Making Conversation with Jennifer Berg
Today we're talking with knitwear designer and founder of Native Knitter, Jennifer Berg. We've had the privilege to get to know Jennifer over the past few years as a featured contributor for Making Magazine. Today, Jennifer shares her experience of growing up in her family's 4th generation retail store on the reservation and the lessons, inspiration, support, and confidence she carries with her from the strong women in her life. From hats to cowls and sweater patterns to beaded stitch markers, you can find her knitting patterns and Native Knitter gear at nativeknits.com where 5% of all proceeds from Jennifer's self published patterns go to the Coalition to Stop Violence Against Native Women, which works to bring justice, advocacy, and community based solutions to gender based violence in tribal communities. You can find Jennifer on the Making app @NativeKnitsShop and on Instagram at @Native.Knitter.
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Ashley Yousling [00:00:05] Welcome to Making Conversation, a podcast where we celebrate making in all its forms from amazing stories of inspiring makers and people to behind the scene piece of building a startup in the tech and craft industry. I'm your host, Ashley Yousling. Today I'm talking with knitwear designer and founder of native knitter, Jennifer Berg. We've had the privilege to get to know Jennifer over the past few years as a featured contributor at Making Magazine. Today, Jennifer shares her experience of growing up in her family's fourth generation retail store on the reservation and the lessons, inspiration, support and confidence she carries with her from the strong women in her life, from hats to cowls and sweater patterns to beaded stitch markers, you can find her knitting patterns and native knitter gear at nativeknits.com, where 5% of all proceeds from Jennifer's self-published patterns go to the Coalition to Stop Violence Against Native Women. This organization works to bring justice, advocacy and community-based solutions to gender-based violence in tribal communities. You can find Jennifer on the making app @nativeknitsshop and on Instagram @nativeknitter. And with that, here's Jennifer.
Jennifer Berg [00:01:14] I mean, I talk about my family's business a lot, like, because it is such a big part of who I am. My like what I was raised doing my whole life was like retail on the reservation, which is really rare because there's only now there's less than 200 stores on the entire reservation Navajo reservation like owned by Navajos. And my family store is a fourth generation store. My grandma started it when she was just like a young mom. She was a weaver. And she would have her kids, like, clean all the wool, and then she would weave the rugs, run down a Route 66, and stand there at this little like--she made it with like the cedar that was there and like the stand--and she'd like put her rugs out and then, like, kind of barter to sell her like, rugs. And then I think she started like realizing that some of her relatives were making pottery and other things, and she was like, I could do this. And my grandma was really she was like a mathematician, like she knew how to be a business person just on her own. No, like Western education or anything. She just was like, "I can do this". And she's really confident, really strong Navajo woman, just like most Navajo women like, really not like, arrogant, but very like a go-getter person. And um and then my grandma took the store over after she passed. And then my mom was going to college in California and she was like, "I don't know what I'm like, really wanting to do. I don't know if I should do business" or whatever. And she was then living in Flagstaff, my grandma approached her and my dad and said, "I need a little help with the store. Like, it's I'm having a harder time. I'm not as business minded as my mom. But if you could come alongside me and help me, I will share the store with you." And my parents kind of were in this place, like, we don't really have a lot going for us. Like, we we could do our normal jobs, you know, in the city or we could have our our own business out on the reservation. So they moved back out to the reservation. And my dad, who's this white guy, it was like culture shock for him to, you know, move out there and build a home. And my dad that my house is like completely built by my dad, like by his hands and he really helped like renovate the store added in addition to the store took over a lot of like the plumbing and things like that like all the handy like man work was done all by my dad because the store at the time was moved up the hill because I-40 came in. And so yeah. And then, you know, I grew up in the store, like in the office in a pack-and-play while my parents worked like around the clock, you know. And so, like, I remember, like once I was old enough, my mom would be like, "okay, well, you should do something like, let's just get you to, like, start doing that." So, I would like sit there and file paperwork for hours. It made me realize, like, what hard work looks like. And like I worked every summer at the store and I was like one of the only kids in my class that had a job in high school. Like a real job. I had a checking account when I was like in middle school. My siblings and I were just kind of not groomed to be business people. But when you're a part of a small family business, everyone has to help out. Everyone's painting the floors--we have concrete floors in the store--and we all like had to go down to the store and paint them gray every year. And my parents always tried to make it fun, like this is a fun activity and it was the worst. And I remember just being like this floor is so--there's too much paint in here, and we'd be all high on like the fumes and like opening up the windows. It was it was fun now that I think about it, but I like I remember being in middle school, hating them for making me do stuff like that. But yeah, I, you know, growing up in the store, I had so much, you know, art coming in the store. I was always the kid that was like putting the pottery out on the shelves. And a lot of the people that were coming in the doors were my relatives, and so it was it, you know, like the transactions are all done in like Navajo between my mom and them. And so it feels like a really intimate family business because you're also like set like selling products that are from like people in your clan and stuff like that. And so people come in and tell you their stories and then, you know, they're like, I made this rug because I need to, you know, go get my car fixed. And my dad's like, "well, this isn't the best rug, but I know you need your car fixed, and it'll probably sell." And, you know, then they'll make the transaction. So like there's a lot of family attached to the family business. So yeah, I think that's where kind of it started. Me being introduced to so much artwork and stuff was just through my family store and then my grandma was a weaver. And so I think it kind of goes back kind of generationally.
