The Full Storyland Ami Interview
The Complete Question and Answer Interview of the Owner of Storyland Amis
Name: Holly Salzman
Location: El Paso, TX
Blog Name: Storyland Amis
Please give a brief description of yourself and your shop.
My name is Holly and I’m the sole designer and maker behind Storyland Amis. I specialize in designing amigurumi patterns which I sell on my website, storylandamis.com
What type of patterns you design the most?
I design amigurumi patterns exclusively. I haven’t ever dabbled in wearable or household crochet items and I’m planning on sticking with only designing amigurumi. I mostly do animal designs, but have designed dolls occasionally.
When did you start crocheting?
I’ve been crocheting since the summer of 2015
Does anyone else in your family crochet?
Yes, one of my older sisters knows how to crochet. She was actually the one who taught me!
What inspired you to begin designing your own patterns?
There wasn’t any one particular time that I decided I wanted to start designing. I just always knew that I wanted to design my own stuff, even before I started crocheting. I used to design knit dishcloth patterns and even one or two cross stitch designs before I started crocheting. I live in a very crafty family and I’ve been doing some sort of crafting since I was a very little girl.
When did you start selling/sharing your patterns?
It was January 2016 when I published my first pattern after a good friend encouraged me to start selling my designs. I had been totally closed to the idea before, but I received a lot of interest in my patterns after my 100 amigurumi project and my friend gave me the little push I needed.
What made you decide to start selling/posting on the site that you have?
I think that every small business owners dream is to eventually move from their Etsy shop and start their own website. I started mine a lot earlier than I had expected to, but I think sometimes you have to take that leap even if you’re not ready or you’ll never end up taking it at all. It’s never going to be perfect and if you wait for perfection, you’ll never get anything done. I’m very happy with my website now and I love that it’s a one stop shop with both my blog and shop on one website.
What did you have to overcome first starting out?
I didn’t actually have a lot of trouble starting because my sister already had an Etsy shop and my Mom had been selling online for years so I had learned pretty much everything I needed to know from them even before I opened my shop. Mentally it was difficult because I didn’t know if it was going to work out, and I was afraid of failure.
What has been the most challenging part about designing and writing your own patterns specifically?
Honestly, the most challenging part about coming up with my own original designs is having other people copy them or take my patterns and sell them or give them away for free on their own sites. It’s hard overcoming that challenge mentally and finding the courage to keep designing when I know what’s happening to a pattern once it’s published. Many times there’s nothing you can do about it. I’m thankful, though, for friends who help me with this problem specifically and encourage me to keep going.
Do you use pattern testers before you publish?
Absolutely! I think pattern testers are essential to publishing a good pattern. Pattern testers are making the design for the purpose of looking for mistakes. If I were to just publish my patterns without testers it could be months before anyone cared enough or had the courage to tell me there’s a mistake in my pattern.
How do you come up with the names for your designs?
Most of my designs now are what I call “cuddle-sized” and I came up with that name because one of my customers requested a custom “cuddle-sized” turtle. I guess the name just caught on and I decided to market them that way. As far as naming each animal/doll, I generally like to go with alliterations, but usually I’ll just be going through names and when one stands out to me, I’ll pick it. I get a lot of help from my family on this too!
What was the first item you ever crocheted? Why?
The first thing I ever crocheted, besides practice chains, was an amigurumi teddy bear. My older sister had wanted to teach one of my sisters and me how to crochet so that we could help make stuff for the craft fairs we went to regularly. She asked one summer afternoon if any of us wanted to learn and I decided to give it a try!
What is your inspiration for your designs?
I find inspiration in so many things and in so many people. Mostly people who inspire me with their love and encouragement or with their own adorable designs. I’m always pushing myself to get better in what I do, always pushing for the next thing because I know it’s going to be better than the last. That’s probably my biggest motivation and inspiration.
Do each of your designs have a story behind them? What is your favorite story?
I suppose that each design has some sort of story behind it. My favorite would probably be with my original cuddle-sized bumble bee design. It was the first cuddle-sized animal I ever made and at the time I was so unsure of how this jumbo bee was going to turn out. I don’t think I ever would have attempted it had it not been a custom order. So glad I received that order and decided to make it!
What was your most favorite amigurumi to make (if different from above)?
Haha, that’s such a hard question! I don’t think I can have a favorite one that I’ve made. Each new design is my favorite one to make!
What type of yarn fiber do you use the most?
I almost exclusively use acrylic. I think it’s best for making amigurumi. Since I sell my patterns, I like to use yarns that I know most people will have on hand or have easy access to.
Any favorite yarn brands?
I love Hobby Lobby’s brand of yarn “I Love This Yarn” and I also love Vanna’s Choice, and Paintbox yarns by LoveCrafts. Out of the three I use “I Love This Yarn” most of all.
Do you like using safety eyes or embroidered? What brand of safety eyes do you use if applicable?
I much prefer to use safety eyes as I think it adds depth and character to the animal. I only embroider if it’s a custom request. I generally buy my safety eyes from FreshStitches.com or on Etsy from a shop called 6060 Eyes. Sometimes I’ll buy them on Amazon too.
Do you have a favorite quote or bible verse that encourages you when life and/or business gets tough?
I love reading through inspirational quotes about business and entrepreneurship because they really inspire me to keep going and do better. Being a small business owner isn’t easy and it’s encouraging for me to know that I’m not the only one who struggles. I love knowing that in order to have a successful business sometime you’re going to fail, but what sets apart the failed businesses from the successful ones is that the successful ones picked up and kept going even when it seemed like failure was inevitable. I couldn’t pick just one quote , there are way too many! Take a look through my “inspiring quotes” Pinterest board if you want to see my favorites! As far as Bible passages go, one of my favorites and most encouraging is Psalm 37.
Where do you see yourself in the future? Any special goals or dreams?
I honestly don’t know what my future is going to look like. I’m always surprised with where I find myself but it’s always better than what I expected or planned. I lots of goals and dreams for my business, I’ll guess we’ll just have to wait and see if they come to fruition! One goal is to have all my patterns translated into different languages and I’m slowly working on making that happen now.
What is something you have been hoping to make that you haven’t had a chance to yet?
When I named my business Storyland Amis, the original goal was to make characters from books and movies, specifically fairytale characters, hence the name “storyland”. This hasn’t actually happened yet, so I hope that someday I’ll be able to fulfill my original dream.
Any secret hints on what you are designing next?
Right now I’m working on designing something very large in collaboration with an awesome yarn company! It’s been a long work in progress and I’m hoping to finish it up in the next couple of months!
Just For Fun
What are three unique fun facts about yourself?
I’ve never flown in an airplane below, I’ve visited all the states except for Hawaii and Alaska, and I love dinosaurs! T-rex’s are my favorite animal!
Where can we follow you or contact you at?
You can follow me on Instagram, Facebook, or Twitter and you can contact me through any of those platforms as well as on my website or email (firstname.lastname@example.org). I love Instagram so you’ll find me most active there!
Where can we buy/find your patterns?
You can buy my patterns and find my free ones on my website storylandamis.com