Woo Hoo! Here is another fabulous Crafting Heroes Interview hot off the press. I am really loving these interviews. Like you, I am finding them so inspiring and full of great advice on how to run my own business. For those of you who don’t yet know, I asked the lovely readers of my other blog to vote for their favourite Crafting Heroes and LOADS of them responded, it was great! There are more wonderful Crafting Heroes interviews in the pipeline and this one is no exception…
This time the I’m featuring the lovely Amy Karol. Lots of you will already know and love Amy from her incredibly popular blog which is chock-full of crafty finds, beautiful photography, aprons, family goings on, and her own stitchery genius. In fact Amy shares her stitchery genius, sense of fun, and sound sewing advice in her much-loved book ‘Bend the Rules Sewing’. Amy lives in Portland, with Husband and 3 Little Ladies. In our interview Amy shares with us her experiences of starting up and running her Craft Business.
Here’s the groovy blog badge that Amy made to let readers know about the signing (it made me grin).
CraftBoom!: How long have you been in craft business?
Amy:I was trying to answer this and realized the first order I got (custom airbrushed t-shirts for my high school tennis team-ha!) I was 16-so I guess it’s been awhile. I have been making art/craft ever since I remember and selling things since high-school, but the product type has changed often. Clothes, jewelery, hand bound books, artwork, and then baby clothes, quilts, handmade body products, sewing patterns, needlework patterns. Pretty much whatever I am into at the time I have sold.
CraftBoom!: Where/how do you sell your items, and do you work from home?
Amy:I sell my items on my website and a bit in shops, although very few. I love selling in retail shops so I always try to make sure my pricing can go wholesale and still make a profit. Having said that, being in shops takes work (reorders, etc) and it’s sometimes easier to just sell direct just to keep track of things-which is key for me. I do work at home, and I am a mom to 3 girls, 5, 3, and 4 months, so that is what I do 90% of the time.
One of Amy’s beautiful quilts.
CraftBoom!: What made/inspired you to go into craft business, and what were you doing before?
Amy:I was always selling things on the side-I have always had more than one job-so it seemed natural when I realized I was going to stay home with my kids. I have a very long podcast interview about all this (craftsanity episode #27, the link is on my blog)-it sums up my whole history after college up to now pretty much. Before I had kids, I was an interior architect.
CraftBoom!: How did you finance the start-up of your business?
Amy: Hmm, I didn’t really. I just tried to break even. I think the key for me is to use what I have (like my husband is a software developer, so we can do our own websites) and try to live within our means. Then, when I do make a profit, it is a bonus. I know this sounds bleak-but it’s much better for my creative process if I don’t focus on money and the profit side of things. I will say things have been good the last 3 years. I am thrilled I have been able to contribute to our income, but again, I try not to focus on that too much and just try to cover my expenses.
CraftBoom!: How do you decide what you are going to sell?
Amy: I never know what I will sell-which is why Mailorder came about. It’s my club with all sorts of patterns, recipes, and paper projects-a brain dump really. I realized I am happiest trying new designs and new things so I just made a product that I personally would most want and crossed my fingers. I also sell my designs and writing (like in my book Bend-the-Rules Sewing) so now I have publishing experience as well, which is amazing and wonderful.
CraftBoom!: When did you realize that your craft business had real potential?
Amy: When I did taxes last year. It was horrible. I owed so much money-I feel just sick about it even now. It was a huge mistake not figuring it out before I did, thank god I had money saved. But at the same time, it was exciting I had made so much. But-it’s not always like that, it ebbs and flows. I don’t expect to make money every year.
CraftBoom!: What things do you do to market your business?
Amy: I don’t consciously market really. It’s inherently built into the blog and the community I have become a part of, which means so much to me– and if I think about marketing too much it freaks me out and feels icky. That’s just me. I really have much more fun doing my own thing and just hoping the interest will come. It’s worked for me so far, but I realize this is probably the worst business advice ever. Marketing seems to take care of itself if you just make real friends and are a good person, I think. Especially in the blog world. I think if people are too pushy, it’s a turn off.
Aw this is sooooo lovely…I WANT!! Amy’s textile art is full of whimsy and charm.
CraftBoom!: What things do you know now that you wish you knew from the beginning?
Amy: I don’t really regret anything I have done (um, maybe the taxes thing) I think because it’s all been so organic. I never had a business plan and never took out a small business loan. I just am trying to be creative and happy while I raise my 3 girls-so this has been all amazing really. But at the same time-I work my bootie off, you know? There are goals I have always had that I have achieved (like writing a book) so it’s not like it just “happened” to me. I would have never guessed in a million years that I would be happier and truer to my goals and dreams by quitting my job and being a stay at home mom (which I realize now is only a part of what I do). I think working in a job that made me unhappy was so hard that when I quit and decided to stay home, it freed up my brain in ways I could have never imagined while I was working in a firm. I’m not sure this answers the question. . . but it’s what came out.
CraftBoom!: What do you love most about running your own craft business and what do you like least?
Amy: What I love the most? Being my own boss. I can’t really imagine implementing another person’s designs. I love working with other designers–collaboration is one of the best things ever–but I can’t imagine working for anyone else. I think it’s in my blood; my whole family seems to be wired this way.
On the down side–I wish I had more time and some help. I am seriously considering printing Mailorder out-of-house now because it’s gotten too big-as sad as I would be to see the red envelopes go, if I am going to keep doing it, I think I need to get it professionally printed, bound, and mailed by a 3rd party. So, it’s hard–I am still trying to figure it all out.
Amy’s ‘Mail Order’ which is a groovy quarterly craft club.
CraftBoom!: What advice would you give to newbies who want to start their own craft business?
Amy: I have no clue. Really. I can’t really say what I do is a business really, but I know it is. . . . so. . . .I think just to be true to yourself and to be nice to people. Oh, and be sincere. I get e-mails from people who genuinely like what I do and it means the world to me-but I also get emails from people who are going too fast and marketing too hard and get me confused with other bloggers, get my name wrong, ask me about my boys (I only have girls) and try to use the friendly platform of the blog world to get free marketing/advice from me or something. . . . . and it just makes me feel so uncomfortable and sort of sad. You can tell when someone has a real connection with you and when it’s just a marketing reach, so I’d advise crafters to be careful about what vibe they put out there. Things have changed a lot in the last 3 years I have been bogging and now that money can be made, it’s made some people with business goals a bit more aggressive. That’s just my 2-cents.
The Key by Amy. See more of her beautiful artwork here.
CraftBoom!: Are you satisfied with the income that your craft business brings?
Amy: Yes, for sure, it’s been wonderful. But my expectations are really low-anything above breaking even is a huge success to me. Again, I know this might sound depressing, but if I don’t think that way I will never take chances and try new stuff.
CraftBoom!: What are your plans for future growth?
Amy: I just have to see what comes. I am all over the place. I really have to be careful about saying yes to anything because with 3 kids-you never know what will happen on any given day so I get nervous about agreeing to deadlines that I don’t 100% control. I just have to do what works best for me and my family right now–which is awesome, really. It makes decisions very easy.
This is such a adorable dress; I think it’s very Amy, and anyone who knows a bit about her will know what I mean…:)
Thank you so much for your warm and friendly interview Amy, keep up the good work with your wonderful artwork, textile art, enjoying your family, and your inspirational blog (I just love your banners!). Best of luck with everything you do.
If you liked this article, please...
|Subscribe Via Email||Subscribe Via RSS||Add to Technorati|