The year 2020 has dished out its fair share of obstacles but pandemic and natural disasters have nothing on Katie Freeman. Come hell or high water, she is one-hundred percent on delivering on her promise of sharing women’s unique stories through her podcast, The Maker Mom. Katie, a woodworker and owner of Freemans Furnishings in Iowa set out on a mission to find other maker moms that split their time between power tools and playdough. She launched her first episode in October of 2018 and has since released 100 episodes! Having followed along on her journey, the one hundred episode mark seemed like a great time to pick her brain about where these interviews have taken her and where she plans on going as we celebrate her phenomenal achievement!
Here’s what she had to say…
WHAT MADE YOU DECIDE TO START YOUR PODCAST AND DID YOU HAVE A PARTICULAR GOAL IN MIND AT THE TIME?
Early on, when I had just started my design and making business, Freeman Furnishings in 2017, I was obsessed with listening to maker and woodworking podcasts. Most of them were either about actually making or how to run a maker based business, and ALL of them were hosted by men. Also during this time of my business, I was starting to get more into content creation as a method for creating more avenues of revenue. In this maker space content creation I noticed two things, first, it is heavily male dominated, second, almost all of the "big names" in the space are all younger people without children. All of this kind of smashed together in my brain to make me ask, "Where are all the female makers and woodworkers for the podcasts? And where are all the Moms?". I actually searched for podcasts that heavily featured women makers or Moms who are makers, and such a podcast did not exist. So, I did what any person would do right...decided to make my own podcast! And really, the only goal at the time was just to get out the stories of people like me, women who were Moms who were also making things with their hands. This also served and serves as a clever way for me to find my tribe, those women who get it. The ones who are doing a glue up at nap time, or who have a 20 minute task take 4 hours because of the constant interruptions from the kids.
DID YOU ALREADY HAVE A DECENT GROUP OF WOMEN TO CONTACT BEFOREHAND?
WHERE DO YOU FIND MOST OF YOUR PODCAST GUESTS?
KF: I actually had a very small group of people that I felt comfortable reaching out to as contacts to start. But after the first few said yes and seemed so excited about this little project of mine, I gained confidence in reaching out to women who were basically strangers to me over Instagram and asking them to be a guest on the podcast. I pretty much find everyone through Instagram. I still have to search. I start with hashtags that have "woman" or "female" mixed with "maker" or "woodwork" or "metalwork" in them and scroll until I find a woman who is a Mom as well, and then I DM them with the request to have them as a guest. I really only have 2 rules, you have to be a Mom, and you have to make things with your own two hands. I don't care about follower account, I want as many stories to be told as possible. That is why recently I added a second weekly episode, called the Wonder Women segment, where I interview female and non-binary makers of all sorts who are not parents. And same thing there really, I scour Instagram and make requests.
WHAT ARE SOME HIGHLIGHTS OVER THE LAST 100 EPISODES OF BUILDING YOUR TRIBE?
KF: I have made some true friends from some of these amazing women that started out as strangers and I got to know through interviewing them. All of the moms and makers I have interviewed inspire me, every single one. Of course there are a few "big names" that I have had and opportunity to interview, but truly I cherish every woman I talk to, they are all beautiful, strong, and amazing.
WHAT WAS THE MOST SURPRISING THING YOU LEARNED ABOUT ANOTHER MAKER MOM?
KF: A pretty recent interview I did, Chloe of Wood Couture, based in La, blew me away with how her maker journey started. She is originally from France and moved to the US to learn English. She moved with the company she worked for in France, which meant she was working in Hollywood. She got put with set build, because that was the only crew that had someone else that spoke French. And the set she was working on was both the Power Rangers show and the Power Rangers movie in the 90's. I thought that was pretty cool. There are others like that as well, like Tami of The Girly Shop Teacher, she has worked and has friends in Hollywood as well, like she was a shop teacher in Episode 3 of Disney+'s new show "Shop Class". Those are just two examples. Trust me when I say, there is something amazing about the story and journey of every female maker I interview.
You Are Covering So Many Topics And Make A Point To Go Beyond The Discussion Of Your Guest’s Skills And Really Dig Into Their Stories...
WHAT WAS THE MOST SURPRISING THING YOU LEARNED ABOUT ANOTHER MAKER MOM?
KF: I am always super intrigued to learn about what that woman did before she got into making. Only a handful have gone into woodworking or making straight out of High School.
WHAT WAS THE FUNNIEST THINGS YOU HAVE LEARNED?
KF: Tami of Girly Shop Teacher almost burnt down her home as a child because she was wiring up her doll house with lights.
WHAT WAS THE MOST INSPIRING THING YOU HAVE LEARNED?
KF: That a trans gendered maker Mom whom never says yes to any kind of speaking engagement that deal with being a woman, let alone a Mom, in this field agreed to be a guest and talked only the 2nd time about being a trans gendered woman. I felt so humbled and honored by her not only trusting me with that story, but trusting my audience for the podcast with that story.
WHAT WOULD YOU SAY YOUR GUESTS HAD MOST IN COMMON?
KF: They all are stronger and worth more then they ever give themselves credit for.
HOW WOULD YOU SAY THE MAKER SPACE HAS CHANGED SINCE YOU BEGAN THIS JOURNEY?
KF: I'm not sure the maker space as a whole has really changed since I began this journey. I feel though, or maybe more so I hope, that I have helped other female makers, especially ones that are Moms, feel a little less alone in the maker world and in the world of being a Mom. I know each woman I have interviewed has changed me in some way, all for the better. For that, I am forever grateful, and hope that I can continue to do this for as long as possible.
WHAT HAS BEEN YOUR MOST VALUABLE LESSON LEARNED THROUGH HAVING THESE CONVERSATIONS ON YOUR SHOW?
KF: That no matter how different we may all seem on paper, we all have way more in common then we don't. Second to that, I would say I have let these women inspire me to know that I am capable of more then I would ever have thought.
WHAT IS THE MOST IMPORTANT MESSAGE YOU WANT TO SHARE WITH THE MAKER COMMUNITY?
KF: The maker community is creative, nerdy, beautiful, and diverse. We become better, we do better, the more voices we bring into the community and the more journeys we hear.
YOU RECENTLY STARTED THE WONDER WOMAN SEGMENT OF YOUR PODCAST. WHAT MADE YOU DECIDE TO EXPAND YOUR PROGRAM?
KF: I began to feel like focusing on just Moms who are makers was excluding too many amazing women and non-binary folks from having their stories and voices heard. So, I took off my own set restriction so that I could get those voices and stories out there.
WHAT ARE SOME GOALS FOR THE FUTURE OF THE MAKER MOM PODCAST?
KF: To help continue to grow this tribe of amazing women first and foremost. And as bold or arrogant as it may sound, to change the world...for at least one person. That could be through educating the maker community on issues of sexism and racism within the space, or it could be by opening up space for someone who feels they are not represented in the maker space and letting them know there is a tribe here waiting for them.
WHAT IS SOME ADVICE YOU WOULD GIVE OTHER WOMEN WHO ARE LOOKING TO HOST A PODCAST AS A WAY TO CONNECT AND EMPOWER WOMEN?
KF: It is totally cliche, but, just do it. I will promise you, even if you never ear a single cent, if it is talking or sharing about something you are passionate about, you will never regret it. The people you will meet, will change your world for the better.