Meet Your Maker- Mississippi Mayhem

Today on MYM we have Heather from Mississippi Mayhem. She makes such a wide variety of hand made goodies, from embroidery to jewelry to paintings! Be sure to check her out and i'm sure you will find something you like :)

Introduce yourself and your business.

Hi! I'm Heather Andresen and Mississippi Mayhem is my small business. While embroideries are the main meal of my shop, I also offer hand stamped key chains and jewelry, paintings, and wood burned pieces like cutting boards and signs. I live in Madison, Wisconsin with my absent-minded partner (whom I love to terrify and jump scare) and our two terrible cats, Iggy (as in Pop) and Bowie (as in David). Like many cats, they puke on everything I love, including myself.

I've been sewing since I was a very young child. My grandmother taught me how to sew between hand rolling loose tobacco cigarettes and making mounds of fluffy southern banana pudding. Under her tutelage, I not only learned how to sew, but also how to be sarcastic and witty, sit and act like a lady, be outspoken yet tactful, and how to put myself into my work.

How did you launch your business & what made you want to start a small business?

Mississippi Mayhem has had many iterations over the years. I opened my shop on Etsy in 2009 in the hopes that I'd sell my original photography for extra money, but I didn't put the work into it and sold nothing, so I removed all listings and it sat dormant until 2015 when I began hand stamping key chains and actually putting effort into the shop. In between those dates, I opened a bakery for two years under the Mississippi Mayhem name for extra cash during graduate school. I really enjoyed the bakery, but it grew beyond my means at the time and I began to feel burned out on baking, so I closed shop.

What are some struggles you had starting your business and how did you over come them?

I think my largest struggle in the beginning was not being sure how to effectively reach my target customers and not wanting to spend much time on my shop. As time has progressed, I've realized that just like any other job, the amount of care and effort you put into your shop is often proportional to the amount of success that comes out of it. That isn't always the case, but you do have to try. Now, I do my research - SEOs, my target demographics, what's interesting to others, and how I can put all of that into my shop in a way that appeals to my customers are all things I spend time researching and implementing.

Where do you draw inspiration from?

Like many artists, I draw inspiration from the environment I'm in. The political climate, nature, my friends,pop culture, a quiet moment when I can't sleep at night - these all inspire me. I really enjoy being able to put my own emotions, thoughts, and feelings into art whether it's in an embroidery, a painting, or even just a pair of earrings that I've hand stamped to read "F45." The challenge of communicating those emotions, thoughts, and feelings through art appeals to me greatly. When I'm able to not only successfully convey my inner thoughts by putting paint to canvas or needle to fabric but also inspire others, there's no better feeling.

What motivates you as a maker?

Honestly, what motivates me is a seemingly never-ending need to create. Like anyone else, I do go through slumps of not feeling creative, but even when I don't feel creative, I feel frustration that I can't create. I'm never happier than when I'm plotting out my next project, designing, planning, beginning, and working through the process until I'm finished. Rinse. Repeat.

What is a goal you set for yourself as a maker/artist and how did you achieve it?

In 2018, I set a goal for my shop that I'd sell 25% more than I had in 2017. I busted my ass to make that goal happen and I'm very proud of how much I exceeded the amount I needed to hit 25%. It took my joining more markets, advertising more, working more on my relationship with my customers, and investing more time into my shop. I've set the same goal for 2019 - I hope to sell 25% more than I did in 2018.

What is your favorite part of being a maker?

My favorite part of being a maker is the process and then seeing the joy in others who love my work. There's no better feeling than knowing your art has connected with someone else. They could be a complete stranger or my best friend, but in that moment of connection over my art, I feel closer to them than anyone else for an instant. It really makes my heart sing.

Do you have any tips for new makers/ small business owners?

This may be boring, but practice and do your research! I've learned that most people don't want to hear this (myself included), but it takes hard work to be the best artist or small business owner you can be. If you want to improve your skills, practice. Research new skills or techniques related to your art. Try those new skills and techniques. If you don't like them, try another one. The only way we can grow as artists is to keep making art. I recently posted on my Instagram about how much my art has changed in the past 6 years. How proud I am of how far I've come. How we all have to work toward being the best we can be and how much we shouldn't compare ourselves to other artists. Only compare your work to your own past work. Are you getting better? Are your skills improving? Good. Keep making art. You'll only get better and learn more about what kind of an artist you are.

What are some hobbies or interests you have outside of your small business?

When not arting it up, I enjoy cooking, camping, baking, reading, true crime, spending time in nature, and drinking copious amounts of whiskey responsibly. 

Share a fun fact about yourself.

I've lived near the Mississippi River my entire life until I moved to Madison. This is why my shop is called Mississippi Mayhem!

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