I’m eager to get to know Amanda better. She’s lived here for only a handful of months. I first met Amanda at a Spring bonfire. It was a friend's 40th birthday party, and we were all gathered in his backyard enjoying the cool weather, a potluck and live music by the fireside. A mutual friend introduced Amanda and me, and I immediately knew she was one with whom I wanted to align, a kindred sprite on the same wacky mental plane as me. I vividly remember the smell of the burning wood, the sparks from the fire floating up and disappearing into the night sky, and the feeling of warmth, curiosity and intrigue as Amanda shared about her creative endeavors. This gal is full of fantastic ideas and is a genius with a sewing machine. Check out her beautiful handmade guitar straps, and keep your eyes out for more creative projects from Amanda! Amanda let me photograph her beautiful work space and interview her:
You have a unique, creative specialty. Your guitar straps are gorgeous! How did you get started? What are some of the ideas and inspirations behind your straps?
Thank you! About 6 years ago I had started a little business making collars for dogs and cats and selling online. I had been tinkering with guitar on and off since I was 13 and had decided I wanted a strap for my acoustic, so I went to several stores and found nothing that I liked! On the way home it dawned on me that there must be a need for straps that looked more natural and pretty as opposed to the rock and roll straps I had found in the stores, so I resolved to make one for myself and see how it turned out. I made a few over the next week and was just so excited to find that they were prettier than I expected and very comfortable! I brought some to a local store who bought 18 of them, and then I put them online. After another couple years, I included straps for ukulele, mandolin and banjo. I love making straps that look natural, rustic and simple, and my straps are definitely geared toward players of acoustic, bluegrass and old time music. I try to continually fill the gap and make straps that you can't find anywhere else--some of my fabrics are decidedly feminine, and I receive awesome feedback from female bluegrass musicians! I also make a lot of custom straps for hybrid instruments like the banjolele and tiny straps for very small children, which are super cute.
You’ve recently moved to Nashville. Would you share a little bit about your life journey and what brought you to where you are now?
My life journey seems to be focused around 2 main themes: authenticity and creativity. As a young person, I felt lost in a society focused on material gain, ladder climbing and status. Having no innate desire for any of these things but being expected to pursue them anyway, I meandered through an uncompleted stint at University and a string of unfulfilling jobs in my twenties, including retail, bartending, waitressing and data entry. Being a highly creative, right-brained individual with a spiritual slant, that did not go well for me, and all I wanted was to find a way to be creative every day and pay the bills with it. A tall order indeed, but the only one that made sense to me. I pursued the independent online seller career that allows freedom and creativity, and I am grateful to be able to live life on my terms today because of that.
As I evolve, my thirst for truth grows, and I spend most of my free time reading and writing. Writing has been therapeutic and creative, and I appreciate nothing more now than my time to read and learn. I moved to Nashville in April from Pittsburgh, PA. I wanted to put myself in an environment cultured with creative, independent people and a big dose of sunshine. I firmly believe that one has to take risks to have an extraordinary life, and that just because something is scary doesn't mean much of anything, and you probably should do it anyway.
There's a Mark Twain quote about how 20 years from now you'll be more disappointed by the things you didn't do than by the things you did, so basically, just fucking do it. On that note, if you find I'm suddenly not living in my apartment any longer, you have my permission to phone the Plum Village Monestery in France or the island of Vieques, where I may buy a shack and reside barefoot by the turquoise sea the rest of my days while my blood is still a vibrant shade.
Other not quite notable things about my character you may be interested to know: I despise professional sports. I love Katie Perry, and I really don't know why. My grandfather was a “fix it” man and highly skilled in wood carving. His cavernous workshop was lined with hand made shelves bearing tiny wooden statuettes, figurines, trinkets that he had carved and painted by hand over a lifetime. His shop sign read “Stanley's Repair Shop. Everything Repaired but a Broken Heart.”
Share about a time when you had to take a leap of faith and just jump over the cliff.
Moving to Nashville was a leap of faith, and still is, in a way, as I wait to see what opens up next for me. The process of moving here was a bit dramatic with many unforeseen obstacles, and the entire month of April was one leap of faith after another. The cool thing about those is that when circumstances are out of your hands, you have no choice but to let go. Some of us (eh hem) have a hard time letting go, so that experience becomes really powerful, humbling and alive. Faith is something I have yet to explore in depth, but it's coming, and I'm looking forward to it.
What is your favorite space/environment like?
My favorite environment would be outside beside a bubbling stream. Indoors is my bedroom nook with my puffy bed, too many pillows and darling kitties by my side.
What books are currently on your nightstand?
I have a slew of books on my nightstand: 3 on poetry form, 1 on writing short fiction, 2 short story collections by Hemingway and Kafka, 1 poetry anthology of women writers that a friend gave me 13 years ago and pasted my name on the cover and one of my poems on the inside cover (which is the most awesome gift of all time), my dream journal, my regular journal, and on top, my new NOOK reader.
Your go to musical selection?
Gillian Welch, Ray Lamontagne, Patty Griffin, my 80's/ Justin Timberlake/ Katie Perry workout spotify playlist
Any beauty secrets? Your skin is dazzling, by the way!
Thank you! I'm a total hippie! I have been using the oil cleansing method and witch hazel for about a year. I really don’t want to buy any more “beauty products.” The modern beauty industry makes me crazy with all the chemicals and lies, except for the environmentally friendly organic companies (which I used before, but the oil cleansing is better). You clean oil based paint with oil based cleaner, same with your face. Your skin produces oils, then you put oil on top of it, it binds to the dirt and oils, wash it all off, and you haven't put anything on your face that is even slightly manufactured, just cold pressed oil, and the benefits are plenty. I had to experiment with lots of different oils before I found the right one, but I have now found the one for my skin. I have dry, sensitive skin and avocado oil plus shea butter is the holy grail of skin solutions for me. A bottle costs $8 and last 3 months. Yay.
Do you have any mottos or mantras?
Mermaid or Forest Fairy?
Forest fairy. And my wings glow when I sing.
Kilim or Toile?
Whichever I find at the Thrift Store first.
Spoons and bowls or forks and plates?
Spoons and bowls!