When you think creative, organized, intelligent, multifaceted, you may be describing a jewelry artist, grad-student, website creator of a handmade venue, a clarinetist, a RNEST member, an Etsian, a blogger, a business owner (just to name a few). This small business owner is Amanda Preske of Beadwork by Amanda. I was fortunate enough to have met her earlier in the year at a Mayday Underground event she planned where she made promoting the importance of handmade a reality.
Amanda found her passion for creating at a young age, armed with crayons in hand she found a love for many different types of artistic expression but none so addicting as bead work. Amanda has an amazing knack for learning and has self-taught bead weaving both on and off the loom. She soon found herself making so much jewelry that warranted her to create Beadwork by Amanda at age fifteen and set off to sell her work at craft shows.
College life put a little damper on her creativity because of limited dorm space but then picked it back up later in her junior year. Now Amanda does craft shows from May to December, including several larger festivals like the Lilac Festival, Indie markets like the Salt City Urban Craft Market in Syracuse and Mayday Underground. You can find a range of items at her shows from simple strung bracelets to more elaborate and stunning bead woven necklaces. Sometimes Amanda incorporates resin, copper, enameling, fusing and sewing into her jewelry. In addition, you can find some more masculine as well as feminine items such as tie tacks, cuff links and keychains at : http://www.etsy.com//shop/beadworkbyamanda which she uses computer board circuitry as her main element. Amanda says the one thing that most people pick up on despite her vast variety of utilized materials is her vibrant and bold use of color (inspired by the Caribbean).
Mayday Underground was born out of need Amanda says and a lot more fun. Mayday Underground is an Indie market which simply means “independent”, apart from the commercial mainstream and is all handmade. It’s not at all like a typical craft fair you would find at a local church or an expensive, high-end show either. Instead, Amanda states, “Mayday Underground is a show that offers funky, urban, modernized, and edgy art and craft that pushes the envelope for creativity. The items for sale appeal to a younger, more urban shopper and are things you’d actually want to purchase. While most vendors pursue their craft purely for the love of craft, some vendors do what they do for a living. Most vendors are from western New York, but some come from Albany, Pennsylvania, and even Toronto.”
Amanda calls herself the co-organizer of Mayday because she simply can’t take all the credit. Amanda meets with sponsors and venue prospects, keeps constant communication with those who inquiring about handmade, posts on the Mayday blog and on Facebook, etc. Casey Wright, a fellow artist helps promote, views the jury selection, designs posters, helps with online advertising and a miriad of other craft show things. There is so much involved in a show that Casey has said that Amanda organized 82% of the last show and she did 18%. Not at all a thankless job, they both enjoy creating as well as furthering the message that handmade is the way to go.
Amanda addressed the question if the economy has affected her mission of spreading the handmade word and her sales. She has really not seen too much impact on her business personally but notes that it’s all about how much work you put into the upkeep. Not all kinds of arts and crafts are suitable for all venues. She has found her niche in selling at certain locations and the corresponding sales to match but without a consistent effort, you will find a decline. However, it’s not always about the effort but a better change in outlook. She feels that there’s always room for improvement but time is always a factor. She advises that during the slow season, often January through April, not to sweat it but make it productive so that come November when holiday sales are in demand, you will be ready.
Amanda feels that the message of handmade selling is still a bit off from gaining respect from the community. Especially in the jewelry aspect, she finds that the public may not be as educated in what it takes to create a piece and all that it entails to run a small business. That’s why she organized Mayday Underground and is trying to make Rochester and surrounding areas aware of the differences of quality and the labor of love that goes into creating handmade arts and crafts.
The next Mayday Underground show comes just in time for holiday shopping. The show is Saturday, November 6th from 10 a.m. until 4 p.m. at the Village Gate, 274 North Goodman Street Rochester, N.Y. 14607. There will be about 50 vendors in attendance and fifty swag bags to the first fifty shoppers in line for the show. There will also be Mayday Underground merchandise like totes and other items for sale. Mayday likes to have fun and at this show, they are having it luau themed where a majority of the vendors will have their booths or themselves dressed the part. For more information about this show: http://maydayunderground.wordpress.com/ or to view Amanda’s awe inspiring shop on Etsy and a link to her newsletter, blog or other Etsy sites: http://beadworkbyamanda.etsy.com/ Also it’s fun to have friends in the artistic community, friend Mayday Underground on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/Mayday-Underground-Crafts-Art.