small entrepreneurs

Creative Profile: Amy Richards Illustration

The moment we stepped into the magical, whimsical office of Amy Richard's Illustration we knew we were in for a treat. When I was working for a local Mexican restaurant I actually stumbled upon her "Taco" illustration and reached out to feature it on their Instagram page. From there I saw her at a few Sola pop-up markets and immediately fell in love with her designs. 

We are so honored to have her as our February creative and if you go to her page and sign up for her newsletter you'll gain access to her monthly desktop calendar backgrounds. 

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How did you know you wanted to start this business? How did your craft come about?

Towards the end of college, while working on my art education degree, I got really into children's book illustration. I knew then that while I planned to teach, ultimately I was an artist first and would find a way to work towards that as my main gig.

creative community - amy richards illustrations - lifestyle blog
creative community - amy richards illustrations - lifestyle blog
creative community - amy richards illustrations - lifestyle blog

What is the hardest thing about being a small business owner?

For me it is taking breaks. Even the stuff I don't really like doing (i.e. finances, tax stuff) I don't really mind doing, if that makes sense. I think its because its all mine, its my thing that I have worked to build and even if its just entering my monthly info into my finance spreadsheets, I'm still pretty content to do it. I have a hard time putting the work down—it's pretty much always on my mind, especially ideas for what I will create next.

creative community - amy richards illustrations - lifestyle blog
creative community - amy richards illustrations - lifestyle blog
creative community - amy richards illustrations - lifestyle blog

Tell us a little bit about your design themes! What draws you to the elements and mediums that you use? What inspires you?

I started using watercolor about 5 years ago now. I loved the look of it, it wasn't quite as popular as it is now and I didn't really know any other artists in the area that were using it. As soon as I started I was hooked. I love the way that it can be used to create super broad strokes that look light and effortless or the way I can apply it in a more detailed way, as with my pet portraits. My favorite subjects are flora, fauna, & food!

creative community - amy richards illustrations - lifestyle blog
creative community - amy richards illustrations - lifestyle blog

Describe your office space and what your most productive time to work is.

My studio space is as whimsical as my art. It is somewhat the aesthetic of the bedroom I always wanted as a kid. The walls are the softest shade of sea foam green and I get incredible lighting from two windows that sandwich my desk. I have lights, colorful garlands, art, greeting cards, photos, notecards, patches, and all kinds of treasures adorning the walls that keep me inspired. One of my favorite things is an old photo of my mom, me at 2 and my godmother who has passed, but was one of my and my mom's fav people ever. There is pretty much always a dog or two or three snoozing under my desk—I don't know how they all fit! I love working from home and do my best work for illustrating first thing in the morning.

creative community - amy richards illustrations - lifestyle blog
creative community - amy richards illustrations - lifestyle blog
creative community - amy richards illustrations - lifestyle blog

What is your favorite piece and why?

I think the pet portraits are my favorite. I am so attached to my 3 pups and I love creating something for customers that is so personal and can be enjoyed for a long time. Recently I have been commissioned to do more and more memorial portraits which is makes me feel pretty humbled. The fact that folks trust me to create something so special is really pretty neat.

creative community - amy richards illustrations - lifestyle blog
creative community - amy richards illustrations - lifestyle blog

What are some goals you have for your business?

One of my main goals for 2018 is to finally finish and self-publish a children's book I started 4 years ago. I have recently come up with some new directions for imagery and being that its a picture book, the illustrations have to be just right. I have completed/ about 50 illustrations so far and am re-working about 70% of them again this year. Some of the illustrations I'll be recreating for the third or fourth time! I am also working hard to find new wholesale partnerships both locally and regionally.

creative community - amy richards illustrations - lifestyle blog
creative community - amy richards illustrations - lifestyle blog

What piece of advice would you give to someone just starting out in their small business?

As a creative, the work load is about 30% creating and about 70% other stuff (marketing, biz things, emails, newsletters, social media, filling orders, etc.) Be prepared to put in the time to learn and make mistakes. Everyone has their own journey- mind definitely looks less like a straight line and more like a tangled ball of yarn! That is where the good stuff lives, in the journey. Also be kind. This community is small and you never know when a connection may come around again in your life.

creative community - amy richards illustrations - lifestyle blog
creative community - amy richards illustrations - lifestyle blog
creative community - amy richards illustrations - lifestyle blog

What are your most effective marketing tools? What are some Things that drive your business?

Recently, after about a year of dread, I started a monthly newsletter and I am totally loving it! I thought a lot about the kind of content I was willing to subscribe to and am striving to make my connections with people authentic and informative. We can't control the algorithms of social media but we can control things like our own website domains and newsletters. Folks in the maker community that I admire made their newsletters into types of 'clubs' which seemed really fun to me and that is how I came up with the "Sloth Mail Club."

Illustrations for a children's book Amy is working on. 

Illustrations for a children's book Amy is working on. 

creative community - amy richards illustrations - lifestyle blog
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Where can we buy your products?

The easiest place to find the widest variety of products would be in my Etsy store. You can currently find some of my products at Relish Cafe, Sola Coffee, Artspace, Bulldega & Ollies.

creative community - amy richards illustrations - lifestyle blog
creative community - amy richards illustrations - lifestyle blog
creative community - amy richards illustrations - lifestyle blog

Is there anything else you'd love for your audience to know about you? 

