We had the good fortune of connecting with Amanda Cunningham and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Amanda, other than deciding to work for yourself, what else do you think played a pivotal role in your story?
LEARNING MY CRAFT!!!!! This has, by far, been the single most important factor when thinking about the success of my brand. I wanted to start a clothing accessory line. I didn’t know how to cut/sew fabric. I didn’t know anything about machine embroidery. I didn’t know about small business tax payments or qualitative marketing. I was ambitious, and above all, I had enough starting capital to where I felt comfortable relying on vendors and contractors to fulfill a vision that I had developed for MY business. And while it was successful at first, I quickly noticed a decline in quality, order fulfillment, restocking…everything. While I was grateful to even have merchandise to sell, I realized I wasn’t in the position to financially and effectively outsource talent, as I had previously thought. Let’s face it, No one is going to dedicate themselves to your brand in the same fashion you would yourself. So I knew it was time to smarten up. If I wanted to change how things were running I knew it was time to get my hands “dirty” — learn my craft. I bought an industrial embroidery machine, a sewing machine, and took numerous (unofficial lol) YouTube courses. I found a mentor in the industry who was available to give pointers and answer any questions. I begin doing everything myself. This is so important. As a small business owner, it is necessary to know your business. All aspects of it. That way, when the time comes you can effectively lead without sacrificing the integrity of your brand.
Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
Currently I work in building management at an Animal Health Laboratory. I love it here. I’ve been a power plant/ stationary engineer for like 10 years now. I started my journey as a Machinist in the United States Navy and have worked in numerous power plants since. Male dominated is an understatement. I’ve been the only female in majority of my work environments. I’m proud of that. I currently hold the second highest Engineer’s License in the state. Sometimes that surprises me because I never saw myself in this field, I didn’t even like the job when I was doing it in the Navy.
Sometimes you don’t know what you like until you try. Sometimes you’re really good at something, but you cant stand doing it all the time.
I think having this thought process helped me persevere when starting my small business. Understanding my wants vs. my needs really put things into perspective and helped me thrive in an ever changing environment.
Stay open minded and never limit yourself based on biases and past experiences.
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
Lets EAT!! Literally one of my favorite things to do. Let’s keep it chill the first day, you’re probably a bit jetlagged. Good thing there’s plenty of amazing restaurants and bars walking distance from my house. Lets grab some food at the local tavern and visit the brewery. Its spring and they have just reintroduced their watermelon lager (a city favorite). The next morning we can grab a French Toast Bagel from coffee spot near my house then walk across the street to the train station. It’s just 40 minutes to Midtown Manhattan. We can do a little shopping in SoHo and while were in the area we can check out my brand in-store at 420 W. Broadway.
Lets get some drinks at Soho Park (all day happy hour) and head to Broadway! I’m sure we can snag tickets for a last minute show.
You’re probably really tired from spending the day in NYC so let keep it chill on this day. We can make our own charcuterie and lay out on the great lawn in Hoboken. They have really cool outside entertainment. Maybe later we can grab a Cannoli from the cakeboss.
I noticed it would be raining on this day, so I figured we could stay inside and hit Yestercades. Its a vintage arcade that has literally any game you can think of. They have day passes and hourly passes so we dont have to worry about running out of money or tokens. We can also order a shrimp scampi pizza from my favorite spot for dinner.
I dont feel like we’ve partied enough. So lets have some fun. I suggest we sleep in because well be out most of the night. I dont drink and drive so we’ll keep it local. Lets hit Newark for some food, music, drinks, and hookah at 1 of 3 of my favorite lounges.
We can hit a museum or the botanical garden one of these days for a great photo op. Visit family and friends and just hang out.
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
My wife! Talk about underpaid labor (haha). I’ve never met anyone as supportive as my wife, Erin. I remember when I first received my embroidery machine. Remember that scene from The Christmas Story (the movie) when the father received that huge prize in the mail? That’s how my machine arrived, on this huge pallet, inside this huge wooden box. Erin and I carried this machine all the way to 4th floor. After we made it, We sat on top of the crate and ate Chinese food and drank wine. It was like the perfect commencement to the business. She’s always willing to help pack orders or snip loose threads from the fabric. Even when it comes to emotional support she has always been a huge factor, always making me feel invincible. As corny as it may sound, I literally always feel like a Billionaire BreadWinner whenever she’s around. Definitely grateful for that.
Instagram: @smhace/ @billionairebreadwinners