She is our master woodcrafter and she makes everything that we offer out of wood. Myself, Sherri, I handle all her customer service inquiries as well as help to design with her, the tools, looms and other things she crafts. I also handle her website and blog. Her older sister Jessy, she handles all her mailing as well as maintains her Etsy shop. It’s a family thing, but really, Maggie really shines as the craftsperson.
Maggie started working in wood about three years ago. She got a scroll saw at a garage sale and really enjoyed working with it. She started to make some adorable things, like signs and little birdies and such. She really enjoyed the art of working with wood.
Pretty soon, she began to get a few other tools and machines. Like a little one inch band sander and then saw and drill press. She was teaching herself online, through YouTube University, as we call it! It was amazing what she was learning. But then, we always knew she was amazing!
Maggie was born with autism. Her particular areas of challenge are sensory integration disorder with a touch of Asperger’s. She didn’t talk until she was around five years old and instead was taught a form of sign language and used sight word/picture cards to get her point across. We worked with many professionals to help with Maggie’ development, many long days going over IEPs and dealing with struggles of trying to integrate her into a public school system. It was not very effective.
She would come home from kindergarten so stressed out and overwhelmed that she would run upstairs to her room and hide under her play table for hours, refusing to come out and throwing a tantrum if she was dragged out. It was awful. She had to calm down and recover from the over stimulation of a noisy school and such.
FInally, we made the decision to give homeschooling a chance. Her older sister wanted to do so as well, as she was having struggles in her 3rd grade class and they were trying to label her with developmental delays as well, though they could find no true diagnosis other than her younger sister being autistic. We decided, as parents, that we could do no worse than they were doing in school and gave it a year to try.
Needless to say, the girls both flourished and that was it. We homeschooled each of them for the rest of their school careers. Jessy, Maggie’s older sister, went on to college and was a straight A student for most of her time as she learned photography and ran her own business. She makes and sells rock and mineral kits for kids through her company, Dragon Mountain Treasures.
Maggie really blossomed under a calm, quiet and routine home life. She learned to read, something that no one thought she would do. It took time, but she did it. She is a very special young lady and loves to work with animals and her hands. In fact, she started a hamster rescue at the age of 8 years old with our help and she actually won the nationwide award of the American Humane Society’s Kid of the Year for 2002. Pretty impressive! You can read about it here!
The best situation came about when we moved here to our homestead farm, five year ago and gave Maggie a chance to have room to grown, animals to care for and a workshop!
Maggie worked for about a year on rehabbing an old single car garage on our property. The door didn’t work well for cars and it was filled with junk. She cleaned it all out and then insulated it and put up walls, making it her own little gal cave! She started to acquire more equipment, through garage sales and Craigslist. Her skill grew!
I am a weaver. Also a graphic artist and a musician but lately, I’ve really been loving weaving and fiber arts. We raise Shetland and Finn sheep and Angora goats. Just love that and adore the baby lambs in the spring and shearing, just everything about them. And then with weaving and spinning, it’s all just good. Well, I started to learn how to weave on an inkle loom and for my birthday, Maggie made a shuttle for me out of lovely oak wood. It was so pretty and I love it. She did such a lovely job, I asked if she could make a few more. And she did. Beautifully. Then I got to thinking, could she make a design I was thinking about, a small hand shuttle with a long finger on it, to use for pickup work. And she did. And our Windhaven finger pick shuttle was born.
She sold 22 of them the very first week that we offered them in our family Etsy shop! It was unbelievable. She was so happy! You can see the happiness on her face, she was overwhelmed!
Next thing you know, people started to ask if she could make stick shuttles. And then other fiber tools. And then looms! Every time she faces a challenge, she conquers it! She now makes over 30 different tools and looms for weavers, spinners and all fiber artists! And she has more prototypes in the works!
She has sold more than 400 orders in just her first 6 months of operation in her own Etsy shop! Windhaven Fiber and Tools is just amazing. Thousands of page views, tons of likes, over 800 individual items produced. And let me tell you, best of all is the boost of confidence this has given Maggie. She loves working in her shop for a good reason. She loves to hand craft all her products. She reluctantly lets Jessy and I help sand when things are busy, but really, she loves to make them all herself. She has gained so much confidence in her abilities as well as a contentment of having a good routine that she loves, doing something she adores. She never tires of it. Even with things becoming a full time job, she loves it. And it’s been so, so rewarding for her in so many ways, it’s hard to explain. She now has her own debit card with her own spending money and she makes a lot of the decisions on stock to buy and how we will work and design new products. She has blossomed, once again!
So when you purchase one of our lovely tools, you are not only getting a beautiful, heirloom quality fiber tool, you are helping to make a young lady’s dreams come true! You are giving her a chance to be her own boss and to flourish and grow. That is so important and we thank you all!
We hope that other young adults with autism can find some skills that they adore and have the opportunity to run with them. With supportive family and friends, the sky is the limit!
Oh yes, did we mention that Maggie has been branching out and making beautiful cutting boards out of lovely special wood pieces that she has found? Yes… Beautiful.
And in her spare time, she is teaching herself bookbinding and book making. This is one cool kid, for sure!