Ashley Yousling [00:06:41] You grow up in this store, and then then what happens?
Jennifer Berg [00:06:43] When I moved to Albuquerque for college, I really didn't know what I was going to do for school. Like I wasn't a terrible student or anything. I just kind of I don't think I understood, like, the, like the route. Like I didn't get why everyone was doing the same things. Like I was just like, why do I have to do this math class when I'm not going to do anything like this far like this advanced in math and I couldn't figure out a degree. I kind of jumped around with like different degrees. And then I landed on city planning because a lot of my classes that I had taken kind of were going to allow me to graduate sooner. And then at the time I got pregnant and I was like, I got to get a degree. Like within the year, like, I need to get this done. And that was one of like my dad's requests when my husband, like, asked if he could marry me was like, you need to help Jen get her degree because she does not know what she wants to do. Let's get a degree for her, and then, you know, then she can at least have a piece of paper that she completed this and she'll feel more accomplished. So yeah, I went to school for city planning and that opened up a lot of like kind of design because for me, like the way I understood it, it was kind of more like a soft architecture and like I'm not my personality is more community driven rather than like an architect that's going to just sit in a room and be alone and like really type-A personality. And I was like, I can't do that kind of stuff. So I went community, regional planning and it was really good for me. It really taught me how to like, like do a lot of like the computer stuff. It like kind of just like updated me on what was current and then when I like two years after I graduated--and I had always been knitting this whole time, like for the past ten years I've been knitting--and my friend Tressa, who is @tsinbikee, she and I would get together and knit together and I one day was like, "it can't be that hard to write a pattern", like as like reading some patterns. I was like, "It's not that difficult, is it?" And then I kind of just started trying to design things and I had been introduced to color work like two years before that, and it kind of just took off once I made my Instagram and I was like, "oh, okay, well, I guess I'm a designer, like a knitwear designer now," and like it just has kept going. And I think with the business aspect of it, I like has started like my Etsy shop and stuff like that and I love it. It's like the best job, the best job ever.
Ashley Yousling [00:09:26] Just taking a step back and talking about your degree at college, you made a comment that your dad said that it would make you feel more accomplished. And I'm curious, did it? How do you feel about that whole experience?
