Daily Mini Interview: Little Shop of Miniatures

Little Shop of Miniatures

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What’s your earliest memory with miniatures?

That would be the day my late grandmother presented me with a dollhouse she personally assembled, painted, and wallpapered. My sister got one, too, and it was just the most magical day for us. We had no idea she had this in the works, so the surprise element made it that much more memorable. My grandma was incredible crafty, and she even crocheted miniature rugs for each room.

I quickly became obsessed with that dollhouse, eventually filling it with every kind of miniature. I actually think I became pretty antisocial for a few years as I spent every spare minute with my dollhouse or at the local miniatures store, blowing every last allowance, birthday, and First Communion dollar. See two photos of that dollhouse below. Because my love of miniatures all goes back to my grandma, I made the shop logo her favorite color of teal.

How did you first get started collecting miniatures?

Confession: I am hopelessly uncrafty and have only made a handful of miniatures in my life. None of them are even close to Instagram worthy. I prefer to collect miniatures from people with far more talent than me.

And how did you take your passion from there, onward to launch your own business?

I’ve always wanted to start my own business; tons of people in my family are entrepreneurs and my parents owned a business together for more than 30 years. But I had no idea what that business would be, so after earning my super awesome liberal arts degree, I instead worked in corporate America.

I chugged along in my cubicle for more than a decade before I finally decided to get off my keister and get serious about starting a business. The challenges and growth possibilities of e-commerce interested me, plus I figured I would have a leg up from all those years of avid online shopping under my belt. I started learning everything I could about starting an online store and eventually chose miniatures because it was already a passion and I felt I could create a really unique and fun online miniatures destination. I laid the groundwork for nine months before I put in my notice. If you want to get strange looks, try telling people you’re leaving a secure Fortune 500 job to sell dollhouse miniatures on the Internet!

Do you remember the very first miniature you ever made?

Oh, yes. It was so incredibly basic: I simply took a Kodak film canister (remember those?), lined it with a bit of plastic, cut out a plastic cover, and called it a trash can.

What’s your favorite type of miniature?

My most favorite category on the site is the miniature food. I’m especially partial to miniature cakes and have actually found a way to make them that’s super easy. Just take a soda cap and layer some wall spackle on it. Try to make those pretty waves you see on professional cakes. Let it dry. Voila–you now have a miniature cake! I jazz up my “cakes” with sprinkles and decals.

How do your surroundings affect or inspire your work?

We’re based out of Erie, Pennsylvania, which recently made news for getting 53 inches of snow in 36 hours. We have insane winters, but in some way I relish the peace and slow pace of the cold weather months. It’s certainly helped my productivity since options are limited when you can barely leave the house! I also love living near the woods and a Great Lake–I always get my best ideas when I’m outside. I am also inspired by music–I really can’t work without it and I listen to just about anything depending on my mood. Right now, I’m rocking some old school Mariah Carey.

What advice would you give to new business owners?

Just take the chance if you feel pulled in that direction. People will say it’s a risk to start your own business, but so is wasting opportunities and your potential. Time is our most precious resource–don’t let your whole life pass you by without going for what you most want. I was a nervous wreck before I quit my job and worried about every worst case scenario. I found that things were much better once I got started and that action really does kill fear.

Favorite miniature you own?

I love anything by Itsy Bitsy Mini. I have one of her mini Birkin bags with a chic scarf tied around it. I’ve always wanted to own a Birkin bag… until that day comes, I have the miniature version!

What inspires you?

That moment in the morning after I’ve had my first cup of coffee and before the chaos of the day gets into full swing. The day is fresh and new and everything seems possible.

Also, traveling alone. I’ve traveled to Montreal, Germany, Machu Picchu, and several U.S. cities on my own. With no companion, I get extra focused on the environment and am generally more open to talking to strangers. That said, I love traveling with others, too. My husband and I actually traveled across the entire country by Amtrak train this past summer. And we did it in coach!

What is the most memorable miniature you have ever seen?

Little Shop of Miniatures has some pretty bizarre items: a miniature Ouija board, exact miniature replicas of presidential chairs, miniature condoms. But my favorite odd miniature has to be the “Old Sparky” electric chair.

What is your hope for the field of miniatures?

I hope the interest in miniatures continues to grow and to find an audience among people of all ages and places. It’s so encouraging to scroll through Instagram and see what people all over the world are creating and collecting. In particular, I love seeing all the young people developing a love for minis. I think we’re all realizing the magic of miniatures in an increasingly digital world.

Favorite miniaturists?

What would you like to see replicated in miniature?

I wish there was a way to have exact miniature versions of homes you’ve lived in made. I get very sentimental when I move and think that having a miniature version of my old places would be awesome.

Why miniatures? 

For me, I’ve always relished the opportunity to fashion my own small world full of things I’ll probably never own in real life. (See Birkin bag example above!) It soothes my inner control freak while also letting me be creative, which is something that can be hard to be when you’re a married adult.

I love what I do because I’m always scoping out the best new miniatures to come on the market and I get to connect with other people who love them as much as I do.

What’s to come from Little Shop of Miniatures?

I am still uploading products like a maniac–I’m really only at the tip of the iceberg in terms of inventory. I also want to add lots of new content to the Little Shop blog.How can miniature enthusiasts connect or collaborate with you?

Ask my husband–I’m always online! So you can email me at amanda (at) shopofminiatures.com, Facebook message me (average response time: 5 minutes), Instagram message me. Heck, I even have my phone number on the shop site since I am the customer service “department.”

Words you live by?

“Do not go where the path may lead, go instead where there is no path and leave a trail.”

Favorite miniature quote?

“If you think you’re too small to have an impact, try going to bed with a mosquito.”

Hobbies you enjoy?

Traveling, reading, swimming, horseback riding, and hiking.

And, if I’m being completely honest, watching Say Yes to the Dress for hours on end and listening to Michael Bolton. I’m seriously a huge fan of his!

What do you want miniature fans to know about you?

It’s my goal for Little Shop of Miniatures to be the premier online destination for miniature lovers. I want you to find everything you desire and to have a fun and easy shopping experience, too. If there’s ever anything you can’t find, you can always contact me and I will do my best to find what you need by going back to my vendors. And I always welcome any feedback you have!

Would you like to share a dailymini exclusive with readers? 

Yes! Use code DAILYMINI to take 15% off your entire order. This code is good for the next 30 days–through February 17, 2018–so happy shopping, mini friends!

Little Shop of Miniatures was launched by Amanda Austin from Erie, Pennsylvania. It’s the snowiest city in America! To see what she’s been up to, or to shop her miniatures, visit the Little Shop of Miniatures website and use code DAILYMINI for 15% off your first order. Stay current and connected by following Little Shop of Miniatures on FacebookInstagram, and pin away on Pinterest. And make sure to check out the Little Shop blog, too!

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