2024 Renegade Craft Tour! →

Renegade Craft Fair

June 9, 2016

Amelie Mancini

Studio Visit

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We have been avid fans of Amelie Mancini for a long time. Some of us were first introduced to her early baseball work, Left Field Cards, while for the rest, it was love at first sight during a recent Renegade Fair. During our last visit to New York, we had the opportunity to stop by Amelie’s studio in Ridgewood, Queens. The brightly colored paintings, rustic setting, and perfect light made for a picturesque afternoon. We took far too many photos, and made secret plans to move in without Amelie’s permission. Take a look at our visual journal and interview with Amelie!

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When/Why did you start working in this particular craft?
I went to school for fine arts and design in France, and always loved both practices. What I find most interesting is the many ways in which art can be incorporated into our everyday lives and our homes. I started off as a painter but eventually found that making things that will be used everyday was a great way to bring my art into people’s daily lives. I started printing on fabric a few years ago to create home goods and accessories and hope to keep widening the collection in the future.

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Have you sacrificed anything to create your business? If so, what was it, and do you have any regrets?
Starting a business is really hard! Lots of sacrifices have to be made – you’re investing your savings, your free time, your energy and sanity, you’re giving up on the stability of a regular paycheck, you’re working non-stop and staying up at night worrying about a million different things. It’s draining and challenging, and you need a really good support system in place to keep going. Of course, there are lots of rewarding moments, too!

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What valuable experience/knowledge did you have before starting your business?
Not much in terms of pure business knowledge or experience! But before I started my business, I had a lot of jobs. I worked in a bookstore, I waited tables and mixed drinks, I worked for other artists, I even worked for a moving company, and for a fabrication shop making window displays. Even though those jobs weren’t all creative, I still learned a lot of different skills, all having to do with working under pressure, handling stress, solving problems quickly and being as efficient as possible to get the job done while also doing it well. Which you need to do everyday as a small business owner.

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Your company started as a solo venture then grew to a multi-employee business – what was that process like? Were there any risks in taking this step? How did you manage this transition? Has it been hard to give up any duties?
I started in 2013, and at first it was just me, designing the patterns, printing them, cutting fabric, sewing on my own. Eventually as sales grew I had to hire people to help me keep up with orders, and now I have a small team of three that I adore, who help with production, shipping, business development and a lot of other sides of the business. Hiring employees is not easy – partly because you have to learn a whole new side of running a business (how to handle payroll, how to find and hire the right person, etc), and partly because you have to give up some control over how things are done. Of course you have to train people to do things the way you want them done, but you also have accept that not everything will be done exactly how you would have done it, and prioritize what does or doesn’t matter. You can’t micro-manage everything, and sometimes you might find that your way was not the best way anyway! Ideally, each new member of your team is bringing in skills and experiences that are unique to them and that add to the company, taking it beyond what you could achieve on your own.

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If you could learn any other craft, what would it be?
I’d love to try ceramics some day! But mostly I wish I could just make more time to paint.

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When you do get free time, how do you like to spend it?
An ideal day off for me starts with a delicious breakfast at home with my husband – pancakes or French toast – then some reading and later a walk to the park or the museum, maybe stopping by a thrift shop or two on the way, and then dinner and a movie with lots of popcorn to end the day. If we’re feeling adventurous, a quick drive upstate for a day outdoors is fun, too.

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How does the city you live in influence your work?
I wouldn’t say New York City is influencing my work in terms of aesthetics, because visually I’m mostly drawn to botanical themes (cacti, ferns, desert scenes!) but I love its energy and diversity. New Yorkers love to complain about the cost of living, but there is a reason people still live here in spite of the high rent, the lack of nature, the rats and the long commutes. I think living here has made me tougher and has taught me some pretty valuable life lessons. I’ve learned to keep going even when things get really tough, both personally and professionally.

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What is your favorite part of your studio/workspace?
I love the big industrial windows that let in so much light! They’re really old and don’t close really well, meaning it gets really hot in the summer and really cold in the winter, but I’m willing to sacrifice a little comfort for the beautiful light they bring me.

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What do you enjoy most about your craft and entrepreneurship?
I love being able to see a product come to life from the original first sketches, to the final packaging and shipping. We do everything in house at this point and there’s something very satisfying about being able to handle every step of the process on our own.

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View all the photos from our field trip on Flickr.

All Things Amelie Mancini: