Get to know... Amanda Loehnis, creative mind and designer
NEW CANAAN — From Mexico City to Hong Kong and London, Amanda Loehnis has ways of finding opportunities in every city she has studied and worked in.
Originally from Ottawa, Ill., Loehnis studied one year in Mexico City and pursued a career in publishing, which led her to New York City and London. Always creative, Loehnis also had business stints with her own handbag and fashion businesses while in London and Hong Kong. She and her family, including her husband, who she met while in England, moved to New Canaan four years ago.
Loehnis, 49, who now focuses on interior design work with PuddleDuck Design, talks about her travels and interests.
Q: Why did you go into publishing?
A: I’ve always felt that I was very creative, but I think there was something inside me that felt that force that I needed to do something in business and maybe because of my family’s background.
I went into publishing in New York City for Simon & Schuster and then for John Wiley and Sons after college in University of New Mexico. I worked in publishing 15 years in all. I had to go to London to work for the Times newspaper to work on the digital side of publishing. Digital was such a new thing, and I had the expertise, as I started kind of early, and so I got a job and really enjoyed it.
Q: How was living in London?
A: I was in London for five years and after I left the Times, I started a handbag business. My grandmother gave me a bunch of handbags when I was young, and it was always in the back of my head, it was something I wanted to do. I did it, it was really fun and I enjoyed it. It did fine; it was a new experience and I learned a lot. I shut that down when we moved to Hong Kong. It was called Amanda Thornton.
Q: You mentioned a trip to North Korea?
A: It was very unusual. It was an interesting time because Kim Jong Il was still alive and that particular week he had a heart attack, 2008. We went to the May Day Stadium (in Pyongyang) where they want to show off their mass games. It was a massive amount of people and visually incredible — everyone on the field doing these dances and it’s stunning.
It was just really stunning and we had the opportunity to go because the Arirang Mass Games are in September and October, the only time Americans were allowed, though that has since changed.
Q: How were other things in North Korea?
A: They keep everything close but you have a sense things are not as they seem. The Kim Jong Il propaganda you couldn’t turn off, but you could lower the volume. The streets were really scarce and you had a feeling everyone knew you were coming.
We weren’t allowed anywhere outside the hotel area, felt that sense of constantly being watched. It is one of the most bizarre communist dictatorships.
Q: How was life in Hong Kong?
During this time, I traveled around and did some design for some people.
In Hong Kong, there’s all these wonderful places to get things made, and I realized that I could tap into interesting sources, so I started making furniture like tables, chairs and bunk beds, so that was fun and interesting, getting design size and figuring things out.
We were there for almost nine years and came to New Canaan after.