In the coming weeks I will be hosting a Interview Series with Creators all over. Since you are probably all tired of the redundancy of me telling my own story, I felt it would be helpful and interesting for you all to get a little insight into how other creators go about their business. So, here we go!
Laura Ward is a pretty cool lady I have known since 2007. We both attended the same college, but our paths never really cross until we were in France together in the same study abroad program, which is a grand story for another time. With a personality and charisma that will light up a room, this rocking wife & mother is balancing her craft and family while kicking butt and coming out with some beautiful product and accomplishing some pretty incredible goals while she is at it.
I really want to thank Laura for taking the time to chat with us! So, lets jump right into it:
Jesse: Can you introduce yourself. Where are you based out of, and tell us what your craft is?
Laura: I’m Laura Ward, owner of Craft Takeover, based in Austin, Texas. I make colorful and modern handsewn home goods and quilts, made to be used every day.
Jesse: How long have you been making_______?
Laura: I’ve been sewing off and on for about 18 years. I started Craft Takeover as a DIY and craft blog and began sewing more in 2012, and then re-launched my Etsy shop with all new products in 2018.
Jesse: What got you interested in this craft?
Laura: When my sister was about to have her first baby, I thought, “Hey, I know how to sew, I’m going to make her a quilt as a gift! It can’t be that hard, right?” So I made that first quilt (I shudder when I think about how I constructed that thing), and after that I was hooked. I started reading quilting books and teaching myself from video tutorials and sewing blogs online to try and improve my skills. I love the way that using or wearing something handmade makes me feel. Sewing is also a stress reliever for me, and is the perfect way for me to feed my creativity. I joined the Austin Modern Quilt Guild in 2014, which has inspired me and made me love quilting and sewing even more.
Jesse: How did you get your start?
Laura: My mom taught me how to use her sewing machine when I was 13. I enjoyed making little things and beginner projects, but didn’t really find a passion for sewing until after graduating from college and living on my own. I fell in love with quilting and making things to decorate my house, and then once the crafts completely took over (thus the name Craft Takeover), I started doing commissions and making for friends and family. I started my Craft Takeover Etsy shop to continue making home goods to share with others!
Jesse: Are you a fulltime, part-time, or hobbyist maker?
Jesse: If you are a part time or hobbyist maker, can you share what you do fulltime?
Laura: Our daughter Ada is 2 years old, so I am currently a full-time mom 4 days a week, and have childcare part-time 3 days to try and get all my work done. Typically I’m able to dedicate about 15-20 hours a week to growing my business, which is a good balance for us at the moment. When I first started Craft Takeover, I was juggling being a mom, starting my business, and also working part-time in management and marketing in the medical field. I am very lucky to have a supportive partner who encouraged me to pursue my dream of running my Etsy store and get out of the stressful environment of my previous job, so that’s what I’ve been working towards since March 2018.
Jesse: Is there anyone you can think of that has been a mentor, inspiration, or has been a big influence on your work?
Laura: I think my parents are both very crafty, though they might not claim to be. They worked fulltime when I was growing up, but still made time and encouraged my sister and I to get messy and creative at home. My mom did arts and crafts projects and with us, and has inspired me recently with the large painting series she’s doing. My dad was creative in another sense, always working in his shop on different home improvement projects and fixing up classic cars. They showed me that making time for hobbies and creating was important to them, and that’s something I hope my daughter sees in our house, too.
Jesse: If you could go back to when you first started, what piece of advice would you give yourself?
Laura: Worry less about having everything perfect before you start - just start already! There’s time to improve and tweak things as you go. When I first started my shop, I was overwhelmed with the mile long to-do list I made myself, and often didn’t focus on the most important things because I had so many small tasks holding me up that I thought were crucial to have just so before launching.
Jesse: Continuing on the thread of advice, what would you tell someone who is wanting to take the leap into becoming a maker, or is just starting out?
Laura: Find a community of like minded creatives who are working towards the same things as you. Having supportive people to ask questions and bounce ideas off of is a gift. Even if they are not in the same field as you, it’s so helpful to be able to ask someone questions about marketing handmade products, doing craft markets, or the tricky parts of running an online store. Making connections and “networking” can feel a little scary, but that’s the great thing about fellow makers - they are usually super nice and WANT to help you and see you succeed.
Jesse: Can you think of an aspect of your craft/business that you have/do struggle with?
Laura: I struggle with the balance of wanting to always be making, but also trying to run the business side of things. When you just want to sew, doing taxes are not the most fun thing to have to do instead. That’s one aspect of being a one-woman show though - I’m the one making every financial decision, and doing everything from product photography, marketing and social media, shipping, customer service, and actually making the products, too. It’s a constant work in progress.
Jesse: Besides what you make, do you have any other interests? (sports, gaming, gardening, or making other things)
Laura: Reading, cooking, and gardening. I love sewing because I’m often able to multi-task and listen to podcasts or audiobooks while I work. And with all the amazing fabric available out there, I find that I’m drawn to florals and cactus prints that remind me of my garden, so those are especially fun to work with.
Jesse: What are your thoughts on the Maker Movement that has been happening over the past few years or so? With increased numbers of people wanting to make things, it seems like a bit of a renaissance happening, with people becoming interested in what many see as dying crafts.
Laura: It feels really inspiring and supportive. I love seeing what other makers are doing, and seeing the behind the scenes of how others work and grow their businesses. I think people see how easy to buy things and how cheap things are from places like Amazon and big box stores these days, and are looking for something made with a little more love and care. Lately there are so many handmade businesses out there, so I’ve been trying to do a little more research before I buy, and make more of an effort to shop with a conscience and support other creatives, even if it means buying less and spending a little more for the quality.
Jesse: Finally, I want to thank you for taking the time to answer some of these questions and share with us what you do. If you have anything else you’d like to share, suggestions for future interview questions, or individuals that you recommend for this Interview Series, please let me know.
Laura: Thank YOU!
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