at the table with Amy Colville
I met Amy at an event a few months ago, although not really having a chance to talk much back then, I felt compelled to reach out to her about a collaboration that led to this inspiring interview.. Amy is the founder of aMYLK, the purest, made-by-hand nut mylk in town. I am so happy to share my chat with Amy on her journey to creating this amazing brand, a blend between an incredible product and her warm, caring personality.
For a recap of our earlier aMYLK photoshoots, visit our Work page.
Where were you born?
Toronto, Ontario. My parents are American though, which makes me American, too.
When did you move to the US?
We moved to the US when I was 3 months old. My dad was raised in Oregon, my mom is a Midwesterner. My dad was a doctor, and he was doing a residency in Toronto when I was born, but I’ve lived in Oregon for most of my life.
What do your parents do?
My dad was a doctor. My mom’s an incredible homemaker, she’s like Martha Stewart in that she makes everything by hand. She’s incredibly warm and welcoming. I had an idyllic childhood, we kind of just lived well every day and had a lot of family time.
Why do you do what you do at aMYLK?
I love it! Love is my brand, I wanted to do something to show love for myself first and foremost. What I do to nurture myself and feel at my best is an experience I want to give to everybody, it lights me up inside. Honestly, when I’m making mylk I get these little waves and I feel like I put that in my products and then my customers get that.
If we want to dig a little deeper, on a personal level, my purpose in life is to put more light into the world and I do that by doing the things that I enjoy, so when I share that with the world, I get the opportunity to light them up.
- How did aMYLK come about?
In the summer of 2016 I went on a transformational roadtrip. I took time to travel and explore my interests.I saw myself creating something.
This is actually my second business, I was in finance technology before, which is a lot drier than this. I ran my own company for 12 years, but closed that chapter in 2014. I then worked with OHSU in philanthropy, running a department and teaching them how to connect with their donors. In February 2016 my work there was done. Because my skills were so niche, I did struggle deciding what I wanted to do after that. I was searching for my passion, I knew it was there, I just had to find it.
So one way or another, I have always been taking care of someone, in a business capacity within the luxury marketplace before and now through aMYLK.
Tell us about an aha moment in your entrepreneurial journey:
It was after I took a four-week solo road trip. I was at home and actually making my own nut milk and it just hit me. I thought it would be great to do it for other people. That moment in August everything kind of came together, the whole experience of my summer trip, my discovery of adaptogenics… I just poured myself into it.
Really, it’s the energy that you put into it that’s going to make it happen.
When did you launch aMYLK?
I launched in June earlier this year, at an Anthropologie pop up.That’s what I consider my soft launch. I have a feeling that 2018 will see me doing an official launch, because right now I can only produce a limited quantity.
What is your best selling product?
My vanilla hazelnut is what I sell the most of.
What are your best sales channels?
Instagram, people look at my feed and then go and order on the website. Pop ups have been good too. My collaboration with Anthropologie has been great.
It’s all a leap of faith. I just happened to have a line of blessings in my life that allowed me to pursue my dream. It’s coming from a place of service, and I know that I’m putting more good into the world.
What is your favorite brand?
Kauai Juice. What I love about them is that they’re zero waste. They sell beautiful bottles of brightly colored juice and you pay a deposit on each item that you purchase They’re not very commercial. It is all very personal, bordering on spiritual/loving. If I wanted to do a brick and mortar, I would love to do something like what they do. I wear a Kauai Juice hat when I make my mylk!
How do you financially support yourself?
Right now I live very modestly. I have the support of my family and savings.
How do you get funding for your company?
I got a bit of money to start up from a friend and it is currently all self-funded.
How do you stay motivated about your brand and its future?
I believe in it, I believe in the product. I get a win about once a week that confirms that I’m doing the right thing. For example, someone will approach me about a collaboration or I’ll get some beautiful praise from a customer out of the blue. I believe in the product so much and I feel so strongly that my product is superior and that there’s a need for it in the market.
What would you say has been the best resource throughout your journey?
It’s probably the other business owners that I’ve met. They’ve been so helpful and free with advice. It’s so wonderful to be able to ask for their opinion and to be taken under their wing.
Where do you see aMYLK in the future?
Three years from now I hope to open another aMYLK in another city, five years from now I hope my daughter is running the business and I’m in Hawaii.
What is next for aMYLK?
My next step is probably going to be wholesale, though I need to scale. I’m figuring out some operational challenges so that I can actually fulfill the demand, because interest is growing. My next step is finding funding for that.
What would be a resource that would change your business at this point?
I need funding to purchase more equipment, otherwise my business is not scalable. On the other hand, I want to be self-funding, so there’s a lot to figure out.
We are about to wrap up Amy, is there anything you’d like to share with other entrepreneurs about what you’ve experienced in your journey?
Don’t forget your self-care. What’s been the hardest for me as a single mother of four and running a startup company has been taking care of myself physically, emotionally and spiritually, but that is what really allows me to have the energy to do all these things that I want to do.
You have to make sacrifices, I’ve had chapters of my life when I had a lot of fun, now I’m focused on my family and on aMYLK and that brings me so much joy.