Jennifer Berg [00:09:41] So for me, I think it's it is easier because I had scholarships, because I'm Navajo, I was able to have good enough grades to get scholarships that paid for my entire college. So I came out of college with zero debt. And I think that that like gave me a lot of freedom to kind of bounce around and not really have to like, I didn't, you know, I didn't have to have a job because. Scholarships paid for my rent and everything. And that's not what everyone's story is. Their story is they're taking loans out to pay for rent sometimes and that really sucks. Like I look at like my husband's route and he's like, you know, he's into like computer programing and he, you know, we're in, we have college debt from him and for him he feels like he has to get some type of like he has to like make up for it. Like he has to, like get a job that pays enough to make up for his loans. And there's like that pressure to make it make sense. And for me, like, I got out of college and was like, okay, well, I have this new baby to focus on. My husband has a job, and so let me see what other income I can bring in while I, you know, and with my brand new baby and trying to figure out my life looks like and I, I don't think like now that I really necessarily needed a degree. Like, I mean, like, obviously, like I had this, like, whole business background, like that experience enough was going to help me do what I'm doing now. And so, yeah, I feel like, you know, neither of my parents got finished their degrees and there is that pressure. They were so much better for you than what they had. And so like, I see like the reason behind it. But then for me, I'm like, I'm not using it. And I feel like I like, not wasted that time, but I could have done something. I could have traveled. I could have picked up different, different things instead of going the traditional college route. I don't know if it's really all that necessary anymore. And like I was thinking about my own kids, like I'm not going to be pushing them to go to college immediately. Like if they want to, I'm going to be like, you need to take a gap year to like, let's figure out why you're going to college. You know, because I seriously changed my degree so many times where they were like, you can't anymore. Like they're like, we have to put a hold on your account because like, you're just kind of taking random classes everywhere. And I was like, I'm trying to figure out my life. I don't know what I'm interested in, and I am interested in multiple things, not just this one thing. You know, I was taking geography classes and like, you know, I was telling my husband, like, if I didn't go to college, though, I wouldn't have learned how to swim properly because I took a swimming class in the morning and like I had a really good swimming teacher and I was I didn't know how to swim. And most Navajo kids don't know how to swim. There's no pools unless you travel, which most Navajo kids don't get to. There's--you have no experience with pools. And I'm--I'm like five nine. So, I could just stand in a pool. And I was like, I feel very unsafe being in water like lakes or anything. And I like watch my, like girlfriends just like splashing around and swimming. I'm like, I feel like I'm in danger. Like you have to keep your eyes on me. So that's one thing that I was like, I really did benefit from that college class was swimming class. I love it.
Ashley Yousling [00:13:19] You touch on something that I have just been feeling more and more passionate around, digging deeper into with the people that I talk to. We live in this patriarchal system that has created this idea that we must do X, Y, Z to be this, this or that. And as women, we fought so long just to have the ability to go to college, right? But then we're also, like fed this narrative that it's the only way or the better way to have worth or value in a capitalistic society. My parents had a cycling shop. My growing up just being witness to that. Like as you're sharing, I learned business, I learned transaction, I learned like people. That is what business is from witnessing it and growing up in it. And I think for creatives we got to think outside the box and not feel like we have to do something a particular way because that's how it's been done forever or the most, you know, quote unquote successful people did it this way we can pave our own base and we are creative. And so we come up with creative ways to do that. Seeing you like come in and just own it, you know, now hearing your story, it makes me even more excited.
Jennifer Berg [00:14:36] I feel like I had a lot of, like, imposter syndrome for sure, like, coming in. And a lot of that has to do with me being like half Navajo and always being reminded growing up that I was only half Navajo, going to school with full Navajo kids and then white kids and like never really fitting in with either. And I lived outside of town and so I'd always miss out on the parties, like birthday parties and things like that. Like and then my Navajo friends who lived out of town, lived way out of town, far from where I lived out of town, like the opposite direction. And so my dad always feels bad because he grew up in Flagstaff, Arizona, and he, like, had the kind of normal suburban kind of life growing up that, you know, go down to the walk down to the store gas station, get a Coke, whatever. I can tell that, like whenever I say, like, oh, yeah, I my friends were doing this and I was at home working or I was home, you know, out on the res alone doing whatever. He's always like, "oh, I wish, I wish that you could have been in town and, like, had a normal life." And I'm like, but the thing is, like, I learned so much living out on the reservation and like, I feel really, I know resilient is like a word that is attached to Native Americans because we are really resilient people. But I feel like I, I feel like I was raised to be resilient, to be like to kind of hold my head up, look around and be aware of, like my surroundings and, you know, just going on a walk, you're thinking like, oh, let me go check on the cattle. Let me go make sure the sheep broke, even though I'm just going on a walk. Like you're just kind of you learn responsibility at a young age because of, you know, you're kind of like this ranch kid and, you know, you're out in the boondocks alone. So you have to make sure you have matches and a knife, and if you get lost, you go up on the hill and you look for the interstate and, you know, like you use all your senses and like, I like talk to my dad about it. And I'm like, Dad, you don't need to feel bad because I learned so many other things that are so beneficial to just me as a human. Like, I look at my own kids and I take them back to the res and they're like tripping all over rocks and stuff and they're like, I'm like, Oh my gosh, you guys are so clumsy. But it's because you don't have the experience that I grew up with, like being like barefoot, running around out in the desert, you know, like they're city kids. And so, like, I try to take them home more often to, and like, I, you know, we go on a walk and I let them really roam as much as I can because I'm like, go get dirty, go fall off, you know, that little those little rocks and tell me where home is. Those things I feel like are kind of becoming lost. Things like instinctual things are kind of being lost, which is weird. Like I've noticed people in the city, they're very like unaware of their surroundings or of other people, you know, I saw a car accident the other day and I, like, pulled over and, like, walked over there to make sure they were okay and it was fine, but it was just kind of like no one else stopped, no one else even, like, cared. And I was just so, like, baffled that, like, on the reservation, you take care of each other. You have to because the hospital is 40 minutes away. You know, like if someone's hurt, everyone's responsible for their well-being. You know.
