“Something to make measurements, something to cut with, and something to join.” Three basic tools, plus motivation, is all anyone needs to become a maker according to woodworking Do-It-Yourself Youtube star, April Wilkerson. Dismayed by the contractor’s $1,000 quote for a new pantry in her kitchen back in 2013, Wilkerson bought a tape measurer, a jigsaw, a power drill and some discount lumber and built one herself. She had no clue what she was doing at first, but, determined, step by step, she taught herself every skill necessary to realize her vision. One project led to the next, and quickly a fun hobby became a passionate career and full-time job.
“It was so empowering to be surrounded by stuff I had made myself,” she said. She made a goal to one day look around the house and see not a single thing she didn’t build.
Early on, Wilkerson began blogging her work to inspire others, initially sharing written tutorials for her projects. A year later she upgraded to video lessons, amassing digital media skills from scratch in exactly the same manner as her craftsmanship progress in the shop. Her Youtube page today has over a million subscribers and features over a hundred high quality how-tos on everything from “Building a Chicken Coop” (1.5 million views) to “Building a Car Port” (2.6 million).
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Asked how her Texas roots play into her work, “Texans are natural DIYers. Nothing is beyond us. But also, nothing’s beneath us. We’re not above getting our hands dirty when a job needs to get done…I have a hunger for life. I run full throttle, seeing how much I can get out of every day. And then at night I like to sit out on the porch, surrounded by nature. Taking it all in from the rocking chair I built.”
- In what ways does Texas influence you, your career, or your story?
I live such a fast paced lifestyle that I find so much peace and serenity being in the country. I do my best thinking and brainstorming working on my land and I think it’s because I feel at ease in the woods and my mind can just take a big ole breath.
- How does an “independent spirit” play a role in your success?
Being independent is a huge motivating factor for me to continue to learn as much as I can. I never mind asking for help when I need it, but I also love not having to depend on somebody else to get a job done. Then I have the freedom to do it at my own pace (typically fast and long), on my own schedule, and at the standard I want.
- If you had an “Independent Spirit” motto what would that be?
“Figure out what you don’t know” I’m always telling myself this. No matter what problem I come up against in life, if I can figure out what I don’t know, then I can tackle the situation better. : ) Most of the time.
- What is your advice to young Texans who may look up to you?
It’s very easy to let things like potential money, title, power, or even ease of duties sway one’s decision on which path they should take with their life and while that might be enough for some, my main advice is to invest time into finding a passion. For me, that is where it all becomes worth it. With a passion to drive me forward, the path becomes clear. The work becomes fun. The motivation comes in such large quantities that it becomes hard to execute all the opportunities I create. So my advice is to direct one’s focus on finding a passion.