Chat with Amy from amypanda / by Northern Craft

Here's our interview with the wonderful amypanda

Who are you and what do you do?
"I'm Amy Wilson and my business is amypanda. I live in a little town in Yorkshire called Otley, with my daughter, husband and cat. I handsew my work using brightly coloured felt. I love working with felt because you can create sharp lines using bright block colours, and I also love that I can turn what is a relatively cheap material into something more valuable."

You're super involved with Etsy Team Leeds, how has this network helped you develop as a maker and as a businesswoman?
"I love Etsy Team Leeds and I cannot recommend them enough! I've been a member for a few years and mostly use it as a Facebook group full of support and resources. Lots of the members have so much knowledge, it's amazing to be able to get really great free advice from really kind and supportive local peeps. The group run monthly meetings, which I try to get along to, and also incredible events - last year their two day Christmas fair at Leeds Museum was brilliant. Sometimes sitting at home and sewing on your own can feel quite lonely, so to have this group of peers who are so generous with their advice and support is amazing."

You've been crafting since 2008, how has your work changed since you started out?
"When I look at photos of when I first started selling brooches I cringe so much! My blanket stitch looks so messy and my designs are really warped and DIY. I did a History degree and have no training in sewing, but I didn't really think about how that might hold me back and instead just started making. 

I used to make sooo many different designs of brooches, and none of them were the same. As I gradually got much better at sewing I decided to make my brooches to order online, mostly because I absolutely hate photographing and listing items so each one being unique made no sense. This was probably the biggest step towards me thinking of my business as a brand. 

I love that I now make work that people actually recognise as mine, and I'll never grow tired of compliments on my neat blanket stitch by lovely folks at fairs. 

My business grew out of a love for creating something and although I'm hugely admiring of people who create a wonderful brand from day one I think that if you're making because you love to make then you should just go for it! 

It's taken quite a long time for me to stop doubting that my work is valid, because of not having any kind of training in the arts I do feel like I'm winging it, but being accepted to amazing fairs like Renegade Craft fair in London and the Hepworth and Northern Craft fairs has given me so much new confidence in what I'm doing. 

I would never have been chosen for Northern Craft back when I started, but I'd never have the business I have now if I hadn't taken stacks of wonky handmade brooches to indiepop festivals back in 2008 and slowly become more excited by some designs over others. Back when I started the aim was to make fun items to make people smile, and this hasn't really changed, now I just also aim for my work to look professional too!"

Which stall at Northern Craft are you most looking forward to seeing?
"I'm so so excited for Northern Craft Fair! It's going to be absolutely packed with sellers I admire. I've been pouring over photos of Kerrie ALDO's cute mod clothing online and can't wait to try on a jacket. I'm going to treat myself to a plant and pot from geo-fleur and can't wait to see WitShopuk's stall after being blown away by their set up at the Hepworth's Christmas fair. I'm hoping to also take some pocket money for pins from various sellers."

Amy will be selling her work on both days at our Summer Fair