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Meet Amanda Wolfson of Amanda Wolfson Productions in Logan Square

Today we’d like to introduce you to Amanda Wolfson.

Amanda, can you briefly walk us through your story – how you started and how you got to where you are today.
I started at the University of Colorado with a BA in Studio Art (drawing and painting). I knew I wanted to work in a big city, so after graduation I moved to the heart of downtown Chicago. My first job was at Saks Fifth Avenue on Michigan Avenue, where I discovered the art of visual merchandising. I spent the next 11 years doing just that, working for a small design firm and honing my skills. We did everything from window displays, to fashion show production and styling for clients appearing on local TV stations. I began to crave something more, and started contributing articles to Retail Minded, VMSD, and design:retail magazines, expanding my network to other cities.

One day, a photographer friend asked me to provide props and styling for a photo shoot with Kraft Foods – Baker’s Chocolate, Stove Top, and Macaroni and Cheese, and a new fire was ignited. As I began my search for a new full time job, I continuously received phone calls for various projects. It was inevitable that I would end up working for myself, both styling and providing visual merchandising support to companies nationwide.

Great, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
It has been smooth in the sense that I had a great education in the field, working for the same man for 11 years. I had the opportunity to make lemonade out of some pretty sweet lemons, providing visual support to banks, hotels and retail centers, TV stations, art museums and so much more. That consistency over time helped me build relationships that I still have today.

There are always challenges. Having the comfort of a 9-5 with benefits doesn’t exist in my world. Being an entrepreneur means that you have to have great self discipline, a clear vision, and the ability to network smart and market yourself properly. These are all very difficult things to accomplish. I work on this every day. Sometimes you will have a very busy/successful month, and other times the phone isn’t ringing, so finding that balance has been a real test.

Amanda Wolfson Productions – what should we know? What do you guys do best? What sets you apart from the competition?
I provide product styling for photo shoots, ad campaigns, ecommerce photography, and brand catalogs, delivering everything from the physical props, backdrops and surfaces, to concepting and creative direction.

The other side of my business is visual merchandising and display. This could be anything from a window display, to the re-merchandising of a boutique or department store, or a pop-up display in a public space.

I fall back on my painting degree often, and have experience with fresh floral.

I am versatile. I have a wide range of experience, working in small boutiques to big box corporate retailers. I have worked with product/merchandise both in-store (customer facing), and in an advertising capacity (agency), collaborating with art directors, photographers, producers and stylists to create one overarching vision. Being a full time freelancer means that I am dedicated to each project that I commit to, and don’t have the distractions of having to answer to someone else.

I am most proud of my relationships. This has been at the core of my business since I began just a few short years ago. I also credit my Mom for gifting me with a creative brain, and my Dad for teaching me from a young age what it means to be an entrepreneur. The combination of the two will be the key to my success.

What moment in your career do you look back most fondly on?
My proudest moment so far is the leap of faith I took when deciding to be my own boss. I had resisted it for years, and always felt like I wanted the security of a full time job with health insurance, vacation time and a 401K. With a little coaxing from my husband (who runs his own company, as well), and the need for visual merchandising and styling services from people in my immediate network, Amanda Wolfson Productions was born and I have been marching forward ever since.

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