Amanda talks Fear, Deconstruction of Faith, and Motherhood.
The lines on a woman’s face can tell so many stories. Amanda’s face is soft, bright, full of color, and her only lines come from the memories of smiles on her face. She walks into my home with her 2-year-old son on one hip and her vintage leather baby bag on her opposing shoulder. A fire is cozying up the living room, and she and I sneak into my little office at home for her interview as our first “Kathy of the Month.” Her every move is graceful and poised. She sits and you can immediately tell from the lines on her face she is excited to share her story, and nervous wondering what I could ask her. We call this emotion “nervicited.”
There are women in your life that there are really no words to express your admiration for them. Amanda became a small business owner at the age of 27, also while raising her little man Milo, who had just turned one. Amanda is married to the love of her life, Chris. Chris is a professional photographer and shares his business, Two Kin Photography, with his sister. The pictures in this article are not taken by me, but from her husband. I felt it was essential to have pictures taken by him to create the whole narrative of Amanda. I want our readers to see her through storytelling, and through the eyes of the man who loves her most.
Amanda is the owner of a local consignment shop that takes pride in the esthetics of displays, and encourages the idea of less is more. So much of our society is filled with more shoes, more makeup, more clothes, and overall just MORE. Amanda wants her store to re-sell quality clothing that markets all ages of men, women, and children while promoting the recycling of clothing. Less is more especially with the deals she offers. Her business didn’t happen over night, she started as an employee at her store with the previous owner as the manager. Amanda actually started working at the store under the suggestion of her mom at the age of 15. Amanda laughs when she thinks of how her role started at work, and how her passion for fashion developed the longer she worked at her store Wears Like New.
Before the interview officially started we broke the ice with some good old fashion “getting to know you questions.”
If you wanted people to get to know you what would you want them to read, watch, and listen to?
(She laughed, threw her brown hair over her shoulder and said…)
To get to know me?! Hmm, they should read “A Year of Biblical Womanhood” by Rachel Held Evans (a very tongue in cheek book). Watch Christina Braverman’s character in the show Parenthood, and listen to “Like The Dawn” by the Oh Hellos.
I sit here listening to this song now as I type this interview. My heart feels overwhelmed to be given the chance into a window of Amanda’s soul. I hope after you read this interview with Amanda you hear this song, and think of her. Our interview was filled with laughs, baby cooing, and honesty.
Throughout this article you will come across some of the most tender pictures her husband has taken. I’ll let the words and pictures do the rest of the talking.
So, if you could illicit any advice, what would be the one thing you would like to pass on to future generations of women?
Don’t fear fear.
Because being afraid and living in that fear is unhealthy, but I think that if you embrace the fear and let it motivate you to action -- then that will produce some results you really want. It’s so hard, and it’s something I’m still learning.
I feel like we are taught to shy away from fear.
Yes, I still live in these moments crippled by fear, moments that haunt you...So if I could tell all people to practice this I would. Really get a hold of it (fear) before the really big scary things come into your life.
“Embrace the fear and let it motivate you to action”
What are some things in life that make you feel really satisfied?
Serving...if I can give you a glass of water, make and get you the little things that make you happy... I just feel so fulfilled. For example, the other day I was getting Chris and Milo waffles for breakfast. I was literally just grabbing waffles from the freezer, toasting them, and buttering them up. Nothing, and still something that was so simple. And for whatever reason that morning I thought, ‘This is me. This makes me so happy.’ Seeing them happy and satisfied makes me feel happy and satisfied.
And Dance, dance makes me feel satisfied. (Amanda is currently a dancer for the dance studio Dance Connection performing in tap, jazz, and lyrical performances). How do I describe that? That feeling when you dance? Something deep down inside of me can’t get away from it. I love having my family come see all the work we’ve done at our recitals and really see me.
Do you feel like being a women has held you back in any way in life, or pushed you forward?
I feel like it’s pushed me forward in my business, because I don’t feel I would have gotten as close to the owner that I got the business from if I was a male. Not that there's anything wrong with being a male, it’s just I was so into fashion as a young woman I think it helped pushed me forward. I can honestly say that in my life, I haven’t had any severe hardships because of being a woman. I realize that makes me privileged in that sense, or maybe I have been held back by being a women and I don’t really realize it! I am always saying things are fine, and working through things... It’s possible I never realised being a women has held me back.
Is there a woman who really inspires you?
It’s super cliche, but my mom. She has gone through so much shit in her life, so much heaviness, and hardship. And she is still the same selfless person. She’s definitely not perfect, no one is. But she pushes herself and continues to be loving, generous, and giving. I want to be that. I want to be those things.
“...loving, generous, and giving. I want to be that. I want to be those things.”
Do you feel like you’re a self motivated person?
