What I am working on (one giant long post)

24 Aug


Weekend, are you here yet? This week has been touch-and-go for my emotions, and let me just get real for a minute here: I’ve had some tears this week of two very different varieties: weepy self-doubt in a ‘I am so overwhelmed what was I thinking, this project  is overly-ambitious and scary and big’, followed just a day later with tears of the ‘I’m so happy this is so amazing I love everybody who supports me so much’ variety. Like I said, emotions! I’ve been on a rollercoaster of my own making this week, but I’m pushing through any lingering self-doubt and worries, because I am really excited about what the next few weeks will bring.


Skill Exchange is in essence, an extremely personal project for me. I can’t make it be anything but personal– I’ve tried, but I have too many feeeeeelings about it. The project is continually evolving, but I can’t stop thinking about it most days. I want to help people learn how to make things with their hands, I want people to think about how the things they eat, use and buy are made, and I want to connect with other makers who are passionate about their craft. I believe that we have lost so much value,  independence and creativity as our culture has moved further away from handmaking. We’ve gained a lot of other important stuff too, I won’t argue there, but we’re so disconnected from our food and the way products are made. It is a scary and precarious position to be in without any deep understanding of how our stuff is made.

Nearly two years ago, Skill Exchange was born out of my own selfish desire to know to how things work and how they are made. I wanted to learn how to fix things that were broken, to make things I couldn’t afford, and take better care of myself, my friends and  my family. I was raised by a single parent, and we didn’t have the same dual-income lifestyle that many of my friends had, but we rarely wanted for anything. My mom instilled a strong sense of resilience in me, because she always tried to help my sister and I learn how to do, how to make, and how to take care of ourselves and each other.

In the twenty-something workshops I’ve organized, I have seen that excitement, and that sense of empowerment passed on to people who are learning a skill for the first time. Watching the exchange of skills and ideas, and the creation of possibilites for new experiences is  incredibly motivating for me. I really get worked up! In just 13 days, 13 workshops  within 72 hours might just make me implode. Tissues are gonna be pretty necessary at the pop-up in a few weeks, because I am so excited to be part of this semi-crazy exchange of skills, people, snacks and ideas. Good emotions guys! [note: refer to first paragraph about emotions]

In San Francisco there are plenty of makers, thinkers, builders and doers that have inspired me in the last few years. In the last year alone, I have met crazy creative and driven people who are creating incredible projects, and sharing their ideas and passion with the city. Business women like Sharon and Alisha Ardiana, Rena Tom and Victoria Smith. Crazy-brilliant project pushers like Forage SF, Sean Timberlake, and one-man and one-woman shop owners like Town Cutler and Pot + Pantry, to the people who have found me through Skill Exchange, and wanted to meet, talk, and share ideas. Oh, and incredibly nice clients who bring me treats!


4 Responses to “What I am working on (one giant long post)”

  1. Betsy August 24, 2012 at 11:30 AM #

    Happy Friday, Kate!
    Love realness.
    Love feeeeelings.
    LOVE what you’re doing.
    I’m so happy to have discovered you and Skill Exchange!
    Thank you!

    • katekoeppel August 27, 2012 at 12:27 PM #

      thank you Betsy! Its pretty real, and full of feelings over here!

  2. TC August 24, 2012 at 12:55 PM #

    This IS a big project and I imagine very overwhelming and terrifying but also AWESOME and you should be so proud of yourself! You know I totally agree with you about the importance of being connected to our physical world–what we eat, what we use, what we wear, etc. I am so excited for the workshops in September! It’s been so great getting to reap the rewards of all the hard work you put into getting all these things together — thank you!

  3. Kirsten August 26, 2012 at 5:31 PM #

    Mm.. this gives me chills and teary eyes!!

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