Meet the Maker: Amanda Wright of Wit & Whistle

As part of my creative business journey, I have included another series on my blog. It’s called Meet the Maker and it’s where I share awesome stories from some of my favorite makers. This is to help inspire and motivate, but to also help promote the handmade community. I believe that if we all come together to support and promote each other, amazing things can happen.

And just by happenstance, the very first maker in my Meet the Maker series is the lovely Amanda Wright from Wit & Whistle. Not only does she have the best name in the world, she also prints on anything from pillowcases, hand towels, greeting cards, journals and more.

Image belongs to Amanda Wright

Image belongs to Amanda Wright

Amanda, 29, graduated from the North Carolina State College of Design in 2006. There, she learned a valuable lesson: don’t give up if something doesn’t turn out right the first time.

Every project goes through many drafts before completion. Design is a process with many steps, and not all of those steps are nice to look at!

Ain’t that the truth.

After graduation, she got a job at a design firm and while she loved where she worked, she wasn’t allowed very much creative freedom. While she had a few clients that were more open-minded, others weren’t as cooperative, which is something she admits she didn’t learn about in design school.

They’ll slap a big ugly logo onto your beautiful design and ask you to rearrange your masterpiece until it’s unrecognizable. Each time that happened it was a painful stab to my creative spirit.

Image belongs to Amanda Wright

Image belongs to Amanda Wright

She started designing cards in her free time, under the name Spawn Studio. To her surprise, her card sales took off, and her husband Daniel encouraged her to quit the design firm and work on her greeting card business from home. It took a few months of him pushing her, but she finally made the leap in 2009.

While she’s not a fan of all the math involved with running your own business, she does appreciate the flexible hours.

I relish the freedom to work on what I want to, when I want to. After all, the creative urge doesn’t always strike between the hours of 9 and 5!

With more time to create when and what she wants, she keeps a running list of ideas in her head. Then when she is in a creative mood, she will pick from the list.

I do most designing in my sketchbook. Then, I scan my drawings into the computer and add color digitally. I started out printing, folding, and cutting all my products myself, but now I work with a local printer to produce most of my goods. That way I have more time to create!

Image belongs to Amanda Wright

Image belongs to Amanda Wright

Making her own schedule allows her a few creative brain farts from time to time.

Sometimes there will be a multiple week stretch in which I wonder if there’s even a speck of creativity left in my body. Usually the cure is to step away and do something else for a while. I might repaint a room of the house, bake something, snap some photos, or come up with a DIY project for my blog. When I get back to designing, my brain fart has usually dissipated.

Image belongs to Amanda Wright

Image belongs to Amanda Wright

Brain fart or not, Amanda is motivated by her desire to constantly improve. As a self-proclaimed perfectionist, she is never completely satisfied with her work, which drives her to keep practicing.

It’s cliche, but I want to be the best I can possibly be. I want to make the most of this amazing opportunity to pursue my dreams.

A Regina Spektor fan, Amanda will sometimes listen to music while she is designing, but her studio time is usually spent listening to podcasts, like Relic Radio‘s rebroadcast of science fiction radio shows from the mid 1900s.

They’re cheesy in an endearing way. They always make predictions about the distant future (1997), and they’re always way off. (We are supposed to be living on Mars with robot slaves by now.)

Amanda would describe her work as “pretty with an unexpected touch of crassness,” and sometimes, the crass can be a little too unexpected, like she learned with her biggest card flop – a Mother’s Day card for new moms.

The front said something like “POP, CRACK, GROAN, SNAP, RIIIPPPP…” and the inside said “It’s a good thing you have nice birthing hips.”

Image belongs to Amanda Wright

Image belongs to Amanda Wright

Always wanting to improve, Amanda is taking a crash course in Calligraphy with Molly Jacques on Skillshare. She is also working on spiral notebooks, her 2013 holiday line, notepad designs and even her Valentine’s Day cards. With all this going on, she admits she has a hard time relaxing.

