Melissa Sager is a millennial, senior designer at Cre8 Direct, Inc. and the owner of Things Like Us. Born and raised in Amarillo, Sager moved away to attend the University of North Texas in Denton, Texas. Fifteen years later, after she and her husband had their first child, she moved back to her hometown.
As a product designer, Sager works in trend research, creating compelling and customer-friendly designs. As the owner of Things Like Us, she does everything from product design and finding vendors to teaching classes and creating interactive DIY projects.
Sager hopes to utilize her business and the connections she’s made to give back to the community and foster a deeper appreciation for art.
Reagan Hales: How would you define the spirit of Amarillo?
Melissa Sager: Friendly, relaxed and supportive. It’s so much more than you think. Amarillo has a connotation for being a dated Texas town, but there are some real gems here. Amazing boutiques, delicious local restaurants and lots of events… And there’s NO TRAFFIC!!
Hales: How are you involved in the community?
Sager: I’ve done volunteer artwork for Snack Pak 4 Kids – a really great organization. We created our DIY rental facility in part to be able to host charitable events in the future and increase our ability to give back. We also sell locally crafted items in our shop and source local vendors whenever possible.
Hales: What makes Amarillo a great place to live?
Sager: In our experience, life is just easier here. I came from a life of 1.5+ hour car rides each way to work, monthly toll fees as big as a car payment, a mediocre daycare that cost more than my mortgage, and “local” events that were so giant and crowded you could never truly enjoy them.
Here, we live five minutes away from everything. Cost of living is relatively low. We are constantly stumbling onto local events we didn’t even know were happening – that are usually free. Local events may not be as big name or elaborate as larger cities, but because they are more low-key, they are so much more enjoyable.
Hales: What do you like to do for fun?
Sager: Well, I have a 2-year-old, so parks are big for us. We LOVE the zoo. Seriously, that place is amazing. And the admission is crazy cheap. On nights without the kid, we are big movie people. We’re really looking forward to the dine-in movie theater in Town Square.
Hales: What success have you experienced in Amarillo? How has Amarillo helped you succeed?
Customers paint pumpkins at the Things Like Us DIY Bar.
Sager: Things Like Us has been welcomed with such open arms. We started in an 800 sq. ft. building in February and opened a 3,000 sq. ft. store and DIY bar in October. We’ve been overwhelmed by the positive feedback and the excitement from the community. It has truly become more than we ever imagined.
Hales: What are you most excited about for Amarillo’s future?
Sager: All the independent shops and restaurants that are opening and expanding. Typically, when you see new development in cities, it’s to make way for major chains. But so much of the development downtown is comprised of locally owned businesses.
I think Town Square will be such a great space for local boutiques and restaurants in the next year. And, of course, I love all the activity on 6th Street. The historical buildings, the quirky character, and the new unique boutiques are unlike any other area of town. It’s transforming every day.
Hales: What are you passionate about?
Sager: Art education. I wouldn’t be where I am today without it. There are so many career choices in art that I don’t think people know about; I definitely didn’t when I was growing up. I just knew I loved art, so I took a gamble, majored in art history, and completely fumbled my way into an incredible field.
People are so quick to write off art as a blow-off class or a waste of college tuition. My degree is all too often the butt of jokes. But for 15 years, I’ve been paid to draw and create every day, to attend Coachella and SXSW just to people watch, to travel around the US and Europe, to visit Shanghai – all with an art history degree.
Choosing to study art doesn’t mean that you’re going to have to be the cliché “starving artist.” The world desperately needs creative individuals – and always will.
Know a millennial who makes an impact in the Amarillo community? Help share their story. Send them the application link below.