SYW199 – Finding a Crafty Community

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I can still see myself dancing around the house singing “Starlite-Rainbow Brite, A little wish in the moonlight.” So as a fellow child of the 1980s, I instantly noticed the colorful, nostalgic style of Mandy Marks. And that’s just one of her favorite eras!

Today on the podcast Mandy, a high school teacher by day and owner of the Pink Crafty Cottage by night, joins me to chat about exploring your authentic passions and finding like-minded crafty friends. It’s a fun conversation that celebrates stickers, junk journals, and all the crafty things.

Links Mentioned

[00:00:00] Jennifer Wilson: Welcome to Scrapbook Your Way, the show that explores the breadth of ways to be a memory keeper today. I’m your host, Jennifer Wilson, owner of Simple Scrapper and author of The New Rules of Scrapbooking. This is episode 199. In this episode I'm joined by Mandy Marks to chat about being your authentic self and cultivating crafty communities online and off.

[00:00:50] Jennifer Wilson: Hey Mandy, Welcome to Scrapbook Your Way.

[00:00:52] Mandy Marks: Hi, I'm so glad to be here today.

[00:00:54] Jennifer Wilson: Yes. I'm looking forward to our conversation, but can you kick things off and share a little bit about yourself?

[00:01:00] Mandy Marks: Uh, Sure. So I am, I currently live in Illinois, in Lamont, just about 20 minutes outside of Chicago. Um, I am 45 years old. I am married. I have two kids. Um, my son is gonna be 24 actually on Saturday, then my daughter's gonna be 21 next month. So I've got, um, you know, young adults and I teach high school full time.

[00:01:30] Mandy Marks: I teach, Family and Consumer Science, which some people know as, used to be called Home Economics. But, you know, we kind of, um, gear more towards careers in the different culinary areas of child development and parenting and things like that. So that's what I spend my days uh, doing is hanging out with high school students. And then, um, it's been just over about two years that I started a little crafty business called Pink Crafty Cottage that I do, um, in my spare time.

[00:01:58] Jennifer Wilson: Yeah. Yeah. And we will get into more of that. Now, I'm curious about a couple things. One, it seems like there like you know, a really good connection between your personal passions and what you teach. You can like, you know, you can kind of connect those things together. So that's really interesting to see how, you know, the old style of Home Ec has, has evolved as well.

[00:02:20] Mandy Marks: Yeah, for sure. Yeah, it's, it is interesting. I have learned that I teach, um, high school students, curriculum differently than when I go to teach crafting though. Because I'm a little bit more of a like, just jump in and do it. And not quite a planner. So it's been interesting to figure out my teaching style to be able to suit, um, other people who are trying to learn how to do some of the crafting. I do.

[00:02:46] Jennifer Wilson: Oh, so interesting. Yeah. Um, I think we all like notice our own tendencies and when we're putting on one hat versus the other. So to observe that and, and figure out what you need to tailor differently is, is really cool. So. And then you also said you currently live in Chicago or in the Chicago Metroland area. How long have you lived there?

[00:03:08] Mandy Marks: Um, so I actually moved into Illinois when I was starting fourth grade.

[00:03:13] Jennifer Wilson: Oh, okay.

[00:03:13] Mandy Marks: I was born on the east coast. I was born in Baltimore, Maryland And my dad moved around, um, with his job a little bit when I was young. And then we settled in Illinois and we stayed. So I've been in Illinois since um, you know, the eighties. And then I have been in Lamont. Um, we actually live in the house that my husband's, grandfather built, like built it with his own hands.

[00:03:39] Jennifer Wilson: Wow.

[00:03:39] Mandy Marks: I have pictures of it being built. It's the first house on the block in our neighborhood and it's right off of, um, historic Route 66. So we have a lot of history, in this house, and we've been in this house now. Oh gosh. Like 20 years I think. Cuz we lived with his parents for a little while and then now it's ours. So been here a long time.

[00:03:59] Jennifer Wilson: That is really cool. What? Yeah. To have a fam, a house like that in your family and, ah, what a, what a fun story.

[00:04:06] Mandy Marks: Yeah, it's really, really cool.

[00:04:09] Jennifer Wilson: So Mandy, what's exciting you now in memory keeping? This really could be anything at all. What's kind of floating your boat?

[00:04:15] Mandy Marks: Um, one of the things that I'm really loving that, um, I, I say I just got into, but obviously I did it when I was a kid, being a kid in the eighties, is, um, is doing things with stickers. So.

[00:04:28] Jennifer Wilson: Hmm.

[00:04:28] Mandy Marks: Part of that, um, the BFF sticker club, I bought their, year of sticker book and you can do a daily sticker and then they do weekly challenges. And it's just a really nice way to be creative without a lot of overthinking and it just brings back that like, simple reward from being a kid. So, I'm really loving that. Um, and, you know, choosing a sticker like to represent the day is just that tiny bit of memory keeping that you can like flip back and figure out, you know, easily like, Oh, okay, well there's a food sticker. Obviously that's what we had for dinner. Or know, grumpy bear, Oh, I must have had a bad day or something like that. So, um, that's just a really simple, fun one. And, um, then. Haven't been making as many junk journals as I like to when I first got into them, and so I'm really excited this year for December Daily, I'm actually going to do a junk journal instead of a six by eight album. So that I can play with all of the Christmas collections that I've been like hoarding and then not using. Um, cause I really wanna just use some of it and mix and match and, and not be, so, I don't wanna say stuck, but I'm a very theme person. So when I do a six by eight and I've chosen a collection, I like kind of stick to it with only a little adding of other things. So I'm gonna try something different this year and I'm really excited cuz there's just so much Christmas stuff that's been sitting there, like staring at me. Like, please use me.

