COVID-19 has challenged all aspects of how we work, how we connect with others, and how we establish our own positive impact. The indefinite shelter-in-place mandates and the uncertainty surrounding almost everything else has left many of us feeling stressed, anxious, and helpless. In times of crisis, it’s important to highlight inspirational stories of creativity, resiliency, and humanity to help remind all of us that we will get through this.
Our very own Brianna Frisch is creatively using her position for positive impact with her not-for-profit project, Booties by Bri. Through handmade knitted booties, Booties by Bri empowers expecting parents, family, and friends to send love and comfort to babies born during COVID-19. I sat down with Brianna to talk through what inspired her to start Booties by Bri during this challenging time.
What was the “a-ha” moment that inspired you to create Booties by Bri?
While the coronavirus had us all in quarantine, a friend of mine sent me a photo letting me know that her son had arrived and all were healthy. In that moment, it really hit me that some things in life can’t be paused. Babies were going to continue to be born regardless of coronavirus and whether or not family and friends could be there with a warm welcome.
Around the same time, I was helping one of my clients at work who was focused on finding ways for their employees to give back to their patient community during this difficult time. Seeing their leadership team work so hard to find opportunities that made their employees feel connected on a personal level was motivating. I’d been looking for a way to give back and having gifted my friend booties for her baby shower before the pandemic hit, Booties by Bri was a perfect and tangible project that I could start to spread some joy.
How did you navigate the journey from initial idea to executed project?
It started out with circulating the initial idea with a few friends, which ballooned into a much bigger project than I originally anticipated. I knew I didn’t want to focus on profit, I wanted to keep people’s personal information safe, and I couldn’t control the limited yarn available for order with COVID impacting inventory. With those basic parameters, I turned to building a website that would facilitate the ordering process without having the project feel like a business. With some previous website development experience through my current role with Waterhouse, I knew sometimes it is better to just launch it and go live, making edits along the way instead of waiting for perfection.
Connecting with my network added additional elements to the site I didn’t initially anticipate including providing the knitting pattern for those who want to make their own pair of booties (check out the FAQ). My mentor was checking in on me along the way and colleagues at work helped by creating the logo and reviewing the website. My friends and family whom I had provided booties to all gave usage permission for the baby photos on the website. As with most things, I couldn’t have done it alone.
Did you face any challenges with balancing your full-time job with this new project?
Short answer – yes! When I would get back on my computer to build the Booties by Bri website after work, I closed my Outlook email so I wouldn’t feel like I was still working, but it was a lot of mental effort to balance both. I set realistic end-of-week goals to mark the progress of this project instead of daily goals and checked in with my mentor every Friday to help me to stay accountable and on track.
Really, it’s a matter of understanding what you want to give and why. I had a lot of extra time during shelter-in-place, and I wanted to find a way to stay busy when I can’t go outside and do my regular activities that fulfill my life. I could easily knit while watching TV or a movie with my roommates, making more productive use of my time.
What has the feedback been from your audience?
I think people are excited to provide a gift that feels more meaningful and thoughtful – most people don’t get handmade items anymore. As for the parents receiving the booties, one of them responded saying she loved it so much she “was literally in tears” when she opened the package. It’s all worth it to get responses like that and receive photos of the babies in their booties I made. I’m thrilled to have brought a smile or feeling of support to any and all parents who have received, or will receive, a pair of Booties by Bri.
Aside from ordering a pair of booties, in what other ways can people support your project?
There are many ways you can help support Booties by Bri!
- Share the website on social media or blogs
- Follow the Booties by Bri Instagram account, @bootiesbybri
- Donate money to cover the cost of booties for new parents
- Donate yarn to the Booties by Bri project
- Last but certainly not least, purchase a pair of booties
Thank you to everyone who helped me make this idea a reality and supported in any way possible. I hope to spread more joy to new babies as the pandemic continues to remind us the importance of relationships and connection.