Mom Crush Monday: Tricia Driscoll of Knotty Origami
What began a survival skill Tricia Driscoll learned during her career in the army turned into fun craft to teach her two children; which turned into a blog. That blog inspired her business, Knotty Origami, a jewelry and decor line centered on cultural knotting and folding arts. Her business has brought her full circle allowing her to give back to other veterans along with several other charities. Every year, Knotty Origami pledges 5% of profits to local non-profits. This year, Knotty Origami will be actively involved with Crystal City-based The 296 Project, a non-profit that provides art therapy resources to veterans and their families, particularly those affected by PTSD.
QB: Tell me about your business and the inspiration behind it:
TD: My business really sprang from my longtime hobbies of knotting and folding origami. I started out as a young child in Korea doing origami in school and never really quit. My fascination with knots began in the military when I saw how useful they were to our mission and survival. Once I had children, I began teaching them the skills I learned as a child and in the military, but also expanded my own knowledge of cultural and historical Chinese, Korean, and Celtic knots because those represent the arts of my children’s mixed heritage. What started as a fun craft to pass down to my children turned into local demand for products. I have an MBA and an advanced degree in Management, but was still a little surprised when I realized that my lifetime hobby and passions could and should come together in a business. It really was an epiphany, but it was one that I couldn’t shake. All roads and loves in my life seemed to converge with Knotty Origami.
QB: What makes your business unique?
TD: Being a jewelry designer is not a unique profession. But, the approach that every artisan and designer takes when presented with the exact same materials IS unique.
It is difficult for me to look at cooking twine and not think, “I could turn that into something fabulous.”
I think that the arts of Origami and Knotting are special because, in many designs, the pieces begin and end with a single piece of paper or strand of cord. A knot or folded sculpture can appear to be impossibly complex, but is truly as simple as knowing where to place a crease, or where to weave the rope. The concepts are simple at their core. The beauty is simple.
QB: Is it difficult juggling work and being an available mom?
TD: There was a time that I struggled with work/life balance as a full-time working mom. The hours were punishing and I felt that I rarely saw my small children. I think the hardest decision I have ever made in my life was the decision to walk away from a very secure career. Some people thought it was a terrible decision. I reached a point where I didn’t care what others thought. I made the only choice I could have made and it was the best decision for our family. I was what people call a Stay At Home Mom, but I think we should be able to come up with a better term than that by now. I did some freelance writing, started a blog where I learned to build and manage my own website and build public relations opportunities during that time while bringing in a little side income. The benefit was that I could do all of those things in my own time and I was a mother first. I had regained my own life balance. It was the blogging experience that helped me launch Knotty Origami. Now, I feel that I have excellent work/life balance. My kids are in school, so I can get a lot of work done during normal “duty hours”, or work after they’ve gone to bed. I fiercely guard time with my family because I remember what it was like to have no family time.
QB: Since becoming a mom how have you changed?
TD: Oh, goodness. I’ve changed in so many ways. They’ve made me such a better version of myself. It is hard to not sound cliché when you talk about loving someone so much in a way you didn’t know was possible. I used to roll my eyes at a statement like that, because I had no reference point. Now, my reference points are my universe.
QB: What advice do you have for moms with dreams of having their own business or following their own dreams?
TD: I think that we live in a time where the online resources and templates and networks are easier to access and use than ever. If you have a dream of starting a business, there are crazy opportunities for you to make it happen. I think joining a networking group is a fabulous way to meet other professionals to learn and grow. Setting boundaries for your time is the hardest in the beginning because there is so much to do, which is why I love checklists. Checklists will help you budget your time so that you don’t feel like you’ve lost that work/mom balance.
QB: What is your favorite place to visit locally with your family?
TD: My favorite place to visit locally is anywhere my extended family is. I have two sisters and parents who live in NOVA. I spent nearly a decade in the military and, literally, 20 years living apart from my extended family who I could only see for a few days every other year if I was lucky. Every birthday, every dinner at Silver Diner, every random get-together, i feel so lucky to be with them. I can’t believe how fortunate we are to be together.
QB: What is your go-to Mom Hack or resource?
TD: I think my best mom hack is making a good quick meal that my kids love. I always mix brown rice, pearled barley, quinoa, and farro in a huge jar so when I make steamed rice, there’s a lot of goodness in it. I fry an egg in a little butter, lay it over the rice, add a handful of spinach and drip in a small amount of soy sauce and toasted sesame oil to mix. It’s my go-to meal for the kids and they tear it up. Plus, it’s great for them.
QB: If you could sing one song on American Idol, what song would it be?
TD: “It’s A Great Day To Be Alive” by Travis Tritt. I’d have to follow it up with “Livin’ On A Prayer” by Bon Jovi!
QB: What do you like to do during your mom-me time?
TD: I learn new design and jewelry techniques. My spare time, at night, is usually spent with a new manual and materials to create something fresh. It’s the way I relax and relieve stress. I also try to get to the gym 4-5 times per week, which is a major stress reliever, too!
The Art of Tying it All Together: This manual, Leather Corded Fusion Ties features a forward by Tricia
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