[00:05:53] Jennifer Wilson: Yes, Yes. I think that transition from hoarding mindset to using mindset is so important. And I think we've all been there cuz when you were talking about the stickers, all I can think of is I wish we had the BFF Sticker Club when I was a kid because all I did was hoard my stickers and never used them. And.

[00:06:10] Mandy Marks: Right.

[00:06:11] Jennifer Wilson: You know, and to just have like intentional ways to, to play with them. You know, it's like guided creative play and I, I absolutely love how we can think about those things differently now.

[00:06:24] Mandy Marks: Yeah. Oh, it's a lot of fun cuz it, forces you to like, go ahead and, and use them. And you're still gonna be able to look at them because they're in that sticker book. They're just not on the sheet anymore.

[00:06:34] Jennifer Wilson: Yes.

[00:06:35] Mandy Marks: So they're.

[00:06:35] Jennifer Wilson: Yes.

[00:06:35] Mandy Marks: They're finding a different home with their similar, you know, style or similar color or theme or whatever it might be. So it's a lot of fun.

[00:06:44] Jennifer Wilson: And I'm curious for those of our listeners who maybe don't know what a junk journal is, can you elaborate more on what that is?

[00:06:51] Mandy Marks: Oh sure. Um, so. There's a variety of junk journals. There's, um, you know, junk journals that are, um, sewn in, with like signatures. there's junk journals. The ones that I enjoy making are taking, typically vintage, but sometimes new ones, depending on the theme. Little Golden Books. And, just taking the spine off and then using binder rings to create, a journal that way. And I usually keep, at least some, if not all of the pages from the storybook in there. And then you can add all sorts of other, papers, types of papers, you can add envelopes, bags. Uh, and the whole concept is, I mean, on the one hand it's really, if you go back, it's using junk. So genuinely, like, you know, you've got junk mail, you've got leftover envelopes, you've got random pieces of paper. It was kind of using up things, almost like recycling. And so you can do that or you can even put new things in there. So, it's just a really fun, creative way to be able to add all sorts of different, textures and elements into your crafting. People will sew things into them, add trims, you know, along the edges, create all different, clips or interactive things. It can get really big and fluffy. You're not kind of bound by any, any size album or you know, different pocket pages or things like that. So it's very, very freeing, but it's also very overwhelming when you first start, cuz there's so many possibilities.

[00:08:20] Jennifer Wilson: Oh yeah, for sure. But I can see how it's like a, I don't know, creative training. You said you were, you tend to be very matchy matchy. You wanna like, you know, pick a collection and, and roll with it. But, you know, giving this type of project seems to give you the permission to experiment with mix and matching, which I can imagine could only build your confidence in doing more of that.

[00:08:40] Mandy Marks: Yeah, it's, it's, it's a lot of fun. It's interesting because I still am very, drawn to my themes. You know, so if I'm putting in like, um, when I've done like a Strawberry Shortcake junk journal for example, you know, if I'm gonna put like a recipe page in there, it's gonna be a recipe that goes along with strawberries or like lemon chiffon cake or I still take my, my coordination, my theme very seriously. And some individuals, I've bought a lot of junk journals from others too, cuz I just admire others work. And, you know, they can be much more, free with like, literally putting all sorts of things in there. And I love that. And I do have some freedom, but yeah, I still, I still love making those, those connections of, you know, tying it all in. But it is, it's very freeing and it's, it's an interesting way to, to do some memory keeping or journaling and, you know, use different things that you have.

[00:09:33] Jennifer Wilson: Yes, Yes. So fun. Uh, before we like kind of jump in further to learning more about your style and what you do as a crafter and both as a and as a community leader. I'm curious if you have any kind of memory keeping bucket list, some sort of story you want to tell, whether it's in a junk journal format or a traditional scrapbooking format. You know, what hasn't been captured yet for you?

[00:09:55] Mandy Marks: So what hasn't been captured is we took a trip for my 40th birthday. So five years, almost six years now, cuz I'll be 46 in December and I can't believe it's like, oh my gosh, I still haven't done that. I had always wanted to go to Disney at Christmas time. I'm a Christmas baby, December 22nd. So, my husband decided, you know what, instead of just going at some point, let's, let's make it more special. Let's go for your 40th birthday. You know, we'll truly go like at Christmas time for your birthday. And we even attended the, the Christmas party that they do. They actually had one on my birthday. So, it was a really awesome trip and both my kids were in high school, so they were, you know, a little bit older. Um, so it was a really unique, special experience. And I've been dying to craft it and tell that story. So, um, it's on my bucket list. I really have it tentatively scheduled for like February. That I've even told my community like, Okay, February we're gonna focus on Disney. Like, we're gonna focus on telling Disney stories and documenting those photos that haven't been done yet. Because I know people have them and like they want to, and they maybe just haven't gotten to it. So that's what's on my bucket list currently.

[00:11:06] Jennifer Wilson: Yes, and I know that like, that kind of accountability, it makes a huge difference. You know, just stating publicly what you're gonna do is a huge first up, so.

