Celebrate Slow and Intentional Living With Woven Handmade – Starter Company Plus Spotlight
Meet Amy Billinghurst, Owner and Sewing Machine Wizard of Woven Handmade. Among many other things, Amy seeks to bring quality handmade goods to the homes of her customers – creating appreciation and connection to the maker and the product. Shop items like cotton rope baskets, linen totes, trivets, coasters or join her bi-annual curated subscription box and get a taste of all that is Woven Handmade. When she isn’t sewing her heart out, find her hitting the bike trails, tending to her garden, or hours deep into a good podcast. Woven Handmade is rooted in community and connection, two things evident in the way she approaches life and business.
Learn more about Amy and Woven Handmade through the Q+A below.
What is your favourite part about being an entrepreneur?
I love the freedom of spending my time how I like. As a creative person, I find inspiration in many aspects of my life, and enjoy not being tied to a set schedule. I find entrepreneurship very rewarding, and building something from nothing inspires me to keep going.
What inspired you to start your business? What drives you?
My business started in a chapter of my life that was entrenched in change. We had just moved across the country, and were looking to start a family. I was new to this town, and didn’t want to continue in the field of work I had been in in the past (finance). I was looking for a creative outlet, and started my baskets as a hobby. After beginning, my friends and family took a liking to them, and it all grew from there.
What services or products do you offer? Do you have a fave product at the moment?
I offer Canadian handmade home goods, and cotton rope baskets and linen goods made by yours truly. My current favourite product I make is my linen star stocking. It’s timeless and simple, yet has an heirloom feel and quality about it.
What makes your business stand out?
I think my business stands out because of the handmade nature of my products. Since starting this business there have been quite a few shops that carry Canadian handmade items, but most aren’t made in house, and we don’t always get to see the process of how things are made. I think people value knowing who makes the items we buy and live with, and having a connection to the maker and the brand sets my business apart from the rest.
Do you have any advice for aspiring business owners who are still in the ideation phase but have not yet taken the plunge?
I’ve always been someone who didn’t mind making mistakes. I think it can be helpful in the initial stages of a budding business, as sometimes learning from these things is what helps you continue and grow. Entrepreneurship and business is a lot of trial and error, and seeing what fits with you and your customers. The more I look at most people working at a business the more I see that everyone is just learning and making things happen as it all unfolds. Nothing is perfect, or ever will be so just get started!
How valuable have the resources at the SBEC been in the start-up of your business?
SBEC has been a wonderful program to be a part of. While I didn’t enter into the program at the start-up phase of my business, it has provided a ton of free resources that can help me and my business continue to grow in the future. We have such a strong entrepreneurial spirit here in Southern Georgian Bay, and it has been a pleasure to be among other new business owners, bouncing our ideas around, getting comfortable talking to each other about our businesses, and learning about how we can grow in the future.
Who is your biggest cheerleader (and why)?
My husband is one of my biggest cheerleaders! He is constantly there for me when I have tough questions to answer about my own business. He’s always telling people about me and my business, and is a much needed sounding board as I navigate this business on my own. Above all, he values my creativity and supports me every step of the way.
What does success look like to you – when will you know you’ve achieved it?
Success has had many different meanings to me in my life. I started my working life in a very different place than I am now. It was all about money, and working long days. Since then, success looks like health, and time spent doing things that bring me joy. Success to me is being kind and grateful, and sharing life with people you love. I’ve achieved success in both ways at different times of my life, and I’m sure this will continue to change over the years.
What are your favourite local spots to visit on a day off?
My favourite local spots to visit on a day off are anywhere on the Bruce Trail. I love this trail and many different areas of it for both trail running and mountain biking. The Pretty River Valley, Three stage, and Blue Mountain are some specifics to name a few.
How do you want your clients to feel when they interact/purchase from you/use your service?
I want my clients to feel connected to me and the products they buy and use. Every purchase made, means they are supporting a mother, a woman, and a family. Ultimately, I want them to feel proud of their purchase, and to display their items knowing they can speak to the maker behind each product. When customers feel like they have purchased something that has a unique quality to it – that’s a special feeling.
What is your favourite meal to cook for other people? Why?
I love to cook a one-pot meal for my friends and family. Main Dish minestrone is something my parents made us growing up, and it’s a flavourful soup that uses tons of different veggies, noodles and sausage. It’s warm and inviting, easy to make and clean up, and we serve it with homemade corn meal muffins. It’s perfect.
What kind of music do you listen to while working?
I listen to alternative music for the most part, or podcasts – lots and lots of podcasts.
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