Q&A: Contrabotanic

Amanda Perumal was studying textiles at OCAD University when she came across needle-felting, a technique for wool manipulation. Her final project was a felted terrarium⁠ — an interesting idea that she expanded into a business.

How do you cultivate joy? 
Balance is key for me. Too much of anything, whether that be too much work or too much downtime, can have negative effects. I feel the most joy when I strike a balance between work and play because I find a great deal of fulfilment in working but equally value taking time to relax and spend time with the people I care for the most.

If joy makes us invest more deeply in people around us and in our communities, how does your business allow you to get more connected to your community?
Through doing markets and having my products sold in stores throughout the city, Contrabotanic has made me feel more connected to Toronto, especially in the maker community. It’s been lovely to meet more people, whether that be customers or other makers going through the same things. 

Do you think there is a connection between joy and success? Did you choose to follow your passion and creativity and find success or fulfillment?
Of course! There is definitely a connection between joy and success, and I think success can mean different things for different people. Following my passion hasn’t always been a conscious choice but as I’ve gotten older I’ve been more intentional about pursuing a creative career—going to design school, working as a designer, starting a creative business. I find moments of success and fulfilment through continuing to explore, working on projects that excite me, and of course being able to support myself.    

Amanda, can you share something that triggers a joyful memory for you from anytime in your life?
In highschool I used to play the clarinet in band and while the instruments were shared, we had our own mouthpieces to attach to the rest of the instrument. I’ve still held onto mine even though I don’t have a clarinet of my own to play because it reminds me of how much joy playing music used to bring me. It was so fulfilling to be able to practice over and over until you nailed your part and later practice with the rest of the band to marry all the parts together. It was really a team effort. The highlight of it all was going on a school trip with the band in our last year of highschool to play music in Europe. I’ll never forget it! 

Portrait by Saty + Pratha
Contrabotanic is featured in the book Toronto Makes by Randi Bergman. @contrabotanic

Contrabotanic's Enamel Pin is inspired by her needle felted cactus
shop the collection