A seamless transition into Narberth business for this former Wall Streeter
Think of a pond. Then think of ripples in that pond. Laura Kelly’s business spread like that.
“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.
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