We started this Becoming interview series in 2019. We wanted to hear from women in different walks of life and how they were approaching creativity, career goals, and more–mostly the WHY and HOW beneath it all. It’s been amazing to conduct these interviews and get a “behind the scenes” look at so many inspirational women! You can see them all here.
Today we get to hear from Pat Stika, otherwise known as Handy Nanny Pat. Pat is the real hero of our episode on In With the Old on Magnolia Network. (Can’t you see it now? A show all about Handy Nanny with an all-woman led team who makes magic happen during nap time? Part Mary Poppins part Fixer Upper?!)
I first met Pat when I took a picture in front of the house that she would buy and fix up one day. We became Instagram friends, she gave my son a present when he was born (she’s an EXCELLENT gift giver), and we share a lot in common–our love for Mary Engelbreit, Nathalie L’ete, cute things. When I put it out into the universe that I was looking for a nanny she responded.
Never could I have imagined how much she would transform our lives in the year she’s been with us. She brings calm, reason, cleanliness, order, vibrancy, adventure, surprises, corned beef on St. Patrick’s Day, a surprise Christmas meal, and so so much love. I consider her a rescuer for Felix when he was so so sick for so long. We love her so much. I’m so grateful she is in our lives and sharing more with you today!
Pat Stika is a grandmother with a grand imagination. She enjoys crafting, home improvement, gardening, genealogy and all of the outdoor adventures Utah has to offer, as long as she still gets to visit her family at the beach in her hometown. She is currently reimagining a carriage house built in 1922, you can follow her journey on instagram @myprovohome.
Becoming Pat Stika (Handy Nanny)
What do you consider yourself? Example: Artist, designer, illustrator, maker, business person, educator, etc.?
Grandmother, first and foremost. My late husband was a luthier, we owned The Great Salt Lake Guitar Co on Center Street in Provo. From those 33 years of my life, I was around woodworking enough to have some basic woodworking skills. I have been sewing and embroidering since childhood. My crafting skills branch off from there, and I definitely have the gumption to try most any challenge I come across.
Where did you grow up? Were there aspects of your childhood that have influenced what you do now?
I was born and raised in Pacific Beach, San Diego. I’m the ninth of twelve children, hence my love of family and all things surrounding the home. I was decorating my room and making furniture for my dolls from the get go.
What did you dream of becoming when you were younger?
I wanted to be a mom. For a brief two years, hopes of being an olympic gymnast swam in my head. I competed and did well, back in the days of Cathy Rigby. Nothing like what the athletes do today. I honestly remember staring out the window at school, though, and thinking about my future home and family.
Is there a person who has been influential in your chosen career path?
In my late 50’s I went to some workshops held by artists and crafters I’d followed for years. Mary Engelbreit, Charlotte Lyons, Jenn McGlonn, Cathe Holden, Jone Hallmark, Julie Collings, Aimee Ferre. I found my tribe. The women I met at those workshops were soul sisters and we all remain “insta friends”.
What sparked your interest in the arts?
Growing up in my family, we all sewed. My mother had us all in dance lessons, and sewed many of our costumes. By the time I was in sixth grade, I made my first costume by myself. I started making felt clothing for my trolls in kindergarten. I remember going to the fabric store and picking out the colors of felt. Neon was just coming into fashion, and I chose electric blue and neon pink. It was the sixties, and I was into it! I learned macrame and embroidery in girl scouts. I ordered an embroidery kit offered in McCalls magazine developed by Lady Bird Johnson, when I was in 4th grade. This stuff goes way back.. As a mom, I had a moment of pride when my kids chose to go to the Getty instead of Disneyland on a trip to L.A. I always try to include trips to local museums when I travel.
What are three words to describe your style?
Bold, collected, crafted.
What is your educational background and how has it shaped or changed your current career?
I took some college classes, but not enough for a degree. My interests in school were writing, volleyball, and business. The way that has affected my current work is that I learned you can’t do everything all at once, but it all works out in the end.
Have you ever made a big career switch? If so, what prompted that? Are there aspects of a prior career that you incorporate into what you do now?
For my actual working career, I worked at TD Ameritrade in sales and also as a SME for SAP integration. I learned a lot, and of course helped pay the bills of raising our four children, but the paycheck was the goal. I left there when one of my sisters died. The grief was overwhelming. Little did I know it would actually be paving the way for going through the experience of my husband’s death the next year. After that I spent time working at Ancestry.com, Delta Airlines, and eBay, before deciding that part time work and pursuing my own interests were the way to go, for me. The time had come to focus on things that truly created joy in my life.
If you have had a career switch, describe the moment that was a turning point when you decided to switch careers.
I was at a crafting workshop in New Mexico at Los Poblanos Inn. The beauty of the surroundings may have had something to do with it, but the women I was crafting with were all of my same vibe. We had come from all over the U.S., varied backgrounds, but it reminded me of girl scouts for grown ups. I realized that the instructors had made great effort to create a career of crafting, and felt that I wanted to shift to a more creative space in my work. To bring my hobbies and interests more into focus.
What is one piece of work that you are especially proud of and why?
Whatever I’m working on is usually my most favorite! The bed for Jasper and refrigerator cabinet I built for Brittany last year do stand out, though. I have some embroidery work that I did as a teenager that has managed to survive to this day, and I still display them proudly.
