Work + Home     Local Parents     Home    

I am a Hudson Valley Parent: Sarah Omura

A momtrepreneur in a community of makers

Sarah Omura found her calling as a designer and entrepreneur - as a leading maker in the Hudson Valley's burgeoning "maker's world" - after her son Benjie was old enough to crawl and play.

"He got interested in cars and trains and I started looking around for things he could play on but couldn't find what I was looking for. So, I started to make him things," she recalls.

Crafting a business out of exactly what she wanted
Omura's company SOhandmade came into existence as others started asking about the play mats with roads and train tracks Benjie would unfurl whenever he wanted to play, or the storage rolls and utility belts he carried his cars and choo choos in.

READ MORE: Top tips from moms in business

"I've always been crafty. I went to art college and worked as a textile designer," says British-born Omura, who met and married her husband Peter while working in Peace Corps and its British variation in the African nation of Namibia a decade ago. "I did screen printing along the way and then realized I could do something different by making my own fabrics. I could design exactly what I wanted!"

Allow business to grow organically
The business started as an Etsy online shop, grew into a craft fair phenomenon and now has its own online presence at Omura makes sure the materials she works with are organic and well-sourced; she finds that the parents who buy her creations appreciate such things, even when they cost a bit more.

"At first everything I was making was quite boyish, but then my daughter Phoebe came along and a whole line of girl things appeared," she adds. "I didn't raise the kids differently, but Phoebe was just so into dressing up, pretend play and unicorns."

Now, with the kids aged nine and five and both in school for full days, Omura is finally able to give herself over to SOhandmade full time. Her husband, a middle school math teacher, has always been able to look after Benjie and Phoebe when mom needs to attend a craft fair.

"It was all very challenging at first, getting the time to do anything," she adds. "But that in turn allowed everything to grow organically."

Using her past to find comfort in the present
That difference between the genders, Omura adds, was a surprise to her and her husband. But so was the sense of claustrophobia she had when first moving to the Hudson Valley from the desert-scapes of Namibia, where she and Peter would have loved to stay if they could.

Among her responsibilities in the Peace Corps was to teach groups of women how to make their crafts into marketable products for their nation's growing tourism industry. She eventually applied these lessons to her own
crafted product lines.

Now, Omura loves everything about her life in the Hudson Valley. She finds the village atmosphere of Woodstock comfortingly familiar to where she grew up on the southern coast of England. Her dentist dad did woodworking on the side and her nurse mother "was always making stuff." She loves the community of fellow makers she meets at crafts fairs throughout the area.

READ MORE: 10 strategies for working parents to create a balanced family life

Encouraging her children’s creativity with her own
As for the mix of her work and home life, Omura is pleased to have been able to work Benjie and Phoebe into her business as models. And just as importantly, to have helped their creativity with her own.

As her son moves into pre-teendom, she's having to explain to him why she can't infringe on others' copyrights by making Lego or Minecraft-like products.

She's looking to expand her lines by working with other maker-moms she's met. She is currently designing kids' scarves with a knitwear designer from further up into the Catskills.

"Things definitely speed up during certain times of year, especially around the holidays," Omura adds. "Etsy takes off with its sales and I end up at craft fairs every weekend up until Christmas."

Has she thought about hiring help?

Omura laughs. We joke about how much Phoebe loves helping out,
wondering whether such enthusiasm can be seen as a form of child labor.

"We'll see how things evolve naturally," she replies.

Paul Smart is a father who writes for a variety of publications in the Hudson Valley.

Other articles by or about "I am a Hudson Valley Parent"

  • I am a Hudson Valley Parent: Pastor Jeromey Howard

    Drawing inspiration from parenting

    Pastor Jeromey Howard is making a new home for himself in Orange County and a family within his congregation at First Presbyterian Church in Montgomery. He turns to his young daughter when he needs inspiration and to get a glimpse of how humanity should be. read more »
  • I am a Hudson Valley Parent: Melissa Banks

    Making every day like Christmas

    Melissa Banks's generosity spreads to families throughout Ulster County each year through her organization Christmas Wishes. See how she turned hardship into an opportunity to give back. read more »
  • I am a Hudson Valley Parent: Allison Conti

    Advocating for families with special needs

    Dutchess County mom Allison Conti has always been an advocate for her own family's special needs. Now, she is known as an advocate for other families and stands with those in her community and beyond. read more »
  • I am a Hudson Valley Parent: Dan Hoffman

    Parenting with a 24/7 career

    Dutchess County dad and New York State Trooper Dan Hoffman makes sure his children know that police work never stops. He is lucky to have a supportive wife and a troop of officers beside him that can be there for his family when he is working. read more »
  • I am a Hudson Valley Parent: Amal Ishak

    Turning sweet dreams into reality

    Orange County mom Amal Ishak turned daydreams of a trendy boutique into a successful business that brings flare to the city that she loves. She counts on her "Liberty Street family" as a support system. read more »
  • I am a Hudson Valley Parent: Randi Zinn

    Going beyond being a mom to start a movement

    Randi Zinn is the author and founder of Beyond Mom. Her book has turned into a movement that helps other moms push themselves to live fully and drop the mommy guilt. read more »
  • I am a Hudson Valley Parent: Chris Hewitt

    Learning from the land and raising happy teens

    With a newspaper, a regional currency and an estate caretaking business, how does Chris Hewitt find time to raise two teenagers? read more »
  • I am a Hudson Valley Parent: Amy Dooley

    Finding a balance as a family

    Amy Dooley is a mom above everything. She balances going back to school and starting her own business while still making time for her daughters and their artistic interests read more »
  • I am a Hudson Valley Parent: Kristen Brown

    Raising her family on the farm

    Family farming has always been a part of Kristen Brown's life. The Orange County mom now shares her love of cows and agriculture with her growing family and with her community. read more »
  • I am a Hudson Valley Parent: Sara Greenberg-Hoye

    Celebrating every day as an advocate for her son

    Sara Greenberg-Hoye describes her life as intense and wonderful. She is her son's biggest advocate and celebrates his abilities. read more »