[00:11:14] Mandy Marks: Yeah. Well yeah, cuz now they'll be like, Wait, when are we doing it?

[00:11:17] Jennifer Wilson: Mm-hmm

[00:11:18] Mandy Marks: Didn't you say you were working on Disney?

[00:11:22] Jennifer Wilson: So I wanted to kind of start off our deeper conversation, on a bit of a fun note. Just, you know, you know, talking to you on Instagram and seeing your feed, your crafty style is very vibrant and very eclectic. And I'm curious, if you had to pick between eighties nostalgia, Care Bears, Strawberry Shortcake, Rainbow Bright, and kind of fifties vintage, which one would you choose?

[00:11:44] Mandy Marks: And this is an awesome question cuz I had to look at this and go, Oh, okay. I gotta think about this. Like, I really have to think about it. And what I decided though is because I am such a themed person when it comes to the eighties nostalgia, I love using that to craft anything that is the eighties nostalgia stuff. So, uh, I hosted a retreat this summer that had an eighties theme to it. So like I'll be using a lot of stuff with that. Cuz of course I bought the t-shirts and had all the things. Um, but in like my day to day or even in, um, like a project that I had been working on, um, 52 weeks of me. Where you're really documenting things about yourself. I really can use the fifties vintage in more projects. Because it does lend itself easier to like the colors I might wear in my regular day to day or different things that would tie in. As far as like, you know, recipe cards or like guest checks or different things that I like to do. So as much as I love, in my eighties, my eighties really has a place like with eighties, whereas the fifties vintage I can use through more projects.

[00:12:55] Jennifer Wilson: Yes. I love it. Great answer. This like takes me back to a project that I did. It was, this was way before even scrapbooking for me. I was designing a website in like the mid nineties and I took all my grandma's, like old, like sewing catalogs and McCall's magazines, and I scanned like all these pictures from it. And it was just, it was so cool to have those things. And unfortunately, I don't think I have most of the files anymore, but I totally, I totally get you. And, and kind of, uh, having that aesthetic, the colors, the patterns, the look, um, how much that carries over to today. So.

[00:13:35] Mandy Marks: Yeah. Oh, the, the images and illustrations were just so different.

[00:13:40] Jennifer Wilson: Yes.

[00:13:40] Mandy Marks: Than what we have now too. So, yeah, just some of them are just so, so beautiful and yeah, just really tie in to different things that you might be celebrating or documenting. So, yeah, really cool.

[00:13:51] Jennifer Wilson: Yes, Yes, yes. So one of the topics I'd really like to focus on is, is creating a really personalized community around the things that you love. Because as I've noticed, as you've grown Pink Crafty Cottage, it's so very authentically you. You're, you know, you said you just had an eighties retreat. That's something that you love and is fun for you. So I'm curious, what, what is the vision for your business?

[00:14:14] Mandy Marks: It's such a great question and it's, it's really funny because those in my community know for a long time, for me, the word business was like a four letter word that I never wanted to say. Because um, my goal when I started the Pink Crafty Cottage was really all about community.

[00:14:32] Jennifer Wilson: Mm-hmm.

[00:14:32] Mandy Marks: That's what it was. I wanted it to be, a, you know, a safe space. I wanted to encourage, both men and women, but so far it's just women. So, you know, encourage women to be documenting, taking those photos. Regardless of what season they were in, because I know for a while I had really kind of put things on hold in my life. Like until, until, you know, we did a big renovation in the home. So until the house looks a certain way, then I'll decorate this way, or then I'll host this party, or then I'll. And you don't realize how much time is slipping away.

[00:15:03] Jennifer Wilson: Hmm.

[00:15:03] Mandy Marks: And you're not necessarily documenting like the day to day, and then you don't have that story. So really my overall goal, and it's continued to stay this way, is to be a community. It's really all about community and that encouragement. And then I just take the fact that I love to, you know, put together themes, host themes, things like that. As a way for, to get people involved. And I, you know, I tried doing some different things. I've tried selling product too, like to offer it to women and things like that. And, you know, tried a few things and now I'm really coming back to my main focus of being community. So either classes and workshops that might have product. You know, or I love creating kits, but really the community is what it's all about. Um, we love having, I do Zooms for us to just craft and hang out. So that's really the, the vision is that community.

[00:15:54] Jennifer Wilson: And how, you know, cuz you obviously are doing things online and off. How do you experience, feel about the difference between online and offline community today in 2022?

[00:16:08] Mandy Marks: Um, it's interesting cuz it isn't all that different at this point. Um, I mean, it's so awesome to be in person and be able to like, you know, be right there, see what the other person is doing, or give that person a hug. Or like, you know, hear their laugh right there. Not through, the computer. But, I had the pleasure at this retreat that I hosted over the summer of meeting ladies that I've known. I'm the gal who rode with me and did the road trip with me. I've known her for five plus years and hadn't met her in person until like a month before the retreat. And it was funny. It didn't matter. Like, I mean, the, we, it was like we had, you know, hung out together for, for five years. So it's very interesting. That's, a little bit different and of course it's wonderful. But that all in experience is just, it's amazing. And especially if you don't have people, you know, close at home

[00:17:04] Jennifer Wilson: Yes.

[00:17:04] Mandy Marks: That you can, you know, you can get together with and connect with. Or even for introverts where it's a little safer for them to, you know, to still be in their own space. Um, but be, you know, with others. Sometimes people wanna have their camera off or they like to use the chat before they talk, you know, live. And so it's, it's a, it's a nice, it's a nice space. It really is.

