Inspiration at Out of the Woods Maker
LAURA CHURCHILL DUKE SALTWIRE NETWORK
Editor's Note The “Makers” feature is a weekly look at Atlantic Canadian entrepreneurs who are tapping into the creative marketplace. If you know of a local, creative business owner that should be featured email: Jennifer.little@ saltwire.com . To read more “Makers” features, visit: saltwire.com Marlana Penney had always wanted to have a little side business doing something creative, but at first, she did not have the confidence to do so. An elementary school teacher by trade, Penney says she has always been crafty, noting how it really helps her mental health. Then she discovered stitching. A few years ago, Penney took a workshop from a fellow stitcher and quickly developed an appreciation of the art. From there, she taught herself a lot more and experimented with different stitches. She then learned how to add lettering to pieces by trial and error — lots of errors, she says. As a huge fan of Taylor Swift’s music, Penney started making embroidery hoops with her lyrics. It was this love for Swift that helped inspire Penney’s business name. “I wanted to have a name that had a hint of Taylor in it. One of my favourite songs is, Out of The Woods,” she says. Thus, Out of the Woods Maker was established. She credits her fiancé Brandon for encouraging her to start this business, and his belief in her helped motivate the Yarmouth woman. Today, through Out of the Woods, Penney focuses on making various items, including embroidery hoops, custom name bracelets, engraved keychains, custom T-shirts and sweatshirts, embroidery kits, custom onesies for babies, and sewn burp cloths. Among the most popular items Penney makes are her custom song lyric embroidery hoops. Recently, she started making custom name bracelets and those have been a hit as well. As for what she likes to make the most, she says it is a tie between custom lyric hoops and boho rainbow embroidery hoops, as she loves choosing colour schemes. When deciding what to make next, Penney says she gets her ideas from song lyrics or colour schemes she sees and enjoys. She also tries to follow what the current trends are and make that. “I also do a lot of custom orders. It is a lot of fun to create items for people,” she says. In fact, Penney says she was once asked to make an embroidery hoop for someone in Singapore. “It is wild to think one of my little hoops is on a wall that far away!” She is honoured when asked to create something for a baby nursery. As a new mom herself, she knows how special it is to set up a nursery, so to be part of someone else’s nursery is meaningful. Besides making and selling her own work, Penney, ever the teacher, also teaches others how to make their own through a series of beginner hand embroidery workshops. She provides all the supplies needed for the participants to make their own embroidery hoops. On the day of the workshop, every participant gets a bamboo hoop, fabric, needle, and thread and she instructs them on how to do the stitches needed. “I provide snacks and they create their embroidery hoop. I am there to assist. It is such a fun time,” says Penney. Her favourite way to teach these workshops is in person, but she has done a few virtual ones because of the pandemic. Penney loves that so many of her embroidery students have gone on to continue creating. She will often get messages from her former pupils who want to show off their work. Out of the Woods is something Penney does part-time. The rest of the time, she is busy working as an elementary school teacher, although she is currently on maternity leave. So, she works on her hoops when her new son, Cooper, naps and sleeps. As for advice to others who might be interested in starting up their own crafting business, Penney says to believe in yourself. Start with just taking photos of what you make and posting them on social media. Engage with other crafters, and use Instagram, Reddit, or Facebook to your advantage. “You would not believe how quickly your crafts can turn into a small business,” she says. Penney wants to continue creating and teaching workshops in the future, especially in other towns. She already has one booked in Halifax. “I love teaching others how to stitch,” she says. Penney also wants to attend a couple of makers markets. “Even if nothing more happens with my business, I am so proud of what I am doing. Seeing that I enjoy having a small business, my stepdaughters have wanted to start their own, which they have. They run an online bake sale and it’s been a huge success.” Anyone interested in viewing Out of the Woods Makers’ work, or placing an order can find her on Instagram at @outofthewoodsmaker or Etsy under the same name.