For our final Fifty and Other F-words Book Launch Kick Ass Warrior Woman, I'm excited to shine a spotlight on one of my favorite women Kathy Cano-Murillo, a.k.a. The Crafty Chica. Kathy is a glittery ray of sunshine in a dark and weary world. Her Mexican-infused DIY ideas have been inspiring crafters for over 16-years through her wildly popular website CraftyChica.com where she shares crafts, recipes, motivational tips, travel ideas, storytelling, and more. Kathy describes herself as a crafty version of Selena-meets-the-Hallmark Channel-with a dash of Oprah optimism. That optimism is a major key to her success. She’s inspiring, she’s engaging, she’s joyful, and she’s one of the hardest working people I know. Kathy has written seven craft books and two novels, penned a nationally syndicated craft column for the Arizona Republic, and has designed several popular product lines sold in national craft chains. She does the crafty hustle on the daily, recently opening the Mucho Más Art Studio in Phoenix with her husband, musician, and artist, Patrick Murillo.
Kathy’s over 50, but she’s got the energy and enthusiasm of a 20-something. She radiates happiness, which keeps her looking and seeming far younger than her years. Never afraid to jump in with both feet, she embraces new adventures and new technology with open arms. If you want to know what’s going to trend, pay attention to Kathy because she’ll be one of the first to start the ripples and then ride the wave.
Writer, designer, artist, speaker, storyteller, motivator, mother, and entrepreneur Kathy Cano-Murillo has figured out the secret to success. It’s not just doing what you love, but knowing what you want and going for it with everything you’ve got.
We’ve known each other for many years, we both started in the craft industry at the Atlanta CHA show. It seems like a lifetime ago, doesn’t it? You’ve done so much since then! When other people have given up you’ve kept going strong. Your tenacity is inspiring. What do you think is the secret to your success? How do you maintain forward motion even in the face of disappointments?
Thank you so much, Margot! I’m so happy and proud of you for your fabulous new book! Thank you for including me here! Honestly, I’ve found the secret to success is pursuing my own kind of happiness without expectation. Having the mindset that no one owes me anything. I feel like it opens up more space for me to have control of my life and feelings. However, it took some hard lessons and some healing time to get to that point! I focus on what I know to be true: I love to make things. I love to share ideas. I love to meet new people. I love to share a brighter outlook when things seem bleak. I have faith in the future that there will always be an awesome destination ahead. I move forward to take chances, explore, try new things. Throughout the years I’ve learned that I can actually set my own course, which helps a lot!
You told me a few years back that you like to move in a new direction with each decade. I’m with you on that front! Can you talk a little about your many reinventions? What motivates you to try something radically different? Is that scary to you or exhilarating or a bit of both? A lot of women over 50 feel stuck, because we’re the most unemployed segment of the population. This is even more true for women of color. I think being an entrepreneur prepares you for the inevitable ups and downs professionally. Do you face or feel age-ism or do you think being self-motivated and self-employed has made that less of an issue for you?
I’m barely in my fifth decade and haven’t quite set a concrete plan, but I am sketching out a loose blueprint! I opened a retail boutique in Phoenix and am loving the shopkeeper life. I originally had it as a bucket list item – a one-year pop-up shop, but now I feel it’s part of my destiny! I’ve recently thought about the term of reinventing and realized it doesn’t quite suit me. As I look back over my life, I don’t want to reinvent. I’ve accepted there is nothing wrong with the former me that I feel I need to give it an overhaul. My strength has come from my epic failures, my scars and battles. And my wins, loves, and friendships! I love who I am and who I’ve grown into. I feel really proud to have made it through the stressful times and still come out with hope. However, I do embrace the reality of evolving!!! It happens to all of us and it’s a bizarre and beautiful experience! You can fight with it, or open your front door and invite it in for an all-out party!
Honestly, the women I know 50+ are badass go-getters! Especially women of color! With the #BlackLivesMatter movement, the DACA situation, I feel like this time we are in, women are embracing the importance of speaking up, self-care, self-expression, and striving to live their best life despite these unjust challenges. They are incorporating their dreams and goals into daily life. I meet so many women online and in real life who have a side business, or are excited to retire so they can launch their longtime idea, or those who have become activists/artivists. And they are doing it! And being at this age is great because we’ve already seen what does and doesn’t work, so a lot of time is saved, lol!
Okay, now about ageism. Naturally it is out there. We all know it. But at the same time, there are also plenty of opportunities. I’d say I’m in the busiest era of my career these days, go figure! I did not expect that at all! I still do craft tutorials, but I changed my brand to be more lifestyle so I also do a lot of travel and food content, motivational speaking, product design, and so on. I absolutely love the variety!
It makes me happy to see so many young Latinas diving into DIY! It’s the whole reason why I started CraftyChica – to have the Latino community be part of the bigger story. A lot of the Latinx comunity never even heard of my brand so sometimes it’s like I have to reestablish myself all over again! But that’s okay because I’m all about meeting new people. The ones I have met embraced me and include me in events and that makes my heart sing because it proves creativity has no age! Or I’ll meet young girls who say they read my craft books in their grade school library, or that their moms have my books. For the emerging Latinx creators community - This is their time to shine. They are bursting with so much talent and innovation! I had my time in the DIY arena of Latino crafts, I am perfectly happy to cheer all of them on!
