Meet the Maker: Amy Cluck-McAlister of Amy is the Party

meet the maker amyAmy Cluck-McAlister, whom I met two years ago when she donated some wonderful handmade jewelry to a fundraiser I was organizing, is a creative force to be reckoned with in the Sacramento indie community. She runs Amy is the Party, where she shares party styling ideas, DIY projects and the places and people she loves in Sacramento. She is also the founder of IndieSacramento – an online gathering of local creatives. She also happens to be doing all the behind-the-scenes design work on my new blog platform, which will be launched next week!

Today, I’m so pleased and honored to share a little more about her!

First, tell us a little about yourself!

Hello there, I’m Amy! I am a web designer with a passion for parties, decor, and desserts.

Some might say I was born in the wrong era. I believe in home cooked meals – in thank you cards – in baking from scratch. I strive to be the “hostess with the mostess”. I couldn’t agree more with Julia Child when she said “A party without cake is just a meeting” – although I think it’s perfectly fine to substitute cake with cupcakes or pie (or whatever dessert you find fitting). I also believe in creating memories – special moments of time that your friends and family will carry with them, long after the celebration is over. I believe in celebrating everyday with the little bits of joy that living creatively can bring.

As a blogger, entrepreneur, and web designer, I have been involved with both the online and local crafting community for several years.  A socially awkward socialite, I spend my free time supporting small businesses and events in my hometown of Sacramento, CA. I also enjoy searching for vintage treasures and indulging in the shenanigans of my husband and two cats.

Image Credit: Amy Cluck McCallister. DIY Tassel Necklace and Bohemian Bracelet. Click the photo for the full tutorial.

Image Credit: Amy Cluck McCallister / DIY Tassel Necklace and Bohemian Bracelet / Click the photo for the full tutorial!

How did you get into graphic/web design?

I took a commercial art class in high school. We mostly made posters and learned calligraphy but I knew that I wanted to use my artistic skills for advertising or something along those lines. I took a few graphic design and beginning web classes at American River (Community College) while getting my general ed out of the way. By the time I graduated, I knew I was specifically interested in designing for on-screen (computers). The closest degree program that Sac State offered was Graphic Design so I stuck with that for a year until I saw that a new Multimedia program was being added. I quickly changed majors! The Multimedia program sort of focused on making interactive CDs, which isn’t a really a thing nowadays. It’s hard to predict the direction technology will take us! When you get into something like graphic and web design, you have to be flexible and you have to continually educate yourself on new techniques.

What about entertaining and DIY’ing?

Both my parents and my grandmas on both sides were into DIYing different things. I grew up making handmade Christmas gifts and baking dozens of cookies for the neighbors. I lived for holidays and family get-togethers. I didn’t think about it much, plus I don’t think it was considered cool to be into domestic stuff when I was younger. After graduating college, I started to get back into crafting a bit. Then I started finding all these people online who were into making items that were actually trendy and I felt really inspired. This was about 10 years ago when sites like Craftster and GetCrafty were just starting.  I jumped right in and started making and selling jewelry. I gradually started to gravitate towards party planning since it incorporates all of my loves: baking, dessert styling, decorating, DIY, and graphic design.

What pushed you to start your blog?

Finding other people who were making crafts and selling them really inspired me. It seemed like a lot of those people were starting blogs and I wanted to be a part of it too, not just to show off what I was making but to show off what other people were making as well.

Photo Credit: Amy Cluck-McCallister / DIY Hostess Gift Tags / Click the Photo for the full tutorial

Photo Credit: Amy Cluck-McCallister / DIY Hostess Gift Tags / Click the Photo for the full tutorial!

What is your creative process like?

I come up with ideas, scribble them on post-it notes, lose the post-it notes, forget some of the ideas, and don’t have anywhere near enough time to follow through with all the ideas that I don’t forget about! Occasionally, I actually get to follow through on something. I’m an impatient crafter but I’m also a perfectionist. Sometimes I forget to enjoy the creating process because I’m so excited to get to the end result.

What inspired you to start Indie Sacramento?

A couple national craft shows (Bazaar Bizarre and Renegade) popped up that were different from any craft show I had been to before (“not your gramdma’s craft fair” as they would say). The vendors made trendy items that I would actually wear or display in my home. Both shows were located in San Francisco (as well as other cities) but not Sacramento. I had started networking with local crafters and I knew we had enough local talent to put a show like that on here so I started IndieSacramento.

