Maura Grace Ambrose of Folk Fibers fame is the subject of my first interview. If you haven't heard about her then start following along because what she does is really unique and beautiful. The panorama I took of her last year will be exhibited in a group show at Davis Gallery here in Austin this September. This interview is part of a series getting to know the subjects of those images.
SDG: We met when I first started working at Johnson’s Backyard Garden as their photographer in 2010. You were the greenhouse manager and I remember you telling me about your dream to get back into textile design and fiber arts, which you had studied in school. You wanted to make quilts with naturally dyed fabrics and hopefully make a living at it. When you left the farm you and your husband Chap traveled around the US in your red VW Bus, and when you came back it seems like you were even more clear and focused on that path. In just a few short years your business has become very successful and popular. You bought a house on a gorgeous piece of land, you have had many amazing adventures, you are leading workshops sharing your knowledge, and now you and Chap just had a baby. Did you imagine in your wildest dreams back in 2010 that things would turn out this way?
MGA: I tend to work towards a few short-term goals at a time, that helps me stay focused. But looking back it seems very organic how everything has worked out. I feel blessed for all my success.
SDG: Just over a year ago you came to me with a desire to start taking more professional photos of what you were making and selling. What led you to that decision and how do you think it changed things for you and your business?
MGA: Because I'm mostly making one-of-a-kind pieces, I realized quickly that once I mail something I'll probably never see it again. It's been really helpful to have my work so well documented, and helps people get a sense of my work from a distance. I also really value having a permanent record of my work as my career develops.
SDG: I am so inspired by your story and what you have accomplished as are many others I know. What drives you or keeps you motivated, inspired, and focused?
MGA: I try to focus on my work and not worry too much about how it's received. It can be hard, but I believe if you're doing something special it's just a matter of time until people find you.
SDG: When you think about what your life and business will be like in the future what do you imagine? What’s next for Folk Fibers?
MGA: The next big project for us is writing a book. I'm really looking forward to sharing my techniques and way of working with more people. I think it will be really special to have this physical object that encapsulates my life and work at this time in our lives.
SDG: Congratulations to you and Chap with your beautiful new baby! What has it been like so far being a Mom?
MGA: Scary and wonderful and peaceful and manic. I'm feeling anxious about getting back to work, but worried I won't be able to balance everything. But I know we'll find a rhythm as a family and I can't wait to use this new little creature to inspire new creations.
SDG: I'm excited to see what you come up with and incredibly happy for you both. Thank you Maura for everything you are doing to preserve your craft and for sharing it. Your success as a smart and dedicated small business owner is a great model for all of us artists and makers. I look forward to meeting your daughter and to see your family and business thrive and prosper. Thanks for your time considering you have your hands full right now.
Check back next week to read my interview with musician and entrepreneur Stan Killian.
P.S. Here is a great interview and profile of Maura on Martha Stewart's website.