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Crafting Heroes Interview with Amanda Soule; Textile Artist, Author, & Crafty Mom!


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 Amanda Soule. Lots of you will already be avid readers of her eye candy of a blog which is chock-full of beautiful photography, a squillion different crafts and is heavily focused upon her happy looking family :) In fact her love of craft and the family spurred Amanda to write her upcoming book ‘The Creative Family’. In our interview Amanda shares with us her experiences of starting up and running her Craft Business.

Amanda Soule in one of her cute hats. Besides being very skilled quilter she is pretty handy with knitting needles too!


CraftBoom!: How long have you been in craft business?
Amanda: One of my grandmothers taught me to sew as a child, and the other taught me the fine art of thrifting (most definitely, it is an art!). I’ve been making things always, but it wasn’t until the birth of my first child that crafting became such an important and essential part of my life and my everyday. That was in 2001.

CraftBoom!: Where/how do you sell your items, and do you work from home?
Amanda: I sell the craft items I make through Etsy, as well as at a local Portland, Maine shop Edith & Edna. Though there is less money in selling wholesale, it’s really important to me to have a presence in my local art and craft community. And there’s such tremendous satisfaction to walking into a shop and seeing things you’ve made!

One of Amanda’s delicious quilts which will be part of a gallery show in Spring at Edith & Edna’s.

I have a studio in my home which is where I make things, as well as where my writing happens. It makes sense for me to keep my work at home. My children come in from time to time to ‘help’ me make things, which is such fun. Though, there are also times that I crave the solitude of working in a quiet studio, and we do our best to make that happen as well. I work in my studio 2.5 days a week, which I couldn’t do without the tremendous support from my husband, and my own sweet Mom, who hangs with my littles while I work sometimes.

Amanda’s lovely studio. Sooo jealous of her fabric stash! See more pics of her studio here.


CraftBoom! What made/inspired you to go into craft business, and what were you doing before?
Amanda: Like so many other artists and crafters, I’m sure – I just really love making things, and just as much – I love sharing the things I make. Once I had covered everyone around me in handmade (!) and I STILL couldn’t stop making things, it made sense to put it out into the world, so to speak. How wonderful to get paid for doing something I love!
What I was doing ‘before’ is also what I do now. I’m a Mama. I stay at home and we home school our three young children. Before that, I worked in an advertising agency as an online editor.

CraftBoom!: How did you finance the start-up of your business?
Amanda: Many of my materials are thrifted, and therefore rather inexpensive. I use a lot of repurposed materials in my crafts because it’s important to me. When I do buy things – I buy high quality fabrics and tools. It makes sewing much more fun when things run smoothly, and I enjoy what I’m working with. And then there are the tools – my digital SLR camera, Bernina sewing machine, the computer, building a website. Ack. Okay, more expenses than I like to think about!

CraftBoom!: How do you decide upon what products you are going to sell?
Amanda: Right now I’m moving in a direction of making more one-of-a-kind projects that will vary greatly with each shop update. My last round of shop items included some linen hand embroidered quilts, which I adored making. There will be more of those to come. I’m moving away from the things I’ve made in the past – smocks, birthday crowns, handbags. Those were lots of fun at the time, but I’m ready for some new things. So I guess my strategy for deciding what to sell is really just to only make the things I love to make and am excited about at the time. Even if that means the shop looks entirely different from month to month, my hope is that my style carries through.

CraftBoom!: When did you realise that your craft business had real potential?.
Amanda: In early 2006, it suddenly clicked for me when I realized there were so many other parents out there looking for ways to include more creativity into their families lives, too, and that there was something I could perhaps do to help that. That’s the week I was contacted by a publisher to write my first book. It’s also the very same week in which a local shop first asked me to carry my things there. A big week, yes!

Amanda’s soon to be available book. Crafting has to be one of the most enriching ways to connect with your little ones. In fact I used to work as a play therapist so I can attest to the wondrous powers of craft to turn a room of hyper kids into ‘tongue sticking out with concentration’ potato print artistes :)


CraftBoom!: What things do you do to market your business?
Amanda: I let people know about my shop updates through my blog and Flickr. I also just had a website created – www.amandasoule.com - as an umbrella for all that I’m doing – the blog, the book, the shop. That was the biggest expense I’ve had to date through all of this, but I’m so happy with how it came out, and I think it will serve as a way to let people know what I’ve got coming up.


