Tag Archives: Hobbies

Why I Just Invested in Crafter, Maker of the Most Beautiful Arts and Crafts Kits in the World

I’m super excited about today’s company! Of all the startups I’ve looked at recently, Crafter might have the most compelling product. This San Diego-based company makes arts and crafts kits of the very highest quality and provides great instructional videos that will have you making beautiful crafts in no time.

A beautiful textile project from Crafter

I never thought I’d consider embroidery until I saw their product! Crafter, also known as The Crafter’s Box, can also help you make quilts, leather bags, and even stained glass! This post barely scratches the surface; you really have to check out Crafter.com and see all this cool stuff! Go ahead, I’ll wait here. 🙂

Learn to embroider!

The founder, Morgan Spenla, created Crafter after what was supposed to be a relaxing crafting experience turned into a nightmare. Morgan wanted to make a nice necklace, and found herself at Joann’s looking at a thousand different tools and materials. She had no idea what to choose. The store was about to close and her kids were going wild. Morgan wound up with a random assortment of materials and couldn’t find a YouTube video to show her how to turn them into the necklace she wanted. She wound up giving up in frustration. But she knew there had to be a better way.

I doubt Morgan is the only person to have this experience. Crafting has become increasingly popular during the pandemic. If you’re stuck at home, why not make a cool scarf? And I don’t see people giving up their fun new hobby just because things are reopening.

The venture capital world is largely male, and most of us probably don’t do crafts. But that doesn’t mean other people don’t! Arts and crafts is a $44 billion dollar industry that has grown by half in just 5 years, and it’s almost all brick and mortar retail. Crafter could completely disrupt this market. Etsy is the go-to for finished crafts, and Crafter may become the go-to for making crafts. Oh and by the way, Etsy is valued at $25 billion.

On a meeting with Morgan recently, I was impressed by her resourcefulness and dogged persistence. Founders giving up is the biggest killer of startups, and I don’t see Morgan giving up. She funded the company herself for nearly 5 years before raising venture capital, and continues to work long hours to make her dream a reality.

She also excels at recruiting the best people to help her. On a recent episode of This Week in Startups, Morgan shared her strategy of recruiting former Starbucks employees for customer service jobs. They excel at dealing with difficult customers, and if your tech startup can pay more than Starbucks, you’ve got them. This struck me (and the host, noted angel investor Jason Calacanis) as brilliant.

Take a look at Crafter.com and make yourself something awesome! And by the way, that link will save you 20%!

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Filming a TV Show in NYC in a Pandemic

EMT’s jump into a vintage ambulance and speed off past NYPD Chevy Caprices. The backdrop: a spooky, mostly disused hospital on the fringes of New York City. Two menacing men in flat-top fades and thick gold chains saunter toward the entrance.

This is the world I spent yesterday in, as a background actor (also known as an extra) playing an EMT for a popular cable show. Background acting is a fun hobby I picked up in late 2019, but I hadn’t done a gig since the beginning of COVID. But now I’m fully vaccinated and back in the game.

So what’s it like to film a television show in New York City in the middle of a pandemic? First, be prepared to get COVID tested a lot, even if you’re vaccinated. I took a COVID test 10 days before the shoot, a rapid test at the fitting one week out, another test 4 days out, and yet another rapid test as soon as I arrived on set.

But that’s not all. You have to fill out an online form about symptoms and travel every day you come in. Even on the shoot day, you wear a mask at all times unless you’re on camera or eating.

Even with these changes, filming is a lot of fun! I wore an elaborate costume that had been tailored to fit me personally. The tailor even sewed “EMT New York City” patches onto the uniform. I was rather honored to have such a fuss made over me, despite being just a background actor.

I had the opportunity to ride in a 1982 Ford ambulance like this one, which was fascinating! My fellow EMT, who was also a trained stunt driver, took the wheel. I also got to see circa 1990 NYPD squad cars on the set, which is a rare opportunity.

The episode was set in 1991 and we filmed in a remote part of New York City. I can’t get into specifics on the show until it airs later this year, but I was incredibly impressed at the very real little world they had created. Two characters had Timberland boots, thick gold necklaces, and tall, fade-style Afros cut specially for the scene. The cars were picture perfect. There’s something about seeing a little world where the past has been recreated, and becoming a part of it, that’s quite thrilling.

In all, with the many tests and fitting and elaborate setup, I was only actually on camera for maybe 90 minutes. That footage will later be cut down to probably just a few seconds. The amount of work that goes into making a perfect scene that may last just an instant is incredible.

I look forward to being a part of lots of other interesting shows soon!

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“VFS Film Production: ‘Milligan’s Stew'” by vancouverfilmschool is licensed under CC BY 2.0

“1982 Ford F-100 ambulance” by sv1ambo is licensed under CC BY 2.0