Remade in Britain Meets Amanda Jayne Handmade
Donna and I made a wonderful trip to her studio in Wetherby, West Yorkshire to interview her for our Remade Meets monthly blog feature. We had a lovely chat with tea and biscuits about her business, selling on stalls, her social media accomplishments and how she ensures she has a good work / life balance. Plus we of course got to tour where the creativity happens and see her fabulous collection of vintage habidashery!
How did you get in to making gifts and homewares?
My Grandma’s were very resourceful women and were definitely part of the ‘make do and mend’ generation. I watched them knitting, rag rug making and on their sewing machines and so I suppose I’ve always done crafts, especially papercrafts and scrapbooking. I remember that I started sewing and cross-stitching when I injured my back in my late teens and it was from there I tried card making, scrapbooking and dried flower arranging.
I guess I stumbled into mixed media when I started making a picture for my bedroom from the lace of my wedding dress mixed with some of my grandma’s precious vintage button collection. It was never a conscience decision but people had such a positive reaction to the work and I enjoyed making the pictures that I kept creating them. I found a lot of my scrapbooking materials transferred to the work and found it satisfying to embrace my love and respect for vintage whilst fulfilling my creative nature.
Upcycled wedding favours, transformed into a textile wall hanging
When did you decided to turn a hobby into a business?
I launched my facebook business page at the end of October 2013 and began my business from my bedroom. Whilst my work space and living space were combined, I found it really difficult to switch off. Thus my husband starting converting our storage room in May 2014. This room at the back of the garage was redecorated and organised into what is now my ‘studio’. I have adorned the space with lots of vintage mementos and keepsakes which keep my inspiration levels high.
Upcycled wedding favour detail
Have you had any formal training or did you teach yourself?
I haven’t had any formal training per say not even an art A Level but I did learn a lot from my Grandma’s and I quite like to give things a go. I suppose you would call me ‘self-taught’.
Personalised wedding favours
How would you describe your style? And where do you get your inspiration from?
Vintage, nostalgic, romantic, a repurpose challenge for myself! I get my inspiration from all around me especially from nature and walking the dog and from flowers in my garden. I often find that a good ‘vintage find’ such as a single old wooden knitting needle or a particular vintage fabric can be the start of something.
I have a huge appreciation for vintage buttons, vintage lace, vintage photographs and all kinds of mementos. I grew up watching old movies and musicals which has made me a huge Doris Day fan (hint my beloved 1940 sewing machine is named Doris) and I think this has influenced my work. Doris my sewing machine represents everything I love about vintage – she is beautiful, useful and built to last.
I am also heavily influenced by nature as I love to walk my schnauzer, Harry who you can also see has inspired some brooches.
Vintage tins found in Amanda's creative space, filled with antique buttons, threads and jewells.
Amanda Jayne embroidering in her studio space!
Do you have a favourite piece or section of pieces?
I really like my wedding heart canvases which are really popular and my vintage photo hangings. These were among the first things I made and developed from a desire to make something special for my home. I hope that they take a similar pride of place in others.
I also love vintage photographs and always have done so working with them is lovely. Pieces of art like my ‘Sisters’ piece are so great to do and obviously they are truly unique as I do not have another of the same vintage photograph to work with.
In terms of other artists, I honestly wasn’t aware of any before starting my facebook page and I suppose it was great to connect with some. The work of ‘Hens Teeth’, ‘Kirsty Elson’ and ‘Gentlework’ are among some of my favourite.
Amanda's embroidery book collection
'To Have and To Hold' Embroidery Art available to buy at remadeinbritain.com
What do you find your biggest challenge in running your own crafty business?
Definitely the time element and creating a good work / life balance. At first I think I threw myself into it too much, particularly the social media side because I was and am so enthusiastic to do this full time. So I do always take a minute to not spread myself too thinly when opportunities like events, big commissions and selling online come along.
The second biggest challenge is not to get carried away with buying fantastic vintage fabric and embellishments. I love attending antique collector’s fairs, car boots, auctions, sales and visiting charity and vintage shops. It’s hard to not get carried away when beautiful things inspire you and you have a passion for treasure hunting and accumulating a good vintage haberdashery hoard! I do like to imagine the story behind these treasures I find, particularly buttons and photographs. I can’t help thinking who did the buttons once belong to and on what item of clothing are they from? Who were the people in the photographs? What’s their story?
What do you consider your biggest working achievement to date?
Getting the balance right between work and life and of course venturing into the world of craft fairs. Craft fairs were daunting at first, especially how to best display my work on a budget and which ones to choose but I got there and am pleased with the results.
What are your goals for the future?
I would love this to be a full time career, although I do also love my day job which is 4 days a week. It would be fantastic to have a little vintage shop that offered sewing and embroidery classes and that had my work on display. That’s the dream.
Amanda's popular 'Angel' Hand Stitched Embroidered Hoop Art
Do you do anything else to supplement your business e.g. teaching, craft stalls, material selling, workshops, courses and/or events?
I sell vintage supplies and source materials for people. I do facebook vintage linen selling on Tuesday nights and attend craft fairs as and when. I also sell vintage tins as I love seeking out vintage treasures. Among my favourites are a 1930’s sewing book, a 1970’s Vogue sewing book, a T Johnson and son’s variety needle case and some vintage Chanel buttons.
I think I’m always careful not to take on too much as I do love spending time with my husband, my boys and my dog, Harry. However, I would possibly like do more craft fairs in the future and maybe take some more of my vintage finds if they don’t get snapped up online first.
Amanda's vintage fabric and lace collection within a beautiful retro chest of drawers
How do you go about managing your social media? Do you have any tips? Do you have a preference?
I was originally obsessed with social media, particularly Facebook. Now I’ve pulled it back and tend to do one post before work and one when I come home, apart from Mondays where I have the full day in my studio and thus can post and interact a lot more. I’m relatively new to Twitter but think it is going well.
With Pinterest I try not to get too involved in it only because I get lost and carried away and I also wouldn’t want it to influence my work and make any of my ideas ‘less my own’. At the moment my inspiration comes from nature and vintage finds and I really like working that way. Therefore for the time-being, my business and my work is mostly found through Facebook, fairs and word of mouth.
I have a group of Facebook pages and users where we support each other. We like and comment on each other’s pages which works well, like our own little community. I used to be part of networking craft groups but they do take up a lot of time so I tend not to focus on them anymore. I’ve also tried giveaways which does achieve a lot of likes but as soon as the giveaway is done, the likes disappear again one by one. I think the best way to do a giveaway is to give it to the most interactive page fan because otherwise they do seem to go to new people who may even collect giveaways on Facebook which is always a little disappointing.
The vintage tin exchange is also fabulous as each person fills a tin of goodies and exchanges it with a random partner. You get a lot of artists participating so what you get is often wonderful and unique.
Amanda at the Remade in Britain PR launch
You can see Amanda talking about her business Amanda Jayne Handmade or view the whole of our PR stunt video here! Remade in Britain TV (Our Youtube Channel)
Visit Amanda's Remade in Britain store now to see her latest products: Amanda Jayne Handmade
Amanda working away in her studio
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