How She Got There: London Kaye, Street Artist & Yarn Bomber

Name: London Kaye
Age: 29
Job Title and Description: Street Artist
College Name/Major: New York University, Dance
Twitter Handle: @london_kaye
Instagram Handle: @madebylondon 

What does your current job entail? Is there such a thing as a typical day?

LK: With my job there's definitely not a typical day. Every day is different, and I started out by crocheting and putting the things I made out on the street and leaving them there for people to enjoy. I started doing that about four years ago, and slowly, just by leaving around fun things I made, different brands and companies started reaching out to me for different marketing and advertising campaigns. I've turned my passion for crochet into my full-time job. So, I guess I have a very unconventional start-up. Right now I'm working on a project for Coach handbags. They're doing a street campaign which will be pretty fun, and I'm getting ready for a whole line of yarn and crochet hooks to launch at craft stores across the country soon.

What is the best part of your job?

LK: I think the best part of my job is truly that I love to crochet more than anything, so getting to be able to do that, but kind of taking crochet which, you know—you get a blanket from your grandma, everybody has that nostalgic touch to it—but I love that I'm reinventing it for a new, younger generation. Kind of making it more funky and fun and hopefully inspiring other people to pick up a crochet hook and some yarn and try it out for themselves.

What words of wisdom do you find most valuable?

LK: I always tell myself you can do it. So, when a project comes along and you don't know how to get it done, say yes and then figure it out. I think when we're given times of challenge, that's when you learn the most and can grow the most, so even if you don't know how to do something, if something comes your way, say yes and then figure it out. I worked for the Apple Store for a really long time while I was trying to get my crochet going. I worked there for five years and it was when Steve Jobs was still around. He has this famous Stanford speech where he says if you do what you love, good things will follow, so I've always taken that to heart as well—if you love what you do, it won't feel like work.

What is one mistake you made along the way and what did you learn from it?

LK: I think one of the biggest mistakes that I've made is trying to be a perfectionist. I would make things and keep them in my room and not show anyone, and I realized once I started putting things out on the street, all the mistakes stayed away. People are just taken aback by the surprise of it a lot. Maybe I'll crochet a big banana and the yellows won't match and I'll think that no one will know what it is, it won't be good, but when you hang it up on the street, who cares if the yellows don't match? People are just happy because they're seeing a giant banana in New York City. Just give it a try, and even if it's not perfect, getting the work done is more important.

What has been the most surreal moment of your career thus far?

LK: For about two years now I've been designing the perfect crochet hook just as a passion project. I 3D model-combined all the best features of the big crochet hooks that are out there and finally, I got it right. It's patent-pending now, and they're now going to be available in different sizes in different craft stores, online at Joanne starting February 1. A company called Lion Brand loved the hooks so much that they took them, licensed them, and now are hopefully going to put them in so many people's hands. It's truly the best crochet hook ever. The hook is bigger than a normal crochet hook so it makes it go faster and it's super ergonomic and comfortable to hold so your arm doesn't get sore you don't get tired, you just want to keep crocheting. Another milestone is I crocheted a billboard in Time Square for Miller Lite beer. It was 50 feet by 25 feet. It hung up for over a month in the winter in New York and it was simply coated with positive vibes, and it worked. The yarn stayed and it was beautiful.

What advice would you give to a 20-something with similar aspirations?

LK: I would find myself writing lists of my favorite things to do and crochet was always at the top of my list. I gave myself a 30-day challenge and every day for 30 days I put something crocheted out there. No one was watching, I just wanted to try. I feel that an early 20-something, when you have a little time to pray and figure out what you want to do with your life, shouldn't rush into something. Really try to find something that you love. Whatever hobby or passion you have, don’t discount it, because I never even dreamed of all the different ways that you could crochet and actually be able to support yourself doing it. Take time figuring out what you love and then follow that.

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