Photographed by: Rachel Maucieri | Interview of: Amina Ahmad of Handmade Habitat
How did you get started?
I'm a life-long DIYer and I come from a very DIY background. Making things has always been a big part of my life. When I was growing up, I painted and sewed a lot. I had a mural in my closet, and I made doll clothing, bags, clothing for myself, pillows, plush toys and even two prom dresses! My mom's family owned a curtain-making company, Jamil Interiors, that she pretty much grew up working in, and both of my parents are career engineers, so making things is definitely in my blood. When I first started my business, I made and sold a huge variety of clothing, home goods, journals and even catnip toys. Eventually I found my way to candle making and it's stuck for the past five years!
What influences you?/ Where do you get your inspiration?
I love nature, plants, coziness and clean lines, though I'm a hugely messy person in what I like to think is a bohemian way. I'm drawn to color, simplicity, flowers and spend a good amount of time on my yoga mat. I'm also inspired by my background, which I admittedly take for granted. Not everyone experiences the vibrant colors of headscarves at mosques or towering trees in the home that I grew up in. I think these little things have implanted themselves into my brain and come out in different ways in my work.
How do you balance your personal time + work?/ How do you create separation?
This year was a pretty pivotal year in terms of work / life separation, which didn't exist for me before. After months of searching for a studio for my business, I finally found one! I try to keep my work hours from 10-6 or so during the week, which really helps me separate a lot. When I was working from home, I worked around the clock, but now it's like I go to the office and come home at the end of the day like a normal person lol. I do like to stay home and do web and email-related business from the couch with my dog some days. She's great company. I also like making time in the evening to cook meals with my husband, which also helps create that transition from work time to home time. Cooking is such a great creative release for me at the end of the day. I still get to make something, but it's something nourishing and comforting for us at home.
What keeps you motivated?/ Why do you love doing this?
I love seeing the progression of the business. For years I had dreamt of the life that I'm now living - having a studio and working for myself full-time. Now that I'm here, I love imagining and visualizing my new dreams for the business and I love being able to take concrete steps towards bringing it to life.
Where do you see yourself in 2-5 years?/ What's next for your brand?
I have so many dreams! I'm playing it by year to see what naturally evolves next though. I would love to grow larger wholesale accounts, build a greater online presence and incorporate more IRL events and workshops.
This year I'll also complete yoga teacher training and I'd love to bring some of that into the brand. I also have lots of big dreams for future businesses, so it might be that I pivot to something less product based and more community based. We'll see! I'm always excited for all the possibilities.