If I had a big sister I’m pretty sure I would want her to be like Amy Shutt of day-lab. Amy seems like she would be that cool older sister who would ask you along for shopping at thrift stores, take you to art galleries, help you put on backyard musicals and then pack a picnic lunch to eat in the tree house she helped you build. Alright, I have an overactive imagination and a long established desire for an older sister…I don’t actually know what kind of big sister Amy would be or even if she is a big sister, but I do know that I love her shop day-lab. I’m super excited that Amy agreed to be interviewed for this week’s Indie Artist Fixx.
If you’re already familiar with day-lab, then you know Amy has a wonderful eye and a sixth sense for style. In her shop you’ll find her own jewelry creations, fabulous vintage finds and goods produced by indie artists and small independent companies. Offerings include jewelry, accessories, housewares, paper goods and more. Amy goes on periodic buying trips for vintage goods and is constantly adding her own jewelry designs, which often made with vintage pieces, so I check out day-lab almost weekly to what’s new.
It doesn’t hurt that I am one of Amy’s LJ friends, so I read about her shopping trips and updates there. Amy also shares her other creative pursuits, updates on her home redesign and photographs of her kitties and the gorgeous nature around her southern home. It’s one of my daily reads. 😉
Here’s more about Amy in her own words.
1. What’s the name of your business and what do create and sell?
My business is www.day-lab.com and I mainly sell vintage dead stock jewelry, accessories, housewares etc. and jewelry that I design from vintage jewelry parts. When day-lab started the main focus was consignment goods that were hand made or independently designed. While I still sell some things along those lines, I do now sell more vintage items and other items produced by smaller companies and distributors than handmade products.
2. When did you get started with your business and why did you decide to open your own indie biz?
My business was started in 2005. Initially, day-lab was something that I had abstractly in the back of my mind for a year or more prior to its opening. At the time I was a single parent and student about to start my last year of college. I was waiting tables, while not at school, to make ends meet. At the end of the day I was always sick and tired of coming home to only spend a depressingly short time with my daughter before we both went to sleep, only to wake up again to the same cycle. day-lab was my first attempt to break away from the waiting tables income, in hopes it would provide enough of an income to do so while I finished my last year of school. I also thought day-lab might be able to provide the time I wanted and needed at home to be with my daughter more often and extra time to devote to school work. And, in that first year it did eventually allow me to quit waiting tables, finish school with better grades, and spend more quality time with my daughter.
3. What’s the creative process like for you?
My mind works constantly in some kind of creative process overload. If I am not creating or finding or researching or figuring out how to do and make things I will get depressed. My creative process is very much automatic and necessary for me. I can’t turn it on and off. It’s how I get through the day, process information, and see the world at all times.
4. What’s been your biggest accomplishment so far?
I think the fact that day-lab has been written up or had its products featured in national magazines like Bust, Lucky, InStyle Home, Entertainment Weekly, Dwell, and ReadyMade is what makes me feel most accomplished. It’s just so incredibly flattering to me to have little ole day-lab recognized by the editors of such successful publications. It really motivates me to do more with day-lab…to make it more unique and up all its standards everyday.
5. Tell us one funny/goofy/silly thing about yourself.
I am a huge fan of Car Talk on NPR and I might be taking a car mechanics class this year!
6. What’s the best thing about what you do? And the worst?
The best thing about what I do is that I get to be my own boss while doing something I love, so in the end, a large part of it isn’t work per se. I run day-lab from home which is also great, especially for a single parent during the summers and holidays (no babysitters or overpriced daycares). I am able to make my own hours. If I need a few hours off to go to an appointment I don’t need to worry about not being allowed to take that time off. Of course, with those freedoms also comes time management issues, so you have to be self motivated and organized (and I am naturally not an organized person) at all times if possible.
The worst thing is that sometimes I over do it. What I mean is that sometimes in being your own boss and running your own business you can become a bit of a workaholic and really stay up too late doing an update or have trouble sleeping due to concerns over budget and stock and taxes and customers. There are times that I genuinely have to step back and let myself breathe. At that point I can usually see that I need a break and I am overworked or overstressed. It is different than working for someone. In working for yourself, everything you do comes directly back to you no matter if it’s a positive or negative repercussion. You have to deal with it regardless. And at the end of the day you have to answer to yourself and yourself only.
7. What blogs and mags do you read and what shops do you shop at? List as many as you want.
I read Old House Journal, Dwell, Birds and Blooms, lots and lots of old magazines from the 1930s through the 1960s. Vintage House Beautiful and House & Garden are my favorites.
I don’t really shop all that much, except for day-lab. When I do shop for myself its usually at garage sales, thrift stores, auctions, and the hardware store. I’m a t-shirt and jeans girl at the end of the day. And I usually make sure my t-shirt and jeans aren’t so expensive that I might get upset if I get a little paint or epoxy on them.
8. Were you an artsy craftsy kid? If so, what kinds of things did you do?
I was to a degree. I always loved photography, drawing, painting, making friendship bracelets etc. I
was more of a collector though, which make sense to me know. There is a lot of searching when you
collect…and that is something I do for day-lab daily and something I enjoy immensely.
9. If a genie came along and granted you one wish, what would it be?
As cliché as it is I would have to say Peace.
10. What does indie mean to you? You can give a literal definition, choose to be a little esoteric or a combination of both. 😉
Indie to me means independent in process and thought. It’s thinking outside of the box and finding inspiration to create in that moment.
11. What are you reading, watching and listening to?
I am currently reading The Audacity of Hope by Barack Obama and The Winter Diversions of a Gardener by
I am currently listening to: David Sedaris – Me Talk Pretty One Day, Maude Maggart, Iron and Wine, Boduf
Songs, Joni Mitchell.
I am currently watching: CNN coverage on the 2008 campaign and This Old House.
12. What are your inspirations?
I am inspired by nature mainly. I live in a beautiful area of the South and I am lucky enough to wake up to
egrets and ducks on the lake and fall asleep to the sound of foxes and crickets. This gives me something
I liken to inspiration everyday. I am also inspired by preservation, hard work, independent thought, and
13. What’s new for 2008? Any new plans or products that you want to share?
I am planning a huge overhaul on the checkout system at day-lab. This is going to positively affect all
aspects of the site, stock, shipping times, and customer service. I am beyond excited. I am also doing a bit of revamping with the categories (which means some new focus and the end of some offerings), which I won’t say much more about just yet…I will let that be a surprise.