If you've seen the Craft Grooms on TikTok or Instagram, you know that their love of dollar stores runs deep. "There's no better feeling than when someone comes to our house, sees one of our DIYs and says, 'I would've never guessed that was crafted with odds and ends from the Dollar Tree!'" says Tim Clemens, a flight attendant who runs the @CraftGrooms account with his husband of four years, Brad Clemens, an Imagineer at Disney.
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The couple, based in Los Angeles, has always been crafty. In fact, their love of DIY can be traced back to their childhoods in California and eventually their jobs at Disney, where they met nearly 11 years ago. But it wasn't until the pandemic that the Craft Grooms as we know and love 'em came to be. "We were at home, twiddling our thumbs like everybody else during those first months of quarantine," Tim recalls. "Then we bought a house and started posting videos of our DIY just to keep friends and family in the loop." The duo's creativity and ability to mix discounted finds with higher-end pieces won over viewers. Says Brad, "It just took off."
These days, Brad and Tim keep their 598k (and counting!) followers entertained with practical and humorous videos that explore the many ups and downs of crafting, baking and home renovating. We sat down with Brad and Tim to find out more about their inspiration, design predictions and how they've embraced making mistakes when it comes to both crafting and life.
1. When did you realize that you were both – gasp! – crafty people?
BRAD: We come from very crafty families. It's just who we are. When I was growing up, my parents owned a silk screening T-shirt business and then my mom started a jewelry business. My mom was always sewing. Everything was handmade, from Christmas tree skirts to oven mitts. I'm the same way now. There's a reason Tim calls me Cinderfella!
TIM: My childhood was also very crafty, filled with woodworking, ceramics, pottery kilns and swap meets. Every Christmas or birthday, I made handmade gifts for my family. So, it was just something that came up naturally with Brad when we were dating. If we were doing gifts, we always made each other something rather than just buying it. I still remember the first year we met – Brad was making a scarecrow in his front yard for Halloween, and I came over to help him put it together. His mom was like, "Oh, I'm so happy you found someone who's interested in the same things as you are!"
Our Creative Role Models
"Julia Child. Alice Waters. And our moms!" – Craft Grooms
2. You met 11 years ago at Disney, arguably one of the most creative places on Earth. How did your time there impact you as crafters?
BRAD: Disney is a place that encourages you to be creative in anything you do. I think that helped us push the boundaries of what creative can be.
TIM: At Disney, the story behind something is so important, whether it's a movie or hair and makeup (the department where I worked). I've brought that storytelling sensibility with me wherever I go. Everything we do, whether it's DIY or plates we've brought back from a trip to Greece, tells a story.
3. It's interesting that @CraftGrooms happened during the pandemic. What is it about DIY that's brought you joy in these times?
TIM: Some people do yoga. Some people walk or run or meditate. For us, crafting and the challenge of DIY is a real way for us to slow down, focus and try something new. It's a bonding time for us, but we craft separately too. And then it becomes a kind of quiet time.
BRAD: DIY also gives you something to look forward to. We'll bounce ideas off of one another and then we look forward to seeing how things come out. Sometimes, it's great; sometimes, it's really not! But the process is what's fun.
Our Best DIY Hack
"Collect paint samples from your house on Popsicle sticks or tongue depressors. Throw them in your car. Anytime you're looking for furniture or decor, you can pull them out to match things." – Craft Grooms
4. What's the biggest misconception people have about DIY?
TIM: So many people are scared of it! They'll take a look at a craft project and say, "Oh, I could never do something like that!" I always say, "Just try." Just try and see how it comes out. Practice really does make perfect. And even if a project doesn't come out quite right, the satisfaction from attempting it is still really rewarding.
BRAD: It's the mishaps and the overcoming of them that teach you to be fearless – in crafting and in life. A lot of times online or on social media, you only see evidence of the times something came out perfect. And so everybody expects their craft to be amazing the first time. We try really hard to show people that hey, everybody fails.
BRAD: But if you can just set a mistake aside, laugh about it and move on, then hey, at least it becomes a great story. The bottom line is: Be fearless and take on things that you don't think you can do – because you probably can do them.
If I Were a Craft, I'd Be...
TIM: "Brad, you'd be something with Popsicle sticks."
BRAD: "And Tim would be something with sequins and bedazzling!"
5. Speaking of fails, what was your biggest DIY fail?
TIM: Brad's most recent birthday cake! I mixed citrus with cream and the glaze got all clumpy. It was a disaster. But it tasted good!
BRAD: For me, it was the first time I tried to make mozzarella cheese. I went to stretch it and it just crumbled into a million pieces.
TIM: That's never a good thing with cheese!
BRAD: It fell apart. It was supposed to be all smooth and silky, and it was just ... curds everywhere!
6. Your posts are filled with humor and playfulness. What is it about play that's so important for crafting?
TIM: It keeps your imagination going, right? The more you play, give yourself freedom to make mistakes and step outside the box, the more you fuel your creativity in all areas. You learn things you didn't know about yourself, whether it's drawing something, painting something, eating something new...
BRAD: Exactly. Sometimes, life can feel so scheduled and structured, especially with so many people working from home now. It's more important than ever to have free time to do things for yourself. Crafting gives you permission to just have fun and play. And it can be translated to every part of your life beyond a traditional craft project. You can craft your perfect vacation. You can craft a party. You can craft your fitness routine. Crafting applies to every part of life. It's really a mindset.
THE MAKERS' CORNER
Brad and Tim answer a few quick crafting questions:
Next big DIY project: "Sprucing up our front yard."
Go-To Glue: "Craft glue, but really whatever's on sale at the dollar store!"
Must-Have Tool: "A cordless glue gun."
Favorite DIY App: "The Cricut app."
Thoughts on Wallpaper: "When it's done right, it's perfection."
Trend We'd Love to See More Of: "Giving new life to heirlooms. People buy mismatching cups and things that look vintage. But you can easily get those from your grandparents or look to family heirlooms for inspiration."
What's in Our Etsy Carts: "Custom cookie cutters. And we love a good template."
Next Big DIY Purchase: "Hopefully, one day, a 3D printer!"
Crafting Playlist: "The new Harry Styles album. Start to finish, just let it play."
Cookbook We Love: "Betty Crocker's Picture Cook Book."
Motto: "Crafting shouldn't be a chore. If making something yourself doesn't bring you joy, just buy it!"
Our DIY Style in a Sentence: "Champagne taste, beer budget."