I feel so fortunate to be able to share today's interview with you. I "met" Kelly a few months ago during one of my attempts to start building connections with people in Austin before we move there. Her project--one hundred scarves--resonates with me so deeply. It's ambitious, it's creative, it's an authentic extension of who she is, it makes the world better in multiple ways. I feel so fortunate to be able to support her project by introducing her to all of you. So, without further ado, here's Kelly:
Kelly: Hi Sara, I'm so happy to get to talk to you about my project because you helped inspire it!
Kelly: Well, I was inspired by your blog to dream big and try something outside of my comfort zone. I also took your Purposeful Conception course this summer and was reminded to reduce stress, cultivate myself beyond conception, and focus on the things that are within my control.
Kelly: It all started last year when my beloved job as a school librarian ended due to shrinking enrollment and the school's inability to support the position. Since then I've been teaching yoga and doing part-time administrative work as my husband and I tried to start a family. I lost a son to stillbirth many years ago and finally felt ready to try again. Unfortunately, I had a miscarriage in March. My biggest challenge this year has been working through the feelings of failure and disappointment, especially as I needed to muster up some hope to try to conceive again.
Sara: I am in awe of the way you talk so openly about your losses. The rates of miscarriage are higher than most people realize, and yet so few people talk about their loss, which can leave people feeling really isolated and alone.
Kelly: Thank you! It's not always easy to be open, but I do think it's important. I'm so grateful that others (like you!) share their experiences online, so I want to do the same in the hopes that I can help someone else. We also found out through this whole process that because of my losses I would need extra supervision by a specialist in future pregnancies, which would double the cost of maternity care. So here I am, needing money, needing to stay relaxed and stress-free, and needing to do something aside from conception, something I could be successful at.
I had been making scarves for family and friends for a while and had already planned to open up business to Etsy this fall, just as a side project. But committing to making one hundred felt audacious and grand and enough of a challenge to keep me really focused.
Sara: Is that how it's helping you cultivate yourself beyond conception?
Kelly: Yes, exactly! Aside from the actual weaving, which lets me flex my creative muscles, there's so much to learn and do to sell the scarves. I spend as much or more time taking photographs, calculating shipping and taxes, writing descriptions, and all the little business things as I do designing and weaving. The challenge of learning something new makes it interesting and keeps me feeling like I'm moving forward.
Sara: That sounds like a lot of fun! So now that you're a few weeks in, have you found that this project has helped you?
Kelly: Definitely. It requires so much time and attention that I would have spent feeling bereft of a child. Most of my family and friends have babies and young children and it's easy to feel left behind. Over the past few years I kept setting little hopeful deadlines for myself like, "If I can just be pregnant by the time so-and-so has her second baby. . ." But of course I have no control over that. So while making one hundred scarves is a challenge, it's a challenge I know I can complete. It's not dependent on my body or my luck and I do really enjoy it.
Sara: What has challenged you the most about this project?
Kelly: Managing financial expectations. I can't really set a profit goal because there are so many factors I can't control. I made it my goal to make and market one hundred scarves and try to remind myself that I'm still a success even if I don't sell them all. But I do have a financial need, so it's challenging to rein in my expectations and hopes.
I've also committed to donating 5% of the profits to Share, an organization that helps people coping with pregnancy and infant loss. They do a great job helping people and their families, and I feel really good about using my experience to help others.
Sara: Are you hoping people will want to buy more knowing some of their purchase will go to help others?
Kelly: If they are motivated by that, that's wonderful, but I'm truly hoping people will buy my scarves because they're great scarves! I've been a knitter for twenty years but when I discovered the drape and lightness possible with woven scarves I fell in love. They're really sturdy and I take extra care to make them really soft. When I'm making them I love thinking about someone using them to spice up a simple wardrobe or keep warm on a winter day. I share the story of each scarf on my blog, so buyers can see what it looked like and what I was thinking about while I made it.
Sara: Thank you so much for sharing your story, your project, and your self with us, Kelly! I really hope your project catches on. And I know a lot of planners read this blog, so maybe you'll start getting some orders for holiday gifts (hint, hint?).