When I was in my 20’s, I realized that I wasn’t very satisfied with my life. It wasn’t bad, I just didn’t feel like I was the person I was supposed to be. I was dressed up as the most boring person in the world. At the time, I spent my days in an office making a really decent wage doing the most unsatisfying work imaginable. I worked the same hours every day, taking the same lunch break (it was a mandatory hour – often I would take a nap in my car because I didn’t like the people I worked with), and then I would go home and do something insignificant, like watch TV, until it was time for me to go to bed. I convinced myself this was the life I was supposed to live, but I also knew that it was a load of bull.
When I was laid off from my job, it was a blessing in disguise. Of course, in a union you almost always have the option to take another position – I could continue with the status quo of polyester slacks and having my breaks timed down to the second by my delightful co-workers, but the thought of doing that made me physically ill. I hated that job – it wasn’t just boring, it was emotionally draining and soul destroying. So instead I made the decision to just get out. Where? I had no idea.
The layoff was an opportunity to look at my life and try to get my shit together. And not “get your shit together” in a youthful way as in being a 25 year old living in your parent’s basement without a job. I had a well-paying job with benefits and I owned my own home. This was “get your shit together” as in stop going to a job that you made you feel like going postal on a daily basis. Figure out what you want to do with your life. I didn’t want to go back to school – school has never agreed with me. I have a diploma in Early Childhood Care and Education, which I obtained and then promptly decided I had no interest in pursuing. I applied for a ton of jobs – most of which I didn’t really know if I would want, but at least they’d be something different – mail deliverer, pet groomer, hair sweeper – I was open to anything that wasn’t what I had been doing. I interviewed for a dog walker position because I figured that I liked animals and I could use some exercise (I was offered the position, but subsequently turned it down and instead negotiated a position as an overnight pet sitter).
I applied for my current day job on a recommendation from my brother. He knew a guy that was looking for admin support. I didn’t think that I was very qualified for the position, but I applied anyway because it was a relatively short commute, it was a not-for-profit organization (I was done with government work), and it was only a 35 hour work week. Fast forward and I’ve been working at the job for nearly 8 years with a promotion to management in there somewhere. Growing up I never pictured myself working in an office poring over policy and attending back-to-back meetings all day. And I still don’t picture myself working in an office long-term, but I’ve discovered what I value in a workplace: liking the people I work with, flexibility (imagine not having to take a mandatory lunch break!), the ability to decorate my office with as many cat figurines as my heart desires, unlimited tea, and being occasionally challenged by the work.
That first year though, I still felt like something was missing. While I was in a better place metaphorically and feeling challenged professionally, I still felt like there was a creative element missing. I was also working evenings and nights during that time as a pet sitter and my appearances at home were sparse. Pet sitting was mostly boring so I would bring along little projects to work on, like making paper garlands or teaching myself how to knit. I really enjoyed the time to myself and keeping my hands busy. It reminded me of making glue gun crafts with my Mom in elementary school or staying up late in high school to sketch goth-inspired art (I was so angsty). I knew I was supposed to do something creative, I just didn’t know what. And I didn’t know how.
Etsy seemed like a good place to start. I had been buying things on Etsy for a couple of years and religiously reading the “How To Quit Your Day Job” feature, so I figured it would be a good way to dive in. Plus, I envied those artists – not just the feature artists, but all of the artists. It was so inspiring to see what people were doing – from hand crafted mid-century modern cat beds to crochet Dumbledore and everything in between. I loved it and I wanted to do what they were doing.
My first venture was handmade aprons. I’d taken up sewing a couple of years before and I loved making aprons, plus I figured that I’d made enough aprons for myself – and I’d gifted as many as I could to friends and family - so why not sell them? I went in thinking that I didn’t really care if I made a lot of money, I just wanted to make something that I was proud of and to have it out in the world being used and admired. It felt satisfying, it felt right, and it felt significant. Maybe that sounds silly, but I couldn’t remember ever feeling more like myself than when I was plunked down in front of the sewing machine. I was obsessed and all I wanted to do was make.
From there I ventured further in to fibre mediums – dusting off the embroidery and cross-stitch, taking knitting classes, challenging myself with more difficult sewing projects, discovering my love of weaving, and developing my current obsession with wool. Fibre arts seemed to come most naturally to me – there’s something about the feeling of the textures and the different fibres that gets me excited. Natural fibres are so amazing, whether they came from a living creature or grown from a tiny seed, they are just so magical and I doubt I will ever tire of holding them in my fingers. Starting Secret Wool Society was not scary. It was natural and it is what I am supposed to be doing. I love ending the day with sore wrists and fingers from weaving all day long. I’d love to say that I always dreamed of being a craftsperson or an artist, but it wouldn’t be true. I had no idea I wanted to do this. While I am currently still working full-time at my day job and focusing every other waking hour on Secret Wool Society, I do dream of the day that I can focus all of my energy on being creative. But in the meantime, I think I’ve found a balance between paying the bills, having a flexible full-time job I enjoy, and pursuing my creative passions. I don’t have it all figured out, but I’m glad I didn’t settle for what I thought I was supposed to be doing and I’m proud that I stood up to myself when I realized I wasn’t doing myself any favours working somewhere that I had no interest in being. I love what I’m doing and I love being this passionate about something.
Fibre artist Megan Borg is the gal behind Secret Wool Society. Megan is a weaver, sewer, felter, knitter, and cat lady. She is obsessed with anything fibre related, but crushes super hard on natural plant and animal fibres. Much of the fibres used in her work are sourced locally within Alberta and Canada, or are vintage finds from her thrifting adventures. Megan currently resides in Calgary where she can be found obsessing over fibre, hanging out with her husband and 3 cats, or puttering around her backyard vegetable garden.