Lately I’ve been trying to hone in on my blogging skills. There’s a lot that I want to share with you all, but blogging seems to have been put on a side-burner through my first year of being in business. Whilst this isn’t my first blog post here, I do want to start from the beginning. I’ve spent a lot of time umming and ahhhing over whether or not sharing some of this with you might make others feel uncomfortable, or may even be brand damaging – and this is certainly not a ploy to gain sympathy. I do hope however, that by writing this, some readers may be able to gain a little insight, whilst others might relate and feel less alone. I’m also pulling up my big girl panties. I want to share my story, the Amy Kallissa story, and why I’m here – with no reservations.
I’ve been sewing since I could remember. I was taken to my first Quilting Group when I was two days old. I was raised amongst sewing, dressmaking, patchwork, quilting, cross-stitch, embroidery, painting, sketching, modelling, all manner of things crafty! But I always came back to my love of textiles and appreciation for fine fabrics!
As a teenager and in my early twenties, I cheated on my true passion and became caught up in all of the usual things, school, friends and shopping. My friends knew that I had a dorky side to me, but It only occasionally gleamed out from the shadows when called upon. After leaving school, I desperately tried to find my place in the world. I tried retail, aged care, law and local government. I studied Arts, Primary Education, Floristry and Graphic Design. But I never truly felt at home. Have you ever felt as though your insides are just screaming to be let out!?
On instruction from my gorgeous mum, my personal idol, I went back to basics and rediscovered my love of fabric and sewing. But it was here that I recognised a massive gap in the market. There wasn’t much of a range of patterns for smaller, achievable projects, nor was there anything targeted towards the younger generations of sewers. Everyone kept complaining that the “sewing gene” had skipped a generation, but who was going to save it from extinction?!
I began to channel all of my spare time into sewing up new designs and turning them into patterns. One of my very first designs was my Notebook Cover. I was volunteering with Sudanese refugee children, helping them to understand their school work, build relationships and form a stronger grasp on the english language. I was buddied with a gorgeous young girl named Abuk. She had a large number of brothers and sisters and procrastinated against her school work because it “wasn’t fun”!
I noticed a lot of similarities between Abuk and myself. If she was anything like I was when I was younger. I didn’t like having to share with the one brother I had, and so having something that was all mine, something to treasure, gave me incentive to work towards something. I pulled all of my favourite fabrics from my stash and began to cut into them with vigour, to later reassemble into a notebook cover, with Abuk’s name proudly stitched on the cover. I’ll never forget giving Abuk her gift, the look on her face, and the energetic rush that was made to find a pen to write in her notebook!
I wanted everyone to be able to sew precious projects for themselves and the important people in their lives. I wanted to write patterns that were easy to understand and follow, combined with step-by-step photographic instructions and diagrams. I started selling them through Etsy and shared them with some of my local quilt and fabric stores whilst I continued to work at my “real job”. It became my therapy.
My last “real job” was working in Local Government. At the very least, it was soul destroying. In my third year of employment, I had a break down, and I couldn’t leave my house for a month. I was diagnosed with severe clinical depression and worked hard to re-balance my energy and rebuild myself. I managed to go back to work, but it was never going to be the same. The stigma related to mental health is not a healthy one, even in this day in age. It was clear that I was seen as weak, and speaking up about it created uncomfortable waters that management did not wish to charter.
One day, I was sitting in a meeting with my colleagues where I was spoken to as though I was only six years old; it was the straw that broke the camel’s back. I went back to my desk quietly, and took the time to look around the office, carefully studying each of my colleagues. Not one person in the office was happy, most of them muttering under their breath, not one person sat up straight, or seemed proud of the work that they were doing on behalf of their community. All I could think to myself was, “That’ll do me”.
It was the week of fresh starts, I resigned from my job, split up with my boyfriend, and moved out of our house.
I threw myself into starting Amy Kallissa as a business, rather than a hobby. I started with the basics of studying small business management and have spent the last nine months building my passion into something that I can share with my community and the world.
My dream is to overcome the “dorky nana” stereotype affiliated with patchwork and quilting and share this amazing art form through social inclusion, and provide nourishment and an innovative supportive environment. Amy Kallissa will design for and teach those who wish to create, be inspired and share the joys of a rewarding and therapeutic craft.
So that’s how I’ve come to be here… in my studio, at this corner of the internet, in this blog post, on your computer screen, at this point in my creative career. I’ve gone from working 40hrs per week with a disposable income to working almost 18 hours per day, 7 days per week with less than a quarter of what I was earning. But I have my gorgeous family and amazing friends. I’m happy! I feel as though I’m finding my tribe. Every day brings scary new challenges and new opportunities to work towards achievements that I can be proud of.
I am a completely different person to that which I was 12 months ago. Now, when I share that I have depression with people, they’re always surprised. They don’t seem to be able to believe that someone that’s so bubbly and vivacious might be completely different behind closed doors sometimes. I’ve worked hard to get to a point where I can manage things at a logical level, but on the inside I’m scared as hell and second guessing every single thing I do and say, and I’m always going to be my harshest critic!
It’s the way I am, and it’s what makes me – me. And I’m honoured to be able to share my adventure with you!