The quirky papercrafts of local YouTuber Kristina WernerSep 04, 2022 11:18AM ● By Dylan Wilcox
By Dylan Wilcox | [email protected]
With nearly 500,000 followers on her YouTube channel, K Werner Designs founder, Kristina Werner focuses on her knack for arts and crafts which features step-by-step videos from how to create intricate cards to out-of-the-box scrapbooking.
Werner says her channel allows her to share her passion for papercraft with a supportive online community.
“YouTube is one of the center points to bring the papercraft community together, to invite people to connect by watching each other’s content and learning from each other,” Werner said.
Werner began her papercraft YouTube channel in July 2006, with her first video being posted in 2007. Her most popular video, “Easy Valentines Card” which was part of her Make a Card Monday series has 2.6 million views. Since then, her videos have garnered over 77 million views and has caught the attention of the corporate team at YouTube and was featured on their United States of YouTube Creator Map which highlights people across the country who are channeling their passions into their content and contributing to their local economies.
“YouTube gives its community of content creators the ability to build businesses and learn new skills, and the opportunity to earn revenue from the videos they create,” said a YouTube spokesperson. “According to the recently released 2021 State of the Creator Economy Report done in collaboration with Oxford Economics, YouTube’s creative ecosystem contributed $25 billion+ to the American economy and supported 425,000+ full-time equivalent jobs last year.”
Werner began livestreaming her projects to small audiences during the start of lockdown in April 2020. “Since the pandemic, for the first weeks, live streaming became very big with crafters. I started that back in April or May of 2020 and I’ve stuck with weekly streaming. It’s a great way to build community. The crafting community seems like a small little oasis. It’s a great, safe, lovely, kind and caring community that changes lives. I can’t count how many times I got an email from someone who was in a depressive mood but one of my videos helped them through it,” Werner said.
Werner worked as a graphic designer for Stampin’ Up, a stationary manufacturer based in Riverton. While working there in 2005, Werner started experimenting with different types of cards and projects at home which inspired her to teach others similar techniques she was learning herself.
“I would have people ask me, ‘How do you tie this type of knot?’ and I thought it would be so much better if I shared my knowledge online,” Werner said. Before YouTube, there was Google Video, which was a popular video-sharing platform in the early 2000s and before the term vlogging was coined, early content creators did online journaling. Werner became one of the earliest creators of papercraft on YouTube.
Jennifer McGuire, another papercraft YouTuber began her channel, Jennifer McGuire, Inc. around the same time as Werner. They both connected by creating OnlineCardClasses.com, which would have sessions filled with students.
“Back when I was getting to know Kristina, I reached out and suggested we do an online card class together. I just had this feeling we would work well together. Thankfully, she said yes! We were thrilled when the class was a success and decided to do more and more classes. We have since gotten closer and make sure to see each other several times a year,” McGuire said. As they worked on projects, their passion for papercraft has led to a flourishing years-long friendship.
Werner says her YouTube channel has become her full-time job, allowing her greater financial flexibility to afford a new home, and take care of her needs. “When I started my YouTube channel, I was making a little extra money on the side. Then when I was teaching classes online, I could leave fulltime employment. I didn’t consider that as an option back then, but it allowed me to buy my first home in 2013 as a single woman,” Werner said. She notes that all the major changes in her life, from her connections and friendships to her ability to focus on her passions and helping others to learn more about papercraft was due to her decision to create and maintain her channel.
Early on in 2012 when she had 10,000 subscribers to her channel, Werner mentioned going to a Michael Bublé concert at an area that was filled with 10,000 concertgoers. “That meant all those people represented all the people that took time to subscribe to my channel. It’s hard to think that over 400,000 people have hit subscribe [so far], I can visualize 10,000,” she said.
Werner shared a humorous experience she had with one of her subscribers. “When I started my channel, you can see I had a cat named Manny. He would come into my craft room during my videos and just meow the entire time,” Werner recalled. “I would tell Manny to be quiet, but he would just keep meowing.” Werner remembered receiving an email from an older woman from the United Kingdom who would watch Werner’s craft videos with her grandson. According to Werner, the 4-year-old grandson would imitate Werner’s accent by repeating “Manny be quiet!” which Werner thought was funny yet endearing. This experience speaks to how far-reaching her audience has become.
Almost like a digital scrapbook, Werner views her channel to see how far she has come in her life and allows her to reminisce on the past. “I think what has been most interesting, because I have been on YouTube so long, it’s interesting to see and visit my old videos. Along all those different events in my life, YouTube has been hovering in the background. It’s been a constant present in my life. It’s crazy that this online platform has had such an impact in my life, but it is! The most inspiring thing that has come out of this is the community,” she said.
McGuire agrees that the papercraft community is supportive and has seen Werner’s channel as a great source of inspiration. “I have learned so much from Kristina! But what I have learned most is to not get stressed out. Kristina always believes things will work out, and it is contagious. As someone who struggles with anxiety, this is a gift in my life,” McGuire said. “This community is remarkable and very unique. There are many small businesses, most run by women or families. We all support each other as much as we can! Kristina and I a good example of that—we support each other’s channels, efforts, and more. Also, there is a great online presence in paper crafting. Many of our friends live all over the world,” she added.
As for the future of the papercraft community in an increasingly digital world where getting a handwritten letter is a rarity these days, Werner and McGuire believe that the industry will continue to thrive.
“I actually believe that the digital age will keep helping our industry. People long for “real contact” more than ever, and a card is a perfect way to provide that. No one ever keeps an email on display, but they keep a handmade card! There is a true kindness in giving them,” McGuire said.
Werner, who plans to continue livestreaming to interact with her community, had a segment in her channel called “Mail Call” where she would feature a subscriber’s card that was mailed into Werner.
“It’s a great way to showcase their work and make them feel valued,” Werner said. “When you get a card from someone, it makes it more real. I want to bring that back. More or additional ways to connect this specific community that watches my video.”