Where do you find inspiration for new creations?
I’m inspired by nature, by travel, by my family. I follow my favorite makers and designers on social media. I reflect on my life and gravitate towards bringing back elements that make me happy.
How do you make social connections in the creative realm?
When my favorite makers hold workshops and events, I attend if I’m able. The people I meet there are usually like minded, and I’ve begun many friendships that way. Nowadays, people are reaching out to me for information on projects they’ve seen that I’ve done for @houselarsbuilt, and I’ve met people that way, too.
How has social media influenced your work?
Social media has the immediacy of spreading the best of current ideas. I trust myself to choose between what works today, and what I love from the past, to curate my style. For me, the pages of instagram are like the magazine pages of yore. I glean ideas every day.
What artists and creatives do you look up to, both historical and present?
In my younger years, it was a mix of impressionist and classical artists. Monet, Renoir, Rubens, Degas, Sargent, Cezanne, Cassatt, van Gogh, with a bit of a pop from Georgia O’Keefe, Maxfield Parrish, Peter Max. The first designer I remember sewing a pattern from was Betsy Johnson. Now I’m going to laugh, because they’re still my favorites. In the years we were raising our children, I took solace in Mary Engelbreit’s work. It spoke so close to everything it took, which of course is everything anyone has and a ton more, to get through those years.
I adore the whimsy of Nathalie Lete. In my home, I have local artists’ works that I know and love. Brian Kershishnik, Ashley Glazier, Michelle Christensen, Colby Sanford, Betsy Croft, Tonya and Steve Vistaunet. I’m also very fond of any woodworking, sewing, and pottery crafts, and the Renwick Gallery in D.C. is a must see when I visit there. I absolutely swoon over Sam Maloof furniture.
What books, movies, shows, or music are making you excited these days?
I love all kinds of music. I especially love great music videos. Freedom by Jon Batiste, Ain’t Messin’ Round by Gary Clark Jr, most of Cold Play’s work. When I’m down, I binge watch those to give me the strength to get moving again. I don’t go to the movies as often as I used to, but I really enjoyed Mrs. Harris Goes to Paris last year.
What is a piece of advice that you have carried with you and who is it from? Do you have a personal motto?
Never, ever, ever give up is my dad’s creed, and I hold that dear. Personally, I believe when you help a child, you’re helping their mother, and that’s always worth doing.
What is your workspace like? Has it changed at all since the beginning of the pandemic?
You’re of course referencing my kitchen table..currently pretty clean! Give it a day or two, and that’ll change. I have an attic that I intend on turning into my workshop, but I need to finish some bigger projects first. Two bathrooms, specifically.
How do your surroundings influence your work?
I always feel best when there is a bit of order to things. Maybe it’s the years of local culture of having once a month visits from friends at church, but I need to have my front room tidy in order for my sense of self to be straight. A workbench with tools in place is a dream that drives me. I won’t stop working on my house until I have that. I have, by necessity, become very creative and flexible about what constitutes a work space. I know how to make do. Perhaps too much.
Describe some habits that keep you motivated and productive. How do you climb out of a creative slump?
On a daily basis, I try to spend at least one hour doing a task that allows my creative side to flourish. On days where I don’t work, I want at least four hours of creative time. The winters are brutal to my creativity. I do great through Christmas, then I need a good long winter’s nap, like a month, before I’m ready to stir again. In January, I sleep more than usual. In the years where it works out, I vacation in a warm climate to get out of the cold.
What is a typical day like for you?
I wake up at 6:30, work out or clean house, whichever suits my fancy. Make breakfast and then go to work M-Th. After work I rest, make dinner, and visit with family. I usually spend between 8-10:30pm working on a project or online doing genealogy. I also have a text chain with my eleven brothers and sisters that can be a riot. My three day weekends are filled with family adventures, and projects around my house.
What is one skill you wished you learned when you were younger?
I don’t look back that way.
What advice would you give to someone who wants to self-teach a new hobby or skill?
Get started! There’s certainly no shortage of available information these days. If you’re drawn to it, give it a go.
Do you have a secret talent? What is one skill that you are working on?
I can still do cartwheels, backflips off the diving board, that sort of thing. In terms of crafting, I want to learn to knit this year. I’ve never had the patience for it, but I think I’m getting there.
Nobody likes to talk about it, but can you share any advice regarding financing your business?
Anytime you’re in business for yourself, you will have ups and downs. Get used to change and run things lean enough, especially in times of abundance, that you can focus on appreciating assets. For my family, that meant buying a business building before we bought our home. It literally became our nest egg. We had the benefit of both of us working, and my income allowed my husband to grow his business. Our kids seem to have it figured out better than we did, though. They prioritize family time much better than we ever were able to, and for that I’m grateful.
Is there anything more you would like to “become?”
I am always growing and changing, I feel lucky to have this life of mine, and am currently at a spot where giving back is integrated into my work/life balance. More of that in the future will suit me just fine.
What is your long-term goal? or What do you hope to accomplish within the next 10 years?
I’d like to have my house finished in five years. In ten years, I expect I’ll be a great grandmother, and for me, that will be the greatest.
Thank you Pat for sharing with us!