Design thinking, silk and self confidence
Ever since I was young I had the desire to help people and make their lives easier. I grew up in a very service centered family. When I was twelve, I built a sidewalk with a church youth group. I received the women's equivalent of an Eagle Scout, participated in community clean ups and volunteered for SAFY organizing holiday parties for foster kids. I was a restaurant server all through out college because I loved interacting with people and anticipating their wants and needs. I was a people pleaser and a people watcher. To me, nothing was more interesting than observing others behaviors and motivations. Hence why I work in product design these days.
But I feared the idea of disappointing people greatly. I sort of forgot about myself. And then I heard for the third time, spelled out, printed on paper, that I needed to work on my self confidence. I lost it. I got so angry. WHY. In the past 5 years, I haven't fixed this problem yet?
Problem. This was the first time I identified my low self confidence as the problem that it was.
And then it all clicked. I didn't have to be this way. I solve problems everyday. It was, by all means, ingrained into my personality since I was little, but I could change it if I wanted to. If I can solve problems about throttling a server in an Enterprise Pool (hardware, yeah!), I can fix myself confidence... I started to observe my behaviors, learned my triggers and what helped me cope. I needed comfort in the times of panic. I needed a reminder of my self-worth. My whole life I wanted to be known as a woman that embodied love, strength and happiness, but my anxiety was gripping me. When I was young, I had a habit of rubbing a silk blanket on my face to ease my anxious mind. It all came back down to silk.
I was white boarding ideas, mind mapping... going insane... and I wrote down silk painting as... one of those "eh" ideas. And I ignored it. For like 6 weeks. I got an email from Madewell and they suggested me to this silk blouse. Carelessly browsing I came upon a silk bandana and instantly got excited.
I ordered 10 %100 white silk squares with hand rolled hems 10 minutes later from Blick. I was like a kid in a candy store when they arrived. The first few were... off. But I loved it. I started wearing them and posting them on Instagram and the Spare Time slack channel. To my surprise, I got some good feedback. So I went all in. I set up two workshops, one with Spare Time and one with the Power Systems design team. I had been painting silk for about 3 weeks before I facilitated 25 others. But everyone loved it.
It's not everyday that you get to be surrounded by people that are rooting for you. A safe place. I watched people closely as they funneled in to the space I had carefully planned. I studied their body language, tone, emotion. All of it was positive and encouraging. Everyone was all there.
"Wherever you are, be all there."
Everyone received silk, gloves, rubber bands, q-tips, water cups and ink. I gave a little bit of an intro into my story, a few tips and tricks to silk ink & indigo dyeing and then let them loose. I also set the precedent that I broke all of the "silk painting" rules. So the process of dyeing was pretty simple. There was just enough options for people to feel in control of the outcome and they left loving their new little luxury.
I founded Silk Diaries with the belief that everyone is winging it. Unfortunately, women can often experience more trouble in the workplace than men. This made me realize that I wasn't dyeing silk for myself, as much as I was doing it to connect with other intelligent women in a versatile way.
Author & Photos: Kylee Barnard