I'm a big believer in the power of a simple greeting card in someone's mail box to brighten their day. I come from a family of card senders and my Mom taught me the importance of snail mail correspondence, especially in an age where people can be too busy to send a text. I really think card sending and writing notes by hand is a lost art. I am also a believer in the necessity to surround yourself in your space with images that move you and keep you inspired.

creative community - amy richards illustrations - lifestyle blog
creative community - amy richards illustrations - lifestyle blog
creative community - amy richards illustrations - lifestyle blog

Don't forget to check out Amy Richard's Illustration website, Etsy shop, or follow along on Instagram. 

If you want to get to know Amy a little better why not sign up for her SkillPop class this month on February 13th and take home a floral watercolor painting! 

creative community - amy richards illustrations - lifestyle blog
creative community - amy richards illustrations - lifestyle blog

Creative Profile: Swallow Hearts

For our April - Artist Feature I wanted to spotlight a talented jewelry designed named Meg also known as Swallows Heart.  Born and raised in NC - her minimalistic, nature inspired designs resonated with me as both and artist and a stylist. Her pieces work so well with everything and are reasonably priced - a statement piece for any budget. 

When I first reached out to Meg about answering a few questions for us - I was thrilled when she responded yes and even more thrilled with the packages I received after I placed an order to feature her work on Three Region. 

I received this lovely note from her along with a few pieces I couldn't wait to wear! But I wanted to show you more than just her jewelry but to really discuss her as a person, her brand, and what inspires her to continue her entrepreneur journey. 

How Did You Come Up With The Name Swallow's Heart? 

 

The swallow is a symbol of always returning home safely to a lifelong love. Before technology, sailors would know they were almost home when they would see the welcome sight of flocks of swallows flying ahead- birds that never flew too far from land, their home. The word “home” has changed a lot for me over the past five years, as I’ve lived in North Carolina, Georgia, Alaska, Arizona, and now New York. I’ve learned, though, that home is always who you’re with, not where you are. That is unchanging, that is constant, and that is my heart.

About the Brand: 

 "Swallow’s Heart is a collection of whimsical, nature-inspired, affordable handcrafted jewelry designs. My goal is to create jewelry that encourages girls to get out and explore! Whether it’s a farmers market, a favorite local coffee shop, a flight to a new destination, a festival, a downtown scene, anything! I want girls to feel free-spirited and adventurous and alive when they put on a handcrafted Swallow’s Heart necklace."
Swallow Hearts Jewelry - creatives in the Community

What Inspires Your Work? 

My primary inspirations are nature and adventure. The mountains are my happy place, which is why they are incorporated in my logo. I feel alive and inspired when I’m in the mountains! When designing jewelry, I definitely gravitate toward natural pieces, like gemstones and arrowheads and leather. I love working with those materials.

How Did You Get Started In Jewelry Making? 

I actually started jewelry-making as a hobby in college, so I am self-taught. It was a creative outlet for me. I would create jewelry for myself (I’ve always been a DIYer) and family/friends. After being nudged several times by my close friends, I finally opened an Etsy shop, and so it began! I participated in my first handmade market in Boone, just as we were preparing to move to Georgia. I had so much fun meeting and interacting with customers face-to-face, and my friends and family were oh so supportive! That market really set my focus for continuing to participate in local markets in western GA and eventually Alaska.
Swallow Hearts Jewelry - creatives in the Community

How did North Carolina inspire you and your designs? Do you feel like every time you move you take parts of that environment into your design process?

Although I no longer live there, North Carolina is in my blood. I first began designing jewelry in the mountains of North Carolina, and really, is there anywhere more beautiful and inspiring than the Blue Ridge? The artsy, thriving, small, mountain life of Boone was the perfect place for Swallow’s Heart to take flight.

What Is Your Favorite Piece You've Ever Made? 

I think my favorite piece would be a recent necklace- the black obsidian arrowhead necklace! I am a sucker for arrowhead pieces.

I actually purchased this piece and I absolutely love it as well! It was a must have! Buy it here! 

Swallow Hearts Jewelry - creatives in the Community


How Do You Distinguish Yourself From Other Jewelry Makers?

I like to keep my jewelry designs unique and affordable. I believe in being budget-conscious, so I always try to keep that in mind when designing new pieces. I also gravitate toward a minimalist approach- less is more in my book.

How Do You Spend Your Time When You're Not Working on your Business or Creating New Designs?

My husband Sam and I love to be outside and travel with our 3 huskies, Luna, Kaia, and Sioux (pronounced “Sue” - he’s a boy named Sioux, named after Johnny Cash’s song). We found our passion in dog mushing while living in Alaska, so when there’s snow, we really enjoy taking the dogs out on the sled in winter months… and during the rest of the year, we hike and camp as much as we can. I also love thrifting and exploring local farmers and flea markets and new small towns. Basically, any kind of exploring and adventuring is the best!
Swallow Hearts Jewelry - creatives in the Community


 

 

Any Advice for Young Entrepreneurs Who Are Trying to Fulfill Their Dreams within a Creative Industry?

Know yourself, know your style. Don’t get too caught up in what others are doing… it’s true what they say; comparison is the thief of joy. Pour your whole heart into what you love and align yourself with those who believe in you. And don’t forget to always be grateful and generous! No one gets anywhere alone. :)

 

 

 

 

We are HUGE supporters of Swallow's Heart and we hope you will be too. Go over to their page today and buy as much amazing jewelry as you can to support this local, handmade business with deep roots in North Carolina! We can't wait to keep up with Meg in her journey.