A Life Well Crafted: Artisan Bambi Amos Stitches Together a Thriving Sewing Business
“I learn with everything that I do. It's always a learning journey,” says Bambi Amos, an Inuvaluit artisan who grew up in Sachs Harbour and Tuktoyaktuk, Inuvik. She first learned to do embroidery from her cousin back in 2008. That winter, they learned a lot more together from a sewing class at the Sachs Harbour Community Corporation. She learned from the instructor and also from classmates. They were on a learning journey together. Amos has been sewing ever since.
After years of crafting, 2020 was her biggest year of sales yet. In creating her fine goods, she’s inspired by the way her ancestors made clothing for thousands of years that would sustain them and help them to survive and thrive in the cold weather. Just like her ancestors did, everything she makes currently is done by hand. “My motivation is my passion. I love to do this. I love to sew. I love to do what I'm doing. Everyone has a talent, right? You find it then you're all set,” she smiles.
She works with fur and hides and plans to start using a fur machine in the future. Amos encourages business owners to apply for funding for things like machines to make their work easier, saying, “Don't be afraid… You just have to be curious about it and ask questions and want it and there's people to help.”
Amos is part of NWT Arts and Crafts and that’s how she was invited to travel to Winnipeg to the art gallery where they had a show and sale called Crafted. Apart from prospective customers, she also got to meet other artists, make connections and make friends with people who love making things as much as she does.
It was an experience in contrast with the time she left Sachs Harbour to go to school in Fort Smith for nine months. Her husband and children moved with her and even though they were together, the experience was lonely for them, being away from their extended family and everything that was familiar to them. While it was hard, she wanted to learn and she knew they wouldn’t be away for long so she persevered. When she finally finished her program she was so proud of herself and the stress almost seemed to evaporate off the wings of the airplane as she flew home.
In her professional life, she got her start working in grocery stores, then developed an interest in office administration. She got her diploma in office administration and worked in the corporate world for almost a decade. In the meantime, she was building up her sewing business over the course of fifteen years until she was able to go full-time and quit her day job.
Looking back, if she could give advice to her younger self it would be, “Be kind to yourself and follow what you really want to do. Find what your interests are, and follow it. Follow your dreams. Your dreams are doable.” To balance her mental health and well-being while she’s busy with life as a mom and entrepreneur, Amos spends most of the summer outside doing activities, even just for short walks to take a break and enjoy the more pleasant weather. She’s learned over the years that’s what helps her feel better.
Bambi Amos learns with everything that she does and it's always a learning journey. She first learned to do embroidery from her cousin back in 2008 and since then she’s stitched together a thriving business that let her leave her day job and work for herself. Inspired by the innovation of her ancestor, she works with furs and hides to keep her warm. Her story of success as an Inuvaluit artisan warms the heart like the fur she works with, giving warmth for winter journeys thanks to her sewing learning journey so long ago.
Thanks to Alison Tedford Seaweed for authoring this article.
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