Tell us about your business.I've always had a seed in my head for starting a creative business. A lifelong paper crafter, I discovered felt in an unexpected way. My friend curated art shows at a local cupcake shop. She asked me to decorate the shop in my whimsical paper creations that she had been admiring at my daughters' birthday parties. From paper rosettes to tissue paper flowers to photo crafts, I festooned the cupcake shop - a former IHOP restaurant into a whimsical and festive spot. To decorate some bare spots on the wall, I looked to embroidery hoop art. I had seen hoop art with fabric inside, but I decided to use craft felt. I cut them in simple motifs: cupcakes (of course!), bunting, hearts and thought bubbles and added simple stitched sentiments. I later evolved to wool-blend felt that came in more colors and added dimensional flowers to my hoop art. My designs include playful motifs for kids and universal sentiments for the home. In the future, I would love to create designs for weddings.
Tell us about your workspace, shop, or studio.My workspace is a converted bedroom in my 1959 rambler in the Pacific Northwest. My window overlooks a 50-year-old elm tree, an overgrown lilac bush and a cherry tree that blossoms tiny white flowers in the early spring. My space is cluttered with bolts of felt, embroidery hoops, embroidery floss and various vintage finds I've picked up over the years- from a hand-painted doll-sized high chair to my dad's worn leather doctor's bag to my collection of picnic baskets. Decorating the walls are paper crafts and scrapbook pages I've made of my family's earlier days as well as artwork and prints I've bought from other handmade artists.
What inspires you?I am inspired by a joy of living. I am inspired by nature and its beauty. I am inspired by my daughters' laughter and playfulness. I am inspired by vintage bedsheets. I am inspired by a chipped teacup discovered at an estate sale.
What makes your business stand out?My business stands out because I marry the traditional embroidery hoop with modern and colorful designs using felt applique and dimensional felt flowers. Each piece of felt is hand-cut and hand-sewn (no dies or patterns are used). Each stitch is carefully sewn by hand. My pieces incorporate a bit of the traditional craft of embroidery with a modern and playful sensibility.
What advice would you give an aspiring creative entrepreneur?My advice to an aspiring entrepreneur would be to use your art or craft to inspire others. Find the one thing that makes you joyful and feel alive and share it with others! That passion will always shine through. At the same time, being an entrepreneur is hard work. Although you are following your passion, your business will not thrive without putting in the time and energy towards the less creative side of your business. Things like marketing, bookkeeping and pricing your work fairly (to you and your customer) are necessary parts of having a creative business. If you can't do it all (which most of us can't), don't be afraid to seek help from other creative business owners or professionals. Join a local group that shares your business interests. Read all you can about starting a small business. If you want to succeed, treat your business like a legitimate business and work hard towards your goals. The benefits of being in control of your life and your work are worth all your hard work!
What does American Made mean to you?American Made means celebrating the best of American artisans and crafters. American Made means elevating self-made entrepreneurs to a new standard of quality. American Made means that the handmade revolution in the U.S. is alive and thriving! American Made is a wonderful representation of America's spirit of reinvention and self-made businesses. To be a part of American Made is an amazing opportunity!
Mark Your Calendar
WINNERS ANNOUNCEDOct. 17, 2014
2014 Award Winner and Audience Choice Winner announced.See past Award Winners
AMERICAN MADE MEETUPNov. 7, 2014
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AMERICAN MADE SUMMITNov. 8, 2014
Don’t miss our networking event and maker lecture series in New York City.Buy Tickets Now
RENEGADE CRAFT FAIRNov. 15 - 16, 2014
Shop for holiday gifts at the Martha Stewart American Made Pavilion.Learn More