This week I’m excited to introduce you to Amber Johnson of Craft-A-Boo. Amber creates stunning crochet items including a Lego style blanket that has gone viral! Whether you’re looking for a mug cozy or a cute elephant hat, Amber has you covered!
1) Tell us a little bit about your business and how it got started.
My business started without really trying to start a business! I have never felt that artistic at all, growing up with two sisters who sing and draw beautifully. I have always felt like I didn’t have an artistic bone in my body!
Then I started sewing in high school and loved watching my grandmother quilt, so I started doing that. I fell in love! It was very therapeutic for me. Life kind of got in the way and I no longer had a way to set up my studio and pursue my passion for quilting. So I had to look to other creative outlets.
I had learned how to crochet as a teenager, but it wasn’t cool and I have literally zero patience for completing a project, so I kind of gave it up. But after I had to give up my quilting studio I decided I’d pick up a hook again and give it a whirl. I found that I loved crochet more than I had ever loved quilting and I was “hooked”. (hehe)
I started making things for friends and family, and they were telling me how good they were. I had already opened an Etsy store for my quilting stuff, but wasn’t finding much success with it. So I re-branded everything and started putting my crochet items up. I’ve found such fulfillment in my customers purchasing my things!
I love connecting with people in a truly unique way, and having a part of my heart being in their home is a wonderful feeling.
2) What is your favorite part of owning a handmade business?
Owning a handmade business gives me such freedom! I love the ability I have to work when I want, where I want. If I want to take a day off to visit a friend, I can do that. If I decide I’ve taken too many days off and have a mountain of work waiting for me and have to put in an eighteen hour work day I can!
I love the ability I have to truly prioritize my life on my terms. Without a boss or a time clock constantly breathing down my neck. It really is empowering to be able to live life on your terms.
3) What is something you’ve learned during your handmade journey that you’d like to share to help or inspire others?
Don’t give up! You are so strong, and capable of much more than you give yourself credit for. This is hard. It’s the hardest job I’ve ever had. But it’s also the most rewarding, the most fulfilling, and the funnest job I’ve ever had!
You’re going to doubt yourself. You’re going to look at everything you’re doing, be tempted to throw it in the trash and convince yourself that you’re doing everything wrong. (true story!) Sometimes you’ll do that daily. But in those moments, truly take a minute to look at yourself and reflect back on your progress. Take a breather. Step away, and go play with your kids. Go read a book or watch some TV. But DO NOT QUIT! You are enough and you can do it!
This is the hardest lesson that I’ve learned, and am still learning. Everyday is a new challenge for me. Whether it’s health issues that keep me from fulfilling orders, to crickets when I put up a new listing. Sometimes I’ll have wild success with a post on social media and I’m on top of the world. Other days it’s so quiet that it makes me wonder if everyone simultaneously decided to just hate me! I convince myself that I’ve done something wrong, and get worked up and in my head about it.
In those moments, reach out to someone! Reach out to other handmade sellers, and get some perspective. Get a second opinion. Ask questions, learn, grow and laugh with others that are on the same journey you are. It’s so hard for me to be that vulnerable that it’s really difficult to reach out in moments of doubt. But once I do it, it’s so much better. And it will be for you too.
4) How has the Handmade Journey Academy helped grow your business?
Handmade Journey Academy has literally been my lifesaver! I have learned so much from this place that it’s unreal. I have had my shop open since 2009 but haven’t really done much with it. The times that I have decided to “work on my shop” haven’t resulted in anything substantial so I threw in the towel again.
However I left it open. I just couldn’t bring myself to close up shop. When I decided this time around that I was seriously going to work on it, I started searching Facebook groups because I knew I needed help. I knew I needed a professional opinion, and short of that I needed a community of like minded people to help me. There was so much conflicting information out there that it was hard to decide what felt best for my business.
And then I found Jami and this site. I decided that the $10/month fee (the price at the time) was worth it to see if I could make a go of this. I figured I’d spent $10 on worse stuff, and if I could double my investment it would be worth it. And so I dove in. I absorbed all the information on the site, and was active in the Facebook group. My first month brought in $160. It wasn’t much in the grand scheme of things, but it was 16X return on my investment and I was thrilled.
This place is full of great information and support, and I honestly couldn’t do what I do without the tools I’ve gained here in this place.
5) What are your future goals for your business?
My dream is to make this a full time source of income. I want to be able to create products I love and sell them to those that truly want them. I want to make this a full time source of income so my husband doesn’t have to keep killing himself to provide for our family. I have health issues that prevent me from doing a regular job. This is my way of contributing on my terms in a way that I can manage.
Next year I’d like to double what I’ve done this year, and with the help of HJA I think I can definitely reach that goal!
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