Tell me about yourself…
I’m 29. I grew up in Covington, technically. I used to think Bartlett was Memphis. I dropped out of college in 2007, got married, had kids, whatever. I have two sons—ages 6 and 7. One of them cries a lot. He cried at Disney World because it started raining, and once because there was a dead bird on the sidewalk. It's me. I try so hard to just let him feel it. You can't get him out of it. The other one just gets mad, which is me as well. I just outgrew that part.
What's your drink?
An Iced Smoky Salted Caramel Latte because that's the way I like it all the time. I once went to Panera and asked for iced coffee in January and they didn't have it. I said, "Do you get rid of hot coffee in the summer?"
Tell me about the The Crybaby Club...
It's a movement apparently. I started it last January as a joke. I was dropping my kids off at school and all the moms were passing out their business cards. I didn't have a business card. I was an unemployed, college drop out. So I went home and made one that said "Crybaby Club" on the front and "Why don't you cry about it ?" on the back. I posted it on my Instagram, and five people immediately wanted one, and it just grew from there.
What did it grow into?
Originally, it was just going to be an online community where you could get a boost for being a crybaby. But I started getting mail--really touching letters about how I made people feel better about being who they were. This was a big shift in the club. I thought it could really be something.
How did you start your product line?
Members wanted products. The demand was there before there were products. I was never very confident in my ability to do anything, but then people asked for enamel pins. I said I'll find out how to make them. Now we have enamel pins and tees and coffee cups and patches sweaters hats and people buy it. It still blows my mind. I sold online first, but Lisa [Toro] always liked my art and supported it.
I drove by City & State two years ago, because I saw the sign the sign. Maybe I saw it on Instagram first, but anyway, I wanted to try it because I really like coffee. Lisa and I talked when I came in and we started following each other on IG. She saw a painting I posted and wanted some in the store, but I didn't have anything. She sold my handmade cards first, and the best seller was about crying. It said, “You cried but you did the thing anyway and I think you're really brave.”
I had a watercolor show at City & State in October of 2015. It was the first one I ever did and it really helped me. I don't know if Lisa knows how much it helped.
How do you know if you belong in the Crybaby Club?
Chances are if you see it and you ask, then you are already in it. Our definition is: A tender-hearted human who is not afraid to be emotional and knows that their sensitivity is a strength that empowers them to be kind towards themselves and each other.
There's crying and there's CRYING. If the crying is interrupting your life then you need to see a professional. We aren't those people.
I recommend crying at least twice a week. Everyone, even men.
How often do you cry?
I cried today already. It's not always full on, I'm just insanely sensitive and not afraid of it. I cry every time I listen to the soundtrack to zootopia. I cry when I forget something at the store. I cried at a Pink concert before! I emote any time I feel anything in excess.
Tell me about your co-founder, Kaitlyn.
Kaitlyn Luckow--I call her my co-founder even though we haven't technically founded anything. She lives in Milwaukee. I made my first sale to her when I was selling paintings and water colors. (I can't draw to save my life so I always just made messes, but pretty ones.) Now she's my best friend. I met her in person right before we launched the Crybaby Club. She flew down for the Cooper Young Fest to help me, and she runs the blog because I can't do that either. Kaitlyn basically completes me in every way imaginable.
And you are also on Facebook?
We have a support group on Facebook with 600 members—mostly women and some men (who have been vetted and told they will be thrown into the sea if they don't keep it a safe space). We discuss job interviews to miscarriages. I'm really proud of it. There’s no monetary gain as that is not my main focal point, but it is the thing I care about the most.
My personality has changed. People have noticed. And so I think the person I’m becoming is going to do more things. I’m training now to be an abortion doula and eventually a birth doula. I'm worried I might cry. But I'll do it. It will get done.
I would like to get qualified to speak with groups like gay youth. I plan to continue to try and be something good in the world because it needs it.
I don't want to grow past what I can handle. I’m keeping the focus on people feeling empowered by their emotions instead of ashamed of them.
I had to find a way to do art and social work and cry. I think I found it.