We’re both empty nesters with successful children who are thriving as young adults. It’s such a cool thing to see our kids bloom. It’s hard to let them go, and it can be a struggle for women as they redefine themselves once the children are gone. You and Patrick opened Mucho Más Art Studio recently. I’m so excited for you guys! It’s kind of a full circle, but the circle is so much bigger now. You started out making and selling handicrafts together. Did the empty nest play a role in this adventure? What’s it like working together? How are the two of you navigating the empty nest? What’s the big picture goal for the gallery?
It’s been so wonderful to see our kids grow up! And it’s difficult when they leave because they’ve been by our side for so long. But it’s also very freeing and makes us reconnect with our own inner spirit and original life goals. Readjust and recalibrate!
TRUTH TALK moment…
It’s funny, recently Maya and I attended a large conference (separately). We happened to bump into each other on the Expo floor between our respective sessions. One of her followers who was there asked me, “So, what does it feel like to have a daughter in this space? Do you understand all the stuff she does, it must be so weird, huh?”
These were the exact questions people would ask Maya when she came with ME to my events over the years! It was such a humbling moment. Before I could even process a reply I blurted, “Actually Maya helped me with my brand since she was 8-years-old and she did such a great job, I bought her a web site when she turned 16! And that led to what she is doing now!” SMILE.
I know I should have just nodded kindly and not gone into details, but the tone kinda rubbed me the wrong way, even though this girl totally meant well. She was very sweet, but she had no idea. So even though I’m all about positivity, I have my weak moments of pride, lol! And then later in the conference, that girl ran up to me and said, “Oh my God, I looked at your web site, you are amazing!”
Back to your question – yes, both kids are moved out. The first two days, we binge watched Stranger Things and then got up from the couch decided we better start our new life. It’s actually pretty cool now. We have the Man Wing and the Chica Wing of the house. We each have our own studio and bathroom. We have a housekeeper and we order Hello Fresh. I get monthly massages. Less dishes to wash, less trash, less laundry. We adjusted with luxury. We really found our groove and picked up where we left off B.K. (before kids). I started going to Patrick’s concerts again and reconnected with a longtime friend who told me about the available gallery space!
We had nothing to lose, so we went for it! I love it so much. It’s like a job where you don’t get in trouble for talking too much. And now we are expanding! After being a digital entrepreneur for so long, it’s wonderful to connect with my local community. I’ve made so many new friends, young and old. I started a Latino Blogger Boot Camp, and I do a lot of mentoring and teaching.
A lot of women over 50 feel invisible. We, as a society, are fearful of aging and death. I think that filters into attitudes about older people, and older women especially. We don’t have to be invisible, though, because it’s a choice. Our 50s are the perfect time to shine! You live life in Technicolor, and I can’t imagine you ever fading into the background. Can you share a few tips on staying vibrant and sparkly at any age?
I always think of the Victor Hugo quote – 40s are old age of youth, and 50s are the youth of old age. We’re young! We are only halfway through our lives!
I think our 50s are the BEST because in our 20s we are worrying about what we want to do when we grow up. 30s are about locking in a career and family life, striving for wealth, 40s is being stressed about if we did all we want to do. But 50s is about making that to-do list and actually taking action! At this point we have released the pressure we put upon ourselves in earlier years.
The first step is release expectation of what people think. Who cares if we are invisible to them, it leaves more freedom to be loca and do what we want! No one is watching! My tips are a lot of what you share, Margot! Go get your life, try new things, have grace, pay it forward. Know that every day you are younger than you will be tomorrow so live it up!
Don’t be shy about what you wear, if it makes you happy, own it and rock it!
Don’t hate on the younger generation, learn from them and be an example for them. We were all there too. Don’t hate on the older people because we are going to be them someday!
Look at your parents’ health as a blueprint for you, factor it in, prepare accordingly, and see if helps alleviate the stress.
More than ever, make sure you are good with your finances, make a plan for retirement. That will curb some stress and maybe even prevent wrinkles? Don’t fear any of this, educate and empower yourself!
Lastly – say yes and embrace NEW! New music, new places, new foods, new crowds, new skills. Go be the new girl in a situation, it’s fun to meet new people! Even if you think you already tried something, if its been a few years, try it again!
You always have something new and exciting happening in your world. Can you give us a little sneak peek into what’s ahead for Kathy and Crafty Chica?
Sure! Thank you for asking! You can find all of the following info at CraftyChica.com: I just released a new t-shirt line! I’m doing a Summer of Crafty tour this summer for Toyota. I have The Crafty Chica Show podcast where I share fun interviews and tips for creative business owners. I have my third line of Sizzix products coming out this fall, which I’m super excited about. And this December I’m leading a group to San Miguel de Allende for a crafting retreat! If you are in Phoenix, come see me at Mucho Más Art Studio (@muchomasartstudio) – or just check me out on social media @craftychica
Margot, thank you so much for having me as a guest! Congrats on your new book, it’s been so inspiring to see it all unfold from beginning to release date!!! Felicidades, amiga!