Welcome to our Favorite Makers Series! This is where I share the work, lives and ideas of some of the women who inspire me. Together let’s revel in their successes, learn from their challenges, hype their work, and get to know our Willary community a little better!
I’m proud to kick off the series with a conversation I had with Chelsea’s sister, Kaylea Meyers. Kaylea inspires me because she’s always in motion and always up for a challenge. From leading a team of women on a Habitat For Humanity build, to impromptu outdoor adventures, to completing her first century bike ride, to starting her own business...
Kaylea Meyers Makes Everyday an Adventure.
Kaylea and I started by talking about leading her second Habitat For Humanity Chicago Women’s build in Chicago on July 18th. I asked her what inspired her to get involved with the organization and what she loves about it.
Kaylea: I had been working construction with my dad and I felt amazing. I love manual labor, learning new skills, testing myself and my abilities on a daily basis. I was ready to focus on my organization work and knew I would miss the construction life. So when I got this email [from Habitat] saying hey, this women's team is looking for leaders and I immediately said yes because it was a great opportunity to share that thing I loved, that feeling of joy with other women. Working that hard, the heavy lifting and the challenges of the job site are empowering. You leave work feeling like a stronger version of yourself. Also, I love wearing work clothes, [they give you] freedom from fashion or expectation. The makeup gets to stay at home and on a job site you get to be a very strong version of yourself. I wanted to share that experience [with women] in Chicago.
The house we’re building this year is in Chicago’s Pullman district. It’s really cool because Habitat is creating a neighborhood, they’re putting people together who have these news homes so they have the support of a community who are also new homeowners. The new homeowners go through an extensive application process and put in a certain number of volunteer hours. Habitat also helps them with financial planning and career support, to make sure these people are going to be able to keep and manage these homes.
One reason I love the build is the women bring such different skill sets. Some women have never used power tools and there are people who are learning to swing a hammer for the first time. As the leader I have to facilitate the needs of my team throughout the day and make sure that everyone's skills are matched up with a task they can handle.
I asked Kaylea if there were any brick and mortar building skills she didn’t have going into the project. In a word, No! But she set up a great metaphor for tackling any huge project.
Kaylea: That's the crazy thing about it, building a house seems like a huge challenge. But when someone says okay, now we're going to lay the flooring, first, you just load in the flooring. Then you lay it in piece by piece and the next thing you know, there’s a floor. And they're like, now we're going to put up the walls. And first you make sure everything's square and supported. Then you load in the walls, then you tack them in and all of a sudden you have walls...And eventually you have a house.
Break a huge task into little pieces and before you know it you’re done! Helpful in building a house and a business. Seemed like a good time to talk about hers, Paper Crane Projects.
Kaylea: I provide a lot of services under the umbrella of personal organizing. I have a wealth of experience from being the production manager for two nationally touring dance companies [Luna Negra Dance Theatre and Ballet Hispanico], and now, as a freelance production manager, I do things like hiring, invoicing and all those small day to day detail things that make a project work. Those skills prepared me to help other people get projects done in their homes or assist with issues they have with paperwork or just generally help organize their lives. And I can pick up work doing the occasional painting job, or interior work or some sort of design project if I need to [She also works as a steeplejack for her dad's company for a few months every year. A fact that's too cool to leave out.]
It’s amazing Kaylea created a job that uses her skills and gives her the flexible schedule she needs. But I had to know, does she really love helping people organize their lives and themselves?
Kaylea: I do! I'm just shocked, I leave a person’s house and I've known them for about two days and they're just beaming, saying I've helped them so much. And I immediately become really close to these people because they’re showing me so much of their lives. There's a great deal of trust involved in letting me into their home, into their computers to let me help them get their stuff together.
Kaylea does so many things and has so many skills, I asked her what she was most proud of and how the heck does she balance everything?
Kaylea: I’m always really proud when I try new things. When I’ve said, “I don’t know how to do this,” and I’ve put in the time to figure out how to make it work.
But this is what I tell a lot of people I work with, because a lot of people feel overwhelmed with what they're trying to do in their lives: You make sure that when you’re plotting out your week you say, “I'm going to make time for myself no matter what and that's as important as going to work.”
A relaxed fun is important fun. This weekend we’re going backpacking and it’s not intense. You go, you get there, you sit, watch the fire. Reading is okay, sitting in the hammock is okay. You need to have balance.
And now I want to go sit in a hammock with a good book! But only after I organize my desk.
Kaylea’s Habitat Team is one of the Top 5 fundraisers for this year's build! Join us by donating here and help them make it to number one! And if you’re in the Chicagoland area and have a mess on your hands, contact Kaylea here to inquire about her services.