Brit Morin was a crafty kid. "I loved drawing, making marbled paper, creating elaborate gel-pen letters in the notes I passed in class....I thought it was just part of life!" she says. But as Morin got older, creativity was squeezed out. "It shocked me when art went from being a subject in school to an elective!" And it kept happening as she moved through her Silicon Valley career. "I was working hard, learning how to code and reading technology blogs, but I yearned for a creative outlet," says Morin.
So in 2011 she quit, planning to take a break before heading back to tech. She started a list of what she wanted to do and learn in her time off (baking, 3-D printing) and discovered that it all had to do with making—and that with the Web, you really can go from novice to expert in a flash. That gave her the idea to create a landing spot for would-be makers with technology at its heart. Morin tapped into her connections from stints at Google and Apple to launch Brit + Co, a website that's brimming with ultracool crafts, advice, and tutorials for women of all skill levels.
"Many women don't consider themselves creative, but they still have that 'someday' Pinterest board," says Morin, who lives in the San Francisco Bay area with her husband and toddler son (her second baby is due this month). So Morin's goal is to bridge the gap between pinning and doing. "Flexing your creativity boosts your self-esteem and confidence. The feeling of accomplishment that you get when you've finished a project? It's irreplaceable. In fact, some studies say the act of making something can be as good for your anxiety levels as meditation or yoga."
She's found that the biggest barriers her readers face are the same ones she does: no free time and fear that a great idea will turn into a #pinterestfail. So her site aims to streamline and simplify—with tons of photos to keep a how-to on track, craft kits with just-right materials, and online classes ("Never, ever more than 90 minutes!") on topics from calligraphy to cake decorating. As the site has exploded in popularity, it's expanded to include recipes and beauty—"Because once you can do a cat-eye, you might be empowered to make an edible snow globe!"—and even a burgeoning kids' section. "I won't be surprised if our kid content grows up as my readers do—so many of them are young moms! I know I'm just getting into finger paint and sidewalk chalk," Morin says.
These days, Morin's home craft area is stocked with E6000 glue, vintage beads, colorful patterned paper ("I love to use it for photo backgrounds on Instagram!"), and a great pair of scissors. And her home is filled with handcrafted pieces—not just her own, but things made by artisans she admires. "Our house isn't all DIY! I believe in investing in makers, so everything from the art on the walls to the laser-etched glassware on the table has a story about how it's made." So the next time you set the kids up for a craft project, swipe some supplies for yourself—you may rediscover your inner artist too. "Everyone is crafty as a child—the hard part is maintaining it as an adult!" says Morin.
"This is such a fun project to make with your little!" says Morin. "Think of it as one giant coloring book your kids can help paint—plus, everyone can enjoy the finished product all summer."
1. Practice your design on a piece of paper (try a watermelon like ours or go more free-form), then use a pencil to sketch it onto a 5 x 5-foot or larger canvas drop cloth.
2. On a protected surface, use a stiffbristled brush to paint your design with fabric paint (try Jacquard Textile colors from dickblick.com). Be sure to start with more paint than you think you need; it goes quickly! Add one color at a time, starting with the lightest shade and drying between coats.
3. Once the paint is completely dry, follow the package instructions to set the fabric paint with an iron.