Academy of Handmade exists because we have community leaders that are willing to help, guide and support their fellow members. One very important leadership role is our Online Chapter Leader. Which, unlike local chapters, everyone in AHAS is in the Online Chapter! :) Our new leader TeDi is a great example of someone who gives back to this community generously. Read on to learn more about her!
Q: Introduce yourself. What do you make and how did you get started?
A: HI! I’m TeDi (pronounced teddy). I live on a 10 acre farm in Northern Colorado. We have goats and sheep (and 2 llamas, 4 dogs, 2 cats, 15 chickens, 4 pigs) and I have been making goat milk soap and doing fiber things like hand spinning and felting for 8 years. Two years ago I lost my job as an HR director. It was the best and worst thing. It was then that I decided to make the farm my work. We do sell some lambs and kids plus eggs but the primary parts of my business are value added products like the soap and yarn.
Q: Tell us about ways you've been working with makers already.
A: Even when I was working off the farm my favorite part of my job was training and cheering my staff on. Now that I am working full time on the farm people seek me out as a farm mentor and I love it! Last year I participated in the first AHAS mentor program. I had two awesome mentees and came away feeling like I probably learned more from them than they did from me. It was a great experience.
Q: Why do you think having online connections and programming is important?
A: So many makers work solitary and don’t have access to local community or they are introverts and struggle with accessing their community. With online connections the community is there on your time and you don’t have to get out of jammies! More importantly our online connections can cross geographical, industry and cultural barriers to bring folks together that might never have met. Our collective ideas and knowledge are really powerful!
Q: Share a little about what you love about the handmade community where you live?
A: I participate in a local maker group that is amazing! We get together weekly to brainstorm, cheer on and hold one another accountable. We also get together every so often for product photo shoot days.
There are so many things going on here that directly or indirectly support our maker community! Our city is supportive of all kinds of creativity both in exposure and education. There’s music and art everywhere! We have a great small business development center here as well.
Q: What's your favorite thing about the maker community?
A: I am amazed daily at the diversity of the maker community. So many people doing so many different amazing things and yet we have so much in common. I find makers to be authentic and really generous with their time and knowledge.
Q: What's the most important thing makers should remember when running their businesses?
A: I think it’s really easy to compare yourself to others. Sometimes you just have to put the blinders on and be true to yourself whether that is how you spend your time, price your products or make your business decisions. Only you can know what you really need. After that its also really important to make mistakes, BIG ones and then be gentle with yourself as you lean into the lesson.
Q: When you have free time, what are you typically doing?
A: Even though it is a part of my business, I love to spin. Sometimes I take my spinning wheel out to the pasture and spin where my sheep are grazing. I also like to read and am working on a book.