Aunt Monica Has a Crafty Plan

The Herald

Aunt Monica has a crafty plan
Self-employment program leads to new business venture

When the going gets tough, the tough get crafty.

Such is certainly the case for Transcona resident Monica Smith, who used a layoff from her previous employer as an opportunity to turn her passion for crafting into a budding business opportunity.

“I lost my job due to restructuring,” Smith said. “I applied for a few things and realized my heart wasn’t really in it. Meanwhile I’m doing all these crafts. Then it dawned on me that some people actually do mix what they love with business, that you can turn what you love into work.”

Yarn crafts for kids from Aunt Monica's Attic. (SHELDON BIRNIE/CANSTAR/THE HERALD)
Yarn crafts for kids from Aunt Monica’s Attic. (SHELDON BIRNIE/CANSTAR/THE HERALD)

Smith enrolled in a self-employment training program offered through the downtown YMCA. After passing through the interview process, Smith went through the intensive two-week training, and then started working to develop her crafting idea into a viable business.

“You build a business plan,” she explained. “You break down how you’re going to do costing, financial policies, everything. And you have a coach who works with you.”

Initially, Smith’s idea to host craft parties for a fee wasn’t the focal point of her business plan.
“What I wanted to do was open up a little retail shop,” she said. “But then I figured out what that would cost.”

Instead, Smith discovered a demand for services she took for granted.

“Everyone kept asking, ‘Do you do classes for kids?’” she said. “I had no idea this was a thing.”

Smith has been a crafter since as far back as she can remember. But she didn’t realize that crafting wasn’t second nature to most parents.

Bendy Wendy's are fun, simple crafts that kids can get into with Aunt Monica's Attic. (SHELDON BIRNIE/CANSTAR/THE HERALD)
Bendy Wendy’s are fun, simple crafts that kids can get into with Aunt Monica’s Attic. (SHELDON BIRNIE/CANSTAR/THE HERALD)

“I was talking to people whose kids liked crafts, but they weren’t crafty at all,” she said. “And they didn’t have the time or energy to learn. It takes a lot of energy to organize a party.”

For $200, parents can book one of four craft parties currently available from Aunt Monica’s Attic (more options are in the works). Smith provides all the materials for an hour’s worth of solid crafting — “after that, the kids don’t really have much attention left”— which allows the parents to take pictures, prepare the cake, or get in on the crafting themselves. Invitations to the party are also included in the package.

“But the parents aren’t allowed to leave,” Smith added. “I’m not a babysitter.”

Smith said the parties are best suited for children aged nine to 13.

“When you’re nine, your mom doesn’t know what to do with you,” Smith said with a laugh, adding she’s not opposed to craft parties for adults, either.

Monica Smith of Aunt Monica's Attic. (SHELDON BIRNIE/CANSTAR/THE HERALD)
Monica Smith of Aunt Monica’s Attic. (SHELDON BIRNIE/CANSTAR/THE HERALD)

Along with the parties, Smith is looking to teach workshops for finer crafting skills, like tatting or lace knotting.

“I’m still figuring it out,” she said. “I’m just building a little bit at a time.”

To check out the craft parties available, or for info on upcoming workshops, visit www.AuntMonicasAttic.com

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