Ashley Yousling [00:17:59] One of the things that I find really fascinating is how community and city planning has been done historically and just the implications that it has, like socio-economically, you know, racially and all these things. And I'm curious, in your degree, was there any knowledge, or thoughts, or realizations, or things that inspired you to want to create change or just even be aware and like share with your kids?
Jennifer Berg [00:18:27] I mean, Albuquerque's a really diverse city. We're, you know, heavily Hispanic population. There's a lot of, like, native population here. So, like, every, like, store and everything you go into, it's going to it's not like just white faces. You're going to see a very mixed group of people in all of Albuquerque. But there are like definitely different regions within the city that are city planning, like class would harp on and be like this part of the city is the oldest part of the city, but then it's also being like gentrified and you know, but then the city needs money because Albuquerque is poor. So how do we and I and of course, all of that goes to money like all ends up being about money. But they would have us go down to the poorer parts of the city and really like have us understand that like there's so much rich--richness and culture there and like Albuquerque is, it can't really expand much out because there's tribes on all sides of it and then the mountain. And so they're kind of stuck in this valley. And I feel like in my city planning classes, it was a lot of like annoyance about being stuck within the confines of the tribes. But then, you know, for me I'm like, "well, you're lucky enough to have any of this land," you know what I mean? Like, like you don't have anything here. And then if you'd like, actually go and look at what the what land was given to these tribes. Like, there is nothing. There's nothing on that land. There's no infrastructure or anything. So I don't understand, like the annoyance of, you know, like not being grateful for what you already have within the city. And, like, why can't we, like, help improve Albuquerque for what it is instead of always trying to grow and grow and grow and like, what is growth really look like? And I feel like growth for Albuquerque wasn't like the idea wasn't like centered around like growing a healthy population, just like wanting to get more people to have every city, right, getting more people to have more money to be able to text for the city to like look nicer or whatever. But like it's never really about the health of the city as in like the people's health. So I don't know. And like coming from the reservation, like moving, moving from literally like not having any neighbors for like five miles around to having an apartment with like neighbors on the other side of the wall was like really honestly, hard for me. Like, I couldn't sleep at night. Like, I felt like people were always in my space and like I'm a extroverted person, but it was exhausting to always be, you know, on guard all the time, walking down the street, always like thinking someone's steal my car or something like that. Like out on the reservation. Yeah. Like you have to be careful with, like, the things that you have because people will steal, like people on the roads or on the highway or whatever will come often they see something, they'll just take it because no one's going to know. So you lock your stuff up, but at the same time, you on a walk and you don't see anyone for an hour, you know, like just walking one direction. You don't see anyone. You might see like a cow or something, but like you're completely alone. So yeah, I mean, city planning, like really it was eye opening in some aspects. But then like I think for Albuquerque, Albuquerque is really unique place and they still protect a lot of the like older parts of the city, just like Santa Fe. Like Santa Fe is really like a very old town and they're really careful to, like, protect what they have, like for histor--historical purposes.