CraftBoom! What things do you know now, that you wish you knew from the beginning?
Amanda: Perhaps I would have had more confidence to price the things I make a bit more realistically. I think as crafters we are often far too humble and hesitant to price our products for what they’re really worth. Paying ourselves appropriately and fairly for our time is something a lot of crafters struggle with! We all want to make things accessible and affordable to everyone, but making things by hand to sell has cost in both materials and time. I think we could all use a little shift in our thinking about how we value that – and honestly, I think that’s beginning to happen.

CraftBoom!: What do you love most about running your own craft business, and what do you like least?
Amanda: The knowledge that I can truly do what I want and is important to me - it’s very freeing and inspiring. I do miss working with other people on developing projects from the idea stage to completion. But that said, my family is my work team now. The kids are my inspiration and collaborators, and Steve – my husband – is my partner in vision and guidance. It’s wonderful to have my work such a part of my life.
The downside is also what I love about it – work IS such a part of my life! Sometimes it would be nice to close the door on my ‘work’ for the day, but that really isn’t possible when it’s so intertwined. That line can get a little murky if I’m not mindful of it.


CraftBoom!: What advice would you give to newbies who want to start their own craft business?
Amanda: I think it’s really important to keep the balance of passion and planning. It’s most important that you make things that you love and are truly from your heart – motivated by YOU. Be careful of paying too much attention to everyone else – your fellow crafters, your audience, your customers. But with that comes the more down-to-earth reality of planning, research, and staying on task. I think checking in with yourself about where you are on that balance is important.

Another little piece that I need to constantly keep in mind is to not take any of it too seriously. As people who work for ourselves and are passionate about what we do, it’s easy to get a little bit of tunnel vision. Don’t take yourself or your work too seriously. Laugh often. Play a lot. And don’t lose sight of the initial joy that making things brings you.

One of Amanda’s yummy linen embroidered quilts (I want!) sold in her shop. Isn’t the photography lovely?

CraftBoom!: Are you satisfied with the income that your craft business brings?
Amanda: I’m satisfied with it for where it’s at right now. At the moment, I’m able to be the Mama I want to be, while also having this fun little thing of my own going on too. It generates a little bit of extra income to our family, which allows my husband to be home a little bit more, and for us as a family to be together a bit more. So yes, that brings me great satisfaction.

CraftBoom! What are your plans for future growth?
Amanda: My first book, The Creative Family will be released in April, which I am very excited about. I hope to do a bit of travelling and talking to families about the ideas in that book. Also in April, I’ll have my first gallery showing of my small quilts at Edith & Edna in Portland, Maine. I’ll continue to do shop updates from time to time, and share all the daily little bits on the blog as I’ve done for the past few years. I’m also working on my second book – a craft book - to be released in 2009. And we have plans for some family collaborations coming up too. Lots of exciting stuff! And I’m having so much fun.

Thank you so much for your thoughtful interview Amanda, keep up the good work with your gorgeous quilts, your 2nd book, being a Mama to your little ones, and your inspirational blog. Best of luck with everything you do. :)

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    On November 2nd, 2007 at 1:16 pm, Marichelle said:

    What a talent! Amanda, thank you for sharing your inspiring story and for all of the great tips. I just recently started to make things with my hands and I can’t even begin to tell you how much joy it gives me to see a completed project (no matter how many imperfections I spot!). Thanks again for sharing your story with us!

    On November 2nd, 2007 at 2:32 pm, Meg said:

    A pleasure, as always, to read your words, Amanda!

    On November 2nd, 2007 at 2:36 pm, Ali said:

    Great interview Lisa - Amanda’s blog is always inspiring, but the thing I love best about her is how human she is. Her interview really brings that out.

    On November 2nd, 2007 at 4:16 pm, Amanda said:

    Your blog has been such an inspiration to me from the beginning. It was one of the first ‘craft/parenting’ blogs that I really connected with when I started down this mom/craft/business path about a year ago.
    Thanks for being so generous with your time and talent…I feel this entire community benefits from your beautiful, organic style of creating, parenting and sharing.

    On November 3rd, 2007 at 8:49 am, Kelvin Kao said:

    I think it’s very interesting to see the picture of the studio. You can really tell from the way it looks that it’s a crafter’s headquarter!

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    1. Friday Distractions :: 6 Reasons You Shouldn’t Read My Blog - eMoms at Home - The Internet Home Business Blog for Moms & Dads on November 2nd, 2007 at 2:28 pm

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