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A garden of wall hangings, from Modern Macramé (10 Speed Press)

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Entrepreneur Chat

The Art of Macramé

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Baking sourdough is so 2020. If you're searching for a new hobby for 2021, may we recommend the art of macramé? It's come a long way since its Sixties and Seventies heyday, with a whole new spate of talented artists ushering in a renaissance for the knot-based handicraft—which, no surprise, has seen an upswing in interest during our quarantine era. "It's the perfect mindfulness practice," explains Emily Katz, founder of Modern Macramé. "Macramé can be a stress reliever and give you a sense of peace."

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Q&A

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Why macramé?
I learned macramé from my mom as a way to reconnect after we'd been estranged for about 20 years. She lives in the East Coast, I was out there for a friend's wedding in 2013 and decided to visit. She taught me how to make a macramé plant hanger and the rest is history.

What inspired you to pursue it full-time? How did it go from hobby to career?
I wasn't looking to quit my job or anything. At the time, I was working as an art director for my dad's healing gemstone business. But what I did find exciting and inspiring was the idea of teaching people. So a good friend and I started teaching macramé workshops in my house—we would make meals and people would come over and learn macramé.
Then in 2014, Instagram featured us as a suggested user. I went from having three thousand followers to 30 thousand, in two weeks. All of a sudden I had this audience. People all over the world were asking to learn macramé, too. So I started traveling and teaching. It was all really organic.
That's the long version of the answer. The short version is that I didn't really choose it. Macramé showed up in my life and I followed it. It wasn't like I saw a hole in the market and wanted to make it cool again. It was really heart driven.

Emily Katz

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What do you love about macramé?
Crafting can bring you back to yourself. It's the perfect mindfulness practice. The act of setting a space, setting intention within a space, tying a knot… it can be so calming. There's so much science now around meditation and how mindfulness can be helpful to our mental health… Macramé really brings one into the present moment.

It sounds like a great quarantine salve…
We've had a big uptick this last year—our business is up 40% from 2019. A lot of people are crafting right now. Obviously, the pandemic has been insane and so stressful. Macramé can be a stress reliever and give you a sense of peace. And it's really great to do together with children.
There's also the fact that it's something we can control. Right now, we don't have a lot of control over what's happening in the universe, but you can control what you're making with your hands.
Macramé is also really good for your brain. You're using your right and left side of your body—you're rewiring your brain as you're teaching yourself something new. It changes your patterns and your habits. Sometimes it's challenging to learn something new, right? Macramé can make you more elastic.

Inspiration from @modernmacrame

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“Crafting can bring you back to yourself. It's the perfect mindfulness practice.”

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How to get started?
You can get started with our book or on our site. We have a lot of macramé patterns, tutorials, beginner's kits. We'll have new dates for online classes up soon and, next month, we're launching a Craft Club. You can sign up to different tiers and, each month, get different videos and perks. With Craft Curious, you get a video and pattern download; with Craft Connected, you also get a beautiful kit delivered to your house full of the materials to make the product within the video.

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Pro tips for beginners?
1. Having good materials makes a big difference.
2. You want the knots to have tension. Tie the rope to the back of a chair or use rolling racks or clothing racks.
3. Have fun. Macramé is a space to spend time with yourself, connect with yourself and make something beautiful. Don't put too much pressure on yourself. There's too much of that in the world already.

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Set the scene—favorite music to listen to while you craft?
I have a lot of friends who are in bands so I listen to their music a lot. I listen to podcasts that bring me joy and get me in a creative flow, like Samin Nosrat's cooking podcast or The Moth. We also have a Modern Macramé playlist on Spotify—I recommend that!

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What are some of the more out-there projects you've done?
I did a giant macramé tent in 2013. It made me realize that, OK, macramé is not just small-time handicraft. It can really be used as an art medium, a tool for communicating—on a larger scale—what is possible with craft. Since then, we've done a lot of large-scale installations for hotels and difference residences.

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Favorite macramé inspo to follow on Instagram?
For starters, @modernmacrame! We share a lot of inspiration from our maker community, from large-scale crafters to homemakers. There's @sally_england, who's the first person I ever saw doing macramé besides my mom. I really love @windychien—her work is very linear and structural. @natalie_miller_design—she made this gigantic installation for Chinese New Year that's incredible. Another great place to check out is our blog, where we feature different macramé and fiber artists.

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Modern Macramé workshop

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Must-listen podcasts for the creative entrepreneur?
Girlboss. Supermaker. Raw Milk. Conscious Chatter. 40 for Tea. Musings with Montse. Energy in Motion. Out of Line.

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And must-read books…
The E-Myth by Michael E. Gerber — it's a really awesome book for anybody who's in business and trying to grow. For someone like me, who's a maker and then all of a sudden is now trying to manage people, this is a wonderful book to read. Start with Why by Simon Sinek is also really great.

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Best advice to the would-be entrepreneur?
Figure out what success means to you. Because everyone's version of success is different. Is success being able to work from home and support your family? Is success being on the New York Times Best Seller list? Is success having $10 million in the bank account? With young entrepreneurs, it's easy to look around and compare yourself to others and define your success based on what other people are doing—or what you think you should be doing.
Think, instead, about what makes you happy. One of the biggest questions to answer is this: Why are you doing this, and to what end? If you know, then you can be clear on how to get there.

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Of all the textile arts, why does macramé reign supreme?
The easiest answer is that it has the lowest barrier to entry—all you need are your hands and some rope and that's it. And macramé is an instant-gratification craft. Knitting, weaving and crocheting—they take so long. If you've never done macramé, you can come to one of my online classes and, by the time you're done, have a plant hanger you made. Well, actually you're not done—because now you're going to want to make more.

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The artist and entrepreneur at work

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