20 Sense

20 Sense with Erica Domesek: Founder of P.S. I Made This

erica domesek

Growing up I always had my hands in various crafty projects–everything from creating collage-filled mini magazines to beading hundreds of bracelets to be sold in the summer on the beaches of LBI. Other times it was as simple as coloring ’til my hands hurt or starting a sticker collection on the inside of a dresser that would expand slowly throughout the years. I wish I could say that I still exhibited such a zest for making things–one disassociated from any end other than self-satisfaction and creative release–but I’d be lying. My baby-stepping into adulthood has definitely diminished that quality and over the past year or so I’ve been thinking a lot about the importance of bringing it back. One person who has constantly inspired me to do so is the lovely Erica Domesek of the DIY-centric blog (and subsequent books) P.S. I Made This. Spanning everything from food to fashion to home decor, Domesek’s site offers countless opportunities to tap into the childhood craftiness of yore while still creating something that your adult self would love to have. It’s the perfect union, and remains the authority on DIY for me even as countless other websites have followed in her footsteps. It also became clear to me, purely from exchanging e-mails with Erica, that she’s a truly awesome person–humble and authentic in a way that we don’t always find in those who have experienced great success. She expressed gratitude to me for this little interview, writing: “I will start by saying… I am NEVER in front of a computer during my days, as I’m usually popping around the studio, traveling, shooting, creating, etc…so sitting down to actually type these things is a rarity. However, it was really nice being able to share a few moments from my life.” Knowing full well how rewarding a little self-reflection can be, I was so pleased–but even more so when I read through her answers and found them to be some of the best I’ve gotten thus far. See for yourself, below, and perhaps hop over to P.S. I Made This to plan for a little weekend crafting!


How old are you? 33

Describe your trajectory since turning 20 up until now (can be as broad/vague or specific as you’d like). When I was 20 (and still in college) I had a jewelry company with my best friend Jackie, called Belle & Jax, based out of Palm Beach. We sold to retail outlets such as Saks and other upscale boutiques all over the country. After school, I continued to work on the jewelry and simultaneously worked with the company who bought the US license for Givenchy watches. I was responsible for marketing and design. After realizing it was hard for me to work for someone, and also getting the New York itch, I moved to Manhattan in 2005.  I spent years working with some of the most talented photographers, fashion stylists, art directors, magazines, and brands as a freelance prop stylist and set designer. I love creating things, I loved being around new people, I loved being a part of a brand’s story and helping it come to life! That sums up pre-PSIMT, but there are lots of other amazing people and stories that helped pave the way for me and opened doors that, at the time, I had no clue would be so influential to my current career and friendships.

What surprised you most about your twenties? What went exactly as expected? I guess I never looked at myself as an entrepreneur. I was just always on the go, and hungry. I look back now and I realize I never had a plan, I just always said YES and took chances. For some, that’s scary, but, for me, my “road less traveled” path of never working for someone else was really what taught me to be a self-starter, a self-promoter–to be very outgoing and always expect the unexpected. I can’t say it was easy. When you are 23 and supporting yourself in NYC and need to pay rent while also wanting to live a fabulous life, having a consistent paycheck and some type of stability is probably fantastic. But that wasn’t the case with me. I’ve always done what I wanted and hoped it would pan out. I truly believe that if you work hard, are a nice person to others and believe in yourself, things will always work out. I had to explain that to my parents and accountant when I owed the Government $10,000 in taxes my first year in New York. Learning about taxes, careers, and how to literally DO IT YOURSELF was an interesting adventure!

Do you feel like you’ve found your niche or are you still searching? I’m exactly where I’m supposed to be. And for that, I am lucky and grateful.

What excites you more about life: the enigmatic experiences or those with extreme clarity? Clarity is a rarity in my world, but when it happens it’s very satisfying. However, enigmatic experiences are what keep me alive. They keep me going, keep me wanting to create more, share more, live bigger and love more.

