Taft Weber-Kilpack ‘16, an Etsy craft shop owner, blog writer, and Lick student, sat down with the Hyphen on February 11th to talk about her crafty business and her future plans with her blog and her online shop, “Making Tembo”. Taft started creating and selling her crafts during her 8th grade year and continues to sell them online. Her blog is filled with journal-style descriptions, how-to’s, and pictures about her experiences with different sewing patterns or projects.
Hyphen: How did making Tembo start up?
Taft: I saw these headbands at the Dickens Fair in the winter of 8th grade that I loved. They were ridiculously expensive, so I went home and developed my own very unique looking ribbon headband through trial-and-error. I ended up with something different that was inspired by the ones we saw.
Hyphen: What has been one of the most memorable thing that you have done with Making Tembo?
Taft: At the end of last year my Mom’s co-worker, Deborah Cohan, ask me to make her a surgical cap she could wear to work. She didn’t have the chance to wear it in the Operating Room because she was diagnosed with breast cancer, so instead she wore it to her double mastectomy. There’s a video online of her dancing in the OR before her surgery wearing the surgical cap I made for her.
Hyphen: How did you get the idea for the name Making Tembo for your shop?
Taft: There was a book from when I was younger called “Tikki Tikki Tembo” and one of the characters’ names is Tikki Tikki Tembo-no Sa Rembo-chari Bari Ruchi-pip Peri Pembo. That was my “nickname” when I was younger and I think there’s a really cheesy line on my Etsy page saying: “I make what I sell and the business is making me as well.” It’s true, but I flinched when I read it the other day.
Hyphen: How do you manage your etsy business and your school work?
Taft: It comes in waves. Sometimes there is next to nothing and I don’t do work for a month. Then there are times–like when Deb’s video went viral– that I am making caps all weekend and staying up late to keep up. If there is a craft fair coming up I will be making sure I have enough inventory, and printing out signs. On a weekly basis it’s mostly making sure I actually check my email and keeping track of projects.
Hyphen: What do you think making your own business has taught you?
Taft: It has really taught me time management, how to talk to other people and write email. I also learned how to approach people at fairs. I have learned so much from all of the other vendors as well. I think it has taught me the importance of a positive internet presence. With my blog I have gotten a lot better I mean you can see the earlier posts. Sorry about those.
Hyphen: Could you tell us about your blog?
Taft: It has become somewhat of a journal for me. If I am having trouble recalling what a pattern looked like I can just go back to my blog. It got started last summer when I was doing an internship with a woman named Lola. She wanted to know what I knew how to do and the skills I had so I did a few posts for her, and it took off from there.
Hyphen: What are your future plans for your business?
Taft: Within the next couple of months, hopefully, I will be able to get more clothes up on the site. I also hope to go to more craft fairs because I really enjoy meeting all the other venders.
Hyphen: Is this something you are interested in continuing throughout your life?
Taft: I want to be like those other venders. I want to have my brand established go to the craft fairs. I am also really interested in the business side of all of this (shhh– I am a math nerd) and the economics, finance and the math are equally as fascinating as the crafting. I would love to somehow combine crafts and math into my own business when I am older. I don’t know how I would do that… but we’ll see.