Meet this week’s Head of the Class Mom, Stacey Kurylo—founder and owner of The Crafty Kids and mom to two great kids!
Tell us about yourself. Why did you start The Crafty Kids?
I am an academic with a Ph.D. and two published books turned mompreneur. I have always been interested in crafting, and taught myself scrapbooking, jewelry making, mosaic making, and other art techniques. After I had children, I used my crafting skills to entertain guests at my children’s birthday parties rather than paying for entertainment. I discovered that I have a talent for working with young children and designing traditional crafts with a modern edge. Friends began asking me to make craft kit party favors and provide crafting entertainment for their children’s birthday parties. And so my business was born! We are excited to have opened our artist loft studio space a few months ago.
What is your secret to balancing work and family? Is there a balance?
Balancing work and family suggests that the two are separate. Part of the reason I started my business was for it eventually to be a family business and to spend time with my children. They get to visit me at The Crafty Kids studio, so they are a part of what I do at work while I’m prepping for events and projects. My own crafty kids love coming up with new craft projects too! For an upcoming back to school event with FiDi Families, I created a foam pencil magnet craft based on a design my five-year-old son made with paper and tape!
Share a funny story that helped you become a better parent and/or better at your job.
Recently I was trying to convince my son to get chicken nuggets from a “healthier” fast food chain. He was adamant that he didn’t like the nuggets at the chain I suggested. I finally decided to check if the place I thought was healthier was actually better for you—I had never actually looked it up and my son was so adamant I figured I could improve my argument. It turns out that my place isn’t healthier after all, the ads just make it seem that way. I learned a valuable lesson. Sometimes kids know things, but they may not know why or be able to express a good reason. My son never liked the taste of the “healthier” nuggets. When I listen to my children and take a step back from my own assumptions I see things from a new perspective, learn in the process, and become a better parent.
What has been your biggest challenge and/or greatest reward in the struggle for work-life balance?
The irregularity of my schedule as a new business owner can be disruptive to our routine. We make sure to make time for each other, even during the craziest days. This challenge also produces the greatest reward. Spending time with family is such a strong motivator that parents find time! I thought I was busy before I had kids. Then, I had my first child and I realized how much free time I had. Then, I had my second child! Companies should hire parents with three or more children—I have become so much better at multi-tasking and time management with two, I can only imagine how efficient parents with more than two children must be!
What is one thing you wish you knew before you had kids?
Children think a lot, get stressed out, feel overwhelmed, have self-doubt, need to vent, and so forth—just like adults. Before I had kids, I assumed all of them are jolly or, if they are cranky, probably spoiled in some way. Now I know that’s not true. Children are much more complicated than that. At The Crafty Kids, we make sure to provide children with space to unwind and share ideas with peers. In a recent after school class, three seven-year-old children spontaneously started talking about how they hate being called cute. They commiserated with each other over it and exchanged stories. One told about a woman in a supermarket who approached him. Another talked about his mother saying it to her in front of other people. They were very supportive of each other. It was really beautiful to hear.
If you could give other moms one piece of advice what would it be?
Children become their own people much sooner than we expect. At four years old my son would only wear purple shirts, which lasted for about six months. At seven my daughter gave me a lecture when I tried to convince her to do something she didn’t want to do. She said, “Sometimes it’s okay for people to say no—even if you try to convince them it won’t work. And that’s okay.” I would never have expected them to act like little adults at such young ages. Sometimes it’s difficult to embrace their mini-adulthood, but mostly I’m glad they have the confidence in themselves and trust in me to share who they really are.
What is your favorite children’s book?
A Cricket in Times Square. One of the most enjoyable moments in my life has been hearing my husband read it to our children.
What has been your favorite kids’ class?
Other than my classes at The Crafty Kids, I would say the Construction Kids classes in Brooklyn for my daughter and classes at The Fashion Class for my son. He’s a little fashion designer. We even had a fashion show for the dresses he has made for his dolls and he has a Facebook page!
What is your favorite thing to do with your family on weekends?
Go to Governor’s Island. It’s like going back in time. No clocks, no checking cell phones constantly, no computers, no cars, no one rushing, beautiful weather, and all the simple things in life to enjoy. We ride bikes and fly kites.
What is your favorite rainy day escape?
With a sigh I say the Police Museum. I sigh because it was severely damaged by Hurricane Sandy and has been closed ever since. While the museum has a temporary location, they have not opened a children’s area there. Their children’s area was the best rainy day escape in lower Manhattan. Now, we spend a lot of rainy days at The Crafty Kids!
Stacey Kurylo is owner of The Crafty Kids, a downtown Manhattan business catering to children’s craft activities. After receiving her doctorate and working as a college professor for fifteen years, Stacey went a different route and opened up her business a year ago. She has two children (ages 5 and 7).