While I’ve recounted my first manual job in the blog Small Town Resume, I haven’t described my first entrepreneurial venture as a kid. My grandparents, who retired from farming by the time I was in elementary school, took their hobby of crafts and began participating in craft shows. My grandfather made miniature replica horse and wagons and my grandmother made painted wooden crafts. At the same time – when I was 8 or 9 – I was into friendship bracelets and worry dolls.

When my collection outgrew what was acceptable for my own use, and when all of my friends had been appropriately outfitted with a friendship bracelet made with their favorite colors and had a worry doll in their image, I began selling them at the craft shows my grandparents attended. Because the shows were usually during school days or farther than I would go on a weekend, I would make sure that my grandparents had a solid inventory before heading off to the next show. They would return and give me any remaining inventory and my payment. I’d like to tell you that this ended up covering my college tuition or my designs were picked up by a national brand, but no, I simply had a bit of spending money, which was usually spent at JoAnn Fabrics to replenish my supplies.

I was always creating as a kid. It helped that my parents were also creators. My dad is a county fair grand champion cross stitcher and my mom sews, cooks, and makes seasonal crafts to be admired. I continued to create as I left small town for college and beyond – whether it was making a collage to put on my dorm room wall, pillows for my first apartment, or pictures for my baby’s nursery.

Somewhere in the past 7 years when my life has been consumed with motherhood, my creativity has taken a backseat. Then, one day this spring, I realized that creating is part of who I am and that my daughters were following suit. After my oldest daughter had a meltdown when she didn’t win a plush donut at an amusement park, I told her she could use her allowance to buy one. We found some online, but they were either too small, too big, too low quality, or too expensive. That’s when my husband looked at me and said “you can sew, why don’t you make one”. Typically, in a previously sleep deprived state, I would have looked at him like he was crazy. This time, I said “sure, let’s do it”. A trip to JoAnn Fabrics and a week later, my kids had their very own donuts.

Project Donut - Underway

Project Donut – Underway

My house looks like a disaster zone. In the kitchen, I have Rainbow Loom central. In the dining room I have Perler beads, puzzles and Legos. Typically my OCD or neat freak nature would have set in and everything would be in the appropriate bins, boxes and cabinets. But the experience making the donuts reminded me that I want to instill a sense of creating, as opposed to consuming, in my house. This allows me to see the disarray as a canvas in mid-painting.

Small Town Leadership lesson – We spend so much time consuming – both media and goods – that we’ve forgotten how important it is to create. The next time you can choose between buying or creating, try the create route. You may end up with a Pinterest fail, but you’ll have made a memory, and perhaps sharpened your creativity, along the way.



Small Town Leadership Founder; Natalie believes everything she needed to know to succeed in her career she learned by growing up in a town of 600 people. As a Certified Professional Coach and award-winning public speaker, she helps her clients and audiences make wherever they are feel like a small town. She lives in Dublin, Ohio with her husband, Rob, a professor at Ohio State and two little girls.


  • Mary says:

    Love your creativity blog. This is right up my alley or it was before my hands finally took its toll. These pillows are really great. What did you use to stuff them?

    • Natalie says:

      Thanks Mary! I used regular poly-fill for the stuffing. I was very happy how they turned out! They really wanted to bring them to CA, but we told them they wouldn’t fit in the luggage!

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