Business: Ploome by Anna Mathis
It’s a big summer for Anna Mathis - graduating from the New Brunswick College of Craft and Design, starting her own business, and getting married among other milestones. You wouldn’t know it as you watch her calmly feed wool into her spinning wheel, the one-two motion of her feet on the pedals completely subconscious.
“I like this wheel a lot because it’s portable,” she says without slowing her hands. “I’ll do this all night if we’re sitting and watching a movie or just hanging out. It relaxes me.”
She’s sitting on a patio with friends and family as she says this, a Red Rover cider to her left and bag of colourful roving (processed wool, waiting to be spun) to her right. For Anna, running a business is about making more moments like this, where career, passion, and lifestyle are woven together.
“This summer has given me the confidence that I can live a happy and comfortable life as an artist. More than anything, the Foundry program gave me the time and the process to come to that conclusion.”
Anna is a fiber artist, or in her words, “It means I love everything to do with wool.” But most words to describe Anna are an understatement. In fact, her work is more likely to leave one speechless. Whether a skein of naturally dyed wool the colours of a mermaid, a felted flower she wears around her neck, or a flawless, hand-woven table runner, Anna’s creations inspire “Oohs” and “Aahs” whenever on display.
Despite their brilliance, Anna suspects that selling her designer pieces alone in the New Brunswick market would not suffice a living. This summer, she is taking the opportunity to sell her hand dyed and spun wool, instructional fiber art kits, and sell commissioned and designer pieces around the world through her online boutique. At the same time, she is building an international following by offering online video tutorials and blogging about her work.
“I’m so lucky that I actually enjoy the business side of the equation and that I have the right disposition for it,” she confessed over coffee. “I don’t know a lot of artists that are interested in managing themselves as a business or had enough mentorship to learn how.”
Knowing this, Anna hopes to grow large enough that she can hire other artists onto her team. With the business operations taken care of, other artists could focus on their skills as creators. But to Anna, the ideal would be growing in place. After winning first place in an international textile design competition, Anna caught a glimpse of what life would look like as an acclaimed designer in a global industry.
“I’d like to chart my own path as a professional textile artist,” she explains. “As exciting and flattering as it was to be pulled into the world of global textile design, I want to find a way to grow my work while keeping the lifestyle I enjoy in Fredericton.”
She has taken the first steps to achieving that this summer. Anna has gone from fiber artist to Ploome by Anna Mathis and is now busy stocking her new online boutique with products, kits, tutorials, and designer pieces.