It is no secret that I am passionate about women's empowerment and women in leadership positions. As women's history month ended in March, a new series emerged here at The Honest Mama blog. Each week throughout April and May, Female Feature Fridays will spotlight local female entrepreneurs in Champaign-Urbana and surrounding communities.
Meet Amanda Stedman, a super creative DIY wife and mother who runs a custom woodworking business alongside her husband.
Name: Amanda Stedman
Business Name: Home Sweet Cedar
Tell us about yourself!
Hi, I’m Amanda! I am one of the faces behind Home Sweet Cedar, which I run with my incredibly talented husband, Collin. I am a stay-at-home mama of two with a passion for all things creative, especially DIY. After entering the world of stay-at-home mamahood I found myself searching for creative outlets that allowed me to keep grasp of my identity, outside of just being “mommy.” I explored many options, got myself involved in a pyramid scheme (or two), and even managed to launch my own online boutique. While none of these opportunities proved to work out for me, I learned a lot, ultimately leading to the launch of our current business, Home Sweet Cedar.
After my unsuccessful attempts in the business industry, I knew I wasn’t ready to give up on my entrepreneurial journey. So, amidst the COVID crisis, and with time at our disposal, my husband and I turned to DIY crafts as a source of comfort. We have mutually “busy” minds and are both task oriented, yet the whole world had been placed on hold and for an undetermined amount of time. After Summer ended, I knew I couldn’t tolerate an entire Winter with little to no structure, and so Home Sweet Cedar was born.
When did you open your business?
We opted to launch during the holiday season , aware that this was an opportunity to get our name out there by providing gift options for your loved ones. We knew it was time to sink or swim, but never imagined we’d have to swim at Michael Phelps-like speeds! Just two short weeks after we launched, we were forced to retire our ever-so popular Scrap-wood Christmas Trees because we otherwise could not keep up. We were legit Santa’s workshop, working tirelessly to ensure that your loved ones had a home sweet Christmas.
We fully anticipated that we would slow down in January, considering that had been the trend in my previous business endeavors, but turned out to be on the contrary. Taking that risk had paid off and, suddenly, all of the customers that had acquired gifts for their loved ones now wanted their own customizable pieces… and so did their mamas, grandmas, and aunties, too! One victorious moment in January, we knew we had made the best possible choice for our family, despite how time consuming our business may be.
What makes you unique within your industry?
What’s unique about what we do is that we aren’t just “selling” items, we’re selling stories. We’re selling love and celebrating moments in time with you. We’ve celebrated births, marriages, and even deaths with you. You all give us the opportunity to pursue our passion and place your faith in us to make a moment in time truly noteworthy. That door sign that welcomes you to Grandma’s House, or the charcuterie board you gave to your best friend to commemorate her wedding day. What we do offers comfort, warmth, and love. And now every time your best friend has a wine and cheese night because her husband is annoying her, yet again (#marriage), she’ll be reminded of the day she vowed, “for better, or for worse.”
What is your favorite part about what you do?
The potential of taking part in those special moments in your lives is what fills my cup and encourages me. On those nights I am ready to call it quits, it’s you all that keep me going. And there are PLENTY of those nights, I will say. What we do, especially by comparison to running my own boutique, takes a substantial amount of time. I am no longer ordering fashion tops from Cali and packaging them, I am now responsible for creating the piece myself. From the initial woodworking, to designing the piece with you, down to the final details, it’s up to us to ensure the unique perfection of each creation.
How do you balance “mom life” with young children and running your business?
With that comes a lot less time as a family and a lot of “just a minute” type responses when my children just want a little bit of my time, so the mom guilt is REAL at times. Ultimately, everything that we do, we do for our children and I know they’ll thank us when they get their licenses and we can afford to give them cars! Sometimes you have to make sacrifices now to have a better life later, right? Not to say that diminishes the mom guilt, but we live in a busy world and we are just doing our best to keep up over here!
Finding some semblance of a “balanced” life feels impossible sometimes, too. I don’t know many mothers that have declared their lives well balanced, we just inherently know the importance of trying. Again, we live in a busy, very demanding, world and I think the vast majority of people struggle to keep pace, but also know we can’t just quit. I certainly reside somewhere in between those two realities.
What would you say to someone who is wanting to start their own business but is hesitant?
Having an entrepreneurial spirit is a wonderful thing, yet it doesn’t guarantee any amount of success. I learned this the hard way when I allowed myself to be encumbered by “competition,” which only left me feeling inadequate and unsuccessful. I would encourage anyone making considerations about launching their own businesses to pursue what they’re passionate about and to never compromise their character while doing so. It’s important to conduct your business in a way that compliments you and your lifestyle. Don’t just try to “fit” the mold, define it.
You can find Home Sweet Cedar online at www.homesweetcedar.com and on Instagram @homesweetcedar.