Name: Kel Reynolds
Kids: Noel, 5, Coco, 3
Background: Chief and Kewpie star weaver, founder #CKWeaves
To me, you’ve always been that superstar creative mum on Insta – but I can’t believe your most recent job was at a call centre in St Leonards?! Can you tell me about the journey from there to where you are now?
I’ve always thought I must be creative, I love art and admired people who could craft. I just never had the patience or inspiration. All of my jobs before becoming a mum were just for money. Never for love. Never for passion. Then I became a mum. For me it wasn’t the lovely, natural thing that most women speak of. I felt disconnected with who I was. I felt motherhood hit me with a harsh slap in the face. I was desperate to love being a mum because I’d always dreamed of being one, I just couldn’t. Not then anyway.
After Coco (baby number 2) I decided it was time to start looking at the person I am, separate from my kids, separate from being a stay at home mum & wife.
I got back into fashion and hair, I lost some weight, I got healthy in my body and my mind.
I hate to admit it, but Chief and Kewpie happened by accident. There’s no great business story there. I started making tassels at first then moved over to weaves because at the time, there weren’t many people making them. It’s kind of snowballed from there and continues to. I am so thankful and humbled by where this little business has gone. I feel it’s helped me form a bit of an identity away from “mum”. Which I think is helpful for any mother. To find who we are aside from kids. Because one day they will grow up and leave us, then who would we be if our identity is completely immersed in them?
What’s the story behind the name Chief and Kewpie?
I chose to reflect the reason why I was able to start up a small business (being a stay at home mum) in the name of that business. So the “Chief” part is for Noel and the “Kewpie” part is for our kewpie doll Coco. Also C&K are the initials of me and my legendary husband Chris. So it’s a family thing. Ha!
Both your kids have been diagnosed with autism. On one hand that’s gotta be super intense for you as a mum. But on the other hand, it sounds like that diagnosis has made a massive difference to the education and care available to your kids – and had a massively positive effect on your ability to connect with them and support them. Is that right? How has the diagnosis affected you? What has it meant for the family?
Both Noel and Coco have Autism. We found out at around the age of three for both kids.
As a parent you never want anything to be “wrong” with your kids and it was fairly devastating news.
My husband and I decided to take this news and get proactive with it. We were connected with some excellent therapists and as a result, Noel is now in kindy, at a mainstream school doing pretty well. Coco will be in the same boat.
Ignoring our kids special needs would sometimes have been much easier. But through some hectic therapy including occupational therapy, speech therapy and child psychology, our kids are functioning within their environments pretty well.
Noel was particularly violent as a 1-4 year old. He would lash out and bite other kids drawing blood. He would try and strangle other children. He would always be hitting or kicking us.
Chris and I were at a loss. We didn’t go around doing that at home so where was he getting this from?
I would sit and cry for my little boy. He was always in trouble, always getting yelled at by other parents and always so confused about why.
Our diagnosis opened up a whole new world for him. He made sense all of a sudden and Chris and I were almost GLAD. Our child isn’t a monster, he’s just having a hard time coping with his world.
I feel pretty blessed actually, having kids with special needs has CERTAINLY and undoubtedly made me a more loving and less judgmental person. Autism is an invisible disability and most times you won’t be able to tell a child has autism by looking at them. You never know what a family or particular child is going through, having children with special needs has helped me be more empathetic towards families with tricky children.
I have also met a bunch of excellent women through support groups and therapists. We can share experiences and know what each other are going through, so that’s been so valuable.
Your weaving is SO beautiful. When do you find time to work? What inspires you when you’re making something? What project are you most proud of?
Thanks so much! I find time on days when Coco is at preschool or in the night times. I try not to work when I have Coco home during the week.I am inspired mainly by weird. I have always been different from the crowd. I like my weaves to look that way too. The weirder the better.
What’s your advice to someone who wants to get started on weaving? Any tricks or resources you can point them to? Any fave yarn stores?
My biggest piece of advice would be ‘don’t be like everyone else’. There are so any weavers out there now. It’s beautiful to see! A lot of it is really different from one weave to the next. I think that’s when the craft is most valuable and when it stands out. My favourite place to buy yarn is from the op shop. Vintage wool is amazing. And again, different from the rest.
Tell me about #CKWEAVE school! Give it a right old plug so that everyone who reads this is desperate to come along (disclaimer: I am already)
If you’re keen to learn, I am SUPER keen to teach. I run a workshop that goes for 3 hours. You learn the basics you need to make your own wall hanging. You get to take home a kit so you can make as many as you like at home! There is always plenty of laughs and too much dessert.
OK, this sounds totally lame written out, BUT, I’m totally into your style. Like, you make me want to cut all my hair off and dye it pink. Where do you shop and would it be really weird if I went out and bought all similar stuff?This is cute. Haha.I usually shop online. It’s a risk with getting things to fit, but worth it to get something unique.
ASOS is aces. It’s so great. I also love a bit of Kmart. Don’t tell.
When I’m out looking for something new, I’m always looking for something I haven’t seen before. I love to be different. If you haven’t picked that up already? Haha!!