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Jennifer Berg [00:23:15] So my friend Tress, who is @tsinbikee, she I used to crochet a ton and she was like, "you should start knitting like it looks. I like it better. You'll probably like it. It's a little more complicated. It's kind of more of a challenge because when you mess up, you can't just rip it out the same way." And I would bike home from school, from college, and just sit in my house and watch YouTube videos and I got some books and I was just kind of determined to learn. And then once I started knitting, I could at least in the round. And so I just made like a few like simple hats and like would give them to my friends as gifts and. Yeah, I didn't--no one I knew other than Tress knew how to knit. I get messages from people like asking me, you know, how did you how did you do this? How did you start this? And and like for me, I, I kind of harp on my grandma, my weaving grandma, my great grandma. And I'm like she--like, whenever I start doubting myself, I just start, like, thinking back to like she just went for it. She has put her head down and like went after it and like she had, she felt the freedom to go after it and like she felt like what she was making was good enough to sell, like good enough for her to run down to it, like to route 66 and put it out for people to drive by and buy. And so for me, I'm like, I just like confidence like carries you through a lot of things, even like if you're struggling, right? Like, even if you're like, I don't know what I'm going to say. I don't know how I'm going to, like, get through this. I, you know, like, I don't know why I signed up for this or whatever. Like, if you can, like muster a little bit of confidence in yourself, you can kind of plow through anything. And I think, like, one thing that I like do often when I feel like I'm not or when I'm feeling like I'm an imposter within the knitting industry, within being Navajo, with being a woman like I feeling like, you know, I don't like what does it mean to be all those things? And like, if I start feeling insecure about that, like I think about like going into like a sport or something and you kind of like have to like rev yourself up. You have to kind of like pump yourself up, only speak completely positive, truthful things to yourself and like you can you do it out loud and that helps a lot to kind of being like, alright, game face, I'm going to do this and I will just just put it out there, just put everything out and just they can take it or leave it and like remind yourself that if you love it, if it's like a design that you love, it doesn't matter if you're making money off of it. It doesn't matter if you're getting all the compliments or whatever. But it's if you're confident with it, that's all that matters, that you love it and you're confident with what you put out. You worked hard at it. You can leave it. You can put it out there and leave it. Then you're untouchable. Because like for me, I have to whenever I stick a like cowl or something out, I'm like, is this--is this what you know? Is this what's trending? Is this what people want? Is this? And I'm like, it doesn't matter. I like it. I will wear this for the next couple of years like. That's good enough for me. If I want to wear it, fine. And if no one else likes it, then whatever. And I almost do the like. Well, screw you if you don't like it. Like, this is what I like, you know, kind of attitude to, like, make sure that I remind myself that I'm secure in what I'm doing. And then, like, I have a lot of support. My family, now that they know what I'm doing, they understand kind of what I'm up to. I have them backing me and just kind of surrounding yourself with people that speak positively about what you're doing. And, you know, when I first started, like walking in the room and they'd be like, what do you do? And you know. It like, makes me super mad when like when you say like, oh, I'm a mom and people are like, oh, I'm like, no, that's like the best thing that I do. Like, that's like the hardest thing that I do. And then and I'm doing this, you know, like it did help me to have like my husband or, you know, my mom say like, oh, she's a knitwear designer and like really label what I'm doing. And I think there is this like insecurity around it. Like when you first start giving yourself a title, like I'm a knitwear designer because like no one gives it to you, you have to kind of claim it as like, this is what I'm doing and it feels really awkward because you're like, Yeah, I'm an artist, you know? And that always feels like, am I? Like--like if I don't make money off of it, am I an artist? And it's like, yes! If you're making art, you're an artist. So, it did help to have people in my life to like speak that, you know, introduce me with that as like a title from myself and like be like, "oh, she's a mom and she does knitwear design like as like a part time job." And I'm like, yeah, this is my job. I do like, this is something I do and this is a part of who I am. It's really hard to kind of get yourself to a point, I think, to be secure enough to kind of put all your artwork out for the world to kind of see. I mean, any artist, it's really hard because it's what you're like, this is like who I am. I'm really expressing everything that I like. And if it falls flat, you have to fight that, that battle of insecurities with it.
Ashley Yousling [00:28:52] That's what people want. They want part of what they see in you. And that's magic and unique to each person. And I love that. And I see that in your work for sure.
