Getting Crafty: This business Is All About Lighting A Creative Spark

By Melissa Russell Wicked Local Northwest, Concord, Mass.

WWR Article Summary (tl;dr) Each month "Craft.ed", a creative studio in the heart of Concord center offers new options. From workshops in weaving, brush pen lettering, to watercolor painting, chances are you will find something to get your creative juices flowing.

Concord, Mass.

If you think you don't have any artistic ability, Susan Amaral wants to set you straight.

As the owner of Craft.ed, a creative studio in the heart of Concord center, she has seen what happens when you put paint and stencils in front of intimidated people.

"About 25 percent of my clientele say, 'I'm not crafty,' but once they get started, the spark comes out of them," she said. 'I love that."

Amaral, a Bedford resident, opened Craft.ed last summer, and since then, the glitter has been flying off the shelves.

The studio, where children and adults can indulge their creative spirits, has become Concord's go-to space for birthday parties and custom events.

Housed in a Revolutionary War-era building with rough-hewn wood ceiling beams, antique brick and plenty of natural light, the space has enough of what Amaral calls "good craft mojo" to inspire any number of creative projects.

Amaral says a diverse group of local artists have embraced the studio and have taught workshops in, among other skills, weaving, brush pen lettering, working with mosaic tiles and flower arranging.

Last month, an artist offered a lesson on working with succulents and driftwood, and another is teaching watercolor painting.

Each month offers new options.

For children, custom birthday parties offer the chance to create unicorn-themed items in a wider variety than even Amaral knew existed.

"There are unicorns, of course, but also kitty-corns, panda-corns, puppa-corns -- you can put a horn on any kind of animal and make any 5- to 12-year old happy," she said.

Older children enjoy working with raw wood, using power tools, paint and stains and customized stencils to create decorative trays and placards with inspirational quotes, affirmations, town names or family mottos.

"It is actually very empowering for them. I make them do everything from start to finish. The idea of creating something is very powerful and it is wonderful to see them light up over it," she said.

Amaral comes from a background as a fashion buyer but considers herself to be a crafty person who had long harbored dreams of becoming an entrepreneur. After a layoff sidelined her corporate career, she decided to reassess and taking the needs of a young family into consideration, took the risk of opening the studio.

"I had always thought I'd own a little shop someday," she said. "I saw notes on my phone from a few years ago, and it was always the same business concept and name. I realized I could do it and fail or not do it and regret it, and that regret would feel worse than failure. That was when I started changing my language. I had been saying 'if I do this,' and changed it to 'when I do this.'"

Now, with a crafting community behind her, Amaral hopes her studio will help people loosen up, go a little wild and get over their fear of making mistakes.

"We tend to be so regimented, so structured. This is a barrier we can break down here," she said. "Some people go wild and the glitter is flying but others worry they'll make a mistake. I have to encourage them. There are no mistakes, it's all about creativity."

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