[00:17:25] Jennifer Wilson: Well and I just love how kind of the lines are blurred. And I think we, you know, 10 years ago we kind of referred to our in real life friends and our online friends. And now like there's, there's just so much crossover between the two because it's just so much easier, I guess.

[00:17:42] Mandy Marks: Oh, absolutely. I mean to, to absolutely make your point. One of my online crafty friends who lives in Holland will actually be arriving at my house on Saturday to stay with me for a week.

[00:17:54] Jennifer Wilson: Oh, I love it. I love it. I love it.

[00:17:56] Mandy Marks: Yeah, she's never been to the US. And she's coming to the US, and she's coming and staying with me. So we can just be together as friends and craft. So.

[00:18:05] Jennifer Wilson: Yeah. I'd love to hear more about how you've personally developed, like deeper connections with others. I know that you said that you, um, your friend Katie rode with you to the retreat and I'm just, yeah, I'm curious about how it's kind of helped you personally.

[00:18:20] Mandy Marks: Yeah, it's So, on the one hand, I don't have a hard time connecting with people, and I don't say that in a, in a, a conceited way. I say that in a funny way. Because like my daughter for phase like hated going anywhere with me. Because, you know, like I go to Costco to put gas in the car and the one attendant would come over and talk to me every day. I walk into Hallmark. You know, they'd be like, Oh, hey Mandy, how are you? How's things and you're like I make friends everywhere I go.

[00:18:48] Jennifer Wilson: You sound like my husband. I also find it sometimes annoying to go places with him because of that.

[00:18:54] Mandy Marks: Yeah, my husband said to me one day, he finally said, You know, you have a face that literally says, Please come and tell me your whole life story. I would love to hear it. Because he's been with me where people like walk up or people assume my work at whatever store I'm at. Can you help me find such and such? And know, nine times outta 10, like Target or the craft stores. I'm like, Well, I don't work here, but let me show you where it is.

[00:19:14] Jennifer Wilson: Yeah.

[00:19:15] Mandy Marks: Because I do know where it is.

[00:19:16] Jennifer Wilson: Yes.

[00:19:17] Mandy Marks: Um, but having the online community has really helped with connecting when it comes to a crafting community. Because I do, I have great friends, you know, in person, friends, you know, that live by me or I work with or things like that. But they don't all have quite the same level of passion about crafting, you know, that I do. So finding those connections and being able to find people that, you know, are your people or are your tribe. That, you know, get those nuances of you when it's like, Oh my God, did you see that new collection? Or, Oh my gosh, are you gonna do this project? Or, um, so that's, that's what's really helped is finding those, connections and seeing different people's styles. And how it, you know, we can kind of learn from each other and create things together. That's, that's what's really so neat about it.

[00:20:01] Jennifer Wilson: Yeah, I love the learning from each other apart because, you know, as a, a fellow online teacher, I can't possibly know how to do everything. I actually started with digital scrapbooking, and so I don't have, you know, that many decades of history in, in paper. And so I love learning new techniques from others and that's, that's what makes community so vibrant is, is not the leadership but the peer relationships.

[00:20:25] Mandy Marks: Yeah. It's really important.

[00:20:28] Jennifer Wilson: So as a high school teacher, I'm imagining you're always kind of getting a sneak peek of this next generation and the things that they're doing, talking about, thinking about. And so I'm curious if you've had any observations about how they think about crafting and memory keeping?

[00:20:45] Mandy Marks: Um, and it's funny cuz when I read this question I thought, oh, okay, well we could do a whole podcast on the next generation. And it's very interesting because kind of a new buzzword, um, in education is social emotional learning. Um, and I actually just taught a, I taught a professional development to other teachers on Friday morning, um, because I am so, I'm so passionate about this. Like this is like the, the last few years and even right before the, you know, like the pandemic. Before all of that, just seeing how different this generation is compared to, you know, our generation or other generations. And just trying to find out what, like what really brings them joy. That's the big thing for me because yeah, I have my crafting and I mean, I've crafted since I was in high school, even though it was a little different. But I loved taking photos and I loved putting them in albums or, you know, doing the old school scrapbooks or you know, things like that. So, they don't really do a lot of crafting, in general. Which is a little disappointing. Um, but I also know that many of us started our crafting, you know, as we got a little bit older. So I, I don't lose complete hope that they won't get into it. And memory keeping is really interesting and I try to encourage it because, um, they take more pictures than any other generation ever. But they don't do anything with them.

[00:22:11] Jennifer Wilson: Yeah.

[00:22:11] Mandy Marks: And they don't have the, they don't have the same value to them. Because oftentimes it's just a goofy face or they're literally like snapping something other than themselves just to send that Snapchat. I don't use Snapchat but I know well enough how it works.

[00:22:26] Jennifer Wilson: Mm-hmm.

[00:22:26] Mandy Marks: But, so there's lots of photos taking place, but they're not doing anything with those photos. So I do try to encourage them that, you know, you have all of this. And one day you're gonna really wanna look back be able to see the story that you had. So I actually did a project with my, two of my classes during our full remote time. When we were not in person. And I had them doing a, um, a, a documenting challenge just as a little side, like participation assignment.

