How many DIY crafts have you stumbled upon that are either re-purposed Pinterest ideas or too-good-to-be true, meaning you essentially have to be a professional builder or Martha Stewart, or both? When I found out my friend Jourdan Fairchild was releasing her debut ebook on DIY crafts for the modern traveler, I knew that in addition to being affordable and original, her ideas would actually be doable—something she always executed brilliantly during her time as a Senior Editor at Country Living Magazine. Fly DIY is packed with 12 original projects for the road, all beautifully shot by Carolina Mariana (shown throughout this post). As an added bonus, ten percent of each book's proceeds go straight to funding water projects in Africa, a cause near and dear to Jourdan since traveling to Malawi in May with the non-profit Watering Malawi. Jourdan and I caught up over the weekend about what inspired her travel theme, which crafts make the best gifts, and the importance of screwing up many times over.
One of the things that appeals to me so much about Fly DIY is the ease of the crafts. As I was reading through it, I felt like I could conceivably do most of them, which says a lot.
Everything is easy, and that was important to me. The book links to the sources, the materials are affordable, and the ideas are totally original. I wanted to make sure the book was worth the money, because even though it's just $10...it's $10. It's not free. And I know people post a lot of free content online, so I wanted it to be worth the price.
When did your DIY savviness strike? Have you always been very crafty?
I've always been creative. I painted and danced when I was younger, but I didn't get into crafting until I worked at Country Living. I loved coming up with different ideas and getting to use my hands, and then it started to infiltrate my life, especially since I was living on a budget and the crafts were inexpensive to make. No matter what my financial situation is, I know I'll always be DIY'ing. There's a real pride that comes with making something.
What was your motivation for writing the book?
I was feeling inspired by my travels to Africa and by the challenge of doing something new. When situations arise in life that are out of your control, like losing a job (ed note: Jourdan was the Chicago editor of Daily Candy which, sadly, folded in March), it's good to force yourself to push past what's comfortable and do what's next. So I thought: Why not now? And why not do it in a way that's going to make me feel good and do good at the same time?
Why did you choose to focus on crafts centered around travel?
I've always found the world of travel goods to be either very masculine, or expensive, or both; this book really filled that gap. On my trip to Africa, I kept having hiccups that I wished I had little solutions for. For instance, I could never find my passport in my purse, which is why I created a passport cover (using a drawer liner.) What's nice about these crafts is that when you're traveling, you'll be the only person that has them, plus it's a way to bring a piece of home with you.
What was your biggest challenge?
Just as we did countless versions for each photo, I did version after version of each craft until I thought it was good enough, so it took a very long time. I actually did a blog post about screwing up, over and over, but it's that attention to detail and devotion to getting it right—no matter how long it takes—that makes such a great product, which is something my prior experiences in publishing have taught me.
What was your favorite moment of the entire project?
There was one Saturday where we probably did about 500 shots. We shot all the step-by-steps, which was super exhausting, but we had music playing and drinks going, so we made it a great day. Oh, and placing the photos and seeing them living together within the book was rewarding, too. This whole project has not felt like work, which is always a sign that you're doing what you love.
Who in the craft world do you admire most?
In terms of DIY, Jordan Ferney of Oh Happy Day. Everything she does is original and beautiful, and I really strove for that with this book.
Carolina's photographs are gorgeous. How did your collaboration with her come about?
She's a friend of mine and she's so talented. I don't think Carolina realizes how great her photos are. She's so chill and never over-thinks anything. She says stuff like, "Just go with it."
Which craft was the most challenging to execute?
The eye pillow takes some time because it requires a lot of ironing. I really wanted to make a no-sew option since there are lots of people out there who don't sew, but that one is the hardest and it ended up being the most difficult one to write.
Which one are you proudest of?
The fly swatter. It's so cute and easy. Someone was recently asking me how I get my ideas. For that one, I had seen a beautiful photo of a fly swatter embroidered with a letter, so I though about doing something similar, but I couldn't find any fly swatters that looked good enough to embroider. The world of fly swatters is small—they're either unattractive or high-end leather. The one I finally found (a $1 swatter from ACE hardware stores) had this awesome cross-section that I knew I could write on. Of course I tried loads of different things but came back to a Sharpie.
Given my lack of craftiness, I'd probably start with that one.
Yes, and work your way up to the eye pillow!
I'm already starting to think about the holidays (because I'm CRAZY). In your opinion, which craft would make the best gift?
I think the lingerie bags are pretty awesome. They're so fun and you have 10 travel-related, cutesy phrases to download from the PDF—everything from GET LOST to BAG LADY. I call them lingerie bags but they can hold anything.
I could see that one making a great bridesmaid gift, especially since you can make a bunch at a time.
Exactly, and all you need is a wet towel—you don't even need an iron. I added a stripe to mine because it adds color and it also helps to conceal the tattoo paper's edge.
How did you keep the budget down?
Aside from flowers, which we bought at the flower market and kept really simple, we didn't buy any props. We shot everything in my apartment or neighborhood. The shot of the clothesline dishes? That was shot in my friend's new marble bathroom so it felt like a hotel. I borrowed the bag and hat in the cover shot from Carolina.
I understand DJ Lani Love made readers an awesome free travel playlist for the book. What have you been listening to while crafting?
The last song on the playlist is "Africa" by Toto which is what I played before I went to Malawi. That one really brings back the excitement of preparing for my trip and dancing around the apartment with (my husband) Andrew.
Where to next? Any fun travel plans on your radar?
Andrew has two weeks off from med school in September, so we're doing a northwest trip to Vancouver, Seattle, and Portland. You can whale watch off the coast of Seattle, so we're pretty excited about that.
Can you share any advice for fellow DIY'ers looking to self-publish?
It's important to educate yourself on what's already out there and the styles that you like. You want to be really thorough throughout the whole process. Before I even got started, I was pinning stuff to Pinterest, which gave me the feeling of what I was looking for. Also, don't be afraid to ask for help. It's amazing what people will give you if you just ask them nicely. People feed off your enthusiasm.
You have to own your project.
And you can't be afraid. I'm the first to admit that it's not easy, but if I start a project I'm going to finish it. And that's a really important lesson in life, because the sense of accomplishment when you do finish it is so worth it. I don't think you would look at this book and know that basically two chicks with a little bit of time on their hands made it.