This week's community spotlight is on bloom community member Jennifer Refat. Jen is a master crafter and the founder of Craftic - a DIY platform with craft tutorials all about using what you've got. Jen has so much inspiration to share! Read more about her below.
Tell us a little bit about yourself!
Hello, I’m Jen - nice to meet you! I'm originally from Queens, New York, and now based in Toronto, Canada. I’ve been crafting and tinkering for as long as I can remember. I’m the sole founder and maker of Craftic - a DIY platform with craft tutorials all about using what you've got. Maker means making code (I'm a software engineer by trade), making crafts, making content, and really, making all the things!
How did you get your start in planning and crafting?
When I was a kid, I always carried a notebook and pen just in case I needed to take some notes. My love for all things stationery has only grown since then. I've kept lots of to-do lists in notebooks for years but it wasn't until 2016 when I started to get into using a planner regularly. I fell deep into the planning rabbit hole and explored a variety of planners and planning styles. I'm now a functional daily planner and use cute stickers and washi tape in my memory planner.
Crafting has been a part of me for as long as I can remember. As a kid, I used to work on craft kits all the time. I've explored several crafts since then. My favorite crafts are knitting, watercolor, and paper crafts but I also dabble in embroidery and would like to take a sewing course someday. I love that there is so much to learn and explore in the creative industry so you're never bored!
Who or what is your biggest inspiration?
My biggest inspiration and driver is helping people in some way to make their lives easier and more joyful. I want to help others be more creative in their everyday lives even when they claim "I'm not a creative person."
A pet peeve of mine is when a craft tutorial will show a list of supplies involving expensive equipment or large working areas. Coming from NYC, I know how limited space can be and funds may not be available for hobbies. My hope is that someone can look at a Craftic tutorial and feel like they can make something no matter what supplies or space they have available.
What’s the biggest challenge you’ve faced, personally or professionally? How have you overcome it?
Until 3.5 years ago, I had never lived anywhere outside of New York City. I was born and raised in Queens and traveled a lot but never moved cities. My boyfriend, who is Canadian, and I decided to move from Brooklyn to Toronto together in September 2017. Moving countries is quite the undertaking especially when you're an adult ( I was 34 years old at the time) and have a set group of friends. Being in a brand new city made me feel lonely and I wanted to find a way to meet new friends. I figured craft and planner groups and meetups would be a good starting point. I found a local planner group where I made instant friends but I couldn't find a casual crafty meetup group. All the events I found were classes and workshops so I thought to myself, why not just start one?
Starting in March 2018, I began running in-person monthly meetups around Toronto and they were a hit! When we went into quarantine in March 2020, I wanted to keep the meetup alive and started hosting online meetups on a weekly basis. Hosting online meetups has been awesome since now anyone can attend. It's been such a great way to meet new people for everyone involved!
If you could talk to yourself 5 years ago, what advice would you give yourself?
Just start! I had the idea for Craftic back in 2008 - it was my graduate thesis project - and I dragged my feet on it because I was afraid to put it out there. It's been over 4 years since launching my website and we have now a wonderful community. I wish I'd launched a beta version earlier but as they say, "the best time to plant an oak tree was 10 years ago. The second best time is now." So just get started and do the thing!
What are some key books/learning experiences that helped shape your business?
Craftic started as my Master’s thesis project in 2008 when the DIY movement was gaining momentum and the US was entering a recession. My idea for Craftic was born from combining my technical abilities, my love for crafts, and my desire to provide a way for people to be creative in an affordable manner. Even though the recession ended, the ethos behind Craftic continues. It's all about being intentional with your budget and space, as well as making creativity accessible for anyone who wants to give it a try!
What are your favorite bloom products, and why?
I've been loving the bright and happy sticker packs! The Value Sticker Pack comes with so many great designs. In my memory planner, I make monthly cover pages using the holiday & monthly themed stickers, and the functional dots and boxes help me make my todo lists cute. I've been sending Encouragement Cards and Kindness Cards in my happy mail as well as leaving them in little free libraries in my area. I love that they bring a smile to anyone who sees them!