I have to do things to get motivated for sure. I am 100% act first, and then do details later. I try not to do that with my speech, I try to really think about what I am going to say first. When it comes to a project at work, Holly, my manager, will say, “What are the details, what are the plans, let’s lay it out.” And my response is “No! We gotta just do it now.”
I love that...
I don’t! [She laughs] I wish I was a planner. We’re all different, it’s not bad or good. Just different.
“I want others around me to know that I care.”
What are things you do to get motivated again?
Other people motivate me. I care what people I think of me, and I try to let that motivate me and push me. Like at work, I’m the owner and I could do what I want…like even today, I was in a funk at work, kind of down and out... But I told myself, I have to get these things done, I have to set an example for the girls who work here. I can’t just sit around. I wish I was more self motivated, and with my background of being homeschooled… I would have learned those practices. But I remember when I was younger, I would think, “I have to get this work done, because if I don’t my mom will be upset with me.” I want others around me to know that I care.
When you need to re-energize your brain to get a break from all the business in life what do you choose to do?
[She smiles] Thrift shopping. Getting the best bargain for an item. I will tell Chris, ‘Babe, I’m having a bad day. I'm going to goodwill’. I love that experience, and I want to provide that at my store. I want people to come in and feel like they can find a great item for the best deal.
[Mid interview Milo’s sweet face comes in the room, and he repeats “Bottle. Come. Bottle?” Amanda, without missing a beat, gives her babe a kiss on the cheek, gets a bottle ready for him, and tells him, “Just a few more minutes baby.”]
Also spending time alone with Chris, even if it’s just snuggling on the couch. It really fills me up. Oh! And spending time with friends. Like this, this energizes me. I’m an extrovert and this feels great.
How do you manage what your dream for you life has been versus what it is now?
I always dreamed I would be at home, as a stay at home mama, I would have a huge family, homeschool them... The life I lived growing up, but in the mom role. And now my life isn't that, I am a working mom, I don't have a big family and I probably won't. And that’s okay. I don’t know if I even want a big family anymore, but maybe one day foster kids. I would love that. This isn't my ‘original’ dream, but it becomes the life you want to live when you can look at it and think “yeah there are some shitty things here”-- but I have a great husband, a great son, and I love what I do. I love going to work everyday... It becomes the dream.
Since your life isn’t what you originally dreamt it would be, does it ever feel like you’re settling or is this better?
There are definitely times where I wonder, would that other way of life be better? And I go back to, maybe it would be nice to stay at home with my kids. I see people live the life I wanted, and wonder is their life better than mine? I do sometimes wonder, but I think that is just wondering. It’s just different and not better.
Do you ever feel like as women we were taught we needed to have a certain dream for our life?
Yes! We were taught that! Or… maybe is it just natural? Like how many times did someone ask you, what do you want to be when you grow up? I don't know! Why do I have to know??
“I don’t believe that anymore, but it’s important to remember. It’s how I got here.
What have been some pivotal moments in your life that you feel like brought you here?
When I worked at Spring Hill day camp for a summer, just because it was the first time I was away from home. And I was old, I was like 22… It shouldn’t have been a big deal. But it was exhilarating! I loved living at home, don't get me wrong, but I wondered “Why didn’t I do this earlier?”
Another moment I specifically remember was when I started going through the deconstruction of my faith. I remember a specific conversation with Chris who was just my boyfriend at the time. We were talking about homesexuality, I was pretty young and thought, “Oh yeah, it’s a sin but we gotta love everybody. Hate the sin, love the sinner.” And Chris said to me, “Yeah, but what if it is not a sin though?” And I was like, “Ooooh. Okay...” Then we started talking more, he said “Why do you think that?” and basically it came down to that… Well, honestly, I realized that I felt if I had any ideas or thoughts that were ‘wrong’ or against the Bible... well then God wouldn’t like me. You know, I am so motivated by how others see me, basically Chris said you can think whatever you want, and God won't hate you and you aren’t going to hell. Now that’s so funny to think about, because now I am so different. And it’s so silly I was there, and of course I don’t believe that anymore, but it’s important to remember. It’s how I got here...
We are human… so fragile, so beautiful, and so wild. Amanda is a mother, business owner, and a wife. Her life has not been free of pain or struggle, or free of the shit that would knock the wind out of you. She is strong. She is the woman next to you at Goodwill just trying to find the best deal, and planning out her grocery list so she can feed her men some waffles for breakfast tomorrow.
Her story is our story. Our narrative as women runs so deep and so wide. Don’t fear fear ladies, grab a hold of it.
Jenifer Veloso is our creator at We are Kathy, and this is her first interview
Two Kin Photography is a We are Kathy supporter, and supplier of this article's photographs.