Monday, March 28, 2011

Art Biz Mama: Amy Friend

I am so happy to be back with a new Art Biz Mama interview! This one is with the lovely Amy Friend of Cypress Sun Jewelry. It has so many lovely nuggets of inspiration. I know you are going to love it. I did! Enjoy!
First, let me say a huge “Thank You” for taking the time to answer these questions. I know how busy you are so it really means a lot to all of us that you took the time to be here today!

I’m absolutely honored. I can’t tell you how inspired I’ve
been by the stories of creative mamas. I’ve learned something from each one, and have been reminded that I can do this wild and crazy thing.

Could you please share a bit about you, your family and your business?
I’m Amy, a gypsy hearted girl with a passion for creating soulful, feminine jewelry. I live near Austin, Texas with my husband and (almost) 3 year old son, Z.
Cypress Sun Jewelry came to be right before Z was born, but I’ve been drawn to beads, wire and oddities since I was the tiny girl that transformed her grandmother’s rosary one morning in the pew. I’m fascinated by the little details in life, the intricate ways that people have adorned themselves throughout time, and a good, earth-shaking thunderstorm.

I read on your website that you started your business just 10 days before your son was born! What led you to that decision?

I think I might have panicked, and thought it wouldn’t happen
if I didn’t do it before Z was born! I was also more inspired than ever before to make that jump from 8-5 to a creative business.

How has having children affected your business and creativity?

Soon after I started the business and opened an Etsy shop, everything stopped.

Z was born. This precious child didn’t sleep (not for more than one hour -ever!), I had postpartum depression....It wasn’t the joy I had expected. But this experience was also the catalyst to discovering and creating joy.

A year after Z’s birth, I began to laugh again, and find strength in my creativity. Who knew that putting on a necklace would give me the spark to get going? I wanted to give that inspiration to others, both literally and figuratively. To honor my passion and live it.

Whether or not someone buys, or even likes the jewelry I create, I know I contribute a little more beauty and happiness to the world each day. And when someone does find my jewelry to be their thing, the happiness just goes further.

Having a child is, in my experience, the ultimate meditation. The present moment is all that matters, over and over again. You can survive it, or sink into it fully.

This simple concept has made all the difference for me. I don’t know if I would have gotten here without having an amazing child who reminds me every day to see this world so vividly.

Would you please share what a “typical day” is like for you?

Gratitude, exercise, priorities, work & play. Repeat, repeat, repeat...

There is an interlude of morning where anxiety or excitement seem to compete for prominence in my day. Starting the day off with a simple meditation of gratitude followed by exercise gets me on the higher track, and opens the door to amazing possibilities.

The rest of the day is broken into flexible increments of play, clean up, and work. I’ve found that I can usually work for 30 minutes while Z plays somewhat independently, especially if that 30 minutes will be followed by an active game of hide-n-seek or painting.

Occasionally, I can work for a couple of hours straight in the morning, and then spend the afternoon with him. Sometimes I can’t work at all! If Z naps (he has, by the way, learned to do this thing called sleep!), I work on jewelry and listen (via the ever entertaining Natural Reader) to the blogs posts, and other online articles that help shape my life and business.

Evenings go by so quickly. Sometimes there is time to finish something - a necklace, a blog post - after Z goes to bed. I always try to reflect on my plans for the day, and create a basic plan for the next. Some sense of completion at the end of the day, and focus for the next morning are two things that help me sleep better.

One technique that helps me a lot is note taking throughout the day. I carry a plain jane spiral with me almost everywhere, and jot down thoughts for blog posts, ideas sparked from online information, sketches, appointments, and anything else I need to do/remember. 

At the end of the day, all this information gets organized (in a calendar, etc.) or discarded (crossed, but not torn out). I could do all this on my (not so smart) phone, but somehow it just works better, and I’m more expressive with pen on paper. A side benefit is that Z gets to doodle too.

How many hours do you give to your business each week? Are you working during the days/evenings/weekends?

I work at least 40 hours a week in divided time throughout the week, and typically on weekends as well.

Are you running your business alone or do you have help?

Z helps me chase the beads that have fallen to the floor...does that count? I also happen to have a creative and supportive soul mate in my life. Without him...well, let’s just say that he tops the gratitude list each day.

Do you have a separate studio space in your home?

In the home that we plan to build - yes! For now, I have a corner of a bedroom. This actually works out really well. I can hear and see Z from this space, so I probably get more work done with this arrangement than I would if I had my own studio space.

Many of the Art Biz Mama's have said that really there isn't any balance when you are a mom and have a creative biz.  Do you feel you have a healthy balance between your work life and your family life? Is it all intertwined for you?

Absolutely intertwined. I wouldn’t have it any other way though. I’m finally living and breathing something that is exciting to me.

With that said, I have to admit that this balancing act has been really challenging for me. I used to be a workaholic perfectionist, and now I’mforced into recovering from that personality! 

When I read about other creative individuals being able to sit with an idea or a project from beginning to end, or spend all day in the studio, I’m apologetically jealous. But I’m also aware that I am often more productive and efficient in smaller amounts of time than I used to be.

Having a child just may have been the push I was needing to get going on my jewelry business after all.

Is there anything else that you would like to share with us today? Any words of wisdom for other artists/moms out there who wish to create a business out of their art?

Don’t compare yourself to others. You have no idea how many years (or $$$) the rock star creatives have put into their businesses, how many people have helped them design their websites, or how many tears they have cried along the way.

Seek and maintain positive relationships with other creatives that will cheer you on, offer heartfelt advice, and get excited about the journey with you.

Let the negative people and thoughts go.

Keep your focus on connection rather than competition.

Stay centered in your dream, and take at least one tiny step each day in the direction of living it.

Get as much sleep as you can.

Celebrate something in terms of living creatively each day.

Tune into supportive, encouraging sites (such as Dana’s beautiful space) where you can leave feeling inspired and intrigued.

When it’s all too much, unplug, walk outside, feel your feet on the grass, snow...searing pavement, and reconnect to what is real. I’m right there with you.

Keep going!

Cypress Sun Jewelry

To connect with Amy click on the above link.

Thank you Amy! It was so great to learn a bit more about you and your business!


Catherine Denton said...

Loved this interview! Amy's way of integrating her day between working and playing is such a beautiful way to live. Thanks for sharing, Dana and Amy!

Sonya McCllough Lockridge said...

awesome interview and what a beautiful boy Amy has!

chrissy said...

dana...this was a wonderful interview. i loved amy's idea of a everyday vacation. i could really use this in my life at the moment. you always have the most wonderful inspiring mamas on here. huge hugs to you dana.
thank you!

Concetta said...

Just the most beautiful, thoughtful, heartfull, wisdom full interview. Thank you both of you. x

amy friend said...

Thanks for these encouraging comments. I love that we can continually remind each other of ways to actualize our dreams, and celebrate them. Thanks Dana!

Suzanne said...

That's a great interview with a very inspiring artist. Thanks for showcasing a working mom here.

marilyn said...

good information for anybody starting their own business. Love her jewelery.

Pragya said...

'Having a child is, in my experience, the ultimate meditation' - Beautifully said!