Amy Heitman is a purveyor of beautifully-designed stationery. She pairs her illustrations, oft inspired by florals and nature, with classic type. Amy’s designs are seriously pretty, with a charming style that evokes days gone by. She took part in the National Stationery show for the first time this year, and her booth was simply gorgeous, wallpapered with her sweet gift wrap. Amy is just as lovely as her designs – read on!
You studied art education at college and subsequently became an elementary school art teacher. What did you learn about yourself from this job?
I loved teaching. I taught first through fifth graders and was constantly inspired by my students’ unadulterated creativity and their ability to look at things from so many different angles. It was so inspiring to see their different solutions and unique outcomes to the same assignment and I learned how much I really appreciated art and creativity in its simplest form. I also learned how much I loved being a part of a creative environment, and how much I loved just making and creating things. I would find myself up late many nights a week after school working on my own personal paintings and projects after finishing all of my planning and grading.
What did your artistic journey look like? How did you know it was time to pursue illustration and design full time?
I have been drawing and painting for as long as I can remember. I have always known that I wanted a career doing something creative but never really set out to pursue illustration and design full time. I really loved my job as an art teacher but left teaching to stay home after my first baby was born. I had done mural painting throughout the school district I worked for, as well as a few smaller jobs in our community, and thought that pursuing more mural work might serve as both a good creative outlet and a way to supplement our family income. So I created a simple portfolio website and included some illustration and design work I had done for some friends and family. I didn’t receive any requests for mural work, but quickly began to receive a bunch of requests for custom wedding stationery.
One of my husband’s co-workers at the time ran an Etsy shop and she suggested I put some of my designs there, so I did (despite not being too familiar with it at the time). At the time, I was pregnant with my second baby and just a few weeks later I was placed on bed rest and told I was going to lose the baby. I spent the next five months that way and my Etsy shop was such a huge blessing to me during that time as I began receiving so many requests for custom work. It not only gave me something to focus on and fill my days while I rested, but it was also during that time that I really fell in love with stationery design and began to focus on developing my own aesthetic and creative voice. (That baby is now healthy, happy and about to turn FOUR!)
What made you decide that you wanted to transition from custom work to starting your own stationery line?
I spent several years doing primarily custom work, and while I loved it, I was receiving many more requests than I could take on. Upon learning I was pregnant with my 3rd baby I knew I wouldn’t be able to keep on the same custom work load on my own and began to think about growing my business in a different direction. My sister had been begging me for years to create a greeting card line, so it was something that had been on the back of my mind for a while. I spent most of the 9 months of my pregnancy learning as much as I could about the stationery industry and creating my initial product line, and launched the line when he was a few months old.
What do you love about greeting cards and snail mail?
I LOVE how a simple card or note has the power to brighten and transform someone’s day. Everything in our culture is so instant because of technology –we have the ability to send an email or text to anyone at anytime and they can receive it instantly. I feel that makes the act of taking the time to hand write a note and send it in the mail that much more special and meaningful. When I was on bed rest with my son, I received so many cards from friends and family and people in our community who I didn’t even know saying how they were thinking and praying for me, and it was so meaningful to me to be able to read those cards over and over again. I have a huge box of cards with sweet messages I’ve saved from friends, family members, coworkers, students, and mentors over the years that I love to look back on occasionally.
Being a mom of three must keep you on your toes. What is your secret for maintaining balance?
I don’t have a ‘secret’ for maintaining balance, but I strive to keep my priorities in line. My faith is most important to me and I try to make sure seeking God first is my number one priority every day, followed by my marriage and kids. I feel that loving and serving my family is my most important job right now, and I am incredibly thankful for grace because I definitely don’t always get it right.
We package and ship everything from our home studio downstairs, and, though it can be hectic at times, I am so grateful to be able to work at something I love while being surrounded by the people that I love most. I have two amazing studio assistants that work for me keeping things organized around the studio, managing wholesale accounts, and packaging and filling orders. Then I do a lot of work during nap times and do all of my design work at night after my kids are in bed. Sometimes I actually set an alarm at night to remind myself to stop working and go to bed. My husband is amazingly supportive — he works full time at another job but is really involved with the business and kids when he is home. And my kids always love to help out in the studio and be involved with everything that is going on!
Flora, fauna and animals are often featured in your designs – where do you draw your inspiration from?
I love finding patterns in nature, and am always inspired by being outdoors. I also love looking at vintage children book illustrations, and vintage textiles and wallcoverings. I love old things that are filled with nostalgia yet still have a quality that feels current and fresh to them.
A portion of the sales from each of your cards is donated to support the INK Foundation. Please tell me why this is important to you.
When I launched my card line I wanted it to have an impact beyond just the reach of one card from one person to another, and as a woman and as a mom of a young girl the issue of human trafficking is something that has always been heavy on my heart, and I believe everyone deserves the chance to live in freedom and justice.