Jennifer Berg [00:29:03] When I'm designing or something like a new piece of like a sweater or whatever, I have to kind of like stop scrolling through Instagram because then I'm like, Oh, it doesn't look like this though. Like this piece doesn't look like that or it's not. This is the new thing and it's not. And I'm just like. Why am I trying to make something that looks like everybody else's thing? Like, that's not what I'm doing here. The uniqueness of whatever art I bring is what is--what makes it special, you know? And so, like, it's weird how we all start kind of like falling into the trends or the fads and stuff like that. And it's like, wait, like. We don't all want to be the same. Like that's what we're fighting against. And it's just it's really like, you see and it's fashion, right? Fashion is definitely like that, like comes and goes like certain things. And I feel like the knitting industry, like something I'm really trying to like fight against is like how quick it moves. And I'm like, we're like knitting. Knitting is not supposed to be fast at all. Like, this is supposed to be enjoyable. This is supposed to be therapeutic. This is supposed to be like not like how many sweaters can you knit every year unless like you just like that, like competition, but like it's not supposed to be competitive, you know? It's supposed to be for you. Like, you're making something because it's taking your time to make with your hands. And like, I feel like we just completely lose sight of the craft itself. Yes, I love when people buy my patterns, but I'm like, if you don't have time to knit my pattern, you do not need to spend money on it. There's other ways you can support me. Don't feel like this, like I have to just have it so it's in my library, and then you never look at it because that's not respecting my work. That's not like, you know, that's not giving. Like, there's no I don't get any, like, gratification from it if it's not being made. Like, I'm like, I want to see people make my stuff and like, I want to see you wear it and love it and or like, gift it to someone. But like, if it's just like a pdf in a like folder somewhere and it's just never even opened, I don't know, it just like completely missed the point.
Ashley Yousling [00:31:24] The word that keeps coming to mind is purpose. I think it is so easy to get wrapped up in like all these new things out, all these new materials out, and this pressure of wanting to be a part of it, right? And maybe it's not even the thing that you're making, but the fear of missing out. I feel like that's what Instagram has cultivated is this fear of missing out rather than this act of sharing, this act of like experience as a maker. You know, I talk a lot about this with our team because, you know, we're building this app and it's like the antithesis of Instagram. It's taking it back to the thing that we love to do as makers, which is share that experience with other people. Purpose is so important and it touches on so many different levels. And maybe some people would say intention because I think--we're just we don't need a bunch of stuff. It's the--it's the act of doing it, not the product at the end that carries the most meaning. Right. I love that you said that. One other thing you said that I wanted to touch on was positive self-talk. We don't talk to ourselves that nice. There's so many reasons and I won't get into all the reasons. But, you know, it can come from like how you were raised or like, you know, religious structure examples that you saw or just society and all this messaging that's forced on us. And, you know, because it's definitely like a rewiring that you have to do or a retraining of your brain. Like, would you talk to someone else the way that you talk to yourself? You know, like if a friend was doing something and you wanted to be an encouragement to them, would you talk to them the way that you talk to yourself and have the same expectations and positive self-talk? Saying it out loud. Writing it down. That's how we give ourselves the permission, how we don't require permission from others, but how we manifest that ourself.
