NEEDLE AND NAIL
Through Jada’s eyes
A family, a business and a lifestyle all in one
IA family‚ a lifestyle and a business all in one.
t's a typical morning for us. Baby Willa is having a nap, there are four kids around the dining table working on maths problems, spelling lists and the dreaded daily grammar worksheet. Four-year-old Sawyer is trying his best to join in with the schoolwork, but is only succeeding in using up the last of another roll of Sellotape and dropping a million little pieces of carefully cut paper all over the floor. He loses interest and goes out through our garage to see his dad in the workshop. I hear him saying, “Dad, I have two questions for you. The first one is...” before the door shuts. Our situation is a little bit unusual. We are a family of eight, and we work from home, educate from home and make things for our living. Two years ago, on the first Monday of May, our Etsy shop, loaded up with a few handcrafted wooden toys, went live. From then on, sales of our handmade items would officially be the main source of income for our family. It was terrifying! But so exciting to see a dream finally become a reality.
A couple of years before our opening day, Jeremy had been let go from a job that he was extremely passionate about, and was uninspired at the prospect of having to now get up, leave the
of the handmade community for some time (making dolls), so we combined our creative talents, and named our new little business, Needle and Nail. Having already started down the path of home education, and wanting our children to have a childhood rich in creative, imaginative and active play, it quickly became obvious to us that Needle and Nail wasn't just a business – it was actually the perfect extension of our lifestyle.
With four boys of our own, we had noticed a gap in the market for decent toys for boys. We found that most handmade ‘boyish’ options were trendy décor items – and while they made boys' rooms look very cool, they did very little as far as genuinely captivating their imaginations and stimulating prolonged periods of engaged play (i.e. peace and quiet!). We decided that this was as good a place to start, so we committed to designing and creating eco-friendly toys that we knew would not only look great, but would also engage a child's imagination and be genuinely enjoyable to play with.
Most of our earlier items were for boys and of course, every design that Jeremy has come up with has been tested by our own children first. With remarkable patience, Jeremy spends most of his work day with kids underfoot, asking him to drill this and cut that. Sometimes they offer suggestions for improvement too. For example, when Jeremy brought the fishing rod in, fresh from the workshop, the boys decided three fish weren't enough and promptly set about making countless extra fish to add to the collection – including an octopus, a whale and even a treasure chest! Fish aren't the only things that get made by the kids in the workshop. Mother's Day recently yielded for me a
small mountain of the most lovingly handcrafted wooden trinkets.
As family life began to merge with work life, it became apparent from the beginning that we'd have to replace a work-life balance philosophy with a work-life rhythm. Having already embraced this rhythmic, seasonal kind of schedule with our schooling, the crossover wasn't too difficult. There are days (seasons) when there is more work to be done, and less family time to be had. And then there are days (seasons) where the demands aren’t as pressing and we're able to take a spontaneous trip to the beach, or the golf course. We are all in it together. Needle and Nail is more than just our business, it is our whole family working together as a team to make our dream lifestyle a reality.
A lot of people ask us how we do it and the truth is, our lifestyle works for us because we have created a way to live within the limitations and strengths of our own unique personalities and talents. Homeschooling isn't for everyone and working from home isn't for everyone. It doesn't need to be. It works for us, and brings us great joy because it suits our particular circumstances. Other families, with different personalities, goals and circumstances, may have a completely different lifestyle and be no less rich for it.
And don't be fooled. Our days aren't all miracle and wonder – most days it feels more like destroy and plunder! But generally
My name is Jada. I am 12 years old and am the eldest of six children.
My parents work from home, and we homeschool. The best thing about this is that we never have to wave Mum or Dad goodbye at 7am and not see them again until 5pm. Before Needle and Nail started, I had always wished that Dad could work from home, and now it's reality! He even does schoolwork with us most days during his cup-of-tea break. I really enjoy homeschooling. If I went to school, I would have never seen my only sister take her first crawling steps, see her first sit up or rescue her from falling into the garden or down the steps (which I have done plenty of times!).
And the worst thing? Well, that would have to be not seeing friends very often, but that's not too bad because I have five siblings. My brothers are fun to play with – as long as they aren't in a ‘I feel like annoying somebody’ mood. And Willa is without a doubt the cutest baby on earth!
One of my favourite things we get to do since Needle and Nail began is having a stall at the local market. It's usually only Dad and I who go, and we have a few traditions. We leave in the dark around 6am (it's usually pouring with rain!) and after arriving and setting up, either Dad or I will track down the same thing every time – two cups of hot chocolate and a five-pack of delicious Mama's Donuts. They disappear almost instantly!
Because of Needle and Nail, my siblings and I have learned a lot about woodwork, so whenever my brothers aren't playing cricket on our lawn, they're usually building small creations out of wood and nails. As for me, I am more of the horsey/artist/sewing type,
although I can also occasionally be found in the workshop too. So you can imagine that at Christmas time and on birthdays, most of the presents we give each other are handmade! For example, this Mother's Day we loaded Mum with gifts, and every single one of them was wooden.
Having parents working from home has taught me that if you work hard enough, you can achieve great goals. And if anyone ever asks me, “Do you like having your parents work from home and homeschooling?” The answer would be, "I don't like it – I love it!"