Just about anyone who sews passionately has a backstory to their inspiration. For some it started in childhood. For others it may have derived from necessity. For Georgia Nelson – aka fiercekitten – it started at a Renaissance fair in Maryland in 2003.
Attending with a friend, Nelson was awed by many of the costumes she saw. But each time she’d pick one out of a shop, the friend had the same response: “Don’t buy that, you can make it yourself.”
Having left the fair without any new outfits, Nelson essentially committed herself to taking up a new hobby, and by the next week she had purchased a sewing machine.
“I’ve just always had this creative streak,” said Nelson, who works as a programmer by day. “The way I like to flex my creative side is to do other different things in my evenings. I always seem to try to want to monetize them all. That justifies buying all the expensive tools and toys.”
Growing out of the basic knowledge she gained from that friend at the Renaissance fair, Nelson honed her sewing skills making clothes, but admits she struggled with the aspect of sizing. That steered her toward handbags, where she really found her niche.
These days, in addition to raising her children and occasionally scratching another creative itch (photography), Nelson enjoys sharing her knowledge and passion of sewing with others. She’s grown quite the following with her video tutorials and livestreaming.
“A lot of times, people think you have to be in your 60s or older in order to sew,” she says. “I want to bring in more eyes to it and give a bigger audience and show them all the cool things they can make. And also show them it’s not hard. A lot of people think it’s hard.”
For four years now, Nelson has been evangelizing about sewing through the online platform Twitch, known to many for its relationship to online gaming. More recently, she also started capitalizing on the powerful reach of YouTube. Each platform has its advantages. On Twitch, followers can interact in real time and ask questions. For questions that seem to arise consistently, Nelson can create tutorial videos for YouTube and direct people to those.
In only about three months, Fierce Kitten Studio reeled in almost 2,000 subscribers on YouTube. Nelson says she doesn’t mind revealing her tricks, tips and techniques, because ultimately this is a hobby and not a full-time ambition.
“I enjoy passing on what I’ve learned and watching other people grow and enjoy the craft,” she adds.
She also uses the tutorials and livestreaming as a platform to fuel another personal passion – raising money for St. Jude’s Children’s Research Hospital. Last year alone, Nelson raised more than $20,000 in donations. She also has a popular bag pattern called “The Mighty Messenger” that was inspired by the children of St. Jude’s.
“That pushes me. That inspires me,” she says. “Really my big drive is that I’ve been motivated by charity and taking my energy and funneling it into charitable goods.”
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