I felt like IndieSacramento was a pretty successful event, but it was also A LOT of work and a lot of stress. I decided that an online collective of local crafters was the way to go so I quit holding craft shows and choose to expand the website instead. Of course, now I have other ideas of what I’d like to do with the site but there never seems to be enough time!

How do you feel about the creative community in Sacramento?

I’m really proud of how our creative community has grown in recent years. It wasn’t so long ago when we were in need of a venue for “alternative” crafters and artists to sell their goods at. Now we’ve got all kinds of events like the Indie Craft Fair and GOOD, just to name a couple. I’m also really impressed with the amount of networking I’ve noticed among talented individuals in different industries – we’ve got bloggers and crafters, boutique owners, restaurateurs, photographers, event planners, etc. all working together to promote each other to put on awesome events together.

Photo Credit: Amy Cluck - McCallister / Amy's DIY Wedding / Click the photo for the full details

Photo Credit: Amy Cluck – McCallister / Amy’s DIY Wedding / Click the photo for all the details!

Favorite places to get your supplies (craft, party, etc) in town?

Wrapped All Up is a really fun warehouse type place that carries every kind of ribbon or wrapping you could want. The Paper Garden is a great place to get inspiration for paper crafting – plus they also carry some fun washi tapes and baker’s twine that you can’t get anywhere else locally.

If somebody wanted to start working on DIY projects, where would you tell them to go first?

There are so many resources, it’s hard to say! Brit.co is one of my recent favorites because they feature a variety of trendy and easy projects. I would also suggest joining a crafty forum or two. Cut Out + Keep is one of my favorites. You can check out other peoples projects and tutorials, network with people, and upload your own projects.

My husband and I just bought our first home (yay!) so I’m sure amy is the party will start featuring more home decorating projects (just like I started featuring more wedding related content before we got married). I think my blog will always branch out to fit my current interests, as long as it’s still related to entertaining and creative living.

Click the photo for the full DIY

Click the photo for the full DIY!

My plan is for IndieSacramento to include small businesses of all types, not just crafters. It will be kind of a directory for people to shop local and to find unique and fun businesses to support.

You can find out more about Amy and all the awesome things she’s doing at Amy is the Party. Want to be featured in Meet the Maker or know a special someone who should be featured? Leave a comment here and connect with me on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Google + and Pinterest!

My Creative Business Journey: A Manifesto

NEW YEAR

For the last month or so, I have had big plans of what I would write in my New Years post. It was going to be a series, and I would be organized and have a lot of projects I would unveil and so on. But as it goes, life got in the way. And here I am, typing my final New Years post at 9:40 pm on New Years day. I’ve always done things a little whacky though, so this isn’t too far off.

I started my blog in 2012 and they say it takes two years for to run a successful business. When I started the blog, I never thought of it in the business mind. It was a fun way to share my adventures in becoming a new mom and a stay-at-home one, at that. Now that I have come to the realization that this could very well be a successful creative business, and it was this blog that sparked my idea of an online art collective, and it was through this blog that I found so many DIY projects that ultimately led to my other creative business, Sweet Mariposa, that I now run with one of my closest friends.

So, this is what I have planned for my creative business(es) this year:

  • Blog: While I do not see my blog as a “business” right now, it is where I plan to go. I have seriously given it some thought, and I know I could use this to do a lot more. Share more small businesses and stories of beautiful mamas who started their own businesses from a very small corner of their homes. Share more inspiration of how live a simple and healthy life. I am planning on getting some awesome sponsors this year, and promise to never accept profit or partnership with a company or person I don’t believe in.
  • Baby Burrito Collective: I really love where this is going. This year is all about getting more people involved, and promoting more. We just added a directory so now artists can list all of their services. Helping promote the work of my members gives me ideas of how I can promote my own work. I just love the idea of a collective – all working together to help each other achieve the same end result.
  • Sweet Mariposa: Finish all of my projects and list them. Get our Facebook going and pick a craft fair. Finally, I want to find a retail spot where we can set up shop. I’ll be moving soon so where I want to set up a space by where my friend lives, and one by where I will live. We’ll see where it goes from there.

With all that in mind, my creative business manifesto is to hustle. To take all promoting opportunities I can and to make things happen. I have all the tools I need – a supportive family, the flexibility in my schedule, and the motivation. Now I just need to put it all into motion and see where it will take me! Since nothing really came into fruition until 2013, I’m going to give me until 2015, and then I may have to move on – depending on where I am.

