As the founder of Black Girls Craft and a “lifelong crafter and DIY’er,” Mary DeBoise has been using her passion for making things as a mental health outlet since she was a kid. For DeBoise, crafting was a form of family heirloom, a rite of passage passed down from generation to generation. “My grandmother Josephine and Aunt Wanda taught me how to crochet, operate a sewing machine and knit all by the age of nine,” she shared. Besides these all being very practical life skills for any young person to learn, DeBoise tells us that crafting served as a positive outlet for her, teaching her how to cope with “stress, depression, and childhood trauma.”

DeBoise continued the hobby into adulthood, expanded her skill set, putting her touch on anything and everything she could get her hands on. One of her favorite past times was going down “to yard sales to find old pieces and make them new again” such as transforming an old hand-me-down dresser for her son into something beautiful again by sanding, painting, and staining it. A few years ago, she began woodworking and over the course of several months, created a stunning farmhouse table, on her own. The gratification of building and restoring pieces to refresh her space was so satisfying she decided to share her skills and passion with the world. 

She began her blog Black Girls Craft in August 2015 as a safe space for women of color to come together to share and inspire one another in an industry that lacks representation. Through the platform, “We broke down barriers and built valuable and mutually beneficial relationships with big box craft companies, and items that look like the U.S. are finally more easily accessible.” Today the Black Girls Craft community has grown to include over 215,000 members today teeming with talent, ingenuity and sisterhood. 

Mary DeBoise. Image: courtesy of subject.

It's no surprise that so many people have joined DeBoise in finding solace through a crafting hobby. Research shows that “crafting, regardless of the medium you use, can bolster confidence, and reduce stress overall. In addition, crafting has also shown to improve mental agility, improves both gross and fine motor movements, and also decrease cognitive decline.” In addition to improving motor skills, “Crafting has been shown to be a natural anti-depressant.” Studies show that when practiced regularly it can mimic the effects of meditation and significantly reduce symptoms of “PTSD, anxiety disorders, depression, insomnia and even chronic pain.”

Through her platform, DeBoise hopes to pass down her love of crafting to future generations as it had been taught to her, especially as a mode for mental wellbeing, self-expression and building community. “At Black Girls Craft you can learn the latest craft techniques, shop black owned businesses, and meet fellow craft makers and influencers,” Mary adds. In fact, she plans to launch BGC University, where women can come and learn from talented creatives in the industry online.  Regardless of your range of skills or experience, Mary intends to offer a “first-class” learning experience for crafters of all levels. She continues to find new ways to express herself, create for others, and embrace newcomers to the world of crafting.