What did your twenties teach you about romantic love? Friendship? LOVE:  Like many, I got my heart broken in my twenties…big time.  My only mistake there was that I shut off the ability to love for a long time after that. I didn’t realize I had done that until I was in my thirties.
FRIENDSHIP: I have the best friends in the whole world. I learned that the world will bring you gifts in the most impressionable time of your life–i.e. your 20’s. These people will either be there for a reason, a season, or, if you’re lucky… a lifetime. I am fortunate enough to have lifetime friends I made in my 20’s that will always be by my side, even though we now live all over the place–they are my backbone. These are the people who you will hit the dance floor with, laugh your asses off with, throw the best parties with, travel all over together and explore the world, and forever be your wingwomen and partners in crime. As you get older, you’ll all start to do different things with your lives. Never judge them, just support them. Never be jealous if they are ahead of you in some areas. These people are the family you get to choose for yourself so treasure them immensely and be honest with them.

What motivates you? That’s a great question. I have different motivation for different things. I get especially motivated when I have a chance to express my voice or creativity to the masses. Having huge platforms like television or a stage to speak on to hundreds, with the goal of empowering them, gives me the motivation to keep going, as I know my work has a true purpose. I believe I am in the business of delivering smiles. Delivering those smiles via DIY is my number one motivation.

Where do you get the most inspiration? How do you snap out of a creative rut? Window shopping, reading magazines, trolling Instagram, traveling, spotting objects in everyday life. It’s important to step away from your phone or computer and just be in the moment to see what’s around you. When I’m not feeling creative I usually step away from whatever I’m working on in that moment. You can’t force creativity. It will hit you when you’re ready for it. Walking away is important.

Biggest pet peeve about the fashion world? Favorite aspect of it? Pet Peeve: I don’t like egos. My favorite part: I bask in the history and the artistry of design icons. I melt at handmade construction and fine details that can only be hand-embroidered or intricately stitched and fabricated by individuals. Machines are amazing, but it’s the people who are behind the seams who bring fashion to life!

If you had to create a twenties survival kit what would it include? Coconut water; Movies: Chances Are (for love), Clueless (for everything else); Gummy vitamins; mascara (because we all need it); Nail file & polish to remind you to always have your nails done; a copy of Diane von Furstenberg’s book A Signature Life.


What is it about DIY and creating beautiful objects that you’re so drawn to? Have you always been interested in this stuff? I have DIY in my DNA. I’ve always been crafty and loved creating since I was very young. If there’s a pen and paper in arm’s reach, I will doodle. If there’s string lying around, I’ll braid. My curiosity and desire to futz and fiddle eventually merged with style and design, and my ADHD always forces me to want to create. It’s an itch.

You were one of the first bloggers to really make it big and create a brand out of what you started online. Was that always part of the plan or did it happen unexpectedly? I’ve never considered myself to be a “blogger,” but I have always had the desire to share. However, the business was never intentional in 2009. It was a happy accident that turned into the best thing ever.

What have been the greatest gifts of your site blowing up? Do you have any complaints about the online world? I think we are all truly blessed for platforms such as Pinterest, Instagram, Tumblr, and the rest. Without them, so many people would not have a way to share what they’re doing with millions. Having an idea is easy, but getting the world to see it was really hard pre-Internet. We are lucky to have so many talented developers, programmers and innovators who continue to create spaces for the masses to share their products, stories and messages. My only complaint is that the Internet doesn’t sleep, which means that PSIMT is always “on.” Sometimes you get tired and need a little siesta. It’s important to check-out to check-back in.

You’ve already published two books [!] so what’s next on the horizon for you and P.S. I Made This? LIFE is the biggest DIY project of them all, so maybe I will write a how-to book on How-to-Procreate. Kidding. PSIMT is expanding and we’re very excited to grow as we approach our sixth year. Stay tuned!

And, finally, what is the best advice you could give someone just starting out who wants to follow a similar career path? It’s cheesy but true: Follow your heart and listen to your gut. If you are crazy-passionate about something, you have to give it everything in your 20’s, because they will fly by! That is the time to try everything and be open. Say YES and listen to people smarter than you. Take chances and make sure you risk a few things along the way. I guess you can be the person who plays it safe, but I think stitching a life together with unexpected thrills and surrounding yourself with as much brilliance as you can will make your world much brighter. Think of your life like a quilt. You will continue to add a square every few years–make it count, make it beautiful.

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