[00:22:58] Mandy Marks: So, you know, they still had all their curriculum and everything. But I mean, they just, they had so much free time on their hands. And I wanted to help them kind of look for those bright spots. And so I would give them a prompt each week and ask them to, you know, take a photo and you know, tell me a little bit about it. And then I was the only one that saw it, you know, they didn't have to share it.

[00:23:20] Jennifer Wilson: Yeah.

[00:23:20] Mandy Marks: And they could do it digitally, or they could do it, like in an album or something. And I supplied, um, a bunch of crafty supplies for those that were interested in doing it on paper. Um, and I did have a student send me pictures a couple times and she was out on her porch, um, or out on her deck. And she had all of the supplies she had gotten from me and she was creating her album and she was documenting. And so that made me really happy.

[00:23:41] Jennifer Wilson: Oh yes, I bet. Yeah. That's so cool.

[00:23:44] Mandy Marks: So, so, yeah. So they, they really, but they love when you give them paper and, and, markers or crayons to do some different hands on activities and child development stuff. The, the way they light up sometimes, like, it's not something digital. I can be creative. So I think that they, I think that some of them don't realize how much they're missing it.

[00:24:04] Jennifer Wilson: Yes, Yes, yes. Well, and I think that there's also this, just the, the need for exposure to options out there. And unfortunately, you know, YouTube does, is able to teach you everything. Uh, and I know my daughter's exposed to a lot of different craft ideas just because of that. Um, but also, you know, thinking about the things that we teach our kids of, you know, these are the things that you should do in terms of like removing stains from your clothes before drying them and you know, all of those things. But, you know, doing something with your photos to make sure they don't only exist on your phone. Like, should that be part of how we're, you know, teaching kids to become functional adults.

[00:24:44] Mandy Marks: Yeah.

[00:24:46] Jennifer Wilson: So just, yes, as you said, we could probably talk about for a whole hour just on that topic alone.

[00:24:52] Mandy Marks: Yes.

[00:24:54] Jennifer Wilson: Now, kind a twist on this. I'm curious if you've had any conversations with them or just things that you've noticed about, like, I'm calling it quote unquote being real. But like showing your real self, being authentic, um, versus you know, who others expect you to be. And is that, is that something that gets talked about or thought about?

[00:25:15] Mandy Marks: Um, it definitely. Um, I, well, I could say it gets talked about in my room because again, social emotional learning is really important to me. It always has been. I think some of it may stem from, my first teaching job was actually at a residential facility so all of my students lived there on campus. And were there for all different reasons back to their family, not because they, know, had done something.

[00:25:39] Jennifer Wilson: Mm-hmm.

[00:25:40] Mandy Marks: So they needed a lot more than just curriculum. Um, and I was there for nine years. And so I think based on what I teach, based on who I am and that experience, it carried into the public school. Where I still like to really check in with my students and really find out like, how are they doing?

[00:25:57] Jennifer Wilson: Mm-hmm.

[00:25:57] Mandy Marks: What is going on? How can I make the, you know, my room a, a safe place? You know, a, you know, an encouraging space, a space where they feel comfortable opening up. And so they do talk about it, and I think that it's, it's an it. This generation's very interesting. I think you still have those that are, you know, kind of trying to just fit in with what they think they're supposed to do, or wear, or the music they're supposed to listen to. But then you have a larger population of students who are authentically themselves. That really, know, this is who I am. I'm gonna dress this way. This is the music I like. This is what I like to do. Um, that are very, very strong in, you know, who they are. Which is, you know, is great. You know, sometimes I'm like, geez. I mean, I didn't have that much confidence in who I was.

[00:26:49] Jennifer Wilson: Yeah.

[00:26:50] Mandy Marks: In high school I was still, you know, trying to decide, you know, what music I liked or what, uh, you know, what I, my true style was. I laugh, I tell 'em, I'm still trying to find some of it.

[00:27:01] Jennifer Wilson: Oh yeah, for sure.

[00:27:02] Mandy Marks: I mean, I'm still figuring out who I am at, you know, 40 plus years old.

[00:27:07] Jennifer Wilson: You know, everyone was buying those like big, white, chunky, heeled sneakers, which probably are in on style again. But you know, and so that's what I bought when I was a freshman in high school and that's, you know, I tried to always keep up with the trends in hopes it would make me cool. But you know, turns out I'm just not that cool.

[00:27:28] Mandy Marks: Oh, you're cool. You're just a, we're just a different cool.

[00:27:31] Jennifer Wilson: Yeah, no, I get it. Yeah. And that's, I, I'm, I'm hoping, like, I guess I'm, I guess what I'm trying to say is that I'm hopeful that there is, because of the emphasis on social emotional learning and, you know, all of the things that the educational community has done on bullying over the past few decades, like we. Hopefully are supporting these kids into figuring out themselves and, and being accepted as who they are, earlier, so. Obviously there's still so many challenges, but, um, yeah, I guess I feel trying to feel hopeful.

[00:28:02] Mandy Marks: Yeah, no, I think it's, um, think we've gone, know, we've got a long way to go with certain things.

[00:28:09] Jennifer Wilson: Mm-hmm.

[00:28:09] Mandy Marks: I do, I do think we have done a good job of giving, you know, young people, more space to be expressive. You know and I mean, I look around the high school currently, and I think, I don't even know what the main trends are because there's such variety in the way that people dress.

