A seamless transition into Narberth business for this former Wall Streeter


With just four full-time employees, the Handwork Studio hires 80 to 100 creative individuals each summer for its camp programs. (Photo courtesy of flickr)

Think of a pond. Then think of ripples in that pond. Laura Kelly’s business spread like that.

 “It’s just been a journey of drip, drip, drip,” Kelly said. An idea that once fit around the kitchen table of her Main Line home has grown to 10 states and is poised for national exposure through a licensing deal with the sewing-pattern giant Simplicity, writes Diane Mastrull on philly.com.

[uam_ad id=”54865″]

“We’ve created a seven-figure business teaching kids knitting — kind of crazy,” said the 55-year-old founder of the Handwork Studio, based in Narberth.

Now in their 20s, Kelly’s children were just toddlers when they unwittingly helped inspire a needle-arts craft studio and camp program designed to give kids, primarily ages 5 to 15, a decidedly technology-free creative experience.

Back then, Kelly had a marketing job on Wall Street with a consulting firm that created back-office systems for banks and financial institutions. Daughter Devon was 1½ and son Ryan was 3 when Kelly was motivated to change things up in 1995.

“My nanny and my boss quit within four days of one another, and I took it as a sign,” she said. Besides, that six-year corporate job had “reaffirmed the fact that I’m really an entrepreneur at heart.”

With husband John a property director at Brandywine Realty Trust, Kelly opted to stay home with the kids. That quickly turned into a day-care gig for a neighbor’s daughter, and then into an after-school program for more than a half-dozen children of working parents.

“And then 9/11 happened, and I found myself obsessively watching TV and knew that I needed to be more engaged,” Kelly said. She opted for a job as an assistant in a real estate office.

While looking for a preschool for her children, she visited a program in a church basement where “the little ones were stitching woodland animals, and they were playing under hand-dyed silks, and they were grinding their millet for their muffins for their snack. And I said, ‘If my kids can’t be with me, this is love.’ And that really is at the heart of what the Handwork Studio is all about,” Kelly said.

To read the complete story click here.

[uam_ad id=”54875″]

Stay Connected, Stay Informed

Subscribe for great stories in your community!

"*" indicates required fields

MT Yes
This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.