KOEL Stories

The Woven Path: Anna Hultin

KOEL Stories
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Before the emergence of Anna’s embroidery shop, OlanderCo, her passion rested upon conceptual drawing. Showcasing her works in local and national galleries, as well as curating and organising exhibits, Anna was highly involved in the world of art galleries. It was the responsibility and satisfaction of being a mother to her first born in 2016 that made her move on to a more substantial creative outlet. Read the full interview we had with Anna to find out more about her Colorado-inspired embroideries, the steps she took to changing crafts, and her advice to aspiring yarn makers!

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5 Things about Anna Hultin

Early riser or night owl?… Natural night owl who has been forced into an early riser by her small children. 

A song to get you into the creative groove… “We are Nowhere and It’s Now” by Bright Eyes 

What did you aspire to be when you were 5?… An artist and a teacher 

3 essentials we can find in your bag… My planner/calendar, hand sanitiser, sunglasses 

If you weren't a embroider, you would most probably be doing... Writing a cooking blog!!

1. Tell us about your background and what led to you choosing embroidery as a craft.
I received a BFA in drawing and art education in 2012. After that, I showcased my drawings and installation work in local and national galleries. Right before my first son was born in 2016, I helped open a gallery in Loveland, Colorado, in an old farmhouse and curated and organised exhibits. Once my son was born, I knew I needed a shift somehow. I had terrible postpartum anxiety (though it took me months to figure out that’s what was going on!) to the point where even driving my car was nearly impossible. That experience combined with the extreme (and surprising) satisfaction and peace to being a mother made me step away from the gallery world I had been so involved in. When my son was a few months old, I decided I wanted to learn a simple “craft.” My drawings had always been so conceptual in nature that I wanted something that was easier on my mind, yet challenging in medium, and so I arrived at embroidery. When I first started a friend warned me saying, “be careful, you’re going to get addicted”. Well, that’s exactly what happened. I got addicted and haven’t been able to stop since.

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2. What made you want to take your passion to the next level?
Another aspect for me to shift (temporarily) away from showing my work in galleries was that it’s hard to sell them, and once you do, the gallery usually takes 40% up of the price (they have to in order to stay open and do what they do, after all). Because I rarely sold work, we were never able to reliably make a profit off of my artworks. Once my son was born, my time became even more valuable because I had so much less of it to myself, and I realised that if I was going to make time to create art, it was going to have to start paying for itself instead of adding a line item to our already tight budget. So, when I began embroidering I looked around Etsy and Instagram and realised that people were actually able to sell their work. I thought to myself, “I bet I could do that too”. So I let the idea sort of simmer for a few months while I kept practicing embroidery, and then took the leap in opening an Etsy and starting an IG account dedicated to embroidery.

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3. Tell us more about your Etsy Shop, OlanderCo
I opened it just over 2 years ago, and I never thought it would be so much fun to run an Etsy shop! I sell original hoops/pieces along with prints. I’m hoping to start adding DIY embroidery patterns to the mix in the next year or so too! 

4. What kind of materials do you like to work with?
Currently I’m (obviously) very into thread and fabric. I’ve recently started incorporating pressed flowers into my pieces. Dried flowers is an entire art upon itself and delving into it has been super fun and challenging. My first love will still always be simple graphite on paper or Mylar.

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5. What is your favorite piece of finished product and what inspired you to create it?
My favorite piece so far was a very large landscape hoop depicting winter in Colorado. When I moved to Colorado from Upstate New York while in high school, I absolutely hated winters here. They felt so dry and desolate, and the snow rarely covered the scraggly grass of the plains. In the years I’ve been here, however, I’ve fallen in love with those dry and desolate winters and I want to share that beauty with others.

6. How is the yarn scene like in Colorado?
There is an amazing store in Denver called Fancy Tiger Crafts that carries all things fiber. They are one of my most favorite stores in the world. Sadly, I only visit a few times in a year because I live about an hour away.

7. Is there any interesting or particularly memorable/interesting moment in your career as a professional maker?
I remember the first day I made a sale to someone I didn’t know. I checked my phone when I woke up and there it was! I woke my husband up shouting about the news and we both leapt out of bed and started jumping up and down in excitement, and honestly I still feel the same way whenever I make a sale.

8. Advice for those wanting to make the switch into crafting full time?
I would say to spend a majority of your time developing your craft, but also to take time and step away from it now and then to assess the direction you’re heading and where you actually want to go from there. I would also say: Don’t be afraid to ask for advice! Send messages to makers you admire and ask if they have any tips. Most makers (myself included) love getting asked to share their wisdom with you, and I know it has helped me immensely to receive help from others further ahead of their careers. 

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Photo Credits: Anna Hultin