Amy Reader is a fiber and installation artist who thrives in tedium, repetition, and texture. She hand stitches pieces ranging from over 4 feet long to as small as a third of an inch using upcycled, recycled, and sustainably sourced materials.
What inspired you to start your business?
I had been working as a display artist for a large company, and while that job was exciting and an excellent learning experience, it was also sucking up all of my creativity and energy. I would come home tired and not want to keep working creatively or even work at all. This job was also very demanding of my body. After some serious health issues in 2017 (fun fact - your gallbladder can fail at age 24, it's very rare and will confuse all your doctors, but it is possible), my stamina was greatly depleted to the point where I was struggling to do the work at my day job and any of my own work. I had so many ideas for my own work and decided it was time I shifted my attention and energy to pursue those ideas. I left my full time job and plunged headfirst into my own business.
What is something you would say to someone who is struggling in their first few years of business? Is there something you struggled with and learned from in those first few years?
Build community. Find friends near and far, google everything, apply for anything that remotely appeals to you, ask lots of questions and listen carefully. Through friendships that I’ve made exclusively through social media, I have learned a lot and made genuine connections (shoutout to #embroideryinstagram) and found people who work with the same or similar mediums and are experiencing similar struggles. Here in Charlotte, where I live, I’ve also made a point to go out and connect with other small business owners. I found a fiber artist group that meets regularly and has been a wonderful source of community and a wealth of information and support. It has taken me a while to build these connections, but slowly I have found people that I can support and cheer on and I know will do the same for me and that is invaluable. I meet regularly with some “business besties” and we chat about everything from SEO and website building to random stories about our pets, partners, and more. When I left my job and went from being around people 40-50 hours/week to my primary companion being my cat, it felt incredibly isolating. There were a lot of growing pains involved and it felt like I was completely alone and floundering. My cat couldn’t provide adequate business advice. As I’ve built connections with people and found true friendships, it has made working from home a lot less isolating. As a lifelong introvert, I thought at first that I would be happy to work alone all day every day but that eventually wore off. Now I schedule in social time to my week to ensure I am not alone 40-50 hours/week.
What hobbies, causes, or activities are you passionate about aside from your work?
I am training for my 6th half marathon this fall. In addition to running, my husband and I play in a recreational soccer league together. We have a cat who is my little studio buddy and was my birthday present back in 2017. He is a fluffy Siberian kitty and my Chief Quality Officer/Yarn Inspector. In my own home, we are incredibly passionate about sustainability. I love researching sustainable swaps and alternatives for everyday things and sharing them with others. Several of our family members have switched from disposable paper napkins to cloth napkins directly because of us! Many friends have ditched single use plastic bags in favor of reusable fabric snack bags. Now when a favorite shirt has a hole, my husband will come to me and ask how we can mend the item instead of replacing it. I am a longtime vegetarian. We also love hiking, backpacking, and traveling.