Chatterbox: A chat with Hooked by Amy

Meet Amy, the enthusiastic amigurumist and the owner of Hooked Academy where she teaches amigurumi dolls and runs crafts classes for crochet, knitting, cross-stitch, book binding, nails & strings, sock dolls, bag sewing, dress sewing and mohair teddy bear making with a group of professional crafters.

In this interview, we learnt about how she gathered the courage to quit her promising job in the IT industry to begin crocheting full-time and eventually turned her hobby into a business.  Read on to learn more about her entrepreneurial journey and how she achieved more satisfaction and balance in life.

Amy @HookedAmy, the owner of HookedbyAmy and Hooked Academy

  1. Tell us a little bit of your background.  How did you get started with crocheting?
     
    I was working in the IT industry for about 8 years before I finally call it quits.  I loved my job but it was becoming more of a routine for me and the workload has taken over my life. My husband was not very supportive of my decision to be a full-time amigurumist in the beginning.  He did not like the idea of me leaving a stable job to make dolls for a living, also mainly because I have zero experience in the crafts industry.  However I was very determined and worked really hard in putting down my ideas in a business plan.  Just two weeks ago, I achieved another milestones by opening Hooked Academy.
     
    I first got my hands on amigurumi through a friend.  She has great talent in designing dolls and I thought, since I was in the verge of quitting my job, maybe we should work together! And I started to learn some basic patterns and eventually designing my own. Although she has quitted after a few months into the business, the passion in amigurumi has rooted in me thus I took over and continue running it myself.
     
  2. What is an amigurumi?  Did you name yourself after it?
     
    HAHA! No, I didn’t.  My mum miraculously named me Amy since my birth and oh, such beautiful coincidence that I am into this obsession now.  In Japanese, ami means crochet and nuigurumi is stuffed doll.
     
  3. What was the first amigurumi you made?  Any tips for beginner crocheters?
     
    The first amigurumi I designed was a long caterpillar, as a baby bolster. Honestly, just like all other crafts, to make a decent looking amigurumi is not easy but it is not hard either.  As long as you have the patience and the “never-give-up” attitude, you will make great dolls after consistent practice on your crochet stitches.
     

    Amy @HookedSkillful hands at work.  

  4. What made you decided to turn your hobby into a business?
     
    I started with a Facebook page where I posted photos of my plushy dolls just to test the curiosity of people.  Amigurumi is still rather new here in Malaysia and I wasn’t sure what the response would be like. Surprisingly the momentum picked up very quickly and soon I have many fans dropping by to like my page and the items I posted.  That was really encouraging and I began getting numerous requests to teach.  And I would say the rest is history!
     
  5. What inspires you when creating your designs?
     
    My characters are mostly animals that I just think is cute. Sometimes my students or clients would place customise orders, which gives me new ideas. I love crocheting customised dolls – those are great challenges which brings great satisfaction when I am able to complete the project.
     
    I also like to borrow a little from gamer culture – like the Mario Mushroom and a little from cartoon characters – like the Elmo and Cookie Monster Baby Rattle.
     
    I have a pet Silky Terrier and I also love to create fun toys for her.  I’ve made a UFO and a Doggy Bone, which I stuffed a huge bell in it just to excite her.
     

    _animal-collections The animal collections.  

  6. Tell us about your Kids Doodle Series.
     
    I’m really excited about this fun project actually.  I’d like to call it a collection of crocheted doodle dolls where I turned kids’ drawing into a real toy. I guess mothers would never think their kids’ doodles could come real into an actual doll. It is a great way to motivate kids and build their confidence level through drawing. Well, what makes it special is there will be no other doll looking the same as your kid’s!
     

    _kids-doodle-series The Kids Doodle series.  

  7. What makes you get out of bed every morning?
     
    I love how everyone smiles when they laid their eyes on my plushy dolls.  This satisfaction I often get push me further, to spread the love and passion, by sharing the art of crochet.  I believe a handmade craft speaks a thousand more than a gift grabbed from store.  Hooked aims to sprinkle that little magic touch of love to everyone around, so that you too, can make your love ones smile.
     

    _animal-collections-2 HookedbyAmy’s plushy dolls.

  8. What do you consider the most challenging about running your own business?
     
    Hmmm… Coming from someone who has no experience in any craftworks before, I find it a great challenge (and at the same time a joy) to keep myself updated to more and more advance /new techniques in the market in any crafts. There are so much to learn, it is never ending. I guess this is also why I love crafts, as I can never get bored doing it.
     
  9. What are the perks of being ‘self employed’ (self motivating) and do you miss your old job?
     
    No – I do not miss my nine to five job. The moment I stepped out from the corporate world, I know I would never go back.
     
    Although I have yet to taste the luxury of being flexible in managing my own schedule… just yet but I love what I am doing, I can never get bored with it even when I needed to work longer hours than my previous job.
     
  10. What advice would you give to anyone who is thinking of starting a business?
     
    To hold on to what you believe and do not give up! Although I didn’t understand crafts and no one had supported my idea to do amigurumi business full time, I determined to hold strong to what I wanted and turned these negativity into motivation to prove to everyone I could do it. I have not regret a bit till today for giving up my fat pay job.
     

hookedbyamy_Hooked-1-edited

Written by

Christine Liew is the creative co-founder of Shoppertise. She believes that selling goods online professionally should be as simple as snapping a photo with your smartphone and share it with the world. After more than 10 years of building world-class brands within the digital advertising industry, and refining her business acumen in the exciting world of mobile payment solutions, she is now channeling her knowledge to her passion — supporting and growing small businesses.