The Chronicle Pointe Claire resident Jane Wilkins is proof positive that turning to your passion to help pay the bills can be a great idea. After being laid off from her job in Nov. 2004, Wilkins, a single mother of two daughters, had no idea what she was going to do to pay the bills on her home and feed her kids. “I sort of panicked for a while,” she said. No kidding. It was in this, her darkest hour, that Wilkins turned to a new passion that is picking up steam in the West Island: scrapbooking.
She first discovered the pastime in April 2005 and her daughters’ interest in the hobby lit up the proverbial imaginary light bulb over her head. “My daughter wanted to have a scrapbooking party for her birthday, and it was so popular that I literally had to yell ‘who wants cake,’ to get them to put down the scrapbooks for a second,” said Wilkins, who quickly realized there was a market for scrapbooking with both adults and children.
Today, she gives classes in scrapbooking and rubber-stamping both in her basement at home and in schools as a form of lunch-hour entertainment. “It’s so much fun. Kids are so attentive. It was originally my intention to sell classes only to adults, but when the kids were so enthusiastic about it, I realized it was my passion to teach kids,” she said. “I can accommodate up to 14 kids in here at once,” she said, gesturing around her basement workshop. “It’s just taking off.
I have kids in here on ped days, on days off, and they seem to love it, and the parents love the concept as well,” she said. Her home business has also allowed her to become closer to her children, aged five and 10, as well. “It brings me closer to the kids, because when I do classes or parties in here, my kids help out, and with scrapbooking, they have learned to tell a story without words, and I want my kids to be able to remember everything — I want them to have tangible things they can look at and remember when they were kids.” Wilkins, who grew up in an artsy family, got her bachelor’s degree in sociology, has taken her scrapbooking show on the road to schools such as St. John Fisher, Pierre Elliott Trudeau School in Vaudreuil-Dorion, Windermere, St. Paul and École St. Louis in Pointe Claire.
“I’m hoping to get into more schools, and I’m focusing on Grades 3-6, but I’m getting an interest from some younger students as well. The great part is that every child who is into it will be successful, because there is no ‘right way,’ or ‘wrong way,’ to scrapbook — as long as they are enjoying themselves. I want them to feel confident,” said Wilkins, 38.
You don’t have to be creative to do scrapbooking. You just have to have memories and some pictures, she said. Wilkins is now accepting registration for classes during the school break March 6-10. For more information, call 693-0472.