We had the good fortune of connecting with Alexis Rainey and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Alexis, we’d love to hear more about how you thought about starting your own business?
I’ve always been a crafty gal. I went through a phase with just about everything in the book – pottery, painting, weaving, crochet, knitting, you name it. Working with my hands has always been cathartic for me, for as long as I can remember.
When I first met my wife, she picked up on this trait of mine very quickly, and one of the first gifts she ever gave me was an instructional macrame book. It can imagine wasn’t an easy task for her to find a craft I hadn’t tried my hand at yet, so kudos to her!
Almost immediately after diving into the world of macrame, it just felt different. For lack of a better word, it simply “stuck.” It was the first art form I tried that I felt was a true creative outlet for me, and not JUST a form of at-home therapy. It took some time for me to self-identify as such, but it allowed me to truly be an “artist”, not just a crafter.
Needless to say, I couldn’t stop. After work and on the weekends, all I did was try new knots and create new pieces, and eventually, I ran out of wall space! I made pieces for family and friends, but I exhausted the macrame recipient list after just a few months. Finally, my wife sat me down and simply said, “Babe… you’ve got to start selling this stuff.”
As I hinted at briefly before, I’d never really considered myself a true artist. The thought of trying to sell anything I created to the general public felt almost… too presumptuous, and the lack of confidence in my own creativity almost made this feel totally out of the question. So, it took some serious convincing to officially turn this into a business.
I am a very all or nothing person, so my gut reaction was, ‘If I’m going to do this, I’m going to do it right.” I went through the true brand building process (to the best of my ability as a one-woman show!) – brand guidelines, brand colors, had a logo designed, all of the things. As a final step, I got the official “LLC” designation, and then everything went live in September of 2018.
Since then, I’ve evolved my brand in so many ways. I’ve expanded my own art form to include all styles of macrame (My latest obsession? Macra-weave!), I’ve forged brand partnerships with other like minded small business, I offer workshops and classes, and more recently, I’ve found myself consistently working on commissioned pieces. Had you told me 4 years ago that people would be paying me to create custom pieces for them, to put in their homes, to look at every single day – I probably would have laughed in your face!
Starting my own business has been, and will continue to be, a constant learning process. A fun, exciting, fulfilling learning process, but a learning process nonetheless. The landscape for artists, makers, and small business owners is ever-changing – but I can’t wait to see what’s next in my journey!
Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
Something that a lot of people don’t know about me is, ATL Macrame Co is not my full time job. I have a career as a marketing and partnerships professional that is totally separate from my small business. Finding a work/life/small business balance is tough, and often feels unattainable. I love my ‘day job’, which almost makes striking that balance even more difficult! Sometimes I feel like it’d be easier if I was less passionate about one thing vs. the other, but the fact that I truly passionate about both my formal career and my small business can feel like an uphill battle. However, I know how lucky I am to feel fulfilled professionally, personally, and artistically.
I recently heard a piece of advice from a mentor of mine – during a panel interview, someone asked her the timeless “How do you achieve work/life balance?” question. Her answer really struck me – to paraphrase, she explained that, very rarely do we grow up able to fulfill all of our personal passions and interests within our career path. She went on to say that, often when people think work/life balance, their assumption is that this means juggling work w/ your spouse or family, which of course is important, but it should also cover your own personal, individual, unique interests and passions. She gave several examples in her own life of how she’s found ways to continue to be involved in things she is personally interested in that have nothing to do with her ‘career’ and that she does just for HER.
Hearing this from someone I respect and look up to so much professionally almost validated for me my desire to truly integrate ATL Macrame Co into my life and not just refer to it as a “side gig”. Somehow, this has helped me better achieve balance in my life, because I’m no longer trying to fit macrame in where I can, because I’ve allowed it to be a truly integrated piece of my identity both personally and professionally.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
– Food + Bev –
Brunch: Petit Chou
Lunch: Bone Garden Cantina
Take-out: Antico Pizza
Dinner: Cooks & Soldiers -or- St. Cecilia if you want something fancy
Drinks: Monday Night Brewery -or Elsewhere Brewing
– Shop –
Brick & Mortar
Green Flamingo Plant Shop
Perrine’s Wine Shop
– Activities –
Picnic at Tanyard Creek Park
Walk the Beltline (starting in Inman Park!)
Fetch Park (if you have a pup!)
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
Starting a business is, in so many ways, a group effort. Although I often refer to myself as a “one woman show,” but, I wouldn’t be in this position if it weren’t for my family, friends, and the Atlanta community.
My friends and family have supported me from the beginning – whether through purchasing my pieces and hanging them in their homes, or blasting their social media followers with posts and info on my business, they’ve always been there.
The artist/maker community in Atlanta is so wonderful – I’ve forged many friendships with other local makers. Some turn into full on brand partnerships, and others just become cheerleaders for my business (and I for theirs!) – both equally as important! I feel so lucky to live in a city that appreciates artists, makers, and small businesses.
Lastly, I like to attribute the mere existence of ATL Macrame Co to my wife, Jena – without her, I may not have ever gained the confidence needed to consider myself a true artist, and to put myself out there by turning this into a real business. She has shown me endless patience and love throughout this journey, and is my biggest, unconditional supporter. She is at every pop-up market, every workshop, and lets my macrame supplies and projects take over our home with zero complaints. I feel so endlessly grateful to have a partner who is truly my biggest cheerleader.
The plant hanger photos were taken by one of my brand partners, Sonal Patel-Cochran – her brand is called Tribe. The other photos were taken by me!