In 2015, Amy Genzlinger, of Fort Myers, Florida, had successful surgery to repair a heart condition — and lost her voice in the process. The procedure caused vocal cord paralysis, meaning Amy couldn't talk above a whisper. Doctors couldn't tell her when — or if — her voice would return. "I felt like a huge piece of myself was gone," she says.
To fend off feelings of loneliness and isolation, Amy began making collages out of inspiring phrases and images cut from magazines and photographs. "They became my way to process what I was going through," she says. "The loss, frustration, and anger, but also my hope that somehow this was going to work out."
After several months, Amy invited her husband, Todd; her children, Maddy and Calvin; and a few friends to craft with her. "It was a way we could be together even though I couldn't join the conversation," she says.
The next year, a specialist did vocal cord implant surgery on Amy, and her voice returned. Inspired to share the healing power of creativity with others, Amy founded , an in-home crafting party business. Some of her favorite clients are people who have difficulty communicating, like those with Alzheimer's disease or autism. She has seen firsthand how collaging has helped her daughter, who is on the autism spectrum, express herself.
Armed with canvases, glue, and bins of photos and inspirational quotes, Amy travels to private homes across the country and helps party participants create personalized works of art. She charges $30 per adult for classes, which have ranged from 10 women at a home party to up to 60 participants at large-scale events like conferences.
Last year, Amy threw about 50 parties, and she hopes to work with schools, church youth groups, and hospitals this year. Eventually she'd like to partner with a nonprofit to offer classes for a lower price. But regardless of the venue, her goal stays the same: to help others find their voices just as she found hers.
How to Grow Your Business
Take your company from start-up to standout with these savvy tips from , CEO and founder of Leading Women Entrepreneurs.
1. Set a Goal
Are you building your business because you want to help others? To have a flexible lifestyle? "Answering those questions will help you stay on course," says Wellbrock.
2. Share Your Backstory
Don't be shy about revealing the reason you started your business. According to Wellbrock, "A compelling 'why' sets you apart and creates a point of connection with your customers."
Especially if you live in a small town, it's important to build an alliance with other small-business owners. Get together monthly to discuss ways to overcome challenges. For more ways to boost your business, go to .
This story originally appeared in the December 2018/January 2019 issue of Landcruisers.