This is a series I've wanted to do for a long time and I'm SO excited to finally get it started! One of the things I loved about blogging back in the day was the Blogger of the Moment feature I did. I got to interview other bloggers I liked, and most of those bloggers became real-life friends, plus it was fun being able to share cool people with my readers and send them over to follow new, rad folks!
Over the years I've been inspired by so many super cool lady makers who are running amazing creative businesses, and I want to share them with you, because a) they're inspiring AF, b) who run the world? Girls. and c) you should go support them and their small businesses!
My first Maker of the Month is Amy of Little Bright Studios! Amy makes, quite possibly, the cutest bags of all time. I remember coming across her stuff a year or two ago and was so taken with how fun and bright her creations were. I was so excited to do a little interview with her about her creative business and get to know her a little better!
Tell us about your creative business! What do you do? How did it start? Where do you want to take it?
My name is Amy, owner of Little Bright Studio, a handbag and accessories brand based in Portland, OR. With my bags, fun and function come in equal parts: I want them to bring a little sunshine to the world, while giving the wearer a piece that is practically designed and long lasting. Little Bright Studio became official five years ago when I closed my portrait photography business to focus on what I love most. It has been a slow progress ever since, but I believe it has allowed me to invest thoroughly in how my brand speaks its message. My goal for Little Bright Studio is to become an internationally recognized brand with strong ethical standards and always synonymous with fun and quality!
What do you do to keep your creative juices fresh and flowing?
I have to make a confession: It’s unbelievable challenging to nurture your creative drive when running a business solo. Because most of my time is spent marketing, researching, customer service, business outreach, etc, creativity can sort of slip away if I let it. The best way I have found to counter this is to actually schedule time to paint, draw, sew, collage, or write. Taking the time to let myself immerse in art does wonder for my business and my sanity.
What is your favorite part about having a creative business?
I’m not gonna lie to you, I seriously love creating spreadsheets to track inventory, finances, wholesale accounts, and just about any other data related need! Haha, Of course, I LOVE the aspects of creating pretty things, getting to know people, working with other makers and such, but I thought I’d give a shout out to those entrepreneurs who LOVE their spreadsheets as much as I do.
Do you have a routine that helps you stay balanced? If so, what do you feel is most important to your routine?
Now that I finally have a separate studio 5 miles from my residence, I am sticking to a regular 96ish schedule, which of course, is terrible because I want to work 24/7, but it keeps me grounded and able to function better. I also stick to my daily to-do list as much as humanly possible, beginning with answering emails, making phone calls, and then heading into the meaty part of the list.
What are the biggest struggles associated with having a creative business?
My number one challenge at the moment is reaching that niche market for bags that are bright, colorful, and have a higher price-point. It is as market that relies heavily on brand loyalty and passionate word of mouth. It is satisfying when I am able to meet more of these ideal fans.
Do you have any advice for others who are thinking about starting a creative business or pursuing a creative career?
It’s not going to happen overnight. And that’s a positive thing, because you DO want to be 99.9% ready when an unexpected opportunity arises down the line after years of hard work. Often times these opportunities occur because you have cultivated a community that respects you, so be kind, be generous with your knowledge, and TRUST ME, the right things will come your way.
Other than what you create for your business, do you have any creative pursuits that are merely for your own pleasure?
I am hoping to score a nice used easel to put in the corner of my living room so that I can be creative outside of my business once again. I have several dress and quilt patterns I need to convince myself to make.
What other makers, creative folk, shops, instagrams, etc. are inspiring you at the moment?
Quiet Clementine in Arkansas for her playful ceramics, Jill Makes from Louisiana makes colorful jewelry, ORU here in Portland waves teenie tiny beads and mixes them with metals for her fine jewelry, and Natelle Draws Stuff in Florida fills my life with the cutest enamel pins in the universe.
Is there anyone who encourages you to pursue your dreams and goals of living a life with creativity at it's core? How do they do that?
Some days I can’t believe how lucky I am in being surrounded by friends, family, fellow makers who are extremely supportive of me, especially on days when it’s tough to see the value of your work. They remind me that creating art is NECESSARY, that my product has an audience, and that’s okay to feel sad at times. My mom, of course, is my biggest cheerleader.
What was the path that brought you to where you're at with your creative business right now? Any specific, notable moments you remember that led you to where you are now?
It’s been 12 years since I began sewing handbags for fun on my mom’s old Sears Kenmore machine. For many years, I stuck to creating one of a kind designs, which was a LOT of fun, but obviously, that kind of business model is tough to maintain sustainably, so I opted to create collections instead. This new collection draws from some designs that debuted on my shop 2-3 years ago, but I was never satisfied with either the materials I used or their construction. I applied feedback past customers provided into creating a higher quality (and more fun!) product that I can be 100% proud of calling my creation.
Make sure you head over and check out Little Bright Studios' shop, and give them a follow on Instagram and Facebook!
If you know of a rad lady who runs a creative business making super awesome stuff who you think should be our next Maker of the Month, submit them at the bottom of the page here! We love learning about new BA Chicks making stuff, running business, and being generally kick ass and creative.
All photos c/o Little Bright Studios, except last photo via @lalafauxbois