MADE in the USA Gifts by Women Friendly Businesses. Our Story.


Erica Riegelman
Co-Founder, aftcra
Milwaukee, WI

Follow me:
  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Pinterest
“I've always wanted to make a difference; to make things a little better than they were yesterday.”

My name is Erica Riegelman and I’m the co-founder of aftcra ( I have a background in Marketing, a passion for American handmade products, my little hometown (Milwaukee), and helping others.

What inspires you?  Success stories from entrepreneurs that had the drive and determination to keep moving forward and prevail, even when they felt like throwing in the towel.

Do you have a favorite quote?  There are always a million reasons why you shouldn’t do something, and there is never a better time to start than right now.

What are the most pressing issues facing women today?  I think our biggest pressure is ourselves and our self-doubt. We have to remember that we are as good, as smart and as determined as everyone else and the only one who knows what’s best for you is you.

What are the biggest keys to your success?  Working for a big corporation has given me the structure and experience that I needed to go off and do my own thing. I also believe having a strong support team (whether it’s co-workers, friends or family) are key to motivate you to continue to move forward.

What are the biggest keys to the advancement or success of women?  The sooner we recognize that we are as fabulous as everyone else the sooner we will overcome our own issues.

Where did the inspiration for your business come from?  When I was younger, my mom was an incredible artisan and would always be painting, or crafting or sculpting something fierce. She had a talent that I had wished I had. She also had something that most incredibly successful artists acquire … patience. Patience is not a strong suit of mine. Because of that, I never followed in her creative footsteps. But one characteristic I’ve always had is the mentality that I want to change the world. I’ve always wanted to make a difference; to make things a little better than they were yesterday.

A few summers ago I had a truly serendipitous collision of events in my life:

  1. My mother was struggling to sell her wares with local boutiques wanting to take a 50% fee.
  2. My corporate job (which I will still say to this day is a great place) had started to wear on me, control me and left me feeling discouraged and beat down.
  3. I read an incredibly inspirational book about the importance of freedom in your life.
  4. I found a minor weakness in an industry giant.

Within these completely unrelated experiences, I discovered an opportunity.

This was when I made the biggest decision in my life: do I do something to change my life or do I sit back and let others control my destiny. That serendipitous collision pushed me to create aftcra, an e-commerce marketplace just for American handmade artisans to sell their beautiful goods. We are focused on helping American artisans share their handmade products with the world. We aren’t some Silicon Valley giant. We are just us, some little Midwestern handmade lovers. And aftcra, well she’s just a brand new baby to the scene… but she’s growing.

Because of aftcra I feel a sense of freedom in my life. All that I can share with anyone who has ever thought about starting a company is the one line that I still say to myself when I am tired from a day’s work and dealing with the pressure of a brand new business: There are always a million reasons why you shouldn’t do something, and there is never a better time to start than right now.

Where is your product sold?  My product is the website, so feel free to visit us at

What advice do you have for a woman who is considering starting a business?  Your biggest obstacle is yourself. If you don’t think you can do it, then you won’t do it. But if you think you could run your own business and be damn good at it, then you will be. You need to be your biggest fan.

What are the biggest hurdles you’ve faced in starting or growing your business? How did you overcome these?  I’d say there are two things.

  1. Doubt. Whether it’s your friends or family saying it’s not “safe”, or you are doubting yourself, you have to prevail and move forward. This is only going to work if you want it to.
  2. Branding. When you’re figuring out your brand, it is very easy to look to your competitors and play an endless game of catch-up. For example, it is very easy for us to look at etsy and think of what great brand awareness and recognition they have. But they are different than us. They pioneered this industry. They have been around for a very long time. They are established. And I can’t let that intimidate me. I have to remind myself that we are aftcra. We are new, small and different. And trying to follow in their footsteps, step-by-step, is only going to make us flounder. We have to embrace who we are and go our own direction. I’ve found that the easiest thing to do is forget about them and find out who you really are as a company.


Free Shipping on orders
over $100 EVERYDAY!
All of our products are made in the
USA by women friendly businesses.