Even when I’m watching TV I have my sketchbook in hand. My husband and I try to go on a big trip every year or so—preferably to someplace where I can get a new stamp in my passport. It’s nice to force myself out of my comfort zone and experience something totally new.

Amanda says that being a small business owner has taught her not to over-think it. She didn’t follow the normal process of writing up a business plan and getting everything figured out before setting up shop. She slowly started putting her work out there, and it has continued growing.

Maybe that’s not the smartest business advice, but it has worked pretty well for me. If I had tried to figure everything out in the beginning, I would’ve been overwhelmed and given up!

As if sharing her story was not enough, Amanda is also offering a 15% off your purchase at her store. Just click on the coupon below! If you want to learn more about her, you can connect with her on Instagram, Pinterest, Facebook and Twitter.

Image belongs to Amanda Wright

Image belongs to Amanda Wright

If you have an idea for a good Meet the Maker profile, please post in the comments and on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram with the hashtag #meethtemaker or simply tag me in your post! And you can find more inspiration for my Meet the Makers series and creative business journey on 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!

Fridays are for Favorites

fridays are for favorites

Remember the good ol days before Pinterest? When buying a card and a gift was sufficient enough for Mothers/Fathers Day? While Pinterest is my knowledgeable friend, the only thing in my life that I can count on to give me an awesome design tutorial while planning out my meals for the next – oh, I don’t know – year, it can be a little overwhelming. There are gift ideas for every holiday and I feel compelled to make the best present of the century.

And sometimes my projects fall apart, then I end up with nothing when the day comes. Because, as it would seem, I am incapable of working on anything until I only have a couple hours left to do it. Since this Fathers Day will be full of so many amazing fathers, I figured I needed to get a head-start on the gifts. So…here are my favorite DIY Fathers Day gift ideas!

LetterBlocks_DAD3Photo belongs to Stories by Me

Letter Blocks for Dad tutorial from Stories by Me: (found through Mod Podge Rocks) A good tutorial on how to make personalized blocks for the dad in your life. These don’t have to be for just Fathers Day either. They can be used for Christmas, Birthdays or for any reason you feel like making them. Thinking of actually making some with Cecilia’s initials for her room. How cute would that be! The site also has tutorials and classes to learn how to do other projects like this.

P1030392Photo belongs to Bargain Hoot

Scrabble word letter art tutorial from Bargain Hoot. Rene’ from Bargain Hoot uses a blank background, but you can also check out the tutorial from Just Another Day in Paradise, that uses a picture in the background. I know one very awesome dad who would love a picture of him and his very awesome baby in a frame like this 🙂

free-printable-hostess-fathers-day-gift-hot-saucePhoto belongs to Giver’s Log

Homemade Hot Sauce tutorial from Giver’s Log. AmberLee not only shares a recipe for hot sauce that she got from CITYMAMA, she also shares free printables to put on the jars. It’s a great idea for not only our awesome dads but for anyone who is awesome and loves hot sauce. Like me. I love hot sauce.

chalkboard_mug2Photo belongs to Wit & Whistle

Chalkboard mug tutorial by Wit & Whistle. I have referenced this site a few times before for cool tutorials, so I already know how awesome it is. Again, this mug is not only for Fathers Day, but could really be used for anything. Since all of the fathers in my life drink coffee, I can sure that at least one – if not, all – will get a mug!

grandpa-gift1Photo belongs to The Mombot

BBQ Kit by The Mombot. Another awesome site that I never saw until now. All the fathers in my family love to man the BBQ. I’m a pretty lucky girl, to say the least. They all would love this kit, and maybe I could even screen print a photo of Cecilia on the apron. I pretty much want to screen print a picture of Cecilia on everything I see. Oh, you got a new hand towel? Cool. Do you mind if I screen print my daughter’s face on it? It’s pretty much like that.

If you haven’t started working on the Fathers Day gifts yet, I hope this gives you a push in whichever direction you choose. Like always, feel free to follow my Pinterest for even more Fathers Day ideas! If you have any tutorials or projects you would like to share, post them in the pictures! If you are making any gifts, use #diyfathersday on Instagram, Twitter, or what the heck, both!