Westlake Craft creates handmade pillows in Dayton, Ohio! We love that each pillow is unique and no two pillows are exactly alike. We interviewed owner, Erin Pryor, to learn more about her amazing Ohio Made small business. Meet Westlake Craft at our 2017 Ohio Explored Holiday Maker Mart on December 3rd, 2017!
Tell us about your local business.
I own and operate a small business out of my home called, Westlake Craft. I mainly sell 100% hand-stitched felted wool pillows using a simple, old-fashioned needle and thread. I've been growing this craft business for just about 5 years now and I can't believe how much fun it has been! I still don't consider myself an artist....that just sounds crazy to me because I was never one to spend time on arts and crafts. I am based in Dayton, Ohio but have worked with clients all over the country. It's so much fun to get a request for a personalized pillow and be challenged in making that special something the receiver will truly cherish. I strive to impress and surprise them every single time.
What drew you to your craft?
When I was younger my sister taught me how to cross stitch patterns. I rarely finished a project, but I got pretty good at the actual stitching part. I have used that embroidery skill to free-hand stitch colorful and unique pillows that can add an artistic design element to any room. Each one is hand made by me from start to finish. No two are alike! I've put houses, dogs, wedding flowers, varsity letters, names, farm animals, trucks, and even Elvis on a pillow. My first ever pillow was an owl for a friend’s daughter. Once I figured out how to piece and stitch the felt together, the possibilities became endless.
What is your favorite thing you have ever made?
That’s tough! I’ve made A LOT of pillows. But if I have to pick one, it would probably be the pillow I made for my son when he was in third grade. He and his friends had made up this group of characters for a class assignment and it just stuck with them for the entire year. I put his character, Larry the fish, on a pillow. :)
What did you want to be when you grew up?
A lawyer! I would be a terrible lawyer. I don’t like to argue so that really would not have worked out so well. I love this creative outlet I have found and still, after 5 years, really do love making pillows.
What is your creative process?
I typically always start with a pencil sketch of both the letters and graphics. I’ve gotten really good at sketching letters so even though I’ve cut and kept a lot of font styles over the years, I typically now just sketch new ones for each order. Then I use the paper template to cut each piece of felt. I use a needle and thread to stitch the pieces of felted wool together. Various buttons and trims are added to finish off the design. I then add a back and use yarn and regular pillow stuffing to make the pillow. I consider it my art! I don’t typically get to see the pillows after they leave here, but I SO cherish each and every picture and video I get.
What advice would you give yourself 10 years ago?
Find a creative outlet and make time for it! When my kids were young and we had so much going on, it was hard to find that all important “me-time”. I spent years without making time to find something for me. Now, now matter how busy life gets, I make time for pillows. I love seeing each design through from start to finish.
Why is it important to support local artists & makers?
With the local artists and makers that I’ve met since I started doing this, we all have one huge thing in common…. we put so much love and care into what we do. We work hard to make the best thing we are able to and will do it over 100 times until it’s right. You can’t find that in the big business world! The quality is impeccable and there is great attention to detail.
Why do you love doing what you do?
One thing I never expected I could do with this business is give people a gift they cherish. A few years into it, I got asked if I could put someone’s dog that had passed away on a pillow. I said, “I have no idea, but I can certainly try!” That started a line of custom made dog pillows that give people a lasting memory of their beloved pets! I love that I can do that.
What advice do you have for other women who want to start their own businesses?
Don’t let fear of the what if’s and pressure to be successful stop you! Success is how you define it. Nothing else compares.
What is your favorite thing about Exploring Ohio?
I was born and raised in Ohio. Spent time away in two very big cities (Houston and Denver) and eventually found my way back home to a small community only a few miles from where I grew up. My favorite day trip from Dayton has to be Columbus - shopping in Short North, browsing through North Market, duck pin bowling at Pins Mechanical Company and, of course, Ohio State Football games. Ohio is home.
Meet Westlake Craft at our Ohio Explored Holiday Maker Mart!