While I know every situation is different, and some businesses take longer than others to thrive, it’s not just about me. It’s about our family and everything I’m doing is to help support all of us. So, if it’s not working out, then it will have to be placed on hold until I am at a place where I can give it a go, again.

Have you set goals for your creative business this year? What’s your manifesto? Share in the comments and on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Google + with the hashtag #creativebusinessjourney. Find more creative business inspiration on my Pinterest!

Weekly Wishes #7

Right now, my workspace is full of remnants from my daughter’s first birthday, the semester coming to an end and Christmas right around the corner. I have projects upon projects that I need to finish and while I love working around a little chaos in my life, I feel like the chaos is kind of taking over.

This is after I cleaned.

This is after I cleaned.

So, in the midst of all the chaos, I have taken out some time to think about what I want to accomplish for the week. While it’s difficult at times to take a moment out to write a thought-provoking post like this, it saves me in the end because it gives me a chance to sort everything out.

Here’s what I wanted to do last week: Create a directory on Baby Burrito Collective, list Kandyce’s work on Etsy, finish cork/chalkboard, get my yoga routine down and focus on clean eating, turn my workspace into a Christmas wrapping station.

How I did: Well, I haven’t created the directory yet. Still looking up some good resources on how to do something like that. I did list Kandyce’s work on our Etsy site though! You can find Sweet Mariposa here. I just bought the fabric to cover the cork on my cork/chalkboard so hopefully it will be done this week. I did do yoga one day last week…but only one. And my workspace is definitely a Christmas wrapping station, along with everything else.

Repurposed hanging candle holder made by Kandyce

Repurposed hanging candle holder made by Kandyce

This week’s wishes:

Business: Find a resource for adding a directory for Baby Burrito Collective. Start spreading the word about the Collective and getting people to join. Continue listing on Sweet Mariposa and set up a Facebook. Look for spaces to contribute my writing. Make a detailed plan for Vox.

Creative: Add the fabric to my cork/chalkboard and finish it up. Finish my mom’s Christmas gift.

Fitness: Set a yoga goal – practice at least once a day when Cecilia takes her first bottle in her crib. Set a clean eating goal – at least one real meal per day. And a complete real meal.

Home: Compress all of my crafting stuff. Get a metal shelving rack to go in the closet to sort out my projects and what is ready to sell/give as gifts. One shelf for projects to be completed. One shelf for what is ready to sell/gift. And the final shelf for material/supplies. This is going to be my Christmas gift to myself, I think. It would be easy to take down and move when we move.

I know this is a day late, but what are your weekly wishes? Write about them and link up to the Nectar Collective. You can also share them in the comments and connect with me on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest. Here’s to having another lovely and productive week!

Fridays are for Favorites

fridays are for favorites

I have drastically limited my time on my personal Facebook page anymore. Sometimes I’ll post a photo of Cecilia so our family members who don’t get to see her often can get updates. Aside from that, I agree that it can be a major time suck, and I don’t get the fulfillment out of it that I used to. My blog page is a completely different story! I truly believe in the power of social networking now. If I see someone I follow post about a new place, page or community…I check it out to see if it’s something I’d like. And more of than not, it is. That’s just what happened when I found the Delta Workshop.

Photo from Delta Workshop

Photo from Delta Workshop

Delta Workshop is a studio located in Midtown, Sacramento, a city I frequent every weekend. They offer a variety of classes, like a knitting class for the next two weekends, and a blockprinting class in a couple weeks. There is an online gallery where you can see artists’ work, and a shop. Since moving to Stockton, I’ve been a little out of the loop with the art scene in Sacramento so I was stoked to see this! I’m definitely checking it out this weekend or next to see what it’s all about.

Another awesome find on Facebook…the Handmade Directory on Handmadeology!

Photo from Handamdeology

Photo from Handamdeology

Timothy Adam from Handmadeology  – a website dedicated to spotlighting different handmade shops and sharing creative business tips and resources. Awesome, right? –  launched the Handmade Directory. In the Directory, you can find crafty events and list your own event, you can shop by category and/or location, and you can add your own shop. Tim is offering a FREE listing for a limited time with the code 50OFFNOV. Get more updates on the Handmadeology Facebook. There are currently 75 listings and he’s shooting for 100 by the end of the day.

I was so inspired by what I saw, I got in contact with Tim and signed up as a Contributing Writer! Let me know if you post your business in the Handmade Directory and I will write a profile on you and your business to be posted on the Handmadeology site!

