Artist: Amy Turn Sharp
Location: Ohio, USA
Web sites: Littlealouette.etsy.com , Little Alouette
What do you create?
Wood rattles, teethers, and toys.
How did you come up with your business name?
My good friend gave me the name!!! I am married to a Brit- but I am a bit of a francophile :)
When and why did you decide to start your business?
My husband (classically trained master carpenter) and I started making toys for our son Finn when he was a baby and then after a lot of issues with recalls and a new baby in the teething stages we decided to make our own maple rattles and teethers and soon friends and family loved them and we started an etsy shop.
(this is on our site- Over a decade ago a handsome British boy and an Ohio lass met and fell madly in love at first site in a sleepy university town. The boy was a classically trained master carpenter and the girl a writer with a bit of wanderlust. They worked together creatively through the years on many projects involving woodworking as they restored and remodeled homes together. The boy taught his love about trees on their land in the country and how to use power tools and the girl read poems to him while they worked. They started a journey of following their bliss and eventually brought two wee ones into the world and began creating wooden toys for them. They decided to share these wee wooden toys with the world and Little Alouette, LLC was born over hot steaming mugs of cocoa in the winter of 2007.)
Where do you get your inspiration for your projects?
Our two boys! (Finn age 4 and Blaise age 2) They are our inspiration and drive! They test everything! And our customers!!! They give us great ideas in the form of custom work! Which of the tools you use is your favorite? Joe uses the big boy tools really. I use the sanding table sometimes, but really I like the sandpaper in hand feel of working with wood. I also like going out to the local farm where we source our wood and watch Joe plane the wood. I find such pleasure in the art of wood working. I love how old school it can be- me and the boys in the pick up truck out in the country on the way to the farm!
What would be a dream project that you’d love to work on?
I would love to start making furniture with Joseph. He had bespoken furniture workshop in the north of England about ten years ago and he is so talented. I would love to make affordable modern pieces for the wee ones. I love modern design but really am unable to afford most of it- I know there are others like me who would love options! There are also some collaborations to come in 2009 with cool peeps that I am excited about- The blogosphere has been so amazing and I have connected with so many lovely people!!!
What advice would you give to someone starting a creative business?
Learn to market yourself.
Give and connect!
Be not afraid. Nothing from nothing ever came.
I am of the "go for it" group. I left my wonderful career in shaky economic times to write a novel and become a toy maker and people thought I must have lost my mind- but my family is doing great. We are living frugally, but we are living very happy and have spent more time together in the last 16 months than ever before! We eat dinner together around a table each and every night. This did not happen when I worked outside the home. This is a big deal.
What's the most important thing you'd like people to know/understand about your work?
We create each piece with our hands and love is in each one. We want people to know that they have options in the way of baby toys. Simple is often best. Wood is good!
What 3-4 words would like to be associated with your work?
handmade/heirloom/modern nursery/eco friendly/
What have you learned about yourself through your work?
That working for yourself is much harder than working for anyone else.
That I worry too much and must stop and relax more than I do.
That I love connecting with my customers and clients- honestly - I am in LOVE with my customers and wholesale folk! In love!
That I am more competitive than I thought I was.
That my husband and I are really hard workers and we know our children will grow and see this in us. We are so excited to share the idea of following dreams with our sons.
If you had the time, what new craft/medium would you like to learn or use?
I so want to paint. I used to mess about with painting in college. I also want to sew more.
What's your definition of a perfect day?
The whole family waking up on one of the Greek Isles (Mykonos or Paros- we love) with frappes and large trays of breakfast- all of us dressed in white gorgeous bed sheets and the wind pouring in the open windows, the sun so bright our eyes squint... Yes- we need a vacation! :)
Thank you Amy!