We had the good fortune of connecting with Stephanie Lucas and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Stephanie, can you walk us through the thought-process of starting your business?
I was really young when I decided that I wanted to work for myself. Someone had explained to me that there were people out there that worked for themselves and it really appealed to me, even as a 7 year old. It was the coolest thing I had ever heard, so I thought that it would be a sort of badge of honor to do. As I got a little older, my priorities for why I wanted to start my own business started to change. No one to tell me what to do, I could wear whatever I wanted, or set my own schedule, so I could go to bed and wake up as late as I wanted. I always knew that I was different from other people, so it was really important to me to be able to maintain my individuality. I’ve always been a bit of a night owl too, so I wanted to be able to facilitate that. As I got older, I realized that being an artist wasn’t going to be enough to cut it. I started working for retail companies, a hair salon, sold insurance, repaired retro video game consoles, and even operated a forklift in a warehouse. I couldn’t keep a job for more than a few years because I would call out a lot. After several years I was diagnosed with several chronic illnesses and I was forced to work for myself again. Now I’m working for myself as an act of survival. I try to use my platform for activism and bringing awareness to issues surrounding invisible illnesses, healthcare reform, as well as knitting for several charities. I wouldn’t be able to do that if I were answering to someone else. I don’t think I’d be able to feel as much purpose in my life if I had continued to work for someone else.
Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
I’m a fiber artist that specializes in making custom products for my clients. Even though I’m goth, I love working with bold, vibrant colors. The sillier something is, the better. I tend to learn more towards video game, nerdy, and alternative styles. I’m a triple threat when it comes to this corner of the art world. I knit, crochet, and sew. I started to crochet and sew at 6, then taught myself how to knit when I was 14. I started my business when I was 14 and decided that knitting would be a beneficial skill, so I sat down and in about five minutes had figured out the basics. YouTube and Etsy didn’t exist back then, so I was completely on my own. No one in my family could knit, and my grandma only knew the basics of crochet, so if I wanted to learn a more advanced technique it was up to me to teach myself. Eventually, I was the one teaching my grandma how to do things, then started to give lessons to others. I started taking commissions from teachers and some of my classmates in 9th grade. Even if I didn’t think I could meet their expectations, I’d accept the challenge and give it my all anyway. My skills improved with every order and when something was too hard, I’d keep trying until I figured it out. Without that tenacity and drive, I would have fallen flat on my face. It wasn’t just important to me that I could make things, I had to be the best at it. When social media started to become more relevant, I jumped at the opportunity for the free promotion. Lately, my platform has started to blow up, so it’s a lot easier to find clients and get work. I’ve worked on a few independent films, then I started doing artist allies for conventions to give myself an excuse to cosplay. Now, thanks to the popularity of streaming, I’m an affiliate for Twitch. It’s really helped expand my audience as well as bridge a gap. I can communicate with a client through stream, or give a step-by-step of my process so others can learn.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
If my best friend were coming to visit me for a week, we’d be going all out. We’d be getting sushi, Indian, and grabbing a bite at the Vortex. Then we’d go chill at a gaming bar like Battle n’ Brew or go to a table top store that lets you play by the hour. I’d introduce them to all of my favorite games and let them show me theirs. Knowing my friends, they’d be coming in for a convention like Dragon*Con, so we’d be getting some con therapy too. You have not seen Atlanta until you’ve been to Dragon*Con, especially after dark. There is definitely a unique culture surrounding it and I’ve never felt more at home.
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?
I wouldn’t be able to sell my products without having amazing photos to showcase my work. I’m very fortunate to have such a great friend like Taylor Holland of Knottted Productions to always be down for a shoot. He has such a fantastic eye for detail and has a real talent for making color pop.