Photo from TrashN2Tees

Photo from TrashN2Tees

Jenelle Montilone, the wonderful woman behind TrashN2Tees, has started something new. It’s called Take Action Tuesdays, a series where Jenelle will share one way to take action – tutorial or tip, sharing a campaign, or a clip of pure human awesomeness – every Tuesday. If you haven’t checked out TrashN2Tees yet, then this will be the perfect opportunity. It’s a handmade line made completely out of recycled clothing, plastic, and pretty much anything she can recycle. She also features a Clothing Recycling Program and a Create Change app.

This find was from the wonderful handmade community that I am so happy to be a part of – Oh My Handmade Goodness.

Photo from Out of the Dark

Photo from Out of the Dark

Out of the Dark was founded by brothers Jay and Jade Blades as an extension to their charity Street Dreams that they founded 13 years ago. According to the website, Out of the Dark is a charitable enterprise that recycles, restores and revamps salvaged furniture as a means to train, educate and employ young people from disadvantaged backgrounds. Their projects are all about supporting young people achieve a better life and steer away from crime, and this project brings in the element of craft, DIY and work skills. Not to mention the development of self esteem and confidence. They also offer workshops and they feature an online store.

What are your favorite things that happened this week? Share them in the comments and on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter with the hashtag #fridayfavorites to simply tag me in the post! Find more Friday Favorites inspiration on my Pinterest!

Fridays are for Favorites

fridays are for favorites

The best part about writing my Fridays are for Favorites series is the freedom to write about anything that I want, really. I know I already have that freedom since it’s my own blog and I create all the content, but I have set specific topics for each day, to help keep me on track. Monday, I write about moms. Tuesdays, health. Wednesdays, business-related. Thursday, thriftiness. Friday, favorite stuff. That can seriously be anything. I have found that I mostly write about new Etsy stores that I find and love.

With all the talk that has been going on about Etsy’s new policies, I thought this would be a great time to voice my own opinion. Although I am a seller on Etsy, I use it more to find other makers and to purchase handmade items. A little while back, I noticed that there were a few sellers who appeared to have mass-produced items in their shop, marked as “handmade.” Not cool, man. Not cool. There was no way of knowing for sure since only one owner was listed on the “about” page, but they all looked exactly the same and they were also sold at a price that was so low, it would not make sense if it was made by hand. It wouldn’t even cover the supplies.

So, I do agree with Etsy pushing its sellers to be more transparent. Being a blogger, I do a lot of research into each shop I look at, and I will tell you right now that I will be more willing to purchase from a shop that has one employee versus 100 employees. Each case is different, of course. But that is my overall feeling. So with this in mind…

I have found two completely awesome ways to get involved with the handmade community, and I am so excited to talk about them! I’m not ditching Etsy, I’m finding people who I want to purchase from and then visiting their Etsy shop, if that makes sense.

Image belongs to Oh My Handmade Goodness

Image belongs to Oh My Handmade Goodness

Oh My! Handmade Goodness – This site started at as a multi-author blog and evolved into a gathering space for creative entrepreneurs. Jessika, who runs the site now, offers community and marketplace memberships, advertising opportunities and community matchmaking. If you are not into any of that, you can also find tutorials, prints and printables there, too. I just signed up for the community membership last night and I already love it. It’s on a sliding scale of $7-20 per month, depending on what you can afford. My budget isn’t so hot right now, but I knew this would help get me to where I need to be with my blog and business right now. As a member, I have access to countless forum discussions where I can seek opinions, advice and collaboration. I could not ask for anything better.

Now, while I was in said forum at Oh My! Handmade Goodness, I found out about IAMTHELAB.

Image belongs to IAMTHELAB

Image belongs to IAMTHELAB

IAMTHELAB was created with one mission in mind – to promote the handmade community. He offers a wealth of information in helping you form what he calls “the handmade trifecta,” your blog, shop and social media. I have the blogging part sort of down, but I am always looking for help with my shop and social media. So this was the perfect place for me. He shares examples of the handmade trifecta, and will explain how the person is dong it. And who is the first person I find on there? Amanda Wright from Wit & Whistle, whose story I am sharing next week! See, I knew this would be a perfect fit. I also found a Handmade Directory where bloggers and makers can hang out and hopefully work together. And not in that overwhelming, pushing way that I have seen so many times before.

I hope this has helped you get in touch with some new faces and resources. If you know of any other awesome places to find creative businesses like this, please let us know. You can post in the comments and on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram with the hashtag #creativentrepreneurs. And if you are looking for more inspiration, you can always visit my Pinterest!