So you probably know all about Craft Hope by now. In fact, you’ve probably already participated in some of its life-changing, hope-spreading, enthusiasm-generating projects by now. If you haven’t yet joined this creative movement, gentle reader, I encourage you to scoot yourself over to the Craft Hope site right now and then pick up a copy of Craft Hope: Handmade Crafts for a Cause right now (I know, shameless editorial plug), and then immerse yourself in this incredible community of people pouring their crafting energy into beautiful causes.
Part of what makes Craft Hope an amazing concept is its mind-bogglingly wonderful community of crafters. The other part of what makes Craft Hope so darn inspirational is its founder, Jade Sims: author of Craft Hope and coordinator of a collective devoted to making a difference in the lives of those in need. I was fortunate enough to work with Jade throughout the development of her book (which features the designs of abundantly talented artists paired with specific charities welcoming those handmade projects), and then I was even doubly tickled to meet and hang out with Jade in person when she stopped through Asheville on a whirlwind Craft Hope/family adventure this summer. Let me tell you: if you thought she was warm and personable and good-hearted on her blog, you should know that she’s even more delightful and real and down-to-earth in person. She and her family are awesome.
With that in mind, I wanted to invite Jade to share a bit about herself (in addition to all that she’s shared with us about Craft Hope) as we draw near the end of our Month of Hope. What follows is our little interview—thanks, Jade, for this engaging chat!
If you were reading about a woman who had three little kids, orchestrated a global craft movement, and had one of the greatest personalities on the planet, what would you want to know about her? I’m not necessarily asking about her routine or her educational background, but about who she is right now?
How does she manage it all and not go crazy? The reality is that I like a little crazy in my life. On big Craft Hope days, the kids might not come out of their jammies and will watch movies all day. The house is usually strewn about with toys, laundry to be folded, and dishes to be done. Most days I just have to find balance. I work on Craft Hope while my baby is napping or playing nicely under and around my desk. My desk is in the living room in the kids play area so I’m in the middle of their toys and not in another part of the house. With my oldest starting kindergarten this week we are settling into a new routine, and it’s an adjustment for all of us. I’m just a mom who had an idea that caught on thanks to the blogs and this incredible network of people around the world.
I take time outs for myself. Sometimes I just have to get away and be alone when the day is over. I’ll go sit on the back deck and watch the sunset. When it’s not 110 degrees outside I take my baby and dog and go for a three mile walk around the lake. It’s my time to breathe and take care of myself.
When you’re on the computer just for fun, which blogs do you automatically visit? Who in this vast online world really knocks your socks off?
I’m a big fan of my friend Darby who writes Fly Through Our Window. She’s also a mama of three and I love to watch how she captures her daily life with her three kids who are my kids’ ages.
Do you have any early crafting memories? Do you credit someone with helping you learn to love creating things by hand?
You know I don’t. I grew up as an athlete and not crafting whatsoever. I only started crafting when I became a mom and wanted to make things for my kids. This is when I taught myself how to sew, crochet, and knit. And I can just get by on the crocheting and knitting. I can only make straight lines. It’s all a work in progress.
Okay, I sometimes get stressed and overwhelmed, and I only have a dog. How do you keep all those plates spinning with a family AND maintain a healthy balance in your life’s commitments?
Oh I get stressed and overwhelmed quite a bit. With my blog, chikaustin, I only put out the positive, which makes it look like life is grand all of the time. I edit out the muckier parts of my life because people don’t want to read that. And honestly I don’t want to go back and read that. Another thing is that I’ve learned to say no without feeling too guilty about it. We just can’t do it all. The benefit of Craft Hope is that I run the entire thing from my computer at home. Most of my posts are written late at night after the kids have gone to bed. Emails are usually answered then as well. Our lives have been pretty simple without any of my kids in elementary school yet. This year will change things a bit for us and we’ll all just adjust into a new routine. I’m already feeling the mom taxi thing coming on and I’m going to have to figure out how to manage my time even better. As with crafting, it’s all a work in progress.
Creating something new and inviting people to join you, as you did with Craft Hope, can be big and beautiful, but it can also be daunting and consuming. Did you ever experience doubt or worry along the way?
I never doubt that Craft Hope is a beautiful thing being carried by beautiful people around the globe. There is need, and there are people willing to step up and create beautiful handmade items for those less fortunate. So I don’t really worry about Craft Hope too much. I am confident that I have the passion to run it, I just worry about the details of running a nonprofit. I enjoy writing so the blog posts come natural for me. It’s the coordination of deliveries, funds to ship, filing nonprofit status and such that gets to me.
If your future self, say, the Jade five years from now, came to talk with you today, what do you think she’d share with you? How would you talk about the present and future Craft Hope? How do you think she’d describe the unfolding and blossoming of your life and dedication to this global community?
I think everything I’ve done in my life has led up to this. As a child I was the oldest of seven by 11 years. That really gave me the capability to multitask in a big way. I can do quite a few things at one time. Not all gracefully, but I can get them done nonetheless. I think my future self would tell me to not get all worked up about things so much. That everything is just going to be alright. I would love to see Craft Hope continue to grow globally with chapters around the world. I can already begin to see this happening with friends around the globe stepping up and offering to help.
Quick list: What three new things do you want to learn in the coming year?
How to use my camera better.
To not let what people say get to me.
Quick list #2: We’ve just met in an elevator and you have 10 seconds to tell me the keys to a meaningful life. Go for it:
To love what you do. It’s that simple. To be passionate about life and what it has to offer. That our experiences have led us up to where we are today. And to be thankful for those experiences, the good and the bad.
Want to see photos of fellow crafters’ work for the current Project 9 and previous Craft Hope projects? Check out the Craft Hope Flickr group.
And check out Jade’s other great interviews with us for Lark’s Month of Hope: