DIY is more than project-based crafting-- it’s an attitude, a lifestyle, and according to Kelly Mindell of Studio DIY it's also about making life a party. Born and raised New Jersey, Kelly says she's been a DIY-er since birth and an entrepreneur since 15. She moved to LA in 2011, founded her business the same year, and has put her crafty head and hands to good use since.
Dedicated to a good time, Studio DIY gives readers the kind of excited feeling they had as kids. Think: the moment the piñata broke open and candy rained from the sky. The time you had donuts for dinner. The day you spend running through sprinklers. It's joy in motion.
It's also a lot of work.
We caught up with Kelly to talk biz, what she's learning from younger generations, and the one thing she's bad at (that you'd never, ever expect).
How do you DIY your life?
I've always been one to ask questions and not play by the rules. In high school, I asked if I could do an independent study to build my portfolio instead of spending hours in classes I knew I wouldn't use. In college, I did the same and built Studio DIY during the process! I've always worked tirelessly to make these situations my own and, well, if that's not the true basis of DIY, I don't know what is!
How do you DIY your business?
What I love most about DIY is that it's all about figuring things out and finding a solution, and lord knows that running a business involves figuring things out on the daily. The cool thing about blogging is that no two blogs or business models are the same, so I get to make Studio DIY completely my own... and make things up along the way, too
What was the learning curve for you taking something that was crafty and project-based and scaling it into a business?
Was? How about "is"? Ha! Building and scaling this business is a constant learning curve! DIY blogging takes so many hours, such extensive overhead and so much man-power all while things are changing constantly. I have to learn to grow my revenue, bring on and manage new team members and determine which new avenues for the brand are the right ones to take. And that's all in my spare time!
Where do you see the movement heading? Are you interested in getting into the world of AR/VR?
I've noticed that readers, myself included, are placing more and more value on the personality behind the content, versus the content itself. Now that the DIY and blogging markets are so saturated, it's often the person behind the business that people relate to, are interested in or want to build a relationship with. One of the best things I did was start showing and sharing more of myself on my platforms. Sure, I create larger-than-life projects for a living, but I'm also a person... who struggles with infertility, who steps over a pile of clothes to get to her bed, and who really likes watching Teen Mom and eating pizza on a Friday night. It's fun to share those parts of me and build connections with my readers on a much deeper level. And I think that's becoming more important than ever.
What are you learning from the younger generations, especially as it’s related to tech and social media?
So much! I have a growing tween and teen audience and it's been fascinating to learn how differently they consume media. My 13 year old niece helped out at the office over the summer and I quizzed her about everything she knew so I could learn more. YouTube is integral for reaching their generations and that's precisely why we recently launched our YouTube channel.
Life is not a Pinterest board. Can you walk me through the BTS reality-- how much goes into it?
I work around the clock and the work is still never done! Our studio looks like a never-ending craft tornado blew through it. I work with my husband which is rewarding and challenging all at the same time. Most nights our dinner consists of avocado toast eaten on the couch while answering emails. I have certainly not mastered a work life balance, but I know that this is the season to work my hardest so my priorities can shift in the coming years.
How have you grown up as a business woman in the digital scene?
I've gone from being a one-woman show to managing an incredible team. I've also gone from knowing nobody in the industry to now calling my colleagues some of my best friends. Both have been some of the most rewarding experiences in my career, and I am thankful every day for the amazing community of women that surrounds me!
What social platforms are most relevant to your business? Are there platforms you’re more hesitant to grow?
Instagram has been by far the most relevant and important, as far as community building goes. It's where my largest and most interactive audience lives. And Pinterest is integral as far as circulating content and exposing it to new eyeballs each day. It's a big traffic driver. Snapchat has also become far more important to me than I ever expected.
On the flip side, I know I'm not the only one who was thrown for a loop when Instagram Stories launched. On the surface, making the jump from Snapchat back to Instagram seems like a no-brainer (one app, better view counts), but I treat Snapchat very differently than Instagram. Snapchat is my core audience and almost like a built-in focus group. I love having one-on-one conversations over there and posing questions to get real time answers. Yes, I can do that on Instagram Stories too, but the audience is much larger and therefore the response much more overwhelming. It has been nice to have a smaller platform like Snapchat so I can build more intimate relationships. That said, I'm sure I'll find a way to incorporate Stories soon enough!
What parts of your career would you say have expanded your mind the most?
Without a doubt the amazing community that surrounds me, both with fellow bloggers (now friends) and readers. Our community spans the world and it has been so fun, and eye-opening, to learn more about them. About how they learn, what they like, how they range from being 13 to being the grandmother of a 13-year-old. How cool is that!? I love being able to interact with people of all walks of life on a daily basis.
Is there anything you’ve found that you’re just not good at?
Well I have terrible handwriting! Ha! Learning to be a manager has been a huge struggle for me, but as a boss, that's not something that I can just "not be good at" so I'm learning as I go! But the handwriting thing... that's just hopeless!
How do you separate person from brand?
Right now, it's quite a blurred line! Now is the season in life where I am fully immersed in my business and my personal life and business life blend together quite often. However, soon enough the business will be much bigger than myself, and I will be much more fiercely protective over my personal life once there are little ones in the mix!
Your husband Jeff is an integral part of your team. How did you go about building the rest of it?
When I knew it was time to hire someone, I determined two things: what I wasn't good at and what took up the most of my time. Getting what you're bad at off your plate is the most important thing because there's always someone else out there who's good at it. So that was the first major hire I made. Then, when I was in a better financial position, I was able to start taking off the tasks that I was good at, but that took up more time than I had. As the business grows, I continue to look at these two pain points and hire accordingly!
"Getting what you're bad at off your plate is the most important because there's always someone else out there who's good at it."
We're putting a lot of effort into our new YouTube channel and we're about to launch the biggest endeavor yet for Studio DIY, but that's all I can say... for now! On the personal side, Jeff and I are excited to start growing our family in the near future and begin a whole new adventure as parents!
VIP Tickets for #CreateCultivateATL are ALMOST gone. To hear Kelly speak on "You Do You" grab a ticket before it's too late!