[00:28:31] Mandy Marks: Like, I mean, it's, you know, you, you cannot, there is not the, here's this group, this group, this group, this group. Like, you know, we could kind of do, when we were in school. It's like, I don't even know what quote unquote group you maybe belong to or what trend that is.

[00:28:45] Jennifer Wilson: Yeah.

[00:28:46] Mandy Marks: And it's not just cuz I'm old. It's because it's so varied. There's just so much to it, which is great.

[00:28:53] Jennifer Wilson: Yes.

[00:28:53] Mandy Marks: It really is.

[00:28:53] Jennifer Wilson: That's cool. Now, like shifting gears here a little bit, I noticed that you broadcast pretty regularly on Twitch, so can you explain what that platform is for those who may not be familiar with it?

[00:29:05] Mandy Marks: Sure. Um, so it's a streaming platform. And um, when it started it was a lot more, um, that the majority were those who were like streaming while they were playing games. Um, you know, different video games. It has really opened up and there are other crafters on there. There are, um, musicians on there.

[00:29:27] Mandy Marks: There are people hosting podcasts or doing like, just chats, you know, where they're just talking live. Um, to give a little tiny backstory, so my husband's a very, um, tech savvy person. And he was watching Twitch for, I don't even know how long before I even started Pink Crafty Cottage. And so I started out, um, doing lives just on, Instagram. And I would do 'em once a week. Um, Tuesday nights he happens to work late, so I would just like go live Tuesday nights. And, um, of course I would talk longer than the given hour that Instagram gave you. So I would talk and then have to like restart another live and everyone had to come back in. Um, and so then I switched and I was using Facebook and I was doing my lives on Facebook. And um, I had been just sticking my phone in a little, like bucket thing from the Dollar Store. To just like prop it up. And so I was just saying to my husband, like, you know, I should really get like a Ring light stand or like something a little bit more professional. Um, well, God bless him. He's amazing. He was like kept telling me, You gotta, you gotta stream on Twitch. It's the best streaming platform. You know, and I started to have issues with Facebook, just glitches and technology and stuff. So, um, so my husband did my setup. So I mean, I have a, a designated computer I have two monitors. One is flipped sideways so that it's vertical because he was like, You wanna be able to keep up with your chat, Which God bless him. The people he watches have like 14,000 followers and their chat's going a mile a minute.

[00:30:57] Jennifer Wilson: Mm-hmm.

[00:30:58] Mandy Marks: I'm like, I have like 14 followers when I'm live. I can keep up with my chat, but thank you. So, um, so that's how I got to Twitch. And it's just, it is, it's a great streaming platform. Um, It's very simple to use for, for people. You can, you don't have to pay to have an account. You can, um, watch all the different people and you can search. It has a better search feature. Um, I think when you're looking for like different types of areas, if you're looking for crafting or different things. Um, and you can chat, you know, everyone can chat with me while I'm, while I'm live and you can put your emojis in. They call 'em emotes. But um, it's really user friendly. All of my kind of core, I call them crafty chicks. Um, all of my core crafty chicks, when I made the real big move from Facebook to Twitch, um, all loved it. They were like, No, this is great. It's easy to use. We actually like it better. So it was, it was a very good transition.

[00:31:54] Jennifer Wilson: Oh, that's so good. I was curious about that. Like have you found that the community of people is kind of different than maybe is on Instagram or Facebook or have, you know, you've been able to kind of bring some people over?

[00:32:05] Mandy Marks: Yeah, and I've brought a lot of people over and then I've had people that have found me straight through Twitch. You know, because they follow, you know, they have, they follow other people or they're going there for different things. And so I have had people find me through Twitch, and then we've linked back to like Instagram and things like that.

[00:32:24] Jennifer Wilson: Yeah, that's really fun.

[00:32:25] Mandy Marks: Yeah.

[00:32:26] Jennifer Wilson: I, um, I did a couple streams on it and, uh, I got frustrated with my own tech setup just because I always felt like there was always one thing that didn't work. And, um, I think streaming is not for me. I prefer to do recorded videos, but I definitely found on, fell on a rabbit hole of all the, the gaming streamers and the tech videos that they talk about their setups. And it was like, it was so fascinating to have this whole world that I knew really nothing about. And they were so smart and it was a lot of the same challenges that I'm dealing with as, you know, a crafty creator and having multiple webcams and the right lighting and audio and all of that. And so it was just, it was cool to have a new source of, you know, I guess tech content from that perspective. Yeah.

[00:33:15] Mandy Marks: Oh, for sure. And yeah, if I didn't, If I didn't have a tech husband.

[00:33:19] Jennifer Wilson: Yeah.

[00:33:20] Mandy Marks: I'm sure I would've failed miserably on Twitch because yeah, there is a lot. I mean, on the one hand you can just go live and just kinda do your thing.

[00:33:27] Jennifer Wilson: Mm-hmm.

[00:33:28] Mandy Marks: Um, but there is a lot of other behind the scenes you can do to have, you know, You know, I have like, I have a whole thing through Stream Labs, which is, you know.

[00:33:36] Jennifer Wilson: Yeah.

[00:33:36] Mandy Marks: A program. So it, you know, I have the nice little, Oh, I'm start, you know, starting up soon and then you can switch and you can have different cameras and different, you know.

[00:33:44] Jennifer Wilson: Mm-hmm.

[00:33:44] Mandy Marks: Um, I will say it's really fun to tell high school, my high school students, when I tell 'em I'm a Twitch streamer. Especially some of the boys that are like, What you even know what that is? Like

[00:33:57] Jennifer Wilson: Yes.

