This month's Made by Mama guest is Kjerste of Wax & Wool, Etc. Her luxurious hand poured candles can be found in her brand new Etsy shop. Head over there and use the code "KNITTINLITTLE20" to receive 20% off your order of $25 or more through August 21st.
Kjerste! I am so excited to share your story with our readers. Can you tell us a little about what you do?
I hand pour soy wax candles in small batches from my home in the Puyallup Valley. I also occasionally sell my hand knits and weaving projects, as well as wahtever else I feel like making. That's where the "etc" comes in. Every so often I get the itch to whip up a bunch of paper garlands or headbands, or what have you, so I just go for it. I like to keep things interesting!
When did you begin knitting and are you involved in other crafts?
My Grandma Kvale first taught me to knit when I was a young girl. She was an avid knitter, usually working on baby booties from a pattern she developed herself over the years. She must have made hundreds of pairs. I've done a little crochet, but my true love is knitting, and it's incredibly rare that a day passes where I don't work at least a row or two.
How did you get started with Wax & Wool? How do you stay motivated, especially being a mom?
I guess I've always loved working with my hands, but as our family began to grow, I really became more passionate about the home arts. If there's something I can make instead of buy, you better believe I've tried it! A lot of what I do here at home though gets undone and re-done! multiple times a day. I remember bemoaning this to my mom once when our first two were really little, and she reminded me that one of my Grandma's mottos was "Do one thing every day that can't be undone." I really took that to hear. Being creative is one of the things that keeps me sane, and over the last two or three years that has just gradually grown into a business. Every timeI get to create something, I'm grateful for the gifts God has given me, and for the opportunity to use them to bless my family and others.
I love that motto! I hope you don't mind if I adopt it as well. I've found that one of the hardest things as a mother is to hang on to the inspiration when it strikes because we are so busy taking care of everyone else. Where does your inspiration come from?
I come from a long line of entrepreneurs and makers - people who worked hard with their hands and people who loved both industry and beauty. I think all my great grandparents had farming backgrounds. One of my grandpas was a car mechanic. He owned his own shop and worked hard all day. His hands were crazy gnarly - both my grandpas' were - but he still managed to carve incredibly beautiful things in his free time. I still use wooden spoons he carved to this day, and we have bits of his art and furniture in our home. My other grandpa owned a dairy farm, amongst many other jobs, and there wasn't much he could fix. My Grandma was a talented knitter, and so is my mm. My dad owns his own construction business and is an incredibly skilled finish carpenter, and so on and so on. I'm so inspired by all my family has been and all they accomplish. It's an honor to be following in their footsteps in my own small way.
What an amazing legacy to carry on! Now that you have your own handmade business, are you running it full time? How are you juggling this with parenting?
I'm a full-time mom, and I'm here all week with the little crew. I fit in a little creative time during nap time if I have the energy, but honestly I still nap with my kids most days. Most of my knitting happens in the evenings because that's my favorite way to unwind, but I never leave the house without a project to work on. You never know when you'll need something to do, and it just kills me to sit with idle hands! Most candle pouring happens on Saturdays and the occasional weekday evening.
What have been the best and worst parts of running your own business?
You know, I think the best and the worst parts have been one and the same. I think the hardest part for me is keeping all the compartments in my mind really separate. I am passionate about my business, and keeping that from overflowing into all the rest of my life is a challenge. I guess it's a bit like the Titanic - a little overlap between areas is ok, but when business starts to leak into all the compartments... family time, rest time, marriage, friendship, and my walk with God, the ship sinks. It's a constant dialogue between Derek and I - how is the balance, where do we need to reign things in and refocus. He really helps to keep me present when I need to be, and to step back when I let things get too intense.
At the same time, this has been an amazing journey for our family. The kids are so proud of what I do, and I love how working together to grow Wax & Wool has really knit Derek and I together in new ways. We love working together, and it's so fun to get excited about new ideas and plans together. We have very separate strengths, but combining them and working asa team is pretty much endlessly exciting to me. The past two or three months have been a lot of fun!
I love how invested your children are in your business as well. How do you share your love of making with your little ones?
We have five littles, ranging in age from 2-8. I guess making is a big part of our family culture - my twins love to sit on my lap while I knit and my oldest has already been knitting for several years herself. Honestly, they just love to be involved in anything I'm doing, whether it's making the Friday night pizza, or sticking wicks in candle jars. The more I include them, the more their love for all of this grows. It's a cycle and it's a lifestyle. I love how we get to pass on bits of ourselves in this way to our kids.
I love your outlook on this, and I completely agree!
I've had the great opportunity to use some of your products (I am in love with the grapefruit mangosteen candle and the peppermint lip balm!). Which product that you make is your favorite?
Oh man, that's a hard one. I think any of my candles in Amber Jars are my favorites right now, but I'm particularly partial to the lavender candle. It's a classic scent, and I just love the way the Amber Jar glows when the candle is lit.
Thank you so much Kjerste for taking the time to share a bit of your life with us. I find it so inspiring to hear how other mama makers make time to feed their creativity.
Be sure to head to her Etsy shop and use the code KNITTINLITTLE20 to receive 20% off purchases of $25 or more. This code expires August 21st. This is a great opportunity to try a few of the products or nab one of those darling newborn sweaters. Please stop by her shop and let me know what you choose in the comments below!
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