Amy Mariah is a Print Designer and Illustrator who makes a range of fun, unique and exciting products using her designs. Each product is designed, handmade and then packaged all by Amy herself. You can find a range of products from quirky and spooky earrings to fun and stylish phone cases.
YouK sat down with Amy to discuss how Amy Mariah came about, the work that goes into her designs and illustrations and the unique pressure of graduating in the middle of a global pandemic.
What first got you into designing and producing your own products?
Originally, I didn’t want to set up my own business, I wanted to get a job straight out of university after graduation, that’s always been my goal! But because I graduated from university in the middle of a global pandemic, that wasn’t really an option anymore with companies not hiring as they used to or not hiring at all. So I set up my own business creating products I think people will love using illustrations from my final graduate collection!
What is the inspiration behind some of your pieces?
I get inspiration for what I design from all over, from holidays to everyday objects but the style in which I create designs depends on which target market and trend I aim to create for. The inspiration behind my ghost-themed collection was to bring a ‘Halloween’ theme to every day, purely because I love Halloween! So I wanted to create some fun and cute illustrations making little spooky characters go about their everyday lives the other 364 days of the year when they aren’t scary on Halloween including doing the laundry and hiding among plants.
Did you have any challenges or obstacles in setting up your small business?
I keep finding challenges and obstacles every single day, and a lot of what I’ve done has been trial and error. From finding materials and supplies at good prices to technology failure!
I moved back home after university and with limited room, I had to set up my business in my parents’ garage which has no windows, got very cold and damp. Not ideal as I was in there all-day every-day and the damp caused my printer to stop working after having it for about 10 years so I needed to buy a new one. It didn’t help that everywhere sold out because of people buying them to work from home!
So, now I’m set up in their dining room with a desk and some shelves, with actual daylight and heating! But the main challenge is to find a work-life balance, as at the minute I work from when I get up in the morning to when I go to bed as I’m constantly making and packing orders or making new things throughout the week, as well as market stall prep for the weekend (every Saturday) so I need to set a schedule to have a day off every now and again because at the minute I work 7 days a week!
Describe the process you go through when producing your products.
Honestly, I don’t really have a process! It really depends on the product, but I just decide what I would like to make, work out what materials I would need to make the product, research where I can buy the materials from for the best price and then experiment! There have been many test prints which are now in my ‘seconds’ basket on my market stall for cheap and also there have been many failed attempts at things I want to make but I’ll get back round to it the future (eventually).
How important has keeping production local been to you?
I want to keep everything ‘made by me’ that way I can oversee what needs changing, if things go wrong, how I can change it, if the item quality isn’t up to scratch, I’m really the only person to blame haha. But this way the products people are purchasing have all been made by me and it means so much more when they love the item they receive as I’ve actually made it.
Follow up: Why do you think people shopping locally and supporting small businesses is important?
It means so much more right now to shop small and support local businesses as we’re in the middle of a pandemic, smaller businesses need the support and purchases to keep going! It doesn’t even have to be a purchase to support a small business, just sharing their page & posts help massively. Even if the item isn’t for you, it doesn’t mean someone on your ‘friends list’ isn’t going to love it.
What has been your proudest moment so far?
Actually making products and illustrations that people love along with the interactions from people at the market, speaking to people about my work and what they think about it just makes it all worth it! I had an interaction with a girl at the market where she literally dragged her parents to my stall and pointed out every single item she loved and kept giggling at everything! It honestly made my year! After not selling much all day and making me feel a bit meh about what I do, she comes along all happy and giggly, it just made me so happy to see someone love my work so much so I gave her a little free bundle of prints and stickers, just seeing how happy it made her made me so proud and happy to be doing what I’m doing.
Do you have any advice for other creatives like yourself in setting up their own small business?
Just do it, like really! I didn’t think my business would go the way it’s going in such a short space of time and I’m so happy I decided to set up my own business after not being able to find a job. I’m still looking for jobs every single day, but having my own business means I can carry on doing what I love whilst getting experience along the way! I love what I do and I don’t regret anything I’ve invested, be it money and time, and I will continue to expand my products and illustrations along the way to build my business into something I never thought would happen!
Thank you so much to Amy for taking the time to speak with us about her fantastic products, exciting business and artistic process! Check out her new website, Amy Mariah, here!