[00:33:58] Mandy Marks: It does get me some, uh, some brownie points.

[00:34:00] Jennifer Wilson: For sure.

[00:34:01] Mandy Marks: With some of them. That they're like, Well, she's cool.

[00:34:04] Jennifer Wilson: Yes, yes. No, I totally get that. I definitely had some conversations with folks who like had their brains blown. That was like, Oh, you know what that is so . So I'm curious, as we kind of start to wrap up here, what kinds of creative projects are you working on at the end of this year?

[00:34:21] Mandy Marks: Um, so the couple things that I have, um, coming up, I'm going to be making a, uh, fall themed junk journal. Um, And I'm doing it as a kit and a class. So I found this really cute little Golden Book and offered it in my community. If they wanted to purchase the whole kit. And I'm gonna curate everything and send it out. And then we're gonna get that, um, created together on some live videos so that people have it like for November. Um, a lot of people like to do their, like Thankful 30 or Gratitude in November.

[00:34:55] Jennifer Wilson: Mm-hmm.

[00:34:56] Mandy Marks: Then I'm also doing, for the first time, I'm trying one of the retail classes that you can purchase through Simple Stories, with some of the ladies. And so we're gonna do this recipe binder. So like, I'm gonna buy all, you know, I have all the things to order from Simple Stories, and then it gives us all the directions, all of the, so all the things I don't do when I craft.

[00:35:17] Jennifer Wilson: Yeah.

[00:35:18] Mandy Marks: Um, so it was like, you know there were some ladies that that is how they like to do things. So I was like, Let's try this. You know, Let's just see what this is like. So we're gonna do that. I'm gonna do my December Daily a junk journal. So, um, and I always see, I love to do things live. I, I don't do pre-recorded very, pretty much ever. I love doing things live. So, um, I'll be doing some lives on, probably I'll do some on Twitch. Cause I did this last year to go through all of my Christmas stuff and kind of get my like Christmas cart set up for this season and like, you know, work together to help people kind of go through their things. Figure out what they wanna use, get motivated, that kind of stuff. So that's what's on for the rest of this year. So.

[00:36:02] Jennifer Wilson: I'm curious because, you know, we've just identified that maybe we think about doing videos a little bit differently. I'm curious what really trips your trigger when it comes to creating projects live kind of with your community?

[00:36:17] Mandy Marks: Um, I, think it's just how social I am.

[00:36:22] Jennifer Wilson: Okay. Okay.

[00:36:24] Mandy Marks: And maybe it's because I'm used to teaching live.

[00:36:28] Jennifer Wilson: Yeah There you go.

[00:36:29] Mandy Marks: You know, that I'm, I'm used to, um, cuz I'm also the teacher that I, I don't love a quiet classroom. I want them to ask questions and engage. And even if it means they've asked a question that, you know, takes us on a little bit of a side note in parenting or child development.

[00:36:44] Mandy Marks: I love that authenticity of like, what they're, what are they thinking? What do they wanna know? Um, and I have found for a lot of um, a lot of ladies who do different workshops with me, um, they do really like watching me create something. And I talk through the process. You know, so even though I'm doing it in the moment. You know, I'll explain like what I'm thinking about when I'm creating a cluster. Like this is what, you know, I'm debating if I wanna do this, if I wanna put this here. And that has helped a lot of them to see what the process is, to then not just duplicate something that someone else has made, you know, to, Okay, how do I then create my own?

[00:37:24] Jennifer Wilson: Yes.

[00:37:24] Mandy Marks: I love that, I love that interaction. You know, I, struggle if there's not that interaction.

[00:37:31] Jennifer Wilson: Oh, so this is so fascinating. I am, yeah. I definitely wanna honor and celebrate like both ways of doing it, but I definitely love when my house is very quiet. And I also, um, I find that I can't focus on my own decision making if there are others. Uh, there, or even like, especially if there's like discussion. If I'm talking, I can't think at the same time.

[00:37:57] Mandy Marks: Yeah. Now if I wanna get a lot of crafting done.

[00:38:01] Mandy Marks: I can't go to like a retreat cuz forget it. I'm gonna watch and see what everybody else is doing and I wanna like look at their stuff, I wanna talk to them, I wanna interact. And I'm not gonna get a lot done. Um, so if I really wanna like, hone in, I am an independent crafter and I might not even have music going. I definitely can't have, like, I can't watch like a YouTube video or something like that. Like I can't because I can. Do both. Um, I can maybe listen, I do listen to podcasts. I have found I can do that. Um, but when I, if it's something that I enjoy doing that I feel like I am fairly good at, um, then I enjoy talking through the process while I'm creating it. And I enjoy people asking me questions and things like that.

[00:38:46] Jennifer Wilson: Sure.

[00:38:47] Mandy Marks: But it does take me longer. If I'm, if I'm showing how to do a, a page, it's gonna take me longer. If I'm talking it through and, and answering questions, but I do love that too.

[00:38:58] Jennifer Wilson: Okay, So, so fun and very cool. Um, I guess I'm also curious what you're maybe thinking about for next year, like, things you wanna try. You mentioned you're gonna try these, um, the Simple Stories like ready to go kits for, for teaching. You know, are there other things that you're thinking about both for your community and for yourself that you wanna experiment with in the future?

