, and read my interview with her below to hear all about how she got started, her inspiration, and what she loves about living on the coast.

Please share a bit about yourself! Where are you from and what's your background?

"I was born in the deep south in New Iberia, Louisiana and grew up in the suburbs of Philadelphia. My dad was a pilot for work, but was an artist as well and I grew up with him constantly doodling on scraps of paper and perfecting his watercolors. I went to college in Boston and studied cultural anthropology. I ended up in a junior marketing role out of college and spent the next 20 years becoming an experienced marketing and operations leader. Crafts and art have been a big part of my life from childhood and I’ve never once not had a messy craft space wherever I lived, but I didn’t start making art to sell until 2017."

What inspired you to create Two Rabbits? What inspired the name?

"I actually started a Two Rabbits Art Etsy shop in 2005, but I didn’t start selling anything under the name Two Rabbits Art until 2017. But even back then I had a dream of one day starting a creative business—so I started a shop and it sat empty for 12 years!

The name is from two adorable rescue rabbits I had at the time, Autumn and Uno. I was living in Monterey, CA and volunteering at the local SPCA which had both farm and wildlife centers, (and also at the Monterey Bay Aquarium where I worked with the penguins!). While taking care of the animals I fell in love with the rabbits."

What is your range of products?

"My focus is wood art—using wood burning to draw/burn designs into various kinds and shapes of wood. I create art pieces and also functional home decor like cheese boards, tissue box covers, desk organizers, etc. I also make wood burned earrings. More recently I starting using some of my hand drawn nature-inspired designs on stickers, pins, bandanas, tote bags, etc. in order to offer some ready-to-go fun things in addition to the one-of-a-kind handmade art."

How has business been during the pandemic? Do you have kids doing distance learning at home? What has helped keep you sane?

"Making art and focusing on Two Rabbits Art has kept me sane! I have a 5th grader doing school at home via Zoom and a 2 year old running around and I have a day-job doing marketing and operations at an interior design firm. So to say I’m busy is an understatement, but I make time for my creative biz every single day. My usual routine is doing my day-job in the mornings while supervising distance learning, trailing my toddler around while cooking, cleaning, and keeping my older kid out of trouble all afternoon and evening, and then heading to my workshop in the garage after the kids go to bed to do wood burning. I am very fond of saying that my art is my therapy. Art and getting outside on our local Pacifica trails.

The pandemic took away all opportunities for in-person craft shows and events which is where I make the majority of my sales, but I was actually able to do a few virtual events that were successful, and focus on my Etsy shop more to drive sales and it turns out I had my best year yet in 2020 in sales and biz growth."

What are your plans for the coming year? What are you most excited about as we emerge from the pandemic?

I'm excited to keep the momentum going this year in growing the business. I want to reach a larger audience on social media as that is such a fun way to engage with my potential customers both to share what I’m working on and also to get feedback and ideas. Recently I started sharing more about my personal life and people are very responsive to that. One goal is to start sharing videos and going ‘live’ if I can get more comfortable being in front of the camera! I also cannot wait for in person pop-ups and I hope by the holidays we can have the amazing events featuring local makers again."

Do you have any tips for staying organized and on schedule as an entrepreneur?

"Oh my god not really! I am a funny combo of doing everything spontaneously or late (I’m a procrastinator but really I just work best with a deadline) but with a very strategic plan in mind. So I am a forward thinker for sure, but my day to day activities are completely by whim. About once a month I do make a list of things to do and short term goals that I refer to here and there, but mostly the vision is in my head and things sort of fall into place.

What materials do you use? If you have any sustainability efforts please describe!

"The wood I use for my art comes from a bunch of different sources, but my favorite and one I’m working towards using more of is reclaimed aspen. Sustainability is important to me and so I am always trying to get better and better in my practices. My packaging materials are made with recycled materials which I think is something overlooked by a lot of sellers."

What are your favorite products from your offerings?

"With my wood burning, anything floral is my favorite, but especially my skull+flower designs. My poppy flower art is definitely what’s most popular with my customers."

What do you love about living on the coast?

"Everything?! Mainly I love seeing the ocean every single day. Not one day in the 15+ years I’ve lived in Pacifica has the ocean not improved my mood. The sounds, the smell, and best of all, the colors. And of course the people. We have made amazing friends here and I love the community."

Do you have any role models or people who have inspired you on your entrepreneurial journey?

"Truly I’d say my friends who mostly aren’t entrepreneurs but have amazing minds and continue to be willing to brainstorm with me, always sharing their creative and smart ideas. They are the ones who challenge me to keep growing this business and the ones who boost me up when I need it. My husband is extremely supportive as well and fully supports my long-term goals for the business which feels great. For visual inspiration, my Instagram feed is a magical place of artists and makers of all mediums that are creating beautiful things."

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I'm a veteran writer and editor and founder of Mean Magazine and The Mean Podcast for GenX women. I write about everything from fashion to science and everything in between. I’ve written for Racked, Refinery 29, 7x7, SF Chronicle, Wired, Gizmodo and many others.

Pacifica, CA

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