Jennifer Berg [00:33:23] That's where, like our our freedom to create, that's where everything kind of stems is like making sure that you're secure with yourself, like understanding who you are and like liking yourself. Being Navajo in the Navajo language, there's no like there's no like, you're welcome. Like, there's no like like you just say like, yeah, like you're just, like, in agree--agreement. Like, if someone says thank you, you're just like, uh huh. Like, there's no, like, pleasantries, there's nothing like that. There's no, there's not like a lot of compliments given or things like that. Like, yeah, you might see someone's beautiful, but like that's like about it listening to like the way my grandma thinks about herself and like physical stuff, like, my grandma, like, just doesn't care. That's not a part of her. Like, it's not the forefront of her mind because she's like, I need to go feed the cows. I need to go make sure I have water. I need to go make sure I have these things, like essential things in her life, you know, growing up, she lived in a hogan and like she was the oldest child of eight children and like took care of everyone. And she didn't get to go to school when, like, all of her other siblings got to go and like she doesn't think about just physical stuff. And then so like her confidence comes with like her how hard she can work, right? She's like, I'm good at working because I can like work long days, I can work hard and then like my mom, you know, growing up with a mom like that, it's like it doesn't matter what you look like. Just go to school and learn like what you want to learn. And if you're good at it, then awesome. It wasn't so much about, you know, like, yeah, I think there is like this level of like you need to have some success in your life. But when it comes to the confidence there wasn't--there wasn't anything that was like hindering them because they were just such like hard working people. And then for me, like the physical stuff, I have kids now and I have to really make sure that I'm like careful with how I speak about myself. And then, like, I always doubted, like, my intelligence because I, I come from, like, I feel like I have like, really broken English because I'm from the reservation. Like, we just kind of like we have different things that we say and like, I like, don't pick up on like I think they're called idioms. I don't understand like anything my husband saying when he's like that or the, the bird gets the worm or whatever in the morning, like, I don't get any of those idioms at all. And he says stuff like that all the time. And I'm like, What are you talking about? Just say it. Like, he's just like, "oh, you don't--you didn't ever grow up with that kind of stuff?" I'm like, yeah, I feel like with the confidence stuff, I just, I have to be really careful with my kids. And then I really do think that like when you speak truth to yourself, when you're speaking like really gently and positively to yourself, that does it's reciprocated out, right? It's easier to be kind to your sister when they're, you know, going through something instead of being like, oh, just pick yourself up. You can be like, no, like, I understand this is super hard. And whatever you're going through, you know, and you can be more tender with people when you're tender with yourself, even if you're a tough person, if you practice like some tenderness with yourself, I think that that, you know, can be reciprocated out.
Ashley Yousling [00:36:45] What makes you excited about the next four years?
Jennifer Berg [00:36:49] For me, it's learning more. I think that like I, I came into like knitwear design as like a newbie. Like I didn't understand even the language of how to write a pattern. Like I had to learn all of that and I didn't go to school for design or anything like that. And so I feel like there's so much growth for me and like to see in the next four years--what I can make with that is really exciting and I have so many things that I want to do like with it. And one being like, I want to bring like knitting to the reservation. I want to figure out a way to, you know, if that's like setting up a chapter houses, which are like the community centers for different parts of the reservation, like setting up classes or things like that to like give people something, a craft that, you know, can make them money as well, like, and teaching people how to use platforms to be able to have an income.
Ashley Yousling [00:37:49] There was a word, an intention that you wanted to leave people with. What would it be?
Jennifer Berg [00:37:55] One thing that's been like on my heart like a ton lately, and I think it's just like with my family or people I've run into and like a lot of the conversations are like, I don't understand them or why aren't they doing things this way? Or just like this confusion. And I'm like, one thing that I always tell myself when I'm like meeting people is like, I really have to meet them where they're at. I have to like really understand why they're coming from that perspective. And instead of just coming in and being like trying to like plow over them and be like, this is my perspective and this is what you need to learn from my experiences. It's like. Like, why are they fearful of this? Why are they, like, not confident? What is like behind this, you know? Or like, if someone's angry, like, what's going on? Like what happened in their day, you know, like if you go to the grocery store and someone snaps at you for like, you know, being like standing too close to them or something or whatever, you're like, okay, that has nothing to do with me. Like, really? Like there's something else going on. And so, like trying to meet people where they are and like understand them instead of just like perceiving so much about people because I love people I like, I really do love like people. And like that's I think that's one of the reasons why the knitting community is just so like it just brings me so much joy to be a part of because there's so--it's such a diverse group of people now and like I can see how like uplifting certain people are. And like you can, you can tell who is genuine and who's just like trying to make a quick buck, you know, you can see it. And, I think that that phrase, just meet people where they are. If you can try to put yourself in the background for a second.
Ashley Yousling [00:39:51] So grateful for our BRIGHT Collective supporters and wanted to give a shout out to one of them today. A Good Yarn in Sarasota, Florida, has been in business for 13 years and is a destination shop for vacationers and winter visitors alike, along with their great community of local knitters who support them all year long. A Good Yarn has a very vibrant weaving and knitting community and they love bringing in indie dyers that are new to the area. Visit them in person in Sarasota, Florida and online at a goodyarnsarasota.com. If you'd like to be a BRIGHT Collective supporter, send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org. The biggest of thanks to everyone involved in this week's episode. I hope you'll join me each week as we talk and learn from more fascinating makers. For podcast notes and transcriptions, visit our blog at makingzine.com. Have a wonderful week.