[00:39:20] Mandy Marks: Um, yeah, so depending on how, depending on how we all like, myself included, like doing the recipe binder. Um, you know, Simple Stories does put out, different projects for different kind of seasons and holidays. So if it goes really well and we all really like, enjoy kind of how it, um, how it comes together then I would be, um, absolutely open to doing some additional projects from them. You know, if they have ones that, um, that are really cute. Um, I'm really trying to bring my focus back to community though.

[00:39:51] Mandy Marks: So I wanna be focusing on having more Zooms. Where we just get together and we are just crafting. Um, and not necessarily too many big events or things like that because they do take a lot of time. They do take a lot of energy. Um, it has not allowed me to do as much of my crafting as I would like. And one of the other things when I started Pink Crafty Cottage was to encourage others with my own crafting. But if I'm not crafting.

[00:40:22] Jennifer Wilson: Yeah.

[00:40:22] Mandy Marks: I can't encourage anyone with it. So I do wanna just kind of, kind of bring my focus more like just more focused in on community. So doing a lot of those, um, just getting together and really creating. And working on whatever I might be working on. And then if the mood strikes me, I love putting together kits. I love curating kits for people to use. I did my first, um, Halloween, I did a spooky countdown. So I made like, 31 little tiny kits that you would open to then use each day.

[00:41:01] Jennifer Wilson: Oh, that's so fun.

[00:41:03] Mandy Marks: Um, and I'm doing ones for December because I love putting together kits. I love pulling. Um, and ladies really enjoy um, the kits that I come up with. Cuz I use a lot of things that others don't always think of. Um, you know, from different areas of this you know, of the, the craft store and things like that. I'd put a lot of different components together. So I'll probably continue to do some of those as well. Um, you know, for different themes or seasons or whatever, you know. Whatever is exciting me, I'll pull together. Um, and I know I'm gonna have at least one or two in person retreats. I haven't picked dates, I just know that I'm going to do them differently. And do them at, um, I know you've been to the Paper Doll House.

[00:41:50] Jennifer Wilson: Mm.

[00:41:50] Mandy Marks: In Illinois. Doing the one this summer was awesome, wonderful. But, uh, driving 18 hours and. being responsible for all of the food and all of the, every, every nuance was a lot.

[00:42:04] Jennifer Wilson: Yes

[00:42:04] Mandy Marks: Um, and so I would like to do the community part, um, and let Mary Kim do the hospitality part.

[00:42:11] Jennifer Wilson: Yes.

[00:42:11] Mandy Marks: Prepare all of our meals and spoil us rotten. And I can just focus on the crafting and the community.

[00:42:18] Jennifer Wilson: A hundred percent. Yeah. Whenever I'm asked like, when are you gonna do something in another location? And I'm like, If you can clone Mary Kim and find, you know, that exact situation somewhere else, I will happily go there.

[00:42:29] Jennifer Wilson: But um, yeah, it's a, it's a lot of logistics and, um, Yeah, I fully encourage and support your, your plan. Because I, I agree with it and it makes a difference. So,

[00:42:42] Mandy Marks: It does.

[00:42:43] Jennifer Wilson: Yeah. So if, yeah, for all our listeners, if you have, you know, a group of crafty friends, uh, definitely the Paper Doll House in the outskirts of Chicago is awesome. And definitely it sounds like that Mandy's gonna have some events there as well if you wanna join up with her creative community.

[00:43:00] Mandy Marks: Yes, it's on my, it's on my list. Cuz I love going there and, and definitely the connecting at the retreat in the summer was the best part.

[00:43:09] Jennifer Wilson: Yes.

[00:43:09] Mandy Marks: Seeing the friendships that were built and the stories that were shared and just, you know, that was the best part.

[00:43:17] Jennifer Wilson: So Mandy can you share where we can find you online and anything else that you haven't mentioned that might be coming up?

[00:43:23] Mandy Marks: Uh, Sure. So on Instagram, I'm Pink Crafty Cottage. my website is also Pink Crafty Cottage, on Twitch, I am also Pink Crafty Cottage. Um, so I'm, I'm pretty easy to find, um, in that respect. And as you mentioned, I'm extremely eclectic, so you'll see a lot of different, uh, different things on my feed. I like a lot of different, uh, crafts and projects and, um, I love all of the different, different things for seasons and things like that. Um, and. I'm trying to think if there's anything else coming up. I think I've kind of mentioned everything. I did mention in February the plan is to focus on, um, Disney. So if anyone..

[00:44:08] Jennifer Wilson: That sounds cool.

[00:44:09] Mandy Marks: Has just Disney projects, the, there again, the focus is going to just be offering the space. So hosting lots of just live craft alongs. Where people are, you don't have to be working on Disney, but, um, but to all be in that mindset. So we can share ideas and just talk about it and maybe even, you know, kind of help get us in the mood by saying, Okay, you know, today is, you know, whatever. Like let's, you know, wear some Mickey Ears or, know, something like that. Um, but it's just gonna be a free, um, kind of month long lollapalooza to get us, um, getting those Disney photos and stories shared.

[00:44:48] Jennifer Wilson: That sounds awesome. We will include all the links that you've mentioned in the show notes for this episode. Thank you, Mandy, for spending time with me.

[00:44:55] Mandy Marks: Thank you so much for having me. This has been really fun.

[00:44:58] Jennifer Wilson: And to all of our listeners, please remember that you have permission to Scrapbook Your way.

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