On Finding Community And Making With Cement: Sarah Miller of Awkward Auntie
this fall, our theme is: flourish.
flourish (n.): to grow or develop in a healthy or vigorous way, especially as the result of a particularly favorable environment.
When we make work under our best conditions, we do more than survive—we thrive.
And what grow toward (or say no) to has a lot do with it. Whether you’re a small business owner, independent artist or side hustling creative, your career pathway will take resilience and strategic decision-making. Where do you choose to go? What makes something a yes? Which environments are best for your growth?
Those answers are nuanced, and for the most part they vary. So, as we prepare for craftHER Market Fall ‘19, we’re interviewing some of this market’s featured makers to learn more about their businesses and the ways they create favorable environments for their work. Read on for a peek into their process.
about today’s featured maker: sarah miller of awkward auntie
“I'm a 30-something who essentially splits her time between Texas and New England. Hands-down, my favorite thing in life so far is being an auntie. I thought my heart could only grow so big, but every time a sibling or friend has a baby I'm proven wrong—I never knew I had so much love to give!
What initially started as a blog share my thoughts and experiences as an auntie (through blood AND love) has turned into a different kind of creative outlet for me. In the second half of 2018, I began using cement as my medium to create fun planters and candles. It turns out my biggest lesson in 2018 was: If I’m not creating something with my hands, I’m not happy. I've lived in Austin for six years now. I call my move here the best blind date of my life since I'd never visited first, and I can honestly say I'm in love.”
How would you describe who you are and what you do?
I am a person who lives in a world of organized chaos. By day, I work in the communications field—both for a medical device company and a Dallas-based nonprofit—and in my off time, I create and sell concrete goodies (planters, containers, candles, trays).I find that I can't truly be happy if I'm not creating Our theme for this Fall’s craftHER is flourish. How are you looking to grow your business at the moment?
How do you handle criticism and feedback?
You take some and you ignore others. I'm new enough to this that I haven't received any hurtful negative feedback. I used to repaint furniture and I had one woman comment "ugly" on all of my photos! I have to say I got a laugh at that because who even has the time for that negativity?
The good thing is that I'm surrounded by a great support system of friends and family who don't want to see me fail. So they're as honest as honest can get. What's funny is that I'll have a friend who says "That color isn't my favorite," while another will say it's her absolute favorite—and that's why I say take some and ignore the others. You never know who's going to hate or love what you do, but it's important for me to love and accept my pieces first. This way I know at least one person liked it.
What is your approach to working with others and/or working in community?
I am all about it! And everyone here in Austin seems to be about it, too. I've met the most amazing people in the community. It's like we have a special bond and we want to see each other grow and thrive!
How do you hold yourself accountable to the goals you set? How do you bounce back when something doesn’t go as planned?
Honestly, I have this one amazing friend who I tell everything to. I tell her all my goals, plans, ideas, dreams and I know that she will ask me about them. She never forgets. She's a safe place for me to say anything, and through that she helps hold me accountable. It's hard not to be disappointed when something doesn't go as planned. But I'm learning to allow myself to feel whatever I need to feel. I often give myself a "wallowing time limit,” so I can be sad, I can be disappointed, I can feel whatever I need to feel but at some point it's time to get back to work and give it another go.
Would you like to meet Sarah in-person? Come out to craftHER Market Fall ‘19 on October 12 and 13, 2019 at Fair Market and stop by her booth. Click here to learn more.