Amy January loves all things local, and her passion extends beyond the Brookside neighborhood that first inspired her popular designs.
January makes wood signs and home decor that pays tribute to the places her customers love. Her craft started by recognizing areas and landmarks around the Kansas City metropolitan area. She now creates custom work to celebrate any customer’s home street, neighborhood or town.
January holds classes and has a studio in east Brookside. Her FarmDog Studios creations are available online and at shops selling local goods in Kansas City.
Kansas City Spaces: How do you describe your work?
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Amy January: I make wood signs that celebrate locality. They celebrate places people love. We try to go where people love their neighborhood. Not everyone has the wall space for the wood signs. I’m growing with card development, pillows, T-shirts and tea towels. I’ve just started with glassware. Anything you can put the design on that you can display in your home or body to show local is important to you.
KCS: How did you get started?
AJ: Four years ago, in 2014, the subway signs in New York City and Chicago were becoming popular. I wanted one for Brookside. So, I made one and sold it at an auction. People loved it. I kept going with it. I started doing Prairie Village and Fairway. Kansas City was easy because I was born and raised there. One of the first signs we did outside Kansas City was Fort Collins, Colorado which is where my sister lived.
KCS: How do you understand “local” in a place where you don’t live?
AJ: I research what people are passionate about in that town. I get on the computer to find out what makes people tick and what they love about their neighborhood. I have joined message boards, and I read, read, read until I get a feel of the place. If you talk to people you start figuring out what makes that place tick.
KCS: What kind of a response do you get from people about your work?
AJ: People think I’ve made it especially for them. They will see something and say “How did you know?” What I do has a wide appeal, from baby boomers to millennials, because they all identify with where they live and what they love.
KCS: What does neighborhood mean to you?
AJ: Neighborhood means the place I live with the people I can lean on when I’m snowed in and (need to) borrow a cup of sugar, whose kids babysit my kids and my kids are going to babysit their cat. It’s a group of people who live close to each other and lean on each other and become family.
KCS: Why Farmdog?
AJ: My husband is from western Kansas and he tells stories about growing up there. There’s always a farm dog. It’s always kind of a scrappy dog holding things together. As a stay-at-home mom when I was trying to start a business I felt like that — just trying to get things done. Moms know we’re scrappy like a farm dog.